Monday, November 24, 2008

The Spectacular is Spectacular

Last week a lifelong dream was fulfilled -- I got to see the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall.

My friend Sandi had come for a visit back in November and mentioned how much her brother really loved the show when they went last year. She didn't seem particularly excited about it and said she probably wouldn't go back for a while, but I was salivating at the thought of all the glittery costume, high kicks, and Christmas regalia.



Lo and behold, Sandi had a change of heart and decided to take her kids and Mom for a day trip into the city to see the show -- and she invited me. (Thanks Sandi!) We went to a Tuesday afternoon matinee last week.

Not only was the show everything I wanted it to be, but I even got to see one of the Rockette's wipe out! Nice!

It was a great day, and Sandi's family is simply wonderful. Her kids are of the rare breed that I didn't mind dining with in a public. Her 4-year old son Aidan was charming as he flirted relentlessly with our waitress. Ava, at age 2, told me she was "fashion foward" and would behave "like a lady" in the restaurant -- it was all true!

Sandi, thanks for letting me join you for the day ... it was fantastic!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

VICTORY!!!!



This past week has been one for the books. Everybody knows the Phillies won the World Series, putting an end to whatever mythical curse has lurked around our city for the last 28 years.

Can I tell you how good it felt to be part of it all? (No, I'm not on the team ..... or one of the ball girls .... I wasn't even at the game.) But I watched almost all of the games from the beginning of the season. With each milestone that was reached, Phillies Phever grew. As a Philadelphia sports fan you get use to being disappointed -- better celebrate this milestone in tall fashion because the likelihood of making it to the next one is pretty much nil.

I drive past Citizen's Bank Park almost every day of my life on the way to and from work. On the first day of Game 5 I looked at the park from the highway and thought, there's good karma coming out of the that place .... this is it. This is the game that's gonna make history.

I was right in more ways than one. The big weird rainstorm rolled into town and shut things down in the middle of the 6th inning. Night one of Game 5 was indeed a night that made history, but in a way no one ever expected. It wasn't until 2 nights later that our team of heroes did it! I watched the game, barely breathing for at least the last 5 minutes of the game. In my heart I was convinced they'd win, but you just didn't know until the last strikeout came. And then all hell broke loose!

The scene in my South Philly neighborhood was unbelievable. Even the hardest of hard-nosed sports fans, people with skin thicker than shoe leather celebrated, cried, hugged and danced in the streets. It went on for hours. No, sorry .... it went on for days.

And so that's where I've been. Soaking it all in with my fellow Philadelphians.




Friday I got to go to the Championship Parade, and I'll never forget it. If you've never been surrounded by 3 million people who are nothing but happy and proud, then you've never experienced what's it's like to be a Philadelphia sports fan with a winning team.

The parade was incredible, and as the floats carrying our players, owners, managers, and announcers rolled by, I was right in the thick of it. This disco bubble was so excited I thought I'd nearly burst! My heart was pounding as I took pictures and Queen's "We are the Champions" blasted from the speakers at the party behind me. The players sang, I sang, and we took pictures of each other. Have I mentioned how spectacular this was?

And did I mention how hot Jayson Werth is?

Anyway, the parade was positively exhiliarating. Every person in the city was in a good mood. Happy and proud to be a Philadelphia Phillies fan.

I never thought I'd say this about anything, but it was even better than Christmas.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

No, I didn't fall off the face of the Earth

Just a quick note to say I'm still alive and kicking here in Philly. It's been a busy month with work, travel, cheering on the Phillies, and shopping for warm clothes. Also, a strange poltergeist has overtaken my computer and somehow I have no more wireless capabilities. So, this coming week I'll be taking my laptop to the computer doctor to get everything fixed and back to normal. I can't wait to get caught up on my reading of everyone's blogs ....

Until then .... GO PHILLIES!!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Items in my "What Do You Mean We're Probably Headed For a Big Recession, I Thought We Were Already In One?" Survival Kit

My new Scunci velcro rollers -- If you are a girl and have hair more than 4 inches long, you need these.



Season 3 of "Dexter"



Hope for the Phillies to keep winning and take the Series!!!!





My new purple OPI nailpolish "Louvre Me, Louvre Me Not" topped by Seche Vite's Fast Dry Top Coat -- their top coat is second to none. You can paint your nails (base, 2 coats of color and a top coat), wait 10 minutes then go to bed. No hair prints or pancake nail. It's a miracle product!







Team Caca (the fantasy football team owned by Schue and I which, by the way, is kicking ass!) (oh, this is our team logo)





Whippie -- I dig my new wheels. Wanna go for a ride?




Plans plans plans!! -- a visit with my family in Maryland; a trip to Kentucky; a DOF with Schue featuring a fancy lunch at LeBec Fin; a visit from Sandi; a fall tea party with the girls; Shirley's wedding; a biz trip to Atlanta; DD's high school reunion; Los' parents' 50th wedding anniversary party .




Comfy pants for lounging in my peapod




My two favorite animals: Eagles and Nittany Lions!!




My crock pot






Woodchuck Cider




"The Almost Moon" courtesy of THE Baronness (merci mon ami!),




Christmas Party planning -- This year is going to be a little different. Am going to do a late afternoon open house instead of the traditional evening cocktail party. Of course, people will probably hang late, but I think it'll be good to switch things up a bit so some other people can make it for a change.




A secret project I'm working on, yet to be unveiled sometime in the next few months (DON'T ask because I won't tell!)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Equal Pay for Equal Work?

One of the Obama ads that I hear quite often is one promoting his stance on women in the workplace -- "Equal Pay for Equal Work" is the line. I did a little scratch of the head about this, wondering if there is still widespread discrimination against women in the workplace when it comes to establishing salaries. Of course, it's possible and I'm sure there are cases out there, but enough to be an ad-worthy part of a campaign? It took me by surprise and got me to thinking.

Color me confused about the use of the word equal. Color me even more confused about the part of the ad that says something to the effect of (and I paraphrase, but it's pretty darn close) "...and McCain says women should just get more education and training." The tone in the ad makes it sound like it's a bad thing, which really had me confused.

The same pay for the same job? Are experience, merit, and education factored into this equation? Hmmm.

So I did a little research and found that part of the "equal pay for equal work" strategy is to raise the minimum wage and adjust for inflation because women hold a disproportionately large percentage of low-paying jobs. The theory is that by raising the minimum wage, it would help to close the gap between the average male and female wages.

Wow.

Personally I don't know if the minimum wage needs to be increased or not, but if this is the sole reason then there's no friggin' way I'd support this ludicrous idea. I agree with McCain -- they need education and training. What they don't need is a handout. (A handout probably funded by you and I.) They might like one and it may be helpful in the short term, but it just isn't the right thing to do.

If anything, this policy keeps women in low-paying jobs. Where is the incentive to get education and training? Hey, you don't need it -- we'll throw more money at you to make you more comfortable in the crappy job you already have. Sounds like "more pay for not more work."

I believe that people have a right to earn whatever they can get paid. Some make millions, and some don't. That's how capitalism works. It may not always seem fair, but that's how it goes. Don't like it? Either work harder, get some education and training, get a different job, or move to Sweden.

If women want to make more money, they should have to earn it. Earn it by getting an education, not settling for low-paying jobs, and not dropping out of high school because you're 16 and pregnant.

Sure, there are a couple of other initiatives falling under the same "equality" banner -- like enforcing anti-discrimination laws. I'm okay with that (but it begs me to ask the question, why enforce these laws but not those against illegal immigration?). Another initiative is to reform the law to make it easier for women to sue their employer for pay discrimination. No thanks - I don't think more lawsuits is a good answer.

The conclusion I've drawn is that "equal pay for equal work" doesn't really mean that at all. It's just a catchy line that masks a plan to create more handouts. Ironically, I think it promotes inequality.

We are a capitalist society and I, personally, would like to keep it that way. I find myself really wanting to like Obama, but the truth is that he's just too socialist for my liking. And don't even get me started on his healthcare plan. The only reason I consider myself a fence sitter is the most remote possibility of ever having to say the words President Palin.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Does anyone know ...

... what the hell this is ??? (aside from gross)


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pulled Pork & Sauerkraut in the Crock

Want an easy crock pot recipe for a damp-fall (or winter) day? I always make this on New Year's Day, but am breaking it out for the 2nd Street 5K Run & Irish Festival today in my neighborhood. It takes less than 5 minutes to put together, and is always a crowd pleaser.

Pulled Pork & Sauerkraut in the Crock Pot

1/2 bag baby carrots
3-4 medium red-skin potatoes, cubed
1 small onion, diced
1 medium-sized apple, diced (optional)
1 pork loin roast
1 bag sauerkraut, with juice

Note: If you buy a seasoned pork roast, you probably don't need to add extra seasonings. When I buy it unseasoned, I add:

crushed rosemary
salt n pepa
thyme
ground mustard
whatever else looks good on the spice rack

Put everything in the crock pot in the order listed. No need to add extra water or broth. Put the lid on. Check it every few hours. It's done when the pork falls apart and the veggies are soft -- usually overnight or 8 hours.

I get the best results when I cook on low overnight, then eat the next day. Everything tastes best on days 2 and 3. This dish also freezes very well.

Eat on a crusty roll with horseradish. Or just by itself.

Let me know how it turns out if you decide to try it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Whatty-bon?

Babspeapod here, live again from the debate.

I'm actually finding it quite entertaining and will now showcase my apparent case of ADD and/or immaturity.

Obama keeps saying the word "Tolly-bon." Kinda like a "Cinnabon", but not. "Pocky-ston" is a little distracting too, but not quite as much.

McCain just called it the "Tally-pon."

Folks, I think we're in trouble.

(P.S. - I hear "Santa Claus" is a write-in candidate from West Virginia. It's true .... see!)

(P.S.S. -- Obama just called McCain "Jim" again. bahaa. And yes, I DO know the moderator is JIM Lehrer, but since Obama keeps correcting himself, I assume he keeps calling John by the wrong name.)

Whistle while you ....wha??

And will someone please get John McCain some teeth that fit? He keeps s-whistling, and it's very distracting. (S-whistling is when you whistle every time you say a word with an "s")

Tom? Jim? John!

I can't believe I'm sitting at home on Friday night flipping the channels between the Presidential Debate and the Phillies game.

When did I turn into my Dad?

Anyway, twice now in the last 10 minutes, Obama has called McCain by the wrong name. First he called him Tom ... now he just called him Jim.

What up with that?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

It Must be a Slow News Week

Clay is echoing the words of George Washington, "I cannot tell a lie" as he announces to the world (on the front page of People magazine) that he is gay.


My thoughts:


1.) Who cares.


2.) This is not new information, so it should hardly be called "news."


3.) I'm perplexed by the whole "coming out" event. Openly admitting being gay -- I can see why that's a big step for someone. What I don't get is having press conferences about it, making public announcements about it, or using your sexual preference as a publicity stunt.


4.) I saw Spamalot on Broadway and it was a fantastic show -- probably the best musical I've ever seen. Clay Aiken was part of the cast, not the star, and he was excellent. If you've never seen this show because .....
....... you think Clay Aiken sucks ... or,
....... like me, you don't "get" Monty Python and don't want to watch something you don't "get" for 2 hours ... or,
....... you have a hard time understanding the British accents in Monty Python (again, why watch something for 2 hours that you don't understand)
I say: don't let those things stop you. The show was excellent! I'd even see it again.
5.) I'd never go to a Clay Aiken concert (of my own accord), but I'd probably be weird enough to watch one of his Christmas specials.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Monday was a Doozy

Yesterday was one of "those" days, and it totally blind-sided me. I woke up ready for the week.
Then I got to work.

Right out of the gate, I had an early meeting -- one that I was actually excited about (because I'm a nerd and get excited about things like this sometimes). I had a brilliant idea at work and yesterday was the day to hatch my baby -- yay! Ten minutes into a meeting with 20 people, somebody sprung a surprise on me and squashed the whole thing. It threw me off, and should have been a sign of things to come.

The rest of the day at the office spiraled downhill from there. One thing after another.

Now I've got a pretty thick skin -- especially when it comes to work. Calmness is my motto. No panic button in this girl's office. Stress? Rarely.

But for whatever reason, yesterday it got to me. I felt like I'd been hit with a bat, then kicked, my hair pulled, and my teeth knocked out. Honestly, I only have a day like this once every few years. Even my boss said, why don't you just call it a day and start over tomorrow? I wanted to so badly, but my to do list runneth out the door and I would've felt irresponsible if I left.

So I stuck it out and at 5:00, I finally left the office. On the way home I burst into uncontrollable tears. I have no idea why -- it just poured out. Lump in throat, mascara running down face. Who was this girl???

I came home, got in my comfy clothes, fixed dinner, cleaned the kitchen, then sat down to watch some TV.

Now living in the city, you get use to hearing sirens in the distance. Sad to say, but I can tune out just about any kind of noise you can imagine. Until I saw the glare from spinning lights coming through my front window -- and they were coming down our one-way street the wrong way. I knew something was going on and it had to be close, so I decided to peek out the front door.

At the end of my block on the corner (I'm right in the middle of a city block), there was a huge cloud of smoke. Neighbors poured out of their houses, the sounds of sirens grew, the smoke in the street thickened.

The cabinet-maker's shop on the corner had caught on fire, and within 20 minutes the entire block had to be evacuated for this 3-alarm blaze. At some points, the chemicals burning made the smoke in the streets unbearable and I kept going back inside. There were several explosions shooting fireballs into the air and the flames were as fierce as any I've ever seen in person.

The power went out on the block after about 2 hours, and people wandered back to their houses. But all night long, I could smell the smoke and hear the crews continuing their work to make sure the fire was out and everyone would be safe.

Luckily, no one was injured.

Click here to see a picture of the scene on my block last night.

As I laid in my bed trying to fall asleep, I felt ridiculous for having let a bad day at the office get to me.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

You Got a What Where??

I wrote a previous post about a guy who likes to sit on people's steps in my neighborhood, The Blueberry. If you read that, you know that he's basically a nice guy but slightly whackadoodle around the edges.

So as I stepped out of the house the other day to go to work, I heard the familiar "Hey Leeth!!" He caught me by surprise because I hadn't seen him in a few months and wasn't expecting him to be there. Our conversation went like this:

Me: Oh hey, good morning! I haven't seen you around in a while.

Blueberry: Yeah, I've been sick. Bad ankle.

Me: Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. I hope it's feeling better.

Blueberry: Leeth, do you know if you can get a cold in your ankle?

Me: Huh?

Blueberry: Can you get a cold in your ankle? I had the fan blowing on it and I think it caught a cold.

Me: (holding back a big huge belly laugh, soon to be accompanied by roaring and tears) Maybe the fan made your ankle cold or stiff, but an ankle can't catch a cold.

Blueberry: Really? I think I had a cold in my ankle.

Me: OK, well I have to go to work. I hope your cold feels better soon.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Restaurant Week in Philadelphia

It's Restaurant Week here in Philly, an fantastic opportunity to sample fine (and some not so fine) cuisine in our city. It comes twice a year, and has grown in popularity to now over 100 participating restaurants offering a prix fixe menu for $35. The event is sponsored by the Center City District, and it's a great way to try that pricey restaurant you've been wanting to go to without putting a strain on the wallet. Some of the places are very high end, and others ... well not so much. Regardless, it's a good chance to get out in the city for a night at a reasonable price.

Tonight I dined at Cafe Spice, an Indian Restaurant in Olde City (35 S. 2nd Street). It's actually part of a small chain with some restaurants in both New York and Pennsylvania -- but I say to you: "Be not afraid of the chain!"




Our foursome started at the bar with a couple of half-priced happy hour martinis. My mango was delicious and obviously made with fresh juice ... not some sugary bar mix. The others had sour apple martinis, but I'm over those -- they resemble watered-down antifreeze with a cherry to confirm fitness for consumption. Regardless, at $4 a drink it was quite a bargain.

The decor was exactly what the name of the restaurant suggested -- a cafe decorated in colors typically associated with the word "spice." Oranges, yellows, greens, deep reds, browns ..... lanterns and a tiled floor. Requesting a booth was worth it, as they were much more private and gave a completely different ambience to the restaurant. The regular tables are much more together and not so private.

Anyway, the food was very good. We each ordered something different and while we didn't share (thank goodness because I made the best choices), we did sample. The 4-course menu featured choices of:
  • Soup (I chose the pumpkin lentil over the leg of mutton in peppery broth)

  • Appetizer (lots to choose from -- i went with the kicked up samosa)

  • Entree (My "Lamb Chettinad" was the unaminous winner at the table over tilapia in some kind of curry/veg sauce; lobster in sumpin sumpin, and grilled lamb chops)

  • Dessert (chocolate mousse or mango ice cream. I should've picked the mango.)
The service was good, although the waiter wasn't very skilled on ingredients. "What is fenugreek?" "Uhhhhh ... duhhhh .... I'm really not sure." OK, thanks ... and he never went to find out. I'll be conducting a Google investigation on that one as well as combing the grocery store to see this mystery item in person. Nonetheless, the servers were prompt and polite, and most importantly, the food was delicious. It was spicy, but not too spicy. And it came out piping hot -- something that is mucho important to me when I'm eating. I may not eat my food when steam is coming from it, but I want it served to me that way. Cafe Spice obliged.

If I were like the restaurant critic that writes for the South Philly Review and I had to assign a rating of chef toques, I'd give Cafe Spice 2 1/4 tips of the toque (out of 3). And I'd go back.

Next time Restaurant Week comes around, I'm doing two things:
  • Making more reservations

  • Making them further in advance -- it was hard to find a table even 2 weeks ahead of time

Next time it comes around I'll put out the call for dining companions, so let me know if you're interested.


Monday, September 15, 2008

1960

I'm totally stealing this idea from my friend Kelly over at Shooting Glen Mills (which she borrowed from our funny friend over at List of the Day.

Here's what my 1960 yearbook picture would have looked like ....



Head on over to Yearbook Yourself to make some hilarious pictures of yourself.

All of the ones from the 80s looks like my actual yearbook pictures. I was not a cute teenager.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Once in a blue moon .....

Last night, I slept for NINE (9) hours! That's absolutely unheard of for me. Usually I get about 6 hours, and even on the weekends it's pretty rare for me to sleep more than that.

It got me to thinking about other "once in a blue moon" kinds of events:
  • Running -- I don't do it unless I'm being chased
  • Haley's comet -- anybody remember this back in the 70s? There was big hype about seeing the "only once every 76 years" comet. I can't remember if I actually saw it or just stood staring at the sky for a few minutes.
  • Bowling -- I love bowling, but rarely ever do it. Despite the balls being heavy and making my delicate fingers swell like breakfast sausages, I always enjoy it and wish I did it more often.
  • Eating carrots -- I usually don't like them (though I wish I did because they're so pretty and good for you), but once in a while when they've been soaking in some soup broth or gravy, they're positively delicious.
  • Sewing -- Am pretty much limited to re-attaching buttons, but my mom gave me a sewing machine a few years ago and I keeping saying how much I want to learn to use it. I made a pillow, but that's it. Perhaps this should be a goal this winter?
  • Stilettos -- For obvious reasons (like: I'm not a hooker and am pretty clumsy) these don't happen often. In fact, I can't remember the last time a pair of these adorned my flippers. I like them, but wearing them is once in a very deep indigo moon.
  • Snail mail -- Anymore, it's such an effort to get a stamp and find a mailbox to mail something.
  • Finding money on the ground -- The last time it was a $20 bill blowing down the street on New Year's Day. Yay!
  • Amy Winehouse sober -- need I say more?
  • Walmart in South Philly -- Synonmous with "hell on earth." It has to be something seriously Earth-shattering to go there. (Gee, do you remember when we were shopping there for our trip to Egypt and after putting 200 things in our cart realized we had someone else's cart and lost ours? Talk about a "throw your head back and scream" moment!)
  • Video games -- Love them. Get totally sucked in. It's probably a good thing I rarely play them. I have a mii character on Los and Schue's wii that's wearing a purple dress and has sunglasses on her head -- miss her. Time to play again soon ... (hint hint)
  • Penn State trips -- I miss my alma mater and rarely get to visit anymore. This time of year when the Nittany Lions are roaring up and down the field I can picture the scene around Beaver Stadium (I have to picture the scene on the outside of the stadium since I never actually went IN to a game while I was a student). Anybody up for a trip sometime soon?

One thing that crossed my mind but really belongs on the "I hope I never have to do this again" list is riding on a Greyhound bus. Just thought I'd add that tidbit so that the thought will leave my head. The first and last time was when I was about 15 and took a bus to Ocean City, MD.

Anyway, what are some of your "once in a blue moon" happenings?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

casiNO

Why is Foxwoods insistent on putting their Philadelphia casino in an inconvenient and disruptive location?

First, they wanted to stick one on Delaware Avenue where the traffic already stands still at any given moment for no reason at all. Not to mention, there's very little access to highways from that proposed location. Oh, and it's 2 blocks from a major residential area -- like my house. Thanks alot people.

That option hasn't been ruled out, but now after 2 years of everybody complaining, parading, petitioning, protesting, etc ... they are re-considering this location.

The news is now reporting that Foxwoods is considering putting their casino right smack dab in the middle of the city, at The Gallery. The Gallery is a poor excuse for a shopping mall, although it's quite large --3 levels of shopping over 2-3 city blocks. It also houses a very busy regional rail stop underground, where I guess you could say there's a fourth level of shopping.

All of this shopping sounds much more exciting than it actually is. Discount shopping, high end shopping, bizarre bazaars are all great things, but The Gallery defies description. I always feel like I'm on the verge of getting mugged or attacked when I'm there. And for what? I can't say there's anything I need or want at The Gallery. Regardless of what I think of The Gallery, people do shop there. It's also connected to the convention center, still only blocks away from major residential areas, City Hall and several thriving businesses (small and large). I'd like to see The Gallery turn into something better, but I don't think the casino is the answer.

The Foxwoods folks have gotten quite a bit of heat over the traffic problems their casino would exacerbate in the original proposed location, so I can understand that the accessibility of public transportation at The Gallery site is an attractive feature. But .... if you don't take public transportation, forget trying to park. There's nothing ... not on the street and not even in one of the $25/day garages. It just doesn't seem practical to put a casino in this spot.

All of that being said, I'd rather have them put the casino at The Gallery than 2 blocks from my neighborhood. But truthfully ... neither spot is good.

So I ask: Why, in the name of common sense, can't they find something in the city but not in an overcrowded area? There's a good mile (plus) stretch of undeveloped land south of the city right on the waterfront -- and the other side of the road too. There's other land in the city along the river (or not along the river) without having to open something in already-overcrowded areas.

Already, I'm not too thrilled with Foxwoods. They've done nothing to demonstrate that they'll be good corporate citizens in our city, and I think it's important to do more than just generate revenue. If they neighborhoods and other businesses are sacrificed for the development of the Foxwoods franchise, then what good has been gained for Philadelphia?

Certainly there must be a win-win location that is good for the people and businesses already inhabiting the city, and for Foxwoods. Let's hope somebody soon comes to their senses.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Like Nails on a Chalkboard

Is there anything that just by its mere presence sends you into "ew, get it away from me" mode? A sight ... a sound ... a smell ... a person? Something that just makes you flip your gizzard until it disappears?

Last night as I was upstairs changing out of work clothes into comfy clothes, I heard some familiar sounds emanating from the noise box in my living room. In the blink of an eye, I felt compelled to take 2 flights of steps in 3 large strides to get to the remote control. This sound HAD to be removed ... immediately.

What was it?

Cartoons.

I. CAN'T. FRIGGIN. STAND. CARTOONS.

Especially animation of the adult variety. Like King of the Hill. Family Guy. South Park.

I love the humor of The Simpsons, but I just can't watch it because it's a cartoon. I don't know why, but I just find cartoons to be completely un-entertaining and un-watchable. Kinda like watching the car dealership commercials where the guy screams at you to "c'mon down for our sale of the century. You can get a free hot dog and a picture sitting on top of our pet camel while we try to sell you a crashed up hoopdie with a new paint job and big shiny wheels."

Whatever dude. Keep your hot dog. Keep your hoopdie. And hey Comcast, can you please make sure no animated figures appear on my small screen? Is it too much to ask for the $100million a month I pay you for 10 good channels (if that)?

Kid cartoons are slightly more tolerable, but not much. And I will admit to enjoying some of the animated feature films, such as "The Lion King" and the old classics like "Cinderella" and does anyone remember "Song of the South?"

There are a couple of other exceptions to my cartoon-loathing: The Flintsones, the old Schoolhouse Rock, and ..... and. Will get back to you if I think of any others.

To me, cartoons are in the same category as clowns, comic books, and comic strips. Weird. No, thanks. Come to think of it, I'm not too fond of most stand-up comedians either.

All of these things are supposed to be funny. Maybe I stubbed my head at an early age, but I just don't get it. And unlike onions, which were completely unpalatable at one time, I don't think my tastebuds will change when it comes to my distaste for cartoons. If cartoons were ingredients, I'd definitely pick them off my pizza.

Monday, September 8, 2008

No Tutu For Me

When I was about 4 years old I asked my parents for piano lessons and ballet lessons. Unfortunately, I was told that I'd have to make a decision -- I could have one or the other, but not both.

Of course, I picked the ballet lessons. My dreams of pirouetting around a stage in a pink tutu with those pink satin slippers would not be denied! I'd be in recitals and plays .... probably the star of the Nutcracker. I'd get to wear costumes and this would be an acceptable reason to wear make-up before 16. And tap lessons always seemed to get thrown in as a bonus, so even at the age of four I knew this was a good deal. Yes, my pint-sized brain thought like this at the age of four.

Then my mother sat me down and said to me words that I'll never forget:

"Honey, I think you should take the piano lessons. After all, when you're 40 and you invite your friends over for dinner, wouldn't you rather play the piano for them than put on a tutu and dance?"

Right between my barely developed eyeballs, she hit me with cold hard motherly logic. And it worked. I took the piano lessons.

As a result, I can't dance but I can play a helluva sonatina. My first lesson was at age 4 and the lessons continued on until I graduated from high school -- by my choice. As it turns out, my mother was right.

Well, mostly right. I would probably love to be able to don a tutu and do a few ballet twirls at my next dinner party. Not probably ... I would. But since my tutu would probably have to be a four-four, it's probably best that I stuck with piano.

My piano playing fell by the wayside long ago, which makes me quite sad. I always loved playing, and still do. This past weekend, I stayed at my boss' house in Kentucky and they have a big black baby grand in the living room. My fingers were itching until I couldn't stand it anymore. Her husband and I played for a few hours on Saturday afternoon, and it was awesome. Am definitely rusty, but I don't think it would take much to get back to form.

My new project is to see how many zillions of dollars it'll cost me to get my piano moved from my parent's house in Maryland to my house in Philly. I'm sure it would be more cost-effective to just buy or rent one that's closer, but there's no way I would want a different piano. That old one was my Christmas present when I was 4, and there's nothing like it.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

One Lucky Girl

Thanks to my wonderful family and friends, I survived another birthday event. (It was actually on Saturday, so I'm getting to this a few days late.) Anyway, they really came through and made my day fabulous. People came to celebrate, wish me well, bring me fiber and other items to help my digestive track, memory, aches, pains, etc. ..... we ate, we drank, we laughed, (and laughed and laughed and laughed), and I loved it better than Cats!

A few highlights:


  • Family Party Prep -- My family came down early, primarily to visit and have some time together before the party, but I put them to work. It turned out great, and I loved sitting around the kitchen chopping, chatting, reminiscing, and laughing with them. My Mom and Dad told stories about the old neighborhood -- stuff that Laura (my sister) and I were too young to know when we were kids. Now that we've aged a few years, they didn't seem to mind dishing the dirt on all things that happened back in the old 70s neighborhood. Good stuff! They told stories about things that happened years ago ... some of them they tell every time I see them (so I'd be disappointed not to have heard them again), and other stories were pleasant surprises. We reminisced about friends we've all had, and got caught up on "what ever happened to _____?" Fill in the blank with anyone that any of us ever knew. It was great quality time with the family, and when they left on Sunday I was quite sad to see them go. I'm truly a lucky person to have such a wonderful family.

  • Bunny Cake -- When I was a kid, my mother always made my sister and I birthday cakes shaped like bunnies. A fan of nostalgia, my mother came through with a good ole-fashioned bunny cake! And it was delicious!

  • The List -- Schue made me a very special list for my birthday. Something you may not know about me is that I'm an obsessive list-maker. Schue captured several memories of our friendship over the years in a really funny list that had me laughing and re-reading over and over again. It's posted on her blog, so you can check it out here. She and Los are great friends, and they went out of their way to make the day fun. I know my Mother was cracking up the next day about Los' story of the Cable Guy ass-denting the old car!

  • Picture CD -- My parents dug through their vault of pictures and made a "This is Your Life"-style picture CD for me. It has pictures from the day they brought me home from the hospital, all of my grandparents and great-grandparents, many of my childhood birthdays (featuring bunny cake, I might add), and other old pictures I'd never seen. This was so thoughtful and I just loved it -- the perfect gift!! Between the bunny cake and the pictures, I used several kleenex!!

  • The BBQ -- Despite the fact that it was Labor Day weekend when everybody goes to the shore, family parties, or wherever ... my friends showed up to spend the day with me. While I appreciate all of the generous and thoughtful gifts they brought, it was their presence that really made the day special. The day was hot hot hot, especially in the sauna that is my backyard ... yet they withstood the sweat and mosquitos all because they like me (or maybe it was just the food?! haha). Regardless, it was a great day!

  • The Name Game -- Let's just say that a few things were confirmed during a late night round of The Name Game: Farrah Fawcett is spelled with F's .... it's not Pharoah Fawcett. And there was never a US President named Willard Fillmore.

Thanks again everyone for making my day special! In the words of Claris Blecher (from "Steel Magnolias") I love you all more than my luggage!!!!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Now we're making Pwogwess!

Hey folks .... not much time to write and I'm still not feeling particularly creative, so here's an update on the "to do" list:

1.) Clean house -- check. I figure it has about another 3 hours before all hell breaks loose (aka arrival of parents) and then all bets are off. I can't wait to see them though, so bring it on!

2.) Hair cut and color. Check. I must admit, I look fabulous. Well, I will look fabulous as soon as I shower and get rid of the mess I made of myself last night. My sister arrived, and we went out for a big evening in the 'hood. I guess that's an appropriate send off for my thirties.

3.) Ponder the new cast of Dancing with the Stars and analyze it to death with Schue -- check. I'm interested to see Kim Karsizedassian, Rocco Dispirito, Ted McGinley, and yes, Cloris Leachman.

4.) Mani and pedi -- nope. My feet look like they were painted by a blind person ... with their feet.

5.) Shop for party -- half check. I need to finish groc shopping and hit the Italian Market for some pork roast. The menu will feature sloppy joes and pulled pork sandwiches.

6.) Make a CD or two -- half check. I have everything downloaded from iTunes, but need to put it on CDs. I really need to get an iPod and docking station with speakers so I can just hit "play" instead of burning CDs. But technology has never been my strong suit -- hey, at least I'm not still listening to tapes!!

7.) Prepare wig collection -- check. The blonde, Mrs. Roper, Wonder Woman and cleopatra are all ready to go. Not to mention the mummer hats and my shamrock cowboy are awaiting some pumpkinheads to adorn them!!

8.) Buy two lamps and some spare pillows for my spare bedroom -- Nope. These things are still at the store. BUT, I did get new bedding and decorative pillows, so the room looks better. I guess that's a half-check.

9.) Find a cute outfit for the party -- Nope. I will have to find something in my closet. boo hiss.

10.) Find a dress to wear to a wedding, a wedding gift and a hostess gift -- No, no and no. (And for those of you who commented on my embarrassing experience at my bosses house -- I didn't poop in the toilet knowing I couldn't flush .... it was a girlie issue. Even worse. Welcome to a day in the life of me.)

Alrighty .... still lots to do, so I'm outta here. Happy Birfday to me!

Monday, August 25, 2008

To Do

My creative juices are stifled, so I give you this ....... my "To Do" list for this week. I figure it I post it here, then I have to get everything done.

1.) Clean my house. It looks like dust and suitcase bombs exploded. I took Wednesday off work to get everything done, and this is the biggie that will take most of my time.

2.) Hair cut and color.

3.) Anxiously await cast list of "Dancing With the Stars", to be announced this morning. Discussion with Schue immediately to follow.

4.) Mani and pedi.

5.) Shop for party. Am still trying to decide on a menu, but whatever it is it'll be simple. Am leaning towards grill stuff and maybe a crock full of sloppy joes. I thought about baked beans, but I'd rather not have a houseful of bean-eaters ... seriously. I'm also going to make a small vat of sangria.

6.) Make a CD or two. My collection is way outdated, and I've been lax on the iPod updates.

7.) Prepare wig collection. I know people will wear them, so I may as well have them looking their best.

8.) Buy two lamps and some spare pillows for my spare bedroom. It's not a total necessity, but I wanna fix the room up, so why not now?

9.) Find a cute outfit that makes me look 10 years younger, but not one that makes me look like I'm in an outfit that's too young for me. It also has to make me look svelte. If it repels mosquitos, that would be a plus too.

10.) Find a dress to wear to a wedding in Kentucky next weekend. And buy a wedding gift. And a hostess gift for my boss who invited me to stay at her house with her and her husband. Last time I stayed there, she told me not to flush the toilet if I went to the bathroom in the middle of the night because it would wake up her husband. Now, I never get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom .... wouldn't you know, that night was an exception. AND .... I really needed to flush the toilet when I was done. What would you have done? Flush and piss them off .... or leave the bowl as is? I swear I'm not drinking or eating anything after 3pm knowing about the no-flush rule.

Anyway, that's my list for the week.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I Do Dumb Stuff -- Part Two (The Twentysomething Years)

OK, so here's another list of dumb stuff I've done. This isn't a list of absent-minded events, but stuff I planned ... schemed ..... did with full consciousness. It is probably safe to assume that intoxication and my friend John are a common denominator for 90% of the list.

Finally, as I look back over the list before I hit the "Publish" button, I realize these all occurred during or shortly following the college years. The fact that there's nothing in this list from life after 30 probably doesn't mean I haven't done dumb stuff in my thirties, but the opitomy of my dumb-ness clearly came in my twenties. Perhaps another post will be in order to showcase the dumb stuff I've done after surviving the list below.

Enough babble. Who cares. Here goes:

  • I've already told you about climbing out of a car window while riding down the highway, and clinging to the luggage rack in my skirt (and big 80s hair). But, I just told you again in case you missed it the first 3 times.
  • I bought (and wore) (a zillion times) (and in lots of pictures) a floor-length, bright purple winter coat. With all the friends I have, why didn't someone stop me? I looked like Barney!
  • The night before my friend John's college graduation, I put my hand through a window in the hotel room (I was trying to knock ... oops). This resulted in all 8 of us to get kicked out of the hotel -- just as he was supposed to be graduating. Try finding a hotel room for 8 at Penn State on graduation weekend ... and explaining it to his mother.
  • I once pretended to be one of the famed Jamaican bobsledders (a la "Cool Runnings"). This resulted in me breaking my middle finger when the "sled" crashed at the bottom of my friend's steps. It turned out to be quite a realistic re-enactment. Ironically, I also had to explain this to John's mother.
  • If you ever eat long stringy noodles and then feel nauseous, do not throw up in a bush. First-hand experience has taught me they are invisible in the evening and look like noodle tinsel in the light of day. Bad idea. Make it to the bathroom.
  • I got a perm ... on purpose. I can't believe that after cringing through years of my mother giving me Toni home perms that I actually did this to myself. This tragic perm was followed up with a very short bob haircut, and was supposed to make me look cute for my first semester of college. Instead,my head looked like a big penis with a curly helmet. I proceeded to grow my hair down to my butt crack over the course of the next 4 years.
  • Pool hopping over a barbed-wire fence is a bad idea, especially if you're not athletic (and even if you are). I have the scars to prove it.
  • Now this one wasn't my idea, but my friend John coaxed me into it -- We drove my parents' lawn tractor all around the yard at 3am after returning to their house (where I still lived at that point) after a night on the town. I'm just thankful the house was built well and withstood one particularly large crash into the side of the house near their laundry room.
  • I tried to double dutch (jump rope, for you non city-slickers). Once. My feet got so tangled up in the rope I fell on the ground and knocked myself unconscious.

OK, my brain is worn out for now. If I think of more, I'll add to the list tomorrow. In the meantime, let me know what dumb stuff you do.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I Do Dumb Stuff - Part One

This morning when I was getting ready for work, I was piddling around the bathroom (literally and figuratively) when I noticed I did something really stupid.

I threw my underwear in the trash.

Now we've all had pairs that we've had to get rid of for one reason or another, and I'm not gonna go into that. But in this case, I meant to put them in the laundry basket but threw them in the garbage instead.

It got me to thinking about absent-minded things I do. Like:
  • Making coffee with no coffee grinds in the little basket.
  • Putting my keys in the freezer.
  • Driving past my exits or going somewhere I'm not planning to go.
  • Microwaving aluminum.
Actually, one time I inadvertently microwaved an empty glass bowl. Um, I've never seen a warning about what happens when you do this. It kinda looked like a micro-mini scale nuclear explosion -- and that was the end of my microwave.
  • I've brushed my teeth with hair mousse.
  • Covered my whole face with blush instead of foundation -- so I looked like a had a big rash or bad dermabrasion, instead of a nice soft glow.
  • Went to work without my bra. (Anybody else ever walk through the parking lot thinking something feels weird, only to figure it out just in time to turn around and go home?)
  • Lots of make-up and grooming disasters -- forgotten mascara, dirty teeth, no deodorant. The list is endless, but thank God it doesn't happen often and I've learned to stock my office with products to compensate for the vacant space in my head.

I'm sure there's more, but I've gotta get to work now. Tomorrow ... dumb stuff I've done on purpose.

So what dumb stuff do you do inadvertently?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Chicago

Yesterday I returned from a 4-day biz trip to Chicago. What a great trip!! I had only been to Chicago once before about 10 years ago, but I'd forgotten how much I really loved the city.

My hotel was right on the Magnificent Mile, and the weather was absolutely beautiful the whole time .... I even got to get out and enjoy it despite spending several hours couped up in a conference room.

The pics (from my pre-historic camera) actually turned out quite mahvelous .....





across the street from my hotel ... a view of the river





beautiful architecture




a mirrored sculpture in Millenium Park

There was a very interesting series of garden sculptures up and down Michigan Avenue. Various artists were sponsored to created busts using materials you wouldn't normally find in a garden. I was completely fascinated by these things and took pictures of every single one of them (probably 15-20 total). My plan is to make a photo collage to hang somewhere ... maybe in my kitchen or office. Here are a few of the garden sculptures .....

These were called "Bubble Girls"

Made from keys

More traditional garden materials, but stunning nonetheless

Leather and hair extensions

Coke and Diet Coke cans

I definitely won't wait another 10 years to return!!!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Surf and Turf Roll--Ups

I made up a concoction the other night that I have to write down so I don't forget it. It was delicious and pretty too, which you know is most important to me. (Next time I make it I'll take a picture.) As a bonus, it's also healthy and inexpensive to make, so it's going into my weeknight menu rotation.

This was an after-work dinner on a Tuesday night, just for DD and I .... but it was dinner-party quality. I'm even thinking I can turn it into an appetizer for my Christmas party. Hmmm ... will have to think about that. Anyway, I made this up as I went along, so I'm sure I'll tweak over time. But for now, here's the creation:

* And of course, I'll give you my usual disclaimer: I never measure anything, so quantities are my best guesstimate.

Surf and Turf Roll-Ups
  • Marinate a pack of round steak for braciole (the stuff that's pounded very thin) in soy sauce, fresh-squeezed lime juice, fresh garlic, a teensy bit of extra virgin olive oil (notice I shun the Rachel Ray acronym ... God she's annoying!!!), salt and pepper. Let this soak for hours ... the longer the better.
  • There were 3 pieces of meat in my package that were kinda the size and shape of an oven mitt. I halved them lengthwise and then cut each strip in half to make them shorter. I ended up with 12 strips that were about 6x2.
  • By the way, 12 roll-ups were enough for dinner (DD ate 4, I ate 2) and leftovers for lunch the next day.

For assembly:

  • Butterfly 24 shrimp.period. (2 per piece of meat). I know this sounds like a pain in the ass, but it really isn't if you get the cleaned and deveined shrimp.
  • Get a big bundle of thin asparagus. If you want to use the thick spears that's fine, but I think thick asparagus is tough and kinda gross. I guess I'm an asparagus snob. Cut 'em in half, so they're about 4 inches long.
  • Lay the strip of meat flat. Put the shrimp on top. Put a small bundle of asaragus (I used ~8 thin halves per bundle) near one end.
  • Start rolling!!
  • Toothpick that baby so it doesn't come undone. Now I know toothpicking automatically raises the hassle factor to the highest level, but be not afraid of a recipe with toothpicks. It'll be okay, and the end result is worth it.

Cooking:

  • I cooked the 12 rolls in a glass baking dish. I add a concoction of beef broff (low sodium), some more soy, a little more lime juce, and a dusting of corn starch to thicken things up a bit. (It didn't make gravy, but it kept it from being too watery.)
  • The baking dish was filled about halfway with liquid. This serves two purposes: 1) it helped steam the rolls 2) it kept them from drying out while they cooked.
  • Cover the dish with foil and bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or until the shrimp and beef look cooked, but not like shoe leather. Chances are, as soon as the shrimp is done (completely pink), the beef will be done too and you're good to go. Turn these over after 20 minutes.

While the rolls are cooking:

  • I carmelized some onions for the top. I just think it's wrong to eat meat without carmelized onions --- I don't know why, that's just the way I like it.

Voila!!! That's the recipe. Let me know if you try it out.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Crazy Eights

Today's the lucky day ..... 08-08-08!!!

You know I'm a kook-a-doodle-doo when it comes to the number 8. I probably should've been born in China --- they are also quite enamoured with the number 8. In fact, many Chinese people go out of their way to find a way to incorporate our beloved number into their lives -- either on a specially crafted license plate, requesting it in their phone number, or whatever. I guess they don't name their kids "8." I've never heard of someone named Eight Ng.

Anyway .... I'm really not all that into numerology, and I can count on 2 hands the number of times I've ever played the lottery. I'm more on the realistic side of life's equation and don't generally believe that numbers hold any real meaning. However ...... I'm a lil stupid about my favorite number and have been doing dumb shit all day because it's 08-08-08.

Here's a sampling of my lunacy:


1.) Everything cooked in the microwave is timed for x:08.

2.) I actually played the lottery .... and I WON!! I bet an 8 in my number and it came out!!! yahooey!!!

3.) I got out of bed when the alarm hit 5:48.

4.) I DVR'd the opening ceremonies to the Olympics because I know there'll be some tingly sports moment that people will talk about and I don't want to miss it. I'm excited to watch all the crazy sports that you never get to see .... you know I'm weird like that. It has nothing to do with the number 8 except for the fact that the Chinese have a love affair with lucky 8s and so do I ... and they're hosting the big sports shindig.

5.) I had egg rolls for dinner in honor of my Chinese friends who share my love for the number 8.

6.) I actually backdated the date on this post so it would show up with 08-08-08 ... despite the fact that I'm a lazy ass with insomnia and didn't post until 2(:08)am on August 9.

7.) Whenever I get a new phone number, I always ask if I can choose one. They give me options and I pick the one with the most 8s in it. Ending in 8 is especially good karma.

8.) I've got a small like for gambling, and whenever I get a chance to gamble on a number ... you know what I pick. Roulette ... block pools ..... horses .....

Even though 08-08-08 is over, this is a month full of big numbers. All month, it's 08-08 ..... and the month is going to end with an even bigger number. This one doesn't have any 8s in it, but it begins with a 4 and ends with a 0.

Damn I'm weird.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Party's Over ... boo hiss

Well troops, we survived vacation!! The weather was perfect, the water was warm, the house was great, and the company even better. Here are some of the highlights of our trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina:


Dixieland!!! --- I know, I keep harping on how much I love this gas station. There's a picture of Davey Dogs and I under the sign on Los' blog. (To see it, click here.)

Hanging by the pool --- The house had a private pool and hot tub. We spent a good bit of time floating around with fruity drinks, doing cannonballs, and re-filling the pool. The hot tub was a little more complicated. We couldn't figure out how to operate the temperature control, so it was either 85 or 185 degrees.

Fishing -- One day we chartered a fishing boat. We got off to a rocky start due to some confusion over the pricing and somebody being a little freaked out by tales of water moccasins and alligators; however, once we got rolling it was awesome. In fact, they gave us the boat all to ourselves. Everyone caught fish, and there was quite a variety. Karl caught the biggest fish ... Davey Dogs caught the most (even though the largest was only about 5 inches long). I was the most difficult to get off the boat -- I loved it and didn't want to stop once I got going.

The Beach Road Grill -- Ahh, this is our favorite spot to hang. It's situated right on the beach at Mile Post 10.5 on Beach Road, and is owned by 2 sisters who sound like Paula Dean Y'ALL!!! The food is cooked by "Mama" and is mmm mmmm good. The drinks are equally as tasty, and I wasn't shy about ordering my share of "Luscious Lisa's." The great thing about this place is that you can take all your crap to the beach, sun yourself, play in the water, then when you need a pottie and a drink you can zoom right into the Beach Bar for some AC and indoor comforts. I think we may have made some friends -- the sisters invited us to come stay in the cottage and eat crabs with them sometime. Warning: Be careful when you invite us somewhere, we might just show up!!!

Stuff White People Like -- I've been to the blog, but Los brought the book on vacation which we ended up reading aloud by the pool, in the car, on the beach, in the house. This is some hilarious stuff people!! If you haven't checked out the site do it .... it's good for hours of entertainment!!!

Karaoke -- A staple on vacation (and anywhere, for that matter). You probably have to know our friend Johnnay to appreciate the rarity and comedy of his karaoke routine, but let me tell you ... it was some good stuff. He was actually pretty good singing, and the dancing topped it off. I hope somebody took video ..... it needs to be shared.

Jimmie's Seafood -- Here's a place to avoid. We should have known that a seafood buffet would suck, but we were lured by the promise of 12 different kinds of crabs and decided to take our chances. End result: Christa got food poisoning and was sick for 3 days. If your tempted, resist the temptation and either catch your own or go somewhere for takeout seafood -- that's what the locals advised us to do.

The best beach day ever! -- The Friday before we left was one of the best beach days I've ever had. The ocean was calm, warm, and clear. The water was blue and teal -- very Caribbean-like, which I think is not the norm for this area. We played football, floated, laughed ... it was one of the most relaxing days I can remember.

Saturday we drove home. The car ride downright sucked .. all 9 hours of it. But Los was a trooper behind the wheel, and despite the traffic and backseat bitching he got us all home safely. Thanks for driving Los!!

So that's the vacation scoop. If you've never been to the Outer Banks, I highly recommend it if you want a beach vacation with a nice combo of stuff to do and nothing to do.

Now it's back to the grindstone, and time to start thinking about where to vacation next!!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

And they're OFF!!!!

YESSSSS!!!!!!

It's vacation time!!

Davey Dogs, Los, Schue, some others friends and I are headed outta dodge on a road trip to the Outer Banks for the next week. 10 hours from now I'll be sitting poolside sipping a big ole fancy cocktail.

One of the highlights of the trip will be a stop at my favorite gas station in the world -- Dixieland. It's on the border of MD and VA, and it has the most interesting collection of crap for sale that I've ever seen. One year, Schue and I bought furry horse head magnets ... another year, Aunt Jemima spoon rests. I'm hoping for a good find today!!!

Alrighty folks ... have a good week! Stay cool!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Age of a Child

As someone who is both a consumer of healthcare, and employed by the industry I'm very interested in the future of our healthcare system, and the ongoing debate about how to reform it. How can you get better healthcare to everyone at a price that's affordable to consumers and our government?

I know I'm in the minority here, but sometimes I find myself irritated with the media for presenting such an incomplete description of the problems with our system. I'm not here to defend insurance companies, but I will say that our nation's healthcare crisis isn't something that was single-handedly created by insurers. I believe that lawyers, providers, consumers, and even "advocates" have a hand in exacerbating our problems.

So you know why I'm interested in healthcare, but what's my point? Well, I've made a few observations about some of our public policy and I have a theory I'd like to test on you. (Yes, I realize this boring editorial may scare off my few precious readers, but I'm gonna go for it anyway.)

Well here's my theory: The way we currently define a "child" is costly. By creating a consistent definition, there could be cost-savings and other benefits.

Wow .... that's a mighty deep thought for first thing on a Tuesday morning, eh??

Indulge me, pretty please, for a moment while I share a few observations:
  • Driving age -- 16 (set by the states, but I think this is pretty much the standard)
  • Legal age to join the military -- 18 (or 17 with parental consent)
  • Legal age to drink -- 21 (again, set by states, but 21 is the norm)
  • Age considered a "child" for statutory rape -- 17
  • Age at which an individual can file for emancipation from parents -- 16
  • Age considered a "child" for the purpose of establishing Medicaid benefit packages and requirements for child services -- 21
  • Age to vote - 18
I could go on, but I think I've made a point that the way we define a "child" is all over the place. And in some cases it looks like we tend to pick an age that is most favorable to the child .... from a child's point of view. Not necessarily what is best for the person as a whole or the rest of society.

Let's give you a car at 16, but we'll consider you a "child" for another 5 years for the purposes of your entitlements in the health and welfare system.

Then there's the age old debate -- you can go fight and die for our country at 17/18, but you can't legally drink a beer until you're 21. Doesn't favor the "child", but doesn't exactly make sense either.

What does this have to do with reforming our healthcare system? Well, what made me want to write about this was a review of one presidential candidate's views on healthcare, and what he would do to reform our system. (And I'm neither endorsing nor taking a pot shot at either candidate.) Someone is proposing mandated coverage for "children " up to the age of 25.

25 !?!?!?! Holy camoly? There's a new one!!! When I saw the number 25, I kinda flipped out. (in my head, of course. I don't do real back-flips anymore.)

Has anyone thought about the impact of picking a number like 25 ... say, over a number like 21 or 23 or 16 or any other number? Based on my experience in working with public health programs, I can tell you that "children" are entitled to just about any service they want or need, and there is hardly a limit. The public health and welfare system is like a big ole endless pu pu platter for anyone defined as a child.

Now, before you start thinking I'm some kind of monster who doesn't like kids, or you think I derive a sadistic pleasure from denying and limiting healthcare services, I can assure you that's not the case. However, I do take my responsibility as a steward of the public tax dollar very seriously. It pisses me off to see waste, not to mention fraud or abuse. It also pisses me off to know there are 50M people in this country who don't get any healthcare at all unless they have some threat to life or limb that sends them to the emergency room. Pretty shitty healthcare, eh?
Anyway, benefit packages for the demographic known as "children" -- however you define it -- are vast and virtually unlimited in government-funded programs. "Vast" and "unlimited" are not something that I consider responsible stewardship no matter how old a person is.

Sure, in an ideal world everyone could get unlimited benefits. Everthing you want, and as much as you want of it. Like the free ice cream truck at the company picnic! Yay, wouldn't that be nice?

Unfortunately, the ice cream truck can only hold so much ice cream. So if some pig decides to take 10 ice creams, even though they can only eat 2 ...that means the truck is going to run out sooner and some people probably won't get any ice cream at all. And just because you can eat 2 doesn't mean you should get 2. If you're an adult, someone will likely point out that there's a limit of one per person and you should put back the extra. But if you're a "child", I bet nobody would say anything about going over your allowed amount -- even though it still meant that some other person didn't get any ice cream at all. Is that how things should work? In my book, no. I'm the ice cream steward that would tell the kid to put back his extra ice cream and everybody would think I'm a big ole meanie for telling the kid "no."

Enough of the ice cream analogy, you get my point: the bucket of money available to pay for benefits isn't endless, so we need things like defined benefit packages, limits, authorizations, etc to help make sure that the services being used are really necessary. It's certainly not a perfect system, but it's better than nothing. Everyone can't have everything when there isn't enough money to pay for it.

Except children. Our laws are structured to give the vast and limitless to "children." I believe litigation over the years has virtually eroded whatever boundaries may have existed -- but that's a whole 'nuther subject. By expanding the definition of "child" to age 25, it expands the vast and limitless to a whole new segment of the population. I can't even fathom what the increased cost of healthcare would be just by tacking 4 years onto the current definition of a child.

If we're going to arbitrarily create yet another definition of the age of a child, I wonder if we'll also .....

..... raise the drinking age to 25 since everybody younger is still a child? (How many livers would be spared? How many bars would have to close?)
.... pull the kids under 25 out of the military? (How secure would our nation be then??)
.... get every kiddie under 25 off the road? (Hey, it would reduce fuel consumption and pollution problems, not to mention our roads would be a safer place? Wouldn't it lessen overall car insurance premiums too?)

Personally, I think 25 is too old for someone to be considered a child. I mean, you're just not a kid anymore when you're 25. Yeah, you may be a 20something still going to high school proms, or maybe you're on your 7th year of college. You're just not a child at age 25, and you certainly shouldn't be entitled to the legal benefits afforded to "children." How in the world can someone know when it's time to accept and learn adult responsibility if the age is so blurred? I hope we're not creating a society of Peter Pans.

If I ruled the country, I'd legally define a "child" as under 18. Then, any law (state or federal) that pertains to a child would have to apply my definition. I'd also create some exceptions because, let's face it ... the world ain't black and white, it's lots of colors and shades of grey. Example of an exception: a person who goes on to college and remains a dependent of their parents could have an expanded definition for certain programs (like healthcare) until they turn 21, or maybe even 22.

After that, grow up. You're on your own!

Ok, that's the end. Am interested to hear your thoughts .... if anyone made it this far.

Monday, July 21, 2008

What is it about me ....

.... that mosquitos love so dearly??

I am sitting on my couch trying to work and drink my coffee, and I'm being dive bombed by these treacherous little creatures.

I don't know how they even got into my house, but they're here so I've got to deal with them. They're in my backyard jungle too, so every time I step outside I get chomped.

Some people could walk through a mosquito festival and they'd never get bitten. Unfortunately, I'm not of that variety.

I read somewhere that mosquitos can smell a victim from 30 yards away. I believe it. I must be like a plate of prime rib to a mosquito.

Maybe it's that my blood is full of tomatoes, wine and fontina cheese. Is that what's attracting them?

Is it my charming disposition ..... or my sparkly earrings? Are they coming to listen to Madonna with me? Or maybe they like the groovy new shade of orange/red/pink I'm sporting from my 2-week old pedicure?

Whatever it is about me that they love, I wish I could figure it out. These little red blotches all over my body are itchy and so very unbecoming. Not to mention, I'm tired of smelling like Off! and Witch Hazel.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Help! I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up!

Greetings from the sauna ... oops ... city of Philadelphia!!!

It hasn't been a bad week, but I can also say I've had better. Here's my headline news of the week ....

On Tuesday, I started my day with my daily routine -- coffee, shower, hair, make-up, work. Except I never got past the hair part of the routine. In the middle of doing my hair, I dropped my brush on the floor, went to pick it up and felt a really horrible pain in my knee. I thought I'd walked it off, so I finished doing my hair and headed down my steps to start on make-up in front of the big fan.

Well .... when I took the first step I had a pain that mostly closely resembles fire or lightning, shoot through my body. Thank goodness I fell backwards on the top step instead of forwards!

Once I collected myself and came out of my fog, I realized I couldn't move my leg. So I slid down the steps on my butt, across the floor and hung out there while trying to figure out a game plan.

The Acura car inspector and a cab driver ended up picking me up off the floor and putting me in the cab to visit the ER. There, I learned nothing. All I got was a pair of crutches, a knee brace and a big pile of pain pills. "Go see a specialist", they said.

Fast forward to Thursday ..... the doc says I tore my meniscus and will need a short arthroscopic procedure to fix it. The good news is, it's fast and doesn't have a big recovery time. I'm also really not in any pain until I try to sit/stand, sleep, and I can't drive. Walking is not much of a problem, I only use the crutches if I have to venture out of the house. I'm also lucky that I can work from home, so I'm not using my vacay time on this bullshit.

Speaking of vacation ....... I'm still going on my vacation in a week, so that means I'll be having this little surgery when I get back. I am WAYYYY excited for vacation .... will be writing about that next!!

So yesterday, I had my MRI then cabbed to lunch with a business associate. I hit a convenience store a block from the restaurant to pick up a jar of mayo -- a requirement for all the tomato sandwiches I've been consuming lately. I couldn't find a cab home, so I ended up walking home about 8 blocks in the 100 degree weather with a plastic bag filled with MRI results and mayo swinging from my crutches. I WANT MY SEXY BACK!! If something had happened to me and somebody found me like that, what would they have thought?!?!?!! I can only hope that I lost 10 pounds on that hike ...... not fun!!!

All things considered, I'm lucky that it's not worse and I'm not in any real pain. I can get around, and just have to be careful I don't do anything to make it worse.

I wonder if anybody else could do such damage to themself just doing their hair???????

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Chevrolet ... sorta

These things .. sort of ... have been consuming me for the past few days. How? Well ...

Baseball - I got sucked into watching the Home Run Derby, which featured one of those tingly sports stories that I love. I've never watched any of the All Star festivities in the past, but decided to check it out this year. The story that got me was about a guy named Josh Hamilton (who's been all over the news for the last 2 days, so this is probably a little late to report ... but it's my blog so I can tell stories that everybody's already heard as much as I want to ... right?).

This guy played in the majors for a couple of years, then started boozing it up and doing all kinds of drugs. Apparently he blew somewhere around $4M on crack,heroin, alcohol, tattoos and whatever else before he found God and sobriety. He ended up getting back into the minor leagues 3 years ago and fought his way back to the major league. On Monday night, he hit 28 home runs in Round One of the Home Run Derby which broke the previous record of 24. He was like a machine, and people went nuts as he hit ball after ball went into the upper deck. Me thinks his story will end up a movie someday ... apparently he plays like this in regular games too.

Hot Dogs - OK, I haven't been consumed by -- or consuming any -- hot dogs. But it would've messed up the title of my post if I didn't throw them in here.

Apple Pie - On the theme of apples -- not apple pie -- I have a new recipe that must be shared. It's for Stuffed Pork Chops, and the stuffing is made of apples, bacon, celery, and onion. As a time saver, you can just plop the stuffing on top and forget the whole ordeal of trying to cut a pocket in the middle of a slimy raw pork chop (ew!). Nevertheless, it's delicious. Here's the stuffing: (I made this for 2 pork chops)

  • Cut 4 strips of bacon into pieces and fry em up in the pan. (You can shortcut in the microwave if you want to save time, but it's not as tasty when you don't cook the onions and celery in the bacon grease.)
  • Add some diced onion and celery to the bacon and saute until soft. Don't be afraid to let it burn a little to get that crsipy brown stuff that tastes so good. Use broth (chicken or whatever you have on-hand) to deglaze the pan.
  • Add a lil salt, pepper and thyme. Just a little -- taste test it later, you can always add more.
  • Cut up one small apple into little pieces (take the peel off unless you want it stuck in your teeth). Add the apple to the saute, and sprinkle some sugar (~1 tablespoon is probably good).
  • Salt & pepper pork chops on both sides.
  • Once the apple is soft, push the stuffing to the side of the pan and crank up the heat. When the pan is hot, add the pork chops.
  • Sear for ~2 minutes on each side, then lower heat. Add a little chicken broth to keep things from sticking (just a little), cover and simmer for ~15 minutes. (Note: you may have to adjust the cooking time for the thickness of your pork chops. I did 25/15 for 1- 1/4" chops. If you want to be very speedy, grill or broil your chops and just add the stuffing at the end.)
  • Anyway ...... Turn em over then cover and simmer for another 10-15 minutes (again, adjust the time as needed)
  • After you flip (the chops, not a handspring), add some bread crumbs to the stuffing and mix it all together. You should be getting something that looks a little dry with a touch of carmelization -- not stuffing that looks like soggy bread. Don't worry, it won't be dry when you eat it.
  • I served with sliced Jersey tomatoes and baked beans. Bon appetit!

Chevrolet - .... is not the car I decided to purchase. After a month of research and negotiation, I decided to get another Acura TL. I love this car -- it's comfy and the technology is practical, and best of all I've figured out how to use it (after 4 years). One thing I learned -- www.edmunds.com was very helpful in my purchase and in the long run led me to options I may not have otherwise considered. In the end, I saved $113/month on my car payment and negotiated a bunch of freebies that I otherwise wouldn't have thought about (free oil changes, extra miles, free inspections, free wiper blade changes, etc). One dealer had a low price, another one had the freebies -- I got the dealer with the low price to throw in the freebies (in writing, of course)! I also ended up with a dealer I hadn't seriously considered in the past because I assumed they'd be more expensive because they're in a high-fallutin' area. That would've been a bad assumption -- their customer service and prices were unbeatable.

The moral of my car story is: it pays to do a little homework no matter how much you really hate it.

I'm hoping the new car will be delivered to mi casa today. Why am I not going to pick it up myself? Will report on that tomorrow.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Donate Shmonate

I did get over my irritation the other day, but now find myself irritated again! AGAIN!

Actually, I'm excited to be headed to the shore in a few short hours for Girls' Weekend, but as I sit here drinking my coffee and watching the news, I find myself wanting to punch the TV.

Why this time? The news story goes something like this:

Barak is not only campaigning, but spending time on the trail encouraging people to "donate" money to pay off Hillary's campaign debt.

That is friggin ridiculous!!

The woman traveled all over the country for 2 months after everybody knew she had a flea's balls chance of winning. Now, she's "broke" and needs help paying for the bill she racked up. If I had 500 million gazillion dollars, I wouldn't give a penny. I'm sorry, but if you can't run a fiscally responsible campaign, how the hell would you have run the country?!?! And why is Barak wasting his breath trying to bail her out? Doesn't that detract from what he should be doing on the campaign trail??

I'm a huge proponent of giving to people and causes in need, but this ain't one of them.

And for the record, I NEVER check the box on my tax return that asks if I want to "donate" a dollar to the presidential campaign fund. We already get bombarded with commercials and signs ... I'm NOT paying for more.

Okay, my rant is over. Time to head to the beach!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Irritation and Insomnia

Last night I was in a bad mood. It was a frustrating day at the office, then I came home and found my fridge leaking inside. And mosquitos attacked me every time I stepped outside. And I had to go to Shop Rite, which always makes me want to ram somebody with my cart.

I finally decided to cut my losses, call it a night and go to bed on my freshly laundered sheets with the AC running. Sounds good, right?

Well .....

DD was so hot he nearly spontaneously combusted. He couldn't cool off. Just as I was almost asleep he decided to turn his body completely around and lay the opposite way in the bed so he could get more AC. This meant his feet were up near my head, his head near my feet, and the covers were all jacked up.

I had two options: go completely ballistic and start thrashing around or get up and move until he could settle down and fall asleep.

After a big "What the hell are you doing?", I decided to take the high road. He'd been more than patient with my ugly mood, so I decided to cut him a break and let him get some air and sleep. (Pretty damn nice of someone who felt like mowing people down with her shopping cart, eh?) I ended up on the couch all night with a bout of insomnia. Should make for a pleasant Barbra Peapod today.

Actually, despite my frustrating and sleepless evening, I feel surprisingly mellow this morning. Maybe I just wore myself out being irritated last night .... or my coffee hasn't kicked in yet. Either way, let's hope for a happier day today.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Vinyl

In the wake of my TV induced stupor, I failed to mention something fun I did over the weekend. On Saturday, DD and I took a ride "downashore" to visit our friends Linda and Richie in the Villas.

They had a "Vinyl" theme party ... very creative, eh?

Now I know you're probably wondering what a vinyl party is -- no, we didn't wear vinyl tablecloths or shower curtains. Everyone had to bring an album ..... not a CD, not a tape, not an iPod, mp3, radio, or blueray .... but an old-fashioned album!! They broke out the record player and we listened to all kinds of records all afternoon and evening. What a great theme!!!

All of my albums are at my parents' house in Maryland (still .... sorry Mom and Dad!), so DD and I stopped at Goodwill to pick up our party contributions. Here's what we brought:

Grease
The Doobie Brothers
Foreigner
Xanadu
Air Supply

Here's a big shout out to Linda and Richie for hosting another great party! Thanks for inviting us .... it was a great time!!!!!

(And speaking of theme parties, anybody have any other creative theme party ideas? You know party planning is right up my alley, and there's a big one in the works for later this year ..... )

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sunday Television


Whew, it was a nice long weekend ... capped off by a full day of couch-lounging and TV watching. This was me yesterday .....



NICE!!

I'm not sure how it happened, but I got sucked into watching bad sports -- not by DD, but all on my own. The sport du jour? Mennis.

Yes, that's Men's Tennis. For hours I sat watching the men's match at Wimbledon, even waiting out the rain delays. ?!?!?!?!! I never watch tennis -- it's boring and slow. But yesterday I was completely hooked on what commentator John MacEnroe called the greatest match he's ever seen. And it was exciting, I must admit. In the end, Roger Federer's 5-time Wimbledon winning streak came to an end and Spainard Rafael Nadal captured the cup. Here he is .... (it reminds me of Mike Tyson biting an ear ... but not)




Another boring sport I managed to get sucked into watching was the Phillies game. I don't how I can watch baseball, but sometimes I can. This just may be this year's MVP .....




So the afternoon became a 3-way channel flipping extravaganza between mennis, baseball, and "American Gladiators" on MTV. I don't know why, but I love this show. Some of the games look like fun. Example: I'd like to try the one where they shoot you out of a rocket up in the air and you have to try to dunk a ball in a basket while being chase by a superhuman-looking gladiator.




As if that wasn't enough sports for the day, I later tuned into the Olympic Trials for swimming and track n field. One of the big stories was Dara Torres, a 41-year old woman who just made the US Olympic team for the 5th time in swimming -- completely demolishing competition half her age!! Pretty amazing. This kind of story is precisely the reason I get hooked on watching sports --- it's the real-life Rocky ... the classic underdog triumph. What's not to love about that?


Next was the piece de resistance -- the kickoff of "I Love Money" on vH1. This show has a bunch of MTV and vH1 reality show losers pitted against each other to try to win $250,000. Contestants are the best of the worst from "I Love New York", "Flavor of Love", and "Rock of Love." A total train wreck, and I love it! Here's Mr. Boston .....



The evening was capped off with an episode of "Entourage" which is onDemand. Eight more episodes out there for my mind-numbing viewing pleasure.



So that's it folks ... sorry I don't have anything more exciting to report. Any other Sunday couch potatoes out there?


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Random Wednesday

Well, I'm pretty much fresh out of ideas. So what happens when I have nothing to write about? I go with the random.

Here goes:

  • I twisted my ankle last week and wiped out in front of a crowd of people. It was a horrific scene -- me, face down on the ground with my shirt all hiked up ... my backpack on my back but hiked up around my neck, and legs and arms everywhere. Tomorrow I'll be getting my thumb x-rayed .... I don't think it's broken, but I still can't move it very well and it's been over a week. Nice eh?

  • Starbucks is closing over 600 stores, 12,000 people nationwide losing their jobs. I can't say I'm surprised -- I mean did they really think people would continue paying $5 for a cup of coffee -- that's higher than a gallon of gas. And for the record, Wawa coffee is better anyway.

  • I have a crush on Sean Murphy the traffic guy on Channel 9's morning news. He's a funny, sarcastic, real-life kinda guy who doesn't act like the typical "carved out of cream cheese" tool on TV. Check him out sometime.

  • I have to give a shout out to thank my friends Pam and Larry for a great party this past weekend. They have a beautiful home in Delaware, with a kick ass pool. Lots of great people, music, food, drink, complete with a round of "Olympic Water Volleyball" in the pool at night. DD and I had a great time -- thanks for inviting us!!!

  • Am excited not to have any plans for this weekend, other than a BBQ Friday night. Am looking forward to just going wherever the wind blows me for a few days.
So what random stuff is going through your head today?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday's Miracle Worker

I took yesterday off to go to a pool party, but am back with yet another miracle worker. This time it's going to be a little strange -- I can't remember the person's name. How horrible, right? This person helped me to the point of changing my life, and I can't even remember his name.

Anyway ....

The person who I want to acknolwedge was my Speech Comm professor at Penn State. The only reason I took the class was because it was required, and I had put it off as long as humanly possible. I even took it over the summer so the class would hopefully be small (which it wasn't) -- I knew I was gonna have to stand up and talk in front of the class, which absolutely terrified me.

When I got to the class, I learned that not only would I have to stand up and talk to the class, but I'd have to do it every single class period. Each class alternated planned and impromptu speeches. ACK!!!!! Seriously, I wanted to drop out right then and there. But I didn't.

Now some of you who know me are probably surprised by this -- you know I'm not exactly shy. Or mousy. Or afraid to tell you my opinion. Or nervous about speaking up.

For the first 12 years of my education, I NEVER said one word in my classes. I always felt like the dumbest kid in the room, and was terrified of saying something stupid or giving a wrong answer. I have no idea why ... I was never publicly flogged for being an idiot or anything, but the idea of talking in class was incredibly intimidating to me. I never raised my hand, never volunteered to solve a problem on the board, never sat in the front half or back row of the room -- blending and becoming invisible were key.

But I could no longer hide once I got to Mr. ?'s Speech Comm class.

It may sound ridiculous, but I really do believe this teacher's course changed the course of my life. The turning point was during my "visual aids" speech about the Top 10 Kinds of Feet That Gross Me Out, where I had drawn pictures and did a Letterman-esque countdown. I had the class rolling with laughter. For me, it was cathartic. In fact, I don't think I've shut up since then!!

I'm convinced that if I hadn't taken that class ... if I hadn't given a funny speech about gross feet .... I could never have been so successful in my career. I went on to teach training classes in one of my first jobs -- a job standing up talking in front of a room of people!! I NEVER could have done that job without that class. I doubt I would have gone on to hold a leadership position in my company -- I talk in front of people all the time now and it doesn't even phase me.

Knowing how my first 17 years were, I think this teacher performed a miracle on me. Now I can't shut up, and you all have him to thank!!