Saturday, February 28, 2015

Umm... Yeah... So It's Cold...

Let me start by saying that pretty much every stereotype - if you look closely enough - usually has some kernel of truth somewhere in its history.

I'm sure there are some that have none, but there are others which are just way too spot-on to have been made up.

One of the stereotypes of this part of the world (Minnesota and the surrounding states) is that everyone talks about the weather all the time.

We like to point at our agricultural heritage and say that it comes from years of necessity. Years of having to watch the weather to know how our harvest was going to be. But how many of the people I know, here in Minneapolis, really make their living based on the weather these days?

Even so, when Christopher and I were out tonight, I was sitting with some friends and talking and the weather was a major topic. Sure - I know that this is a good small-talk fallback point - but these were good friends and we have a lot of other topics we could have fallen back to. But the weather was the winner.

The problem, though, is that this time of year - when we're past the thrill of the start of winter, but not yet to the sigh of relief of the end of winter - there isn't really much to talk about beyond "Yup. It's cold."

I have to admit that I'm not sure the talk could have gotten any smaller than that.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

No More Nude Blog Posts

I just wanted to let you know that Blogger is implementing a new rule and will no longer be allowing nudity in blog posts - either photos or videos.

So... yeah... I guess we can all be happy to know that I will never be posting any nude images on here.

Unless they're of puppies... or pasta...

You're welcome.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Perspective Can Be... Fun...?

At lunch today (because I actually left my desk and went to lunch today), we were having a discussion about the relative size of Paris.

Why? Why not?

But, to be more precise, it was because a friend of ours is going to be running in the Paris marathon in April. And I thought it was interesting that for the 26.2-mile course to all fit "in" Paris they apparently start in the city, run through the city out into one of the massive parks in the suburbs, then back through the city and all through the massive park on the other side of town before coming back into the city to finish up.

When they do the marathon in the Twin Cities, it starts in one downtown, runs along the river, through the other city and into the other downtown. That's it. Just a (relatively) straight shot, and it's done. None of this criss-crossing back and forth across the cityscape. Just start - go - done.

So that got me to thinking about the relative sizes of the two metropolitan areas. I played around online with a couple of Google maps, and figured out that - from north to south - all of Paris would fit between where Christopher and I live and downtown Minneapolis.

From east to west, it's a little more interesting, but Paris would fit completely between the western edge of the city of Minneapolis (not including suburbs, mind you), and extend just a bit beyond Interstate 35W. That's not the easternmost edge of Minneapolis. It's kind of 2/3 of the way across.

This means that all of the actual city of Paris (not including suburbs) would fit in a space about 1/3 the size of the city of Minneapolis - not including suburbs, and not including St. Paul.*

What really made me think is that when I lived in Paris I would occasionally get a wild hair and walk places, instead of taking the Metro or the bus. I'd do a half-hour walk, or maybe even an hour, without thinking about it. When I checked a couple of those distances, I realized that I could almost walk from home to downtown - at least according to Google - in the same timeframes. Which I would never do.

It's weird how your perspective changes - not just due to the angle you're looking from, but also due to what you're looking at.

*For the record, I'm still thinking I must have been doing something wrong, because that just seems kind of impossible...

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Me, My Credit Card, and Pippin

For a few years I didn't have a credit card. It was kind of a pain, but it was also kind of freeing. I could look at my bank balance and know that I didn't owe anyone anything that wasn't out of that account. I was kept from over-extending myself, because everything I did had a finite spending limit. 

But I also found myself frustrated. Not because of things I couldn't have - I'm not exactly a clothes horse or a shoe hoarder. But because of the things I wasn't able to do simply because I didn't have immediate access to the cash. I would have it at my next paycheck, but not right now. I've been putting money into savings - short- and long-term - but not allowing myself to do the basic splurges. 

So what was my first big purchase with my new credit card? After taking Christopher and myself out to dinner - because how you break in a card determines its life path, right? - I made my first "pay it off next month" purchase in years... Tickets to the touring production of "Pippin."

Months later - today - we used those tickets. And all of the hassle of having a credit card was worth it from the moment that the first notes were played through to the applause at the end. 

I had been wanting to see the show since I first heard that it would be in town. Or - rather - since I first heard about the new production being mounted on Broadway. The show was re-imagined with a kind of "Cirque" theme, where the players were also acrobats, jugglers, dancers, captivators. And all this was going on at the same time that the central storyline was happening. 

I won't lie... there are pieces of the show that are kind of slow (especially if you're only listening to the CD), but with all of the activity onstage it was amazing. It went by quickly and seemlessly. And made me so happy to have been able to purchase the tickets so that I didn't have to miss it. 

I've used my card for other purchases since then. I used it - briefly - for some Christmas presents, and I've used it for some travel planning. 

But I think I'll always be happiest that I had it in time to purchase those tickets. 

Friday, February 20, 2015


Christopher and I are beginning some work on our bathrooms. Or, more precisely, we're beginning to figure out what needs to be done to our bathrooms, which someone else will be doing for us.

The upstairs bathroom is very nicely put together. Original to the house (1950s), but not in shades of pink or pale blue. It's actually in a slightly off-grey, which is really kind of cool.

The downstairs bathroom, however, was obviously put in about 20 years later. And I'm guessing it was done by a friend of a friend. Or maybe by an itinerant worker who spent the summer here and wanted a bathroom.

It seems that they put some wallboard up, dropped in a toilet, sink, and shower, and said "Good to go."

But, over time, we've found that the drain in the floor of the shower doesn't actually connect to the drain in the floor. It just sits "above" it. And I've always found it interesting that the shower light bulb is actually open to the shower - not covered in any way.

So we're doing some shopping for the downstairs bathroom. Starting with tile. We went out last week and pretty easily found some wall tile (a basic white subway tile), but have stumbled a bit on the flooring. We know what we want (black and white and hopefully in keeping with the age of the house), but we just can't find it.

Which is why, tonight, I've been searching online for "black white ceramic bathroom floor tile", hoping to get the right set of key words so that I don't keep getting shown things like Scrabble tiles and black ceramic tea kettles.

I'm sure we'll find something soon enough, but for now... well... we're just wondering if we'll be floored before we've got flooring.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Some Days You Just Don't Ask

This came across my screen today.

It made me laugh, so I decided to share it with you.

I would gladly give credit to the creator, but have no idea who created it. 
Happy Wednesday.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Pop Culture Sacrilege

I was apparently one of about a hundred people in the United States who have TVs but who didn't watch the Saturday Night Live reunion show last night.

To be honest, I kind of forgot about it until I saw something about it on social media at about the time that the red carpet show was starting.

But even then I only had a fleeting moment of "gee, I wonder how that will be?" before going on with the rest of my evening.

The funny thing is that I probably would have enjoyed it. I like pop culture. I'm good at trivia. And I enjoy a lot of the wit that SNL has used over the past 40 years.

But I just didn't care enough to turn on the TV and watch the show for 4 hours.

So I didn't.

And although social media continues to be filled with references to the show, I seem to have survived.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

How to Spend a Really Nice Day



Homemade brunch.

Talk of travel and the year ahead.

Snuggling on the couch together with the pup.

Reading books as the day goes on and we contemplate what to do for dinner.

Yes, I realize what day of the year it is. And, yes, I realize that there are people who only do this kind of thing when the calendar tells them to.

But we do this kind of thing fairly often, just because. Not every weekend, mind you. But every so often. It's nice. You should try it.*

*Yes, I know this media holiday is totally aimed at couples, but this is the kind of thing you can also do on your own... I frequently buy my own flowers and chocolate and read books snuggled up on the couch even when Christopher isn't here - and I did it when I was single, too. I just don't talk to myself - out loud - about the year ahead (or at least not quite as much).  

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Clothes Make the Man (Sometimes)

A while back, I made a comment on social media that got some odd reactions - mainly from the people who only read half of it.

My comment was basically "Sometimes, when I'm driving through town to work, I see a guy and I just want to walk up to him and strip him down. And then put him in better clothing to see if it makes any difference."

Obviously, the people who only read the first sentence thought that I was simply talking about stripping down random men on the street, probably for prurient reasons. But those who read all the way to the end realized that I was truly trying to focus on the greater good. After all, there are a lot of good looking guys in the world who simply have no idea how to dress.

What's worse is that so often it is guys who obviously have a lot of money who look the worst. They're usually - in my opinion - trying one too many trends at the same time. It's like the old pre-bar adage of needing to take off one accessory before going out. If they're already doing skinny jeans and a lumberjack beard, maybe they shouldn't also do the clunky boots that make them look like they just left Dogpatch. That kind of thing.

But then there are also the guys who seem to find the right thing to wear... once... but then miss the mark the next time, after proving that they can do so much better.

In non-real-world terms, it's like Chris Hemsworth - the guy who plays Thor in the recent movies of the same name. (Full disclosure - one of those is on TV right now as I'm writing this.) For me, I think he looks good in the Thor costume. It gives him good shoulders (although I assume he has pretty good shoulders, anyway) and between his hair and the way the cape attaches to the armor, his neck fills out well. In real life, when you see him, he has a really long, skinny neck. And he looks kind of out of scale.

The times that I've seen him on talk shows, I've thought it would be nice to strip him out of his street clothes and put him in the Thor suit (or maybe just attach the cape to his street clothes, I guess), because that seems to be a better look for him.

I kind of wonder what I would think if I saw him walking across the street in front my car some morning. I don't really know how he dresses in real life, so it could go either way, I guess. And I can't really imagine me whipping out a full set of Norse armor to put on some random guy walking through downtown Minneapolis at 8:30 in the morning, anyway.

Oh... I totally admit that I also could use someone showing up and completely redoing my wardrobe. So if there are any fairy godmothers out there looking for that kind of gig, feel free to send them my way.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Catching Up

Do you ever get the feeling that all you're doing is trying to catch up to... something?

At work right now, I'm trying to get through a massive edit (over 1,000 pages of text - something like 373,000 words), and although I'm trying to work through it, I seem to keep falling behind.

Then, also work-related, I must admit that my income seems to be lagging behind most people I know. Part of me wants to feel successful because I'm working "in my field," but part of me would definitely prefer to catch up to everyone else.

Studies have been done in recent years about the impact of Social Media on our collective - and individual - psyches. Apparently one of the big issues with most of these sites is that we spend a lot of time comparing ourselves to everyone else. Of course, much of what people put up online is an airbrushed version of their lives and not the nitty gritty. So we're all trying to compare ourselves to something that isn't real to begin with. And this, apparently, makes the rest of us pretty depressed.

Somewhere along the line, instead of Keeping Up with the Joneses, we've all started trying to One-Up the Joneses.

Christopher (and, to be honest, about 50% of the people we know) laughs at me for not having a smartphone. But I have to admit that I like my flip phone. It does what I need it to do (making calls and sending texts), but doesn't force me to be plugged in to the world all the time. Instead, if I turn off my laptop (or simply walk away from it), I'm on my own, in my own little world as I enjoy the great big world.

Perhaps that's part of why I'm having so many problems getting through the book at work. It's so huge that I don't have the time at work to just sit back and stare out the window from time to time without feeling guilty about it. I haven't gone out for lunch in about three weeks - not even to somewhere cheap - so that I don't lose time. All of which - as you might guess - is causing me to feel like I should be getting paid more. (And - look - I've circled back around on all of my topics!)

So, for now, I'm going to keep keeping up with me, instead of the Joneses. I'm not sure it will make me any happier (we'll have to see on that), but I don't think it will make me any unhappier, either.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Too Much of a Good Thing

Twice this weekend, Christopher and I ended up having "too much of a good thing" meals.

Yesterday afternoon, we met two of my cousins for tea at Brit's Pub in downtown Minneapolis. I don't remember how we decided to do tea, but we did, and it was definitely worth it.

The waitress was sweet as she walked us through what we had to drink and eat - even though she seemed to have a few things stacked against her (like one wrong menu, and one tea not available). And we sat and chatted (and ate) for a good couple of hours before walking back out through the boisterous main bar and into the "real" world.

No, the food options weren't really traditionally British, but the civility of it all (with a three-tiered tray of food and individual tea pots) was the perfect complement to an afternoon of great conversation.

We did *not* have dinner last night after we got home. We snacked a bit in the evening, but we had eaten too much in the mid-afternoon.

Tonight, we "crossed the Channel" and went to Le Town Talk Diner for dinner with friends. I believe (though I'm not 100% certain) that the location used to be The Town Talk Diner, but it was purchased and repurposed. Now the menu is "French comfort food" and instead of spending 15 minutes over a quick diner meal, we spent nearly three hours over appetizers, main dishes, and dessert.

The staff there were incredible tonight. Friendly, but not cloying, and the food was nearly entirely spot on. Everything from the steak tartare to the potato and leek soup and the dark chocolate mousse with "caramel crunch topping" was... well... not "amazing" but just so comforting. (The roasted chicken was a little dry, if I'm being honest - though the flavor of the rub on it was very tasty.) It was all slightly surprising, while being exactly what you hoped it would be. (Does that make sense?)

And the conversation mirrored that sentiment. As a group of four, we can end up with some surprising topics, but at the end of the evening, you realize it was all exactly what you expected it would be.

The only problem is that we got home tonight and Christopher and I are both feeling a bit stuffed. It's a good thing, though - caused by eating just a bit too much of too many good things.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Supply and Demand and Roses

Yep. It's that time of year when the price of flowers goes through the roof. I get it - mostly. I know that the demand for fresh flowers goes up exponentially around Valentine's Day (and Mother's Day).

But as someone who buys flowers throughout the year, it's just frustrating. I mean... it's like going out and buying eggs for $2.00 per dozen for 50 weeks of the year, then having them jump to $12.00 for two weeks, just because everyone likes to dye them at Easter.

So I have done what any savvy shopper would do: On my way home from work tonight I bought flowers. If all goes well, they'll still be looking great in a week, and we'll have flowers in the house on Valentine's Day.

And I can spend the extra ten dollars on something more important. Like chocolate.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Choose Your Own Adventure... Or Don't

What would you do if you found yourself at the airport on a Wednesday afternoon with your passport, your credit card, and no desire to go back to work?

Would you book a flight and disappear?

Would you go to your Global Entry interview appointment, then leave and go back home?

Or would you find some other option?

It's probably obvious since I'm blogging tonight that I didn't fly off into the sunset, but I really did consider it for a little while.

I left work early today to go to the airport to finish the process of getting my Global Entry information set up, so that it will - hopefully - be faster to go through Customs and Border Patrol when I travel in the future. (Because this year I plan to get farther out of the Cities that my parents' house in South Dakota.)

This means that, after four hours of slogging through the manuscript I'm working on, I found myself standing in the airport with all of my documents. I was standing next to the Arrivals and Departures boards and thinking "Where could I go...?"

But then I turned around and headed back to my car to run a couple of errands, grab lunch, and head home.

Then, in a really great turn of events, Christopher and I spent some time tonight looking into our next trip - for which I'll use my passport, my credit card, AND my new Global Entry info.

Choosing my next adventure... made even more exciting because it will be our next adventure.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Sometimes It's Real

Have you seen the McDonald's ads on TV where they talk about people being able to pay for their food and drinks with a "different kind of currency"? Well, during the Super Bowl, yesterday, they revealed that they were going to be asking people to pay "with love." (You know, it's the whole "I'm lovin' it" thing taken to the next level.)

If you missed out on it, here's the commercial (it's only a minute long, though the video is two minutes, so feel free to just stop it when it starts to replay).

So, anyway...

I always see this kind of offers and wonder who gets to take advantage of them. They tend to seem staged and I figure that they only really do this kind of thing in major markets or whatever.

But today a friend of mine posted on social media that she paid for a coffee with a happy dance.

Yes, the offer is random and there's a very good chance that I won't hear of this happening for anyone else between now and when the promotion ends on Valentine's day, but it makes me happy, nonetheless. And gives me one more reason to stop at McDonald's sometimes soon.*

Mainly, though, I'm just excited to know that it turned out to be a real thing - I may have even done a tiny bit of a chair-happy-dance in celebration of the occasion.

*And of course after the 14th... well... then it will be Shamrock Shake season. So I'm thinking someone over there is being pretty darned smart.