Monday, January 30, 2012

Movers and Shakers

Seismologists who have a weekend gig moving furniture.

Seeing Stars

I stepped on the scale in the bathroom of my West Hollywood hotel room and it lied to me. "I love L.A.," I was thinking as it told me I weighed at least five pounds less than I know I do.

And then it gave me a recommendation for a plastic surgeon....


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Danger Lurks

I just poured black coffee into a black cup in the dark. It takes skill so I encourage you to not try this at home.

Yesterday, I finally got around to cleaning the apartment and I might consider recommending that you also do not try this without aid of a trained professional. Especially, if it's been a while since you've done this.

It was dangerous and I'm quite grateful to have survived it. There were legions of highly trained and sophisticated dust bunnies lurking everywhere and they were formidable. Now, "bunnies" conjures up soft fluffy images which is inaccurate. These were fluffy, all right, but not white. They were a purplish red (or reddish purple - it's hard to tell, they were so elusive) and they were more hairy than fluffy. Hairy, like the monsters you always believed lived under your bed. Turns out it was true.

The battle was prolonged because of their sophistication. Before I started cleaning, they were completely invisible but as soon as I began they were everywhere and I wondered why I hadn't seen them earlier, hiding in plain view. And, they were organized. As I fought the ones before me, others followed behind to surround me.

I may have prevailed but I know it's only temporary. Even as I made progress, I could see some of their smallest soldiers staking out claims on the furniture and preparing to rebuild their armies.

Even as I left, locking the door behind me, I knew that we'd both be back.

Monday, January 23, 2012

I wonder what "customer service" is doing while I'm on hold. Is my file literally in the basement for which "Lauren" must file a requisition for a runner to fetch? Maybe I can help; I can look up the information online in a fraction of the time.

All this for a yes/no question. Turns out the answer was no. And, call again next week.
Is there anything else we can do for you Mrs. S?
Can I put you on hold while I look up that answer, Lauren?
Thanks for holding, Lauren. What was the question again?
Is there anything else we can do for you today, Mrs. S?
No, Lauren, there isn't. In fact, you haven't really done anything for me yet, come to think of it. And, you charged me a fee for the privilege.
I understand, Mrs. S. Can I place you on hold to look that up for you?
No, thank you, Lauren.
Thank you, Mrs. S. Have a beautiful day.
Beautiful, indeed.

Friday, January 20, 2012

On The Left

The Oatmeal, the L.A. Times on The Left Coast, and others on The Right can go right ahead and think we're wimps. But the states of Washington and Oregon have both declared States of Emergency, albeit for different reasons. Oregon, because of flooding. In Seattle, because we need milk:
The governor's proclamation included a waiver of a federal 12-hour shift rule for truck drivers, to help the state's milk industry, which risked losing $1 million a day if it couldn't move its product. The state of emergency also allows Gregoire to activate the National Guard, in case it's needed.

Read more:
So, there you go.

In case you're wondering, I understand it's still pretty messy in Seattle and many are without power. We managed to get out of town before all that slush froze over and we're in the rainy state instead.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Typescreen

From Spinning Hat.

Tax Season

On the first day of Tax Season, my true love gave to me:


Well, it wasn't like I had a stack of tax returns today to do anyway. In fact, none. So, if you're stuck at home today, you might as well start pulling your tax documents together. Most of the internet is still working today so get online and download your interest and dividend statements. Get your gain/loss reports downloaded from your broker. Visit your mortgage company's website and get your 1098. Put it all in a folder and have it on my desk by Monday!

Woo hoo! Only 13 weeks to go!

(Really, it would be nice to get going so get going, people.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What's For Dinner?

Pork Scaloppine:
Grant Cornett

The recipe can be found here. It was easy to make, super delicious, and very economical. I added button mushrooms to the sauce, and raw red bell pepper as a side for color and crunch. I also used a good deal of parsley. It turned out great and I ended up with a lot of leftover pork tenderloin. I didn't cook the whole thing for the two of us - just a few medallions. So I have maybe a pound and a half leftover in the freezer to either make more or something else.

Looks great on a plate (like you worked all day) and is really tasty. I highly recommend this recipe.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Brain Dead

I'm feeling a little devoid of feeling. Math will do that to you. So will work. (Both are four letter words, btw.) So, here's a tip: if you need to banish all thought from your head - mental chatter, if you will - play sudoku or KenKen. Both are excellent puzzle exercises to keep you sharp but there are consequences.

Crosswords are also good for mental exercise. I wonder if one must use a different part of the brain for word puzzles because math exercises definitely shut down the other side - that which deals with language, creativity, or one's very soul. Maybe I should try crosswords to relax (while exercising). It might be like the difference between a pat down at the airport or nuclear radiation. One is invasive and is minimally damaging (mentally haunting, at worst). The other could permanently wipe out brain cells - and other vital organs - you meant to leave unaltered.

I don't mean for you to get the idea I don't like math or work. I happen to love both and, as it happens, my work depends on math, as well as analytical and research skills. I love all those things. So, don't get me wrong - but I feel a definite shift when the work (and math puzzle) skills kick in. The other muscles atrophy. Worse, they are paralyzed and cannot be accessed. I wish I could do both at the same time but I haven't figured it out yet.

So that's where I've been. Working. I have a major project, tragically pushing the deadline while facing down Winter Storm Watch 2012 - the first of the year. (We could get a half an inch so I stocked up at the grocery store.) The pressure is on but it's just a bump. A big bump, but just a bump. Next week I should be back to normal which, last I checked, is comfortably abnormal.

That will be short-lived as well. But getting this project done will buy me a few more weeks before that which is known as Tax Season.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Domestic Tip Of The Day

Cook all your bacon. I don't buy it very often because it makes a mess to cook it but I love the stuff. If I buy a package, I cook the whole thing and then wrap any not immediately consumed into serving sized packages and freeze. Then, I have it available to chop into eggs, salads, soups, or sandwiches.

I made use of that nifty trick when I made this:

Bacon and Butternut PastaPhoto: Johnny Autry; Styling: Mary Clayton CarlRecipe can be found at Cooking Light.
I also had the kale and butternut squash on hand because a few nights earlier, I made this:
Tuscan Kale, White Bean, and Ciabatta SoupPhoto: Yunhee Kim; Styling: Robyn ValarikRecipe from Sunset Magazine.
The butternut squash wasn't called for in the recipe but I thought it sounded good. Plus, I added some Italian sausage. I omitted the anchovy and served bread on the side rather than in the soup. It turned out pretty well and I'm happy to have leftovers from both meals.
Eat well!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Staying Put

For a week, anyway. I go home on Wednesday but it's been nice to be in one place for an entire week. For perspective, this was my schedule the last week of the year:

Thurs - Vancouver to Seattle via private auto. Travel time 2.5 hours.

Fri - Seattle to Palm Springs via taxi, airplane and rented car through Ontario, CA. Total travel time, door to door, 6 hours.

Sat - Palm Springs to La Quinta, CA, via rented car. Travel time 30 minutes

Mon - La Quinta to Seattle via rented car, airplane, and personal auto through Sacrament, CA. Total travel time 10.5 hours, door to door.

Wed - Seattle to Vancouver via taxi, Amtrak, and taxi. Total travel time 4.5 hours.

Total stats in seven days:

Travel by train = 1
Travel by private auto = 2

Travel by personal auto = 3
Travel by airplane = 3
Travel by rental car = 3
Number of beds slept in = 4
Total travel days = 5

Total travel time = 24 hours

Thanks to Holidailies for providing the incentive to write as often as possible. It was nice to meet you all.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Exchange Rates

The exchange rate for a trip to Belize using coffee as the denomination is six pounds and $15. Santa asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I thought I was very clear: I wanted a trip to Belize or coffee. As you might guess, I got coffee. Approximately six pounds of it, plus a gift card worth $15. Now, if I could only find someone who was willing to trade a trip to Belize for six pounds of coffee, I'd be all set.

For some reason, this reminds me of when, as children, my brother and I were allowed to have whatever we wanted for dinner on our birthdays. My birthday dinner was hamburger patty (no bun) with (jarred) brown gravy and Stouffer's Spinach Souffle. I still have that on my birthday.

What did my brother ask for? Lobster. He was always better at aiming high and getting what he wanted.

Speaking of my brother, that reminds me of red and green cookies - a tradition during the Holidays. Mom always makes these round cookies made mostly of butter, half were dipped in red sugar crystals and the other half were dipped in green. I understand these are traditional Christmas colors but you have to understand that she color coded everything. All my presents were wrapped in red tissue paper, and all of my brother's were green. On the family calendar, all my scheduled events were red, all my brother's were green. (Mom was blue and Dad was black.)

This year, we were all together and Mom brought the red and green cookies. The funny thing is that even though we are well into our forties and, other than the color, all the cookies are exactly the same my brother would only eat the green ones, and I would only eat the red!

I just finished burning up my $15 gift card for coffee so only six more pounds to go. Next year, I'm just going to ask for a trip to Belize and see what happens. (Or, maybe lobster.)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

It's All About The Ratings

I have an idea that will help you loose weight, save money, and help you to be more efficient. First, cancel your bikram yoga membership. Then, turn up the thermostat whenever you use your blow dryer. Lose weight and get ready for work - all at the same time! You are guaranteed to be sweating in no time - and be on time for work!

I understand you might not want to heat your whole house when you're styling your hair unless you have a very small living space. Not a problem. Take the savings from canceling your yoga membership, buy a space heater, and lock yourself in the bathroom. This has the additional benefit of saving you money in winter, however you may need to spend a good deal of time in the bathroom.

No hair? No problem! Take your space heater to the bathroom and wear a stocking cap while you shave.

Send me a dollar and I'll tell you how to have more sex!

(Look at my hit count now!! Woo hoo!)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Purse Update

In case you were wondering, I'm keeping it - the big black, expensive, and totally unnecessary, purse. And guess how much it weighs? Just guess.

Big black purses are like black holes. Don't ask me how I went from a wallet on a string (my old purse) to luggage on my shoulder. It's ridiculous. I used to carry: one wallet (which was a rubber band),  keys, and my phone.  That's it. Now, I have a real wallet (that will double as a clutch), my sunglasses in their own case, a checkbook, my iPod, my Kindle, business cards (in their own case), two pens - and that's before I go anywhere. What if I need a hat? Or a place to stash my spiral bound journal?

How did this happen? If it weren't for these spandex jeans (which keep sliding off my hips anyway), I would put my ID and a $20 in my pocket and be done with it. Which is where I'll end up, I know. From one end of the spectrum to the other. It was my husband, in fact, who reminded me this is exactly how I came to give up carrying a purse in the first place (twenty years ago).

But then slowly, ever so slowly, I need a place to put things. First it was my pocket PC, then it was a cell phone, then a smart phone. Then, freaking lip gloss - oh yeah, I gave up makeup about the same time I gave up purses but now ... now, I need lip gloss, maybe two, in my purse. What's more, I need to carry a vast collection of odds and ends to cover any contingency. Kleenex? Got it. Quarter? Yep. Bobby pin? Safety pin? Nail files? Black balloons? PiƱata? Sure.

You're going to want me on your scavenger hunt team, that's for sure.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Philosophy 101

What does it mean, philosophically, to begin each year with a hangover and to finish it drunk? Think of a graph where the x axis represents the days of the year (1-365) and the y axis is some sort of "good" factor - say, from one to ten. It would look something like this:

There's really no place to go but up from here, is what I'm thinking.

The World's Funniest Joke

A couple of New Jersey hunters are out in the woods when one of them falls to the ground. He doesn't seem to be breathing, his eyes are rolled back in his head. The other guy whips out his cell phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps to the operator: "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator, in a calm soothing voice says: "Just take it easy. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence, then a shot is heard. The guy's voice comes back on the line. He says: "OK, now what?"
More at Discovery News : Knock, Knock, Who's There? (Good for a laugh or two.)

Good Morning, 2012

I'm in a hotel - a residence type with a full kitchen - where the coffee cups are so small I pour two at a time so I only have to get up half as often for a refill. Which is to say, among other things, we found accommodations  over the last weekend of the year after spontaneously, and without any thought for planning or consequences, flew to Palm Springs just because we could.

We also found flights home which is good, I keep reminding myself. We flew down here using frequent flier miles and it cost fewer said mile to book two one-way tickets rather than round trip. With that logic, we purchased one-way tickets to Ontario, California, rented a car, and drove to Palm Springs and figured we could work out the rest of the details after we got here.

The details were this: all hotels were fully booked for New Years Eve and there were no available seats on any return flights.

Both aforementioned details have been resolved although it will take us three separate flights to get all four of us home. Our pilot friend goes home Monday on a commercial flight arranged by his employer. (He comes back on the 9th to retrieve the jet he flew down here and for a short while we considered just staying here.) He leaves last and flies direct so he'll be our ground transportation on this end. His wife flies out first with a layover in Portland. We fly out about an hour later but have a two-hour layover in Sacramento. We land in Seattle about the same time as the pilot. His wife will get home first so she'll take care of ground transportation on that end.

So far, the trip has been free. Other than food, that is. We used frequent flier miles to fly, and the pilot had points with a hotel chain reimbursable for the rooms. It's an interesting combination of austere extravagance.

So here we are, on the first day of 2012, drinking coffee from tiny cups and, now, watching football. I think there will be a nap by the pool in my very near future. Forecast is sunny and 77 degrees. I hope it remains that way for the rest of the year,