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That is the first name of a girl in New Zealand.

Yes. Her parents named her “Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii.”

I would write more, but, well, I think that pretty much sums it up!

Weekends like this last one are why summer is great. After my birthday party on Friday (which Drea, Tom, and Renata planned and executed superbly) we drove up to Ocean City, New Jersey to hang out with our friend Lammy for the weekend. The five of us (me, Drea, Tom, Renata, and baby Hayden) took off around midnight.

While I’ve made the drive by myself multiple times, I decided to let our trusty TomTom choose our route. We were never led astray, although it did feel like it a few times because the New Jersey highway system lacks the faintest hint of human logic or intelligence. If you don’t believe this, try exiting off the NJ Turnpike, and then try to get back on. (“Why can’t I make a U-turn? Or a left turn? What the devil is a jug-handle? Where the #%$@ are we?!”)

Anyway, Tom and I split the driving and we arrived at Lammy’s pimped-out beach house around 3:30. All of us married people enjoyed the reverse-novelty of sleeping in our own individual beds. (Not to worry – we all still love our respective spouses!)

The next day, we hung out at the beach. The weather couldn’t have been nicer; not too hot, a nice breeze, and the water wasn’t too cold. I used that new spray-on sunscreen, which apparently wasn’t up to the challenge of preventing my chest from absorbing so much sun that I was radiating heat by the end of the day. (OK, I also may have forgotten to reapply after swimming in the ocean. Big no-no for a pasty-pale guy like me!)

That night, we hit the boardwalk, gorging ourselves on ice cream, funnel cakes, and French fries. Tom (of course) entertained all of us by feeding a seagull from his bare hand. We took Hayden to the amusement park, and all six of us got on this old, creaking monorail ride that made you stare death in the face every time it made a turn. Good times.

The next morning, we rented bikes and had a great lunch at Kessel’s Korner. After saying goodbye to Lammy, we headed back home. New Jersey’s aforementioned road suckage turned our 3½-hour drive into about 6. But we all managed to stay in good spirits, even little Hayden, who is at that age where he talks all the time, but can’t put words together yet, resulting in those one-of-a-kind words like “aaiishasheesh!” or “whaddisheebay!” Pretty entertaining stuff.

We eventually gave up on getting home in time for our small group meeting, so we pulled off I-95 for a leisurely dinner at the Cracker Barrel (so good).

We got home quite a bit later than expected, but those long, traffic-congested car trips aren’t so bad when you’re with good friends. We had a fun time, and it was great to see Lammy. Vacations, even these little short ones, are the best.


Drea and I recently got a Netflix account to replace our Blockbuster membership. (Side note: Netflix freaking rocks. If you rent more than 2 movies a month, it’s a better deal than Blockbuster, and more convenient in my opinion.)

Anyhow, I added “The Station Agent” to our Netflix queue on account of glowing reviews from my parents, as well as from a friend of Drea’s. We weren’t disappointed.

“The Station Agent” follows a man, Fin, who inherits an abandoned train station in rural New Jersey. Fin, a dwarf who’s painfully accustomed to being the center of attention, moves into the train station, hoping for a life of solitude. However, his attempts at seclusion are countered by the eager befriending efforts of his new neighbors. While this is initially of great annoyance to him, he eventually lets his guard down enough to realize he may need some friends after all, and they might need him too.

Along the way, we catch a glimpse into life as a dwarf. Fin seems to understand that most people aren’t used to seeing people like him, but is still appalled at their lack of discretion when they do. He wonders why people treat him differently when he’s just “a simple, boring person.” He ironically becomes much more than that as he emerges as a hero.

Drea’s keen awareness of symbolism makes her a fun person to watch movies with. She shrewdly observed the signifigance of Fin’s train station home, and his role as the “station agent.” I took note of the movie’s setting in the real New Jersey town of Newfoundland. Symbolism or pure coincidence? Did the director actually consult a map and hand-pick a town based on the symbolic value of its name? I can’t decide.

It doesn’t matter. It was a fantastic movie regardless. While the outcome is somewhat predictable, it’s the character development, not plot twists, that makes it a great movie. I wish more independent-type films like this made it to the big screen. Maybe recent blockbusters like “Juno” and “Napoleon Dynamite” are a good sign.

In any case, rent “The Station Agent”. You’ll love it.

So, this is what I did to my car this morning on the way to work…

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Turns out I hit a guy at 75 mph as he was crossing Route 50. My bad. I would have stopped to help him, but I was running late, and I didn’t want the hassle of involving the cops, so I just took off. Hope he’s doing OK.

OK, I’m kidding. I wonder how many people actually believed that?

I did rear-end a guy who rear-ended the lady in front of him. Then the car behind me got rear-ended by the car behind him. A nice little 5-car chain reaction. Morning rush hour + Route 50 + DC/MD drivers = this crap happens all the time. I can’t count the number of times I’ve put the brake pedal to the floor to avoid hitting the person in front of me, especially (for some reason) on Rt. 50.

Since I turn the magic insurance age of 25 in two days, I was looking forward to lower rates. Well, I guess we can kiss that goodbye. :) But at least I’m OK and I have insurance to cover it in the first place.

In happier news, we’re both quite excited about our most recent purchase. Although it’s a bit of a short-term financial stretch, we bought it to advance Drea’s career and mine (more on this sometime later), and hopefully we’ll yield some decent returns out of it.

Exactly one month from today, Drea and I will be on a plane bound for Phoenix, the starting point of our 10-day vacation out west.

A month from tomorrow, we’ll be celebrating our one-year anniversary.

Oh yeah, and we’ll be at the Grand Canyon.

At sunset.

Pimpin’ ain’t easy!

Yesterday, I decided I would go to the pool. 2pm, prime sun, no screaming little kids and the pool to myself. A good plan. I packed up my towel, water and pool pass. Then I decided to scour the shelves for a good book. I stared at the shelf for 10 minutes. I don’t have anything to read!

Every summer, I’ve always had an extensive book list. Because of my lifeguarding job, I usually finished every book on the list. This summer, I didn’t make a list because I didn’t think I would need one. I was wrong. And now, I only have 2 books on the list.

What is What by Dave Eggers
Love is the Killer App by Tim Sanders

This is sad to me. Any suggestions for a good read? Please comment and leave your book recommendations, PLEASE!

We rarely stay up past 10:30. This weekend, we were up past 1. Hence the following conversation.

Me: You be the talk show host and I’ll be your guest.
Drew: Okay. Welcome to the Daily Show! Today’s guest is starring in her most current movie, “Why I Suck At Life”. Here’s a clip: Blahlalaahahblahblalala. Welcome Andrea Ackermann!

We cracked up for a good 10 minutes.