Archive for May, 2005

Doubt no more.

For anyone who pooh-poohed my attempts to get a free Mac Mini, I present to you: my Free Mac Mini.

It took several months, but I got my final 10th completed offer (out of about 25 or 30 sign-ups) from a random guy I didn’t know named Brian. That was last Tuesday. It took Gratis a couple of hours to validate my friends and make sure I wasn’t trying to screw them over, and then less than a week for the machine to actually arrive here (though the status on the site still says, “Sent to Vendor, Waiting on Product.”

Cool stuff. Now to figure out what I’m going to do with this thing…

(Thanks to everyone who signed up and completed an offer… y’all are allowed to come by and–ahem–play with my Mini when you’re in town.)

5k is a-ok

On Sunday, I ran the second annual Poplar Spring 5k Run for the Animals. Unfortunately, my time was pretty crap, about ten seconds slower than last year and significantly slower than my good run last month. My excuses? Twofold: 1. the course was much hillier this year and 2. I’d only run once in the last month-and-a-half. What totally negates those excuses? It was a gorgeous day, in the upper-50s instead of the upper-80s, like last year. This time, a nice 64-year-old woman and I were trading spots throughout the race. I’d take her on the uphills, she’d take me on the downhills. I beat her, but only by a bit. I talked with her after the race and she pointed me to Chi Running, swearing by it.

A few pictures from the event. I imagine official results will be posted soon.

(Also: last year’s run recap and some pictures.)

RSS and Obits

I have a Google Alert set up for my name and I watch the RSS feed in RSS Bandit to see when someone mentions me (ego-surfing without the effort!). It was both neat and weird this morning to see my grandmother’s obituary (also: Philadelphia Inquirer and comments).

Also, thanks to everyone who’s expressed their condolences over the last week. I really appreciate it.

Let’s add to the fun!

It continues…

My car’s still not done (they’re replacing a belt and got the wrong one in), so I had to rent a car again. Actually, it’s a big truck.

Today: Huyen’s alternator died. She also has a rental car for the day. Hertz and Enterprise are existing solely on our rentals for this month.

Dear Man Upstairs: let up a little bit, would ya?

I couldn’t have made this up.

Did you ever have one of those rough weeks capped off by a weekend so trying, you had to shake your head and wonder what was going on?

The plan was for us to leave early Sunday afternoon with Amina to head up to New Jersey for grandmom’s funeral. We were a little iffy on taking Amina on a trip so shortly after her heartworm treatment late last week, but figured it would still be a pretty mellow trip for her and that she’d get the rest she needed.

Unfortunately, Amina had some bad reactions to the heartworm treatment (did you know it’s arsenic-based? Scary.) and vomited a number of times on Sunday morning. She also hadn’t eaten since we got her home on Saturday and barely ate while she was at the vet’s on Thursday and Friday. At this point, it became clear she wouldn’t be up for travelling, so we made the tough decision that Huyen would stay home with her and I’d go up to the funeral on Sunday, returning home on Monday night. Before I left, though, we took her to the emergency vet and she was put on some medication and subcutaneous hydration which had her literally leaking fluids from her skin (that was kind of cool, actually). It was clear Amina wasn’t herself, but the vet felt she’d be OK with some rest and a few more anti-nausea meds.

I got on the road at about 4pm, three or four hours later than originally planned. It would get me to my grandmom’s house about 9ish, but still giving me enough time to chat with family and help write her eulogy.

30 miles from home, I hit heavy, heavy traffic on route 70 eastbound in Maryland. I called home to Huyen and as I talked to her, I saw my “Check Engine” light come on and my engine start smoking.

Good God.

I pull off to the side of the road–the left shoulder, onto the grass median, because a bunch of idiots are taking up the right shoulder trying to get to their exit–and call the Better World Club (aka the Green AAA) for a tow. Sure, it may have been some simple engine overheating, but I wasn’t going to drive 10 hours over a two day period with my check engine light on. The dispatcher tells me it’ll be about an hour because the tow guy that’s coming is the one that’s clearing up the accident about a mile ahead, the accident that’s causing the traffic jam, the traffic jam that I was sitting in when my engine overheated.

An hour and 20 minutes later, no tow guy. Traffic’s still jammed. I call BWC and they tell me the driver’s been delayed at the scene and it’ll be another 15 minutes or so. Another 30 minutes later, two hours after my original call, he finally shows up to tow me home. Why home? Because it’s Sunday night and there are no nearby service stations open.

The ride back with the tow truck guy was actually the highlight of the day. We discussed the accident that held up traffic and killed my car (a woman in a Chevy Blazer rode up onto the grass, overcompensated, and flipped the vehicle over, ejecting her two unbuckled kids from the car… the woman and one of her kids had to be airlifted to the hospital.). We discussed some of the awful things that he’s seen as a tow truck driver (best/worst story: they were called to a scene and were told that a victim was in the car but they looked and looked and looked and couldn’t find her… turns out the accident was so horrible, she was literally crumpled up under the dashboard and took over three hours to be extricated). We discussed why AAA sucks for tow companies (companies make very little money from AAA tows) and why the Better World Club treats tow drivers much better. And we discussed how much a tow truck driver can make in a weekend (50% of profits for a good driver, in the $1000-1500 range on an average weekend with long hours).

The tow truck driver also provided two wonderful pieces of irony.

  1. He told me about his work as a volunteer firefighter. As he spun a tale about having to see dead bodies that have been burnt to a crisp in house fires, he lit a cigarette while driving with his elbows.
  2. He told someone from his company (dispatcher? owner?) about the Blazer accident. As he said, “And those idiots weren’t buckled up,” I glanced over and noticed that his buckle wasn’t fastened, again while driving with his elbows.

I got home after 7. To add to the fun, because it’s Sunday night, renting a car requires a trip all the way to Dulles Airport. That’s what I did.

By a little before 11pm, I was back on the road, exhausted but determined.

Five minutes later, the downpours began. They continued off and on throughout my trip. I arrived a little after 3am and collapsed on the couch, listening to the rain hit the roof, the roof of my grandmom’s house, the house that was filled with an eerie emptiness without her there.

Fortunately, the remainder of the weekend went off without incident. Quite a few people showed up for the funeral, including friends of the family and relatives from my dad’s side of the family. That’s something that really means a lot, to see people who aren’t even related, but who come to pay their respects and show support.

Grandmom will be missed deeply. Now begins the long process of getting used to life without someone who’s meant so much to us.

We’ll Miss You, Grandmom

My grandmother passed away yesterday morning, at age 86. We’ll miss you, Grandmom.

Grandmom at the Wildwood Diner

Grandmom and me, September 1, 2001

Three Things

Three things:

  1. Amina is doing fine, settling into our house quite well. It’s going to be tough to drop her off at the vet for two nights on Thursday.
  2. I was listening to Stern on the way in this morning and a guy from my high school called in. He graduated the year before me with Shana Hiatt and was calling to discuss how he made out with the current Playmate of the Year during college at FSU (she confirmed it). He was a nice guy, from what I recall, and part of our high school’s best basketball team ever (ranked #3 in the nation at the time).
  3. I’ve killed the front page of and am redirecting all traffic to the blog. I know that excites you greatly.

Not stressed. Really!

An e-mail from my sister indicates that the last post made it sound like I’m freaking out.

Don’t worry, I’m not. I was just mentioning the various things that have gone through our heads at one point or another during the week.

Just wanted to clear that up. :)

Dog Thoughts

It’s been a hectic week as we prepare for our new family member (no, we haven’t decided firmly on a name yet, but Huyen has definitely nixed the idea of calling her “Soy Dog”). We’re a bit overwhelmed with how much there is to think about it… it’s not as easy as bring the dog home, feed it, walk it… instead it’s will it be easy to bring the dog home, what types of food should we feed her, will she be the type that wants to get up in the middle of a night for a walk, will she be timid or outgoing, will she even like us, are we ready to deal with random emergencies, why are we spending so much time picking out a collar, don’t get that toy it’s too small she might choke on it, how will she be on long car trips, will she really be ok with cats, what about if we bunnysit again, will she be cool with Jules and Lyssie, will she mind the smell of cow poo on me on saturdays, jeez a dog bed costs how much?, etc…

The main thing, though, is personality. I mean, we got a pretty good idea of her personality at the shelter by walking her, sitting with her, playing with her… but things can change once she gets home and realizes this is where she’s staying. It’s everything I imagine a parent-to-be going through when adopting a child (I say adopting rather than “having” since we’re getting a 2-3 year old dog, so she already has an established personality and demeanor).

So many things to think about.

All that said: we’re so psyched. We can’t wait to pick her up on Saturday. Throughout this week, when I’ve needed a pick-me-up, I just open up that picture for a second, and can’t help but smile.

Don’t You Dog Me (and, New York Trippin’)

We’ve got a new addition to the family that should be here next weekend. Before you go assuming that Huyen’s having a one week pregnancy, here’s a shot of our new girl. She’s coming from FOHA and we’re really anxious for her to join us, especially after Moe’s (our betta fish) untimely passing a few weeks ago.

She’s a Bluetick Coonhound named Treasure (a name we will likely ditch, as long as she’s amenable to a change), about 2-3 years old. She’s a very mellow dog that gets along with children, seems absolutely indifferent towards cats, and is fine with other dogs. Since she’s a coonhound, she loves to smell and we were told to make sure our trash can had a nice, tight lid. She’s completely housebroken and visited Santa last year (really).

She’s at the tail end of her treatment for a “low positive” heartworm, which means they caught it very early and have her on low-strength medication to treat it. She’ll be tested again in June to make sure it’s all gone (at the shelter’s expense), but they’ve assured us it’s a minor thing that should be easily treated.

We’ll have a home visit this week when a volunteer comes out, looks at our house and makes sure we didn’t lie on our application. Then, next weekend we can bring her home (Treasure, not the volunteer). Rest assured, plenty of dog photos will be flickr’d in the coming weeks.

In other news, I’ve posted our New York Trip photo set. Restaurant reviews and a trip rundown are on the way. Our net connection last week ended up being really spotty, so blogging-as-we-went wasn’t much of an option.