29 August 2008

A Tale of Two Meals

It was the best of food, it was the worst of food for lunch this week.

I blew off work for most of Tuesday and met up with pal, Reya, at Sonoma Restaurant & Wine Bar on Capitol Hill. In addition to enjoying good company, I thought the food and wine were perfect, light, flavorful, and nuanced. I was pleased with the service, the presentation and the setting, too.

Then, Wednesday, a group of us went out to lunch for someone's birthday. The birthday babe had the choice of any place in the area and the rest of us would pick up the tab. Any place at all. Her pick. Total free will. [You may note that I can not stress this enough.]

She chose... (wait for it...)


Fast food. I say, if you want Mexican food, that's great. Pick a real Mexican restaurant. But, no. She wanted McDonald's version of Mexican food. I couldn't begin to tell you why.

Here's what my lunch looked like:

Except this picture is 1/1,000,000th the actual size. Chipotle makes burritos the size of Canada. Maybe bigger. The choice of ingredients was mine, so I can't entirely blame Chipotle. It tasted fresh. It looked colorful. The plating left a little to be desired (foil, wax paper, plastic basket) and the wine choice... well...

Sadly, ultimately, I have no one but myself to blame because I knew the Chipotle experience. I knew, dammit! And, still, I ate that entire burrito, Vancouver and all.*

Why? Because it was in front of me. Pretty weak defense, I know.

The rest of the day was spent in regret. I felt like this:

but not as fetching.** The dinner hour came and went and I wanted nothing. Nothing... but to be free of the Chipotle experience then and always.


* Vancouver makes it tangy.

** My come hither look can not compete.

Man = mechanic

"We wipe your pipe
We pump your gas
We jack your back
We scrub your glass

So join the ranks of those who know
And fill your tanks with Texaco"*

Bless all of you for not responding to my last post with "Wait, you told your husband you were worried about your tires and he didn't take care of it?"

I don't expect my husband to take care of my car. That's because a) he has his own car to be concerned with, b) much like me, he knows almost nothing about cars** and c) it is not 1950.

My mother, on the other hand, a very intelligent woman who speaks five languages while I can sometimes barely speak one, expects my husband to know about cars, electronics and so on, simply because he is a man. She does not have this expectation of me, because I am not a man.

So, it is not uncommon for us to have a conversation like the following when we visit her:

Mother to Hubby: There's something wrong with my car.

Hubby: What's wrong with your car?

Mother: [Describes problem.]

Hubby: Have you taken it to a mechanic?

Mother: Not yet. I thought you could look at it.

Hubby: I could certainly look at the car. Literally. But short of setting the clock, I doubt I'd be of much help. I don't know anything about cars.

Mother, handing him the keys: If you wouldn't mind... See if you can fix it.

Hubby looks at me as if to say: What should I do now?

I look at Hubby and say to my Mother: He'll take a look at it.

Because what does it hurt to look?

He and I go out to the car and here's the thing: Where Hubby knows very little about cars, he is a very logical, methodical fellow. And often the problems she has are not so mechanically intensive. So, for example, he can sometimes un-stick a stuck seat lever by smacking it with his shoe.

We go back in and, because he thinks it's ridiculous, I proudly announce: He fixed it! Isn't he clever?!***

This reinforces her belief that he is a mechanical genius and, of course, this encourages her to come back to him the next time anything goes wrong.

* Actual words from the old Texaco song. Amazing, no? If you're so inspired, add a new verse.

** Unlike me, he has other talents that are much more valuable.

*** I'm all kinds of evil this way.

28 August 2008

Intuition only helps if you listen to it

In the "not funny but true" category...

Three weeks ago we are on I95, driving back from Jersey.

Me: I'm thinking I should check my tires at some point.

Hubby: Oh? Why?

Me: I dunno... Do they check the tire pressure when they do the oil change and stuff?

Hubby: I think so.

Me: Yeah, they probably do. But it doesn't take long to check so I should probably do that if I'm feeling like I should do that.

[Insert image of pages fluttering off the calendar here]

A few days ago, I'm leaving work in the evening and my car is an island unto itself. Good time to check the tires. I find they are at 33, 30, 42 (!), and 26 (!). Not good. Certainly not good for the wear. I wonder how they've gotten to this point, especially the one at 42.

I look at the manual and it says the proper level is 32. Well, at least two of the four are close. I drive to a service station and balance them out.

Last night, I am leaving work at 7:30 and the tire that was lowest days ago, looks low again. I check it and it is at 28. I drive again to a service station and fill the tire to the proper level. It's at this point that I notice a great big nail in the tread. Yes, that would explain the slow leak. I decide to overfill the tire a bit.

I think: It's too late to get it fixed tonight. Maybe at lunch tomorrow.

I also think: I wonder how long I can drive on a tire with a nail in it and not have a blow out?

As I drive home, I try to prepare myself for a blow out, as if that's possible. I keep my hands at 10 and 2. I try to stay away from other traffic. I slow down to 65ish, which is the slowest pace I can still keep with the flow. I get home without a blow out. Today I get to work, in the pouring rain, without a blow out.

I consider that I could have had this nail for weeks, maybe months and not know it. I think about all the times I've been driving long distances. I think about all the times I'm been driving over 80 mph.

At lunchtime today, I got to a service station. The tire now sports a plug.

So, no dramatic conclusion to this story but I will say this...

Next time the universe tells me to check my tires, I'm listening.

27 August 2008

Poker Face. NOT!

I had a college professor ask to speak to me after class one day. He waited until the others filed out and then the conversation went something like this:

Him: Is something wrong?

Me: What do you mean?

Him: You look very unhappy in this class.

Me: I do?!

Him: No. Not unhappy. You look like you're bored out of your mind. Are you bored?

Me, thinking "Oh, this is so not good": OH, NOOOO. Absolutely not! I'm just tired by the time I get to class. I'm really sorry if I don't look enthusiastic.

Him: It's very disheartening to look out and see your face looking so bored.

Me: I'm really sorry. I'm not bored. I'm just tired. Truly.

'Cause when you're lying it always helps to punctuate your comments with "Truly."

I wasn't tired. I was busted.

I was bored out of my mind. And it showed. It always shows. I try to be aware of what emotions are playing across my face and manage them. At least a little. But most of the time, what you see is what you get.*

Amazingly, I've had the opposite to be true. Well, not the opposite. Maybe the catty-corner.

I used to have a coworker that was in love with the sound of his own voice. He'd talk to me, or anyone else who didn't get out of the way fast enough, forEVer, no matter how bored we looked. He just wouldn't take the hint. Even if you said "You're boring me. Go away." He thought you'd told the funniest joke.

You could turn away, he'd keep talking. You could start typing, he'd keep talking.

Eventually, I learned to just get up and walk out of my own office. He'd follow me down the hall for a little bit but if I strode purposefully enough, he'd give up. If all else failed, I'd duck into the Ladies Room. I felt sorry for the guys who had to listen to him because they didn't have that option.

* This has played havoc with my bid for the Senate.

26 August 2008

Are postal clerks getting bonuses based on commission?

Coming off my CVS high, I head to the post office. I need to send my mother, in New Jersey, a few eyebrow pencils.* I find a few that might work for her, throw them in a small, padded envelope, address it, and head to the post office.

I wait in line. Three of the four people in front of me are on their cell phones. One has to be called twice by the clerk before he moves. At no point does he interrupt the call.

When I am next on deck, I watch the free agent walk away from the counter. She disappears for a few minutes and comes back to find that all the customers have not magically disappeared. She goes away again. This time she reappears with a bin and strong-arms a rather sizable box into the bin. She then pushes it into the back of the visible area. She comes to the counter, looks around, and then turns and looks at the bin with the box, again. More people join the line. She decides this is a good time to take the bin with the box elsewhere. She disappears again.

Minutes pass while I note that two of the four people behind me are on, or messing with, a cell phone. I take out my cell phone.** The clerk comes back. She calls me forward.

Me: Hi. I just need postage for this.

Her, putting the extremely lightweight envelope onto the scale: Overnight, priority, two-day guaranteed, three-day guaranteed, --

Me: The cheapest is fine.

Her: Registered, express mail, receipt requested,--

Me: The cheapest.

Her: Certified, signature confirmation, insurance, ...

At this point, I figure she is like the poor McDonald's clerk that must ask "Would you like an apple pie?" regardless of the fact that the customer has just said "I hate apple pie!"***

So, I let her finish without further interruption. She goes on for so long that -- now, I couldn't swear to it -- but I may have heard something about "undercoating."

When she is done, I say, for the third time: The cheapest is fine.

Her: $4.70.

Me, looking at the tiny, feather-weight package in bewilderment: To send this to New Jersey?

Her: Yes.

Me, confounded: That's the cheapest rate?

Her: You don't want the cheapest. That'll take forever! It won't get there for, maybe, seven days.

Me: That's exactly what I want. The cheapest.

Her, recalculating: $1.07.

I guess I should be glad she didn't shoot me.

* Gentlemen: An eyebrow pencil is one of the 4,327,228 things women use to get that "natural look." The "natural look" is why you tell us we look great without make-up, when, in reality, you would stab your eyes out if you ever saw us without make-up.

** I just want to fit in.

*** And what Mickey D's calls an apple pie is never an apple pie so much as an apple Hot Pocket. And that pales, literally and figuratively, in comparison to a real piece of apple pie or even a Pepperidge Farm Apple Turnover. And while we're on the subject of bogus apple pie, have you seen the infomercial where the woman puts a piece of white bread into the sandwich maker device and then puts in canned apple pie filling and hot presses it and calls it an apple pie? That is so not apple pie. Can I get a whoopwhoop?****

**** I always wanted a whoopwhoop.

25 August 2008

CVS goes bankrupt. Film at 11.

Friday I run out at lunch and visit the CVS.* I bypass the library (that aisle where everyone mills around reading magazines and tilting their heads sideways) and I pick up a couple items*** that total ~$25. But wait! I am a CVS club member and membership has it's privileges. I have a sheet of CVS coupons.

They are quite the variety, coupon-wise. Some are good for this week. Some next. Some are specific to the things you can buy (CVS brand items only.) Some are "get $3 off when you buy $15 worth" while others are "get $4 off when you buy $20 worth." Some are the same coupon repeated. Some are not. And there's fine print!

Yeah, I know: Who can be bothered?

Not me.

I plunk down the whole sheet and say "whatever you can do..." and leave it to the cashier to determine what the best deal is.

She studies the sheet and gives me a "$4 off $20 worth" credit. I'm now down to ~$21.

Me: Thank you.

But she's not done. She does a second $4 off $20 worth coupon.

Me, thinking "Huh?!", as I'm pretty sure they're not supposed to be combinable: Uh, thank you!

But she's not done. Now, that she sees the machine has no problem accepting multiple coupons, she's taking it as a personal challenge. We're down to ~$16 at this point and she explains that she can apply the $3 off $15 worth coupon. And she does.

Me: Thank you!!

I'm beginning to think they're going to pay me for these items.

At this point, she apologizes--APOLOGIZES--that she can do no more due to the specific item required by the coupon or the date it's effective.

Me: I think you did great!

She gives me back the remaining coupons, pointing out the ones I can use at a later date. I give her one more big "thank you" and I leave the CVS with ~$25 worth of stuff for ~$13.

* That translates to Rite Aid, Walgreens or whatever the pharmacy is in your neck of the woods.**

** Just where is the "neck of the woods"? Aren't there better parts of the body with which to describe some portion of a forest? Go ahead, think about it. I'll wait.

*** If I tell you what I got, you won't be surprised when you open your birthday present. Man, I hope I got the right thickness. I've said too much.

24 August 2008

Sunday Confessional

[Image of closet belonging to a worse sinner than me. But how do they ever get a sweater out??]

*lacochran looks both ways and ducks into the confessional*

Forgive me, Internets, for I have organized.

I started color coding my closet when we moved into our current home, years ago.

*lacochran squirms*

Wait, there' s more.

Color coded within summer and winter divisions.


Summer and winter divisions within category of item.

So I'll have all the blue summer tops together, for example.

Everybody does this, right?


Sometimes, when I'm rushing around and hanging clothes up, I'll just hang them on one end of my closet for expediency. The next time I go into the closet, it bothers me that they're not sorted properly. If I take the time to sort them a Himalayan-mountaintop-sanctuary-meditation-calm descends upon me.

I rationalize this behavior by telling myself that a sorted closet saves me time in the morning because I do not have to wonder where the green summer skirt got to in the bowels of my closet. But the reality is that my closet is not that big nor do I have an impressive amount of clothes.

So, that's not really the reason.

For what it's worth, I do not organize Hubby's closet. He can sort or not sort as he sees fit. Nor do I sort my mother's closet, though it might help.

Okayokayokay, I did sort my mother-in-law's closet but I asked her if I could do it first and afterwards she said she appreciated it.

Maybe she was humoring me.

Forgive me, Internets. *blush* I'd like to say it won't happen again but it will.

*lacochran thinks fleetingly about switching the rosary beads to a more pleasing order, wrings hands, and leaves confessional*

22 August 2008

Real and for-true e-mail

This e-mail went to seven people in my organization. I was one of the lower ranking recipients.

"Good morning. Several orders were placed with [Tech Support] for software for your perusal. As soon as the software has been delivered and installed, please provide me with the installation discs for safekeeping. I maintain a database for all software purchases within [the organization].

[List of different software packages and who received each.]


That's a relief. Now I know how to keep my installation discs safe. I was debating: Should I melt them? Pitch them in the toilet? Grind them up and eat them? It was a quandary. Thank heaven we've got people like this looking out for us.

21 August 2008

Oh, the places you'll go, Thad

I am not making up the following phone conversation nor do I feel I need to exaggerate it for comic effect. See what you think. The salon name has been changed to protect its identity and because "X" is a cool name for any establishment. X marks the spot. X = kiss. X = signature. See? Multi-cool. Use it, with my blessings. Now on to our story...

This took place on Saturday.

Thad: Hi, X Salon. Thad speaking.

Me: Hi, this is L. A. Cochran. I got a voice-mail message confirming a hair appointment.

Thad: Yeah, that was probably from me. I did a bunch of those earlier.

Me: Um, yeah. Your message said the appointment was tomorrow at five. I can come tomorrow but I thought the appointment was for Tuesday.

Thad: Oh, yeah. See, I was eating lunch and I did a bunch of those calls. I probably told everybody that it was tomorrow.

Me: ...

Thad: I'm used to telling people that their appointment is tomorrow but I forgot it was Saturday and I was looking ahead to next week. See, I was eating lunch.

Me: ...

Thad: I guess I should call everybody back. I probably told everybody that.

Me: ...

Thad: Thanks for calling back.

Me: So my appointment is Tuesday?

Thad: Oh, yeah, it's Tuesday. ...Now, I guess I have to call everybody back.

Me: Um, yeah. Thanks for the confirmation.

20 August 2008

I've got to be the only one who thinks about these things

[The Taco Bell harbinger of death.]

Thanks to Blogger's handy auto-post option and my slow Tuesday, I cranked out a post for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and set each to auto-post on a respective day.* The point was, no matter how crazybusy I was and how many meetings I found myself in (I have five, count 'em: five standing meetings on Wednesday), I'd know that some small gift from me was headed your way, dear Internets.

Then I thought, what if I die tonight? Won't it be weird to have posts seemingly from the other side? How creepy is that? Okay, it's not as creepy as having a Taco Bell delivery show up at your door from someone who's dead but still...** I dunno...

Then I thought: well, most of you won't know I'm dead.

That wasn't the cheery thought you might think it ought to be.

I left the auto-posts in place and told myself to get over myself.

But occasionally I think about things like this. Really stupid things.*** Like, what if my car decides to switch stations on me just at the point of death and the police come and track it back **** and they announce to my loved ones that I was listening to Rush Limbaugh or Billy Ray Cyrus at the moment I left this mortal coil when that was the car's choice, damn it! It's an electrical problem! But Rush or Billy Ray? That's not good. That's not how I want to be remembered, if I'm remembered at all. Promise me, when the AP wire gets listed, you'll skip the part about the radio station I was listening to. PROMISE ME!

Um, thanks.

Well, I didn't die before the Wednesday post went out. That's something.

Now I'm thinking: wouldn't it be weird if I died right after I sent out this post on how weird it would be if I died?

* This post was not one of them. This is an extra special post just 'cause. Remember I delivered this extra post when I am a husk of failed creativity. Or something.

** Is it possible to get a Taco Bell delivery? Maybe that doesn't even make sense. You see how distraught I am.

*** As opposed to my usual brilliant analysis on important topics like String Cheese.

**** Because the police have nothing better to do than ponder what radio show I was listening to when I died.

Not so good with the numbers

I have had a lot of math education. A lot. Ridiculous amounts. Seriously, enough to be a math major. And here's the thing: I suck at math. No, sucking at math would be a huge improvement. I aspire to suck at math. Algebra, Calculus, all of it was torturous and I hated all of it with a white hot, seething, growling Cujo intensity.*

I'm not even good with basic arithmetic. To this day, I calculate tips with a calculator and, sometimes, I still get it wrong. It would be so easy to grift me.

Me: Just tell me what I owe.

You, looking at bill: Let's see, we each had a beer and I had the nachos. You owe $6,000.

Me: Okay.

I have no number skills and no number memory.

You: Remember this number: 4,312.

Me: What? What number?

You: 4,312.

Me: Do I have to?

You: Yes. It's 4,312.

Me: Four what?

You: 4,312!

Me: *blink*

You: *glare*

Me, sweating: It had an eight, right?

You: *walking away, disgusted* **

The only math class I liked was Geometry. Where I suck with the numbers, I'm all over the shapes. I'm a first class fitter-inner. Spatial puzzles? No probs. Predict the missing part? I can do that.

I can tell if the car will fit into the parking space. I know if the TV will fit into the car trunk and how to orient it. I can tell if the hall carpet is big enough to roll the dead, bloated body in. I can pick the perfect size pan or container to put leftovers in. The perfect size. I am the Rainman of spatial relations. Like most of my other skills, I don't know how I can use this to get money, but I'm very proud of it, all the same.

* You would think this immense suckitude would make me more sympathetic to other people's limitations. Not even a little bit.

** That's cold, Man. Cold.

19 August 2008

Maybe Stephen King was the previous owner

Since my last set of car repairs, in June, my eight-year-old car has developed some eccentric behaviors. There seems to be something not quite right with the electrical system.

From a safety perspective, I seem to be doing okay. Headlights? Check. Turn signals? Check. Break lights? Check.

But one night two weeks ago I was driving down the road and I noticed a strange reflection on the flipped up visor. Two spots of light. I couldn't figure out where the reflection was coming from. I got a little panicky. It looked a little like this:

Scary, right?

Well, not so much with the alien head but definitely with the two glowy spots. Still disturbing, yes?

Turns out it wasn't a reflection at all. The lights in the vanity mirror were showing through the visor. Of course, the lights in the vanity mirror shouldn't have been on. *cue creepy music* The mirror was closed and the visor was flipped up. But they were on. Just on the driver's visor. The passenger visor, with it's own vanity mirror, was non-glowy.

I discovered that I could not find a way to shut off the driver-side, vanity-mirror lights no matter what I did, short of turning the motor off. So I made the decision that they would have to burn themselves out. I wasn't going searching for a fuse that was labeled: "creepy-driver-side-only-vanity-mirror-lights-that-won't-shut-off" and I couldn't see spending big bucks to have a mechanic figure it out.

Plus, they bathe me in a cool, eerie glow which I've decided to find enhancing.*

This weekend, I discovered a new quirk. When I turn the steering wheel to the right, the radio advances from one pre-set station to the next. Sometimes, it hops through several pre-sets.

Um, I wasn't really into that song anyway. You go ahead, Car, and listen to whatever you want.

I can just hear the mechanics gathering around the phone to laugh at me should I decide to call these things in... "Wait, can you repeat that?" *sound of guys trying to muffle their giggling* "You've got a glowy visor and a self-determining radio? Hawhawhaw..."

* Luckily, I'm a "Winter" and this works with my palette.

18 August 2008

"Taking Care of Business Every Day" -- BTO

Lately, I've driven by more costumed people than I'd call normal. I mean, occasionally, you have to expect to see a person in a chicken costume as you drive past the chicken take-out, don't you? Well, I always hope to. Just for the magic that is a person in a chicken suit.

But it's becoming clear that there is a thriving job market if you want to get dressed up like a pizza or a mattress or a realty sign (yes, realty sign) and wave and point. I'm not talking sandwich board, I'm talking full on costume, here. In my area, they're impressive costumes, too. Much better ones than the picture shown above that I found by Google search. Why would a pizza have a chef's hat on it's side? I'm not feeling it.

I'm not sure I'd choose it as a career but perhaps as an "in between" gig. Lots more pros than cons but those cons... hm...


  • You get paid.
  • You get to wear a costume.
  • You don't have to have special knowledge or training.
  • It doesn't matter if you are having a bad hair day. Or a bad face day, for that matter.
  • You can goof around all you want. In fact, this is the perfect time to show off your new dance moves.
  • You don't have to sit in meetings and/or try to keep from rolling your eyes.
  • Nobody knows it's you so when you go to your high school reunion you can make up something more prestigious, like Fry Jockey.
  • You don't get paid much.
  • You have to wear a costume no matter how hot/rainy/miserable the weather gets.
  • You don't gain any special knowledge or training.
  • It is hard to parlay this into a bigger gig, like a Fruit-of-the-Loom commercial.
  • It's impossible to give the finger because of your giant Mickey Mouse hand when that car full of guys throws a cup of soda at you.

16 August 2008

They censored what?

[Kid Rock wondering how to get Pamela Anderson back.]

Here is the chorus to Kid Rock's current song* where he is supposedly reminiscing about his teenage years in Michigan:

And we were trying different things
We were smoking funny things
Making love out by the lake to our favorite song
Sipping whiskey out the bottle, not thinking 'bout tomorrow
Singing Sweet home Alabama all summer long

I mention this because on the trip to Jersey last week, we heard this song on the radio approximately 4,338 times. You know, approximately. Now, here's the pop quiz part: which part of this lyric is offensive?

[insert annoying Jeopardy timer music here]

Got your answer? Good. Read on.

My answer: None of it. If you can get past the fact that he's not exactly Dr. Seuss with the rhymes, I think all of it makes for a reasonable chorus.**

One could argue that a teenager shouldn't be doing any of that. Okay, if you're gonna get all prissy and parenty fine. YOU NEVER LET ME DO ANYTHING!!

Um, sorry. Not sure where that came from. Moving on.

If you answered: "smoking", you, too, can be a radio censor. One radio station played a version with the word "smoking" dropped out so it was "We were [empty pause] funny things". How incredibly lame is that?

Is smoking pot worse than drinking whiskey from the bottle or having underage sex? As a teenager, it's all illegal.

And, for that matter, why drop "smoking"? Why not drop "funny"?

What does this do except make kids think the song is cool because it has banned words? At least on one station. Every other station played it as written.

*shakes head* Wacky censors.

* If you can call it "his", since he samples heavily from both "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Werewolves of London. "

** As a kid, I loved Dr. Seuss. As an adult, I had to accept it was pretty much over once he got the restraining order.

15 August 2008

"Tell Me Why" --Frankie Lymon / Crowd Surfing

[This guy gets a fondle and a wedgy and his pocket picked by 15,000 people* ...not to mention his buddies on the ground finishing off his overpriced beer.]

Q du Jour:

Alright, who here has crowd surfed?** Now, now... don't avert your eyes. If you've done it, what was it like? If you haven't done it but think you'd consider doing it, why?

I gotta say, this holds zero appeal for me. Trust, shmust. Why would I want all those grubby hands all over my body? Do women ever crowd surf or is this strictly a guy phenomenon? Either way, don't you wind up with hands where you don't want hands? Or is that part of the thrill?

* Eventually, all that was left in his pocket was a pack of Wintergreen gum. Nobody wants the Wintergreen.

** You might as well admit it. Learn from John Edwards. It's better to come clean*** immediately.

*** Heehee.

14 August 2008

Considering applying to FDU? Want free money?

This is an open communication to anyone who may be considering going to Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU). If you are not, you may go about your business.

One of my alma maters is Fairleigh Dickinson. They recently sent me an Alumni Newsletter. On the back was this message "Save a prospective FDU student $1,000 - Without spending a dime of your own! Do you know a college-bound student who would be a great fit at FDU? It may be a relative, neighbor or child of a friend. As an FDU graduate, your signature on our Alumni/Trustee/Faculty Recommendation Form will automatically guarantee a one-time, $1,000 grant during the student's first undergraduate year at our University. [more stuff elided] But hurry! Recommendations must be received by January 15, 2009 for students entering in Fall 2009."

So, if you are a prospective FDU student, drop me a line. If I can get you a grant, I will. At least for the first person who responds, as I don't know how long and involved the form is and more than one may cut into my slack-jawed, television-watching time.

What do you have to do? Go to FDU, study, and be cool. :)

Made possible by viewers like you

I am flipping channels* last week and find a 1978 Billy Joel concert. Huh. Look how young he looks! I remember this song. And that song. I had "The Stranger" on vinyl.

After five minutes, it goes into PBS pledge drive. Foy!** I decide I am not willing to wade through 25 minutes of begging to get to the next 5 minutes of concert.

They have the nerve to say that PBS is valuable because it provides wonderful programming like the program you are watching. Like we're not going to notice that the only time of the year PBS plays something different/interesting is when they're asking for money. Chyuh.

Public Broadcasting belongs to the PUBLIC. Ergo, it should be free. Or at least free of begging.

Send me a bill. Tax me for it. Eliminate it. But stop with the begging. It's unseemly. And boring as all get out.

Better yet, just play concerts and run the phone number over the bottom of the screen, like they do at telethons. I'll bet people will get confused and send in more money than usual thinking they've stumbled on another Live Aid.

* For you non-TV people: this is television jargon.

** My dad always said "Foy!" when he was disgusted. I don't know if that was German for something or his accented version of "Fooey". Either way, I like it. Feel free to say "Foy!" emphatically to anyone who disgusts you. If it confuses them, so much the better.

13 August 2008

Ketchup Fraud

I was the victim of a shamockery this past weekend. It's not too late for you to learn from my mistake. For the love/hate of Emeril, don't let this happen to you.*

In the midsts of our travels we hit a chain for bites and booze.** I looked over and saw this (pictured) ketchup bottle. I like ketchup (no matter how it's spelled) and I don't care who knows it. It's sweet and tomatoey and all-Americanly perfect on fries. Yeah, I'll do malt vinegar but they're our allies.

Me: Isn't that nice! A new bottle of ketchup for us! I don't think I've ever seen a new, full bottle like this at a restaurant before! I feel special!***

Hubby, picks up ketchup: It's not full. The bottle is opaque. This is a third full at best.

Me: Bastards.

I blame W for leading the country down a path of lies and ultimate disillusion. I fear for motherhood and apple pie next.

* You don't see much of Emeril these days. Hard to believe catch phrases like "BAM!" and "Pork Fat Rules" failed to continue to inspire the country.

** Not necessarily in that order.

*** I'm always exclamationy when I feel special. Sometimes the neighbors complain.

12 August 2008

Wine Whine

Speaking of conversations that provide too much information...

I'll never forget a particular winery hopping trip. There were four of us on the North Fork of Long Island, where there are wineries approximately every 207 feet. Or closer. Get a ruler.

Anyway, the four of us like wine and we even know a thing or two about it. We look and act reasonably respectable and, with regard to wine, if we like it, we buy it, unless it's way overpriced. Generally, we have a grand time but there was this experience...

We'd already spent a day winery hopping and got up, had a leisurely breakfast and went to the first winery on our list for the new day. We went up to the tasting area, plunked our money down, and were presented with wine glasses and tasting information sheets.

Wine flunky: Welcome to X Winery. My name is Grizzela. For this tasting, *points to sheet* we'll be going through the four on the front left of your sheet and these five on the back.

The first wine
*holds bottle up but does not pour* is our Lemmings Lament. The Lemmings Lament is our most popular white. It is 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Petit Verdot and is stored in stainless steel for 2 months prior to being moved to a lemming's bladder for final fermentation.

It has won the coveted Governor's Gold in 2001 and the less coveted Mailman's Local #38 Bronze in 2002. It also won the Wine Bedazzler Medal of Distinction in four categories--including Color Not Found in Nature and Chubby Legs--in 2002. Snooty Wines Monthy called it "Unusual."

When you taste this, you will first notice a funny tingling in the front of your tongue. That's from a happy accident--we inadvertently dusted rat poison on the ground around the Petit Verdot. We were going to scrap the harvest but were so delighted with the effect that we decided to raise the price. I think you'll be pleased.

With the tingle, you'll get a hint of nutmeg and asphalt and then a burst of grapefruit, fig, and leather with a final nuance of envelope glue. Now if you swirl it around, you'll also get remarkable overtones of ink, Hungarian paprika, and Vicks VapoRub.

It has a loooong finish and will repeat on you but in a way I think you'll find amusing.

Lemmings Lament is suitable for serving with camembert, Prince Edward Island mussels, and kumquats.

It has a residual sugar level of 3.14159265.

The bottler's name was Alfonso.

The label was designed by our own Letitia Figglesby, and depicts a lemming being torn asunder by the winery dog, Mr. Itchy.

*places bottle down and picks up second bottle*
Now the second wine on the list is our Sing-Sing Sensation...

We stand there, dismayed. Grizzela continues to share way too much information and, apparently, is intent on describing every last wine to the nth degree before we get a drop. As if we're even going to remember what she said 40 minutes ago when she started. I lose it. I interrupt while she is over-pronouncing "terroir."

Me, doing my Suzanne Sugarbaker impression: Excuse me!

Grizzela: Yes?

Me: I'd like to try the first wine.

Grizzela: I usually go through the whole list first.

Me: Sorry, there's no way I'm going to remember most of that. I'd rather hear any description you have to offer after I've tried the wine. I like to develop my own impressions.

Grizzela: *blink*

Me: *not blinking* *pushing glass forward*

Grizzela: Okay.

Me: Thank you.

Most wine flunkies know better than to do what Grizzela did, but I'll offer this unsolicited advice anyway: We know you know about these particular wines, or should, because that's your job, so you don't need to prove to us how much you know. If you want to talk about the wine, that's great. Be brief--just the basics--and do it while you are pouring. Then, let people taste the wine before you tell them what specific under- and overtones you think they ought to taste. Then be ready to answer more specific questions. This allows people to develop their tasting abilities and it's a heck of a lot more fun that way. And for heaven's sake, give Mr. Itchy a worm pill.

11 August 2008

Movie Spoilage

There are two types of people in the world: those who tell the ending of a movie to someone who hasn't seen the movie and those who don't. I fall squarely in the latter category. Except for today.

SPOILER ALERT: Today, I am going to give away the ending to three non-current movies. The movies are:

  • Up Close & Personal,
  • Thelma & Louise, and
  • Citizen Kane.
This is your chance to turn away from this page if you do not want to read information about the endings to any of these movies. You have been warned.

See what I did there? I gave you an option. You get to decide. I don't think that's too much to ask. But, check it, I have had the following conversations when they were timely:

Coworker A using copier: Hi blahblahblah.
Me, waiting for copier: Hi blahblahblah. How was your weekend?
Coworker A: Okay... I went with a friend to see the movie Up Close & Personal.
Me: Did you like it?
Coworker A: Well, yeah, except who would have expected Robert Redford to die at the end? That kind of sucked.
Me: *blink*
Coworker A: Did you have a good weekend?
Me: *glower*

Same deal, different coworker:
Coworker B: Have you seen Thelma & Louise?
Me: No.
Coworker B: Oh, I think you'd like it.
Me: Oh?
Coworker B: Well, you know they drive off a cliff at the end, right?
Me: *blink* ...No, I didn't know that.
Coworker B: Yeah, but it's integral to the story. Anyway, you should see it. I think you'd really like it.
Me: *glower*

What the heck is with people?

Maybe they'd like to tell me Rosebud was the name of Kane's sled, too.

If I'm going to watch a movie, I want to watch it from beginning to end and I want to (hopefully) be delighted with a fresh, new experience. I don't need anyone telling me how it ends. Or telling me about clever plot twists that might have surprised me if they hadn't given it away. Sheesh.

On a related rant: Have you noticed that "previews" now often show you all the plot points of the movie? So, it's not unusual to see a preview with scenes like this: "Boy meets girl. Boy dates girl. Boy and girl fight. Girl cries. Boy looks uncertain. Boy and girl rush into each other's arms and kiss." And I'd need to see this movie, why? Haven't I just seen it??

Extraspecialbonusparagraph: We spent the weekend on a pilgrimage to rs27's original home state. Rs, we mentioned your name at every bar we went to but people seemed oddly unmoved. We didn't get a single free drink or get thrown out! Makes no sense. We did spend an inordinate amount of time "jughandling" which isn't as fun as it sounds.

10 August 2008

"I'll be Watching You" -- The Police, Greatest Stalker Hits

Another mystery to me: Why do people list what they are currently reading on their blogs? I can see sharing recommendations of favorite books but ...currently reading? Not a criticism, just a curiosity.

Should I do this? I'm thinking much as you love me* you couldn't care less what I'm reading. But perhaps I'm wrong.

I am currently reading "Bel Canto" by Ann Patchett but it's taking me forever to get through it because:

A) I'm easily distracted.

B) I read slower than a sloth would read if a sloth read would chuck wood.

C) I keep getting magazines so I look at those. I receive quite a few because for a while I was answering surveys and one of the lame things you can trade in your low number redemption points for is magazines. My points were expiring soooo... lots of magazines I wouldn't normally read are appearing in my mailbox. It's a strange thing to look at magazines you normally wouldn't pick up. Like being in a doctor's waiting room but you're in your own home.**

D) I watch badtelevision. Television has become so bad, it's now one word: badtelevision. I have been known to switch it off once in a while but this always garners amazement from Hubby so I tend to just leave it on, melting my brain into soft beta.***

Um, so there you have it. I am currently reading Bel Canto. By Ann Patchett. Here's what it looks like:

Do you feel closer to me now?

* Oh, stop it. You know you do.

** Does the mailman looks at the magazines I am getting as a means of furthering our distant connection?

*** Beta. Like buttah. But bettah.

09 August 2008

A blessing on your head, Mazel Tov, Mazel Tov

This scenario happens a lot:

Me: *coughitycough*

Them: Bless you!

Me: Thanks.

Them: Wait--did you sneeze or cough?

Me: That was a cough.

Them: Oh. Never mind, then.

What the heck?

They'll bless me if I sneeze but a cough somehow doesn't rank a blessing?

Am I any less in need of a blessing if I cough than if I sneeze?

Now I'm not generally one to turn down a blessing from anybody but based on their "only sneeze" policy, when I do sneeze and they bless me, how much stock should I put into it?

08 August 2008

"I want to make you move because you're standing still"--Finger Eleven

Maybe you can solve a mystery for me.

Yesterday evening, it took me an extra half hour to get over the Woodrow Wilson bridge and it got me thinking.

I accept that I live far from work and there will be times my usual 40 minute commute will stretch toward infinity, like so many white women Sweatin' to the Oldies.

I understand that weather will paralyze people, that construction will completely confound people, that a truck stopped on the side of the road will be a tantalizing mystery whose depths must be plumbed.

People who are already bad drivers will get on their cells and become ridiculously worse drivers. In fact, I am always disappointed when I drive by a terrible driver and discover they are not on the phone. I do so want to be able to blame something besides their basic ineptitude.

But all this is the reality. What I don't understand is this phenomenon:

When the traffic finally clears ahead after a long back up where drivers have inched along for miles, why doesn't everybody resume normal speed?

I was going 10 miles per hour for the last 20 minutes so I guess I'll just keep doing that. La, la, la.

WHY?! At least drive the posted minimum speed limit!

I wind up swerving around these road blocks and wonder what they could possibly be thinking.

It's like people fall into a trance. I don't get it.

07 August 2008

You can't get there from here*

I am beginning to believe we are the last two people on Earth with cars that do not have a GPS navigation system. Once hubby and I buy a TomTom 2000 or a Garvin DLX or a BillyBob's GPS Xtreme with Raspberry Swirl Flavor Crystals**, they can just stop producing them.

But we haven't bought one yet. Nor did we pay extra to have one in our rental car last week.

I do have a phone with Google Maps. I can plug in a starting address and a destination address and it will walk me through directions, noiselessly (read: without the aggressive voice that says "You missed the exit! For the love of god, turn around now!")

And, I know, that by virtue of having this phone, I am "on the grid" and the secret phone police can find me at any point.*** But I have yet to figure out how to make my phone locate where the heck I am for me and plug the address into the directions.

This can be problematic. We spent some time last week like this:

Hubby: Call up your Google Maps.
Me: Okay. It's up... *65 keystrokes later* I've plugged in the destination address. Now, where are we?
Hubby: I dunno.
Me: Me, either.
Hubby: See any street signs?
Me: Nope. Think one of those goats over there can help?****

We did take precautions for some of the trip: Hubby printed out a series of directions from one remote location to another or as close as we could get (one of the places we were wasn't known to Google--how's THAT for remote?!)

At some point the printed directions said to travel "207 ft" to the next turn. 207 ft?! My odometer doesn't do feet.***** Why not just say <.1 mile? I imagine someone getting out of the car with a ruler. Or hanging out a window with one of those snappy advance/retract tape measurey doohickeys saying "Keep going... keep going..."

* Years ago, I knew someone who worked inside the entrance of a state park. Let's call it X Park. People would drive right past the huge sign that said "Welcome to X State Park" in 4000 font and up to my friend who was in a park uniform. They'd ask, "Can you tell me how to get to X Park?" He'd say, "Sorry, you can't get there from here." And, you know what? I think he was right.

** Sure, the crystals burn a little, but I like that.

*** Not that there's anything wrong with secret phone police. I think they're wonderful. I've always said that. You can ask anybody. Please, don't shoot me.

**** Goats are great once you get past the smell. They like to barter. Note to self: Next time offer goats limited edition soda can collection in exchange for directions.

And I subscribe to the Barbie theory on math.

05 August 2008

Do you think they'd look nice displayed with my Franklin Mint Elvis plates?

Photo I took:

Photo of can taken by someone who hasn't ingested hallucinogens:

According to the Interwebs: People can collect six different "Indiana Jones"-themed cans of Dr Pepper or Diet Dr Pepper.

Okay, I get that some people collect movie stuff and some people even collect vintage soda stuff but how many of you are scrambling to collect these beauties? I saw one of these Diet Dr Peppers while traveling and was shocked to see the words "limited edition" on the can.

I can collect Dr Pepper cans of soda?


*blink* *blink*


Oh, look, I can buy the whole set of six on E-bay right now for $5.99. And that's WITH the soda! Do I have to keep them in pristine condition to maintain their value? I so want to collect those pull tabs to help that poor child with cancer but then what will the experts on Antiques Roadshow say when I bring them in?

Life Would Be a Breeze, Shaboom, Shaboom

[A couple different Breezeways for your viewing pleasure.]

Greetings from Delta jail.

We flew Delta last week. When they started boarding they used a relatively standard order:

1) Special Assistance
2) First Class
3) Frequent Flyer Elite
4) Zone 1
5) Zone 2

The strange and wondrous part was that once they got through with the Special Assistance folks, they insisted that the First Class and Frequent Flyer Elite category people use the Breezeway and that other categories use the non-Breezeway route.

They had a divider consisting of two metal poles and a segment stretched between the poles like you might find in a bank. On one side was a mat that said "Breezeway". That was the only distinction we could see: the mat. Whether you went on the plebeian left side of the divider or the elite right side of the divider, you wound up at the gate in the same number of steps and dealt with the same Delta ticket checker.

When they called for First Class and instructed them to use the Breezeway, the First Class fliers dutifully lined up on the Breezeway side except for one, who was busy yammering on his cell phone. He tried to use the non-Breezeway side (!) and the Delta people snapped at him until he went back to the Breezeway side. Ahhhh, they say you get treated differently in First Class and it's so true!

When we landed, we walked through the gate and I saw a Breezeway mat and I WALKED ON IT. It was everything I'd dreamed of and oh, so much more! I'll long remember the gentle plushness of that Breezeway mat under my feet. Finally, I know how the other half lives. Sure, they carted me off to Delta jail but it was so worth it!

Please don't forget me. Tell my story so that one day we might all enjoy the blessings of the Breezeway. Oh, and please send supplies. Anything except Fisher peanuts, Lance crackers or Biscoff cookies. I'm sick of those.