31 August 2011

My day... yesterday

In giving my thoughts about work yesterday, I didn't tell you about my adventures in getting to work yesterday.

First, I mixed up my hand soap with my facial moisturiser.  Then, I dropped my loaded toothbrush onto my bathmat.  And, of course, it fell toothpaste-side down.  I thought I was all good after I got the morning ablutions sorted out.

I got dressed, felt good, and tried to head to work.  At that time of day, the trolley comes pretty often, but I wanted to know which trolley I could catch.  In attempting to look up the trolley schedule, I looked up the NASCAR schedule instead.  Oy.

When I got finally got to work (via a trolley, not via a NASCAR driver), I waited in the lobby while security got my permanent security badge together.  (I had used a temp badge on Monday.  And they're needed!  I need it just to get to the restroom, if I want to use the shortcut through the stairwell.)

While I was sitting there, I noticed that something seemed... odd.  I discreetly checked, using my bag as a shield, and yep - I had arrived to work with my pants unzipped.

I'm happy to report that I arrived to work today with none of that fuss!

30 August 2011

Work... so far

Two days of work down, so far.

Everyone at work is still on their best behaviour with the new girl, so first impressions are a bit skewed (except for the jerkus who sits right beside me - it took him all of a half hour to make a short joke).

They seem to be some freakishly weird cult.  Every email thus far begins with "Welcome to the Board!" and people make it a point to stop by my work space to say hi, introduce themselves, and welcome me.  It's a little disturbing, frankly.

Don't get me wrong - I don't want them going around being grumpuses, but it's all a little Stepford.  If they're this way all the time, I may not fit in.

29 August 2011

Book Review: Breaking Silence

Chief of Police Kate Burkholder has been trying to investigate a string of hate crimes in an Amish community, but the Amish are reluctant to report the crimes, mostly because it would mean involving the English.  Kate understands this mindset since she was raised Amish, although it makes her job no less frustrating.

But when the adults of Amish family are killed leaving four children orphaned, Kate knows she has no choice but to investigate, no matter how the Amish community feels about her involvement.  Have the hate crimes escalated?

The events bring up memories for Kate, and these memories may show that she's too close to the case to be effective.

Read my full review of this captivating mystery here.

28 August 2011

A Mouse Mystery

First thing's first: Felix and I are great.  Irene made a visit to Philly, but I'd like to think that we didn't show her enough of our famed Brotherly Love as to encourage future hurricanes to visit (you hear me, Tropical Storm José?).  There are plenty of people are here sans power and with lots of flooding, but I'm not one of them.  Whew.

I swung by my upstairs neighbour's place today.  He's been buying the pork products from my Angel Food, and since Rachel wasn't able to go with me yesterday, I also foisted the mango off on him, too.  He may end up buying some more things from me, later this week, by the time I see which of the fresh product things I think I'll get through in a timely manner.  It's an arrangement that's working out quite well.

While I was up there, he asked me if I'd noticed any mice in the building lately.  I said I hadn't, but I reminded him that I had Felix.  He said he put out a trap, but a mouse got his tail stuck in it, so then he had to deal with that appropriately.  So then he put out two traps side-by-side.  But then he noticed that the bait was gone... and so was one of the traps.  We were trying to figure out what could have possibly happened.  Because even if the mouse's body part got stuck in the trap and the poor thing hauled it off with him, he could only get so far.  And then the hole the mouse came out of... well, surely the trap couldn't fit back through that hole.  If the hole was THAT big, then he would have noticed said hole and sealed it up.  And he certainly hasn't noticed any traps randomly laying around his flat.

So, dear readers... ideas?  What happened?  Where is the second trap?

27 August 2011

Preparing for Irene

On Thursday, after watching The Weather Channel for several hours and then watching a presser that our mayor had, I decided to head out to Trader Joe's for some basic supplies.  I wanted some non-perishables just in case power went out for several days, and since I have a gas range, I wanted some things I could feasibly open and cook without needing to do anything else.

Yesterday, my friend Sue called and asked if I needed a ride to the store for stuff, which I thought was extremely kind and considerate.  Since my trip to TJ's had been via trolley, I was happy to take her up on her offer.  On the trolley, I can only carry so much -- both in volume and weight.  But going via car, I could get as much as my wallet will allow.

So we set off.  The difference in number of people and stock was day and night!  There was no water left (except sparkling), fresh produce was going like hotcakes (which was not going at all), and the check-out lines were backed up to the end of the store.  It was nearly impossible to shop because of the people standing in line.

One woman got exasperated at Sue when Sue left her cart in the middle of the aisle to get some cream cheese, but I'm not sure where she expected Sue to put the basket since the sides of the aisle were already taken up by people standing in line.  I pointed this out (in my "are you a complete dumbass?" voice) to her, but she just rolled her eyes at me.

Now, if this were a NORMAL day, I would agree with her -- there's no reason to leave a cart in the middle of an aisle.  But, really - let's think about this.  If Sue had rolled her basket to the end of the aisle, and gone back to get the cream cheese, I'm convinced that not everything she had left in the basket would have still been there when she got back to it (again, on a normal day - sure, everything would have been safe.  But yesterday, everything was a valuable commodity.).

Eventually, we got home in one piece.  I spent the rest of the day rinsing out and filling my numerous water bottles, filling my bathtub so I would be able to flush my toilet, charging my phone and laptop, and making sure my tornado bag was ready (I guess now it's a "hurricane bag," but growing up in Tornado Alley, I always call it a "tornado bag".)

Earlier today, I rearranged a few things in my basement and brought Felix's cat carrier upstairs just in case I need to corral him in a safe space.

The difference between tornado prep and hurricane prep actually isn't THAT much (this is my third hurricane, by the way).  I think it's just psychologically more taxing because you hear about the hurricane SOOOOO much more as it approaches.  With a tornado, it comes, it's over, and you move on.

26 August 2011

List #24: Things I Keep in My Office Desk

1. Vitamins
Before I took prescription Vit D, I took that every day.  I take a huge loading dose of Vit C when I think I'm getting sick, and I take a multi when I can remember (so keeping a bottle in my desk is helpful).

2.  Hand-sanitiser
Especially helpful for when people with grubby hands insist on coming in and handling everything.

3.  Feminine hygiene products
For days when I need extra supplies

4.  Hand lotion
Neutrogena, of course.

5.  Facial blotting tissues
Neutrogena, of course.

6.  Chapstick
Do I really need to tell you which brand?

7.  Toothbrush/toothpaste
For days when lunch was garlicky, when I had a dental appointment right after work, or just wanted to freshen up between work and meeting someone after.  Though someone mentioned having the Brush-Ups, and I might do that instead.

8.  Extra nylons in case I got a run in the ones I was wearing
If the run was up the leg, I didn't care.  But I can't stand my toe poking through.  *shudder*

9.  A paring knife
For FRUIT to eat for snacks/lunch, people!  Relax!

10.  A few CDs

11.  My favourite pens
The workplace always supplies pens, but I have a certain pen I prefer.

What are some other suggestions for things I should be toting in?  I won't necessarily be hauling in a huge bag my first day, of course.  But there are some things I'll want right away and some things I'll discover I'll want as I go.  What do you have in your desk/locker?

25 August 2011

Breakfast Brainstorm

I know I usually post recipes on Thursday, but this is still food-related, so you'll just have to live with it.  :P

I'm trying to figure out how to deal with breakfast now that I'll be working again.  My quandary is that I have meds I have to take as soon as I wake up (they have to be taken on a completely empty stomach).  But once I take them, I can't eat for at least 30 minutes.  Now, I'm an evening shower-er (unless the evening has just been exhausting, but I NEVER shower before work since I don't ever use a hair dryer on my hair, and my hair takes several hours to dry - thank you thick, coarse, Asian hair), so my "getting ready for work" routine consists of taking the meds, brushing the teeth/hair, putting on facial moisturiser, and putting clothes on.  And then I'm done.  And believe me when I say that doesn't take nearly 30 minutes.

(If you've ever stayed in a motel with me, you know I mean when I say I can be ready to go within 15 minutes of waking up.)

My point being that if I want to wake up early enough to eat breakfast before I go to work, I'll be waking up quite a bit earlier. 
So, how do you handle breakfast?  Do you eat before you go to work?  Eat on the way to work?  (I don't think this is quite feasible for me since my trolley commute is about 10 minutes - if that.)  Do you pack something and eat it at work?

At my last job, I would usually stow two Lean Cuisines in my bag and have one for breakfast and one for lunch.  But (1) I don't know if I'll be able to do that at this job and (2) I'll be training for the first few months, so even if I can once I'm doing my own work, I'm sure whoever's training me will appreciate me not hauling my Lean Cuisine to their desk.

(Yes, I often eat non-traditional breakfasts - it's how I grew up.  Since my mom often left for work before I did, I often just ate last night's leftovers for breakfast.  Mom saw no harm in it since "if it was a nutritious supper, it's a nutritious breakfast."  So it doesn't bother me at all to have frozen "lunches" for breakfast... despite the comments I got at work for heating up garlic linguine at 8:00 a.m.  I know they were just jealous!)

24 August 2011

My Earthquake Experiences

As many of you know, the East Coast experienced an earthquake yesterday (or, as one reporter stated yesterday, we "saw" an earthquake, which still boggles my mind).

This was actually my second earthquake.  When I was about 12, I was in an earthquake in San Francisco when I was visiting Orin.  He was at work, and I was playing a computer game called Zak McCracken.  l loved that game, but it did have a problem.  Every once in awhile, Zak would get stuck and he'd just be walking into a wall over and over.  And you'd just have to restart the computer.  Back in those days, you'd do this by pushing the big, red "RESET" button on the CPU.  So I did that.

Just as I did that, the building started shaking, I heard a rumbling, car alarms outside started going off, and I thought, "Holy crap!  I just wanted to start Zak over!"  A few seconds later, the phone rang.  It was Orin.  "You okay, kid?"

Wait - what?  He's all the way at work and he ALREADY KNOWS what I did??????

"Yeah..?  I'm okay." 
"Congratulations.  You've lived through your first earthquake."
"Heh.  Ohhhhhhh."

And then I told him I thought I had caused it all.

Yesterday, Ria was getting ready to leave.  We were sitting on the couch when the rumbling noise started and the building began to shake.  The noise and the shaking steadily got louder/noticeably more... uh, shaky, and I looked at Ria and said, "Are we having an EARTHQUAKE?"

There are some construction workers on my block, working on the top dome of the church.  I heard one of them shout, just as the dog next door began barking like crazy, and Felix scampered off of his window ledge and started doing that half-crawling/half-walking thing cats do when they're frightened.  Poor guy.  (Although he recovered quite quickly when I crunched his treat bag.)

I heard that the 'quake was felt from NC to Canada and as far west as western Ohio.  Any good stories?

23 August 2011

Chilling with Ria and Curt

Ria and Curt helped their daughter Angie move back in to Temple yesterday.  As is custom, as soon as her stuff was unloaded, they were ceremoniously kicked out, which left them free to hang out with me.  Yay!  We had lunch at Chickie's and Pete's, where I introduced them to the wonder that is Crab Fries.

We also went to Target, where I crawled around on the ground in an attempt to fix the truck (I failed miserably).  We hit Modell's, in an attempt to de-funk-ify my sneakers (we failed miserably).  We then hit up Lowe's, where we were more successful -- Curt got a screwdriver set he wanted, and I got some keys made, some sneaker odour-remover stuff, AND I pictures of Chad Knaus!  (Okay, a fake Chad, and not even Mini Chad, but a Chad nonetheless).  Ria got an even better picture of him, and we decided it shall be my screen-saver for my new job.

From there, we headed to my place to hang out and let lunch settle until we deemed it time for supper.  We hit up Pattaya, where they generously treated me to supper as a "congrats on the job" meal - yay!  I didn't realise this was Curt's first foray into Thai food!  A great time was had by all, I think.  I got the drunken noodles, Ria got the late night noodles, and Curt got something that wouldn't kill him (sans shellfish and peanuts).

Curt headed home, Ria and I watched and episode of "Brad Meltzer's Decoded" (it's my mission to get everyone hooked on this show), then we hit the hay.  Today, we hit the Gold Standard Café for breakfast, then the post office where Ria nearly got us kicked out for making a scene, the pet shop, and then back to my place for two more episodes of "Decoded."  (Ria's nearly through Season One - just in time for Season Two!)

Just as she was about to leave, the earthquake hit!  More on that tomorrow!

I also want to give a huge shout-out to Julie who sent me an über-sweet note of luck and encouragement yesterday because she thought it was my first day of work.  It truly is the thought that counts.  Thank you!

22 August 2011

Book Review: Unsaid

Helen Colden was a veterinarian.  She has died, but she can't cross over because she's afraid that the animals she had euthanised will meet her and judge her.  So she lingers and watches her husband, her menagerie of animals, and her friends try to cope with life without her.

One of her friends (Jaycee) gets involved in an animals rights issue, and Helen holds the key to the case.  Jaycee asks Helen's husband (an attorney) for help, but he doesn't understand why he never knew about Helen's involvement in all of this or how he can help since this isn't the type of law he normally practices.

Read my full review here.

21 August 2011

My Verizon Story: Part III

I called Dispatch again this morning as soon as they opened (that's 8:00 a.m., btw, in case you ever need them).  I was told that the tech hadn't updated the ticket, and that if a pair switch was the issue, the problem would most likely take 72 hours to fix.  I went a little ballistic on the supervisor I then asked to speak to after I was told in great detail about the work stoppage and why they couldn't help me.  I told them to stop telling me what they COULDN'T do for me and to start telling me what they COULD do for me.

I also told them that I thought it was odd that if I called them and told them I couldn't pay my bill because I had a work stoppage and was unemployed, they wouldn't "just deal with it," they would cut my service off.  But they expected me to be understanding.  At that point, the call with the supervisor mysteriously got disconnected.  Interesting.  He did call back about ten minutes later, with a promise to monitor the ticket.  Gee, thanks.

At exactly 2:15 p.m., the dispatcher from the previous night (who had promised to monitor the ticket and follow up when she got back into the office) called me.  She said the ticket had been update overnight (interesting, right?) and that the problem was NOT a pair in Central Office, but that it was an underground cable.  The problem had been assigned to a new tech group, and would not be worked on until Thursday due to...... the work stoppage.

At this point, I began going door-to-door in my building asking neighbours if I could borrow their network for a week.  You'd be surprised how few of my neighbours use wifi!

20 August 2011

My Verizon Story: Part II

The tech arrived today at 3:18 p.m. (after I called Dispatch twice to make SURE he was coming and then got two different stories about this).  He called and was indignant that I didn't answer the door after he had been knocking for awhile.  Uh, dude - I live on the second floor of an apartment building.

After doing whatever he does, he informed me that the problem wasn't mine (gee, thanks), but with a pair at Central Office.  Once that was switched, I'd be back in business.  When I asked him how long that would take to fix, he said once he put the order in, it could take a few hours or up until tomorrow.  I let him know that I needed my internet to do daily work.  (Again, volunteer work, but it's work that at least a few hundred people depend on me for, and I take my commitments seriously.)  He said he would let them know so they could prioritise my job.

I waited a few hours and called Dispatch to check on where my job was in the queue at Central Office.  The ticket hadn't been updated by the tech.  And they couldn't call him to ask him to do this because local dispatch had already closed, but that if it was a pair, it would take 24-48 hours to fix.  They asked me to call back tomorrow morning.  I asked what good that would do - if the tech hadn't updated the ticket yet, why did they think he would do so between now and tomorrow morning when he's off-duty?  I was told he might have told local dispatch the necessary information but not updated the ticket.  Uh, yeah - THAT seems likely.

We'll see.

19 August 2011

List #23: People I Don't Want to Date

Lately, I've been trying to ask my friends to set me up with their single friends.  But in addition to the usual qualities I'm looking for in a person (intelligent, good sense of humour, etc.), I've also been weeding out certain occupations wholesale.

1.  Plastic surgeons
I'd be too worried they'd be looking at me as a canvas.  I'd keep waiting for them to say, "Have you ever considered...?"  "NO!  And why are you asking me?"  I just don't need that in my life.

2.  Therapists
Therapy has its time and place, and it's not in my everyday life.  It's especially not when I'm trying to tell my bf/gf about my bad day, and it's ESPECIALLY not when we're having an argument.  "Are you SURE this is what you're really upset about?"  "YES!  I'm actually upset about you leaving your friggin' underwear in the middle of the kitchen floor!  This is NOT about anything else!"

3.  Archeologists
This was actually suggested by my friend who happens to be one.  She said this because they go off on digs for months at a time several thousand miles away.  And what happens in the forests of Brazil, stays in Brazil... until it gives you a nasty disease.  Oops.  Okay, she didn't actually add that last part -- my imagination did.  But you get the drift.

4. Prostitutes
In this day and age, there are just too many diseases.  And I'm not that confident about anything, really.

(which brings me to...)

5.  Strippers
I used to be friends with a stripper.  She ended up dating a lot of her "clients," which I guess cut out the awkward "So, what do you do for a living" conversation that often comes up on a first date.  But I don't think I could deal with the jealousy issues knowing that my bf/gf would go to work just to be ogled.

Is there any particular occupation that would turn you off?

18 August 2011

Recipe: Mexican Lasagna

1 lb ground meat
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepped, chopped
1 T chili powder
 8 oz cream cheese
1 can enchilada sauce
8 oz shredded Mexican cheese

1.  Brown ground meat with onion and pepper.  Drain.

2.  Stir in chili powder and cream cheese until cream cheese is melted.

3.  Put enchilada sauce in a bowl.  Dip tortillas in enchilada sauce, and line a 9 x 13" pan with one layer of tortillas.  Layer 1/3 cheese, 1/2 meat mixture and another layer of tortillas.  Repeat layers, ending with a cheese layer.

4.  Bake for 20 minutes at 400º.

Notes: I didn't specify how many tortillas because it will depend on which size you use.  Mom used 12" tortillas and only used 2 per layer.  I went with 6" tortillas and used 4 per layer.  If you decide to go with 8", good luck.  Mom used wheat tortillas, which are apparently more absorbent.  She used all of the enchilada sauce.  I used corn tortillas, and it was clear after the first layer that I had way more than 2/3 of the can left, so I started spooning the sauce on liberally after each layer.  At the end, I sprinkled the sauce over the cheese.

This was absolutely delicious.

17 August 2011

My Verizon Story

Rachel and I left my house yesterday around 11:30 a.m., and my internet worked then.

When I got home at 6:30 p.m., it did not.  After trying various things, I gave up and called Verizon technical support, whereupon I was informed that because of the Verizon strike, I could not a technician to my house until 01 September.  I told them that was unacceptable because I have a job that requires me to be online every day (granted, it's a volunteer job, but it's one that takes several hours of my day, and one that I take very seriously).

I was told that to try to get an early appointment date, I would need to call a different number.  I asked about a credit on my bill.  For that, I need to call billing.  That was when I asked to talk to a supervisor.  I talked to a man I will call C.  He informed me he would take care of both of these issues for me, and he would call me back within 20-30 minutes to let me know if he could get me an earlier appointment.  We hung up at 7:50 p.m.

At 8:30 p.m, he called back, asked me when I was available tomorrow (today) and Thursday.  I told him.  He said he was still working on it and would call me "right back."  I called him back at 10:10 p.m. and he stated he was still working on it and would call me back when he knew something.  He called me back at 10:40 p.m., and he said that no appointments were available sooner than 01 September, but he kept that appointment for me (so I wouldn't lose it), he was leaving a notation for the say supervisor to call me in the morning in case an appointment the next day (today) opened up.  He promised the day supervisor would call me between 7:00 and 9:00 a.m.

I waited until 9:54 a.m. and called.  I spoke to a man I will call A.  He said there was no such notation in my account from C that I was to be called.  Further, he had no idea who C was.  And he isn't sure who C was talking to last night since scheduling closes at 6:00 p.m.  I asked A if he could try to get me an earlier appointment.  No, because he's tech support.  When I kept pushing, A changed to "I COULD call, but I know what they'll say."  When I kept pushing, he changed it to "I'll call and keep you on the line so you can hear me."  Then he came back and said that they didn't even answer the line, which is why he didn't patch me through.  But that he would keep trying.  And he would make sure my bill was credited for 15 days.  I pointed out that I would be without service for 16 days.  He said the most he could do without calling Billing was 15 days.  I suggested he call Billing, then.

I also pointed out that I've had Verizon for less than three years, this is the third time I've had to have a technician to my house, and the first time, it took them nearly two months to right the problem.  He tried to look it up in my account, but conveniently they've switched to a new system, and my first problem with them is no longer in their system.  Interesting.  I also informed him that while he's working on trying to get me an earlier appointment and get my bill credited, I'll be working on checking out other ISPs because I'm tired of all of these shenanigans.  Clearly, either he or C is lying to me, and I don't feel like paying a company every month who employs people who can't tell the truth to their customers, especially when those people are at the supervisory level.

Suddenly, A says, "I've been looking at your account while we've been talking, and I think if I work with the Status Department, I can get someone to your house by 26 August."

I decided at that point to call Customer Service to let them know about what was going on in this office (which is an office not in this country but very nearby).  After being transferred four times, I finally got in touch with a lovely woman, S, who actually is based in the Philadelphia Field Office.  She had no record of any of my calls to tech support (although she readily admitted that tech support may use a different system that she couldn't access), so she couldn't really track my calls to/from C and A, but she did record my version of events and that I had been told two ENTIRELY different things by two different supervisors.  But she did transfer me to Scheduling so I could verify my appointment.

Apparently, I had an appointment for 26 August.  I asked if I could be moved up.  I was given the number for Dispatch.  I explained that I needed an earlier appointment for a job.  After another hour, I got an appointment for some time between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. this Friday.

And Verizon can still bite me.

16 August 2011

Shopping for Work Clothes

A quick one because time is limited.

Rachel and I did well today.  Between Goodwill and Kohl's I scored four pair of pants and seven tops (well, six blouses and a sweater to wear over blouses, especially over sleeveless types of things).  All for just under $50!

And Mom and Rachel got to bond on the phone about how awful I am to shop with.  Mom correctly predicted how I react to certain things, and when Rachel said, "Yep!" Mom said, "I'd drive off and leave her there."


15 August 2011

Book Review: The Sixes

Phoebe Hall has turned to teaching after being disgraced as a Hollywood biographer.  Despite her PR team disputing the charges of plagiarism, she can't get away from the scandal.  Her boarding school friend happens to be president of a small private college and offers her a job teaching writing classes.

Shortly after her arrival, however, Lyle College becomes plagued with a series dead bodies.  Glenda (Phoebe's friend and Lyle's president) asks Phoebe to use her research skills to discreetly look into what might be going on, suspecting that a secretive group known as The Sixes might be involved.

This was an excellent mystery.  Read my full review here.

14 August 2011

Gearing Up

As you know, my last week was filled with meeting friends and catching up.

This coming week is equally filled with "stuff" to do.  Tomorrow, I'm actually waiting for the DIRECTV person to come.  I got tired of losing a satellite signal every time the wind blows hard or the sky even LOOKS like it MIGHT rain, so I called today.  They actually had appointments available for tomorrow, so I'll be here either knitting or reading while I wait.

Tuesday, my friend Rachel and I are going work clothes shopping.  We have a plan!  I have gone through my work pants and have sorted them into "definitely don't fit," "don't fit well, but I might be able to make them work until I have actually started working and can afford to buy more clothes," and "definitely fit" piles.  The problem, though, was that my "definitely fit" pants are black, navy blue, grey, and grey.  Great colours for mixing and matching my tops, but I don't want my new co-workers to think I'm wearing the same pair of pants to work every day.

So, Rachel will come here, she'll help me decide which pile the "maybe I can make them work" pants go in, we'll look at the tops I have, and then we'll go shopping.  Since I'm an AWFUL clothes shopper, I'm also treating her to lunch.  It's the least I can do for what I'll be putting her through.

I have an appointment in the city on Thursday.

Then, next week, my friend Ria will be here visiting Felix Monday and Tuesday, and Thursday I'll be helping out a friend in the suburbs.  And that's my last week of unemployment!

In the meantime, here's what I've been doing to gear up for work:
  • adjusting my sleep schedule so I'm going to bed earlier/waking up earlier
  • getting my work clothes in order
  • doing laundry (see bullet point #2)
I've been out of work now for just over a year and a half, so tell me -- what am I forgetting?

13 August 2011

Shark Finning

I'm a huge fan of Chef Gordon Ramsay.  If there's a show with him in it, I'll watch it.  I was especially last week when EW (Entertainment Weekly) was taking shots at him for appearing in something like four different shows in one week (MasterChef, Hell's Kitchen, The F Word, and Shark Bait).  EW has a feature every issue called "What to Watch" where they highlight several shows each night.

For Monday, they highlighted MasterChef with the joke, "Sometimes I think I just can't get enough of that Gordon Ramsay.  And then Tuesday comes.  (This joke has delayed gratification.  See tomorrow's listings!)

Tuesday had this to offer.  "Gordon Ramsay's F Word: Wow.  Again?  It's a good thing Gordon's not on another show tonight or I'd get really sick of him."  And "MasterChef: The final five contestants have to re-create signature dishes from...you guessed it! Gordon Ramsay!"  And "Gordon Ramsay's Shark Bait: Seriously, dude.  Take a vacation."

I was bummed that I forgot to record Shark Bait.  Stupid.  So I was happy when I woke up this morning and BBC America was kindly replaying it.  Until I watched it and sank into a depression and anger I haven't felt in a long time.

He started by discussing his eldest daughter and how she's obsessed by sharks.  Then he discussed shark fin soup.  Now, anyone familiar with Chef Ramsay knows he makes a sport of poking fun at vegetarians (while revering the humane killing of animals and ensuring that all meat is cooked well since an animal gave its life for that meal).  So I was a little scared of where this show was going to go and what was in store for his daughter.  Thankfully, Matilda was left home for this road trip.

He discussed the history of shark fin soup - it was originally served only to emperors and empresses, so it's now a status symbol to eat it, although it's readily available in Asia, even from street vendors.  However, because the shark fins are in such demand, fishers are using illegal means to obtain the fins -- a practice known as finning.

Finning is when they catch the sharks, cut the fins off (usually while the shark is still alive), then throw the shark back in the water to die.  They do this because the shark meat will no longer be valuable when they get back to dock.  Additionally, these morons do not care which sharks they kill.  There was footage of them killing a hammerhead shark, which is endangered.  (This was the point at which I had to stop eating breakfast.  Mind, I've watched surgeries, and I had a hard time watching this.)  Chef Ramsay found a baby hammerhead, which he estimated to be a year old, dead and thrown aside on the back of a truck.  Hammerheads do not reach sexual maturity until 15 years and they can only reproduce once a year.

In the past decade, the shark population has dropped an estimated 60% because of practices related to finning and supplying restaurants with fins for shark fin soup.  This also means that, since sharks are at the top of the oceanic food chain, this is having disastrous consequences for the marine ecosystem.

At the end of the show, Chef Ramsay had gathered restaurant managers from the leading Chinese restaurants in London, educated them, and asked them to stop serving shark fin soup.  They agreed.  He is also now a patron of The Shark Trust.

Since I was mired in a sinkhole of depression after the show,  I decided to see what other progress has been made.

Hawai'i recently became the first place to completely outlaw the possession of shark fins.  So serving shark fin soup at all is now illegal.  Oregon and Washington followed.  California is considering a similar bill, but the Chinese-American lobby is resisting, citing cultural issues.  However, some of the legislators supporting the bill are Chinese-Americans.

12 August 2011

List #22: Would-be Celeb Indulgences

If I had celebrity millions to spend, I would indulge in the following:

1.  New sheets when the sheets were changed.  I don't need new sheets every day, and I don't mean freshly washed sheets every day.  I mean brand-spanking new sheets.  Crisp, new, never-before slept on sheets.  But I'd like my blanket and quilt to remain the same.  I would, of course, donate the "old" sheets every time changing.

My mom said she would want freshly washed sheets every day, so I told her when my housekeepers changed the sheets, I could have them wash them and send them to her house.

2.  A trainer.  The gym I used to go to gave free training sessions when you joined, and I loved the trainer I worked with (Melissa).  She was really awesome, and I miss working out with her.  I can't really justify the cost of working with someone now, but I'd if I had celeb wealth, I would definitely splurge.

3.  An interior decorator.  I don't want someone to totally do everything for me, but I definitely need help in this department.  I know which colours I like, but I suck at knowing how to place things so that it doesn't look like I just threw pictures on a wall haphazardly.  Or how to place my furniture in such a way that maximizes my space - all those things that decorators know and do.

4.  A personal shopper who will just go buy clothes for me and alter them so I never have to try anything on ever again.  I hate clothes shopping.  HATE it.  God bless Rachel who is going work clothes shopping with me on Tuesday next week.  She has done this with me before (when I needed to buy a suit for our thesis defence/job interviews) and she told me told not to wear my sourpuss face and grumble about her making me try everything on.

5.  I don't want a cook/personal chef because I love cooking, but sometimes I wish I had someone who could suggest things to cook.  For instance, Angel Food almost always has a head of cabbage in their fruit and veggie box.  And I'm running out of ideas for what to do with cabbage.  It'd be nice to have someone who knows my tastes AND my dietary restrictions (low-carb, low-gluten, and pork-free) who can suggest things.

6.  I would need a super-large freezer to hold most of the Ben and Jerry's flavours.  I like a lot of them, and it's difficult to decide what I'm in the mood for.  If I was a celeb, though, I wouldn't have to limit myself to the couple of pints that (1) I can afford and (2) my freezer will hold.  So I can just stock up.

7.  I will have frozen egg noodles shipped to me (and Ria) on a regular basis.

If you were a celeb, what things would you indulge in?

11 August 2011

Recipe: Cream Cheese Italian Chicken

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup Italian dressing
1 t dried minced onion
8 oz cream cheese, softened
10 oz cream of mushroom soup
1 package wide egg noodles

1.  Place chicken in Crock Pot.  Cover with Italian dressing and dried minced onion.

2.  Cook on low for 4 hours.

3.  Mix together softened cream cheese and soup.  Pour mixture into Crock Pot.

4.  Continue cooking on low for 2 more hours.

5.  Cook egg noodles according to package directions.  Serve chicken over noodles.

Notes: You can substitute one package of dried Italian dressing mix and 1/2 c water for the 1/2 c of dressing.  I initially tried this with rice because I didn't have egg noodles -- don't do that.  Definitely use egg noodles.  Learn from my mistake, okay?

10 August 2011

Can Someone Explain...

why doing so little is so exhausting?

All I did today was walk through the city, have an appointment with my therapist, walk back through the city, buy some egg noodles, buy a few things at Trader Joe's that I need to make a recipe for tomorrow, and then come back home.  And then I fell asleep watching tv tonight.

I'm chalking it up to walking around in the sun (unlike all of the other summer days this year that I've walked around this year).

So far, this week has been great.  On Monday, I got to have lunch with my friend Anjeanette, which was MUCH overdue.  I wish we had more time -- stupid work lunch hours!

On Tuesday, I had lunch with my friend Shelley, which was even more overdue than spending time with Anjeanette.  Again, we needed more time.  Again -- stupid work lunch hours!

Sometime in the next couple of days, I expect to hear from my friend Kristi, and we'll be making plans for this weekend so I can see her while she's in town.  I suspect that will also be too short of a visit, but not because of work.

I'll try to write something more exciting this weekend.  There's a GREAT recipe in store for you tomorrow!

09 August 2011

Phone Calls with Mom

Those of you who have read for awhile know about the various conversations Mom and I have had about the tv show "The Mentalist."  We were at it again Friday.

Mom: There's nothing good on tv tonight.
Me: Watch what I'm going to watch.  No, wait - never mind.  You never like my suggestions.
Mom: I like that show with that mentally ill guy!
(Then she has a giggle fit.)

Me (laughing): He's not mentally ill!  He's the Mental-IST!
Mom (laughing harder): Ohhhhhhh.
Me: Well, do you know what I'm going to watch tonight?
Mom: Okay.
Me: It's on ABC.  Do you know which channel that is?
Mom: No.
Me.  Oy.  It's Bryan Busby's [a local news meteorologist] channel.
Mom: Oh, that's channel 9, that's really channel 12.
Me: Uh-huh, anyway, it's going to be on there at seven o'clock your time.
Mom: So, Bryan Busby at seven.
Me: Otherwise known as ABC.
Mom: I don't know what ABC is!  I can't remember all those!  Just tell me what channel!
Me: Mom, I don't know what channel it is for you!  For me it's channel 6!
Mom: That's ESPN.
Me: Oh my God.  (pause)  So, are you going to watch?
Mom: I don't know.  I don't keep the remote.
Me: Then why are you griping about being bored tonight?
Mom: Well, I want to enjoy what I'm stuck watching!
Me: Then tell him to change the channel!
Mom: He won't listen to me.
Me: Oh my God.  Which one here is mentally ill?

08 August 2011

Book Review: Pinch Me

Lily Burns had always heard the same thing from her mother and grandmother, but she was never sure why -- never marry a man unless he's short, bald, fat, stupid, and treats you badly.  Then she fell in love with an attractive, charming, intelligent paediatrician named Gogo (don't worry - it's not his real name).

It ends up that the women in her family have all been cursed.  If they marry out of love, they will face unimaginable consequences.  Lily explains this to Gogo, and he whisks her off to Vegas to be eloped.  And she suddenly wakes up in an alternate universe where he has no idea who she is and is happily married to another woman!

This was the story about a woman in love, determined to beat the odds.  Read my full review here.

07 August 2011

This Week

So far this week, I have lunch scheduled with two friends - both are people I haven't seen in awhile.  One I haven't seen in several months, and the other I literally haven't seen in years, although we have kept in touch.  It's a little ridiculous that we haven't seen each other since she works in the city, but she travels a lot for her job and when I worked, I worked on the opposite side of the city.  When I didn't work, I didn't really have the extra money to be travelling to the city just for a lunch that I couldn't necessarily afford.

But I do want to see her this week since she served as a job reference and helped me network and all that good stuff.  Also, I'm going to be inviting her to my "Yay - I Got a Job!" celebratory supper, but her daughter is getting married in two weeks (a large wedding with a LOT of out-of-towners coming in), so it seemed like getting together for lunch was a safer way to go.

I have an appointment on Wednesday.

And an out-of-town friend will be in town this weekend.  Her daughter has a Girls Rock Philly concert on Saturday.  I was invited to it, and while I'd love to support Iris, I didn't want that to be our "catching up" time.  I'd much rather have time alone to ACTUALLY be able to talk since I haven't seen Kristi since she moved to South Carolina.  Again, she and I have kept in touch, but much of that has been about her book, my job search, and other blah stuff.  I really want to actually TALK to her.

Finally, plans for this week are a little difficult because I may or may not be working at the part-time job I mentioned last week.  It's increasingly looking like I won't be, but I'm trying not to book up too much since I hate breaking commitments.  So pretty much every plan that I make is with the caveat that the plan is tentative unless it's an evening plan.  Blech.

06 August 2011

The Co-Workers

I called my sister last week to let her know that I FINALLY had a job, and she was excited for me.  What she hadn't known (until last week) was that I was down to my last nine weeks of unemployment.

Since I've been unemployed for the last year and half now, I told my sister, "Okay, I need to get something straight now.  I've forgotten how this goes."  "What's that?" she asked.

"What's the roster of annoying people I'll be working with?  You know what I mean... how there's always THOSE people."

We came up with "The One Who Knows Everything" (who may or may not be the same person as "The One Who Can Do Everything Better/Faster"), "The Slacker," and "The Finger Pointer" (aka: It Isn't MY Fault and Here's Why).

But in her current job, she doesn't actually work with people much anymore, so she's kind of forgotten how this goes. 

So, I'm asking you: who am I missing?

05 August 2011

List #21: Lies My Mom Told Me

Every parent tells the little lies.  But these are the lies my mom told just because she could. 

1.  Anyone remember "The People's Court" when it was still with Judge Wapner?  We used to watch that every day.  And when they would go to commercial in the middle of a longer case, they would freeze the frame.  When I was a kid, I obviously didn't understand a "freeze-frame," so I asked Mom how they did that.  She told me they had an artist who drew the people they way they were and when they came back from commercial, they had the people get back in position they way the guy had drawn them.

2.  When Price Chopper (our grocery store) started using a scanner at the check-out, I was FASCINATED and didn't understand how it worked.  Mom told me that the Price Chopper man (the mascot for the store was a guy in a butcher apron with a tiny axe who would chop the prices) was inside the scanner and he worked in the machine all day.  Sometimes she would even pick me up, and then she'd tell me I hadn't looked fast enough.  Occasionally, I'd go to the cashier for confirmation.  "Is that true?"  One cashier hedged one day and I got suspicious.

3.  When I fell asleep in the car and Mom wanted to wake me up before we got home (so she didn't have to deal with carrying me in or waste the extra minutes waking me up when we got home), she'd yell, "OH MY GOD!  There's an elephant!"  I have no idea why, but this worked for years.  This cracks my mom up to this day.  "But you fell for it EVERY TIME!"  (In my defence, I didn't want to miss the elephant standing by I-70!  Would you????)

I'm sure there are others, but these are the ones that have apparently scarred me for life.

04 August 2011

Recipe: Hamburger Hot Pot

The basis for the recipe came from Ravelry, and then I embellished it.  I'll post the base here, and then give the rest in my "notes" section.

1 lb ground beef
1/4 t garlic powder
1 t salt
1/4 pepper
3 potatoes, chopped
3 medium onions, chopped
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 soup-can full of water

Brown ground beef, adding garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

In Crock Pot, layer half of the potatoes, half of the onions, the beef mixture, the rest of the potatoes, then the rest of the onions.  Combine the soup with the water, and pour mixture on top, covering evenly.

Cook on high 3-4 hours.

NOTES: The recipe was the second attempt by someone and the first time, she had put in all of the onions raw.  The second time, she cooked the onions before adding them in.  I decided to cook half of my onions with the ground beef and put the other half in raw and see what the results were.  I honestly couldn't tell the difference.  Next time, I'll just put them all in raw.

I had a pound of frozen sliced carrots from Angel Food, so I added them in.  I decided they would get cooked enough in 4 hours time, and I was right.  I also had some leftover peas (previously frozen - thank you again, Angel Food), but since these were cooked, I put them in near the end of the cooking time.  This turned out REALLY well.  The only thing I would do differently next time is put in more soup since I added a bunch of extra stuff, and it came out really thick.

03 August 2011

Good new Wednesday

Guess who got a job offer today!

I actually received a call yesterday from another organisation about temporary, part-time work that has a potential to turn into full-time work, but I knew that I had a full-time offer pending.  I hadn't told many people about this offer because they were doing a background check, and I was going to be EXTREMELY embarrassed if I didn't pass the background check.

I explained to the part-time offer that I had a pending offer (I'm actually friends with this person, so I didn't mind giving her details), but even if the offer came through, I didn't know when I'd start, etc., and that I may be able to help out until I start the other job.

So I may have a job and a half!

02 August 2011

My Lazy Day

I had an unintentionally lazy day today.

Last night, my window AC unit suddenly decided that it wanted to tilt in.  I won't bore you with the details, but I know what went wrong.  The building maintenance guy is great, and every once in awhile when I need something personal done, I'll call him and pay him to put shelves up or something.  So I called him this morning.

Me: Hey, will you in my neighbourhood sometime today?
Him: Why?
Me: Why you gotta sound all suspicious?
Him: Why?
Me: You know, maybe I baked you cake!
Him: Uh-huh.  What do you need done?
Me: Well, see... it's like this...

He told me if I hadn't heard from him by noon, to give him a call.  Thankfully, today was one of those days where it was MUCH cooler outside than it was inside, especially with the nice, cool breeze, so I sat on my porch with a bottle of water and read a book.  And I texted him around 12:45 p.m. to remind him.  Then I called him around 2:00 p.m.  He said he was caught up on a job, but he'd be there in about 45 minutes.  And he got there around 3:30 p.m., just as I finished my book.

He installed my unit permanently, drilled that sucker into the window, caulked it up, etc.  I have air again!  Yay!  And he said he'll probably be back this Friday or Saturday with my new toilet.  Exciting!

01 August 2011

Book Review: Deed to Death

Toni Matthews nearly has it all -- she has a great career as a real estate agent, and a great fiancée, who is successful in his field (he's an architect).  But three days before their wedding, Scott's body is found at the foot of one of the building's his company has been working on.

The investigation concludes that he committed suicide, but Toni refuses to accept this.  Her friends understandably chalk this up to denial.  What person wouldn't have a difficult time accepting this when they bury the man they're supposed to marry... on the actual wedding day?

Toni launches her own investigation, which reveals some shocking revelations.

Read my full review here.