Monday, February 28, 2011

Weather or Not

I was just reminded, by the evening weather forecaster, that March is typically our 2nd snowiest month of the year.

On the plus side, it's not typically the snowiest.

I may need to start looking for a winter home somewhere warm and snow-free.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

When the Weekend goes Wonky

Christopher and I had big plans for this weekend. We didn't have anything going on during the weekend days, but we had plans for each of the evenings.

We were going to have dinner and go to a concert with his sisters on Saturday night. We were going to go out to dinner at a restaurant we meant to go to for his birthday (in January), tonight.

And then things got a little strange. I started feeling kind of under the weather on Saturday morning. Nothing major, just my stomach feeling a little "off." I blame the fact that I had to take my car in to the shop and so I was stressing over how much it would cost (although, so far, they haven't found what is wrong so it didn't cost anything). But, for whatever reason by the middle of the afternoon when I tried to have a nap, I was in knots. So I bowed out of dinner and the show. Christopher went out to dinner, and then he and his sisters actually all came back here to watch a movie, because the concert they wanted to go to was sold out.

Last night, well, last night was going along okay until, at about 1:30 in the morning, the pup got a little sick, too. So we were awake for a while, then. And I woke up for no good reason around 4:30, then got back to sleep in time to get up around 7:30. Which meant that today didn't go so well, either. And we cancelled our dinner reservation (again), and stayed in.

So here we are just hours away from the end of the weekend with no real "weekending" to show for it. Okay, yes, we had a good time hanging out last night and watching a movie with his sisters. And the house got cleaned. And I did some editing I needed to finish. And we ignored the two or three inches of new snow on the sidewalks because it was the weekend. And I got a start on my taxes (until I got hung up on one little box which I have no idea how to complete). And I'm watching the Academy Awards while Christopher gets caught up on some things in the office.

But we never really got that good "weekend" time in.

You know how they say that people who are sleep-deprived have issues dealing with day-to-day life because of that lack of down time? Well, here's hoping that tomorrow isn't too harsh. I'm not sure I could deal with a hard week since I seem to have missed out on the easy weekend.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Food - Bribery

You know, most people hear the word "bribery" and think of bad things. But tonight I'd like to make a case for the positive sides of bribery. For instance:

At work, when one of my co-workers needs me to step in and deal with something she doesn't want to do, I'm much more likely to do it when a bag of peanut butter M&Ms appears on my desk. (Does anyone else remember "Oompahs"? They were a "Willy Wonka"-branded half peanut butter/half chocolate in a candy shell candy back in the 70s. I don't know if they exist any more, but they were the forerunners of these M&Ms.)

At home, when the pup needs a little enticement to go somewhere -- such as into her kennel before I leave for the day -- bribery in the form of a treat is very helpful. If nothing else, it keeps her from whining and whimpering at least until I'm out of earshot. Which makes is possible for me to feel a little less guilty.

When you're in need of a big favor, though, that's when the bribery has to be good. Like when you're moving, so you promise everyone who helps that they'll get pizza and beer when you're done. Or, say, you have to drop your car off at a garage at 7 in the morning and need someone to pick you up. That's not really a good time for pizza and beer, but it's so early that there definitely needs to be some recompense. Tomorrow, in just that case, Christopher will be getting treated to croissants from Patisserie 46 on the way home. And I just might get something for myself, too. After all, it would be sad to make him eat all on his own.

So... A question for you: What food bribery do you prefer? (Go ahead... leave a comment on here so everyone can see it... I think it could be interesting to see what you all say.)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sleeping Sound

Don't tell Christopher, but I really enjoy watching the pup sleep.

I like when she's just stretched out, usually with her head on a pillow or the arm of a chair or propped on my leg. And she just quietly breathes in and out, with the occasional snuffle or snort. And she's peaceful and calm and you know she feels safe and secure.

Okay... In bed at night, sometimes she doesn't choose the best place to settle in. Sometimes it's right up against your legs and kind of keeps you pinned. Sometimes she's right up by our shoulders and won't move. And, frequently, she takes on the role of chaperone as she tries to stay warm by staying between Christopher and me.

But, even though there are times when I really wish she'd go sleep on the floor, or at the foot of the bed, or anywhere else so that Christopher and I can pretend to have some alone time, I have to admit that I do kind of enjoy having her around and sleeping sound(ly).

But don't tell Christopher, because right now he actually moves her out of the way most nights so we can snuggle up. And I don't want that to stop, either.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Non-Travel Vacation

No big surprise, the day after a major snow storm, the travel options are a little vague.

Today, on my way to work, I was picking up speed just as my car started to make a wobbly, vibrating sound. It stopped when I slowed down, so I simply dropped into rush hour traffic and kept going.

Once I was at work, I called the car repair shop that has helped me out in the past and described the situation. I explained that it seemed like it was probably a balancing problem, simply made worse by the snow. And the guy on the phone agreed that that's what it sounded like.

So I made an appointment to take the car in - with the guess that it would take about 45 minutes, so I could do it over an extended lunch.

Then I got there. And an hour later the guy came out to say that they had gotten my tires balanced, but the reason it had taken so long was that they found I have 2 bent tire rims. Of course, since Subaru only made the rims on my car for about 2 model years, they would have to be ordered in - with arrival in about 3 to 5 weeks. (I won't tell you how much they will cost - and the "generic" version is almost the same price, so going that route doesn't really help.)

Oh. And they also found that my engine was basically completely out of oil. Which was a bit of a surprise, to say the least. So along with rotating and balancing my tires, they also proceeded to do a full oil change (or at least an "oil fill") as well as putting some dye into the system which - after about 75 miles of driving - should leak out and give them an idea of what part of my car is leaking.

To do all of this, I ended up taking a half vacation day, because we obviously went way beyond the lunch hour.

Do I know how to vacation, or what?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

When Good Snows Go Bad

It was such a nice week of melting. We were really starting to feel like spring might not wait until May to arrive. And then... well... the weather forecasters were actually dead-on right for once.

You see, early in the week they started predicting 8 to 14 inches of snow for us between today and tomorrow. Then, yesterday, they started to narrow down that window, saying that it would start this morning, peak in the mid-afternoon, and carry over into tomorrow.

When Christopher got up to let the dog out at about 6 this morning, there was no snow falling. What snow we had on the ground was nicely shrunken after the past week and life was fine. I thought, maybe, the forecast was wrong.

When I got up a little after nine and took the dog for her walk, the weather was breezy, but not bad. As I walked her, I was starting to think about gardening and hoping that things might actually start turning green, soon. All I saw was two snowflakes on my way back into the house.

By 11:30, we probably had a couple of inches of snow on the ground.

Our evening plans got cancelled - not for fear of snow or driving, but for fear of being unable to find parking. Our cooking class plans (for the class we bought Christopher for his birthday) got cancelled.

We had errands to run, though, so we went out around noon-thirty -- when the snow was about 3 inches deep. The roads were messy, but not awful. But whenever we parked for any length of time the car would get covered in snow, much of which was melting and freezing on the slightly-warmer car.

By the time we got home from our errands (which, honestly, were a breeze because no one was out shopping -- even Target was almost empty, which is unheard of on a Sunday afternoon), the snow was probably about 6 or 8 inches deep on the sidewalks and driveway -- which had been perfectly clear at 9 a.m. (Yes, I know that clearing the walks mid-storm is silly, but our snowblower can only handle about 7 inches of snow, so if we don't clear mid-storm we're kind of stuck. Literally.)

So now all of our nicely-melting snow is covered in another near-foot of snow. And the temps are dropping again, so we're pretty much assured that it's not going anywhere for a while.

Good thing I bought some fresh-cut tulips last week.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Food - The Lunch Conundrum

When you're getting up in the morning and getting ready for work, if you're trying to not spend money, you have to consider what to take for lunch.

I'm a big fan of the peanut butter and (strawberry) jam sandwich on white bread, but - at least for me - that is a warm weather lunch.

I enjoy cold meat sandwiches year-round, but... well... you have to remember to buy the meat for that to work.

I work in an office with a microwave, so cups of soup do well - but only on cold days.

I discovered, a while ago, that there are a bunch of frozen meals that aren't all that expensive and - if you work it right - are only about a buck each. So I stocked up on some of those a while ago, buying what sounded good at the time.

Which brings us back to packing lunch.

Yesterday, when the temp was warm-ish (in the 30s - which is warm this time of year), I was running a little late and had to figure out lunch.

Too cold for peanut butter sandwiches. No sandwich meat in the house. Not really feeling the soup idea. So I opened the freezer and grabbed the frozen meal that sounded best.

Unfortunately, 4 hours later, the Turkey Dinner that I was microwaving just didn't cut it. The peas were fine. The mashed potatoes were okay once they were dunked in the gravy. But the stuffing was just mush, and I actually broke the tine of a plastic fork trying to cut the turkey. Overall, a thoroughly underwhelming one-dollar meal.

Breakfast is so much easier. The office has a toaster with a PopTarts setting, and I always have those on hand in my desk.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Getting (A) Cold

In case you haven't seen it on the weather, lately, Minneapolis has had an amazingly warm stretch of weather in the past week. We rocketed out of the deep freeze that we've been in and had a couple of afternoons in the 40s and even bopped up against 50.

The snow has been melting. I've been able to walk the pup in the mornings without being afraid my face would fall off. And I've even gotten to wear one of the jackets I used to wear in the winter in Baltimore (which, out here, is more of a fall/spring jacket).

Unfortunately, the weather is changing as I type this. Instead of having an overnight low of 35 degrees tonight (like we did last night), tonight we're supposed to be back into the low 20s. You can hear the wind whipping around the house tonight as the cold front moves in. After a week of pre-spring, this feels like the re-onset of serious winter.

And, you know, that's not all that surprising. After all, spring doesn't really start in this part of the country until March or April. Our average highs are really only supposed to be in the low 30s in February, so we've all known that we were walking around in borrowed weather.

But, somehow, this change in weather has started taking its toll on people all around. Everyone seems to be coming down with colds. Multiple people in my office (and, remember, there are only about 20 people in the entire company) have started coming down with colds and sinus issues.

Today, while the fog was so thick that I couldn't even see the downtown skyline FROM downtown, I started to feel that weird gunk at the back of my throat. One of my co-workers has been out sick "coughing like a dying person's cough" (her words) for the past two days. Another went from using her normal voice to about an octave lower in the course of the day, today.

Ah... The lovely reminders that we're not done with winter. Or that it's not done with us.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Ten Thousand. Ten. Thousand. TEN Thousand. Ten THOUSAND.

As of yesterday, this little blog of mine has had it's 10,000th "hit." Can you believe it? I'm not sure I can.

Now, I know that this does not mean that 10,000 different individuals have looked at the blog. It simply means that, over the course of the life of the blog various people have landed on this blog - or clicked through a link on it - ten thousand times.

That's not a whole lot of clicks in the blogosphere. I mean, there are blogs that get that much traffic in a week, and websites that get that much in less than a day. But for my little blog, which only - according to the left-hand panel - has 10 people who "follow" it on a daily basis... Wow. That's a lot.

And, even better, the 10,000th person was someone I know. She sent me a message after it happened to say that the counter at the bottom of the page had registered 10,000 when she was on it, reading "Valentinostalgia."

I may have to bake her some pink-frosted cookies, just for that.

I think our next milepost will be 11,111. If you happen to see that you click through as visitor 11,111, let me know. You might just get some cookies, too.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


As with many holidays, there is so much more about Valentine's Day that is based in our memories of Valentine's Day Past than in reality.

When we were kids we all made Valentines out of construction paper and paper doilies. We made them for our moms and that made us all happy. And my mom always made us sugar cookies with pink frosting hearts on them in return.

We got a little older, and we started buying Valentines (with sayings like "Bee Mine" on them) for all the kids in our class. Putting them in envelopes with one stick of gum or one candy heart, and then dropping them into every construction-paper-covered "mailbox" in school. And we had school parties where no one danced, but we all ate the pink frosted cookies.

Then high school came around and the pressure mounted. The cheerleaders did things like raising money by selling carnations in various colors signifying different intentions. This always ended up with some people getting mystery flowers ("oh... someone has a crush on you!"), and a whole lot of us not getting any. Luckily, when I would get home, there would be those pink frosted cookies.

As I've gotten older, I've had jobs where we actually got cookies sent in for the various holidays. Sugar cookies with frosting smeared on them in the appropriate holiday color. I'm never one to turn down cookies smeared with buttercream frosting, so I've never complained. But those frosted hearts with the sprinkles were never quite the same.

In the midst of last week, when all that suckage was going on at work, I came home on Tuesday night and decided to take matters into my own hands. (Mom doesn't bake much these days since Dad is supposed to be on a relatively sugar-free diet.) So I mixed together all of the ingredients and made some sugar cookies.

Once they were cool, I whipped up a little easy pink frosting, and - yes - put pink frosting hearts on all of the cookies. And then most of them went into the mail to my sisters and my parents so that we could all share in the nostalgia.

Tomorrow at work there won't be any candy hearts. There won't be any punch or dancing. There won't be any mailboxes decorated in doilies and construction paper. (Honestly, considering my co-workers, I'm not complaining.)

But, when I get home, I'll get to snuggle in with Christopher and the pup, pour myself a glass of milk, and take a bite or two of nostalgia.

I don't know about you, but that sounds like part of a great Valentine's Day.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday. Finally.

I wanted to update you on my "Ton of Suckage" week. I really wanted to be able to update you and say that the week had gotten so much better and I'm back to loving my job. Yeah, I know, I'd also wanted to win the lottery.

I've actually been contemplating some of the big picture questions over the past few days. You know, the "what am I doing with my life?" and "what do I want to do with my life?" questions.

Luckily, I've had Christopher to come home to every night and snuggle on the couch. I honestly don't know how I'd have made it through the week without him. And, also luckily, I've got one person at work who is in the same basic position I'm in (underpaid, overworked, desperate for a way out), so we can commiserate to some degree.

The one thing that has definitely happened is that I'm no longer going to be complacent about work and slacking off on searching for a new job. That's been a problem for me from time to time - I get frustrated with job searching and so I decide to just give up and settle. This week has reminded me that I can't do that.

So I'm kind of starting a new chapter - I hope. Searching for a new... something.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Suckage by the Ton

I've been told - politely - that I complain about work a substantial amount on here. I've also been told that some of my best postings are the ones where I kind of just state the facts and let it go. With those two thoughts in mind, I offer...

This week (and it's only Wednesday) has been a whole lot of suckage at work.

I spent about 3 hours yesterday training the person who is going to be taking over 1/3 of my current job. The 1/3 that I actually enjoy doing. And I'm guessing she's making about twice what I make. And I got to train her and provide her with materials. The part that really sucks? I kind of like her and think she might be fun to work with. If the situation was a bit different.

This morning, having placed an order for 6 boxes of a title to ship from the warehouse, I was told that only 4 were available. So I contacted the person who has been dealing with our inventory and she told me that the stock won't be available for probably another week. This wouldn't be so bad if she hadn't told me a week or so ago that it would be available now. When I asked her about it today, she told me I shouldn't have assumed anything, I should have asked her. I pointed out that I did ask her, and was moving forward based on what she told me. She said she couldn't figure out why I was getting so frustrated. The part that really sucked? She brought me chocolate later in the day to apologize - so I had to stop fuming. (Side question: If she hadn't realized that she had, in fact, been in the wrong do you think she'd have brought me chocolate? My answer to that would be "no.")

The final fun of the day came from the IT department. I found myself being lectured by one of the IT guys on how great a new file management system is going to be. Here's the catch: he fully admitted that he has no idea what I need the system to do. He also very obviously didn't want to hear what I need it to do. He kept insisting that he was trying to figure it out, but instead of asking and listening, he walked away from me and talked to someone else in the office because he feels I'm "adverse to change" (yes - he said "adverse" not "averse"). The sucky part? I can see why he's excited about the new system - but I also know that it's going to make some portions of my job a lot more labor-intensive.

Thus sucketh another day.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Movie Monday - The Mechanic

You know how last week I talked about going to a movie I knew nothing about and loving it because it wasn't anything like what I might have expected?

Well, this time around we went to a movie we didn't know much about and enjoyed it because it was basically exactly what we expected it to be - "The Mechanic."

Here's what you need to know: It's a Jason Statham movie. Which means there's a lot of things getting shot at and blown up. And fast cars. And... well... blood.

Actually, there was a lot more of the latter than I was expecting. Not that it wasn't within reason. It's not like they were throwing extra blood around like they do in slasher movies. They simply gave us the amounts of blood that, really, you would most likely see if you rammed a javelin through someone's leg. Or threw someone off the top of a building and watched him go splat on the ground.

There is, in fact, a plot. It focuses on family and expectations. And it focuses on people being shot and things being blown up. Which, in a movie like this, is plot.

Was it a great movie? No. Was it anything shockingly original? No. Was it everything we expected it would be? Yes.

Overall grade: B. Among other things, I never did get why Statham and his British accent were living in New Orleans.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl Sunday

I admit it.

I was doing all sorts of things earlier today, and had planned to blog this evening. And then I realized that the Super Bowl was about to start and I hadn't blogged.

So now I'm watching the Super Bowl, and we'll have to wait until tomorrow for a more comprehensive posting.

Here's hoping the commercials are worth it.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday Food - True Thai

As you know if you read yesterday's blog, last night Christopher and I went out to dinner at True Thai with a couple of our friends. We'd never been there before (even though we've driven past it a lot), but we decided it was time to try it out. (For the record, saying "Time to try True Thai" aloud is really hard.)

A friend of mine at work raves about the place, and was telling me suggestions on what to get to eat. We sort of took her suggestions - especially the ones about what to avoid - and made our orders.

The Crispy Beef appetizer with sticky rice was very good. The cream cheese wontons were great - although the dipping sauce wasn't quite what we were expecting (it was a vinegary sauce, instead of what is - at least around here - traditionally a sweet sauce). My Holy Basil Fried Rice with chicken was very good - not overly done, just very much the flavors that should have been there. There were Drunken noodles and a "7-vegetable Rainbow Medley" (which, I'm sorry, I did not taste). And Christopher got a Massaman Curry with Beef - and he ordered it "spicy" (which is their middle level of heat, apparently, and was probably about as hot as I would ever ask for).

We all really liked the food. And, as lucky as you can imagine, I got to take home most of the leftovers. So, for lunch today I had a mixture of Drunken noodles and Basil fried rice. For dinner tonight it was the leftover Massaman Curry (which had no beef left in it - although it still had a lot of spice).

Overall, it was a really good meal.

Christopher and I both agreed that we might not go out of our way to drive there for dinner, but that we would definitely go back if the opportunity presented itself. And, well, that says something in a town that is as full of restaurants as Minneapolis is.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Running on Empty

While that could be a metaphorical statement this time of year - or any time of year on a Thursday, for that matter - this time I mean it literally.

Or... well... I almost mean it, but it is in the literal sense.

You see, I'm one of those people who pretty much never lets his car's gas gauge get below the 1/4 mark. Once it drops below that and starts edging toward the "E" I start to get kind of nervous.

Even though my car gets 20+ miles to the gallon most of the time (in bad traffic when it's 5 degrees out, I don't expect to get great mileage), I still start to get nervous when the gas drops below a half tank. That may have something to do with the fact that I know my tank only holds about 13 gallons - and 8 of those are in the top half of the gas gauge. Yeah. No. I'm not sure how that works, either.

Since it's been so cold the past couple of mornings - and since I've had things going on in the evenings - I haven't made it to the gas station to fill up. Which means that, as we were driving home from dinner tonight (you'll have to wait until tomorrow to hear about dinner), my gauge was coming close to the "E."

Here's what could be the weirdest part of all of this, though: I didn't fill the car on the way home. I'll be leaving home a few minutes early tomorrow to do that. At that point, we're supposed to actually be up to about 20 degrees. I can deal with that for filling the car.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Speaking Too Soon

Remember how I mentioned, earlier, that our phone service had been restored and life was moving on a-pace?

Remember that we had come to that conclusion because the person at Bombast who had called said that they had figured out the problem and had solved it on their end?

Remember how I was all excited that we wouldn't have to deal with them any time again in the immediate future?

Yeah. All wrong.

When Christopher got home tonight, the phone was out. Sometime in the next hour or so it came back on - and we had a message in our voice mail. That would be okay if we USED our voice mail. But we don't. We have an answering machine. The only way anything goes to our voice mail is - you guessed it - if the phone is out.

So, after dinner, I called the folks at Bombast. I got a really nice guy on the phone who was quick to understand the situation, to apologize, and to say that we needed to have a tech come out. Of course, you know that what he offered were times during the workday tomorrow or Friday. Or a block of time on Saturday. Because as much as they tout being open 24 hours per day, they really only seem to do things between 8 and 6 Monday through Friday. He said he'd have a supervisor call me within the hour to explain why we got "cancelled" on Saturday.

The phone rang after about 25 minutes. It wasn't a supervisor, it was the same guy - because apparently a supervisor can't call for at least 24 hours. The very kind rep once again apologized for the issue last week, and explained that it was cancelled in error after we hadn't answered the phone when they called to confirm on Saturday morning. When I explained that they had actually called us to cancel and the person who called had said that the problem was already solved, he got a little flustered. Obviously he had also spoken too soon.

So, yep, we're without our phone - sporadically - again. And I'll be getting up early on Saturday to sit around and wait for a tech to come out. And I don't expect to be satisfied.

Hopefully, that's also speaking too soon.