Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Ripon is considered one of the more affluent towns in the central valley and has not been hit quite as bad by our little economic slump. However, as of late I have questioned this idea of Ripon being a genuine jewel and considered proposing to the city council that jewel should have the word faux in front of it. If Manteca can afford fireworks, Ripon should be able to muster up some of that secretive Dutch gold and sing happy birthday to the good old USA.
There are a few possible reasons for Ripon’s dismissal of a great American tradition. The following is a presentation of these various reasons.
Now let’s look at the Little Big Ben situation from another side: The side of the Dutch. Perhaps the once wealthy Dutch were thinking that by expanding its inner circle to more than well... the Van so and sos, it could make a little money. By putting Little Big Ben in, they are assuming that British travelers from near and far will come spend the Euro.
I must disagree with Ripon’s thinking. We all know that the English think their Big Ben is the bee’s knees and nothing will ever compare. They should have come up with something more glamorous, like the World’s Largest Ball of Yarn. I would totally pay to see that.
Some of these roundabouts are not up to code. There is a certain roundabout on 2nd Street that is too narrow for the town’s fire trucks. Granted maybe Ripon’s Fire Department has unusually large trucks, but you think the city planners would consider these things before they tear out a perfectly good four way stop. The city spent a bunch of money on this roundabout and now has to rip it out in order to be within the fire code. Once again, this is a bunch of ill spent money that could have been used on fireworks.
Luckily Ripon does allow its lovely residents to set off their own fireworks. Danny and I were able to enjoy some slightly less impressive fireworks with great friends this year. I believe our friends' neighbors may have set off some more impressive illegal fireworks…but I’m no firework expert.
To be honest this past 4th of July may have been my favorite thus far. The lack of money in everyone’s pocket makes people more grateful for the little things... like some good BBQ and a sparkler. Sparklers happen to be my favorite firework, despite my hissy fit. I do hope that Ripon brings back its great firework show. I hope for this economy to turn around. I hope that the British are fooled into thinking Ripon is the new London. I also hope that Riponians learn how to drive in the roundabouts. But I mostly hope that the 4th of July, whether there are fireworks or not, continues to have a special place in my heart.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
As promised I have been working on my bucket list. One of my goals is to be able to deadlift 200 lbs. I don’t know exactly why I want to do this, besides being able to say, “I can deadlift 200 lbs,” but I desperately want to.
We just got back from the Crossfit Games in Carson, CA, where Danny’s friend/co gym owner/ guinea pig tied for 4th place in the Master’s Division. “CrossFit is a fitness program based on functional movements, constantly varied, executed at high intensity. It is a highly effective method of burning fat and building muscle” (http://www.crossfitexcel.com/). If you want to learn more go here: http://www.crossfit.com/. The Master's Division is for men and women 50 years and better. Here is a link to Terry’s story which was on the Crossfit Games website: http://games2010.crossfit.com/blog/2010/07/my-story,639/. In one of the heats Terry had to find his max deadlift within 7 minutes. He got second place in the heat with a max deadlift of 485 lbs. The man who won that heat, deadlifted 490 lbs.
So here I am slightly sore from yesterday’s workout, but feeling good about myself and my goals. I’m looking forward to checking off one more item on my bucket list. I may be a nurse who lifts babies that sometimes weigh 600 grams and I may be a housewife who lifts a feather light dirt devil vacuum to clean my floors, but I am so much more than these things. More than just checking off an item on my list and lifting something heavy, I am excited about living a happy, healthy, life whether that involves Danny cheering me on as I pick up something really heavy or me cheering on a 52 year old man lifting 485 lbs.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Friday, July 9, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Day five marked our return to sunny California. Our flight did not leave until the afternoon, so we still had time to explore Chicago. However like most non billionaires, we couldn’t do anything too expensive because we had spent all of our designated vacation money on things like ferris wheels and skyscrapers.
We started our day with another walk to breakfast. We went to the West Egg, which is located more east of Chicago than would warrant “West” in the name. Danny ordered a skillet with a side of pancakes. He enjoyed it, but believes the Bongo Room has better hash browns. I tried a bite of his pancakes, and thought they were heavenly. I ordered the “Blue Bayou” which is a skillet dish with bacon and blue cheese atop of eggs and tomatoes. It was pretty tasty. It’s very difficult for the words “yuck and bacon” to come out of my mouth at the same time.
The taxi cab driver started up a conversation with Danny, as most people do, without knowing what they are getting into. I sat in the back prepared to take out my emergency brake pedal and listened. The taxi cab driver was from Transylvania. I quickly deducted that he was not a vampire, because he was still alive even though Danny and I were breathing our garlicky pizza breath in his taxi. He also was not sparkling in the sunlight nor was he melting. He drove pleasantly even though there was a lot of traffic.
He told us that with the downfall of the economy driving a taxi is horrible. Most people can’t afford to take a taxi. He works part time which in taxi world is 6 days a week with 14 hour shifts. Danny and I were very impressed with Chicago’s public transportation, but he said it was nothing compared to Europe. We passed by his neighborhood in Chicago. He pointed out where he lived and said it was a historic neighborhood. Many of the houses there were used during the slave trade. Some of them still have the hooks in the basement walls where slaves were chained to. He said people aren’t allowed to remove the hooks because they are considered historic. We discussed how compared to most places in Transylvania his Chicago neighborhood is not old at all. He told us his archaeologist friend helps him indentify ancient artifacts that he finds digging in his Transylvanian backyard. He told us how he missed his homeland. He also doesn’t like Chicago winters.
He came to America for the American dream but after ten years of living here, it is still that, just a dream. I wanted to offer some encouraging words, but couldn’t find the right thing to say. He definitely had a different perspective of Chicago than we saw. I guess there is always another side to a story. Mine might be filled with ferris wheels and baseball games, but for many this is not the case. The taxi cab driver shook Danny’s hand extra long and said that he enjoyed giving us a ride and having a conversation worth remembering. I hope that telling his story to someone who actually wanted to hear it helped him out. I hope that one day he finds his American or Transylvanian dream.
We were ridiculously early at the airport so I made sure to utilize the ladies room before we left. I was again excited about the automatic toilet seat covers. I must warn you that if you fly in through O’Hare and use the toilets with the automatic seat covers, it is only setting you up for disappointment. Out of all the restrooms I used in Chicago, O’Hare was the only place that even had seat covers. I found this odd. Maybe it’s a Chicagoan thing and O’Hare just has them because airports are more neutral territory anyways.
We enjoyed Chicago immensely. Although there were many things that we did not get to see or do, we tried to pack everything in that we could. Chicago is like any big city, full of life and excitement, it also has its share of problems. It is infamous for its corrupt politicians and gangsters, but also famous for people like Michael Jordan and Oprah. It has history. It has beauty. Chicago has amazing people, places, and food. I would recommend visiting it in a heartbeat.