Wednesday, October 17, 2007

One year later...

It's been a year since I moved to New Jersey. It was a fast year, packed with lots and lots of craziness, like jughandles and impatient drivers, but also lots and lots of fun, like going to the beach everyday.

Now the lights have been turned off on the island, the crowds have gone home but the ocean is still warm and the breeze is just right.

And I'm not there to enjoy it.

Yes, I have moved. I took a job with a newspaper in Delaware and packed up and moved last week. I am living in Wilmington and, while it's nice to live in a city again, I miss the breeze and the clank-clank of the sailboats at the yacht club.

I will, however, continue blogging, on my personal website: Delawhere?. The site is sorta beta right now because I haven't developed the main website, but I do have 'hidden pages' that are on the website, but only locateable (new word!) if you know the the blog.

There are certain aspects of Jersey I will miss...the beach...but also many others I will not miss. While I am not going to be one of those "OMG jersey is like smelly and gross and the pits" kind of people, I am also not one of its cheerleaders. It does take a certain breed of people to survive in that state, and I am not one of them! Well, unless i lived at the beach that was never frequented by people from the north.

I hope you are still checking this page and if you are, I hope you will check out my new blog. I promise to make it pretty, soon, pretty soon.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Say Chowda!

I did NOT go to the Chowderfest, despite looking forward to going to it all year, since I just missed it last year. I like Chowder. I would've enjoyed trying lots of different kinds of chowder. I had other things to do, which I will elaborate on in another post this week.

Many people do not like fall festivals and town festivals. I actually really like them. I grumble and groan about going to them as a reporter, but it's so fun to see people out and about. It's even more fun when they have funny themes festivals, like Hopkins Raspberry Festival or Stillwater Lumberjack Days...or Corn on the Cob Days in Plainfield, MN. Somerset, Wisc, has PEA SOUP Days. Strangest food-related "days" ever.

Here they have Chowderfest, Apple Festivals and Cranberry Festivals. I really want to go to the Chatsworth Cranberry Festival because I love cranberries. But it is on my birthday. If they had a recipe contest, I would submit my cranberry cream cheese wonton recipe.

What's the strangest festival you've ever heard of or attended?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


One of the few amenities left today on planes are the free magazines stuffed into the seat pocket in front of you.

Typically, I will leaf through the magazine, sometimes doing the crossword or attempting the sudoku. But oftentimes I fly during the same month, which is the time frame for the magazine to be replaced...meaning if I read the magazine on my departing flight, I have nothing to read on my return flight. Or someone else has already finished the crossword and put it back into the seat. Please stop doing that.

Enter SkyMall.

I have never bought anything from SkyMall. I seriously doubt I will ever buy anything from SkyMall. But, boy, have I gone through every page of SkyMall. People often go to Sharper Image and think "this is stuff for the person who has everything" but Sharper Image is one small chunk of the world of people who have everything. SkyMall fills in the remaining gap.

There are all sorts of crazy items, some of them logged in the comedy book SkyMaul, but the one item that is always ubiquitous that I've never been able to understand is the Pop-up hot dog cooker.

Perhaps this is the gift for the busy mother with plenty of counterspace because I don't know about you, but by the time you dug this appliance out from a cupboard, unplugged something and plugged this thing in, you could've easily boiled or pan-fried two hot dogs. There are a couple of other hot dog cookers, that more resemble the rolling spit from convenience stores and gas stations, but I could see those being a little more practical because it does more than two hot dogs and could be used at a party, maybe by a company or baseball team selling concessions.

Other unusual items for a home include a chilled shot machine (good for frats?), an automatic towel dispenser, a motorized pool lounger for the iultimate lazy experience, a breakfast cereal dispenser (see above comment regarding counter space) and a Fiesta Station Buffet, for those days when just putting chicken into bowls and tortillas on a warm plate JUST WON'T DO. That last one actually advertises itself as being "for your home" so they are not aiming at, like, companies or small restaurants or something.

But, honestly, nothing beats the hot dog warmer.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Who says you can't go home?

I've been back in Minnesota for the past three glorious days. Today is my last day at home and boy, I don't want to leave. It has nothing to do with not liking New Jersey/Philly. I had my reasons for moving there and they still apply.

I've had a whirlwind stay of going out to meet friends and a few quiet times at home, though not quite enough of the latter. In fact, I have to leave in a little bit again, but I wanted to do a quick update. Maybe I shouldn't have wasted the good title for this short brief, but so it goes!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Frankie says Relax!

I said it in my last entry but it was buried. So at the risk of sounding shrill:

Dear visitors:
RELAX! Breathe! You are on vacation. Not only that, you are vacationing on an island. Getting two cars ahead isn't going to do much. There's no other place to go. We are surrounded by water.

Everyone wants to get to their beach/minigolf/bar/house as much as you do. Understand that. So please wait your turn. Gunning 5 cars ahead will save you, what, a minute? That's not much time and not worth raising your blood pressure.

Also, when you are at the beach with your wife and daughter, and the sun is warm and the wind is just right and you have your feet buried in the sand? Put away the Blackberry. Heck, don't even bring it to the beach. Nothing is so important it can't wait a few hours while you relax.

Talk to your wife. Find out how she is doing. You're likely always working and she might miss that connection. (Then again, maybe she doesn't and this is part of the arrangement! Who knows!)
Look at your daughter! She is gorgeous and sweet and smart. She won't be that size much longer, where she is still excited about playing with a toy dolphin in a bucket of salt water.

Your email can wait. Your daughter can not.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Driving in New Jersey

The one thing I don't think I'll ever get used to is driving in this state. Particularly on the Garden State Parkway. The posted speed limit is 65. Now, I am not some sort of puritan who insists at going at or below the speed limit. I'll admit it, I'll sometimes push 5 to 10 miles over.

I follow the "use the left lane for passing only" style of driving and sometimes when I am doing my 10 (ok 15) over in the left lane to pass someone in the right lane, I get nosed. Okay, that's fine. some people go faster than me. But when I am going OVER the speed limit in the right lane and people are nosing me, I get angry. First of all, go in the left lane and pass me if you think I'm going to slow. Second of all, seriously? You are nosing me to go faster when I am already going over the speed limit? As if your speed is the correct speed? It's just some of that selfishness and self-centeredness and, entitlementness (it's now a word) that I find lately.

Perhaps this is all magnified by the tourists here. I sort of want to wave out the window and yell "HEY! you're on vacation! It's okay to relax!" There is a light that has two lanes before the intersection and one lane after. It stands to reason that you would merge every other car--just makes sense, doesn't overly slow down either lane. But I always get these people who gun ahead to get in front of me, before their turn, as if they need to win. People. It's 35 mph. On an island. We're not going anywhere.

Another thing I struggle with is the lack of signage. This is a state built for GPS systems. Because sometimes the street sign for a major intersection either won't appear (frighteningly common) or will appear almost after the turn. This is especially frustrating with the New Jersey jughandles, where you turn right to take a left. I thought I had it all down, major intersections have jug handles, less major do not. But then there is an intersection in Brick where its a straight up left turn and I was in the right lane. I missed the turn, obviously, and had to drive a few blocks before I could find a place to turn around. Confusing.

All of this is probably compounded by the fact I drive a lot, so I get frustrated a lot.

I think I'll take my own advice and relax!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Minnesota State Fair

MN State Fair, originally uploaded by kevinthoule.

Today is the first day of the Minnesota State Fair--otherwise known as Thrifty Thursday for all the discounts--and I am not there.

This is so sad. The two big events I went to every year was the Festival of Nations (except for the year I got chicken pox) and the Minnesota State Fair. Festival of Nations was a bit more cultured, with people sharing their ethnic backgrounds through food, dance and exhibits.

The Minnesota State Fair was the chance to show off the varied "culture" of the state of Minnesota. That culture was that of farmers, mullets and cheese. At least, that's what I went to the fair to see: People, animals and food. Though people and food usually took precedence.

I have fond memories of the Giant Slide, something which is less exciting (its not as big when you are bigger) but still must do everytime. The pig barn was fun cause you could get the "I visited the pig barn" ears. But I'd be lying if I didn't say my true love was walking around looking at people while eating my latest food on a stick.

My favorite food on a stick was cheese on a stick, but the ultimate state fair food is, handsdown, Cheese Curds. It's like, when you buy a ticket to the State Fair, it says on the back "void if ticket bearer does not have at least one cheese curd during the course of the fair."

I don't know if any of the NJ State Fairs can hold a candle to the MN State Fair, which has the added bonus of being washed in nostalgia, but I seriously doubt it.

(sorry about the large amount of linkage, but trust me: the flickr ones are ALL Worth it. At least that's what Fairchilde the state fair mascot tells me.)