Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Being told where to go

The first GPS I ever met was the one in my parent's Buick Lucerne, it came as part of their navigation package. I nicknamed it Sarah after the smart house in the series Eureka.  Sarah is very nice and has a very pleasant voice.  I can picture her, a fresh faced young woman in her mid -twenties, sitting in front of a very modern looking desk, a map of the world on the wall behind her, a sleek computer with an even sleeker monitor resting on the desk.  Perhaps there's a cup of herbal tea steaming beside her.  When ever my folks enter a destination I can picture her fingers flying furiously over the keyboard locating the quickest way to get there and speaking into a slim headset in a lilting melodic voice - "In 3/4 of a mile turn right."  If my parents miss the turn or decide to go a way she hasn't recommended I picture taking in a deep breath and exhaling softly and quickly finding an alternate route.  No doubt when she's not called upon she does yoga.

When I got my GPS for my car I was expecting Sarah's sister.  What I got instead was MAUDE.  I picture Maude being in her late 50's, her hair dyed a very unnatural red.  She's dressed in a leopard skin house coat and chain smokes unfiltered Camels.  There's a bottle of old graddad sitting next to a pot of coffee.  Her desk is an old battered contraption that you can hardly see for all the clutter and dogeared maps and atlases covering it.  In stead of a lilting melodic voice she has an accent that's a mixture of the Bronx and Brooklyn that's somewhat grating due to the number of cigarettes she plows through, not to mention the juice glass of cheap bourbon she's knocks back.

When I ask Maude for directions I get no eager to please response, I get a surly and snarky "In 3/4 of a mile turn right." she doesn't say it but the "You moron!" is implied.  And lord help me if I don't follow her exact directions.  "Recalculating..." she says with such venom that I picture her lighting a new cigarette with the end of the old one, grabbing an Rand McNally Road Atlas circa 1975, flinging the pages one after another  and no doubt muttering curses as she does it.

I suppose I could replace her, find a new GPS that is more kinder and gentler one - maybe not as sweet as Sarah but not as well frightening as Maude. Somewhere in between.  But I hesitate...I mean..after all...Maude knows where i live!

Friday, March 19, 2010

My meeting with Five Guys

When I saw the coming soon sign my heart with a twitter.  Friends in Texas had spoken of this place in hushed and reverent tones.  I doubted it would ever get to my neck of the woods, but there it was in all its red and white checkered glory.  Five Guys Burgers and Fries!  And like their name suggests that's what they do - burgers, fries, hot dogs and grilled cheese but that's it. Nothing else.

I had been planning to pay it a visit but first I wanted to let the lines die down.  In the early days I passed the place at 2 o'clock in the afternoon (well after lunch time) and it was packed with a line snaking towards the door.  Finally I noticed the lines were dying down at the 2 o'clock hour.  And so yesterday I decided to try it.

I walked in and suddenly I hear someone yelling "ONE IN THE DOOR!"  Followed by some mumbled replies and what sounded like "I'm ON it!"  Anyway I made my way over to the counter and was greeted very cheerfully by the man behind the counter.  Upon learning this was my first time at Five Guys he explained the menu.  Two kinds of burgers regular and little - regular are 2 1/4 pound patties, little is one 1/4 pound pattie.  All orders are made to order and all toppings are free.  Fries come two ways cajun and regular. 

Ok - so I ordered two regulars cheese burgers (one for me and Dad) with mayo relish tomato lettuce grilled onions and grilled mushrooms and two regular fries.  The man tells me that a large will easily feed two people.  So I make it one large fry.  I get my number and wait.

Now remember it's 2 o'clock in the afternoon - not usually the time people grab dinner or lunch.  It's that in between zone.  But this place had people in it - not packed, but there are probably 4 - 5 tables filled with people.  And while I was waiting another couple came in "TWO IN THE DOOR!". 

The kitchen was open (when have you ever seen THAT in a fast food restaurant!) and immaculate.  I watched them grill the burgers on a flat top and then build them OMG!  Finally my order is called and I rush over.  The same man that waited on me hands me my bag - all their burgers are packaged to go.  He tells me NOT to roll the bag top down - that will make the fries soggy.  Nice touch I thought.

I head home and unwrap my burger - wow, big the patties are thick and I can see the lettuce and tomato and I can smell the mushrooms and onions.  I take a bite, juice runs down my chin and down my shirt leaving bits of grilled onion and mushrooms in its wake.  Oh well it was worth it!  The burger is GOOD.  Have I had better?  Yes - Lappelah's burger is fantastic but it's also $10 bucks - my 5 guys burger was half that price.  I try the fries - they're fired in peanut oil and boy do they impart a great flavor!  They were just right for me, but I'm not a crispy fry person.  I like mine a little limp but with a bit of snap - these did not disappoint.  But I will state that if you like crispy fries you might not be too keen on these.  It could also have been the batch I had - and yes I DID keep the bag open.

So bottom line:  Very very good burgers best fast food ones I've had bar none.  I love the fact you can get custom toppings like mushrooms and grilled onions and its all free.  The fries had a great taste - not too salty not too blah.  I would recommend five guys to anyone in need of a good burger fast!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

a day without internet is like a day without...

I got hit with two bits of news yesterday morning as I stumbled down the stairs, news bit one - one of the dogs had decided to use the kitchen floor as a personal bathroom.  news bit two - the internet was out.  Now let me explain a little bit about my morning routine.  I wake up, get up, get ready, rush downstairs, pet da boyz, then dive into the car so that I can be at work at 5:30ish AM.  No I'm not on shift work, I do it to avoid Vancouver to Portland traffic - which rivals LA traffic at times.

I mention this becuase usually I'm half alseep as I stumble though the house towards the car, don't worry by the time I hit the freeway I'm only a quarter asleep. So the two bits of news hit the dull wall of my waking brain.  The dog present had already been cleaned up.  Yea!  The internet - not much I could do but I did manage to mumble.  Did you reboot? -Answer YES  Did you turn off the wireless router wait and then turn it back on? - YES.  Ok - those were my two computer professional thoughts and what I usually did when we'd loose internet.  So I stated there was nothing I could do about it right then as I hoped it would come back on its own accord - like a wandering cat that decides to go on walk about.

I came home - first question - first answer.  Internet up? No.  Crap!  This meant one thing and one thing only - a call to the ISP something I loath and dread with every fiber of my being.  I have nothing against the nice people there, it's just I know the talk track they'll have me follow - most of which I'd already done.  But, no internet meant no e-mail several other things.  YES I have an iphone with 3G but honestly I couldn't see myself trying to answer e-mails, check twitter and facebook and do some reasearch on the web via that little guy.

I called the ISP.  Went through the telephonic gynnastics I needed to get to a live person.  NO I did NOT want to take a survey after I was done with the call - thank you robot voice lady.  Finally I got a real person.  I told him my internet was dead and I blurted out quickly - hoping it would get him past the talk track bits I'd already done.  "I've rebooted several times and I've turned off the router as well.  Nothing."

He was a nice man.  I didn't have to go through that bit again.  He did have me undo the coxaial cables and plug them in again.  Nothing on his end.  Nothing on my end.  The router did it's best to show some weakly flickering lights trying it's best to prove it was still capable, but it was clear to the tech and to me that it just didn't have it anymore.  We needed to go to the bull pen for a new pitcher..I mean server.

The nice man told me to take my router to the nearest office and return it for a brand new one...or at least brand new to me.  OK.  I said and so happily did I head off to get said new router with the old one, no doubt glumly, resting next to me.  I go to the office and see the mass of people waiting, take my number, and wait.  It wasn't too long of a wait and next thing I'm sitting in front of a nice lady shoving my router across the table.

"Um." she says.  I hate when they say Um..it usually means something not good is coming. It wasn't. "I'm sorry, but this router requires a tech to come to your house to replace.  It's secured.  The tech on the phone should have known this.  I'm giving you a $20 credit for your time.  When would you like the tech to come?"

WHAT!  No Internet? No internet ALL NIGHT!  I mean..NO INTERNET!  We set a time and off I go, no doubt the router is now smirking at my misfortune.  I head home.  I made dinner (roasted chicken stuffed with orange and rosemary and new potatoes green beans and mushrooms simmered in a soy broth).  I petted the pups, I groomed the pups (ok brushed), I did check e-mails on my iphone but that was it.  I went to bed.  I read.  I...I...I actually started to remember a time when there was no internet, there was no wireless, no facebook or twitter.  I started to remember  when I wasn't sitting in front of my laptop surfing the net.  It was almost....almost...nice.  Thank the internet gods the tech comes today!  I mean one more day of not having internet and I mightdo something crazy like...like...totally give it up!  WHEW!  That was a close one.

Monday, March 8, 2010

What dreams may come

It all began on Friday morning.  My usual schlep into the office takes place in the dark most people are not awake and are driving on autopilot. Which is why I should have been expecting the near accident I witnessed.  I was in the left lane, the red mustang was a good car and a half length ahead of me, which is how I like it.  The van came on and proceeded to glide from the right lane to the middle lane, and then..to my shock and horror...from the middle lane to the left.  All would have been well except the red mustang happened to be in the left lane!  The mustang's driver now had to move onto the shoulder. Now mind this is all happening at about 60+ mph!  The van NOW realizes what it has done and tries to move back to the middle, can't.. another car is now there!  So it stays in the left lane, the mustang guns it and rides the shoulder until he can get back in in front of the van, and my heart is pounding a latin beat.

No doubt this incident triggered the dream I had that night.  Accidents, near accidents, all in that twisted odd world that is our dreams.  Saturday morning I woke thinking how our daily life affects our dreams.  I told my dream to Mom who agreed that Friday's incident had impacted my dreams.

Then we went shopping.  I'd gotten my hair cut, finally, and I had yet to go to the store to get something for dinner.  We got into her car and headed off.  We saw our first near accident not long after.  As we were coming to a red light someone pulled out ....slowly..from a parking lot right in front of the car in front of us.  He threw on his breaks, we did the same.  And we muttered about idgit people.  Then we shopped and left the grocery store.  As we were heading out of the parking lot a car filled with - what looked like teenagers or twenty somethings, flies around the corner and turns into the parking lot.  They cut it short...very short...very very short.  Mom throws on the breaks, we pitch forward and we hear the groceries in the back end go flying.  The car with the kids misses the front end by inches.  If Mom had not thrown on the breaks they'd have clipped us. OY.  I'm starting to think maybe my dream wasn't such a dream after all.

Back on the freeway we go and another near incident do we see.  There is a part of the freeway that goes from 3 lanes to 2 lanes, now for some reason the people that built the freeway decided the LEFT lane should go and not the right.  So usually you have a lot of people in the left lane TRYING to fly past everyone else and switch back in before their lane runs out.  Not a problem...usually...an bother...yeah...but not a problem.  Unless you happen to have an insanely huge RV that decides to go from the right lane into the middle lane RIGHT at the spot where the left lane merges in.  We start slowing ready to witness the mangling of metal.  Luckily the RV realizes his mistake and swings back into his original lane.  Whew.

Off the freeway - YES.  But are we free?  NO.  There are two lanes that exit and can turn left.  We're in the inner lane. A car from Alaska is in the outter lane, I suppose he realized he wanted to go back on the freeway, which means he had to cross into the outter lane. Which he did... Directly in front of us!  Again the hard break, the pitch forward, and yet more groceries sound like they're scattered across teh entire back end.  The Alaksa driver is totally oblivious in his quest to get back on the freeway.

By now I'm exhausted.  We've had to pair drive!  Mom steering and me being on the look out for any and all drivers!  We're on the home stretch...not far to the house.  But oh no we're not done yet.   We come up to a light...green...it's a green light...the person at the green light is not moving the cars in front of us...yup you guessed it...break light city..including ours.

Finally FINALLY we got home and crawled out of the car to kiss the concrete of the garage floor. The dogs raced out to greet us as soon as Dad opened the garage door.  I petted them and thought how lucky I was to be able to do it.  I went in, curled into a little ball and whimpered softly.  No No NO NO going out!  Not at least until the morning.

This will teach me to not heed my dreams!