Thursday, January 28, 2016

Someone accused me of being a tea drinker.

I would like to make things clear. While I drink tea, I am not a non-coffee drinker. I drink tea in addition to my coffee habit. Also, I do not drink decaf.

Thank you for your attention.

In other news, I am currently goofing-off impaired. I blame work for this but, of course, that is the very definition of the malady. I usually like to do my goofing off in the mornings since that is when I stand to avoid the most work. But as my focus turns more to work, I find that I try to schedule some goofing off time in the afternoons. This rarely works because in the afternoon, there’s not much left to avoid except the avoidance itself. (See the problem?)

Yesterday, I found myself with three unscheduled hours. A continuous three hour period, no less. I was taking a train from Seattle to Portland. Said train had wifi and a bar car. I toted a backpack containing a laptop and a book. (No really, an actual book. With paper and everything.)

I have been deferring great quantities of goofing offness for such a time as this. I had emails to return, websites to surf, flowers to order for a friend facing surgery, a note to write to yet another friend requiring regular blood transfusions, journal entries to catch up on, calendars to update, and a short story to edit and submit. If there was time leftover, I had my book to read.

Then, along came Renee who sat down beside me eating her curds and whey. No, wait, it was a turkey sandwich. I asked her where she was traveling from and two and a half hours later I had her whole life story.

She was delightful and I didn’t mind. Even if I did, I’m not the type of person who extricates herself easily from uncomfortable situations. I just nod and listen. Whether she had a need to tell me things or she couldn’t help herself, I don’t know. But, why not listen? Someday, somewhere along the line, I will want someone to listen to me. And I know it’s important to be heard.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

How did Monday just happen again?

Where did the time go? The weekend was an unfocused smear of 48 hours starting with coffee and ending with pajamas way past my bedtime.

I had a list but somehow it feels like nothing got done. Sure, I crossed things off but they were things I might have done any day of the week: grocery shop, laundry. What I take note of here is what didn’t get done: reading, writing, and exercise.

Somehow, the interruption of my routine - the one that includes going to work every day - also messes with my routine of reading, writing, and exercise. How is it that when I have 48 hours with seemingly nothing to do that I can’t do these three simple things? How could it be that I am better at working out during the workweek than on weekends?

The only answer I can come up with is that I am far more willing to risk being late for work than I am willing to be late for my next cup of coffee.

Is that what retirement is like? Lots of lying around and wondering where the time went? I've heard that is a huge misconception and the reality is one needs something to do. What else is there to do but read, write, and drink coffee? Going for walks, I suppose, and cooking and eating. That seems like nirvana to me. Does knitting count? I should probably think of something to do that involves interaction with other people. Otherwise, I’ll end up as “that lady with a bunch of cats.”

Maybe my failure to keep a workout routine on the weekends is the fault of my workout video: It's evil.
Exercise DVDs could hamper workouts
" The researchers found that one in every seven motivational statements in the videos was actually a demotivating statement that could reduce the effectiveness of the workout, diminish the user’s hope and potentially cause psychological harm . . . . "
Psychological harm? I can't risk that. Not when this was the article that immediately followed the aforementioned in Monday's edition of The Columbian:
State takes action to prevent suicide
" Washington’s suicide rate has for years been higher than the national average. "
If I might make a suggestion to Governor Inslee: Take some of that state lottery money and give everyone a vacation to someplace sunny.

Oh, and outlaw exercise videos. That should do it.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

More like down and out.

Now is the time for all Seahawks fans to wash the jerseys they've been wearing all year and to analyze what went wrong. (Was it because I didn't wear my lucky socks? Forgot my Seahawks bling?) At least they lost fair and square. Sure, the armchair quarterbacks will have their say but at least we won't be talking about bad calls from the coaching staff or referees for the next several months.

Suddenly, it is a dangerous time of year. It's the time between football and NASCAR. It's the time when there are no sports on TV.

That's not entirely true, of course. There is hockey and basketball on TV as well as golf and professional bowling. But in this household, there will be dead space on the weekends when there should be cheers and jeers emanating from the Man Cave and copious amounts of time spent there, a place where I can keep an eye on Hubby and be assured of his whearabouts.

Sure, there are a couple of weeks left until Super Bowl but without the Seahawks in the running, Hubby is less invested. Without his full attention on sports, hazards abound. Today Best Buy put the Samsung - 60" Class (60" Diag.) - LED - 2160p - Smart - 3D - 4K Ultra HD TV on sale - half off! And, the Portland and Seattle Boat Shows are both in the next few weeks.

This time of year can get very expensive if I can't find something for Hubby to do. I find this is a good time for making Honey Do Lists, not to mention hiding his wallet.

Maybe I can turn this to my advantage. Valentine's Day is around the corner, too. If only I can get Best Buy to put diamonds on sale, I'd be all set. Or, maybe, a trip to someplace warm.

I'm thinking Hawaii but, sure, Daytona is warm, too.

Saturday, January 16, 2016


I have a Lazy Susan under my bathroom sink.

(Okay, I just thought of my friend, Susan D., right now. She is anything but lazy but the idea that she could be lounging around in my bathroom makes me laugh. Really, not sure I can go on.  The image of Susan under my sink is better than this:)

On it (said Lazy Susan), I have cotton balls, nail polish remover, a kale facial masque (no, really), hair spray, lotions, potions, etc. Every morning, I give it a spin and in my head I hear "Wheel. Of. Beauty."

(See? Finding Susan under there would be waaaay funnier.)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

She's got rhythm.

We didn't need the extra second. We have an extra day this year.



61, Av. de l'Observatoire 75014 PARIS (France)
Tel.      : 33 (0) 1 40 51 23 35
FAX       : 33 (0) 1 40 51 22 91
Internet  :

                                             Paris, 11 January 2016

                                             Bulletin C 51
                                             To authorities responsible
                                             for the measurement and 
                                             distribution of time             

                          INFORMATION ON UTC - TAI

 NO leap second will be introduced at the end of June 2016.
 The difference between Coordinated Universal Time UTC and the 
 International Atomic Time TAI is :                
     from 2016 January 1, 0h UTC, until further notice : UTC-TAI = -36 s

 Leap seconds can be introduced in UTC at the end of the months of December 
 or June,  depending on the evolution of UT1-TAI. Bulletin C is mailed every  
 six months, either to announce a time step in UTC, or to confirm that there 
 will be no time step at the next possible date.

                                            Christian BIZOUARD
                                            Earth Orientation Center of IERS
                                            Observatoire de Paris, France

Monday, January 11, 2016

Resume Building?

A friend recently shared with me that she was considering taking a volunteer position in order to fill out her obituary. I laughed, you need a resume for death now? By way of explanation she referred me to the pathetically short obituary of a mutual acquaintance. I looked it up. It was paltry.

I didn't know the deceased well but it seemed to me even by casual and distant observation that she was more than this brief description of her life and death. I wondered what my obituary might say and if I should take on more volunteer positions in order to leave a good looking column inch. Should I start writing my obituary now? My children won't do it and even if they did it would likely say, "She flew a broom."

I could do better than that. I should become an obituary writer. Thinking this a novel idea, I turned to the source of all information, the internet, only to find such a thing already exists. I also learned that obituaries differ from death notices.

It's a little more complicated than this but, generally, obituaries are written by staff writers or journalists of a newspaper or other publication. They are like any news article with the subject being notable, interesting, newsworthy people, recently departed. Death notices, on the other hand, are like classified ads. They are written and submitted by the family who pays a fee for its publication.

For example, The Seattle Times charges $119.80 for the first column inch of a death notice and $94.80 for each additional inch for weekday notices. Sunday notices cost $145.84 for the first inch and $120.84 for each additional inch. (There are approximately 50 words in a column inch.) There is an additional charge if the notice is to appear online and a photo can cost upwards of $300 more.

Your family might not be motivated to say much.

If you're not famous enough to have one written for free, hiring someone to write your obituary or writing your own seem to be the new trends in death although professional obit writing isn't exactly new. The Society of Professional Obituary Writers has been around since 2007. They provide professional training and resources to obituary writers, hold conferences, and recognize outstanding obituaries with honors in excellence - The Grimmies. (No joke.) They also provide a worthwhile list of books on the subject (for "Writers and Readers" of obituaries) which include obituary anthologies. So-called pre-written obituaries are published, after death, on websites such as and those of local papers, funeral homes, or churches.

I didn't know this was a thing.

If I were to write my own obituary, it was would still include the words, "She flew a broom," because I used to tell the kids I could. When they were very little, we used to try to get lift off by running up and down the sidewalk, dragging the broom between our legs. Flight became real over the years with repetition of the tale and now my grandson is convinced that I did it once before. (Flight and safety regulations being what they are and the onslaught of technical improvements to the mechanical broom make it impossible to attempt flight now, I explain.)

Although flying a broom is a notable accomplishment, I might want to think about other ways to make my final report more interesting and well rounded. Maybe I still have time to become a ninja. Or maybe I what I really need is a good ghostwriter.

(Couldn't help myself.)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

50 Shades of Coffee

What's new at Starbucks?

Coffee? No.

Milk? Nope.

Prosecco, Villa Sandi “Il Fresco” Doc Treviso, Italy - Bubbly and floral with sweet hints of apple and honey?

Yep. Hey, after three cups of quintuple-shot carmel macchiato, you might need to unwind a little.

What's really revolutionary - and I mean totally, mind blowing-ly new and different - is the way they combine coffee and milk. Think about it - do you pour the coffee in first or the milk? Do it one way and you can call it one thing. Pour it in another way, you can call it something else and charge double.

For example, my regular drink is a latte which is described by Starbucks as "Our rich, rich espresso . . . balanced with steamed milk and topped with a light layer of foam." Whereas, the latest addition to the Starbucks lineup, the latte macchiato, is described this way: "This new espresso classic layers shots of espresso atop lightly foamed whole milk for a bold and roasty new way to sip."

In case you were unable to discern the difference, the latte macchiato is both new and classic.

Oh, and by the way, the coffee sinks to the bottom because, really, nothing goes atop lightly foamed milk except cinnamon sprinkles.

I ordered a latte macchiato today and watched the barista make it. When I get a latte, they put the espresso into a cup first and then pour steamed milk on top. With the latte macchiato, the steamed milk went into the cup first and the espresso was carefully drizzled in afterward. The latte machiato required much more finesse for which Starbuck could have easily charged a premium but the latte macchiato rang up a good four cents cheaper. (No doubt, this will be corrected by end of day.)

As for the taste, I couldn't tell the difference. (I might not be the only one.) The macchiato technique is exactly how I make it at home only I call it a latte. Maybe I'm new and classic.

Here's a good visual from Venessa Wong at Buzzfeed News that might make it easier to comprehend:

Note, particularly, the difference between the Flat white and the Latte.

I love Starbucks. I love them for what they are: unapologetic drug dealers. I'm looking at the Starbucks online menu for espresso drinks. At the bottom is one called "Doubleshot on Ice." Makes me think of a Disney-like coffee character on ice skates. What's not to like?

And then there's their new coffee machine, the Clover, which is "a rare leap forward in coffee brewing technology that lets us craft a single cup . . . ." A single cup. This is truly classic and new: The vacuum technology for coffee has been around since the 1830s. It's the piston that's new and has been around since at least 2007. (So, new-ish.) This ingenious, 110 pound coffee maker will brew the perfect cup of coffee for only $11,000. Obviously, you wouldn't have this in your home because who's that crazy about coffee? (Okay, stop pointing fingers.) But, you can try one at select Starbucks stores. Probably the same ones that offer booze.

I'm just surprised Kool-Aid isn't on the menu.

(h/t to SLB for bringing this to my attention.)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

And So It Begins

Damn. I really wanted to post something today but I just ran out of time. This reintegration back to work after the holidays is a real bummer. Lack of sleep? Not digging it! Work? Not fun. Getting ready for tax season? Do I have to?

Unfortunately, yes. Yes, I do. And, it's almost as fun as tax season itself. Lots of organizing goes on behind the scenes before tax season gets into full swing. You wouldn't think organizing would be all that taxing but it is.

Taxing, I say.

I'm also cooking lots of casseroles and stocking up the freezer. When I'm not at work, I'm in the kitchen. The more I can prepare now the less likely I'll be reduced to eating cold chili right out of the can in April.

And, cleaning house. Not my favorite thing to do but things are going to go downhill fast so I might as well start from a relatively good place or the dust bunnies might take over before it's over.

Jeez, what is it - Tuesday? I need a vacation already.

Hey, buddy, can you spare me some chocolate?

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Snowmageddon 2016

We got about 1.5 inches this morning. Freezing rain is falling right now which means tomorrow's commute is going to be a disaster. It doesn't snow that much around here so you know what that means, don't you? Nobody is going anywhere. News organizations are already announcing two hour school delays and possible closures for tomorrow.

We walked to the grocery store and found much of the area was deserted. Almost no traffic anywhere. For the most part, the only cars we saw were the ones parked in front of our condo, covered in snow.

We have power which is a good thing. We had gas in our old home so even if the power went out we had heat and a cooking source. No such luck here. There is a hotel across the street, though. Maybe they have a backup generator. That's where I'd go if the power ever goes out. We also have plenty of wine we can consume. You know, if absolutely necessary for our survivial.

I actually have work to do so I should go to work tomorrow. I have much to do to get ready for Tax Season. (What's a taxslayer bowl anyway?) But I'd rather just stay here in my pumpkin shell and read a good book.

Better yet, maybe I should write one.

And, yesterday, I didn't think I could top seeing a guy out walking his seahawk. Go figure.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Real Deal

We decided not to go anywhere this weekend. We just stayed home and slept in our own bed. It's very rare that we spend more than a few nights in any one location so having an entire weekend at home is almost more than we can handle. It was hard not to plan something to fill the void.

What did we do? Today, we made a list of the things we wanted to accomplish in our unscheduled, unstructured 48 hours. Then, we promptly ditched the list.

Instead, we decided to check out a couple of our neighborhood parks. It was sunny but very cold and breezy here. There weren't many out doing the same but we did come across a few adventuresome souls. They were walking in pairs, or with their dog or seahawk. We even saw a few bicyclists.

Wait, seahawk? Why, yes. Seahawk.

We saw a falconer taking his osprey out for a walk. "Fly" would be more accurate. The park had several trees lining the pathways. He walked along the trail as his bird flew from tree to tree behind him. Although it was large, the bird blended into the branches when it landed but it wore a bell on one leg so if we lost sight of it, we easily found it whenever it moved.

It was a beautiful creature and we were fascinated by it. Once, the bird flew to the ground and appeared to catch something but it was behind the trunk of a tree so we couldn't see for sure. It's hard to imagine the bird caught much with that bell on its leg. But it never got far away from its owner. When its owner told it to come, it flew to him and landed on his heavily protected arm.

It wasn't the seahawk, the one that performs at games. Fun fact: the bird that performs at the games is a buzzard. The one we saw at the park was a seahawk of the real variety.

When their "walk" was over, they left in a car with this front plate:

It'll be hard to top that tomorrow.

Friday, January 1, 2016

A Very Friendly New Years Eve

Hubby and I celebrated New Years Eve by watching Pink Martini at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall and spending the night at The Nines in Portland. Another couple was supposed to come with us but didn’t make it due to flight cancellations on the east coast. I put the tickets on Craiglist and sold them within an hour but the buyer, Andy, didn't take the room explaining his partner had a child and had to be home by 1 am. I’m not sure it mattered, though, because Andy was going to get lucky either way.

His partner was all over him. Like, get a room.

We got to the theater first. Shortly after the concert started, Andy and his date arrived. Andy sat next to me and his date sat on the other side. Her hand was on his knee as soon as they settled in. Then her arm was around his neck. She turned his face to her frequently so they could kiss.

Aw, love birds.

Then, she decided she need to stretch her long, bare legs ending in platform pumps with a stiletto heel by extending them between the heads of patrons seated in the row ahead of us. First one, then the other. It was so odd, it was hard to believe it actually happened.

Later, she twisted herself around so she could sit on his his lap, her back to me. She had him in a full embrace. Her hair, when she tossed it about, lashed at my head. She was anything but subtle.

It was so bizarre that I was more amused than annoyed. Plus, it was New Years Eve and everyone was feeling celebratory (some more demonstratively than others). That, and Pink Martini put on a great show that she couldn’t possibly overshadow.

We counted down to midnight together and Pink Martini performed a few numbers after that. Hubby and I ducked out as soon as the house lights came up. I don't have any idea what happened with Andy and his date after that but if they were trying to get home by 1 am they probably just finished making out in their seats.

It was a great show but as much as we enjoyed it, I'm glad we didn't stick around for the encore.