23 September 2008

Eye Give Up

Apparently I am uber wealthy. Or at least that's what the sign above my head says. I mean, why else would the super-not-so-nice ladies at the eye doctors complex charge me $80 more than they promised my visit would cost? Are twenty dollar bills flying out of my pockets again without me noticing? (like that happened once, ha)

So if any of you out there in Internetland have ever had the joy of ticking the "Self Pay" box on the incredibly long information/insurance/please-sign-your-freedom-over-to-us waiver, you will totally know where I was at approximately 9:45am this morning. I have medical insurance - just not the fancy vision and dental kind. But try telling this to the soft-spoken woman behind the counter manning the clipboards. An eyebrow shoots up. She thinks, "Should I call security?" A distrusting glance is thrown my way. Then she points out the "Self Pay" option on my payment form.

Lady! Relax! Not only will I pay you at the end of this visit, the check will clear and you will have your money by the EOD. That's right! The end of day - as in TODAY!

Now for those of you who nodded your head at the shared memory of also ticking the "Self Pay" box, you will also know that doctors often over-charge insurance companies for everything. Like office visits. This is why it pays to let the kind (but usually not-so-kind) people (usually ladies) manning the reception desk that you do not have *insert specific type* insurance. Usually surrendering this information will lower the cost of your office visit. Unless you go to the blankety-blank eye doctor complex in my town. Then they will charge you more than they said over the phone when you made the appointment and even more than they said when you first signed in with the aforementioned receptionist.

And really, why shouldn't they charge you a small fortune for a nurse to do a full eye exam and a doctor smelling of exotic coffee to breeze in and out of your exam room? They've got a really posh building to pay for! And 47 magazine subscriptions to maintain! And fancy machines to do their work! And don't forget all of those beautiful clipboards! Someone has to pay for it all. And since I have money in offshore accounts that I didn't even know about, I might as well be the one to pony up a small fortune.

Oh well. At least I got new contacts.

22 September 2008

Yay for Autumn!

In honor of the first day of fall, I'm posting a blog entry from the blog I kept while living in Belfast last year.

Here's a tip for those travelling thru Ireland in autumn/fall: fall is not a season but a verb. (Evidence of this gorgeous season in the Mourne Mountains below)

17 September 2008

Meghan, This One's For You

My pal Meghan could be a superstar part-time casting director. She has spotted up-and-coming talent on everything from extras appearing on WB shows (ah, remember that network?), music videos and all kinds of other random places. Me, well I'm not so gifted at the spotting talent game. Until Adrien Brody, that is.

Once I was eating at a restaurant in Silverlake and I spotted Mr. Brody and his mom having dinner. This was pre-Pianist. As a fan of The Thin Red Line, I wanted so badly to go up to the table for two that Mr. Brody occupied and tell him what a fantastic job he did in that film. But I didn't. And then he won an Oscar and kissed Halle Berry.

I won't make that mistake again.

If I ever see Robert Pattinson eating at a restaurant in Silverlake, I will be sure to tell him that I thought he did a great job in Vanity Fair and in Harry Potter. I will tell him all of this because I predict once his little film called Twilight hits theaters in November, he will be a really huge star. Like Jonas Brothers big. I mention the Jonas Brothers because my Robert Pattinson is 22. And I'm - well I'm totally not 22 anymore. But sometimes if it's real dark I still get carded.

The long version of this clip made me laugh so hard because Mr. Pattinson seems very unaffected by Hollywood (pre-Twilight release, folks. Let's see how long that lasts). It is also very funny because it involves a very brave, perhaps very drunk, chick who was totally denied and now that moment lives forever in a little tmz.com video on the Internet. The long version of the clip lives here: http://www.tmz.com/2008/09/05/drunky-to-twilight-hunk-pucker-up-big-boy/

And here is the 14 second money shot:

11 September 2008

A Tourist Trap Worth Falling Into

OK, so this may sound so obvious as a destination for your future trip to Ireland ('cause I'm counting on your coming down with the emerald fever), but I have to give big, big props to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. It is - in a word - amazing.

The tour is self-guided and is spread over several floors of an old building probably once used for creating that delicious stuff the Irish sometimes call black gold. Once you have paid the 15 Euro fee (for adults), you follow the large black arrows into a dark room. It takes a moment for your eyes to adjust to the dim lights and for your senses to kick into overdrive as you wonder, "What is that smell? Is that a waterfall I hear?" That joyous smell is of barley, one of the four ingredients used to make Guinness. And yes, that is a waterfall you hear, sort of. It is a ginormous (I'm acting like that is a real word) display of water falling over a glass ceiling that you will walk under, my friend.

There are videos and loads of photos and old artifacts. An entire wing of an upper floor is devoted to old promotional items and adverts.

I save the best part of the tour for last, though. When you finish your leisurely and very educational tour of the Storehouse, you will take either a lift or a flight of stairs to the top of the building where you will be greeted by a FREE pint o' Guinness and this magnificent view:

The waterfall feature:

An old poster on display:

The grand finale:

Promise the next post related to Ireland will not be on the subject of beer or places where you can get beer. In the meantime, if you want to see more of the gorgeous Guinness Storehouse, go here: www.guinness-storehouse.com

09 September 2008

Keep Calm and Carry On

My head has been swirling with thoughts of places and people in the UK and Ireland lately, presumably in preparation for my trip at the end of the month.

I am including an image of this fantastic print created by a UK artist. The slogan serves me well on a daily basis.

The print is a reproduction of a poster produced by the UK ministry of information in 1939. The slogan also appears on T-shirts and bags created by this artist and all items are sold through an online shop.

You can find out more about the artist and the history of the poster here: http://www.keepcalmandcarryon.com/pages/history

07 September 2008

The Most Interesting Man in the World

With all of the mudslinging on TV lately, it is refreshing to spend time with someone as interesting as The Most Interesting Man in the World.

02 September 2008

A Pretty Fantastic Place To Lay Your Head

Hands down, my favourite place to stay in Ireland (Northern Ireland, to be exact) is a place called Clenaghans, located just outside of Belfast. If I didn't have an in with the owners of Clenaghans, there is no way I'd share this little secret with you.

It's a kickin' establishment with one of the best restaurants you've ever visited and 5 absolutely stunning self-service apartments. The small pub adjacent to the restaurant is exactly what you envision an Irish country pub to be: stone walls, corner fireplace burning peat, good banter and endless pints of beer. I honestly cannot praise this place enough to do it justice. Perhaps photos will help my cause?

View from the road

Kitchen & Sitting Area - Apartment 1

Outside View - Apartment 1

Upstairs Kitchen And Sitting Room - Apartment 2

Upstairs Sitting Area - Apartment 2

Oh who am I kidding. My words and these photos do no do this place justice. The remedy? Ring Ivan directly and book yourself a room. Tell him Elisabeth from Habitat sent you.


A Trip Bourdain Would Envy

Ok, so I know this isn't a travel blog but since I love to travel you are just gonna have to put up with my nonsense for a few weeks. Why? Because my rents gave me one freaking awesome gift for my 30th b-day. Folks, I'm headed back to Ireland for 2 blessed weeks and as a countdown to this momentous occasion, I will be dreaming about all of my favourite places in Ireland (North AND South!). Lucky for you, this dreaming will all take place here on the glorious World Wide Web.

I'm gathering some photos and info together as we speak (and avoiding my real work for a wee while) and will share these goodies with you soon.

As they say, watch this space. Preferably with a Guinness in hand.