Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Tales from the Honeymoon Part 4: Getting to the Point

In Victoria, Canada, Melanie and I stayed at the Laurel Point Inn. It had a slight Japanese influence that made our room the most unique of the honeymoon. Although it was a suite, the room was not particularly large. The bathroom was probably the most luxurious aspect, although the balcony (which was separated from the neighboring rooms only by semi-transparent glass) had a breathtaking view of Inner Harbour and overlooked the hotel’s lush Japanese garden.

Our suite had the most telephones of any room on our trip. There was a phone on the headboard-of-sorts behind the bed, a cordless phone on the desk just in front of the bed, and another telephone right beside the toilet.

The bed, as located just behind the “living room.” If you click on the picture to see a bigger version, you may notice the little beige blob above and between the two pillows. That’s one of the three phones in our suite. About ten or eleven feet away, you can see the black cordless phone on the desk.

Just to give you some perspective, this is a picture from the opposite side of the bed. The room isn’t much wider than this, so you’ve pretty much seen it all.

The marble “coffee table” in the living room. I thought it was cool. I didn’t get a picture of the TV, but it was tiny and pointless if you were lying in bed.

Although I didn’t care much for the room, I thought it had the coolest bathroom of the honeymoon. It was completely tiled with a nice, inset deep-soaker tub on one side and a sleek glass shower on the other. Even the faucet on the tub was way cool. It spit out water in a broad, flat stream that descended at an angle into the tub. Rather than gushing straight down into the tub, it looked like a cascading waterfall. To quote Will Smith, I was jiggy wit it.

The bathroom doors, two Japanese-esque sliding doors (I’m sure there’s a cool architectural name for such things, but don’t ask me). They’re pretty cool, but you can’t lock them so be careful!

The right-side of the bathroom, looking in from the doorway. I can only assume that’s a doggy bed underneath the sink. It was one of many mysteries we encountered on the honeymoon, just like the overly common “shoe mittens” (later realized to be simple shoe-cleaning cloths).

The left-side of the bathroom. Here we see the glass shower, the final telephone, and the remote-controlled television right next to the toilet. Yes, I watched some TV while doing my business, just so I could say I did.

As I said, our balcony had a tremendous view of Inner Harbour and the hotel’s Japanese garden. Let’s take a look!

Here we look west (I believe), just glimpsing the harbor as it meets with two other waterfront hotels. That colorful spectacle in the foreground is the beginning of our hotel’s Japanese garden. Awesome, wouldn’t you say?

A longer, angled look at the pond that makes up the bulk of the Japanese garden. Here, we face east, spying what appear to be apartments or condominiums. Probably pretty pricey ones.

An external shot of the Laurel Point Inn. This was taken from “downtown,” zooming in from across the eastside of the harbor. As you can see, the Victoria Clipper ferries dock right next to our hotel. We had no need to use our taxi vouchers to get from the dock to the hotel or vice versa. It would have been embarrassing to use them.

I had originally planned on also writing about Butchart Gardens with this post. However, that would result in such a long post, I’m sure nobody would read it. But let me assure you, it will mostly be a slideshow, and a pretty darn good one at that. Once we’ve visited Butchart, we can move on to Vancouver, at which point our honeymoon will almost be over. Stay tuned!

Friday, November 25, 2005

That Was Then, Then is Now

Ending posts can be a pain in the rear. Long before the common public had even heard of a modem, I resented the non-imposed-but-very-real pressure to end my journal entries with a satisfactory snap of wit. Now that I’ve climbed aboard the blog bandwagon with its potentially limitless audience, this pressure has only compounded. But rather than kindling a creative spark with ingenious literary results, this has often led me to embrace mediocrity. In my most motivated of moments, you’ll get the obvious pun. The rest of the time, I’m content to close with an “until then…” or some variant thereof.

In no way do I feign originality by addressing this dilemma. In fact, one of the blogs I regularly read made mention of this somewhat recently. (I’m sorry to admit, I couldn’t find the actual posting—I thought I knew where it was, but apparently I didn’t. Feel free to identify yourself, fellow blogger, and claim your due credit.) This person pointed to an article that suggested the classical conciseness of “The End.”

While this is a none-too-shabby method I myself have employed on at least one occasion, I think we can trim the fat even further. Why not just a simple ellipsis? Once the thoughts we intended to share have freely been cast into cyberspace, why not just trail off with a simple dot dot dot? I realize this is what I have been aiming for with the superfluous, “until then…”. But why add the extra words? They serve no purpose. And a “…” must work because I use it again and again posting comments on others’ blogs. The purpose of eloquently flowing into silence is preserved, but the extra verbiage is avoided.

So expect the ellipses to continue, but say goodbye to the “until then”’s. Unless they seem completely necessary, I hereby banish them from this blog. It’s the end of an era, the end of an error, and the welcoming of a new and improved blog. New look, same great taste, etc., etc., etc.…

Monday, November 21, 2005


I’m an incredibly indecisive person. As it is, I have a really hard time picking “favorites.” Favorite foods, favorite movies, favorite books, favorite musicians. Unless you want a really vague response, just don’t ask. And when I force myself to make such lists (as I regularly do on In the Key of Orange), it is not something I take lightly. Even if you asked me to “just go crazy” and list the top five songs of Led Zeppelin as they come to my head, I couldn’t do it. Something inside me prohibits me from taking these things so lightly. Sure, the impromptu uttering of a top-ten list is in no way a binding contract. It is not as though I’ll go to jail for perjury if, in the midst of polite conversation, I unintentionally exclude Steppenwolf from my list of favorite books. But I feel like I will.

Regardless, I do have vague, in-no-particular-order notions of what songs, albums, movies, TV shows, and so on are among my favorites in life. And how do I know? Because I won’t want much to do with them. For years, I have known Barenaked Ladies to be my favorite band of all time (one of only a few things I can say with certainty). I own all their CDs and have been to several of their concerts. And how often am I likely to listen to them? Pretty rarely, really. And how often do I watch my so-called favorite movies? Hardly ever. And I own almost all of them.

The thing is, some things are so good they have to be given your fullest attention. They have to be savored. They are sacred and, like the top ten lists on which they appear, should not be indulged in carelessly. How hard is it to appreciate the scenery of the road you’ve driven down a million times? How hard is it to get excited over a song that’s on the radio almost constantly? Likewise, to overplay your favorite albums or movies is to destroy their grandeur.

Nowadays I have my favorite favorites, and I have my day-to-day favorites. These two categories do not always mix. For example, I often find myself listening to A-Ha’s 1985 album, Hunting High and Low. This is not an album I would ever consider one of my all-time favorites. It would never even occur to me. Yet when I’m browsing through the CDs I’ve ripped to my computer, this one tends to catch my eye quite frequently. And it always hits the spot. Given the evidence, I guess I’d have to say it’s one of my day-to-day favorite albums. So should I list it when I’m asked about my favorite albums?

To facilitate conversation, I’ve taken to recognizing items from both categories. Depending on the situation, I can delve into my day-to-day favorites to give a more accurate account of my listening/watching/reading/eating/etc. habits. If the conversation is more earnest, I can stick with the crème de la crème. The only problem is when you have to make a non-specific list (as in Blogger profiles) that cannot differentiate between love and fervent appreciation. Favorite lists can become ambiguous at this point, but such is their nature when given in-no-particular-order. So why do I still manage to take them so seriously? It must be one of my day-to-day favorite things to do.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Tales from the Honeymoon Part 3: Romance Afoot

Victoria, Canada was the highlight of our honeymoon. Not only was it the sole destination we’d never been to before, but it was also the place we spent the most time—a whopping 32 hours! Located on Vancouver Island, the city is very pedestrian friendly, providing all the perks of a metropolis without abandoning its quainter qualities.

But our trip into Canada really begins at Pier 69 in Seattle. There we boarded the Victoria Clipper IV, the surprisingly swift ferry that got us to Victoria in just over two hours. It wasn’t your standard slow-and-scenic-loop-around-the-harbor type of vessel. Most of the time, the ride literally felt as smooth as a car on the interstate. Then there was the absence of a main deck that would allow the majority of passengers to mosey around “outside.” Instead, there was an observation deck that could comfortably fit six to eight people. This didn’t matter much as, once we were outside Seattle, there was little to be seen other than water. We were also given a “champagne breakfast,” which consisted of a miniature bottle of champagne and a breakfast basket of your choice. Melanie and I both went for the Danish and crackers-and-cheese combo. Like all the other choices, it also came with a cereal bar, juice, fruit snacks, and apple slices (instead of the advertised applesauce—though several slices were admittedly mushier than I would have expected). Adding to the thrills was the presence of Rick Steves, PBS travel guide extraordinaire. Mr. Steves appeared sans camera crew, so it took a while to notice a celebrity (yes, I use the term loosely) on board. Sadly, I didn’t get a photo of him. Dang.

This gives you some idea of the thrust with which the Victoria Clipper IV moved through the water. Water was spraying out behind us like mad. You’d think we just ran over an orca.

The Victoria Clipper IV docked in Victoria. The observation deck atop looks more accommodating than it was. You can’t see all the crap that would get in the way of walking around it.

When we got to Victoria, the first thing I noticed was how small it was. Thanks to some tourist maps, I was already familiar with the city’s layout, but I had no idea how it would translate in person. When I saw that our hotel was literally next to the pier at which we docked and that the Hotel Empress (Victoria’s famous landmark and unofficial city center) could be walked to in a matter of minutes, I knew we’d do just fine without taxis or a rental car. This proved to be the best aspect of our honeymoon—seeing everything on foot. Being freed from the confines of an automobile allowed us to take in sites at leisure, stopping, turning, and looking around at a moment’s whim and without any concern for parking, crashing, or otherwise causing traffic jams.

Our view from the dock, whilst standing in line to go through customs. That’s the Hotel Empress on the right.

Because we arrived so early in the day, Melanie and I were able to spend several hours on the town. With my Frommer’s guide in hand, we ventured “downtown” for lunch. We chose the supposedly locally famous Sam’s Deli. Ignorant as to the currency exchange rates, we spent about $30 US on cold cut sandwiches, a shared bowl of soup, two cookies, a bottled water, and a can of Pepsi. Determined to eat some kind of seafood during my trip to the great northwest, I had a shrimp and avocado sandwich. Being such mild flavored crustaceans, my sandwich was more texture (cold and goopy) than taste. Melanie’s turkey and avocado sandwich was also so-so. If we had spent even half the price, we would have been fine with it, but it’s definitely not a place I’d voluntarily recommend.

This is the Parliament Building. It has nothing to do with anything in my post, but it’s a tourist attraction nonetheless. It was located about halfway between our hotel and the Hotel Empress, featured above. Melanie took this one, mostly trying to get a picture of the sky.

After walking around a bit, we made a two-mile venture to another Frommer’s hot spot, the Craigdarroch Castle. We arrived just ten minutes before they closed the doors, which meant we had about forty minutes before they would actually kick us out. The battery in our camera was dying, so we didn’t get as many shots as we would have liked. The billiard room and an ornate, hand-carved, black throne-of-a-chair were two particular pieces I wish we could have captured. But I am pleased with the photos we got, most notably an amazing stained-glass window. All in all, it was probably the nicest mansion (re: not a castle) I’ve ever visited, but perhaps a bit underwhelming given our expectations. Still, we had fun, and our long walk to and from the place gave us much time to peruse the city.

Almost every room featured stained glass, but this was by far the most impressive and beautiful. And, being a very amateur photographer, I’m pleased that I was able to capture the luminescence so well. Kudos to me!

Craigdarroch’s unofficial uvula. This odd piece of décor hangs down from the ceiling in the main stairway. I don’t know its significance, but it looks cool. And the lizard seems to be enjoying himself.

This organ was located between floors in a little nook within the stairway (this photo was taken from the same spot as the above photo, only looking down). A cool little niche if you ask me. And, as solid as it looks, that is actually a stained-glass window right above it. Nifty!

The castle and one of its visitors. Wait, is that me? Uh oh, my anonymity is slipping!!

Later in the evening, Melanie and I were both exhausted but once again in need of food. We wanted something a bit more relaxed, perhaps a pub or something with upper-scale casual food. Turning again to Frommer’s, we settled on The Pacific Restaurant, the purportedly laid-back, family-friendly restaurant at the nearby Hotel Grand Pacific. I called to see if it would be easy to get a table, and I was informed that a window table was available and would be saved for us. Impressed, I hung up the phone, and Melanie and I once again took to the street. Upon arriving at The Pacific Restaurant, I realized we had been duped. It was dark. Piano music was playing in the background. The menu featured shucked oysters with raspberry shallot mignonette, Cornish game hens with red onion confit, goat cheese panini, and other seemingly mythological entities. It was a far cry from casual. And the favor of holding a table by the window for us? With only one other party in the restaurant, it was hard to feel flattered. Four or five other tables had an equally generous view of the harbor.

Luckily, the food wasn’t all that bad. At least in my opinion. And the waitress seemed nice enough. I tried the Roasted Moroccan Albacore Tuna Rigatoni, while Melanie strove for casualness with the Jack Daniels Alder-Smoked BBQ Steak Sandwich, which was about as normal as one could get. Even so, it featured shaved Brie gratin, sun-dried plum tomato relish, and was served on a garlic baguette. It cost us about $60 US, and I’m still not sure what exactly I was eating the whole time. There were these chewy ribbons in my food that were a textual cross between linguine and a fruit roll-up. The only similar thing I’ve seen was at the Vancouver Aquarium, which does not exactly put me at ease.

Next time, I’ll tell you about the hotel we actually stayed at and about our trip to the unbelievably beautiful Butchart Gardens (the first of Frommer’s recommendations to actually get it right). This was probably the very coolest place we ever ended up, and I’m excited to share pictures of it. So until then…

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


I can only remember laughing in my sleep once in my youth. I was quite young and dreaming in cartoon. The big bad wolf was chasing the three little pigs, and just as the wolf’s jaws were about to snap down on one of the porker’s heads, the pig miraculously transformed into an astronaut. In place of his fat, pink noggin was the astronaut’s helmet. The wolf, whose teeth had just slammed down on hard plastic, was stunned. His plan was foiled, and my infantile mind (I was probably four or five years old at best) delighted in this sudden turn of events. I woke up giggling.

Given the rarity of such somnambulist joviality, I find it interesting that twice in the last seven days, I have woken up in a fit of laughter. Last week, I was dreaming that one of my best friends and I were getting snow cones. Something about the guy who was serving us was incredibly funny. Now that I’m awake, I have no idea what it was. And I’m not 100% sure I ever did. All I know is that, while we weren’t outright teasing the man, I could tell from our fervent attempts not to laugh that he was the butt of our joke. That’s all I can remember.

Last night it happened again, only the laughing was much more intense. Even when I came to full consciousness, I had to take a few moments to chuckle. This time, the dream centered on a magic trick being performed by none other than Fred Willard (I feel I have an extremely high ratio of celebrity “guest appearances” in my dreams—it’s a subject I’ve thought about posting on before, and I probably will someday). The trick went something like this: two little kids climbed under a tarp that was covering a swimming pool. The tarp then transformed into solid ground. The audience was supposed to be in suspense, wondering how the kids would get out of the pool. Fred then went over to a black gym bag sitting on the newly formed ground. He was leading the audience along, reaching into the bag and saying something like, “I wonder what’s in here!” The obvious expectation was that the children would be pulled up out of the bag, presumably coming up through some hole that the bag was covering. However, when Fred pulled his hand out of the bag, he revealed nothing more than a human bone. He screamed in an “oops, that’s not what’s supposed to happen!” type of way. I woke up with guffaws aplenty.

While the humor in these dreams aren’t built upon uplifting moments or anything overtly positive, I can only assume it’s a good sign that I’m having them. To wake up laughing would suggest my life is going pretty well, or so I would hope. Either that or I’m just going crazy. Regardless, I’ve had fun with it and thought I would share. And it also gave me a reason to start a post with the letter z, which is something I’ve never done before. Talk about dreams coming true!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Tales from the Honeymoon Part 2: Off to See the Wizard

The day after Melanie and I got married, we flew to Seattle. It was really an overnight detour on the way to our ultimate goal—a ferry ride into Victoria, Canada—but the 8am sailing time prevented us from taking a flight on the same day. While staying in Seattle was a practical necessity, Melanie and I were more than happy to spend a few hours there. And to frost the cake, our hotel came compliments of my father’s Holiday Inn rewards points. Since we would have flown into Seattle anyway, all this extra night of fun cost us was the price of dinner, and we would have done that had we stayed home. In short, we had a free ticket to the Emerald City.

Funny enough, our free hotel room ended up being one of our favorites. We had less choice about where to stay than at any other point on our honeymoon, but we couldn’t have been more pleased. We stayed at the downtown Crowne Plaza. We were given a room on the 32nd floor with a fantastic view of the city. In one direction you were greeted by the towering cityscape; in the other, you saw the humbler side of the metropolis, with old buildings, aged churches, and, further in the distance, residential neighborhoods. And for the little boy in me, there was the quirk of an elevator equipped with a card reader. Rather than push the floor you’d like to go to, you simply swiped your room “key” and the elevator knew where to take you. Magical!

The only half-decent picture of or from our hotel. Notice my wife hiding behind the TV cabinet. But was she hiding from the camera or from me? Hmmm.

While visiting the city two years ago, Melanie and I had eaten at The Cheesecake Factory, a delicious chain restaurant of upper-middleclass proportions. With Utah being devoid of this fine eatery, we were quite eager to return. As luck would have it, it was just a few blocks from our hotel. After settling into our room, we took a short and enjoyable walk to the restaurant. It was loud and crowded. We had to wait several minutes just to get to the counter to put our names on the waitlist. When we finally reached the hostess, we were told it would be a fifty-minute wait. But just as we were turning to join the hungry horde of loiterers, a manager came up and asked if we were both over 21. Because of all the noise, I thought he was asking us if we belonged to a group already seated in the restaurant. I was about to say “no” when, fortunately for us, my wife, who has much better hearing than I do, answered in the affirmative. He then told us that a table for two had opened up in the bar area, which was first-come, first-serve, and that if we wanted it, it was ours. We wanted it.

For those who don’t know, The Cheesecake Factory offers tons of selections. Their menu is something like twenty pages long. For an indecisive person such as myself, this can be quite a challenge. But alas, choices were made, and excellent ones at that. We started with the ultra-delicious avocado eggrolls with Thai peanut dipping sauce (pictured below). I then had a chicken and potatoes type meal while Melanie had a spicy pasta dish with chicken. They were both exquisite. But of course the restaurant’s true claim to fame lies in their overwhelming selection of cheesecakes. Melanie had the Toblerone® Swiss Almond Cheesecake while I had Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie-Dough Cheesecake. Stuffed as we were, we took the cheesecake to go and headed back to the hotel.

The Cheesecake Factory’s uber-delectable avocado eggrolls. They’re upper-middleclassalicious!

When we got back to the room, I wanted to take a quick, cool shower before throwing on a complimentary bathrobe and climbing into bed to relax and enjoy my dessert. I basked in the luxury of it all. My only disappointment, which was minimal, was discovering that my cheesecake was thoroughly chocolate. I realize the name should have tipped me off, but I guess I had just expected chocolate swirls or something. I’m not a big chocolate fan, so this wasn’t really the style I was hoping for. Still, it was tasty. Very rich, but tasty.

The Seattle Cheesecake Factory shortly after two thoroughly gorged honeymooners depart the premises.

And that does it. That was our simple night in Seattle. Not much to it as there wasn’t much time to be had. But it was a lovely, easygoing way to spend the evening before our early morning commute. Because of the simplicity of the evening, there are limited pictures to share. All attempts at scenic photography failed miserably. But, to get a better idea of the hotel, feel free to click here for its webpage. I promise that tales of Canada will be more interesting, as will the pictures. Until then…

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Potpourri No. 8

Another honeymoon tale will soon be posted. For now, I will yet again catch you up on some recent events. Sadly, they are not all positive.

Everything and the Kitchen Sink
After finally getting my dishwasher fixed (or replaced, rather), there seems to be a problem with the kitchen sink. There’s a leak—not just a drip, mind you, but an all-out pouring—whenever we turn on the water. Particularly fond of draining into the cabinet below is our garbage disposal. The sad thing is, this makes our ability to wash dishes even more disaster prone than when our dishwasher was broken. After all, then we could at least wash dishes by hand. But now, whether using the dishwasher or our bare hands, using the water means a flood beneath the sink. Do I really need to articulate my frustration with this place? And I haven’t even publicized the broken toilet and lack of hot water, which existed when Melanie and I first took over the place. Luckily those were fixed before we were actually living here, but they still took a week-and-a-half to get them done. I’m seriously beginning to feel swindled.

Sawing Blogs
Not that it will matter to most, but I’ve removed Orange Theology and In the Key of Orange from my profile. The pages still exist—and, in fact, they have recently been updated—but I don’t want them listed on my profile. Then again, I don’t want people to think they disappeared because they are no longer listed. So why have I done this? Because I consider Sucking on Oranges to be the main page, the primordial hub from which all other blogs of orangeness sprang. To visit these other fine pages, just click on the links found to your right. Or, do as thousands of others have done and bookmark them today!

If you’re looking for something interesting to do around the Web, let me offer a few suggestions. For starters, I’ve added just a couple of new blogs to my sidebar. Give them a look if you’re feeling antsy. If those don’t satisfy your cravings, take a look at some of these online oddities of late:
  • Are you familiar with the newly elected mayor of Hillsdale, Michigan? Do you think he won with the promise of new vending machines in the lunchroom? Hmmm.
  • Is Swearing Wrong? Student philosophers shoot the $#!^ here.
  • If you peruse the newly added blogs on my sidebar, you’ll meet Jessica Benet. And if you meet her, she’ll introduce you to the Diva Cup. Make sure you check out the official Diva Cup site, as linked to in her post. One thing’s for sure—unless you wish you hadn’t, you’ll be glad you did!
  • Not quite ready for the Diva Cup? Perhaps you’ll prefer the professional appearance of this parody webpage promoting premenstrual tampons for pre-teens. Can you say that ten times fast?
  • Gary Larson once speculated that the real reason dinosaurs went extinct was lung cancer. Maybe he wasn’t that far off! Check out the surprising sponsors in this cigarette commercial!
That’s it!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Dishwasher Safe (Finally!)

I interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you this important announcement. Ladies and gentleman, Mr. and Mrs. K now have a working dishwasher. Or at least, so it seems. Perhaps I ought not jinx it by sharing this momentous achievement in the midst of a wash cycle, but I can scarce contain my glee. Then again, you will not be able to share in my joy if I don’t first share the preliminary tale of woe. And so, let me digress…

Although it has been just over a month since Melanie and I took possession of our new apartment, we have only been living here for about a week and a half. That’s because we spent October moving stuff in and getting the place ready for our post-honeymoon occupancy. Now that the honeymoon is over, we’re finally attempting to live life as normal. And, blessed as I was at my previous residence, life as normal has always included a dishwasher. Like many people, I hate washing dishes more than any other household chore (perhaps because it’s one of the few chores I’ve spent much time doing, but still). When we found this apartment, we were wooed long (or at least a few seconds) before spying the dishwasher, and it was with sincerest gratitude that, last Friday, I finally loaded it up and took it for a test spin.

Perhaps I should have been more suspicious when the appliance sounded more like a garbage disposal than any dishwasher I’d ever known. But, after checking to see if a spoon had somehow dropped down into a gear or something, I was convinced it must just be a quirk unique to our particular model. Sure, it was obnoxiously loud, but at least it was working. And who knows, maybe it was just working out a few kinks after going unused for a while. It’s not like I had any idea how long our apartment had been vacant before we nabbed it. Maybe the dishwasher just needed some time to “wake up” and get back to its normal routine.

Fast forward thirty minutes. Journeying to the bathroom, I suddenly notice a large circle of wet carpet smack dab in the middle of the hall, just below the closet that houses our water heater. More skeptical than panicked at this point, I open the closet door and inspect the tiles directly surrounding the water heater. They’re completely dry. Odd. I return my attention to the carpet and follow the swelling expanse to its only possible origin—the heater vent. Peering closer, I find a thin stream of water trickling from the metallic slats. It’s as though the Hoover Dam has been miniaturized and jokingly transported to my hallway by an evil genie. Hmmm.

With a sickened sense of expectation, I look to the kitchen door. A tiny peninsula of dampened carpet smiles back at me. Moving closer, I find in place of my kitchen a linoleum lagoon. Instinctively, I claw for the lever on the dishwasher door and pull it towards me, stopping it in its soggy tracks. I pull open the door, as though discovering some obvious problem (that I’d somehow missed before) will magically turn back time and prevent the partial soiling of my home. And what do I find? A quiet, undisturbed sanctuary of dry, dirty dishes. In stark contrast to my newly acquired wetlands, there is not a drop of precipitation to be found inside the dishwasher. I’m bugged. I’m befuddled. I’m balding – which has nothing to do with a broken dishwasher, but since I’m complaining anyway….

Needless to say, I head straight to the phone and dial up the main office of my corporate landlord. In what I’m quickly learning is an unfortunate set of circumstances, my landlord does not live on the premises. Rather, my building is owned by a corporation that owns dozens (if not baker’s dozens) of rental units across the city. I was hoping that such a situation would ensure professionalism, but so far it has only made me feel detached. And so it was when I told them of the partial flooding of my apartment. I was politely informed that, because it was after 3pm, chances were slim that somebody could come over that same day. Instead, I should expect the problem to be fixed sometime on Monday.

I was exasperated, but ultimately helpless. I mopped up the floor, sopped up the carpet, and plopped myself onto the couch. Sure, the water had been taken care of, but what about the smell? An overwhelming stench had accompanied the flood and was beginning to permeate every room of the apartment. I thought it was the unavoidable result of dampened carpet, but I quickly learned the smell was much worse in the carpetless kitchen. Could it be the wood of the cabinets somehow? No matter. At least it would be gone by Monday afternoon.

When Monday afternoon had come and just about gone, we had not yet heard from anyone regarding the dishwasher. I called our landlord. I was told that someone would check on the status of the work order and get back to me shortly. By Tuesday afternoon, when still no one had gotten in touch with me, I called again. All I got was an answering machine, assuring a prompt reply. I left a message explaining the situation, making it clear that I expected a fixed dishwasher sometime that day, and informing them to call me back as soon as possible. When an hour and a half had passed and still no one had called me back, I tried again. Once again, I got the answering machine. I regurgitated the same information from my previous message, hung up, and waited just over an hour before giving them yet another call.

This time I spoke to a real (supposedly) human being. I was told that my being ignored was a total surprise, as someone should have responded long ago. Nevertheless, she would make sure someone came over within the next couple of days and get the problem fixed. Nearly ready to scream, I told her that I was guaranteed a working dishwasher on Monday, not Thursday, and that I had already had to call numerous times just to get nothing done. She promised she’d see what could be done and, feeling hopeless, I hung up.

Much to my surprise, a repairman showed up at my apartment not much later. He only tinkered around for about ten minutes before pronouncing his victory over the machine’s maladies. Excitedly, I re-started the dishwasher. It was still loud and grinding, but—perhaps due to my wishful thinking—it did sound a little bit better.

But it wasn’t. Ten minutes later, a small pool of water was spreading across the kitchen floor. Furious, I immediately called the landlord and, yet again, was forced to leave a message. Desperately I pleaded with the non-existent entity on the other end of the line. I begged that, if it were at all possible, the repairman be contacted before he was out of the vicinity. I hung up the phone, willing the slackers at the corporate office to turn from their computer solitaire just long enough to hear my one message. Now. Now! Now!

But my efforts were in vain. Nobody called back. It would be the middle of the next morning before I’d get in touch with a live person. And much to my depleted delight, they did get somebody out here right away. And a different person, thankfully. Of course, all this person did was assess the problem and tell me it would be fixed the next day, but at least he seemed competent. And at least I wouldn’t have to call anyone again (knock on wood).

Thursday morning, the repairman showed up just as he promised. He dislodged the dishwasher, revealing the source of the horrific odor. Sludge of some unknown source had completely coated the floor beneath the appliance. As I sat in the corner and choked, the repairman/hero used a snow shovel to remove the grime. It took a staggering two trips to the garbage can to completely rid my home of this foe. This placated me enough that, when the repairman announced he needed yet another part and would have to return tomorrow, I was more than grateful. Apparently, they suspect a mouse had chewed through some of the pumps and seals and whatnot. Who knows for sure.

Today, as I got home from school, I noticed my dishwasher had a new appendage—a button offering me the option to “temperature boost” my wash cycle. The repairman had promised me that, if he couldn’t obtain the necessary part for my dishwasher, he would replace the entire unit with a dishwasher from another (presumably vacant) apartment. The new button tells me this is what happened. And I couldn’t be happier. Praying for divine intervention, I started my new dishwasher and began writing this post. As it turns out, the cycle is already complete and the dishes are sparkling. The floor is dry, but my eyes are flooded with tears of joy. Finally, I can get on with my life.

Finally, my life is dishwasher safe.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Tales from the Honeymoon Part 1: A Grand Experience

Months ago, Melanie and I made reservations at The Grand America Hotel for our wedding night. Generally content to stay in such modest accommodations as a Super 8 Motel or Holiday Inn Express, Melanie and I had splurged and reserved not just a room, but a luxury suite at the city’s finest hotel. Pulling up to the main entrance of the hotel, we were immediately greeted by a charming bellhop who promptly unloaded our luggage and had our car valet parked. Making our way through the palatial lobby, Melanie and I reached the front desk, still dressed in our full wedding day regalia, and gave them Melanie’s maiden name, under which the reservation had been made.

“Hmmm,” the woman at the front desk said after spending some time clicking and typing various bits of information into the computer. “I don’t see it. Could it be under another name?” Although we felt relatively certain we had made the reservation under my wife’s maiden name, we offered them my surname. “Nothing,” the woman said. “Do you have a confirmation number?”

I did have a confirmation number. It was tucked neatly away in one of the bags the gracious bellhop had just taken from us. “Keep looking,” I said as I made my way back outside the hotel. Luckily, the bellhop was right there. He led me to a room where our luggage sat in limbo, waiting for a room assignment before reaching its destination. I felt particularly tacky reneging, at least partially, on the bellhop protocol. As it was, I had already stiffed the guy when it came to a tip because I had no cash on my person. But I promised I’d come back later and make it up to him and, with my bag in hand, made my way back to the front desk.

As it turned out, they had dropped a letter from Melanie’s maiden name, making the reservation difficult to find. But the confirmation number quickly resolved the issue and, soon enough, Melanie and I found ourselves in a 22nd floor suite.

The hotel certainly strove for lavishness. It is no surprise that a simpleton such as myself would experience a few firsts here. For starters, they had offered us complimentary bottled water and cookies (non-bottled) while we were checking in. But the room itself had many unique features. Among them was a doorbell, a separate marble tub and glass shower, a scale (although I don’t know who, in the midst of a supposed vacation, would want to worry about weight), and complimentary bathrobes. Then there was the service, which was top notch. It seemed that everyone in the hotel, both that evening and the next morning, knew who we were. We were congratulated by almost every employee we looked at, and when Melanie and I went out for a stroll later in the evening, the original bellhop greeted us as Mr. and Mrs. K. What a memory! (And yes, I did finally give him a tip.)

More impressive than anything else was our balcony view. It looked directly down into a picturesque (it’s true, I even took pictures) courtyard, as well as offering a handsome view of the city (just east of the city center). The photo below is of the courtyard at approximately 5am, when Melanie and I woke up for no good reason and decided to goof off on the balcony. The next shot is (obviously) a daytime shot of the city view. Should you be interested in useless trivia, that main white building on the bottom left is the city courthouse. The gothic building surrounded by trees is called the City and County Building. So what, eh?

Melanie and I had a great time on our first night, but, as fancy as it was, the best was yet to come. Oh, except at 7am when the alarm clock in the hotel went off. Apparently somebody forgot to turn it off that morning. Or else they were playing a mean joke on the next guests. As sleep is apt to do, our main priority whenever the alarm sounded was simply to shut it up. And so, we ended up pushing snooze until about 748am, when we finally turned it off for good.

To conclude, I will offer a few more pictures. The first is the sexy marble tub and glass shower. The second is the sink. Not much to it, but it gives you an idea. Everything was gold. Gold equals fancy, you see.

Next is the living room, complete with the remains of our room service dinner. As you can see, the décor is a bit grandma-ish, but the couch and everything was very comfortable.

This is a sampling of the wet bar. Despite the temptation to eat something just because we’re not used to having a wet bar, we left it intact. And it’s a good thing. According to their price list, those normal sized bags of M&Ms cost $3 each. Jiggawhat? Yeah, that’s right.

Thanks for tuning in. I probably won’t blab at such lengths with subsequent honeymoon posts. I’ll try to keep it simple and to the (interesting) point, and perhaps keep it more picture based so you have something to do besides read. If you’d like to see more pictures of the Grand America, simply click here to visit their site. Until then…