Wednesday, October 31, 2007

It's Here!

And the box it comes in is smaller than my hand. I love Apple's minimalistic packaging. They are so good at marketing and design, it makes me want to buy all that is Apple. That's how they suck you in and get you to buy their stuff even if it is generally 20% more expensive than the non-Apple comparable model. Thankfully, I have fiscal restraint.

Anyway, the bummer is that I can't play with my new toy until like 8pm tonight because I agreed to sub yet more yoga classes this week. So I can only look longingly at the cute little package and count down the hours.

The other funny thing with the iPod was how it got here. Apple Store shipped it directly from China (Shenzhen). So the FedEx tracking system showed Shenzhen as the origin. It then stopped in Anchorage, Alaska. About an hour later, it was sent to Indianapolis, Indiana. Four hours later, it got security clearance (since it's an Int'l package) and went to San Diego. It arrived in Carlsbad on my desk just 4 hours after it landed in California. This package moved around so fast, it is crazy. It began its journey around 2pm PT in China on Monday and arrived before 10am PT on Wednesday. China --> Alaska --> Indiana --> California in less than 44 hours. Many props to FedEx.

(And I chose to engrave my Red Nano with a quote from A. J. Muste: "There is no way to peace. Peace is the way." I had to use something with meaning because I am a dork. I also thought about "Party Like It's Inaguration Day 2009", but then I thought that if Giuliani somehow gets elected President I would be annoyed whenever I looked at the back of my iPod.)

How Low Can You Go?

That is a good question for the US Dollar. One Canadian Dollar now gets you 1.0602 USD (this is insanity since only 5 years ago $1 CAN was about $0.65 US). Oil is up to $95 a barrel. However, we are still not in a recession... which is interesting. But we are still cutting rates. Now, I've been confused by our economy before, but my level of confusion is at an all-time high, and it's not because I know diddly-squat about money. I do have a minor in Economics, so I am not a complete idiot when it comes to this stuff.

Anyway, I am perplexed. The dollar is doing REALLY badly. Inflation is a threat (and I can see it as a consumer -- prices have risen quite a bit in the last year or so on basics like food). The GDP has yet to contract (it even grew 3.9% last quarter).

So why are we cutting rates?

The only rationalization I can come to for cutting rates is the sub-prime mortgage cluster-f*ck. The only way to stop it from becoming a gigantor black hole sucking down everything in it's proximity is to keep rates low so lenders/banks can continue to operate. The Fed must feel that the sub-prime debacle could have VERY icky consequences if they don't do something to keep it under control. For most of middle-class America, our biggest asset is our house. If that plummets in value, it's like impoverishing the middle-class, who are really supporting the economy through consumption of goods and services (cute little iPod... 6 more hours).

But even with my layman's assessment, I am still scratching my head at the situation. And I still believe that if we could just get out of Iraq, and stop spending SO MUCH MONEY, we would see our economy improve.

Oh well. Maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. Or maybe I am on to something. But why do I even think about these things? Other people can just go about their day not worrying about 1/2 the stuff I worry about. Not me. The noggin is going, going, going. Topic A [connect --> jump] Topic B [jump] Topic C [jump] Topic M [jump] Banana [jump] Potassium [jump] Sodium [jump] Cottage Cheese [jump] lunch [jump] ... you get my point.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Let's Go Red Sox!

My aching everything.

Seriously. The fires forced me to take a week-long break from yoga. I went to a Saturday morning class (intermediate/advanced) at one of the studios where I teach and holy moly. I am still sore 2 days later with no apparent relief in sight (I almost wrote "site". Nice. Good thing for my Ivy League education). I mean, the way my back feels you'd think my weekend was spent carrying a goat on my back up a large mountain.

So, as I have said before, it is bad to take long breaks from yoga as when you get back you are in for a world of hurt [it is good hurt though :o) ].

And my muscles better suck it up because I am scheduled to teach 4 classes in the next 2 days. (Update: possibly 6 in 3 days. The Y coordinator left me a vm asking about teaching two on Halloween... wait that is 8 in 4 days since I have 2 on Thursday. Crap. You will need to peel me off my bed on Friday morning because I won't have the energy to do it myself).

(for the love of Pete. shortly after writing this I got ANOTHER call about subbing on Halloween at LA Fitness. At least I could say no to that because I am already on the hook at the Y. I should have some kids quick so that I have an excuse not to sub for EVERYONE on Halloween.)

The Caramel Apples That Were Not

Well, in my infinite wisdom (and also in the interest of saving a buck), I chose not to use pre-made caramels (those little squares with the clear wrapper) for the apple-dipping. I had found this recipe which looked oh-so-simple (just light brown suger, butter, and water. No double-boiler, etc). Well, it was crap. It never attained any kind of gooey or even remotely sticky consistency that it needs to be able to STICK to the apple. It was like water brown sugar. I thought maybe if I let it sit, it will congeal. No. Nothing. It just started crystallizing and looking like really bad melted Vermont Maple-Syrup candy (I miss that stuff! Used to get some whenever we went to New Hampshire for the family fall hiking trip).

So no apples. I am a little bummed. However, I am not all pissy about it which is good. I think maybe 4 or 5 years ago I might have gotten all annoyed with myself, but I let it go, mostly. And what am I taking away from this? That next time I must use the little square caramels because I am not Martha Stewart and am not able to create gooey caramel from scratch.

Anxiously Awaiting my Little Red Gadget

After pining away at iPods for at least a year, we have finally purchased the new Nano. Yay! I am kind of happy with my exercised restraint though because had we bought them only a few months back, we would have had our knickers in a bunch, fit-to-be-tied, etc, because the newer ones are way cooler, and the 8GB model is now $199 as opposed to the $249 is used to be (and only came in black!).

So, I am not going to obsess and check the order status online in a compulsive manner.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Stop, Drop, and Roll? No? Run for Your Life? Yes?

Waiting for the smoke to clear...

As I watched the Sox win the Pennant, we were notified via scrolling text there were two major fires in SD county, one at something like 2000 acres and the other at 5000 acres. That's big but when I thought back to every fire season we have had, it was nothing, so I said, well, it's not good, but still small so, not to worry. It was miles and miles away, east of Ramona.

I woke up the next morning to the beginning of Armageddon. Oceanside still looked peaceful and calm, blue skies. Drove to work in Carlsbad, saw a huge red cloud and found out the office was closed because the area might be evacuated. The 3 days the followed were kinda frightening. And tiring. Monday evening, I set my cell phone alarm to go off at 1am, 3am, and 5am so that I could turn on the TV and see if we were going to be evacuated or not. Tuesday night, I checked at 2:30am and 6am. Needless to say that even though I wasn't at work, it was not a day off. It was fairly exhausting, the whole thing. I was happy to get back to work and out of the house.

We were lucky that we didn't have to evacuate; but it was awfully close (about 1 mile from the border of a mandatory evacuation area). I am really thankful that I have my house, because there are too many families in San Diego County that lost theirs. It is just crazy to look at the huge list of homes lost, especially, the number of homes in Rancho Bernardo. It's like entire streets were wiped out. Looking at the maps it is just astonishing -- the vastness of the space that was burned. I one point on Tuesday, when the winds would not let up, I had a small internal panic attack that EVERYTHING in San Diego would burn down making it near impossible to get money out of bankrupt insurance companies in order to rebuild. And I don't it was that irrational of a thought when you look at how fast and far the fire moved in just one evening.

I am still waiting for the air quality to improve. We are unlucky in O'side as our air is probably the worst in the county (aside from areas where the fire is active). I had been keeping the pups in the house all week, but today, I had to leave the dogs out because [dun, dun, DUUUNNNN!!!] Rusty struck again.

Trash Strewn About the House

Yes, I am tired of this old dog. He is a pain in the ass. He decided to use a trick he learned outside a few months back. Knocked over our kitchen trash can (which is no small feat, it's tall and not that light), and the two of them went through every piece of trash. Ate and licked the inside of everything. Nikki (and I know it was her because the evidence was on her spot on the couch) took one of those soy-milk style cartons that had been filled with Butternut Squash Apple Soup, ripped it apart with her little teeth and licked every square millimeter. They even licked the inside of potato chip bags. And from this morning's walk, it was clear Rusty was the one that ate the red pepper remnants (that couldn't have felt good coming out. Not that he doesn't deserve it).

So, they will have to deal with the particulate in the air at this point. If my kitchen dreams ever come true, I will have my trash hidden away in an under-the-counter cabinet. But I fear that with the new rash of people that will be rebuilding, my plan might be delayed (unless I jump on the wagon RIGHT AWAY - and I think I will begin calling contracts as soon as this weekend).

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Timing Chain! Now we do the Dance of Joy!

[Channeling Balki Bartokomous] (spelling?)

I had originally thought that L's car would need a super-expensive timing belt replacement before the end of the year, so I had started bugging co-workers about their mechanics (since I am NOT going to the dealer again. Last 60K service on the Sentra cost $453! No, they didn't do anything special. Only replace oil, oil filter, air filter, and engine coolant. The rest was "inspection" labor, which is total crap).

Anyway, then I checked online to see the Nissan maintenance schedule and the only models requiring timing belt replacement was the Xterra and the Frontier... hmmm... So, I asked Google different combinations of the words "timing", "belt", "chain", and "sentra", and I find that '04 Sentras have timing chains! Woo Hoo! Why am I so happy? Chains rarely ever require replacement - they are hardy! Usually last at least 200K miles (basically, the life of the car). So, yay! At least $500 (probably more) that does not need to be spent on vehicle expenses.

Popcorn. Why are you taunting me?

A couple times a week, towards the end of the work day, someone in the office makes popcorn and it drives me crazy. Crazy in that I want to eat it (in large quantities). And it's funny because I never crave popcorn. It's only when I smell it. It's got an addictive aroma. I heard on the Stern show a few weeks back that some kind of weird lung disorder was related to inhaling too much popcorn steam. They were talking about how this guy ate at least 1 bag or more per day of microwave popcorn, and each time he made it he would pull it out of the microsave, open it up, and inhale the steam (clearly, this man has issues). He ended up with some kind of funky, severe lung problem. As soon as he stopped doing his pseudo-cocaine popcorn-steam snort, his symptoms faded away (and he lost significant weight - go figure. 500+ less calories a day of popcorn). So, anyway, this popcorn smell appears to be addictive, IMO. I can still smell it now, but at least it's lessening and I am no longer wanting to scarf down a whole bag.

And when I find some time later this week, I will bitch about the California bottle redemption situation. It is very high up in the rankings of my pet peeves.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Where is my Concentration? Why is it Only Tuesday?

"Tenemous un regalo para ustedes." Ooh, so formal with the "ustedes"

Somehow, I have gotten onto some kind of Hispanic phone spam deal where they keep trying to call me and tell me they a gift for me. I haven't listened to the whole message yet; partly because I am paranoid they will somehow steal my identity, or charge me something because I inadvertently agreed to it by not speaking and listening to the whole message. I know. It's ludicrous. If they call a fourth time I may just listen, brush up on my Spanish.

What is interesting (at least to me, maybe this will turn out to be common knowledge for everyone else), is that the recording waits for audible input. This last time it called (attempt #3), I opened my cell without speaking, and "they" didn't say anything either. I tried a soft whistle. Nothing. Then I said "hello", and the Spanish dude started up about his "regalo" that he wants to give me.

I don't need your gift, Senor. I don’t care it if it in your pants. Thank you.

(And the number that shows up is a 763 area code. Google tells me this is Minnesota... Minnesota? Are they assuming by default that a Los Angeles area code must mean I am Mexican and speak Spanish? Is someone hawking my phone number? See, there goes the paranoia again!)

Girl Scout Nuts?

When did Girl Scouts start selling nuts? The daughter of a co-worker is hawking (that is my word today) these nuts, or at least, her dad is via order form in the caf (I am relieved it isn't a walk-around-office-and-ask-people because then you feel bad saying no). Anyway, when did this nuts thing start? I remember just doing the cookies. And the last 2 years, the nuts have come around. (Last year, hubby's friend was visiting and answered the door – it was a girl scout selling those nuts. So he bought some, but they wouldn't take his money until they delivered them. So we were stuck with the nut bill. I mean, it was like 12 bucks or something and hey were good, but I would rather save the $12 and go with the cookies).

And, apparently, the troop only gets 25% of the proceeds of selling the nuts. I think that's kind of bogus. Where does the rest go? I mean, these items are not cheap, so where does the rest of the money go?

I think I shall (“shall” is very underused, don’t you think?) wait for the cookies in the spring. I hear they are now trans-fat free, and I am all about the Samoas (thank god, L (the hubby) doesn't like coconut. All mine!)

Don't Leave the Country. Else You may have to declare bankruptcy when you get back.

The US Dollar is now worth less than the Canadian Dollar (well, as of September 28th.. It reached a 31-year high last Friday). Amazing. You know how in the back of books and such, the Canadian price is always higher? It’s this way for a good reason. Over the past 30 years, the CAN dollar has always been worth significantly less. As of today, $1 CAN gets you $1.02 US. Wow. Seriously. Forget Europe. 1 US gets you .70 Euros. 5 years ago it was around 1:1. Five years ago, 1 Canadian dollar got you about 65 US cents. Is anyone else scared? Or is it just me?

I think we are in for a recession, my friends. It's really sucky (I know, I am so sophisticated with my adjectives). Oil is ridiculous ($88 a barrel?), which means gas is back to being ridiculous ($3.something/gal), and the housing market still sucks like a Dyson. Or maybe it sucks like an Oreck. Certainly sucks more powerfully than a Hoover. Anyway, this is not good news. Surely, another rate cut is in store. And the dollar again will fall deeper into the crapper (which could make next year's obligatory trip to Italy require a 3rd mortgage. Which I won’t be able to get because we are in one of the worst credit crunches in history.). Ho hum. Thank you, George. You're the best.

(Oh, and I the “ba humbug” in me just walked into the break room, and caved and bought some Girl Scout peanut brittle.)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Time to Make Caramel Apples! Woo Hoo!

Boy, I Really Do Like Pulled Pork. Help! Internal Conflict!

Today I will be faced with the choice to eat very tasty BBQ meat or to abstain and possibly look like a fussy, annoying coworker.

I can't decide what to do. I had told myself I would allow occasional meat (special events, etc), and this is a chance to mingle with co-workers and get some camraderie going, so I suppose it is a noble cause. But I am definitely torn. Eh, I don't know. I'm really liking that so far I have stuck to this no meat thing - I didn't think I could really do it, but it's been fine. I haven't been faced with Sushi yet or Thanksgiving, so that will be another story. I have already said I will not give up sushi, but since we go like 4 times a year, I don't feel all that bad about it. And Thanksgiving, well, I am already planning to eat Turkey, so anyway. What that has to do with today... well, I suppose I am faced with the fact that I am making exceptions and whether or not that is acceptable at all if I am really giving up meat and fish.

This Eh, Not So Much

And I really am not liking this blog site very much. I may need to move my stuff over to another one.

(1) It tends to be slow sometimes in updating. I am thinking they definitely are not equipped to handle load or their systems suck
(2) I can't really customize the blog that much. They do give you free storage space which is excellent, but the customizing part of the blog is crappy. I mean, I know my way around HTML and CSS pretty well. Other blog sites let you actually get into the code and modify it. Here, I am hozed. So I am stuck with certain elements which is kinda bogus.

So I may move it and then just post the address up. I don't know.

Crappity Crap Crap
I am late for work again
At least it's friday

Monday, October 8, 2007

Pet Peeve #49: Drivers Who Stop Too Close to My Rear Bumper on an Incline

Why Sometimes I Should Be More Selfish

Thursday evening consisted of a wild-goose chase. I had agreed to sub for a yoga class two towns away after I had already taught a morning and lunch-time class. (Note that the prior evening, I subjected myself to 90 minutes of Bikram yoga which turned out to be better than the previous time I went, I think because I hydrated like crazy during the day). I was pretty tired and worn out, but she was in a bind (or so my "boss" said the instructor was), so I agreed.

It ends up taking me over 40 minutes to get there because of traffic; every f'ing light is red, my left knee is screaming from the constant up and down shifting and I end up about 5-7 minutes late. I have never been to this branch, so I am running around (literally, I was running) the gym like a maniac, looking for the aerobic room and I finally find it (after getting a bunch of really strange looks from people) and there is a kickboxing class going on!! So I immediately think: "oh it's because I'm late, they threw in another class". No. Not the case. I go over and talk to the front-desk girl and yoga isn't even on the schedule. The last class was 4:30 and there isn't yoga at 7pm at all on any day as far as she can see.

So, I'm kind of peeved. I call her cell phone, and of course, no answer. I leave a message asking "Did I misunderstand something? Was there a different day or location I was supposed to sub? Please call me back".

It is now 4 days later and no phone call, no email. I mean, after sending someone to sub for a non-existent class on short notice, wouldn't you apologize or explain? It's madness. My previous coordinator when I was up in the IE would never have done that. She would have responded with some kind of explanation and/or apology. Completely unprofessional.

Shi-Tzu in the Back of a Pick Up Truck

Now, normally, when you see dogs in the back of pickups, it's normally something like a lab, or some other big, strapping dog. But I saw a Shi-Tzu in the back of a black pickup last week and it just struck me as really funny. Shi-tzus are like 12-15 pounds. A small, toy breed. A lap dog. Doesn't take up alot of space. So to see this guy hanging out in the bed of the truck, clearly loving it, was definitely something to smile at. Another indicator that little dogs think they are big dogs.


Did you ever notice that faily often, mobile home park names are termed "Estates"? It cracks me up. The last one I saw was "Palomar West Estates". And you look at the mobiles and they are on fairly small plots of land. So what part of them is actually estate-like? Not the land. Clearly not the structure (and you can't argue that a permanent foundation under the mobile makes a difference). I mean, talk about trying to make yourself feel better about living in a mobile home development by calling it an "estate". It's like that funny reverse psychology that the Bush Administration uses like "Healthy Forests", and "Clear Skies" (which was actually more cutting down of trees and weaker environmental standards). I mean, at least calling mobile homes, "Estates", is just delusional for the people living there and doesn't hurt the global population. Ah well. 469 days until Inauguration 2009.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

My Car's CD Player Shit the Bed Again... But Anyway...

Sunday Night Random Visit

I was grilling my veggies for my pasta salad brown bag lunch (this being the product of my vegetarianism attemp, which is going ok, btw) when the door bell rang. And as usual, we both groaned and got annoyed that people would actually be bothering us (yes, we can be quite anti-social). Luckily, the hubby answered the door (I was in the middle of flipping stuff, I was figuring it was someone trying to sell something since the dogs were inside, so Nikki couldn't be in the neighbor's yard again).

Turns out the original owners of the house, now living in Texas, wanted to see the house, which I though was odd. Anyway, onward. So, the mother was in the service and was stationed at Pendleton which was why they lived in our house for 5 years. I think the visit was mostly to show their kids (son and daughter) the first house they lived in since they probably don't rememer it too much. And what was really a doozy was they said they were in Oceanside because their son just got off an aircraft carrier, the Nimitz. He looked like maybe 16. I was like "how old are you?" Nineteen. Already in the military, following in his mother's footsteps. It took until later for me to realize how crazy it is that this kid still looks like a baby and could be sent to Iraq to die. It's really sad. I'll tell ya, I am so ready for this war to be over (which leads me to a side note that I may be leaning ever-so-slightly over to the Obama side... I read an article that reiterated what he said in a speech several months before we invaded Iraq and he was completely on the money. We are in the exact situation he described. He had the intelligence to know that and the balls to say it!).

Poor Britney

I feel pretty bad for Britney. If she was a lowly D-list celebrity like Shar Jackson (K-Fed's previous chick he had kids with), there would be no way in hell he would be fighting for custody. Britney is a cash cow for him, it's terrible. And she is a complete mess. I think she has some kind of psychological issue that could need medication. I mean, she was a hard enough worker to get to where she is now, she must have some kind of work ethic and sense of responsibility. But it's getting obscured by something. Either it's drugs or she's mentally ill. Either way, I hope she gets it together because Kevin Federline does not deserve to get anymore of her money.

Distaste for Authority... And the Questioning of the Arbitrary

I have come to the conclusion that in general, I don't like to take orders. And it's not that I like that about myself, I mean, at work I get tasks presented to me in as professional a manner as anything, but inside, I just wish I could say no. Isn't that funny? I mean it's probably pretty common and has something to do with being a control freak. I am able, for the most part, to keep it internal, but it's like 75% of the time, I get that teenage angst feeling. I need to work on it.

And my two cents on project managment... I am incapable of keeping my mouth shut when I hear something that doesn't make sense to me. I am working on a project that has no defined timeline, no documented tasks with estimates, no design docs, nothing. The project management is somewhat of a fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants situation. So, at a meeting, a question arose, oh, can we get this one part done by this date? So I can't help but wonder: And then what? What significance does that date have without a plan for anythng else? We can't use this piece anywhere on it's own and as new things get done that I am depending on, I break that piece and put it back together. So what purpose does it have to say "we did this" without a clear direction of what next? I suppose I get frustrated with deadlines that get plucked out of the air when we really could have a defined schedule if someone put a day or two of analysis into it. Then there would be a published plan and it would provide some transparency to the process and the folks that are stakeholders in the product...

ho hum.

ba humbug.