Posts filed under ‘Kansas’

Flashback to Tick Season 2006

Last Tuesday, I received a text message from Sean:

When I woke up this morning there was a tick on my pillow! I blame you!

Before I gave it much thought, I wrote back:

Wow I can not believe ticks are already out.

But now that I think it over, I should not have been so surprised. On April 11, 2006 (ten days earlier), I encountered a whooping 4 ticks in one day!

I actually acquired my companions the day before. I landed in Wichita and with only 25 hours in the state of Kansas I wanted to get some rollerblading and geocaching done. So as soon as I checked in my hotel and dropped off my stuff, I was off! I spent the rest of the daylight hours hanging out in Pawnee Prairie Park.

It was my first time in Kansas and I found myself enamored with the “amber waves of grain”. I navigated the tall grass for some photos. I didn’t realize it, but I made myself the perfect attractive nuisance for ticks.

Me, unknowingly collecting ticks in 2006.

When I returned to my hotel, ticks were not even on my radar. I shed my clothes and threw them back into my suitcase and went to sleep. The next morning, I got my business attire out of that same suitcase and headed out to an all day meeting.

So here I am, listening intently to the proceedings and I feel an itch on my leg. I reach down to scratch it and I find… a tick!!! What should one do in that situation? Do you interrupt the conversation and announce to a room full of VPs and managers, “I HAVE A TICK!” That didn’t seem to be an appealing option. Instead I went with a maneuver that is more socially acceptable in the all-day meeting environment. I grabbed my cell phone as if I had a pressing call, stepped briefly out of the room, and escorted my hitchhiker to the toilet.

Crisis adverted, right? Well a little while later, I found ANOTHER tick on my neck. And then later I found ANOTHER one crawling on my arm. Yup, I got a lot of “important phone calls” that day.

When the meeting ended, I rushed back to the airport. Prior to check-in, I jammed myself and my belongings into a bathroom stall and I switched into my traveling clothes. Where were my fresh clothes stored? Well, in my suitcase, of course!

On planes, I try to always sit in the window seat (The curvature of the plane gives me the perfect head-tilt angle to sleep). I was drinking my Sprite courtesy of the beverage service when I noted yet ANOTHER tick crawling on me. I looked to my left. Two other passengers were comfortably drinking their sodas and relaxing with their tray tables down. I was less than anxious to bother them.

I decided to innovate. What did I have around me? Oh, I know, the Sprite! I took one last sip of the lemon-lime goodness and then I dropped the tick in.

Now I have drowned lots of ticks in my lifetime. They always swim around for while. Even when one urinates on them, those little buggers are not deterred (Yes, I know this from experience). Well, I don’t know what it was about the Sprite– if it was the carbonation, the citrus, or the cold temperature, but when I dropped that tick in, he was paralyzed instantly! He stopped moving on contact. He sunk and he drowned…at 30,000 feet.

Butterflies like Gatorade. Ticks, apparently, don’t like Sprite.

April 28, 2008 at 10:53 am 6 comments

Attack of the Christmas Dragons

Last year in late December, I was on a business trip in Wichita, Kansas.  Even if I can’t rollerblade or geocache, I do try to get outside and explore places when I’m on a trip.  So the week before Christmas, I found myself wandering the streets of downtown Wichita looking at Christmas lights.  For the most part, the light entities were expected– toy soldiers, wreaths, lollipops, trees.  Then I came across something I thought was pretty unique.  A Christmas… Dragon.  I snapped a picture of it:

Christmas Dragon in Wichita, Kansas 2006

Last week, I visited Ritzy’s Fantasy of Lights in Evansville, Indiana.  It is a drive-thru display of lights in Garvin Park brought to you by numerous volunteer groups including Easter Seals, Kiwanis, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, National Electrical Contractors Association and local Teamsters.  Alone it’s pretty impressive, and with my previous experience, it managed to expose Wichita as not being as unique as I had originally thought:

Christmas Dragon in Evansville, Indiana 2007

It turns out the concept of Christmas Dragons isn’t all that outrageous either.  A quick Google search uncovers a healthy population.  There is a Christmas Dragon play.  You can get a Christmas Dragon cross-stitch pattern.  One artist uses dragons each year in her holiday cards.  And in case you want to lead a class in drawing your their own versions, there is an article on “How to Draw a Christmas Dragon

How about that?  Kansas and Indiana may not sound like glorious destinations, but together they revealed one of mythology’s most fantastic creatures is alive and well… and apparently Christian.

December 9, 2007 at 6:45 pm 4 comments

Gene Ray and Time Cube EXPOSED!!!

My brother has this real neat book on Native Americans that has a dedicated section on the Iroquois Confederacy and its influence on the United States Constitution.  The book even had a side by side comparison with the Iroquois charter on one side and extremely similiar passages of the U.S. Constitution on the other side.  To my eyes, skimming the section, it did appear like our founding fathers were heavily influenced by the Iroquois principles.

Well today, walking in downtown Wichita, I stumbled upon a more surprising, more shocking discovery of uncredited Native American influence.  I think Gene Ray based his ground-breaking “Nature’s Harmonic 4-Day Time Cube” from the Plains Indians!!!  I passed the following sign near the Arkansas River.  It illustrated and explained the Sacred Hoop of the Plains Indians:

The Sacred Hoop

Equally significant was the number four.  The four quadrants of the hoop were symbolic of the four seasons, four directions, four times of the day and the four elements.

Each quadrant, when placed to correlate with a specific direction, is represented by a unique color, animal, element and plant

The important of the number four.  The quadrants.  The four times of the day!  This is very similiar to one of Gene Ray’s illustrations of how there are actually four days in each rotation of the earth.  Instead of an animal or element representing each quadrant, Gene Ray has Einstein, Bill Clinton, Socrates and Jesus:

Gene Ray explains Time Cube

I’m not saying plagarism.  I’m just saying– the similiarities are shocking.

Of course, I saw no indication the Plains Indians used phrases like “educated stupid”, “snotbrains” or “Biblistic Selfnic Bastardism ” 

Perhaps Gene Ray had some original material after all.  🙂

September 12, 2007 at 11:48 pm 3 comments

Not So Camouflaged Humour

Greetings from Wichita, Kansas!  In our social group, we often repeat lines from movies and TV Shows.  Lines from The Office, Seinfeld, Office Space, Super Bad, and a little bit of The Flight of the Conchords all make it into circulation.  The references are pretty fun and they don’t really get old.  Tonight I have two tales of repetitive humour that doesn’t age as well. 

In high school, my friend Jeremy decided to have a yard sale.  After posting a series of signs around his neighborhood, it started to rain so he had to move everything to the garage.  Parked in the garage was some classic, restored car that belonged to Jeremy’s father.  I can’t remember the make.  Anyway, throughout the day, Jeremy said a number of shoppers would come in and scope out the inventory and then make a joke, “How much for the [car]?  Heh heh heh.”

Jeremy reported that each comedian seemed rather pleased with his joke and had no idea that many, many others said the exact same thing earlier in the day.

And now I have a contemporary memory!  A couple of weeks ago, I used a Gap gift card to buy myself a pair of camouflaged pants.  This increases my already formidable inventory of drab green garments.  I am quite pleased with them and the ratio of the frequency I’ve worn them versus the frequency I’ve washed them may be disturbing to some readers.  So moving on…

New pants, pictured in a hotel bathroom in Wichita, Kansas

Almost instantly, Sean starting cracking jokes.  Stuff like, “Where are your legs?  I can’t see your legs.”  I figured it was Sean being Sean.

This past weekend, I went to Charlotte, North Carolina to visit friends and watch the LSU-VT slaughter.  There, a friend a whole 2 1/2 hours away, made a similiar comment about my pants.

So Monday, I fly to Wichita.  I’m 1000 miles away from home now.  I walk into the hotel and run into a colleague from Texas who promptly announces, “Vicky, I can only see you from the waist up!”

Apparently, camouflage pants are amusing nation-wide.  If you feel this is a tidbit of wit you’d like to utter, never fear.  I remain undeterred!  I expect to wear the pants frequently this fall.  If our paths cross, you’ll get your chance.

That is, if you can see me!

September 12, 2007 at 12:44 am 21 comments

Leer and Groping in Wichita

Greetings from Wichita Airport.  Larry went to make a bathroom run and I was sitting alone at the gate clunking on the computer.  Suddenly, behind me I heard a distinct sucking sound.  No…it couldn’t be.  Then I heard the sound again…and again…and again.  Finally I mustered up the courage to take a peek over my shoulder.  On the floor directly behind me was a couple making out.  It’s quite the spectacle.  They are facing each other and the guy has his legs wrapped around girl and she has her legs draped over him.  Often their hands can’t be accounted for.  But it is the sounds that are really gross. 

Don’t get me wrong– I’m not against making out.  But I do believe there is a time and a place.  Call me frigid, but sitting on a dirty airport floor surrounded by weary business travellers doesn’t seem to be the proper locale. 

When Larry returned to the gate, I got to see his face as he turned the corner and saw what was behind me.  Classic!  Some of the other passengers at the gate have had some interesting facial expressions as well.  There is a toddler staring at them at the moment.  Larry and I have subsequently moved to fetch power for our laptops.  Unfortunately…we’re still in the sucking sound range.  Ugh, I just heard a moan too.

Larry talking to me on AOL IM while the couple continues their makeup session behind him

Well one thing is for certain– this is one of the more interesting airport gate experiences I have ever had.

April 26, 2007 at 3:42 pm 6 comments

Lab Visit

Greetings from Kansas on my last night here.  It’s been a very busy trip and even tonight I have little time to write. 

On Monday, Larry and I got to visit a food safety lab.  This particular lab specializes in pathogen testing in food (stuff like Ecoli 0157:H7, Listeria, Salmonella, etc).  With roughly 76 million cases of foodborne illness occuring in the U.S. annually (equaling an estimated 325,000 hospitalizations and 5000 deaths), the work they do in the lab is of great value and importance.  The employees there take their duties very seriously.

Larry and I have visited many different types of organizations during our respective careers, but this was the first aseptic environment either of us had been involved in.  Great strides are taken to prevent cross contamination and to protect the integrity of the samples.  Larry and I had to wear special booties over our shoes.  This involved a tricky process where you keep your outside, unprotected foot on one side of a line, meanwhile you put a bootie on the other foot and move that freshly-bootied-foot to the other side of the line.  My attempt was less than successful.  I lost my balance and fell.

That was embarassing, but at least I was able to successfully put on the latex gloves!  Larry struggled with that step! 🙂 

Larry finally got his gloves on.  Great Success!

We also wore hair nets, large lab coats and special additions to the sides of our glasses.  Somehow the look still managed to be flattering on the lab workers.  On me and Larry— not so much.

Lab worker making the look work.

DORKS!  I thi
nk my blink is an especially great accessory to the look.

It is a very good thing Larry and I do not work there.   As the workers moved between different duties, they had to change into fresh lab coats and gloves.  With my struggles with balance and Larry’s with his gloves, we would never get the work done in a timely fashion. 

We both very much enjoyed our visit and were extremely impressed by the expertise, vigilance and dedication of all the lab employees.  It was easy to see they cared about their jobs and that they performed their duties superbly.

April 25, 2007 at 11:13 pm 1 comment

The Best Seat in the House

Tonight is my last night at the Hotel at Old Town in Wichita.  I’m really enjoying the hotel.  Some of the amenities I haven’t quite used– like the full fridge, dishwaster and stove that reside in my room.  But some of the items, I really find fascinating.  Tonight, I walked through all the floors of the hotel just to look at and read that captions about the historic photographs hanging on the walls.  My walk was accompanied by the sound of a fountain in the lobby and the soothing, live piano music they have every evening until 10 PM.  The workout room is top notch here and empty– which makes it even better! 

There has been one item that is a bit baffling.  That’s the placement of the television.  The TV is in a nice hutch enclosed by doors.  Pretty typical.  But, these doors only open 90 degrees and they don’t slide back into the hutch.  As a result, if you aren’t at the right angle, one of the doors is in the way.  The last couple of days, I noted the issue while laying in bed.  Luckily, all I really am in the market for is listening  to Law and Order, so I just roll over and listen away. 

From the bed– the left door obstructs the view.

This evening, I picked up a meal from a local restaurant so I could enjoy a new episode of King of Queens.  I cleaned off the table/desk and discovered that now the other door was obstructing my view.  No biggie.  I ate where I was at and could still get the gist of Doug Heffernan’s antics.

From the table/desk.  Now the right door obstructs the view.

A little while later, I had to go to the restroom.  A perk of staying alone is you don’t have to close the bathroom door.  It was then that I discovered the toilet was exactly the right angle to see the TV.  You were a little farther away– but neither door was in the way.

From the toilet— the angle is just right!

I gotta wonder.  Was this by design? 

December 21, 2006 at 12:04 am 1 comment

Greetings from Kansas

Greetings from Kansas!  I had a smooth journey.  Plus I got to catch up on journal entries and I got to work to work on some Christmas cards.  A couple of quick notes so far:

Don’t Read My Lips
Often during football games you’ll see the head coach holding a clipboard or a piece of paper in front his mouth as he gives instructions to his colleagues.  He does this so the opposite team doesn’t read his lips and catch on to his latest strategies.  Today waiting at the gate in Chicago, I saw a business man exercise the same technique.  He stood in the middle of the crowded gate area, surrounded by other passengers.  He talked on his bluetooth headset and covered his lips with part of today’s newspaper.  The funnies section to be exact.  I’m not sure what trade secrets he was trying to protect with Hagar the Horrible, but I do know he looked ridiculous.

Minivan vs. XTerra
The rental place was still cleaning my compact car, so they offered me an “upgrade” to a minivan for free.  I hestitated at first and asked how long the cleaning would take.  They didn’t know.  Then I asked, “Is there a parking problem in Wichita?” to which the clerks laughed and said no.  You see, I was worried about having to find a tight space for a big minivan.  It was only after I had the keys and I was approaching my gold minivan that I realized, “Wait a second, I drive an XTerra.”  I drive a giant vehicle every single day of my life, but get me in Kansas and suddenly I’m worried about having too much car?!?

Keen Kutter
I’m staying at The Hotel at Old Town in Wichita.  Very neat place– it is a renovated warehouse that was originally built in 1905 for the Keen Kutter company.  The hotel embraces its history.  Throughout the building, they have pictures of historic Wichita and display cases of original merchandise and memorabilia from Keen Kutter.  You could tell I spent the whole day in airports.  I took one look at a display case and thought, “There’s a bunch of stuff you can’t take on an airplane.”  🙂

December 18, 2006 at 10:57 pm Leave a comment

Pennsylvania and Kansas Pictures

I had a whirlwind series of trips in the past week.  I went to Washington, Pennsylvania for business.  Right after that I drove to New Castle, Pennsylvania to visit my Great Uncle Chuck's farm.  I left the farm and drove 6 1/2 hours home through West Virginia to Blacksburg, Virginia.  I spent one brief night in my own home and then bright an early the next morning, I drove to North Carolina to catch a plane to Georgia to catch a plane to Wichita, Kansas.  The very next day I did a presentation, attended a meeting and after 25 hours in Kansas, I hopped a series of planes back to North Carolina and then had a 2 1/2 hour drive home to Blacksburg.  In less that 48 hours, I had set foot in six different U.S. states.

The trips were pretty darn tiring, but still had their benefits.  I got to add two new states to my Rollerblading Resume (PA and KS), plus I got to visit Uncle Chuck and a park in Kansas.  I got pictures on my personal web site:

Uncle Chuck's Farm… featuring baby cows!
Pawnee Prairie Park in Wichita, Kansas

P.S.  Found out how Uncle Chuck lifts his cow back up.  "Well you take a rope and your tractor…."

P.S.S.  Uncle Chuck's cow I spoke of– it's innards did not squish.  Quite the opposite happened actually.  Because the cow was laying down, it could not regurgitate and it could not manage the gas building up in its digestive tract.  It was that gas buildup and expansion that proved fatal to the cow.

April 15, 2006 at 11:46 pm 3 comments

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