25 November 2008

"I got more than I could ask for" -- Grand Funk Railroad

You'll probably think less of me (what else is new?) but I hate this time of year. I mean I really hate it.

Yes, I'm thankful. I have a lush life. And I know it's nothing to take for granted. And I have you. Amazing you! It's pretty damn great and I don't mean to underplay it.

And yet... of all the times of the year, this is the worst for me. The light is fading and the temperature is dropping (it's already in the 30s.) And if it's not gonna snow a foot such that work closes for the day and I can stay home, guilt-free, and do, oh, 15 minutes of cross country skiing and spend the rest of the day curled up in front of the fire, what's the point? If I've got to scrape the ice off my windshield and trudge through the bitter cold to earn my living, what's the freakin' point?*

And this is also the time of year when we slog through department stores, online bazaars and catalogues.

Me: *pointing to a Horton* Horton! You think [loved one] would like a Horton?

Him: Would you?

Me: Um, yeah. I think I would.

Him: Okay, get it.

Me: No, it's complete and utter crap.

Him: *pointing* Here's a marshmallow bazooka. It actually fires marshmallows. You think [same loved one] would like that?

Me: I do.

Him: Really?

Me: Yes, but I fear for the dog.

Him: Poor dog.

Me: Poor, poor dog.

And so we continue wandering aimlessly through the nightmare that is holiday gift giving, examining and discarding various items, waiting for inspiration to strike for gifts for loved ones who we should know better than we do. And we buy extra presents for the dog. Poor dog.

It leaves me feeling a little like this:

except with less attractive markings.

This is decidedly different from most of the year when I feel like this:

Oh, sure. When the cat does it, it's cute. When I do it, I have "anger issues."


So, um, I guess this is my lurvly way of saying Happy Thanksgiving.

Wishing you and yours blah-de-blah-blah-blah.

PS Go look at Sean's adorable kitten and remember all that is good in the world.

* Don't just sit there, answer me when I ask you rhetorical questions. [Said a la Napoleon Dynamite:] God!

24 November 2008

"Every breath you take, every move you make..." --The Police/and our waiter

We go to The Bastille, which is north of Old Town, for lunch on Saturday. It is Hubby's pick. He is easily suggestible. In fact, I believe it is because we were meeting friends for French food on Thursday that he thought, hmmm, let's go get some French food this weekend! Never mind that it is a french restaurant named after a jail.

So, we go. (He's buying, I'm going!)

And it is part of Open Table's Appetite Stimulus Plan where you can get lunch for some ridiculously cheap price. I mean CHEAP--three courses for $21. Something like that.

That's if you don't drink. Our bar tab comes to more than our food tab. But that's not what I want to say. And the food is REALLY good. Amazingly good. We will definitely be going back to The Bastille. But that's still not what I want to say.

Something happened there that never happens.

The waiter fixated on me like he was Dennis Miller and I was a string of esoteric references.

Like he was a Jonas Brother and I was awkward, poser hair.

Like he was me overworking a simile.

Here was the moth to my candle--but a really intense moth that felt if he didn't flap his fuzzy wings and bash into my flame he just couldn't exist.

Waiterguy, a tall, attractive, knowledgeable server, barely acknowledged Hubby. It wasn't that he was out and out rude to him. Waiterguy just kept his eyes on me. He addressed all comments to me. Even when Hubby asked a question, Waiterguy addressed his answer to me.

Hubby started talking to Waiterguy about the white Burgundy we were drinking and Waiterguy responded briefly but then he rushed off and grabbed a bottle of it to present to me, as if to say, "Here! Honor this bottle by letting your amazing gaze fall upon it. Ahhh."

He was completely consumed with making sure I was happy (and, really, shouldn't all men be worried about my happiness?) and he even started chatting me up about how I should go to France. That I would love it. Lyon, in particular. How Lyon was fantastic, gastronomically speaking, and less expensive than Paris. Then, he brings over a Wine Spectator, open to an article on Lyon, for me to examine. Waiterguy is practically booking our trip (his and mine.)

When Waiterguy goes off to fetch me more wine:

Hubby: He really likes you, doesn't he?

Me, grinning like a Cheshire: He really does, doesn't he?! It's nice, isn't it?

Hubby: *Hmph*

Me: Oh, like I haven't put up with a hundred waitresses falling all over you. For once, it can be me.

And, it's true. Waitresses love my husband. Maybe it's the puppy dog eyes. Maybe it's the southern accent that honeys up a bit when an attractive waitress is leaning over him. I don't know how many waitresses have completely failed to notice my existence while throwing themselves into the task of making him happy or just blatantly throwing themselves at him.

When the bill comes:

Me: I love this place! And the service is so good! You should tip really well.

Hubby: He's getting enough.

22 November 2008

"No more drama in my life" -- Mary J Blige

Thursday night we meet friends at Montmartre for dinner and the Beaujolais Nouveau release.* These friends have lots of other friends that they invite to join in and it is a fun evening.

Montmartre is a small, modestly attractive bistro within a block of the Eastern Market metro. The service is good, I like everything I taste (and I taste everything that is offered) and the presentation is quite nice, too. I have a surprisingly generous portion of mussels as an appetizer (a big bowl of them for $8.95) and the monkfish with gnocchi for my entree, which has a really lovely, light sauce to set it off.

But the release was a little disappointing, and not because of what Restaurant Refugee had to say about it. I'd never been to a Beau-Nou release before and I don't know what I was expecting. A "release" sounds so momentous. You know, a BIG DEAL. I guess I was expecting something dramatic. Something extraordinary. Something amazing!

Maybe something like the running of the bulls at Pamplona but with wine.

And, okay, no one had said to me "You know, you really ought to experience the Beaujolais Nouveau release, it's like the running of the bulls at Pamplona." I mean, here we are at a French restaurant so where I got the idea that this would be a similar thrill is beyond me. But I did. I thought "This is going to be really astounding!"

Er, no.

At the start of the meal, our hosts ordered wine for the table (quite a bit of wine because there were fifteen of us) and the servers poured it and we drank it and they poured some more and we drank more. The servers weren't even particularly flourishy when they poured the wine.

Don't get me wrong. We had a very nice time. Great people! Tasty food. Okay wine. And it was a great excuse to leave work really early on a Thursday.

But no one got gored. No one got trampled. There were no young, athletic Spaniards flinging themselves about. No blood spilled. Not even wine spilled.

It lacked drama.

* I apologize that I can not provide a link to the restaurant's web-site. I couldn't find it. I hate that. I know it was just a few years ago that if you wanted to find a restaurant you hauled out the yellow pages but I've gotten so spoiled to all things webby and finding exactly what I want regarding restaurant information. Just last night we had the following conversation:

Hubby: We have all these phone books. I thought I might get rid of a few.

Me: Get rid of them all.

We're probably the last people to do so. And how do you get off the distribution list for future phone book deliveries? Do tell! But, meanwhile, back to our story...

21 November 2008

"We have no secrets" -- Carly Simon

[Imagine entertaining and highly appropriate image here.]

It's Friday and the last thing I want to do is work on Friday.* So, for the two of you that are reading, I thought we might try something a little more interactive. I don't need to be the center of attention all the time** and I feel like I've been spilling a lot here lately. So, pull your chair a little closer.

C'mon, closer. Yeah, knee to knee. Nice.

And tell me a little something about you.

What? Suddenly you're shy?

Okay, I'll get you started with an easypeasy poll. All ya gotta do is click on a choice. It's on the sidebar, up there on the right.***

C'mon, share.

* Or any other day.

** Note to self: Good job! That almost sounded sincere.

*** Despite attempts with two different poll sites this morning, I was unable to embed the poll in this post so I put it in the sidebar. See? My brain doesn't even try to engage on Friday.

20 November 2008

"She cried 'More! More! More!'" --Billy Idol

I am not a fan of Zagat, the compiled restaurant review people.

Before I completely trash them, let me say:

  • I like the fact that they provide numerical ratings that reflect averages for restaurants in different areas of consideration (Food, Decor, Service, Cost.)
  • I do always feel better when I see the little Zagat Rated sign in a restaurant window.*

Now the bad:

  • The little number ratings don't give me insight into what people were thinking. Did they rate Decor high because the restaurant was elegant or because it was comfortable and cozy or because the lighting was so low they couldn't really see their ugly Match.com date? If the write up doesn't explore this dimension, I'm SOL.
  • As good as I feel when I see the Zagat Rated sign in a restaurant, I'd feel even better if the little sign told me how the restaurant was rated. Something like Zagat Rated Nummy! or Zagat Rated Not Even on a Bet. That would be, oh, I don't know, useful?
  • But, so much worse, is their "write ups"! I like brevity but this is too brief to be useful. All those snippets from surveys mooshed together feels disjointed.**
  • And with all those quotation marks, I'm always tempted to read them like air quotes, all sarcastic and smutty. Yeah, I'll just bet its VERY SMALL SPACE is augmented by its BIG PATIO OUT BACK. *nudgenudgewinkwink* ***
When something is this cobbled together, it loses context. It's like those one-word movie reviews:

"FASCINATING" --Bob Mediabuzz, The Herald Tribune Sentinel

"HYSTERICAL!" --Jane Snoot, NeverHeardofItMovieReview.com

How do I know that the full quotes weren't:

"The acting was so bad it was fascinating to see how wooden Nicole Kidman could be."--Bob Mediabuzz

"This movie was so insultingly unfunny, leaving after five minutes was the only thing that kept me from getting hysterical!" --Jane Snoot

So in closing...

Zagat is big on the "not so much", provides a "generous dollop" of "insufficent detail"; its "helpful numbers are the bomb" and combined with its "quotaliciousness" suggest more than is "actually" there; "fascinating"!

* Not as good as when I find a golden ticket in a candy bar but, still, strangely, good.

** I bought a cream for painful snippet mooshing but it didn't help. Dammit! Now it's all welty, and not in the Eudora way.

*** Okay, maybe I'm the only 8-year-old that reads it that way.

19 November 2008

"If we could talk to the animals, learn their languages" --Dr. Doolittle*

[She's got Bette Davis eyes.]

We need a baby gift and we wind up buying a stuffed animal. A giraffe. It's very cute. Plus, not scary at all. You never see an Animal Planet special entitled "When Giraffes Attack!", "Killer Giraffe!" or "When Good Giraffes Go Bad". There's never a "Giraffe Week" on Discovery Channel.

Well, I've never seen it. But I don't watch a lot of nature shows.

Plus, I've never had a giraffe hit me up for money, eat the last piece of the cheesecake, or call me "Doodoohead".** I'm sure I've never seen a giraffe in a wife-beater getting kneed in the back on Cops.

* There are no giraffe songs. Not one. Well, none that I could think of in the 10 seconds I thought about it. So, yeah. None. I guess 'cause nothing rhymes with giraffe. There's shark songs ("Oh, the shark bites, with its teeth, dear..."). That seems unfair. Can we get a government grant to study this, stat?

** They might have been thinking it but they didn't say it.

18 November 2008

"If you could read my mind, love"-- Gordon Lightfoot

I've been thinking lately about writing about my time at Omega. There's so many stories. Not funny stories but life isn't all laughs, people. Okay, it certainly should be, but maybe you can give me a pass today.

Reya's post about being psychic has egged me on. Reya has certainly demonstrated her abilities and it's pretty cool. That said, I think everyone has the ability to be psychic. I think most of us move at too fast a pace most of the time to register all the things we know at that level.

Years ago, for about six summers, I visited Omega. It's not for everyone. It's basically summer camp for adults and it's pretty earthycrunchy. Often people go there when they are in transition--they've finished one chapter of their lives but they aren't sure what the next chapter should be. It's the perfect place for that.

I found that the more I was at Omega, the more I knew on a psychic level, because you slow down there (simple schedule, minimal commitments, no TV, no computer, no cell phone signal) and you are literally in touch with the earth (you walk everywhere and you're in buildings with screens so when the birds sing you hear it and when the humidity goes up you feel it.) Weird little things would happen on a pretty regular basis.

A very simple example...

The dining hall is where 500-700 people at a time come to eat three times a day.* It's centrally located on the 80 acre campus so you're likely to pass it even when you aren't going for a meal. One night, I finished my dinner early and took off out the front door to head to the bookstore to peruse the shelves.

As I was leaving the dining hall, which was basically a HUGE screened-in cabin, I had this image flash in my brain of all the people in the dining hall singing, like in a beer hall during Octoberfest. It seemed to me an odd thing to pop into my brain. The dining hall was still crowded with people. They weren't singing, they were talking.** I'd never heard singing in the dining hall.

Half an hour later, I am heading back from the bookstore en route to my tent, and I pass the dining hall and there is singing coming from inside. Lots of people joined in song.

This kind of stuff happens all the freakin' time at Omega. Often at a more profound level. I like it. It's like suddenly spotting a deer in the trees. The deer's clearly been there but now you're seeing it. A little freaky but nice.

On a related tangent, I like Christina Baldwin's "The Seven Whispers":

  • Maintain peace of mind
  • Move at the pace of guidance
  • Practice certainty of purpose
  • Surrender to surprise
  • Ask for what you need and offer what you can
  • Love the folks in front of you
  • Return to the world
Move at the pace of guidance. I take that as: slow down and really see what there is to see/know what there is to know.

P.S. Okay, you read through it even though I told you in wouldn't be funny. So, here's something that amused me, maybe it will amuse you, too. When I mentioned to my mother that I would be staying in a tent for one of my trips to Omega, she was concerned. The conversation went something like this:

Mum: You're gong to sleep in a tent?

Me: Yes.

Mum: Alone?

Me: Yes. I'll be alone in the tent but I'll be in a campground area so there'll be other people camping there, too.

Mum: Do you have a lock?

Me: A lock?

Mum: For the tent. So people can't get in while you sleep.

Me: These are very cool people. I'll be fine.

Mum: *making worried sounds*

Me: They have security patrols there.

Mum: *still making worried sounds*

Me: I'll take a lock.

Mum: Good!

I saw no point in explaining to her that the tent was fabric and if someone really wanted in, they could just cut through a tent wall. Mum is so sweet.

* I know this number because I always signed up to work when I was at Omega (like in Dirty Dancing the most interesting stuff is going on behind the scenes) and I spent one of my work details doing dinner prep (lots of chopping) in the dining hall. Most exhausting job I ever had. But I learned a lot that I've used since (use sharp, good quality knives; clean up your station between events; keep the trash bin accessible while you work; don't stop to ask why--just clean it up; try to leave things better than you found them; etc.)

** With that many people talking at once, it becomes this wash of white noise: "wallawallawallawallawalla..."

17 November 2008

"Here it goes, here it goes, here it goes, again" --OK Go

[OK Go demonstrating proper treadmill avoidance technique.]

You are a bad influence. Yes, you are. Stop smirking.

I had a day off and nothing I had to do and my car was in the shop for an oil change so I couldn't even go anywhere. I thinks to myself, I thinks "Hey, this will be a great day to get on that treadmill and get some running in!"*

I present to you: My Day Off

8:05 Open eyes. It's sunny! Look at that!

8:06-8:30 Morning ablutions.

8:31 Great day to exercise! This is going to be wonderful! I'll just do a quick log in and see if anyone has sent me any messages or commented on my blog and then right to it!

11:30 Well, I seem to be caught up on my Google Reader. Jeez, it's late. Hm... I'm starting to get hungry. NO! Exercise before you eat so your "after" weight will be lower. Oh, look, Lbluca77 just updated her blog...

11:50 I should exercise. Hm, maybe I've been neglecting Hubby. Call Hubby at work. Ask what he's doing. He's clearly busy. I dawdle. He asks if he can call me later. Whatever.

11:52 Hm. Guess I have to exercise. Wow, look! The hamper is almost full. My favorite jeans are in the hamper. I might want to wear those. I might as well start a load of laundry. That won't take long and it can be going while I'm running.

12:00 Look at all this stuff. I should really clean up around here. Hey, look at all the updates on the Reader...

12:55-1:03 Hubby calls to ask what I wanted earlier. I've got nothing. He's gotta go to a meeting. I dawdle. He's now late for his meeting. I dawdle. He hangs up. Whatever.

1:04 Ooo, I've got an idea for a post! I'll just sketch it out real quick...

2:40 Gotta go to the bathroom.** How come I still have to go even though I haven't eaten anything yet? Stupid.

2:45 Oh, yeah, laundry! Guess I better do a load switch...

2:55 Biggest Loser is on tonight. I'd so be voted off for not exercising. Jillian would so be in my face. I am the Biggest Loser but, you know, if it had a bad connotation. Jeez, Jillian is so freakin' buff. So is Bob. They're like crazy in shape. Wonder if Jillian has a web-site...

3:30 Briefly consider buying Jillian's exercise DVD. Laugh at myself. Wonder if Rs27 has posted yet... He has!

4:30 Man, it's already starting to get dark outside. That sucks. I hate this time of year. Guess I should start to work a dinner plan...

Okay, it wasn't quite that bad. I did get on the treadmill around 1:00 and I managed to run a measly mile and a half. I'm not exactly proud of it.

I blame you. You really need a lot of attention, don't you?

* Don't be impressed. I do half-mile intervals and not even a lot of those these days. It's mainly to keep the grilled cheese love handles in check.

** I am not your typical woman.*** I can go for many hours, sometimes all day, without feeling an urgent need to go. I'm just not needy like that. I feel like it balances out all the ridiculously needy things I do in other areas of my life. Yes, it does. Yes. It does.

*** But you knew that, didn't you?

15 November 2008

"Hangin' on to the good times" -- Little Feat

You know how in high school, you threw a party and suddenly all the coolest kids from your class were showing up at your house and you couldn't believe your good fortune because it turned into the best party ever? Yeah, me, neither.

Well, yesterday, I threw a little happy hour and the coolest kids in the blogosphere actually did show up! And I am still amazed.

I got to hang out with the wonderful people behind the following terrific blogs (in no particular order):

Urban Bohemian

Charlotte Harris
"It's Toasted" (the B half)
The Restaurant Refugee
Sean's Ramblings
A Daily Dose of Zen Sarcasm!
The Gilahi Blog
The Chronicles of Tewkesbury
Culinary Couture
Live it, Love it
Who Invented Roses
(That's Why) The Lady Is A Tramp

These are extraordinarily good people. Gracious, funny, interesting, and a good looking bunch! If you ever get the chance to meet them, do it!

To these fantastic pals: I had a great time and I thank all of you for showing up and shining so bright.

13 November 2008

"I want it... I want it... I want it..." -- The Who

I never thought I'd be participating in LivitLuvit's TMI Thursday because, well, it's just so... sordid. But, if I'm honest with myself, I need to get off my high horse and just tell you.

*takes deep breath and drops eyes* So, yeah, I did it.

I could have not done it. I could have stopped myself. But I really didn't want to.

I deprive myself enough. And, especially at this time of year--losing light and losing warmth is really challenging for me, so I don't think it's unreasonable if I'm in need of a little extra, um, comfort. Yeah, I'm probably rationalizing here, but, I dunno, maybe there's a part of me that gets tired of always doing the right thing. Maybe I like being bad.

So I did it.

You know what? I liked it. A lot. It was satisfying in a deep way. It was profoundly sensual so I lingered. I wasn't alone in the house and I did it anyway, knowing I could get walked in on at any time. And, sure enough, I was caught in the act. Yup! So, maybe I got a little self-conscious but I kept going.

And even that doesn't stop me from thinking I may do it again.

I'm re-reading that and it may sound a little braggy. I'm not trying to brag here. The thing is: you show up here trying to connect with me. You make the effort and I'm grateful. Really, you've no idea what it means to me that you check in on my stupid, little show. So, in return, I figure I owe you a little honesty.

*swallows and catches lower lip in teeth* Some of you are judging me right now. You think less of me. I get that.

*raises eyes* But some of you... you think more. Because either you've thought about it or you've done it, yourself.

You know.

You're into the grilled cheese, too.

12 November 2008

"Won't you please, please help me" --The Beatles

[A rare glimpse of our treasure trove. And pay no attention to that enormous spaghetti squash of ours or the glorious cow sponge holder featured in the background, although I will say: the cow sponge holder? One of my most prized possessions. Forget the Lladro, the Wedgewood, the Waterford. Give me the cow. Cows are trendy. Forever trendy. Love the cow.]

Want to know the secret to our success?

Dill weed.

No, I'm not calling you a name.*

Dill weed is (apparently) what we have decided to invest heavily in during tough economic times. Some people invest in gold. Some in stocks. Some in pork bellies.** Not us. We put our savings into a much less lucrative and much less competitive market. We've bought dill weed and plenty of it.

Here's the thing: At some point, one of us said "I'm going to make this recipe and it calls for dill weed" and off we went to the store without even considering the idea that maybe, just maybe, we'd already bought dill weed in the distant past and said nearly full bottle of dill weed was languishing in the back of the spice cabinet, behind the millions of more popular spices and dried herbs. How else to explain three fairly full containers? ARGH!

That's right. Not only did we duplicate, we triplicated.

And that's not all!

We've similarly cornered the market on Ground Double Superfine Mustard, too.***

We now have a lifetime supply of both. So, we're looking for a return on our considerable investment.

Since Suze "Tough Love" Orman says it is a financial waste to not know what you own such that you wind up duplicating (don't tell her we triplicated, I shudder at the volume of wrath she would hurl at us), please forward recipes that call for both of these items and plenty of them. You know, Curried Monkfish with Dill Weed and Mustard or "Mmmm, You Can Really Taste the Dillweed and Mustard" Cheesecake... that sort of thing.

Thanks much!

* Unless, of course, you are a dill weed. Then you deserve it. Dill weed.

** When did the belly get to be the most prized part? I always thought the curlicue tail was a piggy's most delightful asset.

*** Adviser's tip: Stay away from the Ground Single Superfine Mustard. That's just stupid.

11 November 2008

"I just want to celebrate" -- Rare Earth

On a rare, positive sorta-traffic-related note:

On our way home Sunday night, at the last toll booth of the day ($2 at the Baltimore tunnel), I stretched out my arm with the two dollars and saw an extraordinary sight: a tollbooth operator with a huge grin on her face. I don't know about you, but it's something of a game to see if I can get a tollbooth operator to be pleasant to me at all. Here, she was looking right at me and grinning from ear-to-ear!

Tollbooth operator: She paid for you.

Me: What? Who? Really!?

Someone, now long gone, had paid my toll as well as their own. Now we all had huge grins.

Tollbooth operator: So you can go.

Me: Here. Pay for the person behind me. Let's keep the good karma going.

It certainly was a wonderful surprise from a complete stranger that I couldn't even thank. I'd heard of this but I'd never experienced it. It had never occurred to me what effect it might have on a tollbooth operator. It really seemed to make her night!

And, so, in the interest of not being my usual hyper-critical Debbie Downer all the time, I'd like to show a little appreciation. Here is Rare Earth's "I Just Want to Celebrate", complete with lyrics so you can sing along.

I'm sure I'll be grousing about something tomorrow and, though our world is very flawed, it's not a bad idea to stop now and then and appreciate: there are wonderful small and large things that are within our power and they are happening all the time.

I Just Want to Celebrate

I just want to celebrate another day of livin'
I just want to celebrate another day of life
I put my faith in the people
But the people let me down
So I turned the other way
And I carry on, anyhow
That's why I'm telling you

I just want to celebrate, yeah, yeah
I just want to celebrate, yeah, yeah
Another day of living,
I just want to celebrate another day of life

Had my hand on the dollar bill
And the dollar bill blew away
But the sun is shining down on me
And it's here to stay
That's why I'm telling you

I just want to celebrate, yeah, yeah
Another day of living, yeah
I just want to celebrate another day of living
I just want to celebrate another day of life

Don't let it all get you down,
Don't let it turn you around and around
And around and around

Well, I can't be bothered with sorrow
And I can't be bothered with hate, no, no
I'm using up my time by feeling fine, every day
That's why I'm telling you I just want to celebrate
Aw, yeah
I just want to celebrate yeah yeah
Another day of living, yeah yeah
I just want to celebrate another day of livin', yeah
I just want to celebrate another day of life

Don't let it all get you down, no, no
Don't let it turn you around and around,
And around and around, and around
Around round round
'round and around round round round
don't go 'round

10 November 2008

"There's no need to complicate, our time is short" --Jason Mraz*

This has been happening more and more so I thought I'd provide a little PSA.

Two nights ago it happened again. I was on my way home from work** and I signaled to turn left. A car on the other side of the double yellow came to a dead stop--with cars behind them--to let me turn.

It wasn't like traffic was backed up in front of them and they were giving right-of-way because they couldn't move forward. No, there was no reason for them to stop. But stop they did and flashed their lights. While cars behind them no doubt thought "WTF?"

And I thought "WTF?" If this were an isolated instance, I'd say fine, just a nutjob. But this is happening a lot lately. Am I that scary as to incite a "No, no, please, dear god, you go right ahead" response? I'm not driving the batmobile, here.

People, you shouldn't give me your right-of-way! Sure, it starts innocently enough... then, before you know it, you're giving me all kinds of things you weren't planning on.***

So let's stick with the established rules, shall we? Right-of-way dictates that there is a right and a wrong to traffic order. It's not just a "nice to have", it keeps us safe. So, all you folks who are too polite to go when you're supposed to, or have decided that a four-way stop is the perfect time to work through your BDSM issues:


And by STOP, I mean, of course,


Thank you.

We now return to your regularly scheduled programming already too far in progress for you to enjoy.

* Why should I be the only one with this earworm?

** Read: sober and driving perfectly well, thankyouverymuch.

*** You gonna eat those french fries? Oh, and that's a pretty sweet looking t-shirt. Do you think it would fit me? By the way, can you water my plants and mow my lawn? No, I'm not traveling, why do you ask?****

**** When I was in high school, one of my favorite flirts was to ask a cute guy if I could wear his whatever... hoodie, jacket, sweater. There was something really cozy about knowing I was wearing something that belonged to him. I had some items for months on end. Which just makes my point, you don't want to start giving me things.

07 November 2008

Ode to the Cafeteria Lady

Dear Cafeteria Lady,

Most food handlers shyly bandage their wounds, as if they are something to be ashamed of and covered up. Not you! You gave me and others a good view of your open sores. I don't know what created those festering spots on your arms, but I want to thank you for serving as a role model and displaying them nonchalantly... proudly, even! That kind of honesty and openness is the mark of a truly different level of service!

Yours in Bacitracin,

L.A. Cochran

On a related hygiene/food service note, I am recycling a topic that I've never gotten a satisfactory answer to: What's the deal with servers putting bill holders (your bill in a leatherette holder) down the back of their pants?

I don't want to see that. Does anybody want to see that? I know servers have a lot to juggle but, people, EW.

06 November 2008

Excel/Conversations I have over and over again

Every single conversation I've ever had while working with someone (anyone) and looking at an Excel spreadsheet:

One of us: Wait, what did you just do?

The other of us: I hit this key and that key.

One of us: That works?

The other of us, pointing at screen: Yeah.

One of us: I've never seen that before. I do the same thing but by hitting this key and that key.

The other of us: Really?

One of us: Yeah.

Both of us: *confused stare*

05 November 2008

Playing Sexy Librarian/"I Can See Clearly Now"--Johnny Nash

First, let me say that I have never been more proud to be an American. God Bless America and Barack Obama!

Now, on with today's post...

When I was six of seven, the family optometrist diagnosed me as needing glasses. I got them. If memory serves, they looked something like this:

I know. You can imagine how my milkshake brought all the boys to the yard.

I didn't wear them. At all.

One year later, the optometrist examined my eyes and announced that the glasses were helping and that my vision was improving. I announced that I hadn't worn the glasses. He paused and said that he guessed I didn't need them after all.

My parents, embarrassed, hauled my butt out of there, not sure what to do with me or the optometrist.

I went blithely on with my life for the next 30-some years (sleeping, eating, pooping like a pigeon, the usual stuff.) Then, and I remember it was around this time of year, too, I noticed that my eyes were getting dry and I was getting headachey. I went to an optometrist, who said, technically, I was better than 20/20 but that glasses might help me just a bit. So I got something along these lines:

Except they weren't tinted and, unlike this character and most of you, I wasn't all that inclined to lick myself.

I tried them for a couple weeks, but my eyes were still dry and I was still headachey, so what was the point? I bought a humidifier and stopped wearing the glasses. The symptoms went away but the wallpaper peeled. Hey, you win some, you lose some. I eventually donated the specs to a charity that made use of old glasses.

Earlier this year, feeling like my vision wasn't as crisp as it used to be, I got my eyes tested and the optometrist said, begrudgingly, yes, technically, I was still 20/20 but I was right on the cusp of inevitable, unstoppable deterioration (or some equally horrible term) and, given my age, I shouldn't be surprised.


But I clutched that 20/20 diagnosis to my heart and carried on until about a month ago when I decided I was tired of fuzzy text in my books. I wanted crisp again. Really crisp. I wanted Pringles potato chips to be mushy compared to my eyesight.

So, I just picked up my new specs. They look sorta like this:I've had them about an hour and I'm irritated with them already. Hm, wonder if Target has humidifiers?

Anyway, I had this depressing conversation with the very young woman who helped me select the latest glasses:

Me: I'm finally ready to deal with reality. I need glasses.

Her, sans glasses: Oh, glasses are fun.

Me, do they pay you to say that?: Yeah, okay.

Her: Honest! I don't need them but I have a pair just for fashion!

Me: *blink*

Her: And to look smarter.

Me: *blink* *blink*

Which leads me to the question of the day: Does anyone think glasses make women look fashionable, smarter, or sexier?*

* Feel free to lie to me. Especially on that last one.

CNN just predicted Virginia for Obama

Woo-Hooooooooooooooooo!!! I am so proud of my state!

04 November 2008

The straight poop on pigeons

For years, my sister used the pet name of "Pidge" or "Pigeon" for her husband until he finally put a stop to it. For some reason, my brother-in-law thought that was insulting. He went on about "stupid, filthy, disgusting creatures."

I think he had it all wrong. Consider the evidence...

A) They're smart:

Notice how the pigeon poops on the chess board as a way to psych out his opponent. Smart! This is step 1 of the famous Mazursky poop-and-peck-to-death strategy.

B) They have much cuter tails than rats do.

This guy wishes he could grow feathers.

C) They've got that cool Kate Hepburn head bob, like they're always listening to some great music on a tiny pigeon iPod.

How fabulous was Kate, with her hair bob, head bob, or any Bob?

D) They coo. Babies coo and most people go all gooey.* Let a pigeon do it, it's evil.

Multiple similarities... just sayin'...

E) They support our troops by delivering messages.**

So, pigeons are patriotic!

F) They poop wherever they want.

If that isn't modeling the pursuit of freedom and happiness that makes America great, I don't know what is.***

G) They're cuddly:

This guy is grimacing with cuddly joy.

And finally...

H) They're tasty with the right glaze.

At this point they are less about "bob" and more about "squab".

Note: Because I am so in touch with the plight of the pigeon and I am tapped into the global interconnectivity****, after I had drafted the bulk of this post, I was presented with this image on my morning commute:

(Click on the photo to enlarge it.) This appears to be a traveling pigeon coop with illustrations of two "Hall of Famers" and the years they were winners. Or dinners. Or both.

This must certainly be a sign of some sort from the cosmos.

In summation...

I know not what course others may take but, as for me...

Give me pigeonry! ...and I'll attest.*****

* Not me, I said "most people".

** I hope I haven't given away a key Surge strategy here.

*** You know you would do it if you could. Especially when you are at the grocery store and the cashier looks you right in the eye as she closes her lane. You so would poop if it was socially acceptable.

**** You pay extra for it but it's better than FIOS.

***** To excess, but I digress. Man, this post is a mess.

02 November 2008

"Tell me how I'm supposed to breathe with no air" --Jordin Sparks

We meet good friends on Sunday for lunch and hiking. Now I could wax on about how spectacular Sugarloaf Mountain is at this time of year--and it is-- and how lucky we are to have good friends to share fresh air and spectacular vistas with--and we are-- but why do that when I can grouse? Especially about plans that I didn't lift a finger to orchestrate.

We meet for lunch at a deli in Silver Spring: The Parkway Deli. This is apparently the Studio 54 of delis.* It is a mob scene. "Loud and crowded" do not begin to convey the feeling.**

We wait in line, squeezed in uncomfortably close, for half an hour. When we are finally signaled to come forward, we are shown to a "staging area", where there is a shorter, even more compressed line. That's right, a line for a line. What is this, Disney World?

While we are standing in this fresh hell, the hostess asks us to please not block the aisles adjacent to the area that she has put us in. The woman behind me, a total stranger, starts to spoon me. As I have nowhere to go, and I'm not going to be intimidated into moving the 1/4 inch forward I've selfishly kept to myself, I nuzzle back into her.

Another 10 minutes pass and we are directed to a booth. AHHH! We have arrived! Except that it is every bit as noisy as it was in line. This is not my idea of a relaxing lunch.

To their credit, the food is good, inexpensive, and brought quickly, but you'd think they were giving it away for free, the way people are jamming in there and shouting to be heard.*** I, for one, don't get it. I couldn't wait to get out of there and I will not be going back.

* If Studio 54 still existed and smelled of kosher dills.

** You know that feeling you get when you're at a concert and you've scored spectacularly close seats but you're right in front of the 200 foot speakers and the music is so loud the fillings in your teeth are vibrating and the crowd is nevertheless pressing in on you and you think, "If I don't get out of here RIGHT NOW I'll die"? That was quiet and spacious compared to this.

*** Chipotle was giving away free burritos on Friday to people dressed as burritos. I was in the city and saw the aluminum foil madness but cheerfully avoided it, having just recently had the full Chipotle experience.

"Hook me up" -- The Veronicas

I've lived in the DC metro area (either north or south of town) for *mumble* years and in all that time I've never gone to a high-fallutin', power-wielding political shindig. And if there was ever a time, this is it. I hate to jinx it, but I'm feeling "hopeful" about Tuesday and if my wish comes true, I'd love to go to one of the glittery inaugural bashes come January and celebrate in style.

Knowing what an "elite" group my readers are, I thought I would put my wishes out to the blogosphere: Who's got the hook up?

Sadly, I know how politics work. I have no political power or even influence to offer in exchange. So, let's get down to it... what do I have to do in exchange?*

Things I'm willing to do to get tickets to an inaugural ball:

  • Bake for/deliver to you salty oatmeal, chocolate chip cookies
  • Laugh at your jokes in front of your ex, your boss, your friends, etc.
  • Promise never to tag you for a meme again
  • Set you up with someone I know who has more than a "great personality"**
  • Agree to never talk about any adorable thing done by any pet I've ever had
  • Tell people I like your blog
So... anybody? Anybody??

* Yeah, I thought that might get your attention.

** My track record for fix-ups is almost as good as DateLab's.