Monday, March 30, 2015

Grass Attack

Tonight after work, before dinner, I took advantage of the warm evening to go out and attack some of the yardwork we've been meaning to do.

Yes, I know we're not supposed to be doing yardwork, yet, but this was stuff that was either fall or spring stuff, and since we had some rain over the weekend I've been worrying that soon it would be too late.

Plus, the decorative grass next to the driveway got kind of pummelled by the snow last week and had started to droop into the driveway. I realized, yesterday, that I was actually driving over it - which meant it was time to go.

So I was out there tonight with my clippers taking it down, but it didn't want to go without a fight. The long blades were falling over and hitting me in the head. When they were cut, they didn't want to bed and go into the bag. Yes, eventually I succeeded, but I definitely had to work for it.

You see, I'm allergic to that grass. So everywhere it touched me I got a quick rash. My arms, my hands (yes, even through the gloves I was wearing), and - yes - the top of my head.

It's sad to see that area without all of the tall grass, but I know it will be back soon. And, for now, I'm just glad I survived one more seasonal chopping.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

A Taxing Evening

(For the record, yes, it is hard to come up with so many punny post titles. And, yes, I said "punny" and not "funny" - I realize the level of this, after all...)

How do the well-heeled of Minneapolis spend their spring Saturday nights? By doing their taxes, of course.

I find that they get more depressing every year. Mainly because this is the one time of year when I'm forced to look at my net income. I realize that my financial net income is not the same as my personal net worth, but it's still a shock every year to look at it and think "Really? That's all?"

On the other hand, I also get to look at it and think "Wow. I did a lot with not much this year. Imagine what I could do with a lot..." And then I daydream for a while as the tax software processes. (I used to love "conquering them" all on my own, but I gave up on doing them by hand about the time I moved to Minnesota. First it was because I had partial-year residencies to deal with. But then I just found it to be so much easier to do this way. Not quite the same feeling of victory, but at least the pain doesn't last as long.)

So now it's after 9. I'm all e-filed and printed, and ready to... I dunno... probably go to bed.

Yep. Excitement runs rampant around here.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Who Needs That Much... Bass?

We live in a fairly quiet neighborhood.

The dog barks when people walk by outside, or - more importantly - when dogs walk by. And we hear the neighbors' dogs bark from time to time.

And that's pretty much it.

Most of the kids in the neighborhood are too young to have loud amounts of attitude. They're more likely to be drawing on the sidewalks with chalk or swinging in their front yards than anything else. Aside from one or two, I suspect it's probably a good eight years before most of them are old enough to drive.

And yet, somehow, probably at least one or two nights each week we can hear someone's car stereo booming away outside.

Yes, even inside. With the doors closed.

And I'm not saying this as a "you young whipper-snappers get off my lawn" kind of thing. I'm saying it as a "who in the world needs that much bass" thing.

Once the earth starts to vibrate, it's time to turn it down.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Travel Tuesday - Doc Check

A while back, planning for the hoped-for eventuality of more travel of the international nature, I applied for a Global Entry card. Or something like that. I have to admit that I've seen it called so many different things that I'm really not sure what it's called.

But it's this card that - along with your passport - can make it easier to get through Border Patrol on the way back into the United States.

The process isn't too bad, these days. Christopher got his a couple of years ago, and at that time there wasn't anywhere around here to go, so he had to go to Montreal for it. I, on the other hand, just had to go to the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport.

Well, first I had to pay my money and fill out my application and get the provisional approval. Then I had to schedule the appointment and head for the airport. Where - on the day I was going - the main terminal parking was completely full. So I had to drive to the other terminal (at MSP they're maybe a mile or so apart by car, with a light rail shuttle), then run through the first terminal, hop the train, run through the second terminal, and then - although I'd arrived an hour early - show up 5 minutes late.

The interview was fine. The agent took my photo with his webcam, showed me where the number was on my form, and sent me on my way. And, about a week later, I got my card in the mail.

Of course, I looked at it right away, only to find that the photo is kind of skewed. Really. My head in the picture is a very odd shape. But it'll work. So I set it aside for the next time I travel.

This morning - for no apparent reason - I pulled it back out of the envelope and notice that the side of the letter said "Activate your card within one month or various dire circumstances could befall you" or something like that.

Umm... No clue whatsoever when my card came in the mail. Was it a month ago? Was it less than a month? I hopped on line - because who really wants to be at work on time, right? - and after about 18 attempts at logging into my account (because I never thought I'd need to log in, obviously), I got it activated.

Note to self: When you get any kind of travel documents, look them over. Really look them over. Then do it again.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Singing Good-bye to "Glee"

So... Tonight the series finale of the TV show "Glee" aired. Parts of it were amazing. Parts of it were fine. But overall it was in keeping with the show's mythos, which made me happy.

I'm kind of a stickler for that kind of thing. I get really annoyed when shows kind of break from their usual way of doing things to get in that one last great show - or that one "very special episode." I kind of felt like "Glee" spent much of last season doing that. They had lost one of their main characters due to the actor's death, and the show kind of felt like it didn't know what to do.

But the final season has felt like what it was "supposed to" feel like. And the finale - two episodes back to back, actually - gave me the same warm fuzzies that I got in the first couple of seasons. They flashed back. They flashed forward. But - through it all - they flashed smiles and sang some good songs.

For a few weeks, there's been this whole "hashtag campaign" asking people to post "what Glee meant to me" and I thought it was all kind of silly. A "Hallmark holiday" for a TV show, of all things. But as I watched it, tonight, and thought about how people I know have really reacted to the show in incredibly emotional ways (for better or worse), and I realized that I'm going to miss some of the characters.

This was the first show I've watched where we got to see gay and lesbian characters experience crushes and fall in love - and get their hearts broken and get married - without immediately jumping into bed. But - unlike a show like "Will & Grace" these characters did, eventually, have sex (I'm pretty sure Will never had sex in the entire run of "Will & Grace"). And the gay and lesbian characters came in different shapes and sizes, too (this season one was even a star football player - who fell for an artsy hipster), which made it even better. In some strange way, I got to think about what it would have been like to have a gay high school relationship. That was cool. 

And there has been a lot of hope (for lack of a better word) on TV while "Glee" has been on. Underdogs getting the chance to shine. Emotions being worked out in song. All the stuff that makes me a very happy TV watcher.

I know that in the realm of 24-hour cable stations the show will never truly go away, and if I wanted I could own the entire box set of all of the seasons in a couple of months, but I have to admit that I'm going to miss watching it every week. So tonight I'll watch a few of the production numbers one last time to let them sink in before saying goodbye.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

So Far, No Shoes - No News

Two quick updates:

1) I've narrowed down my shoe search from three pairs to just one. Still not sure that I'm keeping this pair, but I do know the other two just aren't quite right. Just a little too tight in the arch on one, and a tad too tight in the "cap" in the others. I'm going to give it one or two more try-ons before I decide whether all three are going back.

2) I've once again checked my go-to website for shows that have been cancelled or renewed*, and even though I posted about three favorite shows on Tuesday, none of them have been cancelled. Yet.

So far, so good.

* (It makes me very happy that they use two l's in that, instead of just one.)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Laura, Cristela, and Tiffani

I think that, by now, you know that I enjoy fairly diverse television shows. I'm a Downton Abbey fan, an Amazing Race devotee, and a Glee watcher (though I refuse to say I'm a "gleek"). And then there are the mysteries like Castle, Elementary, and Sherlock.

And this year I've happily added The Mysteries of Laura, Cristela, and Dinner at Tiffani's to my list of random shows - three very different shows with one common theme: I would be more than happy to hang out with the title character in each.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find good photos of the guy she's dating, but Josh Lucas (on the right) is her ex.
The Mysteries of Laura is a detective show starring Debra Messing (you know, Grace from Will & Grace), and it allows her to be funny, smart, sexy, flirty, and hit all of these amazing notes that just make me happy to watch it. The supporting cast is incredible (and rather attractive - Laura has very eclectic, and very good, taste in men), and so I find myself really enjoying it. I have to admit that it's also nice to be watching a show that has a strong - yet not perfect - woman (who is actually in my age bracket) as its central character.

No, it's not a great photo, but I wanted to find one with Carlos Ponce in it. 
Cristela... well... I'll fully admit that one of the reasons I first watched it was because Carlos Ponce - whom I first heard of a number of years ago because he was a hot Latin singer (he's Puerto Rican, and was a Latin soap actor, but also a pop singer) - was going to be on it. But the show, which was created by its star Cristela Alonzo, is really good, so we've kept watching it. It's a "family comedy" with the main character living with her sister's family (and their mother), while trying to make it as an intern in a law firm. Sure, race is an issue in the show - after all, she's not white and it's set in Texas - but it's mainly about life and family. And Carlos... he's still very easy to look at.

The first "episode" was actually kind of a one-off pilot, but it's an actual series, now.
Dinner at Tiffani's is, technically, a cooking show. Or maybe an "entertaining" show. It's headed by Tiffani Thiessen (you know who she is... she was Kelly from Saved by the Bell, or "the suit's wife" on White Collar). Watching her as she works her way through putting together a dinner party with friends (mostly showbiz friends, so you get to see some great cameos) makes me want to have people over for dinner. She seems incredibly comfortable in front of the camera, and so although I may or may not ever make any of her recipes, I'll definitely keep watching.

Here's the catch, though: Each time I say that I really like a show, it goes away. Earlier this year, Christopher and I were out with some friends talking about the new show The McCarthys, and the next week we found out it had been cancelled. So now that I'm putting these comments out in the world I'm a little worried about what might happen. I guess the best I can suggest is that if you're not watching them already you should check them out soon - you never know how long they'll be around.

Saturday, March 14, 2015


For the past couple of weeks, our router has been... well... flaky. And not the good kind of flaky, like a nice pie crust (Happy Pi Day!) or a croissant.

Not even the kind of flaky that I can be some times when I let my Gemini nature take the lead.

But the kind of flaky where you never really know what's going to be next.

I've found myself doing things like lying on the floor in the middle of the living room, because the signal had dropped where I was, and it came back about 3 feet closer to the router, and so I just stopped where I was, hoping that I wouldn't lose it again.

Yesterday, though, Christopher went out and bought a new router. And - being the computer guy in the house, as well as being a really great guy in general - he set it all up this afternoon in such a way that when I turned my computer back on, it would automatically reconnect.

So this evening I'm sitting in that "faraway" chair, with a solid wi-fi signal, and no hassle whatsoever.

Which means two things: Christopher is amazing, and life is good.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

So, Does the Shoe Fit?

Honestly, I'm not sure, yet.

Yes, after I posted on Tuesday, I ordered some shoes. And they have already arrived (that's one of the rare instances where I really like technology).

But I was only home for about half an hour after work before going out to an event with a cousin of mine, so I didn't try them on.

And then I got home from that late enough that I really just wanted to get into my pj's and hang out on the couch. Which I did. And although I keep looking at the shoe boxes over by the front door, I don't want my first impression of possible new shoes to be how they look with my pajamas. Because they might be great with jeans, but who knows how they'll look with black-and-white plaid flannel?

So I'm waiting until tomorrow to see whether the shoes fit my feet - and my sense of foot style.

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

If the Shoe Fits

Shopping for shoes would be so easy if the only factor you had to worry about was whether or not they fit.

I'm trying to find some new shoes to replace some that are going rapidly downhill, and I seem to have way too many conditions in mind to even get to the point of trying them on.

It's true, of course, that I won't wear shoes if they don't fit, but I also want them to look... well... they have to look like shoes I would wear.

Kinda makes me jealous of Cinderella. After all, she already knew the shoe would fit - and that it would look great with her dress.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

On-again, Off-again

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that technology and I are kind of... well... we work together because we have to... usually. 

Yes, there are parts of technology that I really like, like electric lights, and hot water, and even using my computer to write this blog. 

But - much the same as with my car (another piece of technology I greatly enjoy using) when something goes wrong, I'm frequently flummoxed. 

Lately, our Internet connection seems to be coming and going. We're not sure if it's actually the fault of the cable company, the fault of our router (which for many years I thought was only a piece of woodworking equipment), or some combination of things. 

What we do know is that sometimes we're connected to the Internet, and sometimes we're not. 

As you might imagine, there are times when I quite enjoy this. 

I enjoy having the "pressure" to go online taken away. After all, with no Internet, I don't have to check the social networks. I don't have to follow breaking news. I don't have to consider doing a really quick weekend check of my work queue. 

But there are also times when the world we live in kind of requires Internet access. Like yesterday, when I needed to get online to do two pieces of freelancing. Or tonight when I wanted to update our TiVo, but it's also not connected to the Internet (okay... maybe that's not really a requirement). Or... well... when I started to put up a blog post the other day but simply couldn't. 

I'm sure that we'll figure this out pretty soon, and be back to the over-connected life of the 21st century. In the meantime, though, I'll do my best to keep my senses of humor and perspective - and my sanity - as our on-again, off-again Internet relationship continues. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Some Quick Updates

Due to the fact that it's almost 10 on a school night and I've been feeling short on sleep for the past week, tonight's blog is going to be a bulleted list of updates from topics we've already covered:

  • (See? I'm even using real bullet point markers!)
  • Nude postings are no longer going to be banned. Don't worry, I still don't plan to post anything remotely nude. 
  • I almost made it through one of this week's work projects today. I'm 20 pages shy of finishing the edit of the novel I started on Monday. That means I've edited something like 250 pages of that novel since Monday afternoon. I'd have completed it, today, but I got pulled into one half-hour meeting, and spent about 45 minutes formatting a sample chapter for an author who doesn't understand that you can just type in a Word document without having to put everything into text boxes. So... 250 pages over approximately 2 days' worth of actual work. And, yet, the most I've been able to do in a day for the behemoth is 22 pages. What is wrong with this picture? 
  • I finally used some of the pesto cubes I made last fall. They were tasty, but instead of tossing them with pasta I baked some chicken with them. So they separated. The oil went to the bottom of the pan, and the pesto solids (the basil and nut bits) just sat on top of the chicken. Tasty, but weird. 
  • We're at that point in the weather year when Minnesotans are just tired of being cold and having to dress in 82 layers. It's supposed to get really warm (like, up into the 40s or warmer) by next week. So today, of course, I saw people walking around with their coats undone and wearing no scarves or gloves - even though it was only about 4 degrees out. (I may or may not have been one of those hatless people on the way to work, but I wore one this afternoon for the dog walk.)*
Okay. That kind of gets us caught up to today.

We'll see if I can come up with anything more pithy on Friday.

*Spellcheck insists that this should either be "hapless" or "headless" - I suspect that if one led to the other, I'd still end up hatless...

Monday, March 2, 2015

Brain Freeze

You know that feeling you get when you've eaten ice cream too fast? That pain in your head that kind of makes the rest of the world inconsequential until it's gone?

I've been feeling like that for the past few days. Only it hasn't been because of too much ice cream.

I must admit that my work is starting to get the better of me. I've got two edits on my plate this week. One of them I'm over halfway through, but it's taken me 7 weeks to get there - and I've only got 4 to finish it. The other is an edit that kind of snuck its way in, and was - kind of - due today. I started it this morning and hope to be done by Wednesday (thankfully, that's fairly doable with it, even though it's 80,000 words it's fairly well-written fiction). But then I'll have to get back to the other one...

I don't usually really worry about my deadlines at work. I just go along doing the work and it seems to get done on time. But the past week or so, I seem to be coming home and still thinking about the amount of work I need to do. And I can't exactly work on the big one at home, because it's so large (nearly 400,000 words, and over 10,000 edits so far) that I'm pretty sure it would corrupt in the emailing.

So I'm just plugging along and desperately trying not to think about it every time I turn around in the hopes of not freezing up my brain's capacity to do anything else.

Not really sure it's working, though, considering that it's nearly 10:30 on a Monday night and I've just blogged about it...