Monday, February 27, 2006

Still Travelin, Travelin, On...

Got back from the grand state of Utah after midnight last night, and picked up Mookie from her dogsitter after work today. Wednesday morning I'm on the road again, heading to San Francisco for the weekend. I'm looking forward to eating at a restaurant called Slanted Door, which I hear is outstanding. I'll let you know.

Hopefully I'll be a nit better prepared for this trip than this one that just past. We walked out the door Thursday night without our toiletries bag. So, among other things, I didn't have a razor with me. Since we were attending a wedding Saturday, I couldn't avoid shaving entirely, but I was going to have to go without the Gillette Mach 3 and the Shick Quattro I rotate between, and use the disposable Bics that mom has a stash of for forgetful guests. Well we went to Albertson's supermarket Friday night to pick up some deodorant to replace the stuff I also forgot, when I saw it:

The Gillette Fusion shaver.

Now, when I saw the commercial for this new shaver during the Super Bowl I wasn't impressed. Gillette has upped the ante to a FIVE BLADE razor, with a sixth blade on the back side for trimming sideburns. How much difference fcould five blades make over four, or even three, I thought.

But then I saw the razor in person.

The razor has a very cool design, but I must admit, the single biggest reason I broke down and bought it was the color scheme: Mets Blue and Orange. Oh yeah.

Of course, I didn't but the battery powered version. After all, I have enough trouble avoiding cutting myself when the blade isn't moving! And anyway, the battery powered version is more orange and silver instead of blue and orange.

Yes, I am pathetic, but I believe the new razor set the tone for the weekend, later on during which I was able to secure tickets for Mets' Opening Day.

Oh, and by the way, the razor works really well. Very nice shave. Forgot to mention that, somehow.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Traveling, Baby

Mookie is on vacation again this weekend. We got back from Costa Rica Sunday afternoon and picked up Mookie from her home away from home. We dropped her off again Thursday evening, as we headed off to Utah for a family wedding. Mookie looked too happy to be back at her retreat. I hope she's glad to see us when we pick her up Monday evening!

Details of Day 3 of our Costa Rica Trip are available below.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

New Nosebleed Solution

Last week I was telling my wife, who frequently gets nosebleeds, that she goes about stopping them all wrong. I told her that she needs to put her head back to reduce the blood flow to the nostrils. She said that theory has never been proven. She's right - several places I checked advise against leaning back because the blood would then go into your stomach and cause you to become nauseous. Go figure, I was wrong again!

Well there's a new product on the market called NasalCEASE that is a natural "biopolymer" product that releases calcium to quickly stop bleeding. It's $11.50 for a pack of five and is available at CVS. Supposedly 30% of households in America include at least one person who suffers from minor recurring nosebleeds. I don't know what the statistic is for how many of those households also include a know-it-all.
Details of day two of our Costa Rican vacation are available here.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Guess Who's Back?

I'm back from my amazing vacation in Costa Rica! Here are some of the best photos - I'll be posting more next month when more bandwith opens up for me on Flickr. Meanwhile, I'll be retro-blogging (I think I just coined a new phrase) over the next week with day-by-day details of the trip. I'll post each days events with the date they happened. Hope you enjoy the tales of our adventures in Costa Rica! Day One is available here. I'll also resume regular blogging tomorrow. Adios, amigos!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Our Trip To Costa Rica - Days Six, Seven and Eight

Thursday, February 16th:

The weather was fantasic today once again. We started the morning off with a delicious breakfast, including granadilla fruit, tamales, platanos madura, and that fantastic Costa Rican coffee. We relaxed around the pool, and later in teh morning boarded a small boat to take a trip over to nearby Coco Beach to have lunch and buy souveniers. On the way to Coco, we were lucky enough to see more exotic wildlife. This time we saw a humpback whale with a baby! Just incredible. There are people who pay good money to go on whale watching cruises and never see a thing. we had no expectations of seeing a whale on this excursion it was basically a water taxi over to the nearby beach and town. It was just plain awesome.

When we arrived at Coco, we spent a little time admiring the pelicans dive for fish, and then explored the town. It was a very dry, hot day to be walking around dusty Coco, but we did have a good lunch at Casino Restaurant and bought some coffee at the supermarket to bring back to our friends at home. We also bought some souvenirs for ourselves.

When we got back to the resort, we relaxed in the hot tub with cocktails (I had a Michelada), then went back to the room for a well deserved nap. Okay, maybe we didn't deserve it, but we enjoyed it!

Friday, February 17th:

With all the excursions we took this week, today was the first day we got a chance to check out the Allegro's private beach. The beach at the resort itself is just perfect for relaxing, but as a bonus they have a private beach that requires a short boat ride to get to. The private beach was gorgeous! We relaxed in hammocks, took a dip in the water, and enjoyed more cocktails, of course! We also saw many, many howler monkeys lounging in the trees above us. There were too many to count. Just incredible. A littel while later, a family of white-face monkeys came swinging through the trees past us. The howlers made quite a fuss, unhappy at the visitors, but the white-faced monkeys just kept on going.

After a few hours, we headed back to the Allegro, for a game of volleyball in the pool, more cocktails in the hot-tub, lunch, more cocktails, and another nap. Tonight we ate in the resort's Italian restaurant, and it was a perfect way to end the trip. The food was excellent, and our waiter made us a special flaming coffee liquor drink to finish off teh evening. I wrote down all teh ingredients but unfortuantely lost my pad since then. Oh well! Our trip to Costa Rica was fantastic - Pura Vida!

Saturday, February 18th:

Please know in advance that you will be charged a tourist tax when you leave Costa Rica - it is $25 a person. We did not know about it before hand, and we must admit it was a little disappointing to leave the country with that experience. Our flight out of Liberia was delayed - by three hours - and the airport is not very comfortable for that kind of delay. It is not air-conditioned, except for the small gift shop, so please be prepared for this when you go. As I said, our flight was delayed by three hours, so when we finally got to Miami, we missed our connection to Greensboro. And to make matters worse, this was the last flight out of Miami to GSO for the night! All the area hotels were booked for the night and so the Miami International Airport was our hotel for the night. After a week in a gorgeous resort it was quite a different experience sleeping on the floor of the very chilly airport that night. We finally made it home Sunday afternoon - all in all it was a fantastic trip and we can't wait for another chance to visit the beautiful region of Central America.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Our Trip To Costa Rica - Day Five

We got another early start on day five of our trip, as we head out for another excursion. Today the destinations were a rainforest, the Tabacon Hot Springs, and the Arenal Volcano. Our guide for the day was Gustavo, another excellent guide from TAM Travel.

At the rainforest we learned how rainforests are formed, and that the United States and other countries actually compensate countries like Costa Rica for preserving rainforests because we all depend on them to create oxygen. We were lucky enough to see a family of howler monkeys high in the trees. Then we were introduced to the Maleku tribe, a tribe of people indigenous to Costa Rica who still live in the traditional fashion. They spoke to us about their lifestyle and we bought some artwork from them to support their plight. Money is of no use to them on a day-to-day basis because they live off the land, but they do use the funds to buy more land to preserve their people.

We left the rainforest and headed towards the hot springs. Along the way we were lucky to see a toucan and a family of pizote (cousin to the common raccoon). The countryside of Costa Rica is beautiful!

The Tabacon Hot Springs is a man-made destination, but is very beautiful and has a very natural feel to it. We had dinner at the Tabacon resort and then headed to the volcano. Unfortunately, teh weather was such that we only saw a small burst of orange from teh volcano. We were told there is a fifty-fifty chance of seeing any action, so we were lucky to see the small burst that we saw.

On the way home, we stopped the tour bus to observe a two-toed sloth travelling along some telephone lines. He looked like something from a Star Wars film. Very cool!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Our Trip To Costa Rica Day Four

Today was Valentine's Day, and to celebrate we took a wonderful Sunset Cruise on the Pacific. The view was breathtaking, and while waiting to see the sun go down, we saw dolphins! "Dolphin watching" was advertised with the package, but we honestly didn't expect to see any. Howver, we saw so many! At one point they leaped out of the water as if in a Sea World show. It was magnificent!

Also on the boat, we tried Cacique for the first time. Cacique is the brand name of a local alcohol called guaro that is made from sugar cane. While only 60 proof, it packs a nice punch when mixed with Fresca. So 'Cacique y Fresca' is what we had, and was what we got quite drunk on during the cruise. The sunset was gorgeous, even rivaling the sunsets we saw in Greece on our honeymoon. We'll never forget the views. Once the sun went down we turned the boat back towards the resort, but first the crew turned all the lights off on the boat, so we were able to admire the incredible star-filled sky. I had never seen so many stars! It made us feel very small, and very fortunate.

We had a small dinner at the resort's Mexican restaurant. The food was very good, especially my appetizer, which was ceviche. We headed to bed early, as we have to wake up early tomorrow for another all-day excursion!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Of Our Trip To Costa Rica Day Three (PART TWO)

NOTE: I lost my notepad on our trip to Utah in February, so many of my notes on recipes, animal names, and places were lost. I'll continue to blog to the best of my memory on this awesome trip:

We made it through the water slide okay, though it would have been more fun if it were warmer. We had a real nice lunch of traditional Costa Rican fare. Especially tasty were the fried plantains. After eating them, you never want to have regular potato chips again! We then took a real nice horseback ride to some hot springs, and then to a beautiful natural waterfall. It was a beautiful ride through the countryside, and we saw a geothermal energy power plant, which generates electricity from the nearby volcano. Much of the country's electricity comes from this type of power plant. Finally, we took a bus back to our hotel where we had a terrific dinner. On this night the cocktail of the night was something called a sabanero? which is made with a local fruit. Very tasty, and I regret not writing down the recipe.

Our Trip To Costa Rica - Day Three (PART ONE)

Today we woke up early to have another delicious and finish in time to meet the tour bus at 8AM. We booked what was called the "Combo Tour" of the Buena Vista Hot Springs and Canopy Tour. The small bus that picked us up brought us to the TAM headquarters near the airport in Liberia where we met our tour guide and people from other hotels who were also taking the tour.

Our guide for the day was Arturo, who turned out to be a funny, and excellent, tour guide. The group was small, only about 8 people or so. We boarded the bus and headed to our destination. Along the way, Arturo pointed out sites of note. At one point he asked the driver to stop and he ran onto the campus of a nearby university without explanation. We thought perhaps he had to use the bathroom or something, until we watched him jump up, grabbing things off the school's trees. After he got a few of whatever he was getting, he bounded back onto the bus. He was holding some fruits. I recognized them immediately from watching the food network: Cashew fruits!

The cashew nuts we take for granted are actually the seeds of the cashew tree that hang off the end of the tree's fruit. Arturo explained that locals don't usually eat the nuts of the tree, because it's a very involved process to shell the nut. It is much more common for locals to eat the ripened fruit, which we found out isn't bad! Sort of like a bitter apple.

As we continued along, we passed by many pastures where cattle grazed. I remarked to Michelle how scrawny looking the cows looked compared to ones I was used to seeing. The reason for this was that these were Brahman cattle, recognizable by their loose skin, which is thought to contribute to its ability to withstand warm weather (by increasing the body surface area exposed to cooling).

The funniest thing about these cows was that it seemed like each one had a little bird as a companion. Arturo explained that these cattle egrets came over to Costa Rica along with the cows when they were originally brought over from Africa. The birds will eat the grasshoppers, beetles, ticks and other insects that are commonly found around cattle.

We finally arrived at Buena Vista, near Rincon de la Vieja National Park. We got suited up with our gear for the zip line and right away noticed how windy it was. Extremely windy. Arturo told us this was not normal, but that it wouldn't affect our good time. As we walked up the hill to the zip lines we felt the strong breezes and talked about how after the zip lines we were supposed to ride a water slide. The cold air had us wondering how much fun that would be, considering... TO BE CONTINUED

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Our Trip To Costa Rica - Day Two

We awoke this morning refreshed after a good night's sleep. We walked down to the restaurant to a wonderful breakfast - everything you could possibly want. From omelettes made on request to French Toast to local fare like tamales and platanos maduro - a delicious way to prepare bananas. And the coffee was, as expected outstanding, whether served "negro" or "con leche," I also discovered a delicious fruit - sweet granadilla, which is a cousin to the passion fruit. To eat this fruit, you cut into the skin with a butter knife all the way around to cut the fruit in two halves and reveal the pulp inside. The pulp is green and made up of seeds. Michelle swore that I was eating them just to gross her out, but basically you take a spoon and eat the entire insides in one scoop. It is so tasty!

After breakfast we we went back to the room and planned our excursions for the week. We booked two trips with TAM Travel with an office at the hotel. Tomorrow we'll take what's called a canopy tour, where we'll ride zip lines high in the trees, ride a water slide, take a horseback ride through the countryside, and finally relax in some natural hot springs. Thursday we'll visit a rainforest and try to see the Arenal volcano. And Tuesday we'll take a sunset cruise right from the beach of our hotel.

But today is a day to relax on the beach! We took a short walk up and down the shoreline, and checked out the wildlife - we saw a large reptile called a ctenosaur, or black iguana, and various birds like pelicans and little blue herons. We saw hermit crabs, which I'd previously only seen in gift shops and pet stores. We also saw tajalines - these funny crabs that would dig themselves little holes in the sand. As we approached them they'd scurry back into the holes. We couldn't believe how quick they were! After laughing at the crabs for awhile, we found ourselves some recliners and got some sun.

After relaxing awhile, I decided to go exploring again. Up the beach a bit, I saw some young guys hacking at a big pod attached to a tree with machetes! This pod had to be some kind of insect nest, and I couldn't imagine what was going on! I saw the teenager hack at the pod, and then reach his arm into the hole he made. What could he have been trying to get at? Honey, perhaps? Well, I was feeling brave, so I walked up and asked "Que Pasa," (one of the 15 phrases I remembered from high school Spanish). And then he showed me - he reached into the pod and pulled out - birds! Tropical baby birds! He called them paraquitos, and my new amigo Javier even let me hold one of the little guys! I was stunned.

I found out later that these birds - actually conures - lay their eggs in termite nests where they will be safe and where food (the termites) is readily available. Unfortunately, kids like Javier know the bird's habits and will seek out these babies which can go for hundreds of dollars on the open market. This is illegal of course, but far be it for me, an American, to tell a Costa Rican how to preserve his environment.

The rest of the day we enjoyed the pool, the free drinks, the jacuzzi, and mostly the beautiful weather! The sunset was gorgeous, and we climbed the tower at the resort to get a better vantage point. What an amazingly beautiful country. More adventures await!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Our Trip To Costa Rica - Day One

We flew into Costa Rica on American Airlines into Daniel Oduber International Airport, in the city of Liberia. This is one of the two major airports in Costa Rica, but it's not like any major airport I'd ever seen. Made up of just one building that looks more like a big open air barn and just one runway.

We arrived in Costa Rica at about 1 PM local time, which is the same time zone as US Central. We thought we'd be in Mountain Time Zone, but we were surprised when we looked at a map to see that Costa Rica is actually directly south of Atlanta. Shows how much we know about world geography. We were met by representatives of our travel agency, but before they could take us to our hotel, we had to get some cash. Luckily there was a bank and an ATM at the airport, but using the ATM was a bit of a challenge for me. The machine dispensed in both US dollars and Costa Rican colones, but only in specified increments. I could get 20 US dollars, or I could get colones in quantities of ten-thousand, five-thousand, or two-thousand. The conversion rate is 525 colones = 1 dollar, but it still felt crazy to withdraw ten thousand colones! I withdrew ten thousand colones, and then another two thousand colones to start the trip with, as we planned on using our Visa card for almost all our expenses.

We took a van across very bumpy roads, and by the time we arrived at our hotel we both had headaches from the lack of eating coupled with the bumpy ride. Still, we were excited to start our vacation!

When we arrived at our hotel, the all-inclusive Allegro Papagayo, we were greeted with a welcome cocktail called "sunset" by the bartender Alberto. Sooo delicious! Unfortunately I never got the recipe, but believe me it was quite good!

Since we left Greensboro pretty early, and didn't get to eat in the Miami airport, by the time we got to Costa Rica we were pretty hungry. Our room wasn't ready yet, so while we waited we headed down to the restaurant to get some much needed food. We were too late for lunch, but they had a snack bar where stuff like hamburgers, hot dogs and nachos were available.

We checked into our room, which was clean, but honestly not what would be considered "four star," as advertised. The room itself was more like a Days Inn, to be quite honest. The bed was comfortable enough, and the hot water worked, as did the air conditioner and the television, so it could have been worse. We took a nap before dinner, exhausted from all the travel so far.

This was our first time at an "all-inclusive" resort, and weren't sure what to expect. We can be "food snobs" of sorts, and were worried about what it would be like eating from a buffet every night. The food the first night was decent, and it was nice to eat outside, listening to the birds around the resort.

After dinner was what what we hoped were signs of things to come. We walked down to the beach and saw a man with a flashlight looking for something. We asked what he was looking for and he told us he was looking for animals. He then pointed to what he called a mapache running into the forest. We'd never heard of them before, but were thrilled to see our first glimpse of Costa Rican wildlife, right there at the resort. (As it turns out, mapache is spanish for 'raccoon', so -not that wild) But the man then told us that there was a monkey up in the trees! We couldn't believe it. We followed him, and looked as he shone his light up into a tree. Sure enough, looking down on us was a howler monkey! We knew that howler monkeys lived in the area, and were hopeful to see one, but were thrilled to see one the very first night. Then as we walked back to the hotel, we saw another animal in our path - It was a coati (pronounced KWA-tee) - a cousin to the raccoon that we know here in the States, but very different looking and unlike the common raccoon is not nocturnal. It took one look at us and took off.

So we were very excited as we headed off to sleep - our first night sleeping in amazing Costa Rica!

Outta Here..

No more posts for awhile... The wife and I are headed off to vacation! Mookie's going on vacation too, but not with us. She's going to spend the week with a nice woman with a bunch of dogs, which means Mookie will get plenty of attention. See you later!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Mookie Of The Month - February

What's Mookie looking at? She's looking for the damned groundhog that made it snow.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

(Britney's) Baby You Can Drive My Car

The L.A. County Sheriff's Department is concerned that Britney Spears isn't following state laws about using proper child restraint in the car. A paparazzi outfit named X17 (don't ask me) snapped this shot of Britney driving her SUV with her baby in her lap. Britney defended her actions by saying she

was terrified that this time the physically aggressive paparazzi would put both me and my baby in danger. I instinctively took measures to get my baby and me out of harm's way, but the paparazzi continued to stalk us."

I am not saying I know what it's like to have photographers following me around everywhere, and I am sure it's annoying, but really, how in the world could Britney Spears or her kid have been in danger because of photographers?

I think being a paparazzi is a pretty pathetic job, personally, but their job is to take pictures of celebrities, and it would seem like, if you're a celebrity, if you would just stand there and let the dumb photographers take your picture instead of racing around like it's some kind of cat and mouse game your life would be a lot simpler.

And then hey, who knows, maybe the tabloids would just publish pictures of you shopping instead of you driving around with a baby on your lap!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Mookie Meets Aqua Teen Hunger Force

Okay, so this will likely be my weirdest post ever. Click below the photo to read a comic where Mookie meets Aqua Teen Hunger Force. No further explanation necessary. Enjoy!

click here to read the comic

24 Frickin' Rocks

Okay, I love this show. Last night I was thrilled when I realized that Kim Bauer (Elisha Cuthbert) will soon make an appearance. In the meantime here are some cool 24-related links. To explain the links in advance would ruin them. Instead, just visit:

Monday, February 06, 2006

Another Celeb Couple Call It Quits

About two months ago I published a posting that Sheryl Crow was annoyed that tabloids were publishing untrue rumors that she and her fiancee Lance Armstrong were splitting up. Now, this past Friday, Crow and Armstrong announced that, indeed, they are calling it quits.

This goes to further prove my theory about celebrities and tabloid journalism: With all the crap that is published in the rags on a daily basis, whenever a celebrity takes the time out to dispute a given rumor, it's a real good sign that the rumor is actually true.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Super Bowl Ads

Of all the ads I saw tonight, I still like one that debuted a few years back the best. The ads with the office filled with monkeys cracks me up everytime. Partly because I think everyone has had jobs like that, and partlt because I think it would be ablast to hang around actual monkeys all day, rather than people who act like monkeys. I'm talking about jobs I've had IN THE PAST, of course.

By the way, I apologize for the lack of posts on this blog lately - I've been posting more frequently at, but truthfully I've felt like my last few posts here were rather weak, and I have been waiting for inspiration to spark some better writing.

Come back soon for some very special new Mookie material though!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Punxsutawney Phil: America's Most Misunderstood Rodent?

He is a rodent, right?

Anyway, Happy Groundhog Day, everyone! Today, the prognosticator known as Punxsutawney Phil allegedly predicted six more weeks of winter. Why do I say 'allegedly'? Because I believe Phil's predictions are being misunderstood, year after year.

Most sites I checked say Phil is right about 39% of the time. That's not even as good as flipping a coin! Well, I believe in Phil. I would like to pose the theory that his accuracy rate is actually 61%, and we have just gotten the whole 'see his shadow/not see his shadow' interpretation of weather forecast reversed!

On the other hand, I should also point out that Phil has "seen his shadow" 94 times out of the last 117 times, so maybe we should stop dragging the poor bastard out of his hole every year and wait for him to send us an e-mail or something with his prediction.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Flag Daze

Mookie is getting acclimated to the underground fence, but slowly. So far she won't violate the boundary, mostly because she won't go anywhere near the flags that mark it! She won't go within 15 feet of one!

I just found out about a job search engine that helps you find jobs that allow you to bring your dog with you to the office. I don't think Mookie would do well in an office, but I am going to give Mookie the link. I want her to find herself a job where she can bring me in to work with her. I wouldn't mind taking a nap on the floor while she earned some money.