Hello, Kitty

Two years ago, we went back to Wisconsin to celebrate my parents' 50th Anniversary. In what is now becoming a tradition, we went to The Pfister Hotel for a meal.

When I asked the server to take our picture, my cousin asked, "Whose Hello Kitty camera is that?"

Yes, there was some judgment in her tone.

I happen to really like pink.
I was immediately offended. For about 30 seconds. But, then I started embracing the idea.

I spent the next two years on a mission to find a Hello Kitty sticker to put on my camera. Preferably, one with glitter. Because, well, glitter. Every time I went to the grocery store or a dollar store, I took a quick perusal to see if they had appropriately sized stickers.

I had no success until yesterday when I was in Target. Bonus is that I only paid $1 for a whole bunch of stickers.

There was just one problem. My pink camera is no more my working camera.

Cameras don't work without a shutter button, yo!
My first day in London two weeks ago, I pulled my camera out of my bag to find that the shutter button had come off. I thought maybe I could just press down on the innards and make it work but, alas, it was not to be. I used my iPhone for all of my trip pictures and they came out "OK" but my camera did a much better job with low lighting and zooming.

Amazon Prime day was the incentive to look for a new camera. They didn't have a deal on what I wanted but I found the next level of Elph (the only cameras I've bought since the 90s) that I wanted. There was a mental debate about getting one with wifi built in but I decided to save the dough and use my iPhone for anything I wanted instantly loaded.

There was only one problem.

That's not pink.

I had to settle for blue.

But, don't those Hello Kitty stickers look great on it?!?!

PS - Here's the family picture from The Pfister. Good times, good times.

Sugar and Fat and Wine - Could Brunch Get Any Better?

It's tough to get all of the Chick Poker gang together for an evening so we fill in with brunch dates. Sometimes, we go out, other times someone hosts at their house.

Stacey was a host this month and, inspired by National Doughnut Day (which has a very interesting history), declared that everyone had to bring three of their favorite doughnuts then we would sample and judge. The judging comes naturally to this group. We have one super baker in our midst so she was commanded to make duffins (that's a combo of doughnut and muffin for those not in the know).

To balance out the doughnuts, we were encouraged to bring fruits or veggies.

There was also some wine drinking though the majority had iced tea. I'm not sure why those people are still my friends.

There were only five of us...

I'm not a big doughnut fan and I didn't want to go way out of my way to get Rainbow Donuts (our work favorites) so I went to Krispy Kreme which was conveniently located next to Safeway where I picked up a veggie/cheese/sausage tray. My options were Peach Pie (never had it before so I was curious), a creme filled Chocolate frosted and a Chocolate frosted with Jimmies. Because Jimmies are cool. Jimmies should be on everything.

Fractured Prune is the only other source whose name I caught. We tried a Margarita, Breakfast Bomb, Morning Buzz, Salted Caramel, French Toast and some Princess one. One of them had shaved bacon on it which, in theory, sounded delicious but I found the pepper they used on the  bacon was overwhelming.

The duffins where the bomb. That girl can bake!

The three doughnut rule was not adhered to, however, and we had a surplus of fried treats. I actually don't think anyone even ate the equivalent of three doughnuts, either, but everyone was happy to eat some veggies and some protein. It made us feel like we were being a little healthy.

A review of the carnage showed that the simpler doughnuts with glaze were the most popular overall.

Overall, it was a fun activity and you didn't feel badly if you didn't like something since we all just cut off small pieces for tasting purposes. I didn't find anything that made me think "this is a new favorite," though. I'm still pretty much of the belief that the doughnut is just there to support the frosting.

And, the Jimmies! Jimmies for everyone!

My New Retirement Savings Plan

I've discovered a way to double my money. It's so easy peasy, I can't lose. Which I'm pretty excited about because I keep looking at my 401K and think it's never going to be enough to keep me in the lifestyle I would like to be accustomed to.

Here's how it works.

I start with a pocket full of singles. Then, I make bets with Crime Dog, dollar against dollar. Sometimes, he picks the bet, sometimes I do.

For example, if were bowling, CD would bet that Goat would pick up his spare. I would take the action. There is always an option to decline for bets like Dave Seaholm would pick up his spare. He's a bowling machine, that would be foolish money.

You gotta start investing with something, a buck is good of an amount as any.
After a short while, I would have two pockets full of singles. So many that I miss making some bets because I can't sort out a dollar fast enough.

There's only one, slight flaw to my plan. CD needs to be good for his IOUs.

There were more bills off to the right, for the official record.
Oh, and maybe one more flaw. CD needs to have saved enough to keep me in the style to which I would like to be accustomed to.

Man, I hope he wins the lottery.

Girl In A Country Song

I realize I'm on an anti-Brocountry crusade. Obsession, even.

This song does a great job of explaining why I'm unhappy. Nails it, in fact. This new genre seems to treat women like cars and tractors - just there to look good and be fast.

Oh, and don't even get me started on rap in country. Ugh. (Holding back 1,000 word essay on why it vexes me.)

I clearly need to chill as my blood pressure is high enough on its own. And, it would be better for said blood pressure to focus on some of the wonderful relationship songs that some male artists are putting out. The problem is that I hear one "good" song followed by three that aggravate me.

Deep breath, deep breath, deep breath, life is good, move on, chillaxe.

Billy, I've Got To Go To Town

I had 60s on 6 going during my drive home from work tonight and this song came on. I recognized the tune within just a few chords but then a woman started singing. Wait, what, this isn't Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town?

Apparently, this was an "answer" song to Ruby. In the woman's version, she's not the low down cheating ho that he thinks she is.

I've heard Ruby a bajillion times but I never knew about this song. Guess I can file it under "useless trivia" but it was intriguing enough to get me to go look it up.

Jurassic Memories

I just purchased tickets for Steven and me to see Jurassic World on Saturday at the Cine Capri. That's our local theater with the super big screen and sound system and where we like to see all of our premiers. It's fantastic.

It made me think back to when we saw Jurassic Park. Holy cow, that was in 1993 and Steven was only, well, he was younger. Nearly a baby. OK, a little older than a baby but I'm trying not to do the math.

For some reason, my Dad and Mom wanted to see the movie, too. I really can't imagine why because my Dad is not a movie goer at all. I think it was probably because it was a family outing and he's all about those.

Steven and I ditched them in the theater, though. My parents sat towards the back and we got up close and in the middle to be overwhelmed by the action.

I can't look in a side mirror with this saying without picturing the dinosaur.
What action it was! The movie had everything a fanboy/girl could want. Truly scary and realistic looking monsters. Corporate greed ("The Man") run amok. Socially awkward hero, too cool for words scientist, hilarious wannabe villain and a female lead who was just as tough as the guys. Oh, and some cute kids. Not to mentions things, people included, getting torn limb from limb.

Yep, it had everything.

And, 22 years later, it has a few repeating elements. Me, my kid and a movie.

Good times, good times.

Just Another Gringo In Belize

To:  Goat and Queen
From:  S. Holmes, Chief Detective for San Pedro Investigations
Date: 15/MAR/2015
Re: Disappearance of P. Parrott

The following account is my complete investigation into, and subsequently developed timeline of, the disappearance of one Phred Parrott of Scottsdale, AZ, USA while vacationing in San Pedro, Belize. I undertook this investigation after the local authorities determined that an official Missing Persons investigation would not be made by their officers as Phred Parrott is not, in reality, an actual person.

All interviewees presented what I believe to be true testimonies and accurate as they recall them. The photographic evidence was gleaned from multiple sources, primarily Facebook as many people seem unable to do any activity without posting there.

Princess:  I was excited to take Phred back to Belize but I have to confess, I was nervous as well. Traveling with Phred makes me appreciate the work the Secret Service does. Not only is he always a target, he's flighty (no pun intended) and just goes off with anyone. Shamefully, I can't always count on my own club members to keep an eye on him either.

Also, there were going to be some Iowans on the trip and they're, well, shifty. He's disappeared more than once and found to be in their control. I also knew my backup was shaky in Crash as she had already lost Phred once. Little did I know, I was soon to be the one on shaky ground.

Crash:  Man, I just wish the Princess would give it a rest. Sure, I allowed Phred to be kidnapped by the Iowans in Key West. And, I did encourage them to take off with him when we were in Des Moines. And, yes, I did try to help Sherman abscond with him a week before we went to Belize. But, seriously!

Sherman:  Yes, I tried to take Phred with me when Crash, Thom, Phred and the Princess and I went out to dinner in Phoenix a week before the trip (Exhibit A.). But, that's just what you do, right? I didn't mean anything by it, I swear!
Exhibit A.
Sherman and Phred at Tilted Kilt in Phoenix on 08/Feb/2015.
It was confirmed that Phred did not leave with Sherman at that point in time.
Princess: Phred, Crash and I got to Houston and went out to dinner with Susan, Scott and Fictional Donald (Exhibit B.). Susan made Phred a new tie-dye t-shirt so he was ready for his tropical vacation. We made it to Belize City without a Phred related incident.
Exhibit B.
Princess, Phred Parrott and Fictional Donald - location Texas Roadhouse.

Jim:  I was so happy to see my friends from Arizona and Houston. And, it was great to share a Belikin Beer with Phred Parrott (Exhibit C.). I really had no idea things were going to get bleak as everyone was in great spirits.

Exhibit C.
Phred Parrott with Jim at the Belize City Airport.
It was confirmed that the beer was Belikin.
Princess: The week started off quite well. We met with most of the rest of our co-vacationers on Friday and went on a pub crawl on Saturday down the beach. Phred had a great time though I noticed he was drinking pretty heavily, even for him (Exhibit D.).

Sunday, we went on a Sunset Cruise and enjoyed a lovely few hours out on the water. We kept a good eye on Phred and he seemed to be relaxed and enjoying himself.

Exhibit D.
Evidence would support that the missing Parrot had a serious drinking problem.

Jim:  We went to one of our favorite places on Monday, The Palapa Bar. It's out on the water and there's a bar area on the top floor and a nice deck on the first floor. There are also inner tubes tied up in the water if you want to float. Phred did his usual thing there, making friends and entertaining the crowd (Exhibit E.).
Exhibit E.
Phred with one of the bartenders at La Palapa Bar (upstairs).
Princess:  We waited around at Palapa until they were almost closing as Sherman and Andy were supposed to meet us there. They were arriving on Monday. It was down to Jim, Jamie, Phred and me when we decided to call it a day.

Jim:  We went downstairs to wait for a cab. While the Princess was using the washroom, I had Phred pose in a few pictures.

Princess: One of the waiters from Palapa was waiting for a cab as well. We offered to share with him and ultimately headed back to the resort. Once there, we dashed over to the bar next door, Squirrel's Nest, to meet up with Sherman and Andy. Andy was napping so it was a while before she made it down to us (Exhibit F.). We all called it a relatively early night because the next day was Carnaval.

Exhibit F.
Verified that this was taken at Squirrel's Nest on Monday evening.
No evidence was found that Phred Parrott was there at that point in time.
Jim: Carnaval is my favorite day on the island. We headed out with the group down the beach to walk to downtown.

Princess:  Someone asked me along the way where Phred was. I told them that I wouldn't bring him on this event as I didn't want to get paint all over him (Exhibit G.). I thought about it a little more and realized that I didn't know exactly where he was so I asked Crash.

Exhibit G.
Testing of leftover Carnaval paint showed that it would have been nearly impossible to remove from Phred Parrott's feathers.
Crash:  I was pretty sure Phred was sitting on the dining room table in our room so that's what I told the Princess. She wasn't sure and thought maybe Susan had him. We decided we'd check when we got back to the resort.

Princess:  Carnaval was good fun but I had an uneasy feeling as we got back to the resort. Crash was back in the room when I returned and I did a quick search of our room. No Phred. I asked Crash if she'd seen him and she said no. We decided to start quizzing people in the morning. He could easily have been with Susan, being held hostage by the Iowans or someone else or who knows where.

Crash:  I didn't sleep well worrying about Phred and I knew that the Princess didn't either. The first she thing she asked me in the morning was, "You seriously don't know where Phred is?" I told her I didn't and I wouldn't have lied at that point. I know how it feels to be the one who lost him. Oh, I admit that I had a small bit of delight that it was the Princess who lost him this time but I'm only human.

Jim:  Princess, Jamie and I retraced our last steps with Phred and the last time we remembered seeing him was Monday at Palapa. No one was 100% sure that he made it into the cab or back to the resort with us. Princess did run over to Squirrel's Nest to see if he had stayed there and they hadn't seen him.

Wednesday was the day we were going to Captain Morgan's. My parents and some friends were taking a golf cart there while the rest were going by boat. I asked my parents to stop by Palapa to see if Phred was still there. I could tell by the look on my Mom's face when she got to Captain Morgan's that Phred was not found. We clearly needed a recovery plan.

Princess: Ugh. That was all I could think for a while, ugh. My only hope at this point was the Sherman had Phred and was just playing a long joke. He and Andy weren't with us at Captain Morgan's so I couldn't interrogate him.

Jim:  When we go back to the resort, I asked one of the ladies at the front desk to make up a flyer with Phred's picture on it. We offered $100 BZ ($50 USD) for his return to the resort. She promised to have it ready for the morning.

I also confronted Sherman and asked if he had Phred and told him the Princess was losing her shit over it. He told me he would tell me if he had him but also would have asked me not to tell her.

Princess:  I wasn't losing my shit. I just didn't want to go home without Phred.

I emailed Palapa on Thursday morning and inquired if Phred had turned up yet. We picked up the flyer (Exhibit H.) then heading downtown to make copies and hand them out. We put them up on poles, near all the taxi stands, at the airport and physically handed them out to taxi drivers and hoped for the best.

Exhibit H.
This investigator confirmed that multiple copies of this flyer were distributed throughout town.
Jim: A couple of the taxi drivers said they thought they knew who picked us up at Palapa and one even said he might know who had Phred. I was so sure we would find him. Another driver suggested we put a message out on the local radio station.

Princess:  The radio station was down an alley and across from a woman's kitchen where she had laundry hanging inside. I wasn't confident but it was really a functioning station. We paid for an ad to be broadcast starting at 1 PM. Jim was really sure at this point that someone would come forward because of the reward.

In the meantime, our friends had gone back to Palapa and tracked down the waiter we cabbed with. He couldn't remember if we had Phred but he did call the taxi driver we'd ridden with who told him that he hadn't found Phred in his vehicle.

Sherman: The rest of the gang was leaving on Friday so I said I'd pay the reward if Phred showed up before we left on Monday and the Princess would repay me. While I was hoping he could be found, I was worried someone would think I took the joke too far just to get the reward.

Jim:  I still had hope someone would return Phred even as we were leaving. We'd left word all over the island and I even posted his loss on the Tourism Board website.

Princess: I knew was frakked. Losing Phred was something I would never, ever live down.

Every local interviewed in San Pedro:  Those are the craziest Americans we've ever seen.

Phred:  The story really started back in 2013. We were at Fido's listening to Mark Mulligan and Kelly McGuire. I was on stage as usual, minding my own business (Exhibit I.).

The gang actually left to go back to the resort without me. My first thought, was "Damn, who's going to get me back to the room?" But, my second and third thoughts were "It actually wouldn't be so bad to stay here" and "I bet there are some hot Toucans looking for some action from a studly bird like me".

Before I could formulate a fourth thought, Goat came running back in to the bar, scooped me up then took me home in a taxi with the rest of our group. Amazingly, they only made one stop at the liquor store on the way.

Exhibit I.
Phred Parrott in front of Texas Musician Kelly McGuire's feet. Photo taken by Lewie Edwards.
Both Edwards and McGuire were eliminated as suspects nor interviewed as neither was in San Pedro at the time of the disappearance.
I continued to travel the world for the next two years but I did so with a plan. I was going to make a break for it as soon as I had the chance. Sure, it was great being a celebrity and seeing foreign countries and drinking lots of cocktails but it was time for me to retire. I thought I had a chance in Vegas but they found me before I could get away.

Belize was where the idea first occurred so I decided come hell or high water, Belize was where I was going to spend my golden years.

My first thought was to take off during the Sunset Cruise but they actually tied me to the boat (Exhibit J.). It was both insulting and frustrating.

Exhibit J.
Per testimony not documented in this report, there was no way for Phred Parrott to get out of these knots.
When we got to Palapa on Monday, I put plan B into action. First, I encouraged everyone to drink a lot of Belikins (Exhibit K.).

Exhibit K.
A review of the bar tabs from La Palapa revealed that the group did purchase a lot of Belikins.
I knew I had a good chance at escape when I saw the Princess looking pretty happy (Exhibit L).

Exhibit L.
Clearly, lots of Belikins were consumed, not just purchased.
I knew I had an even better chance when it came down to just the four of us. While Jim was taking pictures and the Princess was in the washroom, I hightailed it out of there. I felt bad because I knew they would feel guilty but a bird has to do what a bird has to do.

The next few days were glorious! I made some friends in the jungle and also found some bars where the locals hang out. That's where I heard the radio announcement of a reward for my return. I slunk off my bar stool and found a place to nest in an alley for a while. My biggest concern was getting my name tag off that had not only my name on it but the resort name as well (Exhibit M.). The jig would surely be up if I were found with that on.

Exhibit M.
It was confirmed that not only was the resort name on the back of the tag, so were the dates of the event.
Fortunately, it rained so all the flyers that had been put up were turned to mush. I knew the last of them were leaving on Monday so I thought I was safe then. Unfortunately, this group doesn't give up. I've seen more announcements on the tourism board website and even heard I was on a milk carton (Exhibit N and O.)!

Exhibit N.
Online research shows that AZPHC.org is for a Palliative care facility.
Also, Phred Parrott is not 10 1/2 years old.
Exhibit O.
Man, can't a bird just fly away in peace?

When I heard a PI was looking for me, I decided to make contact with him to get my side of the story out, apologize for leaving and ask everyone to give up the search. I'm very happily living in Central America, drinking rum every day and chasing literal tail.

It does not suck to be me.

S. Holmes:  As painful as it might be for you to read, I must inform you that Phred Parrott's account was only given to me after he received my oath that his location would not be revealed to any parties.


Since he is of legal age, I acceded to his request for privacy and will not reveal his whereabouts.

If it's any comfort, he seems quite satisfied living the life of an Ex-Patriated American though he mentioned he was going to miss seeing what Barnabas up to. Curious.

Exhibit P.
The last known photograph of Phred Parrott.