blackbird

Monday, January 31, 2011

One dedicated fan - Rock Chalk Jayhawks- KU vs. KSU

Here I am in Scottsdale and get a text from my son in Lawrence, Kansas. During the Kansas- Kansas State University basketball game -"Hey, Mom, watch for me on television during the game, I'll be on the front row." No big deal, so watching and there he is.....on the front row, with his shirt off and a big exclamation point painted on his chest. I text back, "ummm, what happened to your shirt?" response, "ooops, must have forgotten it. : )" Being the mother of two very active and non-shy boys from birth, I have never really been surprised by anything so this didn't really phase me.

After the game, we got a message saying he'd had two newspapers take pictures and talk to him. Looking up on the websites I found the pictures in question. One from the Lawrence Journal World



and one from the Kansas City Star.


I am genuinely proud of both my boys (young men) and their antics, while causing me to frequently just shake my head, they do make me smile. College, a unique adventure never to be equalled for any of us. Rock Chalk Jayhawks! GO KU!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Scottsdale - The Desert Adventure- Balloon Ride

Up, Up and Awaaaay, in my beautiful balloon........

Ok, admittedly before I went to Scottsdale without really the desire to go up in a hot air balloon. But somewhere during the flight here, I saw in a magazine an article on hot air balloons and something clicked. I thought, THAT is something I'd like to do. So when I got here we checked into it and although a bit expensive, (isn't everything?) I decided I'd like to do it. I called my mom who was flying out and she thought it sounded fun too. So my mother and I signed up (Aerogelic Hot Air Balloons).

It seems anything I do turns in to an event and this was no exception. Balloon launching is never the same twice, it is very dependent on weather especially winds. So we met at the airport (it was me, my mother and a couple that lives in Mesa, retired from Minnesota) and went to launch location  #1 and there was almost no wind, so we left and went to launch spot #2. As we drive to the next location we are discussing launch spots and how difficult it is to find a spot that is suitable. We end up at a park - what is assumed public property, and he has launched several times from this particular place. They were getting everything set up and this guy, you know the type, a little bit of power he thinks he can parlay in to world dominance, anyway, he shows up and says we cannot launch from that spot. It seems it is actually owned by a homeowners association which he is head grounds keeper. Well, our pilot must be a miracle worker and slick talker because what we assumed was going to move us to yet another launch location, turned into the guy asking him to come back and tether in the park so people could could come see it. It could have had something to do with the crowd that has now gathered to watch the event.

We finally got the balloon aired up and permission to launch and after very climbing in the basket, we are ready to roll. Up we went, every time he opened the burners you could feel the heat, like a brief opening of a furnace on you. The winds were very light and variable so the rising was slow and very little movement. Before you know it, you are hundreds of feet barely gliding over the rooftops. Then something happens - people driving and pointing, cameras flashing, people coming out of their houses, children jumping and waving, dogs and livestock going crazy.........- transformation from simple passengers on an adventure to rock star status. It was Friday evening, tons of people in the outdoor restaurants and bars all cheering and waving as we pass over........that was just plain fun.

Then we went up even higher up to about 4000 feet, soaring and the thing that struck me was the quiet, the only noise was us, talking, laughing, ooing, awwwing and the whoosh sound of the burners. He gave us each a little parachute man toy and a  glider plane and we launched them and watched them go down, that was a fun little add on.

We went from Chandler to Mesa, not really the route he anticipated but the winds had a different idea. Since we got a bit of a later start, our times were all messed up and we watched the sun go behind the rocks we had to find a spot to land. He found a little park and knew the landing would be a little tight. He radioed the chase car and had him meet us there. Greg and his parents were also following and they as well met us there. They dropped a line to guide us in since the spot was going to be tight and it was amazing what happened then. People from out of nowhere suddenly appeared, men running and helping guide the balloon to a spot that was big enough. Children laughing and pointing, a big crowd gathered and we set down.  I was expected a bump but it was smooth as could be, no jolt whatsoever. We had to stay in the basket until we were cleared to get out- you know, the pilot turned off the fasten seat belt sign. :) By this time there was a huge crowd and .........the police. The pilot warned us that it seems there is a no launch, no land ordinance in Mesa. After getting out of the basket, he went and talked with the police and they were not upset at all, it had been called in as a balloon crashing. They left us to do our thing and we finished (or Cody the pilot assistant) packing up the balloon and they gave us a drink and some snacks.

A homeless man and a neighbor boy joined us for our snacks and then we packed up in the chase vehicle and headed back to get our vehicle at the airport. An adventure I'd never even really dreamed of now one I never will forget.


video

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Scottsdale - the Desert Adventure- Day2

Today was not a well-balanced meal of events but several small snacks of activities. We started out the day doing a little shopping, because, well, who doesn't like to start their day out that way? Greg dropped us off to shop and was parked in a very empty parking lot taking a little nap. Snoozing away when a lady hits our Navigator! Needless to say he was not a happy bear when he was rudely awakened from his slumber. Evidently the lady was so worried about hitting the parking island that she was unaware that there was this BIG WHITE BOAT OF AN SUV right in front of her. She felt really bad and fortunately for us, hit directly on the tire.....her little camry, well, -  it didn't fair as well.

The next thing on the menu was to go to a place called Queen Creek Olive Mill. Now I've never really just had a hankering to find out how olive oil is made but I am always fascinated by learning in general, so it was an interesting day. Learned the difference between extra virgin olive oil all the way to light olive oil (it has nothing to do with calories, everything to do with processing and nutrients) and what the difference is in green olives and purple olives(it's the degree of ripeness) and the difference between cold press and heating. FYI- if I did like black olives before this, I would not really want to eat one now. Icky.

What is extra virgin olive oil?
Extra virgin olive oil is the highest grade of olive oil obtained only from the olive, using solely mechanical means which do not alter the oil in any way. It can be qualified as a natural product. Olives do not undergo any treatment other than washing, grinding, mixing, gentle separation and filtering. Oils extracted by the use of solvents or extreme heat are excluded from the extra virgin classification. Extra virgin olive oil has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, which must not be higher than 0.8 grams per 100 grams or 0.8%.

 


Then from the olive farm we went to the mall. Stopped by an ice cream store and yes, I did sample the "Funny Farm" ice cream (maple, brown sugar and bacon bits) and it wasn't bad at all.


Then went out into the mall and fell in love.........he was dark and handsome, very playful and had sharp little teeth but had horrible breath and was quite furry. He was a neopolitan mastiff and the cutest little thing ever.

Well tomorrow is my big day, balloon ride....WOOT!

Scottsdale, a tad bit warmer than Kansas

So here I am in Arizona. I left Kansas it was 20something degrees and arrived in Arizona it was 70ish.  So what have I done so far? Day 1 drove alot and saw lots of rocks.... and went up in the mountains where there was snow (wait, didn't I come here to get away from snow?), and I was in my sandals and capris.



Of course, lots of great food, some coconut shrimp to die for, and miscellaneous culinary delights. Been shopping, every corner has some big mall or shopping center and then in old town Scottsdale there are blocks and blocks of galleries. Saw some really interesting art.

Yesterday we went to the Phoenix zoo, being an animal lover I was very excited. I really didn't know much about it before going but the ad said rated one of the top 5.......top 5 of which, I didn't look to see, but thought he had to be great. I've been to some fantastic zoos, the San Diego zoo, the Houston zoo, even the Wichita zoo has some interesting exhibits. Well, we got there and the very first exhibit was................wait for it................the PRAIRIE DOGS! I'm thinking to myself....seriously? really? I see these every day in Kansas.


Then we went through the exhibit that showcases animals of Arizona....was interesting. Overall the zoo was nice and the people working there were very chatty and tell you anything you wanted to know. But I was disappointed that there were no penguins or bears or aquatics. There was one exhibit that I totally loved and that was the spider monkey habitat. There were dozens of spider monkeys just loose in a big caged area where you go in with the monkeys. You can't touch them and are told to move at least 3 feet away from them if they come toward you. They were jumping everywhere and it was fun. I missed not having my big camera with me.



One other animal that intrigued me was the komodo dragon, a lizard about 4 foot long and about 150 pounds! creeeeeeepy. 


My mother flew in last night and I'm sure we will find some fantastic shopping and then tomorrow........ A HOT AIR BALLOON RIDE! woot woot, very excited.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Your answer, to answering the touch screen phone

So, here I am in Phoenix where it's warm and not necessary to wear gloves like it was home in Kansas. But I made a discovery before I left that I just HAVE to share with those of you in the colder climates. Seems everyone has a touchscreen phone these days and wearing gloves makes it impossible to answer the blasted things. Funny how technology has advanced so much that you can't even simply answer the phone. But there is hope, Isotoner has come out with an answer to the problem.

As technology has advanced the problems associated with touching those screens that use capacitive technology have increased. In fact, nowadays, capacitive touch screens are everywhere, from cell phones to MP3 players to ATM machines to interactive gas pumps. Let’s face it, there is nothing worse than having to take your hands out of your warm gloves in order to “swipe to answer” your cell phone or enter in your PIN at the ATM, especially if it is really cold outside.

Most of the currently popular cell phones use the capacitive technology so Isotoner decided to capitalize off of this and create a glove that actually worked with capacitive touchscreens. The problem with capacitive screens is that they require a tiny electrical current or charge from the user’s finger tips and these charges, since they are so small, simply do not transfer via a glove.

The good news is that Isontoner has come to the rescue with an affordable and readily available solution. What Isotoner has done is actually weave conductive threads into the index finger and thumbs of both hands on the gloves. What this means is that you can still use all of those capacitive devices but without removing your gloves.


Sounds hokey right? But my coffee klatch of girlfriends and I decided to test it. We looked up the Isotoner glove and lo and behold, available at Walmart, after a search to find out the cost, a mere $12.00, we loaded up the truck and headed for the store. I was totally amazed, it worked. That price is for the stretch fleece, they also have other styles and prices points to meet just about every taste and need.
 
So, if you are looking for a solution to fight frost-bitten fingers without having to let go of some major funds buying  from the high end electronic and technology based gift and gadgets places, these are for you.