Archive for August, 2005

I feel so full…

My alumni club just had their annual wine tasting at Giuseppe’s Restaurant in Scottsdale. We managed to knock back some very good wine along with a 5 course meal and dessert. Since we had the first wine tasting there 3 years ago, Giuseppe’s has become my favorite Italian restaurant by far. The food is absolutely amazing, the prices are reasonable and hopefully you’ll get a chance to meet the owner, Pasquale, who is warm, friendly, and incredibly funny… My recommendation is any pasta with the Cardinale sauce.

13610 N Scottsdale Rd (Scottsdale Road & Thunderbird)
(480) 991-4792


This is my first summer in a house instead of a condo, and the electric bills are killing me. It was a sharp, sharp incline once it got warm… it’s a lot of air to keep cooled. I switched to a time-of-day plan to save a bit of money, but today I finally swapped out one of the old mercury switch thermostats with a digital, programmable replacement.

Even though digital thermostats are more efficient and save energy, I have to admit that part of me is sad to remove the old ones. It seems like everything these days is a black box. When I was a little kid and I opened up one of the old style thermostats… I could see before my eyes an ingenious mechanical creation that demonstrated a number of scientific principles. Now, I’d just see a leads for the inputs and a couple of jumpers.

Then again, mercury contamination sure was a pain in the ass.

We’re thinking of you, New Orleans

Here’s hoping that everyone who could get out, did, and that those who are left survive safe & sound.

Phoenix- Plethora of Plenty

I’ve been sick all weekend and I have to say that one of the greatest things about Phoenix is that there is either an Osco, CVS or Walgreens on every corner. And if you’re lucky, there may be a CVS and an Osco on opposing corners. Or maybe a Walgreens and a CVS on opposing corners. Or maybe an Osco and a Walgreens on opposing corners. You get the picture. In short, there is no way to avoid a plethora of 1 hour photo developing, $5 Hawaiian themed rayon button doiwns, Extra Strength Excedrin and Maybelline mascara, should you need these things in massive quantities.

I’m always quite impressed with the number of competing supermarket chains- Albertson’s, Safeway, Bashas, Fry’s, A.J.’s, Wholefoods, Sunflower, etc. Coming from Texas where you either shop at H.E.B. or H.E.B., this is quite a luxury to see that you don’t have to take the standing price of $8 per avocado or don’t only have just one brand of generic salsa from which to choose.

It may get repetitive at times to drive through countless intersections of the same eateries, pharmacies and clothing retailers, but it’s nice to have them at hand, should you need them. And after also living in Fresno, California, cornucopia of nothing much at all, it’s great to have more to choose from than Olive Garden and Frugal McDougal’s when you need get your errands run.

The Phoenix version of an interesting site…

Can be found right here.

Scuba Diving in Phoenix?

Have you always wanted to learn to scuba dive? Well, I haven’t but that’s mostly because I’m still working on the whole learning to swim thing. But, if you have and you’re worried because the last time you checked there was no ocean in the desert, never fear. The Valley has a whole variety of places that teach scuba diving classes at all levels and also lead diving trips to California, Mexico and even more exotic places like the Bahamas or Belize. A friend of mine had always wanted to do this, took the classes, and then was off on diving trips to live out her dreams. She always came back with awesome stories and pictures of the things she had done and seen. So never fear, you really can learn to scuba dive in the desert!

There are too many places to list, but here are a couple of links to get you started on your adventure.

Local Flavor.

Having your folks “invade” your world is always somewhat of an interesting situation.

All of my weekly plans, agendas, routines have been turned around and upside down. It’s amazing at how my life is structured and once that gets a little skewed – how I become somewhat discombobulated. I’ve always thought of myself as a very spontaneous person. However, after these past couple of days, I’ve come to realize that I’m more structured and “set in my ways” than I realized.

Yesterday’s adventures included driving out to Apache Junction to basically “find” some cousins of my mother who live out there. Apache Junction, known to the rest of the Phoenix area as “AJ” sit nestled against the Superstition Mountains. It’s nice, quiet, small, deserty. I have been out there once before in all my five years of living here – and that was enough for me.

This trip was decided upon as Mom, Dad and I were shopping at the Biltmore Shopping Plaza – in the snooty Biltmore district here in Phoenix. It was kinda warmish outside – like…103….and Mom said,

“Hey, let’s go stop by and see Orville and Helen. I’ve got their address. How far is that from here?”

“Where do they live?”

“Oh, I’m sure it’s close.” Thumbing though her address book, she produced a phone number and physical address for the AJ Cousins.

So we stopped by the Apple store at the Biltmore and I Mapquest’d the addy.

“What’s all that brown area?” asked Dad.

“That’s what we locals refer to as Desert Dirt, Pops. Yeah, there’s NOTHING out there.”

My Dad – ever the consummate gentleman – gave me the Rolled Eye – just out of vision of Mom. He didn’t want to hurt her feelings.

Off we went!

We finally found the place. Classy. It totally reminded me of National Lampoon’s Vacation – when the Grizwold’s stop by Randy Quaid’s pad in the middle of Kansas (or one of the Square States). Fenced in yard, dirt lawn, five dogs running wild, an old rocking swing that was missing the cushion. I tell you – I come from a classy background.

After chatting for about an hour – we were off. And I was starving.

“Let’s just eat out here.” I suggested. “It’ll be good, local color for us.” Everyone agreed. So we set out on the Main Drag in town to find something that would be suitable for dinner.

We opted on a place called Chubby’s.

Yes. I know. The marquee on the outside of the place proudly announced Hair, Beer and Scrapbooking along with the daily special of All You Can Eat Chicken Fried Steak. As we were walking into the smoke-filled 1950’s style dinner, my Dad leaned over to me and whispered, “There HAS to be interesting stories here!” What? Is Dad a Closet Blogger???

The interior of the joint was nicotine stained Navaho White walls complete with flowery drapes that hung carelessly low to each table. Turquoise-painted cowboy boots adorned each table with plastic flowers propped in them. Naugahide blue booths called out to us as if to say, “Come on down, sit a spell…take your shoes off.” We did all that – except the shoes part.

Our waitress, who I nicknamed Flo Casselberry, was more than gracious. She even brought me a side of applesauce – because, in her words I looked as if I were “hunkerin’ for a taste of the sauce.” Perhaps I was. I’m not sure what look that would be….

We ate, joked, laughed and chatted through the entire meal. It was just like old times with my parents. Like when I was younger and the whole family (including my sister) would pile in the 1972 yellow Chevy Truck with Camper and head out across the country on summer vacation. The highlight for me was getting to stop at the Stuckey’s Gas Stations and load up on Fun Books and markers. I checked in the “gift section” at Chubby’s for the coloring books – but alas – they didn’t seem to carry those in the merchandise. Bummer. All I spotted were postcards of cactus and a stuffed roadrunner (fake of course).

As we were leaving the city limits of AJ, mom piped up from the backseat of the rented Toyota corolla and announced, “I feel like an overachiever in this town. I have all my own teeth.”

I cracked up. Oh – Lois Ann – you are a snarky one.

Their flight left today about 2:45pm. I was sad to see them go but glad that a surprise visit was had. I love my parents. They are about the coolest kids I know.

Thanks for the messing up my Daily Schedule. I’m glad you did.

Thinking about store shootings

The recent shootings (see post below) at the Wal*Mart are shocking, of course. Not to gloss over in any way the deaths of 2 people and the grief of the loved ones they left behind, but I want to comment on two things that jumped out at me in some of the written coverage about what happened.

One thing was the implications that what happened was shocking because it happened in a high-income area. One AzCentral article actually gave home-price comparisons for the area, saying that “For example, median home prices in the adjunct area were $198,000 last year, much higher than the overall Valley median price of $175,000.” It’s almost like they could understand the shootings if they had been in an area where the housing sales figures were more in line with Valley median prices. Or, you know, a low income area. Do people without a lot of money have to resign themselves to a higher probability of shootings? Sadly, it sounds like they might.

The other thing was a brief sentence in another AzCentral article. It talked about the events that took place right after the shootings, and said “Confused shoppers already inside were allowed to complete their purchases, while stunned employees milled near the entrances, reliving the scene and weeping over the deaths of their co-workers.” Allowed to complete their purchases? They actually kept the cash registers open? People still wanted to buy stuff? Did they not know about the shootings, or what? Despite the probably crying people and what I’d imagine would be pandemonium? I don’t know, but I really wonder about it. Are we growing that callous, or was it meant to be a normalizing sort of thing? Even if it was meant in a good way, I don’t think I want that sort of normalizing.

I wonder how long people who shop at that location will think about what happened there. Probably a very long time. Many years ago there was a shooting at a Smitty’s near where I live now. (Smitty’s used to be a local chain — a great combination grocery store/restaurant/general store.) Smitty’s was long since bought out, but I think about that shooting nearly every time I grocery shop. (Different grocery chain, same old building.) I pass under the arches that all the Smitty’s stores had, and remember that THIS was the place where it happened. That time it was 2 dead, including a pregnant woman, and three others wounded. Same horrific stuff, different decade. It shouldn’t be normalized.

Scary scary happenings

At lunch today, I discovered a copy of The Arizona Republic and read about the Wal*Mart shootings yesterday. It kind of reminded me of the D.C. Sniper shootings a few years back. Not in the method, of course, but in the randomness and senselessness of the act. It’s also frightening that this occurred not very far from me. I know it seems kind of odd, given that I did my undergrad work in downtown Baltimore. But at least there you could predict the crime. You knew that if you went past Guilford Ave., you were almost certain of encountering some sort of crime against you. This crime was so random. And that’s scary.

Off the beaten path…

For those of you who don’t know me, my tastes tend to run toward the eclectic, especially in matters of Religion/Spirituality. So, I enjoy running across new things that may be of interest to some of you.

I was at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe and I received a flyer frrom the New Acropolis Cultural Association. They are having a 5-month “Ancient Wisdom of the East and West” course, which meets once a week. Topics will include: karma, reincarnation, The Bhagavad Gita, Plato, Socrates, the teaching of Buddah, the Mysteries of Tibet, and others. Sounds like it could be a very interesting course. New Acropolis is located at 3228 E. Indian School Road, Suite 107 in Phoenix. (480) 756-3910.

Also, Pandora’s Box in Chandler is hosting a Healing Circle every Wednesday night at 7PM, led by Leilani Schmidt. Leilani also does individual healing sessions and channeling sessions by appointment. Pandora’s Box is at 1949 W. Ray Road, #18 in Chandler. (480) 812-2900.

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