Saturday, January 28, 2006


UPDATE: I've decided to change the title of this post since I'm updating with more events about this other than Soulard.

Some people not familiar with St. Louis think of us as a bland and boring town. The thought is, outside of the Cardinals and the Arch, what else is there?

A lot.

One of my favorite areas of St. Louis is the Soulard Neighborhood. It's a great place to spend the day AND evening; and is home of the second largest Mardi Gras in the United States. (and they are wondering how large this year's will be post-Katrina New Orleans). Then there's the annual Bastille Day celebration, complete with the ceremonial beheadings.

The homes in Soulard are over 200 years old and a number of them have been turned into restaurants. Along with great food, they feature some really great music; especially zydeco and blues.

The Soulard Neighbordhood also features a number of well-tended community gardens which have transferred trashy abandoned lots into eye-pleasing green space accented with colorful flowers.

A friend of mine volunteers at a soup kitchen at Trinity Lutheran Church in Soulard and asked me to help today as some volunteers couldn't make it. Kathy, Pat and I arrived early enough that I was treated to a tour of the church. Trinity was built in 1864 and was designed by Charles May, a renowned architect at the time, responsible for many churches and schools in St. Louis. The Soulard area is enjoying a regrowth, which is benefiting the church. I was told that it is packed on Sundays with a great deal of the congregation being under forty.

The outside photo of the church was taken from an article about the Soulard neighborhood. The sanctuary photos were ones I took this morning with my camera phone.

This photo does not do justice to the chandelier which is made out of guilded bronze. While there is the ability to raise and lower it, the only time that has happened was in 1998 when the church was renovated; then it was raised a couple of feet to give better clearance. Cleaning and lightbulb changing are done with poles.

Trinity does impressive mission work to the homeless in the community. Among the work they do is a soup kitchen which operates six days a week, as well as a food pantry serving needy families.

When I was first given our assignment, serving chicken flavored ramen noodle soup and pastries, I was a little surprised. Soup with pastries? But it is a hit with their customers. I was told that attempts have been made to vary the soups with beef and even homemade chili. They were told by their customers to leave the chicken soup alone, thankyouverymuch.

The church was also giving away clothing that morning, as well as vouchers for haircuts. Bob, a volunteer who was working with the clothing later told us that one guy came in wearing a coat that was a little snug on him. He tried on a different coat which fit him much better, and asked if he could trade, rather than keeping both for himself.

Bob told us he lives across the river in Collinsville, Illinois, but belongs to Trinity because of its mission work. He works in the soup kitchen every Friday. I could tell from the customers they recognized him and liked him.

We served up 82 bowls of soup, lots of coffee and pastries and saw a lot of clothes being carried away in bags. One guy was sporting a new Rams hat, with the sales tag flapping in the wind. Pat offered to cut it off for him, but he preferred it like that.

Kathy donated some coats that had belonged to her husband (also named Bob) who passed away almost eight years ago. She stood at the window and watched as some of the men walked down the street in her Bob's coats. No longer stuffed in the back of a closet, they were being put to good use.

The kitchen had a large window through which the food was served. Pat worked the window while Kathy and I were busy getting it ready. I could hear Pat keeping up a running chatter with her customers.

One girl couldn't have been 20; and there was a little boy with his mother who appeared to be high on something.

Count your blessings.

After our shift was over, we went a few blocks away to the historic Soulard Farmer's Market.

The Market has four wings, each stuffed with fresh produce, live poultry, meat markets, t-shirts, hats, spices, coffees, teas, and pastries. I went to the market several times about 10 years ago and promised myself I would shop there a couple of weekends a month. Even though I pass there at least a couple of times a month, I haven't shopped at the market since then.

I do need to make it a part of my routine.

Unfortunately, it appears an earthquake hit during these two photos. It was just so crowded that it was tricky getting a good shot.

Being a major Mardi Gras party area, beads were already on sale. These are beads that also serve as beer can holders.

Sadly, the picture of the sign advertising "Alligator on a stick" did not turn out at all.

And then, of course, there's the fresh beaver.

I'll wait until the giggling stops.
I'm still waiting.
As I was taking these pictures, a woman standing next to me said, "Girl, you actually takin' pictures of that beaver?!" I asked, "What else are you going to do with it?"

OK, I hear more giggling.

And then there was the guy who seriously asked the butcher, "Is that beaver good eatin'?"

OK, now I'm giggling.


I ended my day in another interesting place in St. Louis; the Washington Avenue Loft District. I went to a wedding reception at a place called Windows on Washington. Pretty cool place. In the lobby, they have a waterscape which is a flower garden made out of glass flowers in a pond. It's a fountain with the water raining on the glass flowers.


Again, my camera was not with me, so we'll have to rely on a CramCam photo. I took 4 pictures and this is the best one.

Do they make tripods for camera phones?


UPDATE: I drove downtown to meet Meghan for lunch this afternoon. She was passing through St Louis on her way from visiting a friend at Mizzou. It was a beautiful day in St. Louis, close to 60 degrees but windy. After Meghan drove off, I took a few more pictures with the good ol' camera phone.

Here's a look east towards with Arch and the Old Courthouse. In front of it is Kiener Plaza, still decorated for Christmas

This is the new Busch Stadium under construction.

A look west down Market Street, the Civil Courts building is on the right, way day Market is Union Station.

Friday, January 27, 2006



I found out why my purse has those obnoxioussticking-in-the-air handles. As I was on the bus this morning, I noticed the stitching on one of the handles is coming lose and I could see SPRINGS in there. I pulled the handle down a little bit, activating the spring and the handled whapped back into it's proper place.

And yes, I was SHOCKED! SHOCKED I tell you that a knock-off designer Gucci purse bought from street venders in Battery Park, NYC had such shabby workmanship. There's just no pride in knock-off workmanship these days.



The knitting bug has hit the bus. We now have four women who are knitting in the mornings. I sit with them in the front on the seats that face the aisle. I would prefer not to, but by the time I get on, those are the only seats available. This morning, after being whapped on the nose by my purse handle after inspecting the SHABBY workmanship and the spring, I realized that if the bus were to suddenly veer out of control, I was in danger of a severe stabbing from those knitting needles.



My lunch hour is too short to compose an entire post on here. I'll be back to update.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


I did it; I finally put my money where my mouth is about losing weight and joined a certain weight watching organization, which combines the words "weight" and "watchers" in its name. And since money is low in calories and high in fiber, I have actually started losing weight.

Last Friday, I hit my first goal; getting into a pair of jeans a size smaller than what I've been wearing for awhile now. OK, so they were stretch jeans. OK, so I had to lie down on the bed to zip them. They were ON me and they were ZIPPED UP! And we're not going to talk about the muffin top thing going on above the waist band. THE JEANS WERE ON ME AND THE ZIPPER MADE IT TO THE TOP!!


Oh, yeah, and then there was the breathing factor. But honestly, isn't breathing somewhat highly over rated anyway?

So, I put on a top that disguised the muffin top business and went to work.

Later in the day, I made the mistake of eating something salty, which made me thirsty. You all kind of know where this is going, don't you? Yup. I was in the bathroom, and could not zip the jeans back up. At all. The zipper would get to a certain point, about 2 inches from the top, and it stopped. I tugged and tugged and tugged and tugged. I tried peeing some more. Nothing. And there was no way I was going to lie down on the bathroom floor in an attempt to get them zipped. So I tugged the zipper up as high as it would go, pulled my top down to conceal the rest and dashed back to my office.

I closed the door and laid down on the floor in my office and successfully zipped up the jeans. I laid there, relieved that I got them zipped, and then realized that getting into a standing position in a now too-tight pair of jeans was going to be tricky. That was accomplished, eventually, by latching onto my chair and hauling myself up.

The next two hours at work got uncomfortable as the waist band continued to cut into me deeper and deeper. I had to go to the bathroom again, and put it off as long as I could. I was fearful that I wouldn't be able to get the jeans zipped back up no matter what. But facing an even worse fate of wetting my pants, I finally surrendered and went to the bathroom.

I did the tugging dance in the stall, couldn't get the zipper all the way up, and returned to my office and successfully got the jeans zipped by lying on the floor. All I had to do after that was survive the bus ride home and then GET! THE! JEANS! OFF! ME!!!!

When I got home, I raced into my room, ripped them off, took a very d-e-e-e-p, cleansing breath and then looked at myself in the mirror. There was a very bright red stripe around my waist. Also, I had a rather painful bruise on the first knuckle of my index finger from tugging on the zipper.

Was I disappointed? NO! Why? Because that morning, the jeans were on me and the zipper made it all the way to the top!! If only for awhile.

AND, I am thrilled to report that this morning, I was able to put on that same pair of jeans (and they have been washed and dried since Friday) and the zipper easily slid to its upright and locked position. Since today isn't Casual Friday, I couldn't wear them to work today. I just tried them on to see if there had been any further progress since Friday. HOWEVER, I am wearing a size smaller skirt and it is fitting very comfortably.

So far today, I have not had to lie down on the floor of my office, and I consider that a good thing. And I'm not having any trouble breathing, either.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


I got a new cellphone today. A friend called me this afternoon and asked if I was doing anything exciting this weekend. I told her no. I can't go out and play with anyone until I figure this thing out.

I've downloaded a ringtone. But I can't find it. It's buried somewhere in my new phone. I checked my account and was charged for it, so I know it's in there somewhere. Check under "ringtones?" That does sound like a good idea, but it's not there. Check under "downloads"? Another good idea. Not there either. So, right now when my phone rings, I get the "Cingular Theme Song." And that just screams "HEY, EVERYONE!! SHE DOESN'T KNOW HOW TO PROPERLY DOWNLOAD A RINGTONE!!!"

The SIM card that was supposed to transfer all of my numbers to my new phone? Somehow, the only numbers that transferred were the ones I deleted on my old phone. !?!?!? So, after I figure out my new phone, I have to spend the rest of the weekend re-entering everything. Oh yeah, and I complained to the rep about the wrong phone numbers on the SIM card, and she just said "sorry." And she was the one who told me how to set it up so the right numbers transfer.

Sorry? SORRY? SORRY!?!

I'm also supposed to be able to do mobile blogging. That had been set up with my old phone. To check my camera on the new phone, I took a picture of my computer and sent it to my blog. So far, it hasn't shown up.

It's probably out there in cyberland with my ringtone.

Hope they're having fun. Maybe they'll write soon and let me know where they are.

Oh, hello! Look what showed up:

This article, posted by insomniac in the last thread, is proving to be woefully true.

UPDATE: AND, someone suggested "beaming" the contacts in my PalmPilot to my cellphone. The only result was a series of photos I inadvertently took of myself trying to mate my electronic devices. However, vanity prevents me from posting any of them. Apparently, I subconsciously think that sticking my tongue out of the side of my mouth is an important step in accomplishing that.

Monday, January 09, 2006

iPods, Ad Nauseum

I feel as though I've pulled one over on the Apple folk. (tee heee -- don't tell them)

As I mentioned in my last comment in the iTrippin' thread, when it comes to iPods and digital cameras, there is the cost of the device, and then an amount roughly equal to that to buy accessories to actually use it. Apple has managed to convince its custsomers that power adapters are accessories. For some reason, their accessories tend to cost an average of $30.00 each.

The iTrip cost $40.00, and as I've posted, it's basically useless to me. I was considering buying a cassette adapter. Those are roughly $19.00; a bargain by Apple standards, BUT --Ha! Ha! I found out the cassette adapter to my Sony Discman also works, and works great! So there!

My daughter has the FM transmitter that works through the cigarette charger. I tried it, and it is definitely better than the dreaded iTrip. But I can't say it's better than the cassette adapater.

So for now, all is well in my happy little iPodland. I think I'll celebrate by downloading something from iTunes.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

iTrippin' and Such

Show of hands, how many people have iPods?

OK, good. Now, show of hands, how may of you bought iTrip to listen to the iPods in your car?

A lot of you. OK, how many of you are happy with your iTrips?
anyone? anyone? Bueller? Oh, one in the back...the one with a hearing aid.

Basically, to sum up, iTrip SUCKS!!!

Here's my experience with it. I bought the iTrip mainly so I can listen to audio books on car trips, and also to listen to music on the trips without having to fumble around changing CD's while driving. When I'm out in the hinterlands, it works OK. Not great, but just OK. No matter where I am, there is a degree of static. But when I'm in a metropolitan area, or any area with more than 4 radio stations, forget it. If I want to keep listening, I need to use the earbuds. (And about those earbuds -- just WHOSE ears do those things fit anyway???? They are HUGE!)

The other night, a friend and I had a discussion about the suckiness of iTrip. The next day at work, a co-worker and I had a similar discussion.

Today, I was at the Apple store to purchase an iHome with gift cards I'd received for Christmas. I've attempted to use the iTrip with my home stereo and, it sucks even more than in the car. Lots of static. I'm thinking the iHome would be a good idea.

So, I was standing in a l-o-n-g line at the Apple store and become aware of conversation behind me about iTrip. A guy my age was there with his son and they are talking to a clerk about how the iTrip sucks. The clerk said that it's a good product, it just depends on your car stereo and some of THOSE aren't good.

He was blaming the suckiness of the iTrip on the car stereo. Oh. Do. Not. EVEN!!

I turned around and said to the dad, "I have iTrip and it sucks. I know two other people who think the same." Then I told the clerk, "Three different cars, Saturn, Accura and Eldorado. iTrip sucks in each one."

The dad said he has two Eldorado's and it sucks in each one of those and in his son's Cavalier.

A guy further up in line spoke up. "I'm returning my iTrip because it sucks. I drive a Lexus."

He glanced at the woman behind him and saw she was holding an iTrip and a receipt. Then he said, "How many people here are returning iTrips?"

Four other hands went up.

One woman said she was going to exchange hers for one that had its own antenna.

A young man in line said he was returning one of those as it has as much static as the regular iTrip.

I glanced over at the display case and saw two people holding iTrips and watching all of this. A clerk quickly ran over to them and started giving them some spiel I couldn't hear.

I asked the now very uncomfortable clerk over by us which car adapter had the least complaints. He said the kind that works with cassette players. The guy who had asked how many people were returning iTrips got somewhat upset at that.

"Wait a minute!" He said. Then he turned to the rest of us, "How many people drive cars with cassette players?" Two of us raised our hands. OK, my car is 8 years old. He turned back to the clerk. "That's why they have fewer complaints, not as many people have those any more!"

The clerk assured us that using the cassette adapter got better sound with the iPod. I spoke up. "So basically, people with lower technology in their cars get better sound with their high tech iPods."

You could tell the clerk was having a sucky day and wanted to go home. One of the guys in line said, "It's not your fault, but just pass it on to whomever that your customers arent' fond of it."

Later, I was finally home with my iHome and getting it hooked up. Here's something I don't understand. In this digital age, smaller is better. Why does that not apply to AC adapters and power cords? I've ranted previously about power cords, so I'll just say that this one has the largest adapter yet. It takes up THREE spots on my powerstrip.

All I want is to be able to listen to my iPod at home. I can spend a ridiculous amount of money on speakers to accomplish this, but I already have some good Boston speakers that are hooked up to my stereo. I want to figure out how I can use those without sinking more money into speakers. But I do like the idea of this iHome and after I get the speaker thing figured out, I'll move it into my bedroom.

So, right now, I have this going on:

That's right, my iHome is sitting on top of one of my unused Boston speakers. And as I look at it, I just now realized the speaker is upside down. Huh.

Anyway, I've been doing some online research, and in order to do what I want to do, I need to get a receiver. I'm done spending money for the time being. I mean, it's either a new receiver or heat the house. I'm going with heating the house.

UPDATE: I've received some feedback, and read even more reviews and apparently, the cassette adapter does provide quality sound from your iPod through the car speakers. The cost for the adapter is around $20.00. For those whose car has a CD player, the best option seems to be something like the iPod2Car. It costs between $175.00 to $210.00.

I'm SO glad my car still has a cassette player!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

THE PARTY'S OVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Undecorating has begun. Such a let down.

It is nice to have things put back to rights, but after the garland has been taken down, the red velvet bows, Christmas Chatckes and decorative candles have been put away, everything looks so plain.

But at least the poinsettias still look nice.

And 2006 has begun!!