Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cunning Kiddos

Little Miss Hailey is one smart seven month old.  She's fun, always ham for the camera, and has her Auntie(s) wrapped around her little finger.  "Let her cry it out," says Mommy, but Auntie just can't help herself.  And the little girl knows it.  Want sympathy?  Just start crying and crawling toward Auntie.  Auntie meets her halfway, scoops her up, bounces, sways, and does whatever it takes to make that little girl happy...sometimes much to Mommy's dismay.  Auntie might be a sucker for this cunning little girl, but it's worth it to see the smile on her face and hear the cooing of a happy baby.

Ryan, my three year old nephew, also knows how to work the system.  He'll climb into his Auntie's lap being cute and cuddly and say, "Hi.  I love you."  This is usually followed by something to the effect of, "Want some lemonade?"  "No, thank you.  I don't want any lemonade."  "Ryan lemonade?"  Sometimes he's just too cute to resist!  His Aunties, not wanting to be outdone, have also slapped him with an "Aunt tax".  Yesterday he was eating a doughnut when both of his Aunties fined him a bite.  :) 

Other fun things we've been doing include piggyback rides, playing soccer and hockey, finding fun games/parts for the old N64, and visiting Grandma Wright.  It's all absolutely exhausting, especially as the kiddos wake up at 6:15 most mornings...oy.  But, it's lots of fun, too.  Plans (and daily pace) will shift a bit in another day, as I'm heading over to Grand Rapids (GR) for lunch with two of my college professors.  After that, I have plans with various friends for a couple of days before I make my way back to Lansing for Mom's birthday weekend.  Pictures to post this weekend.  Hope you're having a blessed week!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Body Imaging at BWI

Today I'm blogging from Gate B2/B4 at Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI).  Tis the beginning of my vacation, when I take some time off and head back to my beloved Mitten state.  Fortunately, I was able to take much of the afternoon off from work and get to the airport with a few hours to spare.  Check-in was quick and easy, and lines for security were short...but today, I would have gladly waited an hour through security in order to avoid what was waiting for me once I got to the metal detector and x-ray machines.

Today was the first time I have ever had to go through the L3 ProVision body-imaging machine.  I chose the short line for the x-ray machine, only to realize which line I had entered.  Quickly grabbing a bin and switching to another line nearby, I unloaded my belongings into bins, hoping the TSA hadn't noticed.  I stood in front of the metal detector when a TSA agent directed me to the L3 machine.  We had a brief discussion about why I didn't want to go through and what I knew about the machine, but was ushered through anyway.  What added to the embarrassing scan is what happened after I stepped out.  I was patted down.  Really?  After one exits the L3 ProVision machine, Big Brother (or, hopefully Big Sister, in my case) lets the TSA agent know what to do next.  Subjecting me to the scan evidently didn't reveal enough of what was under my clothing, so I had to be patted down.  Absolutely ridiculous.

At first I thought the pat down was retribution for muttering a few not-so-nice words on my way into, and out of, the machine.  However, as I sat on a bench to put my shoes and belt back on, I noticed that others were being patted down as well, depending on what the TSA agent's all-powerful earpiece told him/her.  Taking a brief look at the company's website, it appears that one of the many features of this machine is that it "reduces need for time-consuming and intrusive pat-down searches."  Apparently this wasn't the case today.  The ProVision fact sheet says, "The system provides options that allow blurring of faces and other areas of the body."  (Emphasis mine)  This suggests that the system is capable of blurring the most private areas of the body, but those entering the machine cannot be certain that those options have been enabled.  To be fair, the fact sheet also says, "Images cannot be saved after security personnel review them."  If true, that would be plus one point for L3, but as far as I can see, nowhere does it say that the images cannot be printed out. 

At the end, I thought about two things: (1) I'm going to pay better attention to the security line I enter, and be more adamant that I be allowed to go through a normal x-ray machine, even to the extent of citing that I do have the right to refuse to enter the machine and (2) if I absolutely, positively, must go through the machine, Big Sister might have a not-so-nice hand gesture pop up on her screen.  Hey, I'm Catholic...not perfect. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wheel Want

Living in the city, I'm within walking distance to work, church, Metro, and plenty of shops and restaurants.  Fortunately, I do not need or own a car.  But as I was out walking this evening, I saw this car and did a double take.  This is a Dodge Caliber.  I want one.  But I don't need one.  It would be nice to have the freedom to not be reliant on Metro--especially on weekends when delays and track work are inevitable.  Perhaps my want stems from my lack of owning anything more expensive than the bed I purchased last winter.  If I need wheels, I have Zipcar.  I don't own a condo or house, but rent a studio apartment.  The most expensive things I do have, like much of America, are student loans and some credit card debt.  And, until those are paid off (only 3 years left on that student loan!) I won't even begin to seriously consider a major purchase.  Window shopping is fun, though!  :)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Long weekend at Long Beach Island

...had a wonderful time at the Jersey Shore!  A good friend of mine has a beach house on Long Beach Island (LBI), NJ, so we headed up there for a few days of respite.  It was a much needed break from the busy which has been work, and served as a wonderful prelude to my actual vacation which begins in just a few days!  We both took off Friday afternoon, me taking the MARC train up to Baltimore where we would meet up and drive to LBI.  LBI is a skinny island, but about 18 miles long.  Friend's house is in the Barnegat Light area--the northern end of the island--and the house backs up to a lagoon.  After exceptionally refreshing margaritas on the dock, we were off to dinner and what else does one eat so close to the ocean but seafood?! 

We walked over to a quaint little shopping/food/boating area called Viking Village and ordered take out at Off the Hook.  Now, I'm a fresh water girl myself, and haven't eaten much seafood outside of shrimp and the occasional crab cake in the past six years I've lived in the Mid-Atlantic.  That being said, the broiled seafood platter (crab-stuffed flounder, scallops, shrimp, and clams casino) was absolutely delicious.  Everything seemed to be fresh and cooked/flavored just right.  The clams casino were my favorite, but I truly believe that bacon does make everything better.  After all of that scrumptious food, it was time to explore the beach!

We decided to walk over to the ocean, and from there walked all the way around the northern most tip of LBI, to Barnegat Lighthouse.  It was a pretty long walk, but a beautiful night--we waded into the ocean, were amazed by the stars, and mused where the various planes were headed as they set out on their transatlantic flights.  It was a simply delightful evening with great food, perfect weather, and exceptional company.

On Saturday, we both slept in and awoke to find ominous clouds which would produce quite a bit of rain.  It was necessary, although somewhat disappointing, we remembered that on our walk we had seen a movie rental place.  Set up in the garage of a private residence, Ives Five Seasons rents and repairs bicycles for sunny days, and rents DVDs for the dreary ones.  We picked up a couple of movies and went back to the house, broke out the potato chips and dip, and settled in for an afternoon of lounging.  So nice!  The weather eventually cleared up in the evening, and we went to a local family restaurant called Scojo's.  Entrees were enough to feed two people easily, and it was pretty good home style grub.

Sunday was another day for sleeping in, and then we were off to lunch...by boat!  Some friends of my friend picked us up at her dock, and we weaved our way out of the lagoon, through the bay, and into the ocean!  This was my first time actually on the ocean and although I thought it was incredibly choppy, I was a little proud of myself for not getting seasick.  The last time I had been bumped around like that was on an awful commercial flight which included what the pilot called "evasive maneuvers", which has led to some minor anxiety during air travel.  Since I can swim, I figured there were worse things than being knocked out of a boat, so I was able to enjoy the trip up to Martell's.  Martell's is a unique restaurant as you can actually pull up in your boat, secure it to one of their mooring balls, and then a water taxi (pontoon boat) picks you up and takes you to the waterside restaurant!  We dined outside where the food wasn't anything special, but the atmosphere was casual and relaxed.  A very enjoyable afternoon with good company!

After we made our way back to the beach house, it was time to pack and close things up.  I would have loved to stay a week, until my proper vacation started, but we were both back to work Monday morning.  However, it was a much needed weekend with a great friend, new adventures, and a lot of fun. 

Soon enough it will be onto the next adventure--home to Michigan!  If there's time, I'll blog from there a bit.  In the meantime, hope you're having a blessed week!