Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Wedding Was 54 Years Ago ... The Celebration Continues

My parents in the getaway car after their wedding
"It's not getting from A to B. It's not the beginning or the destination that counts. It's the ride in between." 
-- David Baldacci, The Christmas Train

Congratulations to my parents who married 54 years ago today!  What a ride it has been for them ... three children, six grandchildren, about a dozen homes (including that first basement apartment), travel all over the world.  And as their oldest, I've seen nearly the entire journey.

When I was a teenager, I was making "oh brother" comments about a sappy Kenny Rogers love song, at which point my dad informed me that it was possible to feel that way about someone.  "I do," he said.

And my mom has always summed it up this way, "I married my best friend."  Truly he was and is.  They've  been through good times, hard times, and everything in between.  And they're still friends.

Here's a special Kenny Rogers song to celebrate the day.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Another Quick Vacation ... This Time to Park Silly Sunday Market

Sunday morning, I could barely move from the yard clean up exertion the previous day.  That afternoon, I decided it was time for a mini vacation so I ventured up to Park Silly Sunday Market in Park City.  I have one friend who used to sell at the Silly Market.   The main reason for my visit Sunday was that another friend and blogger was the featured artist, and I'll be featuring her in a subsequent post to this one.

What's not to like about Park Silly Sunday Market? Absolutely nothing.  A few highlights ...
  • Parking was more plentiful than I'd experienced earlier this year.
  • The weather was pleasantly warm and breezy (as opposed to hot in Salt Lake City).
  • Vendors were plentiful and very friendly ... everything from handcrafted art items to Tupperware.
  • The food court had an excellent selection of ethnic foods for sale.
  • Bands were playing in two different areas, down by the food court and also up Main Street near the veggie section.
  • Porta potties were not your typical j-jon ... sinks, air conditioning, piped in music, flowers on the counter.
  • The scenery, as always, was spectacular.
Park Silly Sunday Market runs on Sundays from June 13 - September 26, from 10 am to 5 pm on lower Main Street.

Crowds visit vendors at booths at Park Silly Sunday Market along lower Main Street.
From the market, the hill is a bit of a climb but the shopping along the way is intriguing.
Park City's Main Street has an old West charm all its own.

Park Avenue's historic older homes are situated at the base of the mountain.
Two golden balancing acts perform in front of the stage.
Not the Waldorf Astoria, but the best porta potties ever!
Crowds clamored for the veggies at the market.
A band was set up at the end of this veggie row and easy parking was right across the street.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Where's Waldo? Follow Up

Saturday, I posted pictures of a mystery location in UK where my brother was visiting over the weekend.  Alas, I was correct. He's in Dublin having a jolly old time.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Too Much Information! Opting Out of Spokeo

Too much information.  I don't recall exactly when the phrase "too much information" entered our collective consciousness.  It may refer to details about your last midnight hookup at Denny's or conception of your third child in an airplane or your most recent case of the stomach flu you caught from your best friend's sister.  Who knows?  Maybe more people than you think.  Or more people than you want to know, possibly because they read your blog post or Facebook post on Spokeo.

What is SpokeoSpokeo is an information company that provides information about you to me, unless you opt out.  According to the company itself, Spokeo is a search engine specialized in organizing people-related information from phone books, social networks, marketing lists, business sites, and other public sources. Most of this data is publicly available on the Web. 

Facebook security leaks.  If you are on Facebook, Spokeo obtained a lot of information about you as part of a pilot program that you may have inadvertently authorized.  When Facebook's security leaks of almost two months ago emerged, several of my Facebook friends were posting as their status "As of May 3, there is a new privacy setting on Facebook called "Instant Personalization Pilot Program" that shares data with non-Facebook websites. It is automatically set to "Allow." Go to Account > Privacy Settings > Applications and Websites > Instant Personalization, and UNcheck "Allow". Please copy & repost. BTW, ...if your friends don't do this, they will be sharing information about you and me."

Under his status, a friend of my Facebook friend said, "Go to (I think) type your name in the search. Guarantee there is information in there about you most of it coming from Facebook."

Spokeo's slogan is "Not Your Grandma's Phonebook."
Grandma would agree with that!

So I went to  Amazing.  You can type in a name, phone number, or email address and see a sneak preview of what you would see if you bought Spokeo's service.  Pictures (from Facebook, incidentally, that I thought were private), blog posts, partial address, phone number, my age (well they tried), credit information, property ownership, job (not in my case), and much more.  Obviously, not all the information came from Facebook. Some came from public records, blog posts tied to my email account, and other sources.  Anybody with a credit card can go in to and obtain information about you and your family for as little as $2.95 a month.

If you buy the Spokeo service, you may obtain the Spokeo's full record available.  Per the Spokeo website, this information may include full name, ethnicity, marital status, religion, politics, address, home phone, mobile phone, email, profiles, photos, videos, and blog posts.

Note the column on the right that lists the types of information Spokeo compiles about people!
Friends in the year 2010.  A special feature called "Friends" enables you to share your email address book with Spokeo to scan all of your contacts.  This of course means that if your friends are accessing the friends feature on Spokeo, Spokeo is getting your email, which will enable them to compile records on you, even if you are not a Facebook user.  I was shocked that all of this is being compiled and apparently available for public consumption.

The information above is from my blog.  Not a big deal of Spokeo retains it as my blog is public.  My other email addresses had much more personal information.  I opted out of Spokeo for those email addresses.
Identity theft beware.  My biggest concern is not my Facebook pictures or blog posts, but I am concerned about identity theft, and you should be, too.  It was a $54 billion problem in 2009 alone.  I'm uncertain if Facebook had a means of reversing its "sharing" with its partners.  Spokeo's website says their "mirroring technology" reflects updates to your Facebook privacy settings, subject to minimal update timeframes.   

Consider this a suggestion, hint, or warning as you wish: you may want to confirm Spokeo's view of you versus what you have set up on Facebook, even if you don't want to opt out of Spokeo.

Since I did not purchase Spokeo's services, I saw only the free preview of my information, but even that was fairly comprehensive.  There ought to be a few things that you maintain privately "among real friends" such as your mother's maiden name, your birth date, your place of birth, and your address.  When I first joined Facebook, much of that information ended up on my profile.  And somewhere down the line, Facebook shared with Spokeo, which may have cleverly aggregated what you thought was private on Facebook and combined it with public records to create a record about you.  And that scares me. It's just too much information and it's too accessible to anyone who wants to pay.

I know a lot of people say "well it's out there anyway."  True, but many of the databases on the Internet are used for legitimate business purposes such as establishing identity, assets, or credit rating to obtain a loan.  Users must have a legitimate business purpose and databases may be less complete.  Spokeo sells its services as "Quickly uncover hidden photos, videos, and secrets ... scan your email contacts and be shocked by what you find."  This sounds a bit salacious and unsavory.  Just remember, with enough information, someone could apply for credit in your name. 

I had my information removed from Spokeo.  I had to get my three email addresses (family and business, fun and friends, junk) removed from Spokeo.  It is a two step process wherein Spokeo sends an email to the email address to be removed, then I had to confirm.  And then there's my name.  So I put in four information requests. I have typed in my email addresses and name repeatedly to make sure I am off Spokeo's records, but I've read that this can be an ongoing process. 

Oops, I realized I did not remove all my phone numbers (Spokeo says they have additional information about me besides my phone number - grrrrrrrrr).  I'm not done. Yet. And I don't know what to do about my married name or old email addresses such as from AOL, since I quit using AOL about five years ago.

I scaled way back on my Facebook profile.  Now my profile is my name and not a whole lot more.  I fear for people who lay all their information out there for the world to see, even if they may have a profile that is closed to everyone except friends.  My status updates and posts are potentially for public consumption, meaning everyone from my mother to my former coworkers to people I may have met at a social event last week.  This is probably not a bad idea anyway. It seems almost every day I hear about someone getting fired or close for saying inappropriate things on Facebook. 

If I were you ... and I realize I'm not ... I would be quite cautious about letting sleeping dogs lie in this case.  Personal information in the public domain is inevitable in our day, but it's up to you to control it.  One contrarian approach would be to put fake information in your Facebook profile and when you post in blogs.  But then your high school glee club chums will have a much harder reconnecting with you.  In my opinion, a consumer-based, uncontrolled access service like Spokeo opens the door for wholesale identity theft.  Too much information, some of which was accessed from Facebook unknowingly with your permission, may be on file for you.  Although Spokeo's database may have inaccuracies, and reportedly it does, why would you want to take the chance?

Opting out.  Here are the steps to opting out of Spokeo.
1) Find your record in by searching by email, name, or phone number.
2) Copy the link as you will need it later.
3) Go to
4) Complete the form and paste the link of your record, along with other information.
5) Go to your email account.
6) Open the email from Spokeo.
7) Confirm the record deletion.
8) Repeat as needed for additional email accounts, phone numbers, names.

Pictures? This post was long and a little light on pictures.  Sorry.  I hope everyone will at least go check out the free preview of their Spokeo records.  If it saves even one person from identity theft, this post will have been worth it.

Saturday's Tower of Leaves and Branches Ended With a Charm

Overflowing yard trimmings
Saturday day was a complete bust as far as doing anything fun.  I sanded my backyard benches with my power sander and I cleaned out the jungle, the section of the yard by my waterfall which is prone to overgrowth of ivy, volunteer trees, and other plants.  The highlight was slipping down the hill and almost falling off the six foot rock retaining wall.  I said almost.  I didn't get sunburned thanks to abundance of trees and sunscreen.  Surprise ... this morning when I rolled out of bed, my body was writhing with pain, and I'm sure it wasn't from the wine party.

I was supposed to bring a summer salad to the wine party, so I headed to the store for ingredients.  Working at GE as long as I did taught me to appreciate handsome Indian men.  I saw one such at the store where I was quickly fetching fruit, and he struck up a conversation about what I was buying versus what he was buying.  He was a gentleman, allowing me to cut in front of him in line (actually, insisting).  Maybe he and I can meet at Ream's again sometime in the spice aisle and he can give me his tikki masala recipe.
BYOWG - Green beaded wine charm to identify my glass from the rest
I had to bring my own wine glass so I quickly made a wine charm and a summer fruit salad of raspberries, blueberries, and pineapple when I got home.  And I was out the door. After driving a few miles and realizing I'd misplaced my cell phone, I went back home, then found the cell phone in the back seat.

My attack shark potholder sneaked into this picture.

The wine party was so relaxing. The evening weather was perfect and the hostess had a magical backyard with abundant flora and fauna, even a grape vine covered patio.  In addition to wine, we ate summer fruit and veggie dishes.  This was a new group for me, but of course being Salt Lake City as it is, I met people who knew my friends, others met people who knew people, and I remembered where I'd met some other people before, after they left (I knew they looked familiar).  We had compelling and pleasant conversation til the moment I left around 11:30 and the party was not over.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Where's Waldo?

This morning, my brother sent an email with the picture below, and a message: "Anyone care to guess where I am today?"

He's in England on an extended business trip (I know, tragic). I've spent several weeks in England all told so I would hope to recognize the landmarks I've visited. And it's not looking familiar.

Maybe he's in Ireland.  My brother has become quite the adventurer.

Oh wait, he just sent another picture, so another hint. 

And another.

The third picture was supposed to be the ultimate hint, the dead giveaway.  I'm thinking he's somewhere in Ireland, maybe Dublin.  I'll follow up later when I get the scoop on where this is.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Oú est ma tête ... It's Another No Worries Friday!

May Pink Martini gently lead you into your weekend.  By the end of the song, if you sing along as I do, you will have lost your head, your arms, your nose, and your feet, which is far worse than the bad news below.  Please press the little arrow before you read my Friday update.

The weekend depegging.  China announced last weekend that it was delinking its peg to the dollar to allow more flexibility in its exchange rate. If you are headed for China, the marinated duck feet may set you back a bit more. The higher the yuan goes (as of today, 6.79 per dollar), the more the US trade deficit drops. And this is something many US politicians, who are claiming that the yuan is still undervalued by 25-40%, would welcome. However … those of us not going to China and who frequent Hobby Lobby and JoAnn's (the Taylorsville store is my “happy place” FYI), you might be seeing prices going up on your jewelry findings and fake flowers. 

1963 was a long time ago ... Home sales have not been so low since 1963 … 300,000 units sold (yee haw, NOT). I think my mom and dad bought our Scottsdale house in 1963, or maybe it was 1962.  The median price is down, housing inventory is up. Mortgage rates are at record lows so a refi may be in order.
Here's me and my brother in the backyard of the Scottsdale house. Oh how I wish I still had that hat!
Touch not those rates.  The Federal Reserve meeting minutes are a little less positive, a little more guarded. Still, not much editing was done to update the minutes since the last meeting.

Falling, rising durable goods orders.  Durable goods orders fell to -1.1%, but not as much as expected (-1.3%). Excluding transportation, durable goods rose by 0.9%, but the expected increase was 1.3% increase. Bummer.

The newly jobless.  My first day as a jobless person I came home and cried while I re-organized tea pots and cups in my barrister cabinet.  Since I've now matured in my jobless state, I can tell you it's a roller coaster. Initial unemployment claims were down to 457,000 versus the previous week's figure of 476,000. The 4-week moving average was 462,750. Just remember folks, these are new claims, and do not represent the ongoing legion of unemployed people which is upwards of 15 million.

Down doobie down down down.  The GDP was revised downward for 1Q2010, 2.7% versus 3.0% as previously reported. For comparison purposes, the real GDP in 4Q2009 was 5.6%, but don't forget we had Christmas thrown in there.  Even if Santa didn't bring you much last year, a boatload of goodies was under somebody's tree.  Well, maybe.
And now for the good news …
  • One of my unemployed friends got a new job. She's in education, not in banking, and very well qualified.
  • Summer's here but I haven't had to turn on my air conditioning in the house. I hate fake air. The sprinkler guy comes Monday so my grass will get a big drink.
  • I finished six more stock options trading classes, for a total completed of 23. Some months ago, I did a post on option trading terminology. Now, I know how to set up the various trades, and how to determine the maximum profit and loss for each one. I can say "condor spread" in a sentence and it's meaningful. At least in theory.
  • This blog now has reader from Singapore, continuing the international readership trend that I frankly don't understand but yet appreciate.  I don't have enough data points to fully analyze.
  • Amongst a flurry of other activities on this busy weekend, I'm going to Park City Silly Markets on Sunday … a paper making friend is the featured artist and I'll be doing a post on her work very soon.
  • A really super important post is coming Sunday so stay tuned. I'm awaiting some feedback from a couple of reliable experts.
  • And by the way, don't believe everything you read. It's circulating on my Facebook page that I'm pregnant. Oh my high school chums are soooooo clever.
 Now go on … it's the weekend. Play, party, have fun! {shake it}

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Clean Up Your Garden With a Gnome

My love of garden gnomes began as an extension of my love of foreign and especially French films.  Amélie is a film set in one of my favorite places, Montmartre.  Montmartre is the neighborhood closest to Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, the highest point in Paris.  Amélie is a shy young French girl trying to find herself in spite of difficult family circumstances.  A sub plot of the movie involves Amélie stealing her father's garden gnome and have pictures of the gnome sent from all over the world to lure him to follow his dream of world travel.

After the movie Amélie was released, there were quite a few "look alike" garden gnome kidnappings. One police officer's friends who were helping with the search and investigation, were also responsible for taking his garden gnome.
Active, cheery garden gnomes in Germany
Garden gnomes were created in Thuringia, Germany in the mid 1800s.  Gnomes were designed for gardeners who needed a bit of help with their gardens in the wee hours.  The garden gnome gained popularity in England and France and eventually in other places where gardeners needed assistance.  In Germany, garden gnomes are sold at road side garden statue stands ... and they're not at all like the small ones sold in the US.  (In fact, no garden statues found at these road side stands are small ... not even replica statues of Michaelangelo's David.)  Each one is a poetic expression in terra cotta.

When I saw the hillside garden above, located in Germany's Black Forest near Lake Titisee (no, I did not make that up), my eyes about popped.  Since the Black Forest region is believed to be haunted by werewolves, sorcerers, witches and the devil, these adorable gnomes may help to offset energy of the evil creatures. Regardless, that yard must look intriguing by the light of the harvest full moon.

Oh ... you don't like garden gnomes? Kitsch you say? Well, you are not alone!  The garden gnome is most controversial in British gardening circles.  Hyacinth Bucket (Keeping Up Appearances) undoubtedly would veto a gnome's presence in her English garden.  Thought to be tacky and unrefined, garden gnomes have been banished from the Chelsea Garden Show in England because organizers believe gnomes detract from garden design.

Still ... I persist.  I think they're cute, and I want at least one, a real German one. And St. Francis agrees. If a gnome does not appear sooner, I'll be spending the weekend in the flower beds. {oui}

St. Francis would welcome an authentic German garden gnome to help with midnight garden clean up.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Rip Your Strip ... Sounds a Little Racy For Utah

A couple of years ago, 2006 to be exact, I committed to rip my strip.  And I did.  Wow? In Utah, really?  Next thing you know, I'll be taking up pole dancing. 

Not really ... just kidding.  Anyway ...

The goal of the Utah Rivers Council's Rip Your Strip program is to replace thirsty grass in the front sidewalk strips of our Utah neighborhoods with waterwise Xeriscapes.  A landscaper tore out grass, then I added weed prevention covering, planted sun loving perennials, and spread bags and bags and bags and bags of landscaping bark.  The Xeriscape saves on water bills, and I've been extremely pleased with the colorful results.  I'd like to rip out the remaining grass in the front yard and Xeriscape the rest of the yard ... soon.

This year, it's been unseasonably cool in the Salt Lake valley, and my sprinklers will remain off until my very busy but highly skilled sprinkler guy comes next Monday (he has the "key" to my four foot under water valve so, no, I can't do it myself or have someone else take care of it for me).  Fortunately, the perennials in the photos below are thriving in spite of no rain since last week.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Twitter Mixer Mixer Oooh La La!

Cobbler in the pan
So here's what I've been doing this evening.  My favorite blog besides FeliciaEvita, Everyday Inspirations, sponsored a Twitter party and we all tweeted while we made peach and blueberry cobbler.  Twitter was acting as Twitter oft does ... a bit persnickety, but we managed to share a few summer favorites as we tried to keep up with what was supposed to be happening in the kitchen.

Blueberry peach cobbler on Fiestaware
I'm having a friend over for coffee tomorrow morning before she goes to work, so this luscious treat will be a perfect addition!  Cobbler anybody?

Le potage de betterave est délicieux!

Beet soup is simple to make and oh so good for you!
I'm cooling down from hot (Bikram) yoga this morning and still recovering from that fiery post on economic conditions yesterday.  And I'm enjoying cool, homemade soup.

2 medium beets, washed and with ends cut off  (Trust me - it's not necessary to peel the beets!)
1 white onion, cut in quarters

Place the beets in a medium saucepan with 3" water. Place a lid on the pan and bring water to a boil.  Simmer until tender, about 10-20 minutes.  Add additional water, if needed.  Remove from stove and cool.  When you look at the liquid and the beets, "beet red" will have new meaning, especially if you have never cooked raw beets previously (like me).

Place beets in a blender with liquid from pan.  Puree beets with liquid.  Add onion.  Puree onion with beets.

When I made this soup, I cooked my beets only to the point where I was confident that the blender motor would survive.  But I can do that because I use a Vita Mix, which is akin to any power tool made by Stanley or Craftsman. If you own one or have ever used one, you know what I mean.

If you are creative and adventurous, you may want to add a jalapeno.  I did and it was good!   Other ideas I didn't try but may next time ... olive oil, garlic, and sea salt.

Voila! Le potage de betterave est délicieux!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Latest On the Economy ... In D Minor, With Chocolate (Of Course)

Bad news always goes down better with a lovely song and chocolate. So go on now, fetch some chocolates from your stash. You know they won't keep for the entire summer anyway.
Canon in D Minor by Pachelbel is one of my favorites. Press “Play” now, and begin reading. Relax … while I share a few of my latest finds on our economic recovery.

We're not done with the housing market bubble, in case you were thinking otherwise. Inventory is 144% of the 10 year average, prices dropped-then leveled briefly-and seem to be dropping again, 8 million mortgages are delinquent (and cure rates are at an all-time low so that means either foreclosure or short sales), and 25 million homeowners have no equity in their homes

We are not off the sovereign debt roller coaster. The stock market has been up and down on Euro debt issues since late 2009. The situation is calmed for the moment and the Euro currency is drifting slightly upward from 12 month lows.  Generally, when the Euro goes up, the US dollar goes down, and stock prices go up in value (since dollars are worth less).  One Greek mayor's hunger strike to protest austerity continues, however.  (Hint to Ralph Becker, Mayor of Salt Lake City and Kelvyn Cullimore, Mayor of Cottonwood Heights … there are probably better things to do with your political influence than starve for 43 days.)
Germany's Deutschebank is betting against Spain by shorting Spain's debt and five Spanish companies. Spain has serious issues, among them 20% unemployment and has total debt of 270% of its GDP. The level of unsold housing inventory is six times US levels.  If you think eating tapas will cure this, think again! 
Like I said a couple of posts ago, those Eurozone meetings must be anything but pleasant. And in case you're thinking, well that's a problem for folks across the pond, think again. The US is the largest member of the International Monetary Fund. Our contribution to the Greece bailout will be $8 billion via the IMF. We are all in this together … the US, Japan, and UK have tremendous exposure in Europe.  Cha ching.

Interestingly, California is among ten governments with the highest probability of default. As a megastate, California definitely has an economy larger than many countries.  Just so you know, banks measure probabilities of default and use them as a factor (among others) to determine interest rates on loans.

Closer to home, IOU fervor is spreading. IOUs are reminiscent of the Great Depression and possibly you used them as a kid when your allowance kitty ran dry but needed your sister's cash.  California and New York are beyond slow pay. Enter Illinois. No physical IOUs, the state is simply acknowledging its unpaid accounts receivables to non profit organizations. This situation may well put the affected non-profits offering much needed medical and mental health services out of operation. And Illinois's borrowing costs are astronomical: the bond premium increased by 40% versus two months ago because the state legislature is unable to close the gap on its deficit.  Other states in significant trouble: Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Ohio, Nevada, New Jersey, and Michigan.
US banks continue to struggle. There are more than 90 banks that deferred their TARP payments, up from 74 in February and 55 in November. And 781 banks are on the “unofficial” problem bank list
The Gulf oil spill drama continues. Please be aware that oil is gushing at a rate of 840,000 to 1.7 million gallons per day through last week. I haven't found any great ballpark estimates on the economic impact of the Gulf oil spill yet. It's probably too soon. But in the states of Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana, tourism, oil and gas, port, logistics, and commercial fishing will see unemployment rise. And Texas oil related jobs will be lost because of the drilling moratorium.  I think it's sad and ironic that these are the same states that were heavily impacted by Hurricane Katrina.
Here's a smidge of good news: If by chance you spot an oiled bird, you can wash them with Dawn dish detergent. At least there is a solution!

Risk managers, take note. You need to push harder to get the attention of your CFO on the cost of key risks associated with your business. This preventable oil spill has already cost $2 billion, not counting the $20 billion recovery fund established last week. 

Unemployment, a topic near and dear to my heart, didn't go away. I have already addressed unemployment in a recent post so I don't want to drone on.  Or whine.  In any case, the above little news bites are just that. As with many news stories, you have to dig deep to get a clear understanding of the financial news.  But the point is ... while I don't think Rome is burning, a few "concerns" exist and the summer may get hotter.

Later this week, I will cover situations which are still very much "looming," with lesser known impact such as the stress tests on Eurobanks to be released in July and the weekend announcement regarding the Chinese yuan.

And now, finish your chocolates, go back to whatever you were doing, and don't worry.  We have a lunar eclipse coming up on Saturday and I want you to be well rested and prepared for whatever is heading your way.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My Dad Is Such An Honest Guy ... I Don't Think He's Even Told a Fish Tale!

My mom thinks my dad looked like Leonard DiCaprio when he was young
 My dad is educated, well informed, funny, smart, and handy around the house.  He's very handsome and a great dancer.  All these years, he's been a good provider for our family.  My dad has a keen sense of history ... he was always saying, "Susie, this is history" when important events such as the moon landing or Nixon's resignation happened.  But perhaps the most important gift he's given me is the gift of integrity.
My dad and I, enjoying the Chicago snow
When I was young, our family went to Mexico on a day trip.  My brother wanted to buy fireworks.  My dad told him that the border patrol would probably confiscate them.  We bought them anyway.  Sure enough, the border patrol asked if we had fireworks and my dad told the truth.  The border patrol took our fireworks.  My brother, in particular, was quite upset ... upset at the border patrol, at the situation, and probably at my dad.  That was a long ride home to West Covina that night.  I'm sure we didn't completely understand the ramifications if my dad had tried to "slip by" but he did as he worked for the federal government.  Regardless of his employment, it's always been my dad's practice to tell the truth and to require the same of us.  As a result of my Dad's example then and on many other occasions, my brothers and I have zero tolerance for dishonesty, something we have passed on to our children, too.

Once, when my daughter was in high school, she asked, "Mom, are you always honest because you're in banking?"  Gulp.  "No," I replied, "I'm honest because my parents taught me being honest was the right thing to do."  I had tears in my eyes thinking about my dad and his mandate for integrity.  He's always required it of himself and of us.  And I'm glad.  And no, I don't even think he's told a fish story!  But then he doesn't need to because he always catches big ones, and usually several.

My dad is a great fisherman, too!
 Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hog Wallow Pub Revisited

The outside of the Hog, on my way out last night
 "The past is never there when you try to go back. It exists, but only in memory. To pretend otherwise is to invite a mess." 
-- Chris Cobbs

They say you can never go back.  It's been years since I've been to the Hog Wallow Pub (this links to their Facebook page), even though it's only a couple miles from my house.  I quit going because I knew I'd run into "my favorite mistake" if I did.  After our most charming little romance ended, he got custody of the Hog. It was one of those love situations in which you are hopeful for a different outcome but the reality is really quite hopeless.  And on those few occasions when I went to the Hog with friends, and he was there, I felt like crying in my iced beer. So I stopped going.

But I went back.  Finally.  Last night's Hog expedition was a social group of about 20 or so ... I was in very good company.  I arrived a teeny bit late, but not unfashionably so.  Shortly before it was time to leave my house, I decided I needed some new earrings, so in the middle of two telephone calls, I created the Hog specials below from burgundy and ivory fresh water pearls, accented with champagne crystals, with silver wires.

These earrings may have been a bit upscale for the Hog, but I took the chance
The minute I walked in the front door of the Hog, I heard the "last call" bell, at about 8:30 pm.  "Gee, they're closing early these days," I thought, but as the evening went on, it became obvious the bell was a communication system for the staff.

I'm not sure if the wristband was to confirm that I was over 21 ...

The Hog was crowded but not packed.  Other than the now outlawed cigarette smoke and "my favorite mistake" being absent, it's the same place.  I don't think they've even rearranged the tables.  

The hog still smiles from his distinguished spot above the fireplace mantle.

The Huckleberry Blues Band was not the reggae band we were expecting but not a disappointment by any means.  I like blues, being the BB King megafan that I am, but I'm quick to acknowledge it's not always the best music for dancing.  The Huckleberries played quite a few peppy tunes with the usual downer blues lyrics, and so we managed to dance to their guitar and harmonica melodies on the skinny little dance floor in the front.  (Side comment: it's always been my fantasy to be on that stage, playing my flute. Maybe someday.)  At one inch from the stage, literally, I got a closeup view of all of them and smelled what they'd eaten for dinner on their breath.  I was most fascinated by the long haired harmonica player wearing sun glasses.  He held his instrument up to the microphone and oddly enough, it sort of looked like he was shaving. 

The Huckleberry Blues Band, June 18, 2010 at the Hog Wallow Pub

I went outside with one of the others in the group to see if there were any changes to the famous Hog patio.  He was probably bored when I told him all of the tables I had sat at over the years.  That would be almost all of them, and, I can still remember highlights of conversations at each!  Oh my gosh!!  It was the same scene.

Note the hog gazing down from the top of the waterfall
One minor change ... the ladies room was a bit of a challenge.  I used to think the Hog had one of the nicer, albeit small, ladies rooms in Salt Lake's bar scene (not that I'm an expert) where a lass could escape the noise and activity of the bar to call or text message a friend about how her date was going, apply lipstick, or relieve herself.  The Hog still ranks far above the Westerner as far as the facilities, but really ... no toilet paper in the dispenser, same with paper towels, and trash all over?  Very disappointing, and no, it did not ruin my evening in the least.

Other than the $6 cover, it was a cheap evening as I was drinking water.  Some ordered food, mostly nachos, and I noticed they weren't as tempting as in "the old days" when I used to come more often.  One gal and I engaged in a little text messaging fun with one of the absent members of the group and I saw a few others doing same, no doubt updating their friends on very important news and information.  Why are we always so plugged in these days?  I got a little distracted by the Colorado Rockies vs Minnesota Twins game on television - shame on me for loving baseball and having ADD - but generally we had sufficient conviviality.

The group wound down earlier than usual as there is a big PARTAY tonight with 60+ people at a private home.  But for last night indeed, it was fun to revisit the Hog, and reconnect with one of my favorite places.  Who says you can't go back? {wink}