Friday, October 20, 2006

Boos Bash 2006

In addition to fleeing the Belgian winters, one of the reasons I am back in San Diego is for the Boos Bash, the annual Halloween party that I throw with a couple of my girlfriends. This year we celebrated our 5th Bash, having grown from 15 people at our first bash (invited 4 days before the party) to almost 300. For those of you counting, this roughly equates to a 100:1 people to bathroom ratio.

Common sense dictates that open flames and a couple of hundred people in costumes, most of which are flammable, is not a good mix, but since we have only caught the furniture on fire once, I'd say the odds are in my favor.

Our biggest obstacle of the evening is not crowd control, 70 year-old plumbing, or ready access to fire extinguishers, but with the "noise sensitivities" of one of our neighbors on the adjacent street. While Dan and I have been truly blessed by the Best-Neighbors-Ever God, apparently his favor skips a house in the 3200 block of the street behind us. Our distant neighbors, whose names I don't want to mention call the police on us every year. While the rest of the neighborhood is either at the party or has signed off on a noise permit application in our favor, this particular couple has the Neighborhood Noise Complaint Department on speed dial.

I'm not entirely sure what it is the "Cramps" have against us, especially since the only contact we have with them over the course of an entire year is to invite them to our party. Since they always decline this offer, as well as our follow-up offer to buy them dinner and put them up in a hotel room for the evening, I'm certain that whatever they have against us, it must be serious. I have tried to kill them with kindness, but I think I've only made them stronger.

Unfortunately for the "Cramps", this year's bash was a total throw-down! Our theme was "Party Like a Rock Star at Boos Bash 2006." Generally, we don't have themed Halloween Parties, as that would just be redundant, but this year was special. Luke "not-the -one-you-are-thinking-about-but-just-as-hot" Wilson and Kurtney Noonan of Rock Star Energy donated 9 CASES of ZeroCarb energy drink for the party. As if alcohol is not potent enough, try mixing it with an energy drink that has twice the caffeine of other energy drinks on the market! It makes for good times and great pictures!

Also, a special thank you to Act One Entertainment, who has been providing the music that puts the Cramps over the edge every year ( and to Mike Robak who designed this year's logo and made custom shot glasses for the prizes.

Speaking of pictures, if you want to check them out, go to
Copyright 2006 by Cindy Lane. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Skies Are Friendly!

Flying back from Vegas on America West, I looked up during the drink service and realized that I knew the flight attendant! She had worked with a friend of mine at REI in San Diego, but had moved three years ago. I have not seen her since she was the Thundercat at Boos Bash 2003. Small world, huh?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

What Happens in Vegas ...

I just got back from a 4-day Bachelorette Party in Las Vegas. Although there were plenty of blog-worthy events that took place over the weekend, anyone who has ever been to Vegas knows the cardinal rule: What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas!

That being said, I simply cannot pass up the opportunity to tell the best Vegas story I have ever heard. (Technically, since it happened to a stranger, I think I am ok on the rule.)

While the bachelorette and I were waiting on some friends to arrive from San Diego, we ran into a group of girls who were also waiting on friends to fly in. We struck up a conversation with this group and learned that they were in town for an annulment.

One of the girls, who I'll call Leigh, had made her first trip to Vegas five weeks earlier. On the very first night of her very first trip to Vegas, Leigh got arrested, tattooed, and married - to a man she met two hours earlier at the Palms!

Leigh and her friends were now back in Vegas, searching for the wedding chapel where Leigh tied the knot, so that she could find out her husband's name and address! She needed his signature for the annulment and she had no idea how to contact him. (She also wanted to return the $800 wedding ring that he had bought for her.)

Good times, Good times!

Copyright 2006 by Cindy Lane. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Flying the Friendly Skies

I admit it. I’m not a good flyer. You’d think I would be better at it, given how much I fly. But, nope, not me. I’m that toddler that you have to bring an entire box of Cheerios for, or the ten year-old that has to have the latest Gameboy game or DVD to keep him occupied. I’m good for about 2-3 hours and then I start to lose it. Unfortunately for Dan, or whoever is sitting next to me, it’s a 9.5 hour flight to Atlanta – followed by another 4+ hour flight to San Diego. To put that into perspective, we’ve moved way beyond the Cheerios and have gone straight to the Benadryl.

To add insult to injury, airplanes now have those GPS screens that allow you to track – in real-time – the course of the flight. Some call it technology. I see it more as a torture device. I’m basically okay from Brussels to Greenland, but it’s all downhill from there. By the time we hit Goose Bay, I’d sell my soul, much less state secrets.

In this day of heightened security, I’ve found that my bad mood starts to kick in way before we have reached cruising altitude. I would say, oh, at about check-in. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for increased security measures. I don’t mind the bag searches, the long lines, the secondary screenings, and the shoe-checks for explosives. I’m sure it all serves a very valid purpose, if only to keep people employed. I am, however, a little concerned if our response to terror threats comes down to Ziploc baggies. But, hey, that’s just me.

Last Thursday morning, I left the apartment at 7:00 am for a 10:40 flight to San Diego. Dan dropped me off at the airport at 7:23, leaving me with what I thought would be plenty of time to check-in, hit the duty-free shops, and go through the various security checkpoints. Silly Cindy!

I was already a little edgy, having not slept a wink the night before, and having had only one Diet Coke for the morning. After waiting in a 15 minute line, I reached the Delta check-in counter in a reasonably good mood, considering that I had to answer not only the routine security questions (who packed your luggage? have your belongings been in your possession at all times? have you received anything from a stranger? etc.), but also some new ones, which I’m sure must serve some purpose in the matter of national security, although, personally, I don’t see when I bought my ipod, when and where I purchased my cell phone, and who gave me my laptop is that far removed from the plastic baggie response to terrorism, especially since all of these items will be x-rayed and inspected – more than once.

My personal favorite was this exchange:

Lady to Cindy: How did you arrive at the airport?
Cindy to Lady: By private car.
Lady to Cindy: Where is it now?
Cindy to Lady: I have no idea, but I’m guessing somewhere on the Ring or possibly the 201.
Lady to Cindy: Oh, so you’re husband dropped you off.
Cindy (in her head) to Lady: No, I’ve managed to clone myself and Twindy is now stuck somewhere in Brussels’ traffic. (Clearly, a Bill Engvall “here’s your sign” moment.)
Cindy to Lady: Yes, I was dropped off.
Lady to Cindy: Where is your husband going now?
Cindy to Lady: To work.
Lady to Cindy: Did he tell you that?
Cindy to Lady: Yes.
Lady to Cindy: Is he driving the car?
Cindy to Lady: Yes, I would presume so. (“Here’s your sign …)
Lady to Cindy: Ok you can pass.

At the check-in counter, I handed the lady my passport and my itinerary and then placed my baggage on the conveyor belt. She punched in some numbers, looked at her screen and asked me for my paper ticket. “I don’t have a paper ticket,” I told her. “Yes you do”, she replied. “No, I don’t.” “Yes, you do. It was exchanged.” I was prepared to give the lady the benefit of the doubt. How could she possibly know that she was dancing on my last non-caffeinated nerve? I took a deep breath, exhaled and smiled. “No, ma’am, I only have an e-ticket.”

Completely un-phased, the lady said to me, with absolute and total conviction, “Well, you have lost it. You will have to pay 100 euros to replace it.” I took another deep calming breath. With only the slightest hint of irritation in my voice, I said, “I can’t lose something that I have never had. Is it possible that you are mistaken about the exchange?” Apparently, I had now found her last nerve.

She picked up the Delta phone and called the Delta god who confirmed that my ticket had been exchanged. Unfortunately for me, the Delta god’s omnipotence was limited that day, as he could not (or would not) answer how, by whom, or even when the ticket was exchanged. I went from one person telling me, rather matter-of-factly, that I had lost my ticket, to four people telling me: the initial agent, the guy on the phone, the supervisor that had walked over, and the agent from the neighboring computer terminal who had absolutely no business in the exchange yet felt compelled to lean over and tell me that, yes, my ticket had, in fact, been exchanged.

Trying to avoid another Galleria Inno incident (See December 2005 archives, Good Global Citizen to Nasty American), I asked the initial agent what exactly she would have me to do. She told me that I would have to go over to the ticketing counter and discuss it with an agent over there. Having clearly won, she apologized for the inconvenience and told me that I would have to take my bags with me to the ticket counter. Not a problem. I asked her to please back up the conveyor belt so that I could reach them. Problem.

According to the agent, the conveyor system only goes forward – not in reverse. Her solution was for me to crawl under the counter and up the conveyor belt to retrieve my bags. And here I was thinking that it would be so much easier if she just leaned her fat ass (ok, she really didn’t have a fat ass, it just makes me feel better to refer to her this way) over and push them back down the conveyor belt towards me. Since my fat ass was definitely not crawling under the counter and up the belt, I just gave her my best you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me look. She felt the need to tell me, again, that I had to take my bags with me to the ticket counter, all the while apologizing for any “inconvenience.”

When I opened my mouth to tell her exactly what I thought about her "apology", there must have been some sort of divine intervention, and not the Delta kind, because what came out was, “can you please push my bags to me?” Clearly irritated, the agent made a big production over leaning over -- several inches -- and pushing my bags towards me. I thanked her, apologized to her for any inconvenience she may have experienced while during her job, and went off to wait in the ticket counter line.

At the ticket line, I stood in the shorter of the two lines. When it was my turn, I approached the counter and told the lady that there was some confusion as to whether my ticket had been exchanged. The male agent manning the other ticket window leaned over and said something to the lady in Flemish. Other than what I have learned from reading the subtitles on Charmed, I don’t know any Flemish, but somehow I knew that the man was telling her that I had lost my ticket. (I now knew who the Delta god was that the first agent was talking to on the phone!) I’m not sure if she was atheistic or agnostic, but, God love her, she basically ignored the guy.

The Angel at the ticket counter tracked the problem back to my initial flight into Brussels in the first of August. All of a sudden, everything made sense to me. (See August 2006 archives, Don’t Horse Around With Airport Security). Let’s see, I believe she was referring to the day that my flight was delayed (3 times), cancelled, rebooked, delayed again, rerouted, delayed again, the system manually overridden in Atlanta just so that I could board the plane, followed by a surreal experience in the Manchester airport, after which I finally arrived in Brussels without any luggage. Is it possible during one of the single-worst travel days of my life that someone at Delta, perhaps the lady that manually overrode the system for instance, may have entered something into the computer incorrectly? Apparently not.

After signing a form stating that I had lost my ticket, the agent then printed me out a new one and sent me back to the check-in line. After assuring the very same security lady that interrogated me earlier that I had not accepted anything from a stranger nor had I left my luggage unattended from the time that I left the Delta check-in counter and walked over to the Delta ticket counter (all of which she witnessed), I waited in line, again, to check-in.

Over two hours after arriving at the airport, I finally made it to the gate. Seventeen hours later, I made it back into San Diego, just in time to see one of the most spectacular sunsets I have seen in a long time. Ah, the friendly skies!

Copyright 2006 by Cindy Lane. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

My Big Fat Greek Weekend

Ancient Agora

View of Acropolis from Temple of Zeus

Fallen Column at Temple of Zeus


Two days after the lady at the spa nearly cut my big toe off (you know it is a bad spa day when you leave the salon in bandages soaked in blood) and after I accidentally left my passport at the US Embassy, I left to meet Dan in Athens, Greece for a long weekend.

Top Things I Loved About Athens:

  • The weather. (Just like San Diego)
  • The history. (It makes Rome look modern.)
  • The gorgeous views. (Like the ones from Lycavittos Hill.)
  • The food. (Svoulaki, moussaki, baklava, ...)
  • The wines. (Especially the Peloponnesian ones)
  • The people. (Although one Greek told us that she thought that the Greeks were extremely rude compared to the Americans. What is surprising is that she was using New Yorkers as her standard of reference!)
  • The metro. (Greece has, hands down, the nicest, cleanest and prettiest metro system I have ever been on. The stations are little museums in and of themselves.)
  • Anyone driving on the sidewalk will have their car confiscated!

Things I Could Have Done Without in Athens:

  • All the cigarette smoke! (At one restaurant, there were 16 people eating. Dan and I were the only ones not smoking. I swear Athens must be a walking research project for lung disease.)
  • The pollution. (See above reference to lung disease.)
  • The urban sprawl.
  • The tacky American tourists. (At dinner one night, we heard a group of tourists from North Carolina tell the waiter that the bartender needed "to learn how to make drinks the American way." Dan and I were mortified! We overtipped just so that he wouldn't think that all Americans were that way.)

Copyright 2006 by Cindy Lane. All rights reserved.