Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Scarred for Life

After kitkat and FightAgainstRedTape mentioned the tv show "How Clean Is Your House" in comments on an earlier post, I decided to catch a couple of episodes.

Oh. My. Gah.

I can't figure out if this is porn for slobs, or porn for clean freaks. A little of both, I guess. The basic premise is that someone is living in filth, and the show sends in a team of people to get their house clean again.

And when I say filth, I mean FILTH. We're talking scraping legions of dead flies off the windowsills and using engine cleaner to get the grunge off the stove.


But the best (?) part is when they take samples off various surfaces and send them to the lab to find out exactly which kinds of contagion are brewing in these people's houses. I shit you not, they found e-coli in one dude's bathtub.

And the thing that killed me is that, at least in the two episodes I watched, the people didn't even seem particularly embarrassed by their living conditions. It was just, "Oh, well, it kind of got away from me, and besides, it's not that bad."

Yes, IT IS THAT BAD. Yes it is.

My eyes hurt.

Monday, March 30, 2009


This time of year, the snakes start coming out of hibernation, but the weather is still chilly, so they tend to stay together for warmth. Sometimes you'll find them all curled up into a ball, with just their heads poking out.

Snake pile!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Far Too Soon

Amanda has passed away.

Goodbye, Amanda. We'll all miss you and remember you fondly.

Well, I guess it'd come in handy when it was time to wash the sheets ......

I took a look at a house the other night, and this was in the master bedroom:

Seriously?! Who puts the washer and dryer and a utility sink IN THE BEDROOM? There were other rooms in this house that would have happily accommodated a laundry, so why on earth would you put it in the master bedroom?!

I mean, COME ON, if you have to run some extra pipes to get it someplace else, that's what you do, right? And how long before bleach gets spilled on that carpeting, or the washer springs a little leak and rampant mold growth ensues?

But at least the washer/dryer setup could have been remedied. The "view", alas, could not:


Thursday, March 26, 2009

(Land of the) (Lost)

You know what's driving me crazy about "Lost"? That cheezy sound effect they use every time somebody's about to time-travel. The light gets really bright, and then you hear that cheezy "whhhoooooOOOOP"!

Which I guess proves that the show has finally driven me around the bend. I can accept the whole time-travel thing, but I cannot accept the cheezy "whhhoooooOOOP".

I think, though, that I'm finally figuring out the show's formula. They spend the first 90% of every episode confusing the shit out of you, then they clear up just enough in the last 10% so you're all, like, "I GOT IT!! AM BRILLIANT!" And then in the next episode, they go with story lines totally unrelated to the previous episode, spend the first 90% confusing the shit out of you again, and then clear more stuff up in the last 10%. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I do admit I'll keep watching, mainly because at this point, I've wasted invested enough time in this show to make it silly to quit now, so close to the end. Even though last night's episode (Now they're in Moscow! Now they're in Costa Rica! Now it's the seventies! Now it's present day! She's a hooker - no, wait, she's a bounty hunter!) made me feel like that girl in Poltergeist, when she puts her hands to her head and screams "What's happening here?!?!"

Lost, indeed.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

This one's not gonna win me any friends

I'm sure I would be going to hell for the following, if I, you know, believed in hell and all.

I was watching "17 Kids and Counting" the other night (I know! I KNOW!), and some of the weirdos Duggars went to Guatemala or some other godforsaken country to bring supplies to the poor people, and, I'm sure, dose them up with some good old-time religion while they were in neighborhood.

And I got thinking about how when governments are unable/unwilling to help their own poor people, it is often individuals who step up to the plate. Which got me thinking about the Gates Foundation, which is, among other things, providing the funds to vaccinate millions of children in Africa.

But then I got thinking, "Well yeah, that's great and all, but if they all get vaccinated, that means they're going to live longer (duh), and who the hell is going to feed all these people?" I mean, lots of poor countries are already vastly overpopulated with starving people, and if we add millions more people who previously would have died from now-preventable diseases to the mix, isn't that just going to create a whole nother problem?

So THEN I got thinking, "Well, what are you going to do - withhold the vaccines so that they'll die and not increase the surplus population?" , and, "Aren't epidemics of malaria, etc., nature's way of controlling excess population?", and, "Why vaccinate people so they can live even longer lives of abject poverty?"

I don't know. But it makes me uneasy to think this way.

I guess they ran out of paint. Or enthusiasm. Or something.

Actually, I think I preferred the light green to the neon blue. And if you look off to the right, you can see the couch!

That was quick!

My boss just introduced me to the joys of control-alt-delete, when faced with a blank blue screen. Is a miracle! That's why he's the boss, and I'm not.


My computer's decided to take a little vacation. I'll be back when I can.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My new lamp - let me show you it

Is pretty, no? This is the one that my downstairs neighbor held hostage in his apartment for two days.

I'm more than a little embarrassed to admit that this lamp cost me six times what my kitchen table cost me, but it's beauuuuuutiful! And it's the first thing I've bought "new" for my apartment in a long, long time. Innernet, you done good by me.

I felt a little bit guilty about this purchase, as I am saving up for a house, but every once in a while something's gotta give. I got out my passbook the other day, and I've been scrimping and saving for two years now. And I keep socking away money in the house account, little by little, and I am inching closer all the time to the mythical 20%-down-payment figure. It's in my reach! I'm almost there! So ......... close ........... Now I just need to find a house to buy ........ Somewheeerrrrrre out therrrrrrre .............
Oops, sorry! Got a little bit off topic there.

Movie Review - "Dear Zachary"

"Dear Zachary" is a documentary. When a filmmaker's friend was brutally murdered, he decided to interview basically everyone the guy ever knew, making a record for his friend's young son. (The son, incidentally, whose mother was the murderer; she killed his father when she was pregnant with him.)

This starts off sadly enough, and about three-quarters of the way through, it takes a tragic twist that would be unbelievable if it wasn't true. Your heart just aches for the little boy's grandparents, who have to deal with a nightmare that is almost unbearable.

This movie is just fascinating, if awfully, awfully sad, and I do highly recommend it, but please be forewarned: This is not a "feel-good" movie by any stretch of the imagination. It does, however, give the sense of how one person, one ordinary Joe Schmo, can touch the lives of many other people.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Talk about truth in advertising .....

From a local listing:

"Yup! It's a trailer cleverly disguised as a house. Great yard space, potential for anything better than it currently is. Frozen water lines, not financeable due trailer and freeze damage."

Gotta love a listing agent with a sense of humor. I have to wonder how the seller feels about it, though.

Updated on 3/26/09 to add: People, it sold. IT SOLD.

Half the cat he used to be

I had to take The Runt to the vet's last Friday. (Ear infection; $113.00; drops to clear it up.) He was very good and only hissed and spit once, when the vet had a probe-thingy waaaaay down his ear. (I think I'll try that next time I'm at the ob-gyn.)

A while back, I wrote about how big The Runt was getting, and how he now weighed over ten lbs. But when they weighed him at the vet on Friday, he weighed 6.3 lbs.

Hmmmmm. I'm going to assume someone's scale is off, and I'm going to assume it's mine. Guess he's not such a bruiser, after all.

I'm the Sheik of Araby .........

And I'm a Pretty Little Princess ..........

You'd think they'd have learned to hide the camera by now.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Breaking News!!

The Hi Way Dairy Bar is open for the season!

And the berry twirl soft-serve is just as delicious as ever.

Friday, March 20, 2009

How the other half lives

They live like slobs, I'll tell you that right off the bat.

I went to look at a house the other night that was currently being rented. There was a big 'ol beat-up sofa sitting in the backyard. The owner explained that it had been there all winter; he had asked the tenants to remove it, but they hadn't "got around to it yet". Maybe it's me, but it would drive me absolutely insane to look out my window every day and see a beat-up sofa sitting in my yard. I'd set FIRE to the damn thing before I let it sit there. Indoor furniture belongs indoors, and outdoor furniture belongs outdoors, and never the twain shall meet.

Looking at houses has not been my first experience in seeing how strangers live. Back a few years ago, I helped out a couple of relatives by going door-to-door with them and notarizing signatures on a petition they were trying to get signed for a business they wanted to open. (No, it wasn't a strip club; it was a motorcycle repair shop, which is evidently just as bad in some people's eyes. "OMG! Bikers! Run for your lives!!")

Because these relatives knew most of the people whose doors we were knocking on, we got invited into a lot of houses. And you would not believe the mess. Front porches so full of boxes of crap you had to squeeze through just to get to the front door. Sinks and counters full of filthy dishes. Pet-hair-encrusted furniture. You get the picture.

The poor people were not the worst. Maybe they just didn't own enough stuff for it to accumulate and become dirt-covered. It was the low-middle-income people who lived like they had only recently been introduced to indoor plumbing.

Living in an apartment building, I'm always amazed that I've never gotten cockroaches courtesy of my neighbors. My one former neighbor, Bill, had an apartment so full of crap you could literally barely walk through it. He once left on vacation for two weeks and left behind a sink full of filthy dishes soaking in filthy water. (I used to pet sit; that's how I know.) His stove was so grease-encrusted that, oh boy, I don't even know how to tell this one - let's just say that he didn't clean it before he moved out, and the guy who moved in after him didn't bother to clean it either, and shortly after the new guy moved in, he went to use the stove one night, and the stove itself actually caught on fire, the entire stove, thanks to the grease buildup.

And let's not even talk about bathrooms, shall we? Oh heck, let's. The first time I met my (now-ex-) father-in-law, I was visiting his home and went to use the bathroom. Suffice it to say, this was my very first experience with the "if it's yellow, let it mellow" doctrine, and I was horrified. People, flush the damn toilet. If you're having plumbing problems, GET IT FIXED. This is not something you can let slide, for f*ck's sake.

Wow. Sorry. I guess I'm a little sensitive about toilet hygiene.

Now, I am no Suzy Homemaker, and if you run your finger across any surface in my apartment, you will probably come up with some dust. I'm fairly certain there may be a scary thing or two in the crisper drawer of my fridge.

But some of the things I've seen in other people's houses frighten me.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Random things about house-hunting

1. It is extremely awkward to look at a house when the people who are renting it are home. Especially when they won't move out of your damn way so you can, you know, SEE THE HOUSE.

2. The amount of money you can put down up front makes a HUGE difference in your monthly payments. Amazingly, I am just finding this out. Because I'm an idiot.

3. NO RAILROAD TRACKS. Maybe it's just me, but folks, I read The Dollmaker. Anyone who has ever read The Dollmaker knows what I'm sayin' here. (Long story short: Destitute Kentucky family moves to Detroit; little girl playing on the tracks gets run over by a train; her LEGS are severed in the accident; she bleeds to death in her mother's arms. The End.) NO RAILROAD TRACKS.

4. The mention of the word "plume" needs to send you running in the other direction.

5. You can fix a bad house, but you cannot fix a bad lot.

I've got a million of 'em. How about you?

Toe Touch

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

American Idol

Disclaimer: I'm not watching; really, I'm not. The Mucinex made me do it.

Did anybody see that dude last night who sang "Ring of Fire" with a middle-eastern influence? I can't decide if it was awful or brilliant (ok, ok, it was pretty awful), but hey, the guy's got nuts. Either that, or he's just really sick of the whole thing and wants to go home.

And HOW OLD is Randy Travis? I really hope he's not seriously ill or something, 'cause man, he looks like he's about ninety.

Movie Review - "Wall-E"

I don't usually care for animation, but everybody raved about "Wall-E" so much that I finally went ahead and Netflixed it, only to discover that .......... I don't care for animation.

I'm sure everybody in the free world's already seen this one, so I don't need to recap the movie. I enjoyed the first twenty minutes or so, while he was still on earth, but once they got to the spaceship, it seemed like the animators were just trying to cram as much as they possibly could into every cel.

What can I say - I don't care for animation. Maybe it's all the thousands of hours of Saturday morning cartoons I watched as a kid - I burned out. Oh, and does anybody else remember when Saturday morning was the only time cartoons were on (well, except for The Flintstones, who were on in prime time, if I remember correctly)?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

......... survey SAYS!*.....

........ sinus infection, earning me a prescription for Amoxicillin with a chaser of Mucinex. And believe me, they regulate the Mucinex MUCH MORE CLOSELY than they do the antibiotics. Thanks, tweakers!

But holy gee, maybe I can finally start to recover. Even Dr. "No-Antibiotics-For-You" caved and gave me the goods, telling me, "you'll never get better without 'em."

And I promise you, I'll start talking about something else now. Coming soon: Movie review!*

*because THAT never gets old. Heh.

Little Girl says .....

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cold from Hell: Day ........ aw, f*ck it

How sick am I? This sick:

1. I stopped bothering with the Kleenex and am now blowing my nose on toilet paper, because it's cheaper. Klassy!

2. In desperation, I actually went out and bought a Neti Pot yesterday. And then I went home and used it.

3. I am actually considering calling my doctor, Dr. "No-Antibiotics-For-You", to see if there isn't something, anything, he can prescribe to ease the sinus headache. Because one of these coughs, my head is going to explode.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Vertical Limit

Two of my neighbors, a couple of doors down on either side, have dogs which they keep in fenced yards. Dogs who were extremely fond of treeing The Runt in his kittenhood before he learned to stay out of their spaces.

Now the cats are enjoying a new pastime: Teasing the dogs. They'll park their little cat butts several feet outside of the dogs' fenced yards and watch the dogs go wild trying to get to them. I've done everything I can to discourage them, telling them that it's cruel; that it's all fun and games until somebody blah blah blah, but do they listen to me? Noooooooo. Probably because they don't understand human language, but still.

The other night the inevitable happened. I looked out the kitchen door to see the cats frantically flying across the back yard, followed extremely closely by the neighbor's enormous Chow mix. This dog is HUGE, and while I'm sure he's a giant teddy bear, he is extremely intimidating. I mean, when this dog growls, the freakin' ground trembles. The cats had evidently teased him past his breaking point, and he had either jumped over or busted through his fence, and was now determined to get those damned cats once and for all. Folks, he was so intent on the chase, I later found divot marks in the back yard where he had dug in his paws to get better traction.

I flung the door open and started calling, hoping the cats could get in the door and I could get it shut before the dog caught up. Little Girl came tearing up the stairs and streaked through the door, at which point she flopped onto the kitchen floor as if to say, "Whew! Safe!" I turned around to see The Runt coming up over the deck railing.

I live on the second floor. The deck is on the second floor. The deck railing is on the second floor. From doing a little forensic reconstruction after things had calmed down, I discovered that The Runt, evidently figuring that he couldn't make it to the stairs before the Chow got him, had flung himself onto the wooden shed door underneath the deck, caught the top of the shed door frame (eight feet up) with his claws, scrabbled onto the bottom deck rail (nine feet up), and then propelled himself over the top deck railing (twelve feet up). This cat, who is maybe a foot long, managed to vertically hurl himself eight feet to the top of the shed door and then scrabble the rest of the way.

My old, beloved cat Rocky used to do this in reverse; if someone startled him while he was on the deck, he'd leap to the ground below. But I never even imagined that a cat could make a trip back up.

Hopefully, they've learned their lesson. - that dogs will break through fences if you enrage them enough. And if somebody ever starts up a cat Olympics, I've got a contestant for the high jump.


Those out-of-focus green things you see in the foreground of this pic are daylilies poking up through the ground in my backyard. Usually the bleeding heart is the first thing up, followed by the crocuses, but this year the daylilies, like the spring, would not be denied.

And I already felt queasy to begin with

Have you ever come across a word you did not know, looked it up, and then was sorry you did? I was reading a book (My Own Country by Abraham Verghese - very interesting) and came across the word "hemicorporectomy".

I am telling you this as a favor - DO NOT look that word up. For the love of Pete, just trust me on this one. You don't want to know what it means.

You're welcome.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cold from Hell: Day 8

The Cold from Hell continues to throw interesting things my way. The Sudafed, which previously had me wired up like a crackhead, is now making me slleeeeeepppppyyy. Which pretty much sucks, seeing as how I'm at work, and as much as I would like to just put my head down on my desk like a little kid, I'm not sure the Boss would appreciate it.

Oh, and I just went to make a cup of coffee, in a desperate bid to maintain consciousness, and all of a sudden I got so dizzy I had to grab onto the counter to keep from keeling over. I'm guessing that this has something to do with the fact that my sinuses, hell, my entire head, feels like it's filled with concrete. I mean, seriously, every time I try to take a breath something deep inside my head squeaks, like it's saying, "Get the hell out of here, you damn air! Can't you tell there's no room in here?!"

Teh awesome!

......... survey SAYS!*.....

..... water pump, for $274.26.

And it turns out I narrowly averted disaster on this one, as everyone has been eager to tell me after the diagnosis. It seems that when the coming-unmoored water pump pulley (so that was the metallic clashing noise. Huh.) finally slips its surly bonds, the very least that happens is you end up on the side of the road with an overheated engine. And if the pulley is, well, enthusiastic and decides to clang around a bit in your engine compartment after breaking free, you can be well and truly screwed.

Lesson learned.

*Family Feud. And don't even try to tell me that you didn't watch it too, back in the day.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Oh, and I sure hope the mechanic takes Visa .....

...... because I just opened up my checkbook to discover that I have no checks. None. I mean, I HAVE some, but they are at home, where I am not, and I cannot go get them because the car is at the mechanic's. And I imagine I will actually have to PAY said mechanic before he lets me take my car. To go get some checks.


But! To distract me from the Cold from Hell, let's play a rousing round of Automotive Diagnostics! A few days (okay, okay, maybe a couple of weeks) ago, my car started sounding, well ........ LOUDER. I'd start it up in the morning, and instead of a nice, quiet, car-running-normally sound, it was all, ROWWRRRRRRRRRR. You know, like when a kid revs the engine of his parents' car. My car was running fine, no check-engine light, no nothing, it was just, well, LOUDER. And the LOUD sounded a leeetttle, well, metallic. Like steel gears crashing, underneath the LOUD.

And at this point you're like, wait a minute, she waited how long before taking the car into the shop?! In my defense (because I always have a defense), I once had an old Ford Escort that made exactly the same noise for a good two months before the exhaust system finally crashed to the ground one fine day. So when the Saturn started making this noise, I figure, well, it's the exhaust system, it's about to fall off, and I've got about two months. So ACTUALLY, I was way AHEAD of schedule by taking it in after only a couple of weeks.

And now! The car is at the garage! Is it the exhaust system? Is it something else entirely? Is it all in my head, and the mechanic will call and say, "Sorry, crazy lady, we couldn't find a thing wrong with it."? (Oh, and if I had a dime for every time THAT'S happened .............)

Stay tuned! Dun dun DUNNNNNNNN............

I feel shitty, oh so shitty ............

Day 7 of the Cold from Hell. The cold meds are leaving me with the attention span of a gnat and the constitution of the loser of the hot-dog eating contest, but I'll be back as soon as I can with exciting news about The Runt's attempt to make the cat Olympics. Oh, and the car's in the garage with a mysterious Noise of Unknown Origin, so that oughta be interesting .....

Back soon. Thank you for your patience.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hell, just give me the gun .......

...... and I'll do it myself.

We are on Day 6 now of the Cold from Hell. I started feeling punky last Thursday and it spiraled down from there. I've taken enough Sudafed to power a nuclear reactor (am I the only one who gets jittery on Sudafed? It's like a serious caffeine buzz on top of your illness, which is not awesome, but it's the only thing that'll cut the symptoms for me) and still I am sick as a damn dog. I'm pretty healthy in general and usually only get SICK-sick once every few years, so you'd better believe the drama is cranked full blast. Woooooe is meeeeee.

The only thing that really makes me feel better when I am sick is chocolate milk, which is pretty odd, because I usually don't drink milk at all. But anyway, chocolate milk it is, and imagine my displeasure this morning when I opened up a carton, took a great big swig, and discovered that the milk was SOUR. Oh yeah, drinking sour damn milk when you're already sick is a ticket to hell, for sure.

Back soon, unless this damn cold actually KILLS me, in which case it's been nice knowin' ya.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Oh, just shoot me now

I've got a rotten, lousy, soul-sucking cold.

Excuse me while I go cough. and sneeze. and whhiiiinnnnnnnne.

Friday, March 06, 2009

I don't even pretend to understand this stuff

My house-hunting continues. At this point, I've basically looked at everything in my price range that I'd even consider living in (and a lot of stuff I wouldn't consider living in - as my Realtor cheerfully puts it, "You're looking for the top of the bottom!"), and now I'm just waiting for new stuff to come on the market.

Amazingly, some of the shitholes that I've looked at and laughed at have already sold. I mean, really! I wish I could somehow call up the buyers and ask, "What are you thinking?! Do you have ANY IDEA how much it's going to cost to replace that foundation?!" Everybody's gotta live someplace, I guess.

There was one property I had my eye on that was out in the country, but still close enough to work. It had two acres (yessssss) of land, a great big garage, beautiful views, and ....... a single-wide mobile home. At first I was all, like, "ahhahahahaNO. I've lived in a trailer before, and I'm not gonna do it again." But the price was so damn low that I started thinking, well, maybe I could buy it, and put up a stick-built (traditional, non-TRAILER) home in a few years. This property had been on the market before, had had one contract fall through, and was now on the market again. I called my mortgage broker, who informed me that I would not be able to get a reasonable-interest-rate mortgage on a single-wide. (I have no idea why; maybe because trailers tend to, well, blow over and catch fire and stuff?) That's okay, I thought, it was probably a bone-headed idea anyway, and put it out of my mind.

I subscribe to an automated-listing thingie that notifies me whenever new stuff in my price range comes on the market. It also lets me know when a listing has changed. And yesterday morning, it let me know that the listing on the trailer property had changed. Hmmm, I wondered, maybe they've dropped the price even lower? Or maybe it sold .............. I clicked on the listing, and the seller had RAISED the price. By almost TWENTY PERCENT.

Whaaaaa? You've got a property that hasn't sold, that no one can even get a MORTGAGE on, for Pete's sake, and now you're raising the price?

I would love to know the story behind this, because it's gotta be a good one. The only thing that I can possibly think of is that gas companies have been doing a lot of prospecting and buying up of gas rights in this area over the past couple of years; maybe the seller found out the gas rights to his land were worth something. I can't think of another reason to raise the price .....

Thursday, March 05, 2009

American Idol

I'm not really watching this season, really I'm not, mainly because if I have to sit through one more lip-synched, atrociously-choreographed "group number" I'm going to hurl, but still, the show is often on while I'm doing other stuff. A couple of thoughts:

Why do the judges offer a suggestion on how to improve to someone, and then when that person actually takes their advice, they knock the person down AGAIN. I'm thinking of that Puerto Rican dude - they told him to lose the accent, he hired a dialogue coach and lost the damn accent, and then they slammed him for getting rid of the accent. WTF? Maybe I got it wrong, because like I said, I'm really not paying attention, but it seems like that's what happened.

Is that flaming gay guy gone yet? I have absolutely nothing against gay people, but holy shit, that guy gets on my nerves.

How much longer is this show going to drag on? There's a limit to how much televised karaoke anybody can take. Oh, right, Rocky, CHANGE THE CHANNEL.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


I was inordinately excited this past weekend when I found a Hawaii quarter in my change, meaning that BOTH my state quarters maps are now all filled up! Yay! I DID it! And I didn't even cheat by asking at the bank if they had this quarter or that quarter. All my quarters came the old-fashioned way, in change I received.


Monday, March 02, 2009

World Tour of Local Diners

Every few weeks, my Mom and I go out to eat on Sunday afternoon. And because by noon on Sunday she's ready for lunch but I'm usually ready for breakfast, we go to a lot of diners (breakfast all day! Yay!). How to tell if it's a diner and not a restaurant: It has a counter with stools, in addition to table seating. You have to pay at the cashier's stand, not pay your waitress. Oh yeah, and they've gotta serve breakfast all day. A few that we've visited so far:

1. Parkway Diner. Also known as Brothers Diner; also known as Friends Diner. This place evidently changes hands quite a bit. This is probably our favorite. Eggs Benedict is one of the specials quite often, and it is here that I discovered the Monte Cristo sandwich. (Oh! Monte Cristo, I love you!) Service is fast; soda (and coffee, of course) refills are free, and prices are reasonable. We go here a lot.

2. Pete's Legacy Diner. Home of the absolutely fantastic-looking desserts - they've got the best display case in town. One of these days we're going to have to go and have dessert for lunch, because those high-rise meringue pies look really, really good. Good service, good prices - this place is always packed. Our second-favorite.

3. Take-a-Break - This is right next to Pete's. Duelling diners! Prices are good, but they were a little skimpy with the pastrami on my Reuben. For shame! Still, service was good and the place is clean, and they give free soda refills.

4. The Spot - This place is popular, but I'm not really sure why. It's huge and extremely noisy, and the service was just so-so, and the prices were on the high side for a diner.

5. The Skylark - Jeez, I remember going here with my friends after parties when I was a teenager. Service is kind of hit-or-miss and the booths are kind of cramped, but the food's pretty good. Plus, there's that nostalgia factor.

6. Red Robin - This is a local landmark. I'm not really sure why; we went at a usually busy time (Sunday-after-church time), and the place was deserted, they were out of the first thing I ordered, service was crappy, and the prices weren't great. Scratch this one off the list.

7. Park Diner - Another local landmark. Service was super-fast, the food was good, and the view (it's right on the river) was spectacular, but the prices were high. I guess you're paying for the view. Oh, and I did see my state Senator while we were there. Maybe that's included in the price.

8. Plaza Diner - This is a new one, located in a former Hooters restaurant. It's extremely popular (I snagged the last parking space in the large lot), but there wasn't much of a wait for a table. It's not a true diner, because there's no counter-with-stools, but the prices and the food are good. Soda refills are free. The tables/booths are kind of scrunched together, and it was pretty loud, so it's not really a place to go if you want to hang out and relax. Still, the pancake sandwich is worth coming back for.

9. Blue Dolphin - Pricey, and they stop serving breakfast at 12:30 on Sunday (boo! Hissssss!).
We probably won't go back.

So! That's where we've been so far. This area is pretty diner-heavy, so we've got a bunch to try out before we have to start driving very far. And right now I'm slavering over the thought of a pancake sandwich, or Eggs Benedict, or a Monte Cristo .............