Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Little Jog

I got this from a friend's blog. I hope you will play along.

Here are the directions:

1. As a comment on my blog, leave one memory that you and I had together. It doesn't matter if you knew me a little or a lot--anything you remember!

2. Next, re-post these instructions on your blog and see how many people leave a memory about you.

Hopefully there will be more good memories than tragic ones.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Dead Bird Massacre

Well, every day the title of this blog seems to become more and more the theme of my life. It's my fault really; I accept full responsibility.

Today's obstruction resulted in about 16 frantic phone calls (only one that was answered) as well as a series of major emotional and psychological meltdowns all involving some kind of fear that's probably the result of an experience I had one summer morning when I was 14 and I went to take a drink out of a water bottle and realized too late that there was a giant centipede on the end which got half-way down my throat before my body sent itself into violent convulsions, that the government would duplicate if they could find a way, to choke it back out, followed by running around the neighborhood in a paranoid frantic daze, screaming the pangs of death for 25 minutes or so.

The "centipede experience" (for simplicity "CE"), if we agree to blame today's catastrophe on it, I believe coerced some part of my inner-psyche into adopting a determined fear of every living animal and most definitely for dead ones. Some of this probably explains much of my fear of commitment in dating but for brevity and public safety, we'll explore that topic another day.

With that understanding in mind, you are prepared to conceivably imagine my dismay upon coming across a dead bird lying face down in my parent's grass as I mowed the lawn earlier today. I took one quick look at it and decided that this time I was going to be a man. This dead bird couldn't hurt me and I was going to get a shovel, scoop it up, and throw it away; sucking it up into the mower didn't seem feasible at the time for those of you who were wondering. But about the time I retrieved the longest shovel I could find in the state of Utah, the doubt and absolute panic set in resulting in the 16 frantic phone calls here-to-for mentioned. Most of the numbers I tried were to phones suspiciously turned off and it wasn't until I got to the "W's" that I was finally able to get ahold of Uncle Will who promptly answered on the second ring and then sat in his car walking me through the experience commenting that he was rather surprised by the sound of panic in my voice and criticizing my initial description of the "GIGANTIC dead rotting bird with bugs all over it" which he believed was misleading after I told him that the bird was "so big! It's almost the size of a baseball!"

The shovel tragically didn't get under the bird very well and actually broke it into a few pieces, causing me to run screaming into the house no less than 4 times before Uncle Will finally talked me into getting the job done. Two long sticks, a pair of oversized gloves, several thick sheets of newspaper used to cover the bird so I couldn't see it and one giant snow shovel later, the bird somehow got onto the first shovel by itself. Really. I ran in screaming after the bird broke into a few pieces and when I came back out, each piece was neatly organized on the shovel. I'm not sure if it was my guardian angel. If it was, I thank you. If it wasn't, where the heck were you?!!?

Finally I walked it to the garbage and dropped it in, after which I thoroughly covered it with two bags of thick grass. Then Uncle Will told me to go in and drink some water. Partly because he thought I was suffering from heat stroke but also because he doesn't want to relive the last two days of our trip. But I don't think he's aware of the underlying issue: the CE.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Locker Room Gender Issues

We need to talk about this. This is getting very serious and I need a general blogging world consensus on this one. I'm not looking for any specific answer nor am I hoping anyone will pander to me by telling me what you think I may want to hear; I just need to know.

When is it no longer OK for a father to bring his daughter into men's public restrooms or locker rooms? When is it no longer OK for a mother to bring her son into women's public restrooms or locker rooms? I imagine the appropriate age for restrooms is probably a little older than for locker rooms. But I would like to know what you all think. Before I blab on about what I think is appropriate, let me lay out the story that brought this topic on.

June 25ish, 2008. I went to work out at a local gym that I frequently use. I was in the locker room, putting my bag in the locker, tying my shoes--the usual--when, to my horror, walked in a father and his daughter. Now some of you are thinking "well I've brought my daughter in the locker room before if her mother isn't with me. What was I supposed to do?" But this particular daughter was AT LEAST 8 years old and quite capable of going in her own locker room to take care of bui'ness. In this particular rec center, you have to go through the locker rooms to get to the pool. The locker rooms are not very big and they are right next to each other; it's just a straight shot past the lockers and open community showers, which are frequently used by the way, out to the pool. It was obvious that the father started to realize how terrible this idea was about halfway through the locker room as he started walking really fast, pushing his not-so-young daughter along---by the way, her eyes were wide and full of shock the entire time.

What was this man thinking???!!!! I vividly remember experiences and images from when I was 4 years old and certainly from when I was at least 8. Was he terrified that his daughter would get lost on the incredibly short walk through her locker room where he would meet her in about 8 seconds on the other side? Was he worried that letting her do something alone would most definitely trigger an alarm for every child predator within each of the surrounding communities? If he's that paranoid, I hope he doesn't let his 3rd grade child go to school where he can't keep a watchful eye on her or so much as walk out to get the mail. But even still, for the paranoid there was a way out of this; this rec center employs 8 or 9 older women who are extremely accessible and walk around all day cleaning and talking to the members of the gym. This man easily could have asked one of them to escort his daughter through the women's locker room. Another possibility is that the girl is terrified to go through the locker room without her dad. If this is the case then either the parents need to find a way to get the child to overcome this fear or else dad just simply can't take his daughter to the pool without having mom or older sister there. Taking the at-least-8-years-old daughter into the men's locker room should not have been an option unless she was blind. And by the look on the kid's face as she walked past several very elderly decrepit naked men---she was most definitely NOT blind.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Salvation Mountain

The post was promised long before it was ever put into writing--but it has finally arrived. For some of you, everything you are about to read may come as a complete shock. Many of you won't sleep tonight and at least half of you will be googling this to find out if I've made it up (the other half are my family who, even though still skeptical at times, know from first hand experience that what I'm speaking of exists).

In southern California, very near Mexicali, rests a very magical place that you won't find on even some of the most detailed maps. The pure conundrum of the place mystifies its existence almost as much as the bizzarities that lie there. First lets go to a town very near Brawley California where my mom grew up. This town is nothing more than a 45 minute drive through desert wasteland which stretches in every direction as far as the eye can see.

Just when you think you're about to fall off the face of the Earth into Nothingness, you approach a lone, outhouse-sized building with red paint directing you to the only town for miles: Slab City. And it really is about as wonderful as it sounds. While I've never actually set foot inside "downtown" Slab City, I have seen it from the top of the strangest hill of all time; one which sits just on the edge of Slab City . . . or just outside of it . . . or just inside. You see, it's difficult to know when, exactly, you are within the boundaries of Slab City (probably because there aren't any; it is "the last free place" as you can see in the picture) but it is much simpler to identify the heart of the city itself. Just find the most congested clump of the 40 or so rotting trailers and their mounds of junk containing everything from pee yellow couch cushions to gigantic TV antennas (Uncle Will swears he once saw a man sitting on top of one of the trailers on a lawn chair holding an antenna steady so his wife could watch "The Price is Right" down below; another story for another day). There is no electricity or running water in Slab City and some the residents have a reputation for seeking refuge in the desert to find freedom from the government; ironically however, according to wikipedia.org, "Most of these 'Slabbers' subsist on government checks . . ."

I know it sounds too good to be true, but I have researched this and YES! THEY DO HAVE A WEBSITE!!! http://www.slabcity.org/ I'm not sure if I'm more excited about the existence of the website or that the site calls Slab City "An RV Oasis" or that half of the first page is dedicated to discussing the "trash dumping" problem. Please spend some time on this link. You will NOT be disappointed!

But the attraction from which I have viewed and photographed Slab City is the topic of today's post; for it is so strange that it will forever make you forget that I've just written several paragraphs about any city called "Slab." This attraction is named by its creator Leonard, "Salvation Mountain": Prepare to be saved . . .

The history, which you will hear each time you go there, is quite strange in and of itself; it would have to be in order to produce the mound of weirdness that it has become. Leonard was born in 1931. His history until 1980 is a bit fuzzy to me because the history of Salvation Mountain doesn't begin until that year when Leonard crashed into this giant hill on the side of Slab City in a hot air balloon. Now why Leonard was in a hot air balloon, where he was coming from, what happened to the balloon, etc. has never been properly explored by any member of my family. We only know that he crashed there and for whatever reason decided that the blazing hot destitute deserts of southern California were as good a home as any and Leonard went to work.
28 years later that hill has been coated, literally, with thousands and thousands of cans of paint, tractor tires, sticks, clay and "otha' stuff from the desert" turning it all into something you would imagine from a crazed, yet bluntly religious, in your face, seizure promoting, drug-induced, born-again-Christian, desert renegade, vagabond, hippie Dr. Seuss book (if you can wrap your mind around such a thing). The hill is slathered with biblical phrases as well as every one-liner you hear sung in rock form at non-denominational churches across the nation. Thousands of branches and tubes, all painted over in painfully bright colors, make several large tunnels and caves surrounding the mountain which has a vividly painted yellow-brick-road leading up to a giant cross sticking out of the clay letters "G-O-D" square-center at the top of Salvation Mountain draped below with a painted "IS LOVE" covering much of the mountain's face. Several broken down cars and trucks, all painted in the same fashion, litter the surrounding grounds.

The further you research this thing, the stranger it gets; wikipedia explains that at one point the Mountain "literally exploded in a cloud of dust" which, I suppose, forced Leonard to start over--but there is absolutely no explanation for this nor any further discussion of it.
You can find Leonard at Salvation Mountain, always working at his never ending project, yet still gleefully and charmingly ready to give anyone the grand tour of his giant artistic phenomenon. Leonard really is a lovable man; extremely friendly, enthusiastic, and nothing but skin and really frail bones. He'll tell you all about how the area has been protected by national folk art societies while displaying his certificate from the state showing that Salvation Mountain is worthy of preservation. He may even give you a gift on your way out (one year we were lucky enough to score a puzzle of SM as well as the DVD tour, which strangely has become one of Kaylee's favorites; we did leave Leonard a small donation for his generosity).

On a side note, Salvation Mountain has apparently been the center of some ecological and environmental controversy in the past, some time before it was named "worthy of preservation and conservation", which leads any visitor to wonder why on Earth anyone ever cared enough to make a big deal out of a little paint in the middle of the blazing hot desert. Sounds like a good topic for further very extensive research.

Nothing can really fully and sufficiently describe the experience; and it's difficult to process it while there anyway as it's been over 110 degrees every time we've been; so between the heat and the smell, which literally thrusts you into another dimension in some places, it's hours before you can even begin to fumble through the pictures and attempt to come to terms with what you've just experienced. And by then, it may as well all have been a dream. ~It Just Gets Stranger~















Friday, July 11, 2008

Working Woes

Coworkers are an interesting concept. I believe they were initially created for experimental purposes; to study the effects of the human condition especially related to anxiety and anger management treatment; then either the experimentation got too out of control or pharmaceutical companies got too addicted to astronomical profits proliferated from their various depression and stress-related medications that the working "group" or "team" suddenly became the norm and solo-opportunity jobs, usually involving picking berries in the forest or painting majestic scenes located somewhere on the acres of property directly surrounding any given quaint farm home, became rare if not extinct.

Now I'm taking quite the risk including this post in today's ramblings. So far I've tried to write every post as if everyone I know (other than Mabel from Costa Rica) is reading it, which forces me to be rather sensitive and careful about certain aspects of my rambling. This post will keep me from forever sharing my blog address with my coworkers, outside of the one that already has it due to a misstep on my part (I don't think, however, any of this will be a surprise to him but will rather reinforce everything he already knew about the miserable person I can be as well as my frustrations).

I love my coworkers dearly and would gladly walk through fire for any of them even though I'm quite sure that a few of them would put themselves in risky situations just to see me walk through fire. However, when I'm confined with this group of people, day-in, day-out, I find my thoughts becoming quite violent and often morbid; I actually hide all the letter openers at the beginning of the day so that I won't have the temptation later to take them and stab each of my coworkers, directly through the temples on the sides of their heads, when I start getting quite frustrated with incompetences which usually wear my patience down to zero by lunch-time these days (I've spotted about 8 letter-openers at work which ironically is about the same number of coworkers).

Most of my frustrations lately have revolved around one in particular who is very sweet but knows how to get my blood-pressure up to violent levels at the sound of her voice. She is a little older and seems to be growing a bit prematurely senile. And if she drops her cane on the floor one more time and expects me to pick it up, I'm going to take it from her and throw it out into the street (She's dropped it 17 times today--I've been keeping a tally purely for curiosity's sake). I suppose my irritation is a bit higher today because I've been given a daunting task by my boss who somehow thinks I am his personal assistant, very similar to the relationship you see on The Devil Wears Prada, which has resulted in 3 years of writing letters for him, telling well over 3,000 people over the phone that he is unavailable and then dealing with all the screaming that was supposed to be directed at him, picking up gifts he promised to give my coworkers, returning an ENTIRE shopping cart of supplies to Walmart which he bought earlier in the day and then decided he didn't want any of them, and yes, even shopping for him once or twice (just to name a few examples). I don't strip myself completely of responsibility here; my willingness to do even the most insanely ridiculous tasks for him only enables the behavior and when I leave next month it will probably be a bit stressful for him to not have someone around who has memorized his schedule so he knows what he's supposed to be doing and who has completely prevented millions of people from contacting him for years because he'd rather not be contacted.

The daunting task was to tell this particular cane carrying coworker that she has been stripped of certain supervisor abilities due to some poor choices she has made in recent months which have resulted in major losses for our company. When I was told this morning that I needed to have this conversation with her by the end of the day, I looked at Meryl Streep with my head tilted down and said something to the effect "And . . . how is that my responsibility?" Meryl Streep then responded, in a way that I'm quite used to, "Well your responsibility is everything in your job description, plus any additional tasks assigned by me. It was in the fine print. You should have read it more carefully." On a side note, the only thing that prevented me from having an attack spurred by coworker-induced-rage today was when one of my coworkers (the one who has this blog address) fed about 60 label sheets into his printer one by one after he and I spent most of the day trying to figure out how to mail merge in Excel using a database that was not ultra compatible with what we were trying to do (all according to the demands of Meryl Streep); he fed them in one by one because the printer made a loud beeping sound after each sheet was printed which drove my boss insane. He kept asking, "can't you just put them in all at once so it doesn't beep every time?!" To which coworker responded, "This is the only way I know to do it." Which I believed until boss got up and left after several minutes, ready to pull his hair out, and I saw coworker promptly put the rest of the label pages in the printer and finish without the beeping.

Now don't misread me here; I actually really like my boss and get along with him very well (despite our constant bickering which is really more humorous than anything else) but I love to see him get a taste of my frustration from time to time.

As for my coworker whom I am expected to confront by day's end, I've decided to wait until she does something to take me to the height of my rage before unloading this on her while throwing this stack of papers sitting in front of me at my boss's face while telling him that for our gift exchange for work at one Christmas party I really wanted to buy a gift certificate to a restaurant that only serves anthrax because that would have been a gift I would have been happy with any of them receiving . . . but I'm all talk; I'm sure I'll let her know gently . . . on my way out to pick up Meryl's dry-cleaning.

Monday, July 7, 2008

My Sister Raises Them

video

About a year ago I asked Kaylee to sing for me so I could record her on my phone. I had no idea what was about to happen. Unfortunately the sound isn't as great on the computer but you get the idea.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Days 12, 13, 14, and 15

Things start to get a bit fuzzy now. Maybe it's because of the heat which had constantly beat down on us for weeks. Maybe it's because of the inconsistency in our diets, sleeping patterns, and safety. For whatever reason, time was really starting to feel fuzzy by day 12 and it really seemed as though we hadn't been in the states for years by this time although 12 days really is not a very long time.

Despite having only spent a few days in Cairo, we were feeling a bit like native Egyptians by the beginning of day 12 (even with the major lack of tan), crossing streets like we owned them, arguing prices like we were born to do it, and refusing service from anyone knowing that they would follow us for blocks yelling insults at us until we gave them money for performing even the most useless and sometimes outright annoying acts (my worst case was in a restroom in the Cairo airport where a man placed toilet paper he picked up off the floor on my shoulder while I was doing my bui'ness and then demanded a few dollars as a tip, which I outright refused!).

But the trip was finally starting to come to an end, which was sad but good in a lot of ways too as I was getting rather tired. Day 12 was sort of just more of the same in Egypt. Shopping, looking around, risking our lives to cross the streets, obsessing over our alabaster and baking in the hot hot sun. I actually think that some of what I wrote about day 11 was really day 12 but it's all getting a bit confusing to me right now and I've just written out an entire calculus-like equation on two sheets of paper to try and figure out if I skipped a day and I think I've concluded that I have skipped a day.

Day 13, however, is one I'm very sure about. It was our last day in Egypt. Krishelle wasn't feeling well and we were all getting a bit burned out so it was more of a low key day. Uncle Will and I did head out on a nice long walk during the hottest part of the day, frantically searching for bags we could use as carry-ons for our alabaster which we would have to haul from Cairo to Amsterdam that night. We walked for about an hour and a half making a giant loop, finally finding bags directly across the street from the hotel.

We said our goodbyes to Cairo and packed up our things, fitting all 40+ alabaster pots safely (or so we thought at the time) in our bags and waited for Ihab to come pick us up and take us to the airport. The taxi ride to the airport was nothing unusual. We only saw one accident happen and I found that if I just looked down at my knees, I didn't get nearly as freaked out. We did record some of the trip with Krishelle's camera and if I can ever figure out how the heck to post videos here, I'll be sure to let you see some of it. We also have a nice video from the balcony at our hotel looking down onto the busy street below which was one of our favorite sites in Cairo as it looked just like human Frogger with the people below weaving back and forth to cross in the mess.

Our plane didn't take off until just after midnight and was scheduled to go through most of the night. I had an aisle seat and sat next to grandma and the two of us were the only ones in our travel group that didn't fall asleep immediately. It actually felt like the whole plane was dead asleep as soon as we took off. With about 2 hours left of the flight I started to feel a bit nauseous, and would have brutally murdered grandma if she had taken the cheesy omelet offered to her by the stewardess as it would have been passed over me (ok I could never actually hurt grandma but it would have been torture to have any food passed over me at that time). Grandma declined, as did I, and I quickly told grandma that I felt really funny and I wanted to get up and walk around. A few rows ahead of us were some lavatories which I went to, getting quite frustrated when I couldn't figure out how to open the door (we realized later that I was trying to open the flight attendants' closet, which was securely locked with a key). Suddenly I started to black out and the next thing I knew, I heard a man's voice with a Dutch accent telling me that I fainted. I opened my eyes and the whole world seemed to be moving around and blurry and I had no idea where I was but I felt like I had been out for years--like I had died for a while and was just coming back now. They asked me how I felt and I started to realize where I was. I was sweating like crazy and my whole head felt like a bomb, ready to explode.

Well the passengers were all awake now, which was obvious as their heads were all sticking out in the aisle, all the way back, and the few that had front row seats to the spectacle told the flight attendants that I fell hard on my face (which explained the soreness around my eye).

When grandma saw what was going on, she casually woke up Uncle Will (she never panics) and they got up and joined the scene, which was now me laying on my back with some man holding up my bare feet (he was not a flight attendant) and as grandma sat over me, petting my head like you would a puppy, and the flight attendants threw hundreds of thin-as-paper blankets on me as I was violently shivering and really cold now, I thought "this is a strange moment in my life."

About this time they announced over the PA system that they needed a doctor, which woke up Krishelle who immediately looked forward and saw her 77 year old grandmother on the floor on her knees (by the way, somehow during the whole ordeal grandma double-dosed on her insulin--she's ok now).

I drank more water than I saw in the Nile and was feeling a little better when the flight attendant told me she had arranged for me to go to the airport hospital when we landed, which I assumed was probably socialized health-care (enough for me to stay the heck away!!!) and I told Uncle Will I just wanted to go to the hotel and rest. We asked the flight attendant how much it would cost and she responded, quite triumphantly, "We'll take care of you. This is not America. We care here!" It took everything I had in me not to yell so all could here "health care is not a right!" But I let it go. On a side note, we found out later that it would have cost at least $60 and on my way out I so wanted to tell that lady that my co-pay in America (for real health care) was far less than that but there was no sense in picking a fight; besides, I was really thankful for all the care the flight attendants gave me.

Still, they did push me around the airport in a wheelchair for a while; I was holding a pink bag full of alabaster pots which really made me look like an old woman. By the way, one of the first things I asked Uncle Will after I came to was "how's the alabaster? Is it ok?" It had sort of become a joke between the 4 of us that we cared more about our alabaster making it home safely than we did about ourselves.

Uncle Will was pushing the wheelchair by the time we got to the rotating doors which we didn't think would really be a big deal. Well it was. And I so wish we had that on tape. It turns out that the amount of space you walk in was just barely not big enough for a wheelchair and one other person and the door was jammed more than once as we tried to get through it, screaming and banging into each other the whole way (I'm pretty sure we lost one of the blankets that was wrapped around me during the ordeal and of course the first question we all asked after we got out was whether or not the alabaster was ok).

I really wanted to go back out and see the city but everyone just laughed when I said it--and rightfully so as I have never felt as sick as I did for the rest of that day. I thought I was going to pass out everytime I stood up. So I stayed in bed all day, recovering from extreme dehydration.

And day 15 finally arrived--time to go home. Traveling home was more of the same traveling experiences we had already had except now I was horribly sick and terrified that I was going to pass out any moment the entire way home. But I made it.

This trip was so good for me. We really did get to see and experience so much and I really feel like my eyes have been opened a lot more now. One late night in Cairo we walked by a woman asleep on the sidewalk with two small children next to her that couldn't have been much older than my little nieces. It was one of the saddest things I've ever seen; and now as I think back on that and so many other shocking and different images I saw in the four countries we visited, I can't help but be extremely grateful for America, a country that I love very much. And I'm also sad that there are so many within and without this country that so desperately try to tear it down and dilute our beautiful history of standing up for what is right and defending freedom throughout the world in hopes that through bravery and sacrifice we can preserve the freedoms that we enjoy and hopefully help rid the world of whatever causes mothers to sleep on the street with their two tiny children in places like Cairo Egypt. I believe that that's what America tries to do--and I'm proud of my country for that.

Thanks for reading--I hope everyone is doing well and things are just getting stranger for you all . . .

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Days 10 and 11


Yes, still on vaca and getting quite tired by this point. Tel Aviv was very relaxing but it was short lived and the morning after we got there, we were up at 5:00, heading to the airport to fly to Amman. By this time we were really starting to lose sense of what day it was and we were having to do all kinds of funny referencing with events that occurred days before in order to get an idea.

The airport in Tel Aviv wasn't too adventurous; we had someone from the hotel take us and get us through customs, security, frisking, powdering, more frisking, more security, questioning, more frisking, more questioning, more security, more intimate frisking, powdering, questioning, frisking and then one final frisking with a little more questioning and frisking. We were told that because we were with this hotel guy we got to skip a few steps that would have taken us a few hours longer. I'm guessing there would have been more frisking without him.
We boarded in Tel Aviv and then got off about 12 seconds later when we landed in Amman (seriously, you should look at the map and see how close it is. It's like flying from Provo to Orem). We then had a really loooooong layover in Amman where we discovered that the "no smoking" signs must have just been suggestions. I also went on a treasure hunt for a working restroom. The first one I went to said "Out of Order" and referred me to one on the other end of the airport. When I got to that one, it looked like a war zone and there was a sign on it referring me to another on a different end of the airport. 15 minutes later I found that one; it was out of order and referred to me to yet another. Finally I got to the fourth, a bit uncomfortable by this time and there was a sign on it telling me that the only working bathroom was on the first floor, one which I couldn't get to without going through customs. I'll just say it was a very uncomfortable layover.
So we finally made it back into Cairo, where we had planned to either get another flight or take a train down to southern Egypt but that plan failed after we found out that flying wouldn't work for some reason and the only tickets left on the train were all night passes in like 30th class which would be less comfortable than walking there barefoot and we didn't feel like we should take Grandma through that after everything else we put her through for the last 10 days, not to mention she had just sacrificed her ATM card to the ATM gods in the Cairo airport which was surely not a good omen anyway.

So we found a hotel and decided to plant ourselves in Cairo again for a few days, this time in downtown Cairo as opposed to Giza next to the pyramids where we were before. Our hotel sat right on the Nile and had a gorgeous view. The hotel also looked like something out of one of those 1920s murder ghost mystery horror films which we were pretty excited about. And some celebrity actress was staying there and Uncle Will became best friends with her by the time we left so our time spent there was well worth it.
That night we just hung around Cairo until we finally gave in and ate our first American food at Pizza Hut where our server's name was, get ready for this: Gamil Gamal. Yup. Gamil Gamal. We of course had to say it about 3,000 times for the rest of the trip and immediately made it a part of the Lavern and Shirley theme song that Uncle Will was desperately trying to sing for days but kept going into the Mary Tyler Moore theme song right after "we're gonna do it!" So for the next few days we sang "Gamil. Gamal. Pizza Hut incorporated! We're gonna do it! We're gonna make it after all!!!" I'm pretty sure this was the first time either of those songs were ever sung in Cairo. Anyway . . .

We also went souvenir shopping which was a big mess but kind of fun. I actually decided that I now want to be a buyer for Pierre One or something so I can just travel around and argue prices until my head falls off. It quickly became my new favorite thing. We found a love for alabaster pots (which we bought about 12,000 of between 3 of us without thinking about how the heck we were ever going to haul all of them home). Grandma found a papyrus calender she liked but decided not to buy it because the price was too high. Well the shop keeper tracked us down and gave it to her as a gift when uncle Will wasn't looking so I told grandma to tell Uncle Will she stole it later at the hotel as he had clearly seen us walk out of the shop without it. It was an academy award winning moment when she pulled it out a few hours later and told uncle Will "I swiped it! Sometimes diabetics do crazy things." He just about had a heart attack.

The next morning we took an hour long boat ride along the Nile, which was very relaxing and really fun. Then we decided to go back to the Egyptian museam which we visited our first time in Cairo but we were far to lazy to go up the stairs to the second floor, which was fine with us until we found out later that the second floor had mummies and all the King Tut stuff which we really wanted to see just because it's trendy. Our hotel was right across the street from the museum but it might as well have been miles away because it's such a like-threatening experience to cross the roads in Cairo that you feel like you've just completed a pioneer trek every time you do it. I have NEVER seen traffic anywhere near as scary as it is in Cairo (and that includes the terrifying taxi drive we took in Costa Rica last December).

On our way to the museum we were stopped by some overly friendly man who told us the museum was closed, which we believed, against our better judgement and experience that told us not to trust a soul in Cairo, and he ended up leading us to his souvenir shop after telling us he was a doctor. He locked us inside and forced Grandma and Krishelle to look at every art and craft and piece of junk he had ever created while Uncle Will and I started prying at the door and Grandma told him over and over "they're all beautiful, but I'm not buying anything."
Eventually we made it to the museum (which was not closed) and spent a good amount of time there (although it was well over 100 degrees on the second floor) looking at the mummies which were pretty impressive.

Later our taxi driver (Ihab) who we met the night before and absolutely loved despite his car which was just a step above the ones you see on the Flintstones, drove us to a old part of Cairo with a bunch of churches and shops and then to some grounds with a few giant mosques and old military quarters which was pretty cool.

That night we randomly ran into Ihab who took us back to the shops and insisted on helping us find better deals after he heard how much we spent the night before on all the stuff we bought. We went to shops and started negotiating prices and then he would tell us if it was a good deal or not and every once in a while he would step in and argue for us and he did a great job. We got more stuff and spent less money. Ihab was quickly becoming our new best friend and restoring our faith in his fellow Egyptians.

Day 11 ended with us lighting candles and holding every one of our alabaster pots up to the light mesmerized by and obsessed with their majestic beauty.