Friday, February 20, 2015

Paris Part Deux


Paris day two started with a trip to the catacombs.  This is a highly rated tourist attraction which unfortunately means a long wait and it was a cold and dreary day.  My feel of being in an exotic far away world was ruined by the two hour wait with two young American girls in line behind me.  If I heard “I know right” or “OMG” one more time I was going to scream fermez votre bouche (shut your mouth)!   Thankfully I knew this expression well from my High School French Teacher.  I wanted to learn and practice my French but mostly just learned teenager talk and proper English due to the “please mind the gap between the train and the platform” recording which is transmitted over the speaker at every metro stop in proper Queens English of course.  In the end, the catacombs were just ok IMHO.  I would have liked a more adventurous illegal underground tour but I couldn’t find one.  What does one search for on the internet “illegal tours a la Paris”?  Besides, turning human bones into a tourist attraction seems wrong on so many levels.


Next thing I did was find the closest restaurant.  Unfortunately it was called The Americana or something like that but I was tired, cold and hungry and didn’t care.  A nice guy on his bicycle informed me I had to go inside if I wanted to order food and they only serve wine on the patio.  I was all prepared to figure out what I wanted to eat as I knew ‘poulet’ for chicken, ‘poisson’ for fish and ‘boeuf’ for beef, but the nice guy from the street actually came in to help me read the menu.  Now that was really sweet and one of many nice gestures I noticed that made me question the whole rude French thing I’d always heard.  Anyway, as the guy offered to help me I happened to notice the menu was in English so I thanked him but knew I could take it from there. 

The weather turned nice so I took out a bike from the Velib bike share which are located everywhere and did some biking around the city.  I love my sports and outdoors and this was much more pleasant than waiting in lines for junky tourist traps.  I biked to the Eiffel tower and by now the weather had turned almost perfect.  I just sat around eating my crepe and taking it all in.  That’s always such a nice experience to just be in the moment.  I must have looked like a Parisian since someone took my picture of me eating a crepe with my Velib bicycle and the tower.  I tried to dress like a Parisian which pretty much meant bland colors and somewhat conservative dressy clothes to me.  But it must have worked since they took my picture and I was asked on the subway for directions a few times and I was spoken to in French on a few occasions too.  I just think it would be funny if someone was showing off their ‘authentic’ Paris pictures and someone said hey that’s Catastrophe Cathy and she’s American. 

I was asked if I wanted to buy some Eiffel tower key chains at five for 1 Euro.  That took a few minutes and was pretty much the end of my gift shopping.  I typically don’t spend a lot of time shopping when I travel.  I sure hope the key chain recipients don’t read this …and if they do they remember “it’s the thought that counts”. 

As a side note, finding a bathroom is not easy in Paris.  Many establishments expect you to pay or be a customer.  There were some new public restrooms but they were perhaps the world’s most inefficient toilets serving maybe one person every few minutes. 

Cat “Bonne Nuit” Cathy



Monday, January 12, 2015

Paris in The The Spring!

My new year’s resolution was to start blogging again.  So I found my old half completed Paris blog and decided to complete it.  A year or so late but I still have fond memories of this adventure and I hope you enjoy it too!

I have lists of places I would like to travel but often I end up at a place I never intended just because someone invites me or the stars align or whatever.  Such is the case of my recent Paris trip.  I was invited by a Belgium Facebook friend to stay at her dorm in Paris.   She’s much younger than I am and I didn’t know her well since we’d just hung out a few times when she lived in Orlando the previous summer.  But I readily accepted her offer anticipating I’d do much of the exploring on my own since she would be busy with school and work.  This was a big step for me since I’d never traveled this far alone and especially not overseas to a different country when I really didn’t speak enough of the language to get by.  But it seemed like a fun adventure so c’est la vie!

I didn’t know much about Paris since the last time I was there was for a school trip in 1989.  So I did a bit of research for cell phones, ATMs, the Velib bike share program and many other things that didn’t even exist when I last traveled to the City of Lights.  I didn’t have much time to plan and I was nervous since I was traveling alone but everything went very smoothly.  I arrived at the Charles De Gaulle Airport, withdrew some euros from an airport ATM, purchased a sim card for my unlocked phone from an airport store and bought a carne of metro passes and one more expensive pass from the airport to downtown Paris.  All this took less than one hour.  (And it would be even easier today since my T-Mobile phone works in Paris without having to do anything. I love progress!)

My friend met me at the RER station and showed me my new home for the week.  I would be staying in her dorm room which was tiny even by my standards and I would also be sharing a kitchen.  After unpacking and catching up a bit with my friend, I ventured out alone to see what I could find.  I quickly rented a Velib bicycle from the Paris bike share program.  This was amazingly easy since I had already signed up for a one week membership prior to my travel.  I biked around my friend’s neighborhood and was amazed by the number of people and different ways to commute.  There were skaters, walkers, bikers, cars, scooters, a trolley and of course the metro with people coming and going all the time.  This was a big change from the much smaller city that I call home.

Seeing as I was still not recovered from travel and not familiar with the city I decided to eat a bit and call it an early day.  I found a pizza place and ate outside watching people go by.  I felt a bit lame getting pizza but I didn’t see any true French restaurants in the area and with my limited French speaking ability I chose a place where I could just point and sort of try to say the words best I could.  It was a delicious if not a typical French meal.  BTW I later discovered you don’t have to tip.  Tip and tax are already included in the price listed for a meal. You can leave a little extra if you like though. 

Day one was a “no big deal” day except for the excitement of this big adventure alone.  But travel days are never the highlight of the trip so stay tuned for my actual adventures in future blogs. 

Cat “Oh La La” Cathy


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Hodgepodge


I’ve decided to reduce my clutter. I’m not throwing out my clothes or my mountain bike or even my old dishes. In fact I’m not talking about my physical possessions at all. It’s the virtual clutter that’s been bothering me as of late. I receive hundreds of emails a day and there’s no way I can or want to read and process all of them. So recently I went through my emails and started hitting that magical unsubscribe button. It feels good and I’m sure it will be a time saver in the future!

I started with all my special deal sites. There was a time when I thought Groupon, and the plethora of other discount sites that followed, were perhaps the best ‘invention’ since the stand-up Jet Ski (that’s high praise for me). But lately it seems they all offer the same junk that I don’t want. After all how many eyelash extensions and fitness classes does a girl need? The time I save not going through these countless voluntary advertisements will be worth the extra ten bucks it costs me every now and again.

After the deal sites I started targeting other regular emails. Somehow I was on a kickball email distribution list. I remember attending one game and being bored out of my mind so I had no intentions of going back. So bam that one’s gone and I can feel more weight lifted off my shoulders!

Next up was my Meetup.com emails. I’m a member of about 20 meetup groups and I only attend about one meetup per month. I don’t need to see what every group is offering every day. I guess this would be neat if I was some kind of control freak but alas I am not. If I have time I will go to the site to see what’s going on. If I’m busy then I don’t need to know. Ahhh more relief!

The unsubscribe process was basically easy and quick. For most emails you click on ‘unsubscribe’ and maybe ‘yes’ to verify and your work is done. This seems logical and acceptable. But then there are some that made me log in and then change user preferences. These really annoyed me. Chances are that if I don’t want your emails I don’t remember my password or even my user name. For these it was a bit more work but still worth it. And where possible I added a sweet little note about their annoying process.

From the outside my life may look the same but I feel a sense of ease knowing I will receive just a few emails per day. Perhaps someday this will make me feel lonely and not popular… but I doubt it.

Cat “Stay Subscibed to my Blog” Cathy

Friday, December 28, 2012

Salt Life





I recently purchased a Groupon for the Salt Room in Orlando. This is a place where you breathe in salt and it’s supposed to be good for your health. Basically you just sit in the room so you can breathe deep, read or nap. This seems ironic since I’ve always heard that salt is bad for your diet but apparently it doesn’t mess with your blood pressure when you just breathe it in. Anyway I love saving money, trying natural health cures and anything new so this was the perfect trifecta for me to try the salt room.



The staff is nice and professional if a little on the robotic side. The room holds up to 7 people and there’s calming music playing and the lights are turned down low during your 45 minute session. This place really helped me relax and put me in my happy place and I had some great naps here too. Only once in a while did I have someone in the room who was coughing which unsettled the hypochondriac in me and ruined my Zen experience.



I signed up for an unlimited month and went about 20 times. I actually felt worse after my first session but I thought maybe it was one of those ‘feel worse before better’ type of things. I could breathe better after my session I think but it wasn’t much of a difference. After a month of going I don’t really notice any improvement in my overall health and wellbeing. I’ve heard others talk about miracle cures for their COPD, allergies, asthma, bunions, etc. But it was a ‘no go’ for me except for a relaxing experience with some nice people who maybe shouldn’t share their medical problems so readily.



My recommendation is to try it if you think it could help your issues but wait for a special. The regular price of $45 for one 45 minute session is ridiculous! For that price I could pay for gas and tolls to the beach to breath in the beach salt spray and even include lunch and some lottery tickets just for fun! Even the one time special of $20 for 45 minutes seemed like too much. After all it’s just a room with salt blowing in the air. How much could that possibly cost to run?



I recommend drinking lots of water since the sessions tend to make you dehydrated. I’d also recommend the place have another restroom since there always seems to be a line. And finally I recommend reading Men’s Journal as it was the best magazine there.



Cat “NaCl” Cathy

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What’s Up? I SUP!



I added a new acronym and new sport to my already overflowing list …ISUP. It stands for Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard. If you go to almost any lake (in Florida at least) you will see people standing on oversized surfboards in the water. I’m not sure what the appeal is for paddle boarding. Maybe it’s just trendy and we will laugh about it in a few years. Maybe it’s the almost Jesus like feel of standing on the water. Perhaps it’s the attention you get since standing on the water makes you very visible. Or maybe it’s just a good excuse to be outdoors and on the water.


Many people know about the hard boards but don’t seem to know there is an inflatable option. If you are considering the two some of the benefits of an inflatable are ease of transport and less storage area. Some of the supposed negatives are the board is slower and less responsive but I didn’t have any issue with this. I am not out there to go fast, I just want to enjoy nature and I really didn’t notice any difference in speed anyway. For me it was an inflatable or no board at all due to my small apartment and I am happy with my choice.


I’ve used my board three times already. I’ve done yoga on my board, paddled in the gulf and most recently even had a rescue mission. I showed up at a local lake and a sit down Jet Ski was stuck in the middle of the lake with two guys. One didn’t want to get in the water and the other was having trouble trying to swim to shore with the Jet Ski. I told their friends half joking that I could rescue them in about 10 minutes and began to pump up my board. When I finished inflating the Jet Ski was still near the middle of the lake so I paddled over to them and offered to paddle them in if they held on to the back of my board. Talk about a good workout while I boarded (sitting of course) and pulled a jet ski and two men. But it worked and they were safely to shore and I was the heroin of the day! They promised to post nice things about me in their Facebook status and I asked to be referred to as “an angel named Cathy”. Plus they even tried to give me money which was sweet but totally unnecessary so my friend just told them to pay it forward. This is always a great idea I think.


So far I’ve enjoyed my ISUP but I’m still not sure it will have staying power. It gives me a reason to go to the lake and read and relax and watch the sunset. It feels like a mini vacation and as a benefit I get a little exercise and stretching thrown in. Only time will tell if it endures. If not I still have at least nine other sports to keep me entertained.


Cat “De Cath Lon” Cathy



Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fifty Shades of Stupdity

I just finished reading Fifty Shades of Grey and I feel like a book review is in order. In short this book sucked….and I don’t mean that in the biblical sense. It seems the author (or publisher) had a good marketing scheme but not very good writing skills. I noticed several grammatical errors. While I’m sure I have errors in my blog as well, I expect slightly higher standards from a book that’s netted millions of dollars. It always amazes me when stupid things go viral. I guess this happens in our internet age but it seems sad that the best marketer wins out and not the best product. I refuse to believe this is the best erotic love story book on the market.

And why does the story suck you might ask? Well first the story just seemed too fake. I guess we read fiction to find escape but this was really out there. Little virgin Ana goes from having no man she’s ever been interested in and hardly kissed to a sex goddess who can have sex practically hundreds of times a day with no pain and no problems climaxing. Of course he was perfectly timed to finish with her or just after her. I swear if I read ‘finding his release’ or ‘empties himself’ one more time I was going to puke.

And while I’m at it, exactly where is ‘my sex’? I lost count of the number of times ‘my sex’ was mentioned in the book. Now I’ve heard of ‘sex’ used as a verb and to describe a male or female but never as a part of a woman’s anatomy. I tried to Google since I think this was an old expression but I learned quickly that putting ‘my sex’ in a search will result in many unwanted sites.

Friends who have read the book say they enjoyed the unconditional love and what a woman is willing to do for the man she loves. Unconditional hardly seems appropriate to me. Sure he’s a sadist and Ana is trying to meet his needs in that way but his money and gorgeous looks (which the author mentions every other sentence) make it hardly unconditional. It’s not like she fell in love with a fat, smelly, ugly street bum who also wanted to tie her up and smack her. Now that I would consider unconditional.

As a side note, I noticed a strange resemblance to the Twilight series. So I Googled yet again. I had much better results with this Google search and I found out the author was a fan and there is a resemblance. Personally, I’ve decided I prefer vampires over S & M men.


All this reminded me of a hash song (to the tune of The Candy Man):

Who can take his bicycle,
Take away the seat,
Put his girlfriend on it,
Ride her down a bumby street?
The S&M Man.
The S&M Man.
The S&M Man because he mixes it with love
And makes the hurt feel good.
Yes the hurt feel good!


Cat “Guilty Displeasure” Cathy

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Balloon Girl Returns

"Faster than a wobbly grocery cart, more powerful than a feisty chiwawa, able to leap low track hurdle in a single bound."

"Look, up at the Plaza!"
"It's a bird."
"It's a plane".
"It's Balloon Girl!"

"Yes, it's Balloon Girl! Strange visitor from a dumpy apartment who came to the show with powers and abilities far beyond those of non inflated people. Balloon Girl, who can change the course of blimps, twist balloons with her bare hands, and who, disguised as Catastrophe Cathy, mild-mannered engineer and blogger, fights a never-ending battle for fun, silliness, and cool costumes."

Last Friday was the release of comic book #1 for Beebs and Her Money Makers featuring …Balloon Girl Girl Girl Girl (gotta love that echo). All the big names in super hero show business were there walking the red carpet. First Super Skunk Man arrived and stunk up the place. His superpowers include the expected nasty fumes, great artwork and a fatal attraction to cats. Then big hair man arrived. Boy I’d hate to be his stylist. Of course Balloon Girl showed up wearing her superhero garb fresh from Stark Enterprises. This year she wore blue and periwinkle since pink and purple are so last season. Typically Balloon Girl would fly down the red carpet using the helium in her cape but due to the helium shortage she just casually strolled in. Thankfully Balloon Girl’s arch nemesis Pin Man (who looks surprisingly like Pinhead in Hellraiser) didn’t show up. Although another nemesis Smoking Man was around and dangerously close at times…

Balloon girl had a fun night and enjoyed a great show. The music rocked and the Bee Gees’ cover was amazing. So keep your eye out for the big ‘B’ in the sky. Either there’s trouble brewing and Balloon Girl is needed or Beebs and her Money Makers are playing! Cat “Over Inflated Ego” Cathy