Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Furry

Yes. I know that Friday is usually "food," but I just have to touch on this topic for a moment or two.

I work with someone who has... well... issues with animals. She's an extreme vegetarian (but not a vegan), and although I'm fully in favor of her having her opinions and beliefs, I get a little frustrated that she freaks out about other people's stuff.

She writes off any place which has even the hint of not treating animals well. Which I totally understand because animal cruelty really ought to earn people seats in the worst ring of hell.

But... sometimes... she goes a little too far. Like criticizing what you're eating - as you're eating it.

Or... well... Let's see... Someone else was trying to think of things to do this weekend, and I suggested the Minnesota Zoo. Of course, that got a huge "NO, you can't do that!" And, okay, I guess I could have guessed that would happen.

But she freaked when another coworker killed a fly. I mean... really?

What makes this even stranger - at least to me - is that she loves to ride horses. I'm sure that they're all very well taken care of, but they're obviously not running free on the open plains.

I fully admit that I'm probably naif about this (please don't send me any links to sites about animal cruelty), but what makes keeping horses in a barn and riding them for your pleasure any better than the animals at the zoo who aren't in cages but are in massive habitats created specifically for them - where they get better meals and care than they'd ever get in the wild?

Which is to say that I think both of them are probably fine in the grand scheme of things. As is eating pot roast and mashed potatoes. And killing mosquitoes.

But anyone tries to be cruel to any pets while I'm around... that's a whole different story.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sound(ing) Off

In my new position at work, I get the pleasure of *not* having to answer the phone all day. It's an amazing freedom after having been the de facto "receptionist" for the past 2 years.

Since the office space I'm now in has 3 of the louder voices from our company in it, and since I'm spending my days trying to focus on editing, that means that I can now take advantage of listening to music all day using headphones (or, rather, earphones... or earbuds... or whatever they're called).

And, since I've been using them - and having to take at least one of them out of my ear so that I can have conversations with people - I've started noticing how many people wear them out in the "real world."

Maybe it's just me, but I kind of like hearing the world around me when I'm walking down the street. And - even more important - I like hearing things like sirens, and other warnings. All of which (the mundane and the critical) become muted when you've got your own music in your head.

Which brings me to one thing that I've noticed a lot, lately: drivers with earbuds.

That scares the bejeezus out of me. I know that it's sometimes hard for me to hear sirens when I'm driving with the radio on - but at least then the music is coming from my car and not being blasted directly into my ears. How can we expect that people with earbuds in can hear anything at all? I can barely hear people talking directly at me from 6 feet away.

It almost makes talking on the phone seem incredibly safe and boring - after all, in most cases, that only takes one ear at a time.

And texting? Heck. That doesn't take any ears at all - just at least one hand and both eyes...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Long Show, Short Review

Christopher and I saw "Cosi fan Tutte" on Saturday. It was the kick-off for The Minnesota Opera's new season.

It's a Mozart opera. A comic tale of love, fidelity, romance, lust, deception, and - apparently - a moat that opens and closes with badly-done stage work.

The singers - incredible. The set - beautiful. The main characters' costumes - gorgeous. The show (as written by Mozart) - active and fun for the first 90 minutes, kind of a yawn-fest for about 45 minutes of the second 90 minutes (I mean, really, no matter how amazing the woman's voice is, I don't have the patience for 10 minutes of "I hate myself for not staying faithful, but I'm going to do it anyway" over and over and over).

Here are my biggest questions:
1) Did it really need the moat with a sliding cover? And, if so, why didn't someone WD-40 the bejeezus out of it?
2) Why did the stagehands all look like Italian goons?

And here are my wrap-up questions (they actually come with answers):
a) Is it a good show for people who aren't sure they like opera? Well, up until the intermission, I'd say yes.
b) Is it a show which non-opera-lovers can point to and say "See. This is why I don't like this stuff"? I'm going to have to also say yes.

Did I enjoy it, overall? Yes. Really, the music is amazing - even in the parts where the show is boring, the vocalists were incredible. And visually it's very pretty - so if just daydream through the boring part, it could be almost perfect.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Being In Touch

There's something really rather wonderful about the phrase "being in touch."

I was thinking about it earlier today when reading that someone had commented on one of my earlier blog postings. It was the kind of contact that made me think "Oh. Well. Someone *is* reading this, after all." And I thought "So nice of her to be in touch."

And then I just typed that last paragraph, and realized that I was also using the phrasing "making contact" in the same context.

There's just something wonderful about people being in touch and/or making contact. This could be via phone... or email... or message board... or actual physical letter... or - imagine it - actually in person and touching. Although, of course, that's one of the few ways that those phrases *don't* seem to apply.

After all, when you actually see someone in person, you don't say "so nice of you to make contact" or "it's been so nice to touch you." It's only when you're not in the same location as the other party that you actually talk about tactile connections. Which, really, is a bit odd when you think about it.

But, putting that aside, let's try to get back to my original point, which is the great way it feels when someone at a distance does, in fact, make contact.

On a day when life might not be going your way - let's say, perhaps, that you went for a haircut and came out shorn; or that you had massive coupons, but when you went shopping nothing fit - getting that one piece of evidence that someone is out there and interested in what you're doing is pretty cool.

It's like a long-distance hug. Or at least that touch on your arm that lets you know there's someone else in the room.

So... umm... yeah...

Keep in touch.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Food - Or Not

I hereby admit that I'm not posting about Friday Food because I went out to dinner with Christopher and one of his oldest friends and now it has gotten too late to talk about it.

I'll catch up later. I promise.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Happily Sometimes After

I have to admit it. (Although I'm sure many of you have already guessed it.) I like happy endings.

I like it when the people I "know" in TV shows, movies, books, and - yes, even real life - are happy. I get frustrated and bothered and stressed when they're not.

At work, I find myself surrounded by all sorts of strange junior-high-ish drama on a fairly regular basis. This week - and, remember, we're only to Wednesday - my workplace is in a high anxiety mode. There's all sorts of stuff kind of going on. "Kind of" because so much of office life is conducted through innuendo and rumor. What I'd really prefer would be if everyone who works there would simply do their jobs and go about their lives. We'd all be happier.

When I'm home and watching TV - or at movies, or reading books, or at a play, or any of those other places people try to say aren't "real" - I get frustrated when the people I like aren't happy. When I'm expecting comedy, but am offered tense situations or embarrassing situations or downright sad situations, it kind of throws me off. This is part of why Christopher hates to watch "The Amazing Race" (which premieres this Sunday) with me - because when people I like have problems it bugs me.

It makes me wish that more of life came with a musical theater soundtrack. Then, even when things were bad, we'd all know that the next song would probably turn it around. We'd know that a tap number would be coming. Or the glittering set would be flown in in the next break. Or the hero would get his man in the end (innuendo that all you want). And they'd all go, arm-in-arm skipping off the stage after the bows to live happily ever after.

Or at least happily sometimes after. Because being around people who are overly happy all the time - even considering all I was just talking about - would be incredibly annoying.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Movie Monday - Drive

Occasionally it would be a good thing to read up on a movie before going. Usually, I don't think that's such a good idea, because I don't want to have any big pre-conceived notions before the lights go down. But, occasionally, it might be good.

Going to see the movie "Drive," for instance, without having read up on it may not have been my best movie-going choice of recent times.

You see, I read the first lines of the write-ups (which talked about Ryan Gosling playing a stunt driver who takes side jobs as a get-away driver) and thought that it sounded like it would be a heist film. Lots of action. Some good cars. Ryan Gosling looking cool in action scenes in good cars. The basics.

And, yes, the movie does have those things. But it's also a movie about when things go wrong and bad choices are made and how much worse both of those can be if there are mob connections involved.

Oh, yeah, and it also has a plot. Like a real serious "pay attention because this is a good movie" plot. With really good actors. And people you come to care about just because of on-screen chemistry.

And it also has some violence and nudity - both of which are used only as plot points, and not gratuitously. Although - truth be told - I covered my eyes a couple of times during some of the violent parts (hence the hands in the gunky hair from yesterday's post).

Is it a really good movie? Yes. Is it a little too violent - in a very realistic way - for, say, my parents to go to? Yes. Were Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan really rather amazing in it? Also yes. Was I disappointed that I didn't get a big car chase movie? I don't think so, really.

Overall grade: B. I do think some of the violence could have been handled better, and I really don't get the use of the 1980s typeface for the credits (if you see the movie - or even just the promotional materials - you'll know what I mean).

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Gunky (Not Gloppy) Hair Day

I'm not posting a photo of my hair to help you understand tonight's dilemma because, frankly, it looks about the same as it always does. It's just that... well... it doesn't feel the same as always.

You see, I'm almost out of the regular (and cheap) glop I use on my hair when it's short (as it is at the moment). But since I was planning to go out of the house today - and didn't want to wear a hat - I needed to put something in my hair.

Not wanting to waste the glop because I will need it for work tomorrow, I opted for the more expensive gunk which I bought a while ago when I was trying to see if it would work for me. (And, really, it does.)

The problem is that, although the outcome looks pretty much the same whether I use the glop of the gunk, the feel of it is totally different.

The glop dries kind of... well... soft. I can touch my hair throughout the day (when I'm frustrated at work or can't think of words to play in my online Scrabble games), and although it gets mussier (but in less-purposeful ways), it doesn't ever feel weird.

The gunk, on the other hand, it just gets kind of... umm... gunky feeling after you work it into your hair. So when I was cringing behind my hand at the movie this afternoon, or when I was trying not to pull out my hair while doing a last-minute edit tonight, I would pull my hand away from my hair and it would feel kind of strange. Not quite sticky, but not quite dry, either.

Okay... yes... on the plus side, the more I play with my hair when it has the gunk in it, the less gunky it feels, and it still tends to look "purposely mussed." Which, really, is probably a selling point I should pay attention to since I'm going to be doing more editing going forward and will need my hair to stand up to more "frustration mussing." (But, even so, who wants to play with gunky-feeling hair to begin with?)

Tomorrow after work I'm definitely going on a quest to find more glop. And then, maybe - once I'm sure I can get that - I'll try the gunk, again, just to be sure how I feel about it

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Food - Salmon

You know how there are those things that you feel like you ought to eat, but you have no idea what to do with them?

Well, Christopher and I crossed one of those lines tonight.

Salmon was on sale this week at one of our local grocery stores (a "buy one, get the second free" deal), so we decided that we could afford to buy it. And, tonight, we decided to see what we could do with it.

We found a recipe in one of our Nigella Lawson cookbooks, bought a few ingredients, and then set to it.

And then we realized that the ingredients were for a sauce, and not for a marinade. So we made the sauce but didn't marinate with it.

With that out of the way, we started the rice, dug out a grill pan (which I've owned for years and yet never used), and got things moving.

The salmon cooked in about a heartbeat. The rice turned out perfectly. The sauce was tangy and sweet.

And we still have the "get the second piece for free" piece.

Check us out. We're eating healthy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Movie Wednesday - The Adjustment Bureau

Yep. My days are completely out o' the whack this week. Which seems kind of appropriate considering this week's movie.

You see, I'm kind of getting back into my Netflix account, and I got "The Adjustment Bureau" this week. And, since Christopher was busy last night doing his civic duty working all day for a special election in the district where he does that kind of thing, I decided to go ahead and watch it.

I figured out why it didn't do well in the theaters. It's a romance, but it's also kind of paranormal - in an angel/higher power way, and also a little bit of a chase movie. Not exactly something easy to pin down. But it was marketed like a big budget film, instead of a one-of-a-kind indie flick. And, yeah, that definitely didn't help.

So... the plot... It's Matt Damon as this politician who accidentally meets a dancer (Emily Blunt), and it kind of throws him off track for the "grand design." Which means that the Adjustment Bureau folks have to work to get him back on track.

It's a cool premise, really. And you like the two main characters SO much within moments of meeting them that you really want the end of the movie to come out right. And you hope that all the way to the end of the movie when... (nope. I'm not telling.)

OH. And it has some really cool shots of New York City in it, too.

Is it a great movie? No. Does it try to do too many things? Yes. Was it totally worth spending 2 hours of my Tuesday night on? Totally.

Overall grade: We'll say B. No adjustment necessary.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Travel Monday

I know that Tuesday is usually the "travel"-titled day, but I had a frustrating commute on the way home tonight and I had to share a question I have.

If you've bought a great big off-roading SUV thing that is bigger than the lane is wide, guzzles gas, and has never ever been off-road, why can't you at least drive it across road construction with - if not gusto - at least a little confidence?

You see, a couple of the streets I have to cross on my commute are being re-surfaced. Yes, it's a bit annoying, but at least they're not streets I would typically have to drive along, just across. The other day all of the manholes were sticking up about 4 inches above the pavement. And, yes, that can be bad for your car and its tires.

But, today, all of the manhole covers had very nice smooth collars of pavement up around them, making them perfectly fine for driving over. In fact, the worst part of the drive across the street was the 3-inch drop as you entered into the construction zone and the 3-inch ledge as you exited the construction zone.

If the people in front of me had had low-riding vehicles (say a sportscar of some kind, or a skateboard), I could see slowing down and gingerly crossing the intersection. But I was behind a Land Rover, a Ford Explorer, and a Lexus SUV. Each of which rolled, probably at a speed of "idle," across the intersection. I think a whole 3 of us got through on one cycle of the light, instead of 10 or so as would normally have made it.

And, you know, that's just wrong. Not driving one of those SUVs like it can survive a 3-inch drop is kind of like buying a Bugatti Veyron and never going over 30 miles per hour. (Christopher will be proud of me for spelling that car's name right. And, heck, just for knowing that it exists.) Either way, it's just a waste of money and, frankly - since this blog really is all about me - it's a waste of my time.

Next time, I honk.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ten Years Ago Tonight

It's kind of strange to think about, you know.

Everyone is talking about what they were doing ten years ago tomorrow. We all have stories of where we were and what we were doing. Who we were with. Who we talked to. Who we wanted... needed... to talk to in our quest to find some meaning in the day. When, exactly, we finally broke down in tears and what, exactly, caused it.

We've all spent the past ten years thinking about what happened. Our culture is filled with the sights and sounds of that day. And our daily lives are filled with the aftermaths of it.

Even so, as I sat here, tonight, on the couch with Christopher, tossing a tennis ball for the pup to fetch, I started wondering what I was doing ten years ago tonight. Not ten years ago early tomorrow morning (which was a Tuesday, in case you were wondering) when the world was still "normal." Not ten years ago tomorrow in the later morning when the world went somehow awry. Not ten years ago two days from now when a new kind of reality started to filter in.

But ten years ago tonight.

It was a Monday night, apparently. I was single and living in Baltimore and not dating anyone. My computer (an all-in-one iMac) sat in the corner of my living room where I barely had internet service and although I had email I definitely didn't have any on-line social networking. And - as much as it may shock some people - I honestly have no idea what television shows were on. So I have no idea whatsoever what I was doing ten years ago tonight.

I completely understand why the day that sticks in our heads is the "ten years ago tomorrow" day. But I kind of hope that, in 2021, I'll be sitting down on the night before the "twenty years ago" day, and thinking "Ten years ago tonight Christopher and I ate dinner on the couch while we watched 'Phineas and Ferb' and we all went to bed a little early, because it had been a busy, warm September day and we were fairly happily tired."

We'll leave the 11th of Septembers to remembering the 11th of September in 2001. But, on the 10th of each year, I hope that tonight is what I'll be remembering.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Playing in the Sprinkler

I was watering the yard, tonight, in my usual way. Which kind of plays out like this: I go out, set up the sprinkler, then come in and set the timer and ignore the water until the timer goes off.

When I do the front lawn, I always worry a little about having it spray on the sidewalk, but that's the only way to get the boulevard watered.

Tonight, while watching TV, I glanced up and saw someone running through the water. Someone very small running through the water.

And then stopping. And letting the water catch up to him.

And then running back through it again.

And, finally, running all the way through and kind of high-fiving the much bigger person who was crouched just out of reach of the oscillating sprinkler.

It was, I realized fairly quickly, the two-year-old (I think that's about right) who lives next door, and his father. They are frequently out playing on "our" sidewalk, because the walk in front of their house is pretty short and their boulevard is all full of plantings - whereas our walk is rather long and the boulevard is just grass.

We occasionally see the whole family of five out for walks (the two-year-old has a very young sibling, and there's also a small dog), but lately the outdoor time has mainly been father/son time. And I'm guessing - just a hunch - that tonight the sprinkler time would not have been approved by his mom. Or, probably, anyone's mom for that matter.

But it was just so great to sit and watch him. To see him running back and forth in the water - dodging the sprinkler, then charging it full force - and always back to his dad.

I think we all do that, to some degree, no matter how old we get. The sprinklers just change along the way.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Travel Tuesday, sorta

I have a list of blogs that I check out pretty often. (They're mostly the ones that are listed in the side column on here, in case you're wondering.)

One of the blogs I check out - called "Catalog Living" - uses, as its schtick, images from home furnishing catalogs, and adds dialogue (of sorts) to it.

Usually I find it interesting in an "oh. ha." sort of way. Today, however, it's a little more than that.

There's something both kind of Zen and a little Mary Poppins about it.

It's also a little bit of a commentary on working a job that seems to be going nowhere, while dreaming of traveling anywhere and everywhere.

Or at least that's how it struck me. Let me know what you think after you go check it out here.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Movie Monday: The King's Speech

Having actually finished the work I needed to do at about 9 this morning, I decided to use the afternoon to do something fun. Since Christopher was doing his own work, I had to find something to do on my own.

So I pulled out a movie from Netflix which I've been "babysitting" for about 2 months: "The King's Speech."

If you haven't ever heard of it... well... I have no idea what to say to you, since it was everywhere for a while last year.

It's the story of King George VI of England (Queen Elizabeth's dad), and how he overcame a stutter. Really. That's pretty much the whole plot of the two-hour movie.

But it really is a good movie - and very interesting to watch. It has Colin Firth in the lead, with his wife - who eventually becomes "the Queen Mum" - being played by Helena Bonham Carter (whom I usually can't stand), and Geoffrey Rush (whom I also frequently can't deal with) as the speech therapist.

Here's the thing, though, I found myself laughing more than I expected. And that's why I liked the movie. Sure, it was serious and frustrating and intense and historical, but it was also really funny in a few places. One of my favorite scenes is when the Queen Mum meets the therapist's wife. It's this lovely little parlor piece, all done with eyebrows and cheekbones. Amazing.

So... Do I think it's the best movie I saw from all of last year's crop? No. But, heck, with all of the hype, it had no chance to live up to that. Had I seen it early on, I might have thought so. Overall rating: B+. Because, quite frankly, I had to sit at my computer and google the heck out of the characters to figure out who everyone was, when they could have easily included just a hair more exposition along the way.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Pseudoephedrine Saturday (and Sunday)

Over the past few days, as the weather went from hot and humid to cool and dry, my sinuses decided that they didn't like the change. I woke up yesterday with sinus pain that was making my cheeks, jaw, and even one eye hurt.

The catch? If I take a full dose of Pseudoephedrine (which works great for my sinuses), it pretty much knocks me out. So I have to take a half-dose - which doesn't quite do the trick, but also doesn't force me to take a nap.

Late yesterday afternoon, I found myself not only stuffy and dripping, but also sneezing. Turns out that the weather change has apparently also ushered in the seasonal allergies that make me a cranky person as we move from summer to fall. (As if the knowledge that winter can't be too far behind wasn't bad enough.)

So I wandered hazily through parts of yesterday, and woke myself up sneezing this morning.

I'm thinking it's time for a nap.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Parking Lot Perturbance

Why in the world to people feel the need to drive through parking spaces and park going "the wrong way"?

I mean... really... what good does that do?

It frequently means that they're pointing the wrong way down one-way driving lanes.

It means that they often slide into the same spaces that you're trying to pull into.

And it means that they're annoying me in the middle of a parking lot where I really just want to get on with my day and not deal with stupid people who are going the wrong way and pulling into spaces that I want to park in.

So... really... What's up with that?