What I did on my Summer Vacation (eat)

What to blog, what to blog, what to blog.

I’m not sure, I just know that I want to start making it a regular habit, again.

Need ideas.

Manny is hip to my blog (or lack thereof) and saves all his cute and funny activities for when I am not home. I’m convinced. He can't be sleeping all that time. Or maybe he can be.

I guess I can tell you about what I did on my summer vacation! The Husband and I did some long weekend trips to Philadelphia; Chicago; D.C.; and Lake George, NY.

When in Philly, my trip wouldn’t be complete until I had a Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich from both Pat’s and Geno’s.

In Chicago, I HAD to have a Chicago hot dog and deep dish pizza from Pizzeria Uno. One slice of the deep dish pizza just about stopped my heart, but it was really gooooood. Not NY good, but good.

If I found myself in your neck of the woods, what would be -the- must have food I would have to eat or my trip would be deemed incomplete?

Don’t be shy.


New Directions.

Sometimes, in life, things unexpectedly change. You can be headed down one path, blissfully happy with the direction you’re headed in, when BAM! Out of left field, and in my case, on the most gorgeous April day, you’re blindsided, and left spinning in circles. When you finally stop spinning, you realize you’re on a completely different path, blindly feeling you’re way towards a different direction. You feel uncertain about this new direction and maybe shell shocked. If you’re lucky, you’ll have friends and family help push you along as you figure out this totally unplanned route. Some days you move forward, some days you take a few steps back, but one thing is for certain, you learn to adjust whether you like it or not.

I’m not going to get into details or explain the above further. The Husband, Manny and I are on a different path. Thankfully, were on this different path together and at the end of the day, what more can you really ask for.

I haven’t written here in a really long time, and I thought maybe I was done. Until someone reached out and whispered, “I miss you…” (cough, Helen, cough) So here I am, thinking of something humorous to share.


And what can be more humorous than the NYC subway system. Well, I’m sure fellow New Yorkers would find a more…colorful…word to describe it, but let’s go with humorous for now.

Up until last Tuesday, it hadn’t rained in my neck of the woods for three weeks. Then, one day. The Heavens opened up and it rained for most of the day. The rain drove the subway system into a complete tailspin causing delays the next morning due to flooding, signal problems, and whatever else. So, of course all this happens at the height of rush hour in the morning. There is nothing more frustrating than sitting on a subway car that’s not in any rush to get anywhere. The conductor made an announcement that because of train traffic (mmmm hmmm) we would be delayed, BUT, no fear! The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will now generate excuse notes for your inevitable lateness at your request! They will even send it via email to the supervisor of your choice.


Of course I had to go on the MTA website and check this out myself. So, I finally found a form and began filling it out. The form took me longer to fill out than the actual subway delay, but I persevered. There was a box on the form that said reason for delay. Oh boy. My initial thought was to write the following:

Well, MTA. The delay was because of a natural Act of God, called rain. It rained a total of 0.0002 inches for the entire month of June and half of July combined and the minute it does rain, -- and we are by no means talking about rain so bad we started building an ark, just so we’re clear - the subway system ceases to run. Flooding in the stations caused delays. Signal failure caused even more delays (by the way, MTA, I’m on to you….I know signal failure is MTA speak for who the F knows why we are running late today but lets just tell those poor saps something).

But I had a limited amount of space to describe said delays, so I simply put, subway delays due to rain. So, now that I filled out the form and gave all the pertinent information, I’m supposed to have an excuse note direct from the MTA.

I’m hoping the excuse note reads:

Please excuse my passenger, Gina A------, for being late. We suck.
the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

See? Humorous.


What Does Not Destroy Me...

Yesterday as I got close to the Times Square subway station, I pulled out my MetroCard and on the back of it I noticed the following quote:

Train of Thought: What does not destroy me, makes me stronger. (Friedrich
Nietzsche 1844-1900).

Now, I have heard this quote a billion times before, but seeing it on the back of a Metro*Card (or as I like to call it, my train ticket to Hell) reeked of pure irony. My daily commute to and from the office on the subway is filled with enough things that's probably making me stronger. Or at the very least, a more tougher, jaded commuter. I present you a list of said things in bullet format:

· Every day, at this one station where I transfer to another train, hoards of people REFUSE to step aside and let the passengers off the train. Instead, these hoards of people try to squeeze their way onto the train before letting anyone out. A huge pet peeve of mine and a subway rider no-no. You basically have to sharpen your elbows if you want to make it out alive. What does not destroy me, makes me stronger.

· If you time it just right, you can be the only person trying to make your way down the stairs while throngs of people are stampeding up the stairs. What does not destroy me, makes me stronger.

· Things are always frenetic in and around subway stations - especially high traffic stations. Stations are filled with people whizzing by; tourists scratching their heads; and people beating on drums; playing pan flutes and break dancing all for some loose change or a dollar if they’re lucky. It's always noisy no matter what time of day. What does not destroy me, makes me stronger.

· Subway doors are unforgiving. They will close on you whether or not you, your limbs, or your personal property are on the other side of the doors. The Husband and I have been separated many times because he is able to jam himself inside while the doors snap shut in my face. The rule is, if one makes it on without the other, they get to feed Manny his Fancy Feast. What does not destroy me, makes me stronger.

· The 7 train is notorious for too small seats. Unless you’re built like a pipe cleaner, if you want a seat, you’ll have to wedge yourself in between two people. One of which is probably a guy who has to sit with his legs wide open. What does not destroy me, makes me stronger.

OK, that’s enough for now, I don’t want to scare my out-of-state readers from ever coming to the Big Apple or deter anyone from using our transit system. The MTA is already in a budget crisis, so we need all the dollars we can get. I just love how poetic my Metro*Card is this month.

I can’t wait to see what other quotes land on my $89 a month unlimited Metro*Card. . .


New Twitter Name...

I interrupt this blog for a brief public service annoucement...

My new twitter name has changed from ginabeana to cassalvarez. Follow Me. Please. It's lonely over at my new account. : )

We will now continue with manohmanny already in progress.



So I’ve been doing some thinking about this little blog of mine. I miss blogging, but I feel like all the Manny stories I have is a repeat of something I have already posted. So, time for a lil reinvention. Nothing drastic. In addition to writing about Manny, I think I will include more posts about me and my daily adventures. I live in the boroughs of NYC. I see crazy happenings all the time – I should be able to find something in my day to write about. Let’s call it a switch from a blog about my cat to a “life blog” as Kim would call it. Speaking of Kim, she’s having a Homemade Holiday Sweets Giveaway over at her blog. Even though it will lessen my chances of winning, I encourage you to enter. I’ve been on the receiving end of her homemade goodies and they are seriously. good.

See? Goood Stuff.

And not to exclude Manny, I caught Manny picking out my Christmas gift the other day.

Uh huh. The boy's got good taste.


Dear Manny,

Dear Manny,

I heart you Manny, I really do. You are a big mush when you want to be and your grooming habits are impeccable. You are a connoisseur of kicking back and you come when you’re called – how could a person not love that?! I love how you show me your belly when I get home from work. It's OK that you showing me your belly leads to rabbit kicks to my arms. I don’t mind your mood swings or the occasional hair balls you leave on the floor for my bare feet to find (OK, maybe I mind a little). I don’t even mind your cries for food every time I walk in the kitchen. But I have something to tell you, sweet Manny. I need to get this off of my chest:

I have a crush! It’s true – I can’t help it! I didn't want it to happen. I don't even know when it happened. It wasn't planned. Although miles and miles separate my crush and me (how far is it from NYC to Chicago?) – I still can’t help oohing and awing over him. I can’t help staring at his pictures or giggling at his you tube videos. Siiiigh.

He’s just so different from you. He’s dark; he loves going for walks; doesn’t mind a little vacuuming; and takes lounging to a whole new level. A seriously whole new level. I’m not saying he’s better than you, just different. His name? Data. Yes, he’s a cat.

Alas, he belongs to Kim, but I can’t help loving him, too. Click on the links, you'll see what I mean.

don't worry -you'll always be my Mannicotti Biscotti.



This blog inspired by Kim's blog post entitled, How to Make Your Cat Jealous.



But we already knew that.

Manny pulls out the high-pitched cry talked about in the below article when he hears anything remotely similar to a can opener or when he's ready for us to go to bed. Feel free to discuss your thoughts on article. Does your cat own you?


If you've ever wondered who's in control, you or your cat, a new study points to the obvious. It's your cat.

Household cats exercise this control with a certain type of urgent-sounding, high-pitched meow, according to the findings.

This meow is actually a purr mixed with a high-pitched cry. While people usually think of cat purring as a sign of happiness, some cats make this purr-cry sound when they want to be fed. The study showed that humans find these mixed calls annoying and difficult to ignore.

"The embedding of a cry within a call that we normally associate with contentment is quite a subtle means of eliciting a response," said Karen McComb of the University of Sussex. "Solicitation purring is probably more acceptable to humans than overt meowing, which is likely to get cats ejected from the bedroom."

They know us

Previous research has shown similarities between cat cries and human infant cries.
McComb suggests that the purr-cry may subtly take advantage of humans' sensitivity to cries they associate with nurturing offspring. Also, including the cry within the purr could make the sound "less harmonic and thus more difficult to habituate to," she said.

McComb got the idea for the study from her experience with her own cat, who would consistently wake her up in the mornings with a very insistent purr. After speaking with other cat owners, she learned that some of their cats also made the same type of call. As a scientist who studies vocal communication in mammals, she decided to investigate the manipulative meow.

Tough to test

Setting up the experiments wasn't easy. While the felines used purr-cries around their familiar owners, they were not eager to make the same cries in front of strangers. So McComb and her team trained cat owners to record their pets' cries - capturing the sounds made by cats when they were seeking food and when they were not. In all, the team collected recordings from 10 different cats.

The researchers then played the cries back for 50 human participants, not all of whom owned cats. They found that humans, even if they had never had a cat themselves, judged the purrs recorded while cats were actively seeking food - the purrs with an embedded, high-pitched cry - as more urgent and less pleasant than those made in other contexts.

When the team re-synthesised the recorded purrs to remove the embedded cry, leaving all else unchanged, the human subjects' urgency ratings for those calls decreased significantly.
McComb said she thinks this cry occurs at a low level in cats' normal purring, "but we think that cats learn to dramatically exaggerate it when it proves effective in generating a response from humans." In fact, not all cats use this form of purring at all, she said, noting that it seems to most often develop in cats that have a one-on-one relationship with their owners rather than those living in large households, where their purrs might be overlooked.

The results were published in the July 14 issue of the journal Current Biology.