Monday, September 30, 2013

A Very Monday-ish Monday

There are some things in life which simply seem predisposed to happening on a Monday. 

(And, yes, I'm strongly sticking with that being "Monday" and not simply "the first day of the workweek," because there were plenty of years when I worked on schedules which didn't actually start my week on a Monday, but Mondays still felt like Mondays.) 

Today was a definite Monday. I woke up feeling kind of "off" (this is the time of year when my seasonal allergies are in full bloom), but actually got out the door in decent time and got to work with a couple of minutes to spare. Heck, I even got to walk in with someone I like talking to, so the workday started out pretty darned well. 

But then I sat down to do work. And, yes, some of the problems do stem from the fact that clients (and potential clients, and freelancers I work with), tend to forget that just because they can contact me 7 days per week does not mean that I'll be responding 7 days per week. For that matter, if someone sends me a message (or three) at 11pm on a Tuesday night, I'm not going to respond at that point, either - even if she does copy my boss on the third message (sent at 11:28pm). So, anyway, Monday mornings always have more messages to deal with than other mornings, but that's not a big deal. 

And there's often a virtual stack of paperwork to deal with that has built up since Friday at 5. But, again, this morning was no different than any other Monday - or any other day, really. And, yet, something about today just felt very Monday-ish. 

Perhaps it was when about 85% of my co-workers all left for lunch at almost the same time. Some went to area cafes, but most went to the new Whole Foods market which just opened a couple of blocks away and apparently has "an awe-inspiring salad bar and deli." (I haven't gone there, yet, because... well... I'm cheap and I take my lunch probably 8 out of every 10 days.)

So, when everyone was coming back with their lunches, and I was sitting at my desk eating my from-home lunch, something in me twinged with that Junior High feeling of not having anyone to sit with at lunch. Which is especially weird because I used to have lunch with multiple people almost every day. In the old building we would meet up on different floors and "picnic" on the floor, just so we could be out of the office and talking about outside-of-the-office stuff. 

And that's when the serious case of the Mondays set in. 

But tomorrow is Tuesday. And I have lunch plans with someone in the office. And I'm pretty sure life is going to be better. At least it won't be Monday.

Saturday, September 28, 2013


Having posted the "Sesame Street" themesong the other day, I was pleasantly surprised when I received an email from a good friend of mine which included a video - and it featured the Muppets.

What's even stranger is that - to the best of my knowledge - he's not a regular blog reader. So it was simply coincidence that he sent me the Muppets the day after I had posted my video.

I fully admit that I couldn't understand all of the words in the video, but by the time I got the end of the video, I know I was happy. And, really, doesn't that make it worthwhile?


Thursday, September 26, 2013

This Week's Dose of Happiness

I love when things kind of show up out of nowhere and make your day - or even your week.

That happened to me this morning. After waking up with a song stuck in my head - the worst kind of song, where I only knew two lines of it and they just kept cycling - I thought I was doomed for the day.

I spent time before going to work searching out the offending song on YouTube so that I could hear more of it and get it out of my brain. That worked, mostly. Until about 10am, when I was trying to focus on work and the two lines popped back up in my head.

Then this piece of happiness came across my screen:

And life became *so* much better.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Q. What's Black and White and Red All Over?

A. A zebra with a sunburn. 

I fully admit that it is my own fault that I didn't put on sunscreen over the weekend. I was only really outside for a little while on Saturday (walking, not sunbathing), and then again for about an hour or so on Sunday when I was sitting in a hot tub. 

I think the problem with this is that the hot tub (and the wandering around on Saturday) happened to be in Dallas. Where, thanks to the strength of the sun, it still gets into the 80s and 90s this time of year. 

So, while I was thinking that it was September and I shouldn't have to worry about getting a burn in such a short time, I guess I was wrong. But here's the frustrating part: I didn't burn on my face or my arms or my neck. Or even my legs. So no one I saw at work today (or travelling back to Minnesota, yesterday) could tell that I had a sunburn. 

Because the sunburn is kind of in about an eight-inch stripe across my upper torso. You see, it covers the area from my sternum up to my collar bone, and travels up to my shoulders and down the "farmer tan" areas of my upper arms. Only in the front - because I was facing the sun at the time. 

In essence, my burn looks like this (if the grey areas of his uniform were red, and the rest was normal skin tone): 

See the look on his face? That's how I feel about this - a little frustrated, a little mad at myself, and really annoyed that my skin (which was dried out by the sun, the air conditioning, and the travel) is now really itchy but I don't want to scratch myself in public. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Travel Food - Alaska

Keeping with the photographic theme, I thought I'd share some shots of places we ate while we were travelling.

But I have to also admit that I travel with food. Not massive amounts of food - I don't carry sandwiches or packages of casserole or anything like that. I carry individual packages of Goldfish pretty much every time I travel. And I usually throw in something different - in Alaska, I had individual packs of Milanos, because they were on sale just before we left.

Even so, even with my strange eating habits (if you know me well, you know this about me), I can't live on only individual packages of Goldfish and Milanos. And I certainly can't expect the people I travel with to do that. So, in Alaska, we went out to eat a lot. And here are some of the places we went:

In Anchorage:

Our first night in Anchorage, we were walking around and found this place. I had an amazing Shepherd's Pie, and I think Christopher had Fish and Chips. The server was great - friendly, and with real opinions of what was good and what wasn't on the menu. 

Glacier Brewhouse - We lunched there, thankfully at the end of the obvious cruise ship-travellers, so the place went from crowded and loud to fairly quiet. Good brewhouse food, and amazing root beer and cream soda. 

A companion to Glacier Brewhouse (right next door, as well), this place does "Mediterranean" food. Our server was amazing. She even understood when we asked about "the dish that looked like Stonehenge" and was a lot of fun. Only one problem for me: The name "Orso" is an obviously play on "Ursa" for bear, but there was no Orzo anywhere on the menu. 

Uncle Joe's pizza was a lunch one day. The pizza was kind of mediocre, and the staff were kind of brusque. I'd skip it if you have another option.
In Kenai:
No, we didn't eat at the Russian church in Old Town Kenai, we ate at a tiny little place across the street called Veronica's with a fabulous staff and amazing desserts. I'd go back there in a heartbeat if it wasn't a rather long commute. (I think the picture we took is on Christopher's camera.)
In Seward:
The Salmon Bake - just outside of Seward.
Basically "next door" to our hotel, this place had amazing salmon (no surprise, right?), as well as a really homey feel. And, as with many tourist-dependent places, it was closing for the season just a few days after we were there.
Resurrection Roadhouse - connected to our hotel, the Seward Windsong Lodge. The food was fine, but the staff were hit-or-miss, and - frankly - the Salmon Bake was so much better... The views were good though.
Near Denali:

Prey - at Denali Cabins. A tiny little restaurant with an amazingly diverse menu, everything from Mac&Cheese with bacon to French Dip to Burgers and fries. The staff were great, and we even ate their twice - which we seldom do when travelling. Okay, so they were the only place that was easily walkable except for Parks 229 (below), but we probably would have eaten there twice, anyway. (Apparently breakfast was pretty mediocre, though.)

229 Parks Restaurant - about a half mile north of Denali Cabins. (Sorry. It was too dark out to take a picture after we had dinner, and this was taken from the bus on the way by.) I really wanted this place to be great, but it seemed to set the bar higher than it could reach. We left having had a decent meal and a nice enough waitress, but feeling a little let-down. And when we got back to our room, I found that my flatbread pizza leftovers had just kind of been tossed together in the doggie-box, making them nigh impossible to eat.

The Cafe at the Denali Park Visitors center. The food was fine for a kind of basic medium-service joint, and the staff were decent. Basically, it was what you'd expect at a park location. 

So, there you have 'em, most of the places we ate in Alaska. We did also have dinner at Sullivan's Steakhouse in Anchorage - which was nicely high-end, with a waiter who tried really hard, even though he was obviously pretty green. We had quite decent pizza from Marino's delivered to our hotel room on our final night in Anchorage, too.

We had less decent pizza (which did have Elk meatballs on it) at Prospector's Pizza, and Christopher had an apparently flavorful breakfast sandwich from the Black Bear coffee shop in "Glitter Gulch" outside of the entrance to Denali park.

Add in some Goldfish and Milanos, and you've got pretty much everything you need to eat your way through Alaska.

Friday, September 20, 2013

'Tis the Sneezin'

One of the other great things about Alaska? The fact that their first freeze happens in mid-August, which not only kills off the mosquitoes (which, having heard stories, I never want to deal with), it also kills off many of the fall allergens.

Considering that ragweed - a fall allergen - is one of my biggest sinus nemeses, this was great.

Coming back to Minnesota, however, was a shock to my schnoz. I immediately started having sinus issues with sneezing and - apparently - snoring, involved. Luckily, there was Pseudoephedrine on hand, so we're working on that.

Then, for some reason, our office has started getting a ton of air conditioning. Which is especially strange since during the hottest part of the summer we were a warm and sticky office. But, now that it has cooled off outside, we're considering renting out space as a meat storage locker. (Okay. Maybe it's not really that cold. But the thermometer we brought in has been registering the mid-60s most of the week - which is not a prime office temperature.)

What does this all mean when you put it together? It means that I've been having "Zesty Orange" Airborne-flavored water alongside my breakfast the past few days. Even so, I've been waking up with that weird feeling in my chest/nose/ears that indicates a cold is on its way.

I am not amused.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Accidental Hipsterism

We all know what the standard hipster looks like, right? And, of course, since hipsters started out by trying to be ahead of the pack and on the cutting edge of new trends, that statement on its own is already a little odd. 

So, anyway, let's assume you don't know what a hipster might look like. Here's a partial list of typical attributes: 

 - bearded
 - wearing a plaid shirt
 - wearing jeans - typically skinny jeans, overly styled jeans, or slightly ratty-looking jeans
 - wearing some kind of work boots that will never been worn for work or tennis shoes that will never be used for sports
 - wearing sunglasses that are big enough that they could shade a small African village

You probably also know that I work in a really casual office. For the most part, a "uniformed" hipster would be overdressed in my office. But, at the same time, I've got some plaid-ish shirts that I really like, and I usually wear tennis shoes to work. 

This time of year, I would normally be wearing shorts, but the Editing office has been frigid ever since I got back into town. So I've been wearing jeans. (You know where this is heading.)

On Monday, I broke out one of my favorite plaid shirts, pulled on some of my most broken-in jeans, and put on some tennis shoes I got before the trip (not the hiking shoes, but a pair of grey Puma tennis shoes). I don't think I ever looked in the mirror after getting dressed, I just walked the dog and headed for work. 

When I got out of my car in the parking garage, I noticed a 20-something guy getting out of his car  - huge sunglasses, beard, plaid, skinny jeans tucked into his work boots. I didn't pay much attention. 

Then I got to street level and, as I was crossing the street I noticed another guy - this one blond - with a scruffy beard, sunglasses, plaid shirt, overly-styled jeans, pink boat shoes. 

As I stood in front of the elevator to go to my office I looked at my reflection: beard, plaid, faded jeans, tennis shoes - no sunglasses, because mine are prescription so I always leave them in the car - and realized that I had accidentally hipstered myself before leaving home. 

Basically, I was wearing what I would have worn any other time - but now I looked like I was trying to fit in. 


The worst part? I looked pretty good, but now I'm unsure whether or not I can ever wear that again.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Signs of the Times

I have finally gotten my pictures off of my camera, and thought I'd share a few shots from what I was up to last week at this time. Or, well, what I was finishing up doing last week at this time.

You see, as a belated celebration of Christopher's birthday, we took a trip to Alaska at the beginning of the month. (He was born up there, but had never been back, so it seemed like the right thing to do.)

We started in Anchorage, drove around and down the Kenai Peninsula (a trip which included a Kenai Fjords cruise and time with some really cute sled dogs), and then wrapped up our trip with a few days in the Denali National Park area (our hotel/cabin was outside the park, but we spent a full day in the park, too).

So, anyway, since I haven't had a chance to organize all of my photos, I'm just giving you a few of them tonight. (Don't worry - I won't load all 500 of them into the blog, no matter what. Even I don't want to see that many of them.)

In an attempt for some sense of organization, I offer you some signage we found in Alaska which, really, could only have come from Alaska:

The Anchorage Museum takes its Musk Ox very seriously.

I really kind of wish more housing came with escape tunnels.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back on the mountain...

Just add "I can see Russia from here" joke.

How many times in your life can you be that close to a diorama of a continent's highest peak?

Sadly, signs combatting stupidity also exist in Alaska.

Seriously. Could this exist anywhere else?
And, yeah, those are the signs of the times we were having last week. Stay tuned for actual landscapes and things...

Saturday, September 14, 2013


There are some words that are just kind of perfect. Words that mean exactly what you think they're going to mean - and that are the only words that can describe specific situations.

Moist is one of those words. It's also a word which some people can't stand, because... well... it just sounds kind of moist.

On the other side of things, comfy is a good word, too. You know exactly how a sweater or an overstuffed chair is going to feel when someone says to you that it's comfy.

As I kind of alluded to earlier this week, Christopher and I were in Alaska for the first 9 or 10 days of September. And a lot of the time we were there the weather was cool and fairly drizzly. Our hotel rooms frequently were just a little damp, and often kind of "close" when we first walked into them.

And, yes, musty - to me - is the perfect word for describing them.

I bring that up tonight because when we walked back into the house after being out for the evening - on a cool, damp night - the house also felt musty. (Our air conditioner runs on a thermostat, so since it's cool out, the house fan hasn't been on. Hence the "must.") So, as we did on our travels, we kicked on the fan and settled in.

In situations like this, that's also a must.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Postponed Pictoral Gratification

I was really hoping to have a cool post for you tonight with photos from the past 10 days or so. But I don't, because my camera battery died partway through uploading things, and so my download is still only about 3/4 of the way done. 

And I'm not going to tell you what the photos are of, because I want it to be a fun (relatively) surprising post. 

What I will say is that I was out of town - and even out of the Midwest - for the first 10 days of September, and that I'm pretty sure that my camera's battery is simply reflecting my own internal battery's charge. Especially since I went to work today, which means that my alarm went off at what felt like 4am. 

I hope to have my photos ready to go in a day or two. You'll be some of the first to know if that happens. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Bad Quote Quotient - Self-medicate at Your Own Risk

Sometimes, when authors start talking about things that they might not be experts at, and they combine that with bad punctuation, it can get a little dangerous.

I read things all the time where people are writing about topics they haven't studied. In fiction, that can be just one more "hmm... not sure about that..." moment. But in non-fiction, it can be downright hazardous to your health.

Luckily, one author whose book I recently worked on seems to have found a treatment for all kinds of dehydration - including some kinds we never thought to worry about:

Plantains are also used to treat dehydration in infants, as well as asthma and bronchitis.

I realize that, yes, this also plays into the "never leave out important words" discussion from my last Bad Quote Quotient post, but I'm also kind of intrigued by it.

I mean... does he really plan to treat dehydration in asthma by using plantains? And how often does bronchitis have a problem with its dehydration?

Ah... if only he'd added a little clarification, so that we would know that the asthma and bronchitis were actually adult illnesses that plantains might help to cure. At least I hope that's what he meant...

Friday, September 6, 2013

Book Baking - Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder

Have I mentioned that I'm in a book club? It's a loosely formed group that a friend of mine started after she gave up on a couple of other groups which other people had organized.

We tend to read some pretty serious stuff. Not like depressing stuff, but dense. We read Casual Vacancy, which is very densely written. (Loved it.) We read A Visit From the Goon Squad, which was dense, but didn't live up to its back cover copy. And I think we've read about 6 other ones since the group started.

This week's book was The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke. It's a "cozy mystery" - set in a small town with no real edge or scare factor. And, well, there's recipes in it, so we decided to bake cookies from it for our meeting.

It was a nice change of pace from the heavier books, and the cookies weren't too dense, either.

The Chocolate Chip Crunch cookies (baked by the evening's hostess) were really good. I made some "Black and Whites" which were a little weird to make (they "dough" was the consistency of brownie batter), but were really tasty. But since the recipe made about 7 dozen cookies - and since there were only 3 of us at book club - I had some leftovers.

The leftovers went to work with me today. I'm guessing I wasn't the only one who thought they were pretty good, because they were gone before lunch.

My recommendation: find the book at a used book store (or on an eReader) for the recipes. I mean, the book was fine, but it wouldn't have been gone by lunch.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Bad Quote Quotient: Legal Logistics

For those of the txting generation who abbreviate words n sentences all the tym, I offer the following caution: Leaving out words can have painful results.

**DISCLAIMER: I have some very good friends who are very good lawyers. All jokes made herein at the expense of their profession should in no way be construed to apply to them, personally.**

In a book I recently worked on which was all about working your way through the court systems in the United States, the author was quick to point out that his advice was not a replacement for personal legal counsel.

Although... I suspect that he didn't quite mean to tell his readers that this should be their last-ditch effort:

Ultimately, it is up your lawyer.

I guess, though, it's nice to sometimes read about clients sticking it to their lawyers, and not the other way around.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Movie Monday - Dystopias

Labor Day, traditionally, marks the end of the summer movie season. And, by the looks of the trailers, it was a really good season of movies. But Christopher and I had problems getting the time to go out to many movies. So I just kept adding things to my Netflix queue, and checking the cheap seats theaters in the hopes that I might catch movies before they're gone.

In the past 10 days, though, we actually got to see two of the summer movies. The first was Elysium, which stars Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. It's a movie that is, at the base, a statement about the haves versus the have-nots. Matt Damon, a have-not, decides he wants to be a have. Jodie Foster, a have, decides she wants to be a have-more.

There's cybernetics and action and some really cool visual effects. And, actually, a bit more story than you might expect.

There's also more graphic violence than I had expected. Not that it was inappropriate, it was just really kind of sudden and shocking at times.

On the other hand, we also went to see The World's End, which has been - in some circles - referred to as the third installment of the Cornetto Trilogy, which started with Shawn of the Dead, and was followed by Hot Fuzz. Granted, the stories aren't connected, but the two lead actors are the same in each.

This one, instead of being a Zombie movie or a Buddy Cop flick, is a cross between a high school reunion movie and an alien abduction movie. And, you know, it's a really good combo.

As with Elysium, there's cybernetics and action and some really cool visual effects. And, well, maybe not all that much more story than you'd expect.

Two versions of dystopian society - one serious, one serio-comic. Two movies very much worth seeing.

Elysium - B+. I'd have been okay with it without the shocking violence, although Christopher said that the director does this kind of thing in his movies, so if I had seen anything else by him I might have been okay.

The World's End - A-. Because I had seen a movie by these folks before, I knew what to watch for, and I laughed out loud a lot, but also found myself liking the serious aspects from time to time.