Another Awkward Week [8.16.13]

Good morning, buttercups! How's everyone doing on this fine Friday? I am gr8. I just need to power through a few quick hours at la oficina and then I'm on vacation for a full week! It is going to be glorious. Brian & I are headed down to PA for some time with my family and then taking a quick jaunt down to Virginia to hike in the Shenandoah National Forest. Oh and camp, too. In a tent. Something I haven't done since my girl scout days.

Brian & I knew our plan was some mountain hiking time and looked into staying in a few different lodges but decided to keep it thriftay and tent up in a campground. It's only three nights, how hard can it be? I just literally like three days ago realized that this could go horribly awry. It never occurred to me that it might like...rain. Every time I've pictured it in my head it is just sunny and beautiful and then just chilly enough at night to throw on a flannel for a campsite chic look butttt it may very well storm and drench all of our things and I don't know how far the bathroom is from our campsite and I'm fine with peeing outdoors but y'all know (farrrrr too well) how my stomach can sometimes rebel and I don't think I can do that outside.

So yeah, trip could be fantastic OR an epic, soggy, outdoor pooping disaster. Wish us luck!

Now without further ado, why don't we take a look at what was keeping it awkward this week:

This Devastating Mess:

sad soda

I managed to check off a number of my August Bucket List items in the past week, booyah! One such item was a long ass bike ride throughout NYC. For a few weeks in August, there is a program called Summer Streets, where what is essentially 4th Avenue in Manhattan is blocked off to car traffic from the Brooklyn Bridge all the way up to 72nd Street on the East Side. There are various vendors lining the sides plus lots of fun outdoorsy adventure opportunities - giant climbing wall in Soho, boot camp classes in Astor Place. It gets a little crowded but is a cool way to see the city via bike or foot. I think tomorrow is the last day so if you're in the NYC and looking for some fun, don't miss this!

We rode our bikes from our place, across the Manhattan Bridge (there was one moment ascending the bridge when I was certain that I was d-e-a-d donefor but I made it!), up the blocked off Summer Streets, across 72nd to the West Side Highway bike paths, down town, across the Brooklyn Bridge (do not attempt this, it is a death trap of human bodies) and back for a total journey of 21 miles. Pretty proud of myself if I can just quickly toot my own horn.

We stopped for a picnic lunch in Central Park in the middle of our journey and ALL I wanted, all I had been fantasizing about during all of this epic physical activity was a big ass Diet Coke. Preferably from a fountain. When I spotted a Subway Sandwich Emporium it was like the gates of heaven had been opened before me. I filled my cup to the brim with ice cubes and delicious, fizzy, soul nourishing DC, took one sip, walked out the door and dropped my soda on the ground.

Whomp WHOMP.

I know they say it's no use crying over spilled milk but spilled Diet Coke? Totally acceptable.

These Sunglasses:

sunnies

 Also on the summer list: a visit to the beach. Sunday was the most gorgeous day, so Brian & I made the trip out to The Rockaways for a little surf, sun and sand. And seaweed. It's a great beach, free, with fantastic boardwalk dining options and easily accessible, clean public restrooms and they're doing a ton to restore post Sandy damage so I don't want to give them a bad rap but on this particular Sunday afternoon the sea was so weedy the ocean was probably more greenery than water. It was gross. It was like swimming through a bowl of miso soup. Minus the tofu. Gross.

But still: Great beach, accessible via public transit so highly recommended to all my NYC peeps. I'm a regular NYC tour guide this week!

Anyway, I'd somehow managed to lose my sunglasses sometime the previous week so in a pinch ran to the dollar store on my street for a cheap, quick fit. All sunglasses look ridiculous on me because I have a toddler sized head, so I figured I'd just embrace it and go full absurd with the cheesiest sunnies they had for sale.

And there they are. Looking pretttttty fly, if I do say so myself.

This Sunburn:

wrist

And, as always, nailed it in the sunscreen department.

This Scene:

shakespeare

Another summer/life bucket list item crossed off: Shakespeare in the Park. People line up for hours every summer to get free tickets to Shakespeare in the Park but I was able to get in easy peasy thanks to my company. We were one of the sponsors of the program and were also testing out a cute new book mobile to sell books prior to the show. I volunteered as a bookseller and snagged a ticket to the show after. Sah-weet.

I obviously had to instagram the occasion for posterity, in this "pics or it didn't happen" world of ours, but was swiftly scolded by an usher the second I took out my phone: "No photos allowed!"

I tried to be rebellious and snap a shot when she had a her back turned but chickened out and did it all too fast and viola: here's my photographic evidence. I'd say this one is a framer.

And finally:

This Foot:

sleeping foot

It's mine. Shoes by target, nail polish Sally Hansen, skin & bones: God and/or science.

This is not a summer bucket list item, instead a recurring problemo. I always sit really pretzelly at my desk with one of my feet up under me or crossed over the other or in some other weird position which causes one of my feet to fall asleep and then when I stand up, I can't walk for several minutes. I'll get up and have to limp to the printer or hop on one foot to get my snack or sometimes just stand up and fall right over in front of my desk or the very worst: make it a few steps out of my office before stumbling in the hall, where everyone can see.

It is REALLY embarrassing and happens probably 3 x a week. I understand this might be a problem (I've obviously searched WebMD rigorously for "frequent foot sleeping + cancer = death?") but I can not seem to sit like a normal person.

Does this happen to anyone else?

Annnnd that's the week, kids. Short & simple. I'm now desperately craving fountain Diet Coke and it's 8:15 in the AM. Too soon?

Have a fantastic weekend and pray for sunshine over Virginia next week!

xo,

Liz Ho

Another Awkward Week [6.14.13]

Gooood morning! Listen, I know that nobody likes the person who complains about the weather all the time, but I'm just going to pop on my unlikeable hat and be that person for one hot second. And by hot second I mean cold, grey, rainy second because what. the. WHAT are you doing right now, Mother Nature? Is this all a practical joke? It's mid-June and we've had more 60 degree days than 80 and enough dreadful precipitation for twelve lifetimes. This isn't April, girlfriend. Step it up! My company is supposed to be doing this walk for charity today for this organization called Girls Write Now and I believe strongly in this organization and many generous friends and family donated and I'm so grateful...but the thought of traipsing along the Hudson River Path at 10 AM in the cold, blustery rain is...unappealing. I mean, how important is literacy anyway? Not that important right? It's not like reading pays my bills or anything.

Ohhhhhh wait.

#Grrrrr

Anyway! Let's try to get positive, shall we? What's everyone up to this weekend? Don't forget that Sunday is Fathers' Day! Call your dads, kids.

I'm wishing a very happy Fathers' Day to all the Baby Daddies reading this. I hope you get all the grills and tools and red meat your manly hearts can handle! My relationship with my own father is complicated in a way that's too personal and delicate and serious to get into on this here blog about farts and food spills, but I feel like we are moving forward in a positive way, reminding me of the power of second chances and unconditional love. So wishing an especially happy Fathers' Day to my old (very old!) (just kidding, I'll be nice today) (you're only regular old) man.

And now, without further ado, why don't we take a look back at what was keeping it awkward this week.

This Frisbee:

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So let's just start this week at the very beginning, shall we? Sunday I was in the park, with George, which is what I call Brian when I'm feeling particularly Sondheimy, and we decided to toss the bee around. WELLLLL I don't know what happened, if like, my arm chemistry changed or something but I could not throw this stupid frisbee for the life of me. I've never been great at what you'd call 'hand-eye-coordination' or "athleticism' but I can throw a frisbee pretty well. Or at least OK. Let's go with OK. Until this week when I could not get the disc to leave my hand in a normal fashion. It's like it was glued to my hand or my arm lost the ability to properly release objects. I'd give it a toss and it would swerve to the right, then to the left, or just flop right in front of me. I threw it straight up in the air. Side to side. Basically anywhere but in the direction of my target. The more this went on the more self conscious I got and thus the worse I got at throwing until I somehow managed to tomahawk the frisbee straight down into the ground in front of me and just quit while I was ahead. And by ahead, I mean very, very behind.

We then sat down for a leisurely game of cards until I threw a dramatic tantrum when Brian had the audacity to question my authority on the rules of Rummy 500 and I self-diagnosed myself with a very dire condition known as Hangry which is when you are so hungry you become angry and fly off the handle for little to no reason.

For the record, I was, indeed, incorrect about the rules of Rummy 500, a fact which I conceded graciously...after stuffing my face with a burger.

That said, it might not have been pure Hanger poisoning my mood that afternoon. It miiiight have also been due to

This Sunburn:

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Yeah. Remember when I said I was "diligent about sunscreen?" Well, what I meant was that I am diligent about applying sunscreen to some portions of my body while leaving others entirely unexposed or even worse: splotchily covered.

I went to the park in shorts and a tank top and I started with the SPF, I did.

Face: check

Shoulders: check

Arms: check

Legs: check...minus

I just plain forgot to lotion up my bare legs, but did seem to possibly wipe my hands on them, leaving a delightful pattern. Let's take a closer look...

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here on my outer leg you'll notice a wavy pattern of white that I assume is from the swipe of my sunscreen covered fingers and what's this white blob, glowing in the middle of my thigh?

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It appears the very size and shape of a thumb.

Of which I would give two, way up, to this hack job of a skin safety course.

Monday it was raining and freezing, because when isn't it, these days, so I wore the loosest, softest pants I could find and at regular intervals throughout the day would shut my office door, pull down my pants, slather my legs with aloe and then sit there for a while, with my pants around my ankles, workin' away.

If you've ever thought "wow, email is so impersonal, you have no idea what the other person is doing, they could be pantsless." Wahellll my friends: I'm living proof that they probably are.

Later that night I returned to my palace and wrapped my charred stems in cool wet paper towels like a sad mummy.

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I can't wait for this to turn to tan so I can have brown spotted legs all summer.

S to the E to the X-X-Y.

Then next morning I made...

This Smoothie:

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I know, you're thinking like, how many times can one adult human ruin a smoothie? And the answer is: MILLIONS. Watch me.

I usually make my smoothsters using banana as a thickening base + some kind of fruit + almond milk but on this particular day I was fresh outta nanners and remembered I'd read on the interweb that one could exchange avocado for the banana for the same effect + xxxtra health benefits. Lucky me, I had an avocado! I was all aboard.

I chose this recipe because it seemed the easiest, except I didn't have any vanilla almond milk so I just tossed in a few droplets of vanilla extract. The result was...grotesque.

It looked, smelled and tasted like vanilla flavored guacamole. And no matter how much I tried to liquify it by adding more milk or water, it maintained the same semi-solid state of matter, like sucking a  big cup of lime green, vaguely grassy tasting pudding through a straw.

HO-RIFFIC.

Still with me? GREAT. Let's skip to Wednesday when I took an evening bike ride through Prospect Park onnn...

This Bike:

apple bike

Yes, the same godforsaken bicycle I keep writing about week after week. Love her but she don't make it easy.

What, exactly are we looking at here? Allow me to explain. So, like I said, I decided to take Saucy Sally out for a spin around the park, it was a beautiful evening, I needed to get my blood flowing, and what a better way to see the world than on two wheels, am I right?

Eh.

First, I was forced to face the Hard Truth of just how out of shape I am. Like...very.

Out of Shape

Cool diagram, bro!

The park has this great 5K pavement loop that ends with a big hill, so whenever you run or ride you have to end by hauling tail up this mother flipping mountain. Yes, a mountain.  I'd like to meet and murder whoever came up with that genius idea. And just like the last time, I could not get myself up this hill without stopping. I made it roughly 2/3 of the way up, pedaling my darndest, before screeching over to the side of the road where I rested, sagging, heaving for oxygen until this short, fat little Hasidic Jewish boy who could not have been more than seven years old or weighed less than one hundred and seventy pounds, no offense fat people OR Jews, just setting  the scene here, whizzed by me on his little ten speed like it ain't no thang and I was MORTIFIED that this little chubbster could bike better than I could, so I hopped back in the saddle and wearily pedaled the rest of the way home.

BUT FIRST I stopped off at the local delicatessen to pick up a few apples to juice the next morning (along with carrots, beets and a hodgepodge of random greens I got during this week's CSA. It was...interesting. Apparently I had already forgotten the perils of haphazard breakfast beverage concoction experienced nary 48 hours prior) and the guy at checkout asked me if I needed a bag and I said "no, I live right around the corner!" and proceeded to shove two large apples into one very tiny purse.

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I knew there was only one way for this to end.

I walked my bike the rest of the way to my home and took my customary 14 minutes to get it through the front gate + 7 more minutes to enter the vestibule + 11 more to get into the hallway and as I leaned over in an attempt to pick up the bike to haul it up the stairs, my purse caught on the handlebars (P), knocking one of the apples across the hallway floor (A) and causing me to drop my keys (K).  As you can see above. Getting untangled from the handle and picking up my stray belongings while still holding my bike upright is one of my new Top 15 Greatest Life Accomplishments.

Seventy three hours later, I arrived at my third-floor apartment door, near dead from exhaustion and dehydration. Where were the stray apple and my keys? In the only place I could think to store them: my brassiere.

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Um, guys, does this shirt make my hooters look lopsided?

I was starving, naturally, so I whipped up...

This Tasty Egg: 

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My riff on Smitten Kitchen's smashed egg toast, but with broccoli raab instead of spinach, because I'm risky like that. But before I made this delightful egg I made

This Disgusting, Undercooked Egg:

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and

This Egg That I Broke In The Pot So Then Egg Whites Started Bubbling Around In The Water And Weirding Me Out:

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Too runny. Too yucky. Just right. And totally exhausting. Now I know why Goldilocks needed that damn nap.

I mean, I could have stopped after the first egg but that's not my style. Did I quit the soccer team after being relegated to the bench? NO! Did I stop watching How I Met Your Mother after the seventy fifth terrible season? NO! Did I give up on these eggs? HELLLL NO.

I have become the queen of food wasting around here lately and I'm mortified at the thought of it, but everything I've been whipping up has been terrifying. I then, offff course, convinced myself I was pregnant, what with all of these food aversions, before reminding myself that it's likely more a matter of weird jars of butter and vanilla guacamole shakes and raw eggs being disgusting than me being hormonally repulsed by foods.

So! Was this dinner worth the 2 wasted eggs + 15 minutes of pregnancy terror? Eh. It wasn't not worth it, it was actually pretty delicious, but I'm sure there were multiple dozens of equally delicious things I could have cooked up for half the effort and 100% less intrauterine paranoia.

Aaaand there you have it my friends. Another week, a whoooole lot of drama for very little reason. Thass the way I do it!

And how was your week? Plans for le weekend? Adventures? Challenges? Potential moments of glory? Tell me everything!

xoxo Liz Ho

One Awkward Hike

Monday! How was everyone’s weekend? Actually, I shouldn't mislead, it is Sunday, still, while I’m writing this. I’m on a bus back from DC and I keep coughing and sniffling and just ate a messy, enormous, smelly Italian hoagie, so I’m pretty much that disgusting person who gives public transportation a bad name. Sorrrrrry!  Also, my cellular tellular is dying and I really want to plug it in, but the plug is underneath my seat mate’s legs and she is giving off a REAL air of sour B and I already asked her once to plug in the cord to my laptop (all for this blog! For YOU!) and don’t want to bug her again because I’m a little chicken so I’m just praying she’ll get up and go to the BR or prop her legs out the window or something.

AAAAAnnnnd we just came to a complete standstill on the Jersey Turnpike. And the couple in front of me will not stop making out and petting each other’s faces. CURSE YOU, bus transport! You are ruining my life!!

Whew. What say you we cut down down on the histrionics and focus on happier times, eh? So, as I mentioned, I spent the weekend in America’s Capitol with my friend Maureen and we had a delightful visit, though we did not see either of the Obama girls, or any of the cast of Scandal. Next time!

Yesterday ...or, I guess today? I can’t keep up my own timeline. I’m going to post this on Monday, but as I’ve already established, I’m currently writing it on Sunday, so the hike was today. But when you read it will be yesterday. So confusing, this world we live in! So, let’s just say on Sunday we went for a gorgeous hike in Great Falls State Park along the Potomac River. Hiking is so fun right? I mean, it’s just walking. But with good scenery and occasional inclines, making it seem much more exciting than the average power stroll. I am a huge fan.

Not like you asked, but here are a few photos from our woodsy walk.

dc1 dc2

B-E-Yootiful!

I don’t get out into nature nearly as much as I would like, what with living in the concrete jungle and all. There are actually quite a few hiking or camping areas relatively close to NYC and some accessible by public transportation - in my five years living here, I've taken advantage of this situation exactly one time, a tale I've been meaning to share with y’all for months!

So. This past October, the 27th, to be exact, the significance of which will be explained in just a quick moment, my friend Kathleen (who is a different person that the Maureen I went to see this weekend...all my friends are named Kathleen or Maureen or Caitlin or somesuch, Irish Catholic problems) and I decided to take a day trip up to Harriman State Park, a nature area in New Jersey, just across the NY border, accessible by the Metro North Railroad. We’d had this plan in the works for several weeks, so we went ahead and hauled upstate, despite a number of ominous factors warning us against the trip, including:

  1. A grey, cloudy day, which was a possible signifier of things to come (see no. 2)

  2. As I mentioned, it was October 27, and the Weather Channel was abuzz with warnings of a little hurricane named Sandy making its way up to the NY/NJ area in a matter of hours, ready to slam us all to smithereens.

  3. There was a murderer on the loose in the woods. No, really!

Apparently, just about a month before our planned hike, a man named Eugene Palmer shot and killed his daughter-in-law and then hightailed it into the Harriman Woods behind his home. A grizzled former park ranger, it was suspected that Palmer could still be bunkered down in those same woods. The woods we were about to hike.

Did we let any of this stop us? Offff course not.

Did we take great care to plan and prepare for our trip? Of course not, again. Kathleen and I are similar in that we’re both somehow a mix of Type A bossy planners and laissez-faire free spirits. We’re both very strong at organizing steps like, A through E of a trip or event and then just leave the rest up to chance. This works just perfectly when in low pressure situations such as “Oh, let’s meet at the west side entrance of the park at 10 AM under the oak tree….annnnddd then we’ll just lay and maybe get ice cream and play the rest of the day by ear.” This works LESS perfectly in higher pressure situations, such as this one where we spent all of our vigilant planning effort on memorizing train times and stocking up on snacks, and then got laid back about key details like printing out maps and even confirming the exact train station where we should be disembarking.

We knew the hiking area was called Harriman State Park and saw that there was a stop on the train line called Harriman, so without doing any further investigation, we foolishly assumed that was our stop – we’d pull right up to a large, clean visitor center where staffers would greet us with maps and guide us on our way. There were plenty of other peeps in hiking apparel on our train and two stops before Harriman about half of that crew got off the train. “What morons!” we exclaimed. “They don’t know what they’re doing!” At the next stop the remainder of the hikers disembarked and we still thought we knew better than they did, even as we watched them join up with an official tour guide as we pulled away from the station.

“Now arriving in Harriman!” the conductor yelled, as we pulled into a completely abandoned, open station that consisted of literally nothing more than an empty parking lot and a plexiglass rain shelter.  No visitor station. No maps. No other hikers to be seen. PRAISE BE to the lord above, we were able to access cell service out in this vast wilderness, and quickly pulled up the train schedule to see when the next locomotion would be arriving to bring us back from the direction we came – we weren’t giving up, yet, but we knew we needed to go back at least one stop. The next train would be arriving in a cool two hours, so we did what any big city girls would do and called for a taxi. We should really lead some sort of Outward Bound trip with these amazing roughing it skillz.

While we were waiting for the taxi I had some SERIOUS business to attend to in the form of urination. I had to go the whole train ride up but decided to wait and pee at the imaginary ranger station as soon as we arrived, because of course it both existed and had impeccable bathrooms. Instead we were abandoned in a parking lot with nary even a portajohn as far as the eye could see, so I went into a grass field beside the train tracks and just as I was letting it flow, a car pulled into the parking lot and I thought they might see me and choked and peed all over my jeans.

 hike1

Exhibit A.

Finally about 45 minutes later our chariot arrived and drove us the five miles back to the previous town where we found ourselves out seventeen dollars and STILL without any maps or guides. Again, this town had no ranger station or signs pointing “This Way To The Woods!” or anything even remotely indicating that it was right up against a safe, happy hiking zone, but we had seen other passengers getting off here and knew we must be slightly closer. There was a farmers market set up next to the train station, so we found some firemen manning a cupcake booth and asked them if they could direct us to the woods.

“Sure thing,” they replied, jerking a thumb towards a nearby underpass/rape tunnel. “Just head on under that highway and take your first left and there you are.” Not seeming to show ANY care for the fact that we were two single women without a map or a clue, about to head into the woods where a known murderer was hiding.

We hadn’t come this far just to go home, so under the overpass we went. I snapped this shot of us just before we went on our way, noting that it might be the last photo ever taken of us alive.

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Our “hike” brought us through a residential neighborhood where they had both amazing autumn décor:

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And punny political signs:

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Zing!

And then fiiiiinally we found ourselves in the woods. It was grey and utterly silent and full of weird creepy things like this abandoned car:

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And this broken down woodshed:hike6

There was no real change in topography,  so we just sort of meandered around this very flat, winding trail by ourselves, using faded trail markers and Kathleen’s GPS to guide the way. Again, killing it with our girl guide skills here.

There were some helpful signs along the way like this one:

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In case you don’t know what a pole is. And this one:

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Which I’m pretty sure meant “K for Killer, hiding this way!”

And this one which literally said “Killer hiding in here enter at your own risk.”

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Yeah.

But there was also a lot of beautiful autumn foliage  and cool sticks for playing Lord of the Rings.

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 "You Shall Not Pass!"

We made the most of our circumstances but it was kind of clear we were preoccupied – me with creating horrible scenarios wherein the killer would sneak out and attack us and bring us to a cave where he would kill us and eat us for sustenance and Kathleen with creating horrible scenarios wherein the skies opened up and swooped up our frail bodies into a hurricane windstorm and both of us with just figuring out where the H we were and how we were going to get out of these damn woods.

Finally our trail popped out onto a paved road and, per Kathleen’s phone, it looked like we were very close to the REAL ACTUAL visitor’s center, where we could, at the very least, get a map and a toilet and sit down to eat our lunch. Instead it turned out we were still quite far away, so we wandered through yet another residential neighborhood, sitting on someone’s front lawn to eat our packed sandwiches, narrowly avoiding being hit by passing cars. Eventually our trek brought us into a tiny town with a train station. The next train back to New York was OBVIOUSLY not coming for another three hours, so we killed some time popping into the cute local library, where they were having a dollar book sale (I bought five) and then spent the remainder of our “hike” sitting at a bar drinking beers and talking about boys. BUT it was a historical tavern AND we were on the patio, so it was still a more rustic experience than anything we would have gotten in the old Big Apple.

So basically, if this were an actual Girl Scout trip we probably would not have received our badges for Conquering The Great Outdoors or Reading The Signs of Nature but would definitely have badged in the areas of Savvy Cell Phone Use, Budget Book Buying and Inevitable  Day Drinking.

All in all, I’d call it a roaring success.

Also, out of sheer curiosity, I just looked to see if old Eugene Palmer had been found yet, and according to this Fox News article (my fave news outlet) from just one day ago, he is still believed to be alive and on the loose and is the subject of an international manhunt.

Wild stuff! Keep an eye out, friends. This guy could be anywhere. Be safe and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do… which means you should find out exactly where he is hiding and head right into his lair without a map or a plan. Good luck!