Friday, May 27, 2005

U2, Mickey and Capitalism Gone Wrong

Yesterday, Thursday, May 26, marked two weeks since I saw U2 in Chicago. What a night! Just a night of pure music – over 2.5 hours! That means each minute was worth about $0.65…give or take a nickel. I’d try to tell you more about the show, but it’s an experience beyond words. Those guys are amazing. (For those who’ve seen the show, perhaps you can come up with a word or two.)

Chicago was chilly, too. Certainly wasn’t enjoying that. But I did enjoy the company…seeing my sister, brother-in-law and nephews for the first time in almost a year. Jennifer and I did lots of shopping…and stopping at Starbucks (had to catch her up on her mocha intake).

The next week saw us meeting Mom and Dad and aunts and uncles in Orlando for a week. We visited Mickey and assorted Disney princesses at the Magic Kingdom, got some sun and surf at Typhoon Lagoon and caught up from those two days with some lying around. While the others went to Gatorland on Thursday, I went to a Panera Bread for about five hours to do some work (gotta make freelance money when ya can). I missed all the gator glory but I think I’m OK with that.

Friday was Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure – perhaps one of the greatest rip-offs in Orlando. At least in this family’s opinion. After paying $70 per adult and $60 per kid, Jennifer, Dick and the boys and I started our day at the theme park, and things seemed to be OK. It wasn’t until we waited 60 (or more?) minutes at the Dudley Do-Right waterlog ride, that things started to go downhill. (One highpoint in there was the Spiderman ride.)

It seems the Express Pass you can buy at Universal for an extra $16 will get you to the front of the line automatically. Which for us poor folk, or not so extravagant folk, means that you can wait for an hour or more, only to be cut off right in the front by 20, 30, 50 or however many Express Passers show up when you get there. Money talks…especially at Universal. At least in Disney World if you want an express pass you have to make a point to pick one up and come back at a certain time to ride. And even then, they let a certain number of people on before continuing with those who are waiting.

Anyways, we about lost our slightly heat-soaked minds at Bluto’s Something Barges, when after waiting for over an hour with two small, tiring young men, a throng of Universal Express Passers waltzed into the front without having to wait even 10 or 15 minutes. How is it that those of us who choose to save our money and wait patiently get cut-off like that? Just didn’t and doesn’t see quite right. That’s where we saw “capitalism gone wrong.”

The park was kind of a rip-off anyways. There were more food places than any interesting rides at Islands of Adventure, and when you buy a combo meal at one of these joints, you get the sandwich and fries only – drink is extra.

But, hats off to my nephews, Luke and Zack, 6 and 5 respectively. Those guys were quite the troopers waiting in those long lines. Only one or two fistfights broke out. [Smile]

All in all though, the week in Florida with family was worth it. It was nice to be away from stress here. Plus, I was very blessed that my family took such good care of me. They are amazing, loving people. And lovely, too. It was nice to get home and not live out of a suitcase anymore though.

I didn’t have to work at Starbucks until today; I’d been away for over two weeks. Seemed a bit strange to don the black apron again and make some coffee drinks. Won’t take long to get back into the swing of things. I should be cured of the newness after three consecutive eight-hour days opening the store. [Sigh]

P.S. Saw "Star Wars Episode III" yesterday. Great effects and fight scenes as expected. But I think the 5-year-olds in my life could have written a more interesting script.

P.P.S. There was a question about making comments to these ramblings. You don't have to go through the motions of joining "Blogger" to do so. Just choose "other" or "anonymous" when you click on the "comments" link below my words. Comment away!

Thursday, May 5, 2005

Bulk Item Pick-up Day

Old Hickory Village, the little historic neighborhood I live in, scheduled a "bulk item pick-up" for today. City Works trucks drive around the Village and pick up everyone's large pieces of junk that they haven't taken to the metro recycling centers (one of which is only two miles from the Village, I know because my dad and I hauled a stove and TV over there a few weeks back).

I noticed a couple things about this annual pick-up day when driving through the neighborhood yesterday morning. First, the most prevalent appliance needing to be picked up was the water heater, followed closely by a non-appliance, the mattress. Second, I found that neighbors thought it was their opportunity to do some free shopping. One lady in a Jeep Cherokee was driving slowly and checking out the piles of what so-and-so on the corner of 8th and Cleves was getting rid of.

As I passed her, I remembered a suspicious thing from the night before. My neighbor had virtually cleared out her entire house and backyard for the pick-up day. With her mattress was a lawn mower and indistinct piles and piles of other items. Well, a truck pulled up in front of my house Tuesday night. I was sitting on my couch working on the computer and I heard some chatter, some loud "thunks" and then nothing. I wondered what was going on out there in the dark but after seeing Jeep lady, I'm guessing someone was helping themselves (under the cover of dark) to my neighbor's cast-off "treasures."

Bulk item pick-up day is about over and all of the piles, or just the one overstuffed chair, have been taken away. Too bad the house on the next block over didn't empty its entire backyard, or just leave the back gate open, for all of its junk to be cleared out. I think a few of us who have to look at it would have gone over and helped move the stuff...even at the risk of getting bit by one of the five or six dogs in that same small backyard.

Life in the's a beautiful and colorful thing.