Saturday, January 31, 2009

The ME Interview

I enjoy blogging because it makes me feel like I can visit with people all over the US and the world. Some of my favorite blogs are from people that have relocated to different countries. I love the descriptions of the people and the food and well everything.

I found Donnie (The Brit) who lives in Brazil from some of my favorite UK bloggers, Mean Mom and MOB and Maggie May. He had posted a ME interview (like a MEME) that looked fun so I finagled an interview from him. (Okay I just asked and he sent me question.) In my mind, I am very important and my fans would love to know more about me... (Just go with it..please?)

Here it goes.

1: What are your biggest interests in life?

Of course there are my children, but that is the expected boring answer. I love to stand up in front of people and talk. Luckily I get a chance to to this when I teach or give Safety Talks. I also love music and singing. The time I get to spend singing at church either in the Praise Band or in Kid's Church gets me through my week.

2: I see that your blog name is "AbFab Geek" I love "Absolutely Fabulous"! So name another favourite British comedy series...

I would have to say my favorite British series would have to be Monty Python (not terribly original I know). I had one of the albums in college that we played over and over and would quote endlessly. I can still remember the first time I saw "The Meaning of Life". (Not the TV show but...) And lest you think all of that energy went to no good, my friends and I rocked the Monty Python portion of a Trivia night to win the competition. The other teams were awed by our knowledge (and probably a bit frightened.)

3: What has been your highest achievement in life?

I would like to say raising my three boys but as they are still works in progress, I would have to say earning my Doctorate Degree in Engineering. Not bad for a girl whose Dad told her she probably would even get through college.

4: Where do you see your life in 10 years time?

In 10 years, the Littlest Geek will be 21. I hope at that time I can claim that raising my sons was my highest achievement. My biggest hope is that I will have had the time and opportunity to see more of the world and to use my engineering to make positive progress in the world. (Too much?)

5: If you could travel through a wormhole through time and space what year would you transport yourself to? what country? and why?

This is tough because I am a big big fan of modern day conveniences. I would live to spend some time out in the old Wild West in the United States. (Can I change genders too, because women had it worse back then?) There is a part of me that wonders would I have the strength of Laura Ingalls Wilder to settle a Homestead and live on the food I have grown.

I really think I would tend to want to travel into the future. I enjoy visiting places where I can meet new people and learn new things. Doesn't everyone what to know what is coming up?

That was fun. Does anyone else have any questions?

If you would like to participate in the ME interview, here are the rules.

1. If you want to be interviewed, leave me a comment that says "Interview me".

2. I will respond by emailing you 5 questions (I get to choose the questions).

3. Update your blog with the answers to the questions and let me know when you have posted it.

4. You will include this explanation and offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When other comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Fun in the snow

A day of sunshine and almost 40 degrees turned the dry fluffy snow (no fun for sledding) into a nice slick ramp. In fact the little geeks traveled so fast down the hill, I had trouble getting their picture.

Let's try that again!

It was time for some trick riding. The little geeks built a ramp at the bottom of the hill and then tried to catch some air.

See the kids can have fun and GO TO SCHOOL! Did I mention, after two snow days, the day they went back was a HALF DAY! AARRGH!

Ode to My High School Chemistry Teacher

When I started writing my blog, one one the reasons was to practice writing and to get over my fear of letting others read what I had written. I hadn't written anything that wasn't technical since high school - and tech writing is not exactly riveting to read (or write). I have found a group of bloggers at Mama Kat . Mama Kat gives writing prompts (assignments) and a place to link to your site.

The prompt I chose was: Write a poem to your favorite teacher of all time. Well it has been since high school since I have written a poem (that was not a limerick, I have written lots of these lol). So please please please (I am desperate here) give me some feedback - but be gentle- it's my first time.
Ode to My High School Chemistry Teacher
by AbFab Geek

I was skating by in school
Making A’s pretty easily
Because I was on the college prep track
I signed up for Chemistry
Chemistry followed Biology

Chemistry education was completely different
I loved the blending of science and math
I loved finding the explanation of life
Now I could find out what was occurring on a minute level
Figuratively and literally a whole new world came into focus

I did not know it at the time
But this was my first experience with a geek
A Geek – Someone with a deep interest in a geeky subject
But retains humor and interest in all other things
A cool human being that enjoys learning – my new role model

Through this course and the advance course the following year
I learned the satisfaction that comes from working hard
I learned how to spend hours researching and processing knowledge
I learned what it felt like to really struggle with a subject
I learned it sometimes takes years and years to get it

Do you know the impression you left on students?
Did you enjoy being remembered as the hard teacher?
Did you ever wish for a more glamorous career?
How did you put up with desperate, frustrated students like me?
Where are you now?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Desperately Seeking Adult Conversation

I know that sounds like the beginning of a really Spam, but it is the second snow day and I am starting to feel a bit cabin bound.

Once in a while a snow day can be fun, it can interrupt the long cold winter and bring together family bonding. (Hopefully not the type of bonding that involves duct tape.) but by the second day, the boys eyes are glazed over from unlimited video games. They have caught up on on the recorded programs on the DVR, and all the winter gear has been found to be 1. Too Little 2. Too old to wear (holes and elastic popping) or 3. Too wet (after it has been worn outside).

I did enjoy my day. I baked a cake, made Lasagna and Muddy Buddies and Jello cups. I finished grading the homework and spent way too much time deciding whether or not to cancel my class yesterday evening. (I did cancel the class, I hope my students did not miss me too much.)

So what shall we talk about...

Here is what I would be telling you about if you were in my kitchen right now.

For a while we have suspected we have some after hours teen activities in the back corner of our yard. We find empty beer and alcohol bottles. But this morning when I looked out on the freshly fallen snow in my back yard, this is what I saw.

Do you see those footprints? Do you know what that means?

The teenagers that have been partying in the back corner of my yard have also been walking into my yard towards my house. AND it appears from following the footsteps -- JUMPING ON MY TRAMPOLINE!!

So please tell me.

Am I just being paranoid?

Even if they really are in my yard, is it a big deal?

What can I do about it? (I mean besides using my CSI training to make imprints of the footsteps and then interviewing every kid from age thirteen to sixteen.)

Friday, January 23, 2009

More Stories from the Homefront

Want to know what else happened while AbFab and Mr. Geek were away blissfully unaware of happenings in the Geek House? Of course you do or you wouldn't be here.

We had been promising the Middle Geek that we would repaint his room. He has a new obsession with all things Japanese and wanted to reflect that in his room. Also when the Middle Geek was younger, he had many anger issues. The result of that negative energy was lots and lots of holes in the walls. Finally it occurred to me that it had been ages since he had thrown that level of a tantrum. Therefore it seemed time to patch the walls and seal up that part of his life and start the next phase.

College Geek's friend (obsessed with Japan as much as the Middle Geek) volunteered to come over during Christmas break and paint some Japanese words and murals on his walls. Unfortunately with the busy break that the Geek family had we were barely able to squeeze in the patching of the holes in the walls and no painting was done.

You will now realize how excited I was to visit NYC that I gave College Geek complete control to choose the color of the walls, paint the entire room, paint the murals and restore the room. Yes all of the following occurred while Mr. Geek and I were out of state.

Here is College Geek (I hope) hamming it up for the picture. I like the color blue that he chose.

Here are all four walls. The scale is not right, notice the crane is painted above the light switch. The words are Dream, Harmony and Soul. Dream and the snowscape are over the Middle Geek's bed. He said it worked because that night he had the best dream of his life.

They left his trophy shelf on the wall and painted around it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My Last Post on New York City (probably)

Thirteen More Things We Did in New York City

Believe it or not there are several more things that we did in NYC that I have not yet blogged about. For my sake I want to finish journaling this wonderful trip (for those tired of reading about it, I will move on soon, probably, I mean, yes, I will move back to reality...)

Mr. Geek's Activities - I know some of you are thinking, "Was this trip just all about you, AbFab?" The answer is, well yes of course it was, hah. But don't feel sorry for Mr. Geek you can tell from the pictures he was also having a great time. Mr. Geek also had his own list of things to do in NYC, and he accomplished most of it.

1. Running along the Hudson River . This was recommended by one of the many gracious people we met in NYC. We found that most people were happy to help us find whatever we were looking for and loved to tell us of there personal favorites, not to miss. I had to start writing things down so I would be able to remember them.

2. Running though Central Park. As Mr. Geek was running through Central Park, he noticed several traffic cones. Eventually he saw several runners wearing numbers. There was a race that Saturday morning. He considered just joining in, but by that time he was five miles into his run and did not think he could make it the race distance. (On the list for next trip to NYC, run in a race in Central Park.)

3. Visit a Bike Shop. As I explained to the man in the store trying to sell us something, "Some people come to NYC to visit museums, we visit Bike Shops." We stumbled across This Store in Soho. It was run by a hippie, who apologized that we had missed seeing the "real" New York by thirty years. He did give us to directions to a restaurant "the only one even close to what New York used to be." The restaurant is on the list of things to do on the next visit to NYC.

4. See a ghost bike. Ghost Bikes are memorials designed to honor a person killed while riding and a plea for awareness of community support.

Other Museums

5. Museum of Natural History. I mentioned that we visited this museum, but I left out the highlight which was the planetarium show, Cosmic Collisions.

6. The Tenement Museum . This is a very cool museum that shows the actual homes of the immigrants after they passed through Ellis Island. We took the tour Piecing It Together which included the early "sweat shops" which is when the clothing was made in homes. To think of the family raising four boys (and two girls) in that amount of space was truly unbelievable, because I don't believe that the Middle Geek could have even spent the time for the hour tour confined in that space.

7. Speaking of sweat shops, I tried to find the building where the Triangle Fire Tragedy occurred. This accident has been covered in my safety class and I wanted a picture of the commemorative plaque on a NYU building. Unfortunately it was getting dark about the time Mr. Geek and I passed through here and we must have walked right by it. (One more thing on the list for the next visit.)

8. Chelsea Market We did not luck out into a tour of The Food Network, but we did walk through the market. We walked up to Craft Steak (Tom Cochlicio's Restaurant) and Morimoto's, it would be cool to visit those, maybe our next trip will come with more money that will make visiting these places possible. The highlight of this visit was the "Ask a Chef" table. I went to the table and started more of a "Chat with a Chef". No he could not get us into the foodnetwork studios (worth a try huh?), to eat at CraftSteak, etc it was better to visit during Restaurant Week (two weeks later- yes it is on our list), I wrote down his recommendations for meals at the market, casual dining and more upscale dining. Oh the best, the chef was originally from Jeff City, Missouri.

9. Visit the United Nations Building - The Tour Guide on the Circle Line Tour stated that the United Nations gave tours every day but Sunday. We headed there on Saturday to find..

We did get a picture of this Property Corner Marker (to prove we were Geeks.)

Random Restaurant Reviews (not previously reviewed)

10. Tick Tock Diner I agree with most of these reviews. The restaurant is open 24 hours, which is not as common in NYC as I was led to believe by television. It feels like the diner from Seinfield, that is a plus. The food was good. But the service was borderline non existent. I asked four people for water, we sat forever waiting to order. The only thing that kept us in our seats was the weather outside and optimism. I think it may be the type of place that all tourist should visit though. Later we found an actual diner that real New Yorker's eat at and the service was much much better.

11. Pizza in Time Square. I do not remember the name of the Restaurant/ Bakery that we ate at. I enjoyed the pizza alot. The crust was more like a pastry crust and it was delicious. Unfortunately I was not able to cross off "Eat real NY pizza" from my list.

12. Chelsea Diner - I am pretty sure this is the place. We found this place at the end of a long, cold walking day. The place is pure comfort food. We order baked chicken and Cajun chicken. The portions were very generous (good thing Mr. Geek was starving) and the customers were a great mix from the neighborhood, it was a great spot for people watching.

13. Vice Versa This was recommended by our personal friend and Chef from the Chelsea Market. (He had also recommended Dogmatic, our second favorite restaurant, so we had high hopes.) Short story - don't bother. Longer Story - If you go , order the veal Ravioli (the dish recommended by our Chef) and then go finish your meal elsewhere. Mr. Geek ordered the Price Fixe Menu and the meal was similar to the meal he had eaten at the Chelsea Diner at three time the price. Okay the salad was steps above, but the beef was really pot roast (call it what you want) and it was served unimaginatively with steamed (really plain steamed) broccoli and mashed potatoes. Seriously? And the service, very snooty, it was one of the few places in NYC that we felt unwelcome.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Happy Birthday to Mr. Geek!!

As you can see, Mr. Geek started off life as a Junior Geek.

By High School you could almost see a glimmer of the coolness to come.

By college it was apparent - This guy was on his way to be a premiere Geek. This is a picture of our first "formal"date - The Military Ball.

This is our senior year of college it is quite possibly when we reached the very peak of our coolness.

There are some* that say I married Mr. Geek for his body- what do you think?

*Some of course being Mr. Geek.Happy Birthday, Mr. Geek (You big Hunk!)

I Love you tons!!!

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Homefront

I know you are thinking, great you and Mr. Geek had lots of fun, whatever. What about the little geeks, it is obvious they did not get to go to New York City. What did you do with them, leave them a dish of water and hope for the best.

Uh, yes, at least the hope for the best anyway. College Geek was still at home and in charge of getting the littler geeks their lunch packed and off to school. Grandma Geek (boy will she hate that title- note to Cheri think of different nickname) came over every evening to provide some stability and make sure dinner was somewhat appropriate- not cookies and chips.

And for those of you who that are tired of hearing about me, me, me, here is a good story about the Littlest Geek.

AbFab: Littlest Geek come down we have to finish your homework before school that we didn't finish last night. (due to D.A.R.E. graduation)

Littlest Geek: You mean this homework. (He is carrying it as he comes downstairs.)

AbFab: Uh...yes. When did you do that?

LG: I am sorry Mom, but I did not want to miss recess.

AbFab: okay....

LG: So I snuck down to the kitchen and took my homework back to my room. Then I remembered College Geek had given me some GloSticks for Christmas. So I used a GloStick and finished my homework. Are you angry?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

My Thirteen Favorite Things I did in New York

1. Avenue Q - This is a very funny show that is best described as Sesame Street for adults or Muppets Gone Wrong. We bought tickets that day and ended up in row E, center- woohoo. Warning - there is full muppet nudity and the next day you will find yourself humming entirely inappropriate songs.

2. Equus - Quite possibly the exact opposite of Avenue Q, this play was a serious look at a young man's (Daniel Radcliffe) time in a mental ward following a horrible crime. Minimally staged and also with nudity and no puppets but men dressed as horses, oh, I think you just have to go see it.

3. My First Time - An off Broadway play about, you guessed it, the first time. There is a website you can visit to read of others experiences or post your own. Many of these narratives have been selected and performed (well read, not performed if you no what I mean, I mean this play actually had no nudity, puppet or otherwise.) The results are both funny and poignant. Before the play the audience is given cards to fill out as to their first time experiences. There were three virgins in the audience that night and the average age for the first time was just over 18 (higher than the national average in the US of just over 15).

4. Purchasing the tickets - even buying our tickets was an adventure. I bought the tickets to Equus and My First Time before we left for New York, but I had to visit the famous TKTS half price ticket stand. We got in line about an hour before the line opened. This gave us lots and lots of time to gawk at the lights in Time Square and meet our fellow line waiters. We met two girls visiting their friend (an au pair) from Germany, a family from the UK and a woman from Brazil. We discussed the Euro dollar exchange rate and found that ipods can be cheap if you are coming from the right country.

Landmarks finally visited (after seeing them all my life on television and in movies.)

5. Statue of Liberty - We saw this from the Circle Line tour. Here is a picture of us before we wimped out from the cold and went inside.

6. Empire State Building

7. Washington Square

8. The Tree at Rockefeller Center

9. Bryant Park - I looked for Tim Gunn, he did not show.

10. Macy's - Santa unfortunately was gone. We did ride all the way up on the escalators and back down again. Can you say tourists?

11. Museum of Natural History and Central Park

12. Grand Central Station - I desperately wanted to make a phone call from there so that the person on the other end of the call could say, "Where are you, it sounds like Grand Central Station?"

13. Union Square - This was extra special because on the day we went there was a farmer's market. We were able to watch a live band. I bought this fantastic scarf from a girl who was sitting there knitting them.

And a block away we ate at our second favorite restaurant - Dogmatic. You see they toast the inside of the bread on these special toasting rods (see them in the background) then they put one of five different homemade sausages into the bun with your choice of sauce.

Yes we made all the appropriate sophomoric jokes and then we went back for seconds. I still have the frequent buyer card harboring the illusion that I might really make it back there.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Hotel

This post is not only for all of you following along on our New York adventure, but for those who will find this later by searching google. Welcome fellow googlers and I hope this review is helpful. (You see I looked a lots of reviews and blogs when planning our trip so I figure I should return the favor.)

The first hotel that I made reservation for was The Pod Hotel. The hotel came as a recommendation from my niece Angie. She said it was a reasonably priced hotel that was in a great location. She and her husband had stayed there and even stayed in the bunk bed room with a shared bath to same some money. I am not opposed to saving money but for my anniversary, I splurged and reserved the room with a queen size bed and private bath (for $20 more per night). The good thing about having your anniversary in January, is that the prices get much cheaper after New Years.

A friend had also recommended searching for bargains. There did not seem to be alot of bargains until the trip got closer. Next I made reservations at the Empire Hotel, across from Central Park. (I always asked for the cancellation policy before I made reservations.)

I could not just accept that so I kept checking travelzoo daily (you might call it an obsession). Next I saw an ad for the new Wyndham Gardens. The price was even less than what I had booked the other hotels, so I immediately became suspicious. The map showed that it looked like it was in a good place, but what did I know about locations in New York. Finally I called and made another reservation (not cancelling the others as to leave my options open).

The lady that took the reservation was quite possibly the nicest person I talked to between all the hotels. She said for the lowest rate, I could have a king size bed in a new allergen free room, plus $20 in food credit in the hotel. I made the reservation, still somewhat skeptical. I goggled and searched and read every review that I could find. Because it was such a new hotel there were not alot of reviews and they were a bit mixed. However most of the bad reviews were not because of location.

Finally I canceled all reservations and we ended up at the Wyndham Garden- Midtown Convention Center .

Short Review - It was really wonderful. The bed was very comfortable. The employees were so nice. I would stay there again in a heartbeat. My biggest fear is that as word of the new hotel spreads I will never be able to stay for the same rate again. ever.

Long review - We took the Supershuttle from Newark Airport and the hotel is on the other side of the Lincoln tunnel. We were the first passengers to be dropped off. The street in front of the hotel is narrow and there is parking on both sides. When our driver dropped us off, he basically stopped in the middle of the street. He turned to me, eyes serious, and said, do not open the door, wait for me. Okay then. Also as he took our bags out the doorman grabbed them quickly, I said oh I have them, and he said yeah but okay lets just get out of the street. Good Idea. In all it was an exciting entrance to New York City.

I had requested a room for early arrival and the room was waiting for us at noon. The front desk manager wished us a Happy Anniversary (I had told the reservation lady) and gave us vouchers for free drinks at the bar.

The room was not huge (by midwestern standards), but the king size bed was very comfortable. I even liked the pillows which very rarely happens in hotel rooms.

We used our free drink vouchers that evening where we met our very favorite bartender. She gave us lots of ideas where to eat for breakfast, lunch and after the show, because after the shows many restaurants are closed. (this was a bit disappointing to me, so much for the city that never sleeps) We traded stories of our adventures with her everyday.

The only real complaint I would make would be with the cleaning staff. You could tell that all the employees were new and some had the job training down better than others. On the good side, there was no job burnout and everyone (I mean everyone) was smiling and friendly. On the other side the room cleaning was very random.

Also the amenities in the room seemed to change as the time progressed. It was if they were still supplying the rooms as the hotel received inventory. There was an umbrella in the room that came in very handy. Then the second day we ended up with robes, slippers, and a bathroom scale. Another day we got a makeup mirror. It became part of our fun to discover what might show up in our room that day. The Chocolate fairy was also random. Some evenings we didn't get any chocolate, one day we got one piece (I ate it, sorry Mr. Geek) and the last day, two truffles.(This time I did let Mr. Geek eat one, although I considered hiding it.)

The worse was one day there was a knock on the door about 8:30, I said we were not yet gone, to come back. What the maid apparently heard was, Go away we don't want you to clean in here. We got no maid service that day.

I just checked travelzoo while I was typing this and the rate is $129 per night. Seriously go there. Tell the concierge AbFab sent you. (And go to the Knife and Fork, I beg you, and tell me everything that you ate, talk slowly.)

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Anniversary Dinner - The Story

Yes, I brought my laptop on vacation with me. Not only could I post pictures of our trip in almost real time, but more importantly, I was not far from my best friend Google. I love google! Why? Well this entire evening started with a google search. I typed in, "What Restaurant in NYC for anniversary dinner?" (Luckily google doesn't check for correct grammar.) Sure enough there was several forums where this exact question had been discussed. One even mentioned he was trying to eat for less than $100, I looked up each of the recommended restaurants, reviews and location. (It is good to be a geek.)

Soon I uncovered Knife and Fork . On the menu was a six course chef's choice tasting menu. We called to see if we could get a table and what the dress was. You see the day had been really rainy all day long and one of the criteria was we wanted the restaurant to be somewhat casual. The man on the phone gave me a reservation and assured me that it was casual. I went to google map and plotted our trip. (Have I mentioned how much I love google.) Two subway rides later (Okay three, we missed our stop with the connection and had to backtrack, oops.) and a few blocks walk and we walked into the place.

The restaurant was very small with a large table in the center. It almost felt like we were entering a private party. (Oh and of course they were all in suits and black dresses, so much for casual.) The waiter greeted us warmly, explained that the group was there for a rehearsal dinner (he was wrong they had actually been married that day). Mr. Geek exclaimed, what a coincidence, they are just getting married and we are celebrating twenty five years of our marriage. They could look at us and see their future! (I am sure he meant it in a good way.)

Soon the waiter brought us two glasses of Champagne and gave one to the bride. He announced that we had a common celebration of marriage, a new one and 25 years of one. The wedding party applauded us, their photographer actually took pictures of us! Everyone at the table toasted us and congratulated us.

Then the food began...

Oh my! First course was Salmon with Wasabi Creme Fraiche and Wasabi Caviar on pickled vegetables. It was indescribable. We had braised pork belly, they always make on Top Chef and now I know why. It was served with several sauces and I considered licking the plate. The only course better was the Duck schnitzel with parsnip puree etc., I did almost embarrass myself with that one. Followed by Creme Brulee. (excuse me , I just need a moment.)

Many of the wedding party were from Ireland. They talked the groom into singing a folk song. The party continued with several more rounds of drink and more folk songs. They asked us several times to make sure they were not bothering us. Bothering us? It was like being part of a wonderful party (and you know how we love parties).

More than one person from the party came up and told us how amazed they were to meet someone that had made it 25 years. They were so happy for us. I am not sure where these guys were hanging out, but it was like Mr. Geek and I were celebrities. When when getting ready to leave we stopped again to congratulate the couple and asked if we could take our picture together to remember the day. They took our picture too, I am not sure how they will explain these pictures to their children. One guy gave Mr. Geek a big bear hug good bye.

The waiter met us as we were putting on our coats and gave us a bottle of champagne that the couple wanted us to have. When we left we promised to meet everyone at that exact place in another 25 years.

Here is Mr. Geek and I with our wonderful waiter and yes I believe I had that stupid grin on all evening long.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Last Day in New York!

We will be home tomorrow!!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

New York - Day Three

Random Sightseeing!

Can you guess where we have been?

New York - Day Two- The Anniversary Dinner

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New York - Day One

Here are some quick pictures to make you all wish you were me. heheheh