Monday, June 30, 2008

The DMV is Like the First Circle of Hell

Like some kind of purgatory, waiting for your number to get called with the partly unwashed masses. "Now serving B104 at window 11." Now serving a waste of an hour complete with weirdos and utter boredom.

I made an appointment to re-title my car, since I just paid it off and therefore need a title in my name - not the bank's (yipee!). This is the first time I have ever owned my car, having paid off my loan. I figured there was probably a way to do this without having to go in, but after cruising the online site and forms, I didn't come up with what exactly I had to do. And I felt a little scared sending off my newly received title to the DMV and having it lost (I had garnered that I had to give it to them and pay some fee). If it got lost, that would be bad. So I made an appointment. Normally, when you make an appointment, you get to skip the ridiculous wait.

Well, today started out as one of *those* days and I should have expected that it would just continue that way. First, I forgot the title paperwork, so I had to make a trip back home. Crap. Ok, so I high-tail it home and then back to the DMV, getting there 5 minutes before my appointment. Sweet! I approach the entrance to the parking lot and there is a police car blocking the exit because there was an ACCIDENT in the parking lot of the Department of Motor Fucking Vehicles. Probably because the lot was an absolute circus - full to the max and a bunch of idiot drivers mulling around looking for spots. This was a bad sign. I get through the lot to the other exit knowing I have to park on the street. Lovely - since this is what a bajillion other people are doing, driving around looking for a spot. After a quick search I find a spot and manage to parallel park on the first try (I was pretty proud of myself).

I run (RUN!) to the entrance of the building. At this point I am a few minutes late. I get to the counter, explain that I had an appointment, am a few minutes late, and need to re-title my car. He is all: "Oh, just taking the bank off and putting your name on?", like it's as easy as wiping yoru ass, "Simple, here you go" and gives me a number.

I sat and waited for an HOUR. Looks like he didn't give two shits about my appointment and had me wait with the masses (some were clearly in the UNWASHED masses category). Two nice folks were sitting next to me and they were there because they were LATE on their registration fees. And bitching about the late fees (um, don't pay it late then). Here I am, all law-abiding, pay my fee on-time, always, just trying to get this little thing done.

After waiting an hour, I get served, and it's literally like 90 seconds to complete my request. Pay 15 bucks, get a new registration card issued. I ask her "Is there any other way I can do this next time, so I can avoid this whole waiting for an hour [bullshit]" (didn't actually say "bullshit" but wanted to). She responds "Yeah, just send this in with a check."

Nice.

Now, I am partly to blame for not calling and asking, but in the past I have made an appointment with the DMV (up in LA) and I was in and out in like 10 minutes. So, I figured, same deal here, and I can get it done and ask exactly what I need to do when the other car gets paid off.

But what I am really peeved about is the triage guy at the front - if all I had to do was SEND IT IN WITH A CHECK, why didn't he tell me: "You know, you can just send this in with a check if you prefer not to wait an hour."

Seriously? How hard would that have been to just tell me this little tidbit of information? If I wanted to wait, I would have said "Thank you, but I have all the time in the world so I will wait", or maybe I would have said "Really? Oh, I'll just do that and avoid this WHOLE FUCKING MESS."

Yeah, so DMV? Dante needs to put this place as one of his nine circles of hell.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Breaking and Entering

Before leaving for the wineries this afternoon, we discussed whether we should close the downstairs windows. Really, I was worried someone could cut the screen and just come in but the Husband stated that if someone wanted to come in they would just break the window since they are hardly sturdy windows (after 20 years, they are probably in need of replacement...). So, we leave them open.

We put Nikki outside with her water and a treat and off we went. Fast forward 5 hours later, we come home to find Nikki inside the house. How in the hell did she get in?


Miss Nikki, all 25 pounds of her, managed to tear a massive hole in the screen. Think she's bored at all? Looks like she jumped onto that little table that was out by the window and just went to town. She tried the other window, but that didn't work out as well.

Yeah, I thought that one dog would be easier that two. Hmm. Yeah. Maybe not so much.

So I am rethinking the idea of a second dog. Sure, it's more work but if I can avoid this kind of Houdini-style tricks she is teaching herself, it might be worth it.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Sometimes I Want to Throw Him Out the Window

Maybe sometimes isn't accurate, probably more than sometimes I want to throw him out the window. The husband, that is. Before I left the office this evening, I text-ed him to find out when he was leaving. Turns out he is already at a local brewery with his coworker. OK, cool, "when are you leaving?"

I get a "?" in return so I respond with "we need to eat and go to Home Depot if we expect to prime and paint the family room tomorrow." Response? "I know we need to eat."

I call him to ask what the deal is, when does he expect to leave - of course, no answer of when, so I ask him if he could leave in the next 30-45 minutes, please. This is at 5:20pm.

Fast forward to 6:45pm, no husband. Seriously?

I call him to see if he is on the road. He is at his friend's house now, hanging out with the dog!!(?)

Needless to say, I am annoyed. I am starving, still needing to pick up the shit at Home Depot (can't go tomorrow because I have to teach 2 classes), and he is still drinking beers. Yeah, I did have some patience before, I didn't care all that much about couple-drinks-at-the-brewery after work but this is getting a little ridiculous. We aren't single folks anymore, he has a spouse to deal with; he would have given me inordinate amounts of shit if I stayed out like this without mentioning it in advance leaving him "all by himself" because I am "never home."

Annoyed.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

That Which Probably Should Not Be Discussed

Life has hit a new low today, people. I have a staff meeting to attend for my side job as a yoga teacher in about 20 minutes and I am Desperately Seeking Relief in the form of Pressure Release. I just spent the last five minutes in various yoga postures, in the hopes that things would move from their current state of blocked and bloated. Down dog, forward fold, fetal position... Nothing. I mean, when I'm in a class teaching or practicing and I have this problem, it wants out faster than the speed of sound. It's sheer will to continue class without letting it out. But when I want it out and try the same moves? No dice.

I have only 20 minutes before I am subjected to 2 hours in a room with people where breaking loud wind is not an option. Well, I suppose it is an option if I don't care about total and complete embarrassment. Or if I were that French dude in the castle in Monty Python's Holy Grail ("I fart in your general direction"). Perhaps I should not have had that Indian food (so good, though) at lunch. Not proving to be a good decision.

An interesting license plate frame I saw today on my way home from work was "God Rules, Satan Drools". Really? He drools? I mean, sure, he sucks, he's evil, etc, etc, but "he drools"? I just cannot take that seriously. All I see in my head is a cartoon devil character a la Loony Toons with this pitchfork, drooling on his pillow at night. It does nothing to demonize "Satan" for me. As a non-practicing Catholic I am not impressed with this slogan.

Alright, folks, time to pay the piper and hit the road. Hope I don't explode.

So, This is What It's Like to be 30

I am realizing that my day-to-day life is truly rich in it's non-eventfulness. Aside from the fact that Nikki mysteriously smells like horse piss again, the highlight of yesterday was the discovery that the husband's student loan balance is half of what I thought it was, thus meaning it will be paid off next week and I get to check that off the list.

Exciting.

No, seriously. Well, I was extremely pleased.

Anyhow, so, Tuesday night, after the idiot studio owner man decided to behave in my class and keep his trap shut, I got home and the husband and I watched WipeOut which I fully expected to be a superficial, a la JackAss, waste of time. Turns out it was actually funny. I mean, I'm not sure how long it'll maintain it's appeal because there are only so many ways you can land on your ass, but watching people fall all over the place in the most ridiculous of circumstances was really funny. It was funnier than "I Survived A Japanese Gameshow" which, turns out, is also quite entertaining... to us. It might be just that we are an intellectually stagnant couple who are actually regressing in what we find to be stimulating television entertainment.

Yeah.

This weekend we begin the repainting of the family room which should be a blast. Not really. The amount of priming that will be required is making me dread Saturday. When you paint the walls burgundy and baby poop brown, it's pretty hard to paint over it with a reasonable neutral color without at least two coats of primer. Yeah. Thank you, Previous Owners, for having extremely questionable home decorating taste. From the back patio doors, you can see the walls painted... get ready for this.... 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 different colors. Five. Back wall is red, two adjacent walls are poopy brown, kitchen and nook are light yellow, hallway walls are one white and one pale green. Who does that? And who lives with that for over a year and is only now getting around to fixing this abomination? (meekly raising my hand). This time I took "before" pictures so that the full effect of the "after" will be realized by any poor soul reading this blog.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bloggy Makeover

Ok, folks, it's entirely too late at night, but fiddling with these crazy blogger templates has proven to be a time-consuming task, especially for the perfectionist. I could stay up another 2 hours tweaking this shiznit. But that would be a tad obsessive compulsive. I am tempted.

Anywho.

It was entirely designed by yours truly. I have some skillz with the Photoshop-age. Seeing as I work as a computer programmer for a living I should be able to pull something decent off.

I think it rocks. I'm so humble, no?

And I have a new title. I am still thunderfingers because I type super-fast, but I am also chasing imperfection. At least that's what this life sometimes feels like!

Good night.

This is The Fuzzy Lady

Since everyone posts pics of their furry roommates, I figured it was time to post one of the Crazy Lady, Miss Nikki.



How cute is she? She is the cutest. Mini Aussies rock!

Monday, June 23, 2008

My Financial Existence Since College

I mentioned a couple months back that I had gotten bitten by the debt reduction bug (speaking of bitten, over the weekend at our shindig for my 30th I managed to acquire 14 mosquito bites, which is really an achievement in southern California where, before this weekend, I had only been bitten maybe 5 times in 8 years. I am struggling not to scratch my right leg off, right now).

I have always been responsible with money. Not overly frugal, but I always understood that money is not free. You have to pay back what you borrow. However, like most other Americans, I have had credit card debt that numbered in the thousands. During college, I had 3 major credit cards and managed to stay debt free because the reality is, when you're in college, providing tuition and room and board are paid for my either parents or low-interest loans (or scholarships, etc), what else do you need aside from books, food, and the occasional hair cut? I managed to finish college credit-card debt free, though 20K in the hole from student loans, which I am still paying down 8 years later.

After graduation, I moved from NYC to Los Angeles for work, and that's when the credit cards came into play. I had a decent amount of money saved, 6 or 7 thousand, but that only goes so far when you have to (1) get an apartment, and pay first and last months' rent, (2) get a car, because public transport is practically non-existent in most of LA, especially back in 2000, (3) get furniture because you have lived in a dorm the last 4 years and haven't needed to get a single thing except maybe a mini fridge and a stereo.

I probably had about 2 or 3 thousand in debt, mostly from furniture, after the first year out of school and that was almost paid off by 2003, when I purchased my first home, a townhouse in Harbor City. Enter credit cards, again. I bought it in 2003 for 232K, putting down 5%. The townhouse was fairly dated, built in 1973, and I got bit by the renovation bug. Flooring, cabinets, furniture, appliances, new patio - at the end of it I was close to 7K in credit card debt. Add on my husband's 3K in debt when we got hitched, and we were at 10k. I sold my townhouse a year later in 2004 for 318K, and newly married, we moved to Lake Elsinore, using the equity from the townhouse for a ginormous, 3000 square foot former model on a 1/2 acre with views of Canyon Lake and snow-capped mountains. And horrendous commutes. 70-mile commutes, each way. During this time, we hacked away at the credit card debt, which was transferred to 2.9% for 2 years. I finally paid that off last year - it took 4 years to pay it off and I never want to go there again. And we haven't. Thankfully.

By some cosmic planet alignment, god-force, what have you, we managed to get out of the Lake Elsinore home. We sold it in April of 2007, and took a loss of maybe 5K. We sold it for 505K, and now, zillow.com tells me it is worth 370K (note that we paid 470K in 2004). Wow, were we lucky. Not to mention, with gas now at $4.50 a gallon, driving 280 miles per day combined, we would have been hurting, big time. The house we have now has lost 80K in value since we bought it, but at least we have reasonable commutes and it's not 105 degrees during the summer. It does hurt to know that we no longer have a single penny of equity (in fact, if we had to sell, we'd be upside down a bit), but I am still so grateful that we were able to get out of the Inland Empire with only minor scrapes and bruises to show for it.

Here we are in 2008. I had been reading the blogs of other folks, and seeing how they were paying off debt and living frugally. Most notable was June with her Bye Bye Buy! blog. In February, one of the hubby's student loans was paid off -it was a parental education loan for which we were sending money to them every month. Around that same time, a small one I had, my Perkins loan, had only $150 left, and I figured, what the heck, and paid it off completely. It was a rush to suddenly be free of two loans. I started reading up on personal finance, and thinking, why was I just shuffling money away in our money market account that makes 3% and I'm paying up to 8.5% on car loans, student loans, and the 2nd mortgage? It didn't make sense. So here I am now, bitten by the debt reduction bug.

On June 1st, I paid the RAV in full - a total of $8,000 in 3 months. First time in my life I have ever owned my car, outright. In two weeks, we will begin paying down the Sentra. The balance is around $5500, at 1% interest, which is low, but I simply don't want this debt anymore. The car is worth maybe 4K, at best. I anticipate that will be paid in full by September. Which leaves the student loans which are still at a whopping 13K (down from originally over 30K back in 2000). As long as we both stay employed, these should be paid by the spring of 2009, leaving only the 2nd mortgage. Which is over 40K, but at least provides a tax write-off unlike the other debts which provide nothing at all.

The only thing I wish I could do is pay it down faster! This is probably where snowflaking grew out of - the desire to throw everything you can at your debt because you want it to go quicker. So, I am trying various things like selling stuff on eBay and Craigslist, having garage sales, and signing up for surveys, in an effort to take in a little more here and there. I think I'll post updates on our debt repayment endeavors, just in case anyone cares or finds it interesting. I know I do - I love to read about how other people are doing with their finances - it's great to get new ideas from the internet world.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

One Room is Finally Presentable

One room down, 8 to go. Well, almost down. I still have a cork board to make with our 19,000 wine corks, but at least it looks finished, aside from an open spot on the wall waiting to be occupied by the cork board.

It started out with dingy white walls, and those horrible 80s vertical blinds. I painted it a soft blue, hung some frames, and finally, the piece de resistance: the window and closet "mistreatment", inspired by the Nester at Nesting Place. Maybe she'll come check out my first attempt :)

I don't have any "before" pics which is a bummer, but at least I took some of the after!

And, boy, is that glue gun handy!





Thursday, June 19, 2008

This is a Little Sappy. I'm Not Usually Sappy. But There's a Time for Everything.

Yesterday, I was reminded why I married my husband and that, though he may drive me nuts sometimes, he is a good man and he loves me.

I may have mentioned that the big 3-0 is coming up - t-minus 3 days. Sunday, I will be 30. To me, it's sort of big deal, but not really. Sure, I'd love to say in my twenties forever, it's a good time - young, healthy, childless with two incomes, etc. But it's not this "big depressing thing" for me. It's life. It just another birthday is how I see it. So, when it came down to "what did I want for my birthday" and "what did I want to do, where did I want to go", etc, I honestly didn't give two shits, as they say.

Turns out, the husband gave two shits and has been planning a party for me. Sent out an invite to friends back in March, to give people who lived a bit further away the opportunity to plan to come visit my sorry old ass that was turning 30. I guess I am not the stone-hearted, unfeeling person I sometimes think I am, because I felt so much love when he sent me the Evite to my party. That someone must really love me. Wow. Makes me feel like a giant butt-head at the same time over the fact that I suck when it comes down to being thoughtful with people I care about. I am not good with sending cards, planning events, or even keeping in touch like I should. Loved and humbled by this "gift."

Hopefully I can keep reminding myself that, even though it's easy to get wrapped up in mundane daily activities, it's still important to remember the other people around you. I want to keep the small number of truly great friends that I have, and I need to take a clue from the "bestest" friend at home.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Seriously? No. SERIOUSLY?!

OK, now, if you have read of my past posts, you might have perused an entry () concerning a certain very unprofessional studio owner.

Since then, I have reduced any small-talk to nearly non-existent. I have been cordial, as nice as you would expect one who doesn't want to talk to the offending person. It's been the mode of "let's forget this happened and don't even go there at all again." I didn't tell his wife, the other owner/director/what-have-you because, like I have said before, I have no idea what kind of "arrangement" they have together (ala don't-ask-don't-tell, or "open" relationship, etc).

Not too long after the first incident, I thought he had picked a new target to harass. And it appeared he had; he was going to the this teacher's class (which was right before mine) every week. Then she stopped teaching at the studio because the wife-owner decided to make the class an hour-long (rather than 90 minutes) and start later to try to boost attendance numbers. The other teacher was not into that change so she left (at least, this is the story I was given by the teacher; who the heck knows what the deal was, because now the class is back to it's original time, at 75 minutes long, taught by the wife-owner).

Obviously, the out-of-touch husband is not going to attend his wife's class. No. Why would he do that. He has to attend mine instead. For the love of all things holy, why?!? Now, when I teach, I tend to be hands-on - literally. I give some adjustments. I'll give some quick little back and hips adjustments in child's pose, and a neck and shoulder adjustment before savasana. Excluding him from the norm would be blatant and calling out the situation, which would be obvious to other students, as well. So, rather than create a weird dynamic, I treated him equally. Or mostly equally, his adjustments are much quicker - just enough to not exclude, but not enough to show anything more than inclusion.

Apparently, this man is completely delusional. I mean, so fucking out of touch. I taught last night's class, and a gal that always comes has knee issues - in a balance pose, it was too much pressure on the one standing leg. I told her to try leaving a little bend in the knee to avoid hyper-extension and joint pressure. I wasn't sure she got the verbal explanation, so I hiked up my pant leg to show my knee and just above the knee - what hyper-extension looks like, and then how to micro-bend and engage the quad muscles. After I release my pant left, this idiot (the owner, not the nice lady with the knee issues) says "Can you do that again?" with nervous laugh, and I just look at him and say "What?" and everyone else looks at him, and he says "That..." (pointing at my leg), and then just trails off with something like "never mind" after he realizes we are all looking at him like "WTF." I moved on, ignoring him entirely.

Seriously? Like, I am giving this guy the chance to forget it happened and not be stupid again, and I get this? Is he in some common-sense-blinding midlife crisis that somehow shrouds the reality that I am 20 years younger, married, and not in the least bit interested? At all?

I'm going to employ the 3-Strikes rule on this. We are on Strike 2. On Strike-3 I am quitting and I will tell his wife. Period.

Hypermiling

You may have heard about this latest craze - the concept of "hypermiling": attempting to maximize the miles per gallon of your vehicle by tweaking your driving habits. I had seen a special on the news about this guy and his Honda Accord, getting 50 mpg (though he was doing crazy things he called "Advanced Techniques", like shutting off his engine on the highway - I'm not going there). I decided to try it out for week. I drive a 2004 Toyota RAV4, 2WD, 2.4L engine, 5-speed manual transmission (yeah! stick shift!).

Last Tuesday, my last fill up, I wrote down the RAV's current mileage, 94,676. Yesterday, I filled up again - 10.033 gallons. That's how much I consumed over the week. Mileage at fill up: 94,983. Difference of 307 miles. Divided by 10.033 gallons is... (drum-roll!)... 30.6 miles per gallon!

This is significant, folks. According to the latest, (downwardly) revised EPA estimates, I should be at 21/27 (city/highway). I drive 70% city miles, so I should be closer to 23 mpg.

Here is what I have done, thus far:
  1. Whenever possible, and safe, I put the car in neutral, especially when I have a downward slope. When I can see it's time to brake, I first put the car back into the appropriate gear, so that the engine can start the slowdown, rather than wearing out my brakes. Coasting in neutral doesn't have to come at the price of your brakes - you just have to plan ahead and use the engine.
  2. No more fast acceleration. From a stop, or lower gear like 2nd, I don't step on it. I used to be a little more aggressive with that, but no more. I accelerate slowly.
  3. I look ahead to anticipate red lights of stops. If I see one coming, if possible, I put it into neutral or use the engine to GRADUALLY slow down. If I'm lucky, I never have to actually stop at a light, it'll turn green before I get there.
  4. If I get to a light that has just turned red an I know the intersection has a longer wait, I shut the engine off.
  5. On the freeway, I don't go more than 70 mph. I hover around 65 and use cruise control if the traffic is lighter. This has been harder because I am used to going 80 mph, so if there is traffic and I'm not on cruise, I notice that if I'm not paying attention I'm suddenly going close to 80 mph. So I have to watch myself there.

All in all, I am going to continue with my data point collection and hypermiling efforts. After a month or so, I'll probably get a more accurate reading but, this can't be a complete fluke since it was over 7 days.

It's worth a try!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Perhaps a Snail? Snail Gunk?

The physical work done Saturday was enough to wipe me out for most of the weekend. We spent about 2 hours weeding the side yard which resulted in enough weed-ery to fill the entire Green roll-away (which is A LOT - would hold 3 full mowings of the lawn, at least). Oddly enough, we didn't find anything dead. So, I am somewhat perplexed as to what Nikki reeked of last week. We did see her crunching and eating a snail yesterday, so perhaps she rolled around in snail stuff. The snail population in the formerly weed-ridden area is insane. Snail city. I think hubby also scooped up a load of snail eggs that were laid in a little bunch near the side of the house. There's another strip of over-grown planting beds in the back with an unreasonable number of snails. That is the next are we have to clear out and spray "round-up". Yard maintenance is definitely a bitch.

I have to say, though, after completing the weeding, it actually felt good not to be looking at blatant unkempt-ness. And it turns out, sunscreen is actually quite useful. Too bad I didn't figure that out until AFTER I burned my shoulders out there. They are still a little tender, but generally ok. Luckily, I tend to tan pretty easily, so burns are generally mild. I also burned a small strip at the small of my back which looks ridiculous - it's just one horizontal strip (the space between the bottom of my shirt and the top of my shorts). The rest is white. Like a "hoochie tan", or maybe a "plumber's crack tan".

Kind of a non sequitur, but after all the hemming and hawing over what to do with the kitchen, I have finally decided that I should get some estimates and stop putting it off. I have come up with a modified, smaller-scale project that involves bumping out a wall - adding around 40 square feet as opposed to adding 130 square feet. There is significant cost reduction here because (1) less framing, roofing, foundation, etc, (2) appliances stay put (aside from the fridge moving back 3 feet), (3) no major plumbing work other than moving the ice/water refrigerator line.

Basically, once the wall and water-ice line is moved back, the rest can be piece-mealed. We can do most of the demo work (other than the counter top - it's Corian/solid-surface, one big-ass seamless counter top, so I'm not sure how one demos that without professional help), cabinet and tile counter top installation. The most we will need help with is installing the sink and re-attaching it to the plumbing. We might need help with the overhead lighting - getting rid of the header where the 80-'s style fluorescent light is installed. Even that, I think we can do ourselves. It's just a matter of re-drywalling and running electrical wire to new recessed lighting.

The biggest question is - how much does it cost to bump out the wall and extend the water-line (and also fix the pressure of the water line - it totally sucks right now - that's why we filter with Brita since getting a glass of water of the dispenser takes over one minute). To me, that shouldn't cost alot, but then again, I'm a programmer, not a general contractor, so what do I know. More than the average lay-women, perhaps, but still, not all that much. I emailed an contractor I know (not well, but know him and he doesn't appear to be sketchola) from a yoga class I used to frequent. I hope he replies soon because I am really ITCHING to get this kitchen show on the road!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Eau d'Something Dead

Last night, after spending entirely too much at JoAnn's Fabrics, I was sitting on the couch watching DVR'd Real World (which is such an effing fiasco this season) when Nikki waltzed in, all "happy dog!" smelling like Eau d'Something Dead. She was so happy to see me, jumped up onto the couch, all "Pet me! Let's snuggle! Don't I smell fabulous?!"

I thought it was her anal glands (TMI? Ya?), all fired up and stinking to high heaven (which can be an issue with dogs -- Beagles need to have theirs "expressed" every so often because the breed is prone to anal gland impaction - lovely, right?), but then I noticed this muck on her formerly white furry chest. Going against all better judgment, I sniffed it and it resembled something like a dead fish.

First thing that came to mind: "The neighbors threw over a dead fish into our yard just to make our lives more miserable." I always think the best of people. Then I came back to reality and thought that was just a little too irrational and paranoid, and not to mention crazy. And I know what dog poop smells like - I've picked up enough of it in my day to know it's core essence, and that wasn't what she had rolled around in. The only thing left was Something Dead. Because it was already dark out, we weren't about to hunt around the yard to discover what this might be. I am thinking any of the following: (a) lizard (lots of things roaming around the area, for whatever reason Rusty loved to chew on those like jerky - yuck!), (2) field rat/rodent (Rusty killed one in the yard a year ago - it was kind of cute - it wasn't a nasty rat like you see in NYC, it was light gray with a white chest and rather large, so while I was happy to have free canine pest control, I felt bad for the furry bugger), or (3) gopher (which I suppose is in the "rodent" family and could be classified as item #2, but they're cute with their buck-toofers and deserve their own mention).

So, tonight she is getting a bath and tomorrow will be spent riping out all the over-grown stuff in the side yard. Over the past week or so, she has been obsessed with this area, traipsing through the plants and weeds, and it is likely whatever I smelled, is living (or not living) in that area. It needs to be tended to anyway.

And what a better way to spend your Friday night, than washing a disgustingly stinky dog? I can't think of anything else I wanted to do.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Going Green: My Latest Efforts

Over the past year I've been trying to find ways here and there to help out the environment by making different product choices and changing some behaviors. Two of my changes have been highly successful (in my opinion): (1) bringing my own re-usable bags to the grocery store (and they usually give you 5-10 cent discount when you do this! Bonus!), (2) switching from Costco bottled water to filtering our tap water (this has a nice side-effect of also being good for the wallet). I am still waiting to see how the "green" Costco laundry detergent performs - costs more that the regular stuff but I figure, I can sacrifice that moola for Mother Earth.

One attempt, however, has been entirely unsuccessful. A colossal failure.

Palmolive Eco Dishwasher Gel = the worst cleaning product ever formulated and sold to the public. Avoid this like the bubonic plague. Or Bird Flu.

Holy Crapola, does this stuff SUCK. First time I used it, I noticed a couple things: (1) globs of the "gel" would be sitting at the bottom of the dishwasher door after a run - it didn't dissolve completely (and I have since tried putting in less but the same thing keeps happening), (2) the dishes have this nasty film all over them - to the point where I find myself rinsing them again because the thought of drinking water from a class in that condition grosses me out. Hardly "green" if I am forced to use more water for extra rinses.

This is the deal-breaker on this product. Residual sludge after a run is not that bothersome. You may be thinking "oh, you just need some rinse aid." I thought the same thing; took my Jet Dry and filled the reservoir up completely. No dice. Still nasty film on everything. Even the silverware has a "lovely" blue-purple almost psychedelic hue.

It's so bad for me that I am about to give up. That is serious. I am never one to waste anything - I will usually suffer though something bad until it's finished and never buy it again (like J&J Clean and Clear face wash - also terrible). But I am seriously done with this shit. The only other "green" dishwasher detergent I've seen is the Seventh Generation stuff, and I'm tempted to try but I am so thoroughly disappointed by this Palmolive sludge experience that I don't want to risk it. I am all for helping the environment (like any bleeding-heart liberal), but this is unacceptable.

Here is the epinions of the product: http://www.epinions.com/content_429838339716

I should have read this before I bought it because the reviewers are having the same issues I have. The Amazon.com reviews for the Seventh Generation product are only marginally better. Back to the cheap Costco liquid stuff that works like a champ.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

An Excellent Source of Whole Grain Fiber

With Rusty being gone, I have been feeling bad leaving Nikki alone when I go to work, thinking that she might be lonely. I have no information to back this up though, because by all accounts, she is actually calmer and easier to deal with now that she is alone. But I still feel guilty. Which is why today was the first time I was back to morning Mysore in almost 2 weeks. Sure, part of the reason I didn't go Monday morning was that dragging my ass out of bed to throw my body around into different contortions called yoga seemed worse than solving the nation's energy crisis. But the OTHER part was totally Nikki, the Fuzzy Lady, and also the Little Lady.

So I made it to class this morning and I was presented with a gift from the yoga gods, which was Marichasana D on one side. I bound with the only a small amount of huffing and puffing. Almost had the other side too, so close that Tim said "both sides!" and almost walked away but I sort of grunted that I needed the smallest of help. I was kind of shocked that I got the other side so easily. But it was good shock! That and I almost had a major embarrassing faux pas of flipping over and crashing on my flat on my back. I was hopping forward from down dog to seated but I hopped with such fervor that I almost went all the way over. I managed to avert the crisis and fall over to the side for only a minor spectacle. I laughed at myself, as always.

Made it to work, showered up, went to make my coffee and breakfast (grape-nuts/soy milk). I was standing there, staring into the microwave at my g-nuts when a co-worker walked in and commented that what I was doing might not be the safest thing in the world. I responded that I was watching my grape-nuts and that it had also occurred to me that this face-inches-away-from-microwave might not be the greatest of ideas, but when presented with "a little radiation" or "overdone, dried-out, nasty grape-nuts", I opted for a little radiation.

Hopefully I don't wake up tomorrow with a third ear growing out of my forehead.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Exit Row

I am prolific today.

I was just reading mimi smartypants and was immediately reminded of one of the many moments of mortification I have felt concerning my size and appearance (I'm not a dwarf or anything, just 5-foot-nothing). Miss Mimi wrote about how she was given the exit row when flying standby recently, and the flight attendant gave her the spiel about the exit-row-seat person's responsibility in the event of an emergency.

Back in my college days, junior and senior year, rather than pay like $40 to take the Greyhound bus from Port Authority to Providence to go home (which was a schlep), I would pay $99 and take a Delta shuttle from La Guardia to Logan (making my parents drive an extra 20 minutes to Boston, but my total travel time to me went from 5-6 hours to less than 3 hours).

Anyway, on these flights they didn't assign seats, you just picked your own since it was never full. It was the spring of my senior year; I was 21 years old, complete with my college ring, able to buy copious amounts of alcohol if I so desired. I decided to sit in the exit row, taking the window seat, in the event we flew over New Bedford so I could say "I can see my house from here!". In the aisle seat of my row was a 30-something male. During the takeoff preparations one of the flight attendants walks up to our row, looks at me and says, in a sweet-like-she's-dealing-with-a-child tone, "You know, you have to be at least 15 years old to sit in the exit row."

I wanted to deck her. I was seriously appalled. I responded , "I'm 21." To which, she said "Oh!" and then hurried off down the aisle. The guy next to me gave me a sympathetic look, but to this day, I am still flabbergasted and a bit embarrassed by this whole interaction. For the love of Pete, I was LEGAL DRINKING AGE. Only months from graduating college (and nearly 22), and you think I might be 14 years old? Or less? Holy Shit.

So, either she was completely retarded, or I am drinking from the fountain of fucking youth.

Sometimes I Am Small

No, not just stature, then I would have written: "Always I am Small", A little over a month ago, I stopped teaching at a local studio, mostly because I felt I had to make a statement. Put my foot down. Hard. I could have stuck around and taught one of the classes, while the other slot I was teaching was given to a new teacher. But I felt I had to stand up for myself after getting yanked here and there with the format. Part of me, or most of me, was unable to shake the feeling that I had failed. That it was me -- I was not good enough to grow that class. This is not why sometimes I am small, though. This is why I'm human and have feelings.

Today, I had lunch with one of the gals that used to come to my classes. If I ever had a "Chacha Yoga Teacher Fan Club" she would be president. She is super-nice and liked my teaching and nearly always attended all my classes. She still goes to the classes at "the studio" and it turns out, the class size is still struggling in my old teaching slots.

This is the part where I'm small.

Tell me I wasn't happy. Oh Sweet Relief! I can't help this feeling of vindication. Sure, eventually the new teacher will probably get the traction she needs to build up her numbers provided the owners don't jerk her around like they did me. However, it seems pretty clear to me that you can't change people's attendance patterns in 4 weeks. No sir. It has been at least 4 weeks - in fact 5 weeks. And last week only had two people. HA! I can't help it. I know it's petty, but I am human! And it confirms that I don't suck. Because deep inside, I had this lingering feeling of "I SUCK" and this new information has just proven to me that I don't! It wasn't me - and though the logical part of my brain kept telling my inner-self that I didn't do anything wrong or badly, the illogical, sensitive part of me wouldn't listen. I still have a small part of me, that perfectionist part, that is bothered by the fact that it didn't work out like I wanted it to, but the melancholy feeling surrounding that situation has faded considerably.

Thank you, Universe!

We Want a Shrubbery!

Saturday was actually a productive day. The hubby was outside looking manly without his shirt ripping out the endless amount of weeds and shrubbery that have taken over the backyard. Really, I think his zealousness to clear it out has more to do with his latest idea of putting a horse-shoe pitch area in the back. All I can see is people wildly throwing rings, flying over to the neighbors' yards, whacking someone in the head, or hitting the old fence that's barely standing and knocking it over, giving that crazy shepherd mix free-reign over our yard. That poor gal is starved for attention. Last week, she jumped our fence (she is bouncy - she can jump a 6 foot fence), but was tied out so she was hanging perilously over, with her chain tied to her collar. To make matters worse her leg stuck between two broken fence boards. I freed her (didn't get any thanks from her) but hopefully she'll think twice about making the leap again.

I spend the day painting the downstairs bedroom (the office) a pale shade of blue. At first, I opened the can and was like "Crap! This looks like the color of an old t-shirt. And I have two whole un-returnable gallons!". Luckily, the color in the can is deceptive. It turned out blue, a little lighter than I expected, but still, not old-t-shirt-white. I am liking it. It took a couple hours to do two coats and touch up the ceiling (which was already bad to begin with). The living room is a disaster area with all the office furniture and boxes in there. At one point there was a knock at the door and I was in no mood to be sold anything by anyone or have some neighbor complaining about whatever our latest transgression was. I open the door and there is a biker chick standing there, with her helmet on, looking for "Melanie." Definitely, wrong house. Hopefully she found her. She probably took a look at our mess an was like "Um, yeah, this is not Melanie's house."

Rather than drag my butt to Mysore this morning (I went to led First Series yesterday with my paint-splattered feet, which must have made people think "What's up with this girl,what foot disease does she have?") because I was sore from the day before (first practice in over a week after being sick, and the whole Rusty-thing), I stayed home and attempted to make some process on the hanging of my new faux-wood blinds before I trudged off to work. I have hung two other blinds like this one, up stairs in the other bedrooms, and every time it is an absolute cluster-f**k. Every time. Something is wrong with my window frames. They must have stone behind the studs or something, because it takes all my arm strength and 30 minutes to get one of the screws into the wall to hang the bracket. Now, you might be thinking "She probably has wimpy arms with no muscle". Not true, my friends. After drilling pilot holes and starting brand-new calluses on my right palm, I reached for the drill and made sure I was pushing down as hard as I could and the drill even balked. Not the stripping the screw baulk where it goes of the track, but it stuttered in futility because it couldn't turn it anymore. I finally got the screw in after taking it out a third time and re-drilling the pilot hole to be as deep as I could possibly make it, and it still required significant muscling to get it all the way in. Thankfully, I was able to keep calm during the process. I think some less patient folks would have broken down and resorted to swearing and throwing things, but I just breathed and kept trying different options.

What we do in the name of decorating. But this pain is worth not paying someone $50 to install it, and I when it's finally done, I won't have to look at horrible 80's vertical blinds (in that room) again!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Female Version Of Happy Gilmore

I have never understood the golf obsession. My husband likes to play - he even watches it on TV which to me is tantamount to watching paint dry or listening to the voice of the guy from Everyone Love Raymond (his monotone droning drives my nuts). Anyway, this week was meetings and team-building activities at work, and one event was an afternoon at an Executive Golf Course (which is funny that they call it "Executive" because that actually means it's like par 3 holes - i.e. wimpier and shorter). Seeing as a considerable number of people were going that had never played any golf before, I agreed to join in on the debauchery.

We formed a team with the only four women that were playing so, by default, we were going to suck. And we did. 19 over par. Came in last in the tournament 9though everyone kept telling us we were first in the ladies tournament). But over the course of the afternoon (in the drizzly, uncharacteristically cold weather) I realized that I can drive the ball pretty far. But I have no control over where it goes. When I made contact, it would go over 100 yards. At once point I overshot it and the ball was sitting on the side of the next tee-off, waiting for me to pick it up. And I deposited two balls into neighboring yards. Only once did I manage to aim it right and it landed on the green. And another time it was on the rough, right next to the green.

The crazy thing is that it was fun. Now, I am cheap - I am not someone that thinks hobbies should cost a bazillion dollars. And playing golf at a regular (not Executive) course is like 3 bazillion dollars. At least $60/person on the weekends (a bazillion). That right there is enough to make be run away screaming from golf. BUT! Turns out that this wimpy executive courses are considerably cheaper. Add on the fact that we live in the most middle-class beach city in Southern California, fraught with cash-strapped young Marines, the costs are even lower. I found one just a few miles from the house that charges $20 for 18 holes. For 2-3 hours of fun and exercise, that is worth it. And I get to whack the ball and see what ridiculous location I deposit it at.

What really sealed the deal for me was the discovery that they sell golf clubs for the vertically challenged. Yes. Ladies Petite Golf Clubs, for us freaks under 5'3". How inclusive! I feel so welcome. So, you look for me on rock-bottom cheap, less than perfectly maintained golf courses with my little, tiny golf clubs smashing balls in the absolute wrong direction.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Rusty

Today has not been best of days. In fact, this weekend has kind of sucked, starting with the appearance of a hellish cold. Holy Moly, my ear canals feel like they are trying to turn themselves inside-out.

But that is nothing compared to having to put my dog down today. I hope my head can unclog because crying when you're already stuffed up, is miserable. We had to call the game on Rusty. This past weekend his paws relapsed again - all four this time, and he could barely walk. There were only two options (1) more hard-core antibiotics, or (2) euthanasia. His condition has not improved in 6 months. The only time his paws were not swollen and bleeding was when he was on antibiotics. But that is not something you can do long-term. His body couldn't fight the infection. Even after 30 days of strong antibiotics, it still would not go away. It was a matter of time.

I am still struggling with the idea that maybe we should have done the antibiotics but then how much longer would he have before his kidneys and liver failed from filtering the drugs? Seeing as he was 13-14 years old, it was just a matter of time. And not a lot of it. I was home sick today, because I am, but so was Rusty, so I had to bring him to the vet regardless of what we did. But we decided it was time. And I am bummed. We had him about a year and a half so I cannot imagine what kind of crazy I will be when Nikki goes, or any close human family member for that matter. The process was fast - it was over in less than 20 minutes, most of the time was spent watching him fall asleep before the last shot which would complete the process.

The worst part was leaving the office. He was already gone but for some reason I hated leaving him there. Not that I could've taken his body home with me, but that's exactly what I felt like doing. How could I just leave him there? But, of course, I had to. And that was the hardest part, I think. Watching him die wasn't as real as leaving the vet's office without him.

So, I'm going to hope that my head stops trying to explode and that I won't feel sad for too long.