Archive for October, 2007

Spies are Everwhere

Does anyone besides Mike and I actually watch Burn Notice on USA? It’s one of their summer shows, on after Psych. Of course, probably no one watches that either. You should, you know. If you like dramadies and watching TV in the summer that isn’t the Red Sox making you want to throw the remote at the TV. Even if you don’t watch Burn Notice, I think this can be a fun activity for everyone.

A brief overview for non-Burn-Notice-watchers: The show is about a spy who gets burned, meaning he’s black-listed and not allowed to spy anymore. The people who burned him dumped him in Miami, where his mother, brother, ex-girlfriend, and best friend live and help him with various good-will activities such as saving a neighborhood from the influx of a new-age mafia. He spends his time making bombs and espionage devices out of cellphones and other random things while helping people and trying to find out who burned him so he can go back to being a real spy.

Mike and I were watching the season finale off of the TiVo last night. (If you happen to have it waiting on your TiVo, you can rest assured that this is not going to be any kind of spoiler.) Much of the beginning of the episode dealt with him trying to make contact with another spy-type. They were communicating in bizarre code, leaving clues for one another.

The main character narrates the show as if it were a how-to on spying. This particular narration was about how spies can’t trust each other, so before real contact can be made, they test each other out using non-involved third parties. In this case, the other guy paid a random stranger on the street to stand at a magazine rack reading a travel brochure. The stranger was told only to give a parcel to the first person who came around bothering him.

The main character’s name is Michael Westen. The clue in this case was that the travel brochure was for Madison, Wisconsin.

… You know what? I just found a quote from the show, I’m going to paste that in so you can read it yourself. I think I’m getting a little too roundabout.

The truly paranoid don’t go to meetings themselves. They use a cutout, someone unrelated to them hired to show a prearranged sign and deliver a message. The sign is something innocuous but hard to miss. My favorite is a tourist guide from Madison Wisconsin. No one will look at it twice, but unless I’m in the mid-west I know they are waiting for Michael Westen.

Burn Notice episode 11, “Dead Drop”/”Loose Ends”

So, I immediately began thinking, what tourist guide would I use? Mike? Anyone else?

Unfortunately for me, my initials are DJ, and there really aren’t any states that start with J. So, I have to go more global. Mike didn’t think there were any countries beginning with J, but I think he just didn’t think about it long enough. I rolled my eyes and said, “Jordan.” And unless you already knew that I share my last name with that country (yeah, I gave it away… I can’t help it… this topic is too awesome), you wouldn’t know why that was funny. Moving on, we came to Japan, but there aren’t any interesting places in Japan that begin with D. There’s also Jamaica, but again, no D cities. The only other country beginning with J is Jersey Island, which is barely a speck in the channel between France and England. As a bonus, all of their towns seem to start with S, so at least my sister is covered.

But that did give me an idea. Can I be so lame as to use the state of New Jersey and just ignore the N? Suddenly I’m wishing my middle initial was N… no, I’m not really, I like my middle name just fine. But still, I think I’d like to see about ignoring the N in NJ.

Well, after a bit of googling, I think I’m pretty screwed. The best I can figure is “Delaware River Region of New Jersey,” unless I want to use the tiny little town of Dover, which the New Jersey tourism sites don’t acknowledge. Lame!

More googling and I find that really Mike is screwed too. Rhode Island isn’t really holding any large number of places worth visiting, and none of them start with the letter M. Ooh! I did just think of an awesome one for him, once you go worldwide! Moscow, Russia.

Hawesome.

Sad for me, though, because even after we’re married I’m still screwed. No interesting cities in Russia or Rhode Island starting with D.

Man, maybe this isn’t an awesome game.

Let me know if you find an awesome one for you, though. Then I can be uplifted.

October 11th, 2007 • 9:07 am • dinane • Posted in Television, Uncategorizable7 Comments »

Adventures Relating to Utah and China

If only I could afford the time and money to travel so much as to actually go to Utah and China… Well, maybe not China. I have to admit it’s pretty far down on the list of places I’d like to visit. And I don’t think my riding skills are up to the challenge of snowboarding in Utah – yet. But today, I got a tiny taste of both locations.

Lucky for me, I work right in the middle of everything in Boston. Within 5 blocks of me, I have access to just about every genre of food imaginable, and if you extend that radius to a mile, you can drop the “just about.” I get to have lunch at a wide variety of places, eating food that ranges from mac ‘n’ cheese to shwarma to ramen to pizza.

Today, my lunch experience received an A++++ rating (you know, if this was eBay). I was greeted out front of my building with a hug from a red-fleece-clad Josie. I updated my phone with corrected cell numbers, and we waited, somewhat patiently, for the rest of the party to arrive. Soon, Josie’s head perked up, “Ooh! No. It’s not them.” We continued chatting and filling my phone with numbers.

“There they are!”

Josie made some mild fun of me as I bounced over to greet Vickie, Darren, and Joe, who I have been referring to as Utah Joe, just to distinguish him from my coworker, both in my mind and out loud. I hope he doesn’t mind too much.

Hugs! And we were off.

So many topics were covered in the walk past the Public Garden and Boston Common that I couldn’t begin to list them properly. We were all just trying to get up-to-date info on friends we hadn’t seen in weeks, months, or years (depending). After a brief interlude where someone (I won’t say who) almost got killed by a car, we arrived in Chinatown. Just as Josie was asking where we were going, I could point to the sign. Is it Empire Garden or Emporer’s Garden? I don’t know. They have signs for both. But what I do know is, they have excellent dim sum.

The Garden (whatever it’s first name may be) is an unusual place. Outside, the signs read like any other Chinese restaurant: bright yellow backgrounds with strong red lettering, in both English and some form of Chinese. But when you walk in (and make sure you go in the correct doors – no need to go into the bizarre shop next door), you begin to transition. Up a couple flights of stairs and into a strange lobby, and this is when you may realize where you are. The Garden is in an old converted theatre.

The hostess quickly whisks you to a table, giving you little time to take in your surroundings. As you sit, tea and water appear, and before you really get a chance to look around, a cart approaches. And then another. And then another. It’s all you can do to keep up with the offerings. Shumai? Yes. Peculiar looking squid? No. That weird soft dumpling with tons of shrimp? Yes. Chinese broccoli? No. Sticky rice in lotus leaf? Absolutely. In fact, give us two!

For us, once we had filled the center of our table with goodies, we could finally look around. Vickie and I had been there before, a few times each, but it is still worth the look. The walls have elaborate faux painting of beautiful flowers and structures, but that isn’t the real attention grabber. It’s the proscenium arch at the far side of the very large room. It seems they took the level of the mezzanine and simply extended the floor straight out from there. The proscenium stands squat, half of it being concealed beneath the floor. But even with that, the ceilings are high and ornate, and there is a feeling of grandness, which complements well the tiny parcels of food.

Between bites, Joe told us about his adventures to India. We followed paths of digressions to the Caribbean, Poland, and France. We flowed through conversation of music and old friends. And all the while, we enjoyed bites of delicious food. I even discovered a new item that I don’t usually pick, which I must have again in the future. (No, Vickie, I’m sorry, but it isn’t turnip cake.)

It was all over too soon, as Josie had to run back to training, and shortly after I had to head back to work. Hugs were exchanged outside of the Chinatown T station, where we said our goodbyes. Joe is on his way back to what he calls exile shortly. But I know Utah will welcome him back with open arms. How could it not?

October 10th, 2007 • 3:24 pm • dinane • Posted in Food, Life2 Comments »

Fear

A few months ago, in the middle of the night, I woke up. Not for the normal reasons, like a weird dream, or having to pee, or having slept on my arm such that it fell asleep and is now screaming, “Pins and needles! Pins and needles! Pins! Needles! AUGH!” But for a completely new reason. I couldn’t breathe. The heavy wheezing woke Mike up, and he frantically asked if I was okay, while I could not respond. Eventually, it died down, and I went on pretending it never really happened, save talking to a friend about it briefly, but downplaying it the whole time.

Fear is a special thing. It makes you pretend something never happened, even though you know it did, and you know it probably wasn’t normal. So I suppressed it and went on with normalcy.

Then about a month or so ago, before we moved, I had some girls over my apartment to help distract Kelly from the fact that Paul was at his bachelor’s party. Much video games and girly vodka drinks were had, and it was a pretty good time. Then, as I was pouring new drinks for two of us (or maybe more, who knows), it happened again. This time I was surrounded by people hovering. One married to an asthmatic, one an asthmatic herself. The wheezing did die down, and I was able to take a few deep breaths and tell them that it happened once before. Eventually they convinced me to use my sister’s inhaler. Turns out Albuterol makes your heart race, so that was… fun…

I spent much time muttering, “I don’t want it,” and “Can I give it back now?” But no, I could no longer ignore this. I made an appointment to see my doctor. That appointment happened last week.

My doctor is really nice, but that doesn’t mean I’m not afraid of her. She keeps chiding me for being scared of her, but really, there’s nothing I can do. I fear doctors. A lot. So much that it took me several tries, and some strong reminders from my friends, to actually call to make the appointment.

So, after the chiding for my raised blood pressure and fidgeting hands, we moved on with me telling her why I was there in the first place. Initially, she had the tell-tale eye roll of a doctor who just hates WebMD for planting ideas in peoples’ heads. “Why do you think you have asthma?” So I told her about the wheezing, and that my sister who has asthma said it seemed quite familiar. The look on her face instantly changed. Now she was mad at me for not going straight to the ER. She explained that apparently an attack like that can send your lungs into a weird state for months.

If I’m afraid of my regular doctor, I’m petrified of the ER. And I’ve been there a couple times…

So, apparently, I might have asthma. I’m seeing a specialist next week, that ought to be interesting. Apparently, I’ll be breathing into a magical machine that knows if you have it or not. Wheefun.

This morning, as I was coming up out of Arlington station, I came upon a lady taking a puff out of her inhaler. I watched several people pass without acknowledgeable, and realized that only a few months ago, I would have done the same thing. But now, I had read WebMD, and listened to my doctor get nervous for me. I had the fear. And I could see some of it in her, whether I imagined it or it was real, it didn’t matter.

I asked her if she was okay, and after a few deep breaths she said she was. We talked about how insane the four flights of stairs and the long hallway are for the escape from Arlington station. The construction there is taking far too long. She could really use an escalator.

Once we emerged – she stopped a few more times to catch what little breath she could – she swore to me that she’d be alright, and she headed off in a path orthogonal to mine. I wonder how many people suffer an asthma attack never being asked how they are. Are we so desensitized to what is actually quite a real illness? And why, for that matter, do so many people have it?

I’m scared.

I don’t want it.

Can I give it back now?

October 2nd, 2007 • 8:06 am • dinane • Posted in Health, Life8 Comments »
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