Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Happy HallowGivingStmas! (?)

I was out shopping during my lunch, yesterday - which, with our office in it's new location, I can now sort of do.

I say "sort of" because, by the time I walk anywhere that I want to shop, I've already killed almost 15 minutes of my 30-minute lunch, so I kind of need to turn around and go back to work. But, anyway...

I was out shopping during my lunch, yesterday, and was in the Macy's in downtown Minneapolis, where I found that their entire kitchen area is currently decorated for Christmas.

Now, aside from the fact that we're not even past Halloween, yet, I'm a little bothered by the idea that they've jumped directly to Christmas. I mean... We have a whole other holiday in the middle, yet. And... you know... you'd think a kitchen store - or at least the kitchen portion of a department store - might kind of want to focus on the biggest food holiday of the year.

But, you know, no one asked me.

So, instead, I welcome you to the eve of the first day of the new 56-day HallowGivingStmas.

May it be full of... geez... I dunno... carved pumpkins filled with stuffing hanging by the chimney with care. Or something.

Monday, October 28, 2013

New TV Dinner - Southern at Heart

Christopher and I tend to watch a lot of TV. Which is frequently difficult to do, since some weeks we seem to not be home a lot. So it makes it hard to stay caught up on everything we have recorded on our TiVo.

We tend to choose one or two new shows each season to replace the things that have been cancelled. And we each have shows that the other doesn't care about, so we can watch them together or singly.

I tend to record a few shows off of HGTV and one or two off of the Food Network. But, if you watch Food TV at all, you know that most of that channel is now competition shows - very little cooking.

I'm happy to say that the winner of last season's "Next Food Network Star" had her premiere episode of her new show this past weekend. And although it had all the problems of a first episode, I loved it.

The host - Damaris Phillips - is from Kentucky, and is proud of that. She's Southern in all the best ways. Charming, and funny, and smart, and witty, and makes you want to come in and take a seat and while away a couple of hours.

Or, in my case, I found myself wanting to invite her to dinner. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that that is pretty normal for me - I love the idea of inviting a bunch of people over and cooking and eating together. The list includes a fairly eclectic group of people like John Barrowman, Lauren Graham, Samantha Brown, Angela Lansbury, and Nigella Lawson.

And, as of this weekend, I'm now adding Damaris Phillips to that list.

Fingers crossed that "Southern at Heart" stays around for a while. Since there's really no way that I'll get her here for dinner with Christopher and me, I'd love to at least get to enjoy her on my TV for a while.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

All Hallow's Annoying

I admit it. I'm not a fan of Halloween.

I don't like blood and gore.

I don't like freakishly sexy children's costumes.

I don't like people using it as a drinking-and-driving "amateur night."

In almost the same way that people count down to Christmas, I count down to Halloween. Only my count is to see how many days I have left until it's over.

Here's to making it through this party weekend and surviving until Friday.

And then buying clearanced-out snack-size candy on my way to work. There has to be a silver lining, after all.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Well, Now, That's Just...

There are things about Minnesota which will always surprise me.

I am always amazed to come across someone who actually speaks with the traditional Minnesota accent. Of course, I'm also still amused by people who have a stereotypical Baltimore accent.

I think that I'm probably just generally amused by accents. It probably has something to do with growing up in South Dakota with a dad from South Dakota and a Canadian mom who had done a lot of growing up in Southern California. I was always told that my accent was funny, so I paid attention to other people's accents, too.

But then I also was a teenager in the 80s, when "valley girl" was an accepted way of speaking.

So the other day when I drove through a small town in western Minnesota named "Bechyn," I kind of broke out laughing. It sounds like the perfect combination of Minnesotan "Ya, sure, you betcha," and a very 80s "Bitchin'." You know, as in...

"Ya, sure, that's Bechyn."

Or maybe it's just me.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Wimping Out

My sinuses have decided that the massive change in the weather is a bad thing. 

Granted, so has most of the rest of my body. After all, going from 80s two weeks ago to 40s (barely) this week just isn't all that fun. 

Even worse, I've lost the opportunity to wear a bunch of my mid-weight fall clothing, and I'm having to go directly to heavier coats. 

And, yeah, my sinuses are hurting pretty much every morning and evening. 

So I'm going to just go to bed. 

I'll try to write something more interesting in a couple of days.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fall Prep

I guess it's time to admit that we're moving into fall pretty seriously. After all, we are technically a month into it.

But when you have really weird, warm weather at the start of October, it's hard to think about fall and winter. A week ago, Sunday was a gorgeous day, so - of course - I spent it in the basement doing work. This weekend was... not quite so gorgeous.

Unfortunately, since I had worked in the house last weekend, this weekend I had to go out into the yard. I started to go out yesterday afternoon, and looked outside to see a sudden downpour. Because that's the kind of thing that happens in October. (Seriously, I'm just glad it wasn't snow...)

An hour later, I finally headed out. I swept out the garage and moved all of the "yard liquids" into the basement. I hauled in the hoses after trying to empty them. I covered the A/C. And - the saddest part - I took out all of the dying annuals from the flower beds.

The part that bugs me every year is cutting back the peonies. I know that I could leave them until spring, but then in the spring they've gotten all slimy after being under snow for 4 months. So I went out and cut them back, yesterday. So all of the great big bushes (which, granted, had started to look pretty sad after a hail storm in August/September) are now just little stubs. And the yards (both front and back) look kind of naked.

I know it's for the best. After all, in 5 months or so I'll be out there, again, laying down fertilizer and hoping for warm days and watching for sprouts. But right now... sigh...

You'll forgive me as I go eat a box of Girl Scout cookies... After all, it's feed a cold, starve a fever, binge to fend off seasonal affective disorder, right?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Follow-Up

Okay, so I've actually gotten some responses, lately, and I've meant to write back to people, but things keep getting away from me. It's times like this that it's a really good thing I don't keep chickens, because all I'd have left by now is an empty coop...


There were a lot of responses to the "Barefoot..." post. A lot of people seemed to come down on the "Eww" side of things. But there were some notable "What's wrong with that?" responses. Mostly from people who spend much of their lives barefoot, but probably wouldn't take off their shoes in a movie theater. But one person did say that she takes off her shoes in the theater - and puts her feet on her shoes on the floor. That, actually, sounds perfectly fine to me. The people in the movie theater with us that night, though, had their shoes off and nowhere near their feet. Which still cranks the "Eww" factor way up for me.

I also had a question or two about the close call I mentioned in the "Manic Monday..." post. I am happy to report - more clearly this time - that we only had a close call. No contact between cars was made. I'm very happy about that. I'm also happy that I had no cavities at that trip to the dentist.

I was reminded, last week, that I haven't posted any actual Alaska travel pictures - I've only posted the food pictures in the "Travel Food..." post. I swear that I plan to remedy that in the immediate future. (Please refer back to the chicken-keeping analogy in the first paragraph.)

And, finally, something which has nothing to do with any posts except this one. I'm working on an edit right now which... well... the entire manuscript could be one huge Bad Quote Quotient entry. It's as if the author was writing it with voice recognition software which was set to pidgin English (except that he spelled it "pigeon" English - not kidding). The problem is that when you're fixing that much of a manuscript, it's just not funny after a little while. It's more sad than anything. Well... Mostly. Because occasionally you come across a gem like this:

There was a chicken coup in the backyard.

Which immediately made me wonder "Was it organized, or fly-by-night?" and "Did he know he might be sheltering a few bad eggs?" and "Was it something about the pecking order?"

But truly amazingly bad quotes, in a sea of just normally bad writing, are hard to come by. So I'm kind of looking forward to my next decent manuscript with that one perfect gem in it. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wednesday Web Weirdness

I've often joked with people that I kind of wish the NSA would track what I research at work all day. I mean... I'm an editor, and I frequently have to work on books whose subject matter might otherwise be outside my wheelhouse.

There have been times when I've spent weeks with my browser open to topics like Nazi history, or infectious diseases, or the proper names of deadly herbs. Or, this week, I have a Bible search site, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and something called "" all up at the same time in the background.

I almost always have at least two dictionaries open on my screen, and I'm usually in search of the arcane meanings of words, trying to figure out if authors are totally wrong, or just trying too hard.

Today, I came across a version of the last of those. An author trying a little too hard on his word choices, who ended up saying something he really probably didn't mean. But, giving the author the benefit of the doubt, I tossed his word into the dictionary to see what came out. And, wouldn't you know it? One of the definitions of "bestiality" does, in fact, simply mean "in a beastly fashion, without humanity."

Yep. That's right. I was checking to see exactly how bestiality was defined. That, of itself, was fine. The weirdness came in when I was offered a follow-up by one of's advertisers, which is a visual thesaurus company.

Now, you may or may not know that a "visual thesaurus" is not the same as a "visual dictionary." A visual dictionary typically has pictures of the things that it is defining. A visual thesaurus, on the other hand, gives you a bunch of words connected by lines, and if you choose the intersection points, it tells you how they are related. Which is all well and good.

But, the ad for the visual thesaurus takes the form of an "if...then" problem. ("If you're looking up acrimony, then you can find similar words on the visual thesaurus.") Only it doesn't use those terms. Instead, it suggests we "explore" the term using the visual thesaurus. You know, throw "acrimony" into the mix, and watch the little lines go out to connect it to other words. Find out why it's connected to "spite" or "animosity" - that kind of thing.

(Can you see where this is going?)

In what was a totally inadvertent (you assume) act of the algorithm, instead of "Explore acrimony in the visual thesaurus" my screen offered the following follow-up to my search:

"Explore bestiality in the visual thesaurus."

Umm... yeah... No.

(For the record, okay, yes, I did search it just to see what would come up. It's linked to a few other words which are pretty much what you'd expect and, yes, I decided to suggest one of them - inhumanity - to the author as a substitute.)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Manic Monday Morning

I've been thinking about this all day, so I decided to share it with you folks.

I had to leave early this morning to drive to St. Paul for a dental check-up. You see, when I moved out here, I lived in St. Paul, so I found a great dentist over there. But then I moved to Minneapolis five years ago. And, unfortunately, I also started a job since then  which requires me to be at work by precisely 9am.

So I'm left with the option of going to the dentist very early (their first appointment is at 7:30am), or very late (but their final appointment is about 4pm). If I do the 7:30 appointment, I have a chance of getting to work by 9 and not missing any time. So that's what I try to do.

Today, that meant I left home at about 6:45, when it was still mostly dark out. I reached the end of our block, looked both ways (remember - it was dark out), and started to turn the corner. At which point a red car - with no lights on - pulled into the lane next to me.

As near as I can figure, the red car had been parked at the curb and pulled out just before I turned, but without turning its lights on. So it basically pulled out right in my blind spot, then accelerated past me as I turned the corner.

I have to admit that that kinda got my adrenaline going for the morning. Just what everyone needs for a trip to the dentist. Right?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Bad Quote Quotient - Wicked Bad

Sometimes you really wonder where people live in the stories they tell. 

I'm guessing that the people being written about in today's Bad Quote might possibly have lived in Oz: 

They did not anticipate the untimely event that fell on their family.

In case you're wondering, I changed that to "befell" - no ruby slippers required. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

When Good Feedback Goes Awry

This week, work has been a little wonky.

For the most part, since Tuesday, I've been working on doing an unsolicited edit on a manuscript which was sent in by one of our freelancers with a note that it had no errors needing to be fixed.

Since you've seen a number of the gems that have come in via the manuscripts I work with, you can only imagine that "no errors" kind of threw up some red flags for us in the editing office. But it was a second-round edit, so we figured it was possible.

Then we opened it. And there were obvious errors on the first page. In fact, by the time I was done today (luckily, it was a short manuscript), there were an average of 8 errors per page.

Now, that's not a lot. Especially when I went back and looked at the first round of editing, where there were an average of 40 errors per page. But some of the errors were just *so* obvious. There were errors where the editor had changed some wording in the first round, but had left in some of the erroneous piece. There were errors in spelling (family's was spelled families). And... well... there were some just plain "oopses."

But we've had a lot of great work from the editor, so we went for the benefit of the doubt, and put together an email to point out what was wrong, what should have been fixed, and things to look for in the next edit. After all, from what we could tell, this was obviously a good editor who had had a bad day.

About half an hour after that email was sent, though, we got a "thanks, but I'm done" email in response. It was accompanied by a claim of "I didn't know that was required..." (umm... yes... we require our editors to fix egregious spelling and grammar errors - it just seems better that way).

It's funny, sometimes, how well-intentioned emails can result in very odd... umm... results. It would be funnier if it didn't mean that her workload was landing on my desk this week.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Barefoot at the...


When did it become a thing to take your shoes off wherever you go? I mean... aside from taking off my shoes to go through security at the airport, I seldom feel like taking off my shoes in public.

I work with people who take off their shoes in the office. And while I know that the floors are pretty clean there, I just don't really want to take my chances to find out what someone dropped on the floor while bringing their lunch back from wherever.

And I have a LOT less faith in the cleanliness of the floors at a movie theater. Even in the "VIP" section of the reserved seat theater in the area. Sure, it's not the sticky-floored situation that you get in a theater with linoleum floors, but I'm not about to put my stocking feet on the carpets.

Yet, tonight before the movie, I got up to use the restroom and there were two people - one man in canvas loafers, one woman in sandals, not together - who had taken off their shoes. Which means that they were both barefoot on the theater floor.

At the end of the movie, the guy sitting next to me took the time to put his shoes - ankle-high lace-up boots - on before leaving.

So that makes three people in the same area who had all taken off their shoes. In the movie theater.

And, no, they weren't making noise or texting or anything else, so they really didn't bother me. But knowing that they were mostly barefoot did creep me out just a tad.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Bad Quote Quotient - A Light Snack

The book I'm currently working on has had a few near-misses in it. But nothing in the first 490 pages really was silly enough to call out.

Okay, so there was the issue with people throwing a "shovel full of dirt" into a grave. (Why throw in the whole shovel? Why not just throw in the shovelful of dirt?) But that, as good as it was, was overshadowed by this gem:

[The central court’s] gray austerity was softened by floor lamps that had been brought in for the occasion. They stood in small groups, drinking champagne and eating hors d’oeuvres, some of them feigning worry about the over-indulgences of the holiday season.

I walked it around the office after printing it out to post on my wall of bad quotes. After people squinted at it and did the "confused dog" head-tilt, they all started to laugh.

In my mind, I'm seeing shaded floorlamps wearing pearls, chatting with torchieres wearing bowties. How about you?


Friday, October 4, 2013

When Expectations Meet Reality

I don't know if I've ever mentioned it, but there is a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant near where we live that Christopher and I kind of use as a fall-back place to eat. It's probably what would be called "quick service" dining, where you walk in and place your order at a counter, pay, and then they bring the food out to you.

But instead of it being a burger joint or fast food, it's a steak house. In fact, it's "Best Steak House" on Nicollet Avenue, just south of 54th Street in Minneapolis.

The first time we went there was a few years back. We had a coupon for something like two steak dinners for $15 or something like that, and so we decided to try them out. We learned pretty quickly that when you walk in, you have to make a fast decision, because depending on what you order you may need to get your salad right away - as in less than 6 feet in from the door.

The place has a bit of a Greek leaning, so you can get gyros and Greek-spiced chicken (and baklava), but it mainly focuses on steaks. And they may not be the greatest steaks in the world, but they're also not the most expensive steaks in the world.

Monday night, Christopher and I ate for about $23. He had the 12oz Sirloin special (which comes with a salad and choice of baked potato or fries), and I had the Gyros platter (with fries), and we each had a soda. And it was $23. For all of that.

Sure, the decor is a little lacking, but on Monday we had the choice of watching the pre-game show for Monday Night Football or a Telenovela - depending which way we faced. And there was no line, we didn't need reservations, and the staff were actually friendly.

The first time we went, I think that our expectations of a place called "Best Steak House" were pretty high. But these days when we go we know what to expect and... really... it may just be the best steakhouse in our neighborhood.

(Just don't ask me whether or not it's the only steakhouse in the neighborhood...)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Summer Storm... Sorta

(Just realized this afternoon that last night's post didn't go up. Not sure why it didn't, but here it is.)

We're having a really nice summer thunderstorm tonight. The only problem is that it's the second of October.

But we've been really short on rain, lately, and we really need it, so the rain is a welcome thing. It's just weird to have all of the lightning and thunder tonight, especially since there is a chance of snow in some areas this weekend.

Yeah. Snow. The first weekend of October. Not a lot, but even a few flakes will be weird after having been in the 80s