Tuesday, January 30, 2007

And So Am I

I think it's been two whole days since I bitched about the new building, so I think it's time for yet another complaint. This one isn't actually about the building. It's about my 1.7 mile drive to work in which my car doesn't even have time to warm up (and if you think I'm sitting in a cold car for five minutes to drive 3 minutes, you're all high) and in which I have to deal with…are you ready for this?...six traffic lights. Now if I leave before 6:00 a.m. two of them are flashing yellow, but three of the remaining four (the fourth doesn't really affect me as there's a cut-through so I don't even have to stop turn right on red) serve literally no purpose at that hour of the morning (or at any point other than maybe 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday) except to impede my drive to work. And I'll argue the necessity of those lights even during workday hours.

Okay, so this week started the Champ Car season off with testing at Sebring. Sebring is an old airport/air force base and holds the prestigious 12 Hours of Sebring every year. Camp Car doesn't race there but for some reason we always test there. My friend Box was there and called me on Tuesday so I could hear the incredibly beautiful sounds of a turbocharged Champ Car going past at full song. Oh, it was moving. I wished I were there. He took a bunch of pics including one of My Beloved Oriol sitting in the grandstands looking for a ride. Well, yesterday somebody put him in a car and he topped the charts for the entire week! Woohoo! Now someone sign him, dammit!!!

I had a great weekend which is weird since I spent Saturday and Sunday cleaning the apartment which was in dire dire dire need of a cleaning. It was mind-boggling how messy my apt. was. I had to scramble to find someone to go to the symphony with me on Friday because of the predicted weather. The forecasters (yeah, I know, why listen to them?) said we were going to get 1-3" of snow followed by freezing rain. Egads. I didn't want my friend Marianne driving the Southfield in freezing rain with her two kids in the car (her son Jesse was supposed to go with me) and then hanging out in my part of town until after 10:00 waiting for us to be finished being all culturised. And she was thinking the same thing, so we decided that I would take Jesse this coming Friday instead. When I e-mailed her to see if Jesse wanted to go I said, "Why does it seem I go out with your son more than you?" She replied, laughing, "Because you do!" I'd take Marianne to the symphony but she has the kids every Friday night and it's too much of a pain getting her ex to switch days and besides Jesse loves it!

I called a bunch of people but last minute notice is tough. My friend RE had nothing going on, though, so he drove in from Ann Arbor and after the Brahms, Haydn and Dvorak, we went to TJ's for a snack. They have the best potato-leek soup which they don't seem to make very often (it might have been 2003 since they last made it), so I had that and then followed it with a tin roof sundae made with caramel instead of chocolate sauce. Oh so yummy.

I spent a good six or so hours cleaning on Saturday. I started with the kitchen and got all the returnables and recyclables bagged up (they're now in the car as I have to find people who will take the recyclables – my city has curbside recycling but not for "multi-family dwellings" and I refuse to put bottles and cans and papers into landfills if I don't have to. I then moved everything and scrubbed the floor on my hands and knees!! I started on the dining room (the biggest problem there is that I use the dining room table as a catch-all), but I had Knitting Club on Saturday night, so I had to stop and get ready for that.

I hadn't eaten all day (except for some steamed broccoli around 4:45), so I was really looking forward to the pizza we always have at Knitting Club. EGC is the best and always has salad and then dessert as well. It blew my diet all to hell as she had gumdrops and those really yummy chocolate éclairs that you can buy in the frozen food section and they're two-bite-sized. Oh, so good. I won't say how many I ate. The highlight of Knitting Night, however, was this new yarn store, Artisan Knitworks near EGC's house. The yarns were GORGEOUS, and if you read the article, you know they're all either hand-dyed, hand-spun or both. I was bad and bought yarn, after just saying to julieu that I wanted to go to Threadbear aka The World's Greatest Yarn Store but I knew I didn't need any yarn and it's hard to go there and not buy (although I did do it once), but it's just so fun there. I haven't seen The Boys since June, I think. Anyway, I picked up this beautiful superfine alpaca hand spun and dyed by a 19-year-old woman up in Northern Michigan somewhere. EGC had been admiring it, so I picked it up to make a scarf for her b-day which was a couple of weeks ago. The rest of the yarn I bought is for me. I got two skeins of this orangey-brown alpaca (it's much prettier than it sounds, I might have to take a picture) to make myself a large scarf/shawl. It'll go perfectly with the coat I've been wearing. I got this old vintage coat years ago (when I was in college, I think), it's hard to describe (possibly another picture to be taken) but has lots of colors in it, including the orangey-brown stripe through the plaid. And then there was the silk yarn with all sorts of sweet colors which will also go perfectly with the coat. Now to find the time to knit for myself. I started the scarf for EGC last night after spending a good hour winding it into a ball and getting superfine strands of alpaca in my eyes. I also started (last week) my cousin's afghan (I bought the yarn for it the last time I was at Threadbear back in June). I finished up two Champ Car scarves (black with orange stripes) for two racing friends, HRH & Chan, and another scarf for my good friend Sal, and all this means I have to get to the post office, an errand I dread with a passion as it doesn't seem to matter what time of day I get there, it's chockfull of old people who don't know what they're doing. So frustrating to stand there waiting for people who seem never to go to the post office ask a myriad of stupid questions when I know I would be done in three minutes. Ah well, patience…

Sunday was Mass as usual which lasted as long as ever, but I vented at one of the choir members who is in complete agreement with me re: length of everything they do. They brought out the Alleluia from last year's Lent/Easter season and it sucks so badly, it's not even funny – besides lasting a good five to ten minutes. I told Mom that I would come back after Easter was over, as I hate that Alleluia so much. I'm having a really bad attitude toward church lately and it's all related to the choir.

After Mass I met my Older Brother, SIL and the Terror Children for breakfast at Denny's. OB was offering me some iPod accessories that didn't work with his MP3 player (I think they didn't work because they're cheap, because the one item I tried – car transmitter – didn't work, it was all staticky). I'm thinking that there are times it's good to buy brand names and not off-brands.

Oh yeah, latest update on this shitty building? The one and only coffee room is non-functioning today – no hot water which means I can't even get tea. So, now we need to go downstairs to the cafeteria to get coffee (for those who drink coffee that's $0.94 vs. $0.25) which isn't completely helpful since it closes from 10:00 – 11:00 and then again after 1:00. And yes, for those of you wondering, chili lovers are in like Flynn – every day again this week. I made a comment about how chili every single day isn't necessary when I walked in, but I don't think the worker who overheard me cared. I brought cheese & crackers with me today. If I can cut the spaghetti squash open tonight, I'll be having spaghetti squash with sauce leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Oops, back to Sunday. I finished cleaning the dining room, spent way too much time on the living room (which was beyond words for messiness) and got it all done in time for the Libertarian to come over. We were going to go to a movie, but I was exhausted by this point and suggested we just stay in and watch a movie. I had just gotten Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest from Netflix, so we watched that. Dear heavens, it was not what I would call child friendly. I liked it, but there was definite ickiness involved. A few times when I had to say, "Eeeeeewwwwwww!" My original plan had been to cook dinner as well, but I didn't finish cleaning until 30 minutes before he showed up, so that went by the wayside which was fine as he had had a late lunch and wasn't hungry. Not that I wouldn't have minded ordering a pizza. Damn, I love pizza.

And there ya have my weekend…is it bedtime yet? I've been fighting bronchitis for at least a month now and I wish it would just go away (preferable) or come on full bore (not really what I want, but at least then I could go to the doctor's and get antibiotics and it would go the hell away). I'm tired of feeling not quite myself.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Red Right Hand

First things first, everybody please say Hello to Maureen, my therapist, i.e., the woman who keeps me sane. You can be the judge of how good of a job she does. ;-)

I haven't bitched about the "new" building in a few days, and since it's given me more fodder, I've felt the need to share with you once again. At the old building, I heard stories of mice, but never once saw evidence of one and I had been there 6.5 years dropping Cheerios on a regular basis. Either the mice there were already well-fed and therefore very picky or the stories were greatly exaggerated because those Cheerios never went anywhere unless I picked them up (or more than likely, ground them into the shitty carpeting). This also proves that vacuuming wasn't a high priority over there, but still, even with the attack of the killer cockroach where I barely escaped with my life, my old building is still head and shoulders above the present building because even though I've only been here four weeks there have been plenty of signs of mice. Two weeks ago a co-worker brought in candy and had it sitting in a wooden bowl, even this group of vultures (said lovingly since the bossman never shows his face down here) couldn't finish the bowl in one day, so on the second day I reached for a Ghirardelli White Mint square (in dark chocolate – oooooohhhhhh sooooooo good) and found a chocolate square that had been nibbled upon. It totally grossed out the co-worker who brought in the candy. I was wondering how the little sucker got up to the second floor and one smart ass suggested the escalators, but I found a three inch diameter hole in the co-worker's floor with obvious piping/ductwork. I figured that was as good a conduit for mice as anything else (although I don’t think it has a purpose) and the next day I found some steel wool and shoved it into the hole as someone had told me years ago that mice won't/don't bit through steel wool. It makes sense to me when you think about the feeling you get when you accidentally bite a piece of tin foil. So not a good time.

The second bit of evidence was a bit more tangible. Yet another co-worker came to me yesterday to pick up the scarf I knitted for her and she said, "Oh, Kathleen, there's a dead mouse over by Co-Worker #3's desk and it's smelling. It's half caught in a trap." YUK!!! I e-mailed the facilities guy (it pays to make friends with the facilities guy as quickly as possible and told him about it. They had that little bugger cleaned up within 15 minutes, according to Co-Worker #3. So, there ya go, just another reason to hate this friggin' building.

Oh, and nobody says "Bless you" when I sneeze. My people do, but the others who were here before us don't say a word. Nary a peep out of them. The guy in the next cube comes in minutes after me every day. This morning he sneezed and I said, "Bless you." He said, "Thank you" reluctantly. Not 30 seconds later I sneezed and he said nothing. Jackass.

I haven't bitched about the cafeteria yet, and I know you're all looking forward to that. First off, the bitching will be confined to their menu as I have bought nothing from them because they don't seem to understand the concept of vegetarian. Now, you might be thinking, "Well, Kathleen, vegetarians aren't exactly in the majority." And yes, you're right, except that I work in an industry that has a good number of Indians and other more vegetarian-minded ethnic groups. To me it's highly offensive that they don't think about the religious limitations of some peoples. Of course, it helps that I'm a vege and simply would like something vege once in a while. Here's the menu for last week (I honestly don't think one veggie soup a day is too much to ask for):

Tuesday: Entrées: Braised Pot Roast
Chicken Cordon Bleu
Soups: Turkey Noodle Soup
Chili Con Carne

Wednesday: Entrées: Salisbury Steak
Coney Dogs
Exhibition: Sizzling Caesar Salad
Soups: Beef Mushroom Barley
Chili Con Carne

Thursday: Entrées: Sesame Crusted Salmon
Roast Turkey Dinner
Soups: Santa Fe Chicken
Chili Con Carne

Friday: Entrées: Spaghetti & Meatballs
Baked Cod
Soups: New England Clam Chowder
Chili Con Carne

I'm thinking the chef likes chili. I mean, really, is it necessary every friggin' day of the week??? It doesn't help that I don't actually like chili anyway, but still. This week's menu also has Chili on it every single day. At least at my old building on Fridays, Tracy would make omelets to order, it was literally the only thing worth eating. Who knew that one day I'd be thinking fondly of the old cafeteria which I hated and despised?

I stayed home sick yesterday and ended up sleeping 14.5 hours. How insane is that? I got up at 11:30, took a shower and then had to lie back on the bed and get my strength back. I ventured back to the office today but was dragging butt all day. I'm supposed to go for drinks this afternoon because a co-worker is back from Mexico (where he's been for the past 2-3 years), but the Libertarian bailed and Martha keeps telling me I don't have to go and we can reschedule for next week as Mexico Co-Worker is back for a year at least, and I was insisting, but now that the Libertarian isn't going due to a project, I'm thinking we could postpone, except that I invited my friend Jim (Champ Car note on car guy from two years ago) and I haven't seen him in forever, so I'll probably end up going (if you followed that incredibly crazy-ass run-on sentence) with a nap beforehand. As bad as I'm feeling, a trip to the gym would be stupid, I think. The Libertarian has more projects than I do in the works. Today's is getting the truck cleaned up to get to the fix-it place so the fix-it guy can repair the frame. Yeah, the frame. Don't ask. Tomorrow's will be getting the truck to the Fix-It Place (I'm guessing) and then it'll be going to the Fix-It Place every other second to make sure the Fix-It Guy is repairing the truck properly. I guess I'm back to the once every five weeks schedule for seeing The Libertarian. *sigh* Okay, I'm probably exaggerating, but it would be nice to see him semi-regularly. And I know I won't see him this weekend because Friday is the symphony and I'm taking my friend Marianne's ten-year-old son. Then Saturday is Knitting Club and I won't back out on that. Martha asked me the other day if he asked me out for Saturday if I would go and I said absolutely not. Knitting Club has been scheduled for weeks.

Is it bedtime?


Friday, January 19, 2007

I do not have an accent!!!

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Inland North

You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

The Northeast
The Midland
The South
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

It's long, but please read seriously

American Perception Problems of the American Auto Industry
Our Buy American Mention of the Week!

by Roger Simmermaker
November 29, 2006

Ford and General Motors have taken turns besting the Toyota Camry in quality surveys for the past two years, but if you talk to many Americans - especially the ones who would never consider supporting home-based auto companies - you’d never know it.
Last year, the Chevrolet Impala beat the Toyota Camry in initial quality according to J.D. Power & Associates, and Consumer Reports just announced that both the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan scored higher than both the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord this year.

After the announcement, Ford’s Director of Global Quality Debbe Yeager commented "It’s a perception gap," referring to the struggle American companies have had overcoming the perceived and seemingly untarnishable reputation of their foreign rivals.

Even as GM and Ford have accumulated award after award on vehicle quality, you’d almost never know about such quality gains made by American companies - or quality declines of foreign companies - by listening to the media. Did you hear about it when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that Toyota recalled more vehicles than it sold in the U.S. last year? Probably not. Did you hear about Toyota making an "elaborate apology" for their "worrisome series of recalls" that has "tarnished its reputation for quality?" Probably not. Did you hear about the Toyota senior manager quote that stated "We used to do quiet recalls called ‘service campaigns’ to deal with defects but we’re not going to hide anything anymore?" Such a statement suggests Toyota’s past recall numbers were probably much higher than we were led to believe, and they profited handsomely by having a perception of higher quality than they deserved. In Japan, prosecutors are looking into possible negligence on the part of Toyota for shirking recalls for the last eight years. How ironic. You probably didn’t hear about that one either because the American media doesn’t like to bash foreign auto companies - only American ones.

Then there’s the mythical perception that foreign automakers produce the most fuel efficient cars and that Detroit only makes gas-guzzlers when the truth is that all automakers - including Toyota, Honda and Hyundai-Kia alike - have allowed fuel economy to slide in the past 20 years since they all now sell bigger trucks and more SUVs. One of Toyota’s senior executives was even quoted in the Wall St. Journal September 28 saying that both the Toyota Sequoia and Tundra "are big gas-guzzling vehicles" and expressed "concern about the longer-term prospects." These longer-term prospects about their admitted gas-guzzlers are questioned because they know that Ford’s F-150 and Chevy’s Silverado have led the pack in sales year after year.

Yes, gasoline has been getting more expensive - at least until recently - but the fact that Americans continue to buy it in greater quantities qualifies us as hypocrites for suggesting GM and Ford stop building so many big trucks and SUVs. After all, GM and Ford are only responding to demand as any company would and should if they want to remain profitable in a cut-throat competitive market. According to a Business Week survey, we Americans bought 10% more gasoline in the first six months of 2006 compared to the first six months of 2000 even though gas prices rose 75% in that period. Maybe here I could also mention that the Chevy Tahoe beat the gas-guzzling Toyota Sequoia in quality surveys and gets better gas mileage to boot.

But what has happened since gas prices have been on the decline in recent months? The Wall Street Journal reported a "slight" increase in truck sales by American companies, as Ford Expedition sales were up 41% and Lincoln Navigator sales were up 44%. The American media even tries to restrain its applause for home-based auto companies by referring to gains of over 40% as "slight!"

Perhaps the biggest perception problem is that American automobile companies GM and Ford (Chrysler is now German-owned) squander all their money on plants overseas and foreign automakers build their factories in the U.S. Foreign car lovers will surely point to Kia’s plans to build its first-ever U.S. plant in Georgia, but they probably won’t mention that they received $400 million in tax giveaways to do it, which translates into $160,000 per job. Among the many benefits for the foreign-owned company, your tax dollars are going to be used for road improvements surrounding the complex, complete with flower beds and other beautification features. Hey, as long as we’re going to allow states to bid for private jobs with our public tax dollars, we might as well make it look good, right?

And the foreign car lovers will probably also not tell you (or maybe they just don’t know or don’t want you to know) that GM and Ford pour more money into existing American facilities than foreign automakers spend on new plants, usually with little or no tax breaks. GM has already spent over $500 million upgrading two transmission plants this year, and has spent nearly a billion dollars over the last decade, for example, for facility upgrades in Texas. And what do GM and Ford get for making their existing plants more efficient? It isn’t tax breaks. Instead, they get accusations of not being "competitive" enough! Maybe here I should also mention that the average domestic parts content for Kia is 3%, while the average domestic parts content of Ford and GM is 78% and 74% respectively. This means that buying a U.S.-assembled (or even foreign-assembled, for that matter) GM or Ford supports more American jobs than a U.S.-assembled car or truck with a foreign nameplate.

Fortunately for our benefit, the U.S. remains the overall global leader in research and development, and a big reason for that is that American automakers - according to the Level Field Institute - invest $16 billion in R&D (Research & Development) annually, which outpaces any other industry one could name. Admittedly, the Level Field Institute counts German-owned DaimlerChrysler as an American automaker, so Ford and GM’s combined R&D contribution to America is closer to around $12 billion. But who’s counting, right? Certainly not the American auto-bashing media.

Japanese companies do employ 3,600 American workers in R&D, but that still leaves the foreign competition behind in the dust staring at American rear bumpers. 3,600 sounds like a big number until you realize that 65,000 Americans work in R&D facilities in the state of Michigan alone. In fact, two of the top four R&D spending companies in America as reported by the Wall Street Journal are - you guessed it - Ford and General Motors. The other two are also American companies: Pfizer and Microsoft.

Ford has recently made headlines as the American automaker with the most challenges to its future, but these challenges certainly are not because they "aren’t making cars people want to buy." Toyota did outsell Ford in July, but since then, Ford has reclaimed the No. 2 spot and has held it ever since. GM has the highest market share, increasing over 2 percentage points from a year ago. So apparently they can’t be accused of not making cars people want to buy either. Ford sales are also up in Europe, and Ford doubled their sales in China, where GM has the highest market share of any automaker.

General Motors also reported a 3.9% rise in August vehicle sales despite high gas prices and a supposedly slowing economy. And even though Toyota reported record sales that month, they couldn’t match the non-record setting sales volume of Ford. GM’s sales rose 17% in October from the same month in 2005 and Ford sales rose 8% in the same period. Ford also sits on $23 billion in cash, so they have plenty of money to focus on and fix any problems.

And for all the talk about the lack of fuel efficiency of American automakers, it seems three-fourths of all automakers failed to meet Europe’s improved fuel-efficiency standards intended to cut carbon-dioxide emissions. Japanese and German automakers topped the list of the study’s worst performers, but according to an environmental group’s study, GM’s Opel division and Ford both "come out well."
In closing, I’ll leave some encouraging numbers for those of us who actually like to root for and support the home team. The J.D. Power 2006 Vehicle Dependability Survey reports that Mercury, Buick and Cadillac (in that order) grabbed the number 2, 3 and 4 spots to beat Toyota, Honda, Nissan, BMW and everyone else (except Lexus) in having the least number of problems per 100 vehicles.

Perhaps someday the American media will give GM and Ford the credit they deserve. And once they do, perception among the majority of the American public will rightfully change. GM and Ford aren’t only doing what they should to make gains in the American market to deserve American consumer loyalty; they’re also doing what they should to make gains in the markets of China, Europe and across most of the rest of the globe.

Roger Simmermaker is the author of "How Americans Can Buy American: The Power of Consumer Patriotism." He also writes "Buy American Mention of the Week" articles for his website www.howtobuyamerican.com and is a member of the Machinists Union and National Writers Union. Roger has been a frequent guest on the Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC and has been quoted in the USA Today, Wall Street Journal and US News & World Report among many other publications.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Burning Skies

I got tagged by Ben O. over at the Procrastination Station. It's apparently the Alphabet "MeMe."

Here we go . . .

A - Available/Single or Taken? Single (not sure about the available appellation yet)
B - Best Friend? I'd say it's a three-way tie: Martha, Soyon & Pamela
C - Cake or pie? Pie, as long as it’s not pumpkin.
D - Drink Of Choice? Guinness Stout.
E – Essential Item You Use Everyday? My bed.
F - Favourite Color? I don't even know. Black was my favorite color for years, but I guess I'm getting away from my goth/punk days, as these days I find myself buying red and orange and brown (not all in the same piece of clothing, thank you very much.)
G - Gummy Bears or Worms? Swedish fish.
H - Hometown? Redford, MI or as we called it Deadford.
I - Indulgence? Music, books, DVDs
J - January or February? Dear God, aren't they the same hideousness wrapped up in different names?
K - Kids & Their Names? Boris & Igor. Yes, I know they're not actually children, but they're all I have.
L - Life is Incomplete Without? Family & Friends.
M - Marriage date? ???
N - Number of Siblings? Four – two sisters and two brothers.
O - Oranges or Apples? Apples – any but Red Delicious as I find them anything but delicious.
P - Phobias/Fears? Driving in snow and ice, mostly because I don't trust the other people on the road to have the sense God gave a duck.
Q - Favourite (movie) Quote? "The lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part."
R - Reason to Smile? My nieces & nephews (yes, even the Terror Children).
S - Season? Spring or Fall? I should like Spring because it's saving me from winter and leading me into the beauty that is summer, but around here it's usually rainy and drab and just downright shitty, so I have to go with Fall.
T - Tag 3 people?
U - Unknown Fact About Me? I hate going to the gym.
V - Vegetable you don’t like? Creamed corn, baked beans, sweet potatoes
W - Worst Habit? Picking at my lips when they're dry and scaly.
X - X-rays You’ve Had? Ribcage, little toe, neck, upper back, knees
Y - Your Favorite Food? I have to go with Ben's response here: pizza & French fries, but I'd add mashed potatoes as my comfort food.
Z – Zodiac sign? Leo

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Long Good-Bye

So much to tell you, but I also need to get to bed, so we'll see what gets told.

Friday I was CRANKY, with not just a capital C, but capital R, capital A, capital N, capital K and capital Y (as you could already see). I have some comp time coming to me, so I asked my boss if I could leave a little bit before noon on Fridays for the next however many weeks and go to yoga. He was fine with that, but have you ever noticed that on days you want to leave work early or on time, everybody under the fucking sun needs you? Yeah, that's what happened on Friday. One kid came to me and asked if I were going to be there in the afternoon and I said No. He needed an order input, so I told him to give it to me then and I'd do it before I left. Everybody thinks the orders I do are so difficult and complicated and time-consuming, but they're really not. Anyway, I got that done, but somebody else had to stop and ask me something and then somebody else and then yet another person, so it was 12:10 by the time I left. Now I could have just stayed and not waste two hours of comp time since I wasn't going to yoga, but as I said, I wasn't in the best of moods, so I got the puck out of there.

I called Glen to see if he wanted to go out to lunch, but Julie hadn't showered yet and it was going to be an hour before they were ready. I knew that I needed to eat before that and I decided that a nap was a good replacement for yoga. I went home, had something to eat (God knows what since I have NO food in the house) and napped for 2.5 hours. When I woke up I was in a much better frame of mind and ended up going out for a beer with Martha. After a couple of hours of chatting with her about all and sundry, I picked up BST and went to R&K's for an evening of sitting around with friends. We talked, laughed, played Trivial Pursuit and then watched Game 5 of the 1984 World Series. It was pretty sweet. K was laughing at us as we would get excited about a play.

Saturday was the total excitement of laundry with a short break for lunch with Julie and then a quick baby shower shopping spree. We found adorable classic Pooh baby stuff all in the requisite green. This, of course, means that we spent today (Sunday) sitting in a restaurant with a gaggle of other women eating and watching baby gifts being opened. This is not the preferred way of spending a Sunday, but being women, it's the joy we get to behold. The good thing was that there was champagne with lunch and that's all good in my book.

The total highlight of my weekend was church this morning. Okay, it wasn't church itself as we were back up to an hour and forty-five minute, but during the homily Mom handed me a small wrapped box with an envelope addressed to me. I studied the handwriting and whispered, "Aunt Pat?" Mom nodded. I opened the card, read it, looked at Mom and whispered, "Do you know what's in here?" in a way that she knew I knew what was in it. She shook her head no and gestured to ask if she could read the card (to which I nodded, Yes) which read: "Kathleen - I came up with a total blank this year - so I decided the time is now. I hope it's all you remember it to be. It is now yours to do what you want. Love, Aunt P." I unwrapped it quietly, and looked at Mom while she read the card, with tears in my eyes, as I opened the box and saw the ring. My Aunt Carol had picked up this opal/ruby ring more than 30 years ago in Bangkok and I had always wanted it. I've loved opals my whole life, but when Aunt Carol was ready to give it up, she didn't think I was old enough for it, so gave it to Aunt Pat who has an October b-day, with the proviso that sometime it would come to me. And today was that day. Sadly, Aunt Pat had worn it to her job as a baggage handler years ago and managed to break the opal, but it's not too badly damaged. I need to find someone to clean it, and if at all possible, considering the broken opal, change it from yellow gold (which I do not wear ever) to white gold. It's big, gaudy and I love it as it's a childhood memory. That's the only picture that didn't come out blurry, but I hope to take more that show it off a little better. The opal is magnificent, even broken.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Open In Silence

This is a mish-mash post today...don't expect segues!!!

If you like Mexican food, don't eat at On the Border. What crap food that is. I've been wanting Mexican food, so when we were trying to figure out where to go for lunch yesterday, I mentioned that and they said, Okay, On the Border. I asked if it was good and they all swore by it. Yeah, not so much. I think it sucks worse than Chi-Chi's ever did.

I started working on playlists last night for downloading to my iPod. I know I could just download a bunch of songs, but I need really upbeat songs for exercising, and I think I can name and add playlists. You can tell I've done a ton of research on this, can't you? So far, I have two exercise playlists in process. One is an 80s New Wave mix and the other will be my Goth/Industrial/Hard Core mix. We'll see how it goes.

The Libertarian has been gone for a month for work and last night he got an e-mail saying they wanted to keep him for yet another week. I wasn't happy and I knew it had pissed him off. While he's been gone, he's been working 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. starting Sunday nights, but they also wanted him to work Friday nights as well. Hey kids, ever heard of work/life balance? He's exhausted and just wants to come home. He says he's not staying and that he's leaving there tomorrow, but I have no faith that they won't find some way to keep him.

I told you about my department's move to a new building last year. You might remember because I was bitching about having to drive to work and the tediousness of scraping frost from my car's windows (for the record, no frost the past two days). The general consensus of my dept who moved from my old building (some of my dept. was already in this building while still others got moved from yet another building) is that building is simply disgusting. Yesterday one of my co-workers (who has made me nuts whenever we've had to move in the past four years) gave me a card that read: "Thanks again for making this ridiculous move (to this filthy building) a bit more bearable." He included a Target gift card as he knew that he really pissed me off one day. He didn't like the desk I had chosen for him because it was too close to his boss (understandable as his boss is pretty bad), but he whined and generally made me want to slap the shit out of him this one day. Now I go to lunch not even once a month, but one day when he had come over to the new building to decide what desk he did want was one of the few. He called about 9 times (my phone tells me these things) and left a message or two, but when I got back and I called him back he made a comment about how long my lunch hour was (which had included a stop at the new building so everybody could find their new desks and decided they hated the whole idea of the move even more than they already did), and I snapped at him. He tried to apologise later, but he wisely stayed out of my way for awhile.

There is only one coffee room in this entire three floored building and it's on the 3rd floor. I don't drink coffee, but I need hot water for my tea and those damn stairs kill my knees. There are escalators but that's just too lazy for me, even though by the time I get to the top of the staircase I'm limping from the pain in my knees. And it's just so vile I feel dirty constantly. After a trip to the coffee room, I feel like I need to wash my hands because I don't think the handrail has been cleaned/washed since the 1960s. And yes, back in the day I never would have used the handrail but these days, I half need to pull myself up that many steps, so I use it and try not to think about how incredibly nasty it is. One of the supervisors has an industrial size pump jar of hand sanitizer at her desk, thankfully, so I'm over there a couple of times a day to sanitise my hands. I need to get one for myself.

Oh! And that's what started this diatribe against the new building – the state of the restrooms. Since I was semi in charge of the move I have a blueprint (copied and shrunk down) of the floor. One of the men's rooms has eight stalls, five urinals and seven sinks. The women's room near that one has three stalls and three sinks. The other men's room has eight stalls, six urinals and seven sinks. The corresponding ladies' room? TWO stalls and three sinks. And one of those two is a handicapped stall with an automatic flush toilet which I hate with a passion. Ever since hearing that toilets spray infinitesimally small particles of water (and whatnot) up to six feet in all directions I don't flush without putting down the toilet seat and since most public toilets don’t have seats, I don't flush until I'm a millisecond from going through the doorway and pulling it behind me, and automatic toilets like to flush the second I stand up and it grosses me the heck out. For this reason I hate peeing in airports and will actually wait to pee on the plane. At least I know I can control the flushing action.

Another thing to hate about this filthy disgusting building is that the guy on the other side of the wall in front of me (my old building we had three to four foot walls, so it was more friendly-like, here they're a good five feet which seems to give some people a feeling of invisibility) likes to snort up through his sinuses instead of using a tissue like a polite human being. The other day he did it every 2-3 minutes and I had to turn up my music or I was going to be puking. Today he (or perhaps his cubemate) did it very loudly and one of my department mates to my side said, "Kathleen, was that you? Do you need a tissue?" I said, "What do you think?" Now you would have thought that was enough to get the jackass to stop but nope, he did it again and even louder, which had my co-worker walking to my cube to make more comments. I'm tempted to put a box of tissues over there. It'd be worth the few bucks not to be grossed out regularly. Really, people, don't snort, blow your damn nose.

One of the CDs that I bought the week of Christmas kicks so much ass it's not even funny. I can't even begin to tell you how much I LOVE The Arbitrary Width of Shadows. My friend DJ Davo recommended it to me because it was put out by Projekt which is a goth label. Who knew? While there isn't a single song on it that makes me race for the "pass this damn song over" button and I like them all, there is one that I love more than life itself. The song is called "The Vampire Club" by the artist Voltaire from his album Boo Hoo. It's absolutely hilarious lyrically, and upbeat musically. You can listen to it a snippet of it at the Boo Hoo amazon.com page.

Here are the lyrics (which sound better when he's singing them):

The Vampire Club
Oh, the moon was full
And the color of blood
The night the Pirates came
To the Vampire club
Their leader was tall and snide and slim.
He looked like a gay Captain Morgan
Well, he recognized a Vampire
From his school
And he did something that was
Most uncool, he said,
“Hey everybody, see the fool in the cape?
His name is Bernie Weinstein
And he's in the 8th grade!”

Fangs were flying, capes were torn
Hell hath no fury like a Vampire scorned
The number one rule in this game:
Never call one by his real name
Wigs were pulled, top hats were crushed
By pointy boots in a rush
And Boris at the bar orders a Bud and says,
“It’s just another night at the Vampire Club.”

Missi lost a fang in the ladies room
And we all laughed and called her “Snaggletooth!”
And Dee was mad cause he broke his cane
And he flushed his contacts down the drain
There was so much angst after the fight
Vlad and Akasha broke up that night
While some rivet-heads danced in a puddle of goo
That use to be “Father” you-know-who!

Well, it’s hard to believe but we’re still around
And when we hang out it’s always upside down
Dressed in black from toe to head singing,
“Bela Lugosi’s still undead!”
A gaggle of Goths is a peaceful site
We’d do anything to avoid a fight
But if you really want to see some gore and blood
Wait ‘til the Ravers come to the Vampire club!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Feel Good Inc.

I haven't listed my movie watching and book reading escapades from December and as I know that's a highlight of my little corner of the 'net, I better get to it.. I'll start with books because that will be easiest, as I read one friggin' book. I'm disgusted with myself, but my defense is that I had a shitload of knitting to get done, and the gym was closed the week after Christmas and I only went once the week before Christmas (I'm positive I had excellent reasons for not going).


Absolute Friends by John Le Carré - 453 pages (I think) – It was classic Le Carré and although it took me forever to read it, it was no the fault of the book at all, I just had so much else going on. I HATED the ending, but not because it didn't fit or probably wouldn't happen, but because it sucked! The idea of the ending, not the book, if that makes sense. If you like spy type novels, do yourself a favor and check out his books.


As I did a lot of knitting, I did a lot of movie watching, but at the same time not as much as I could have as I got sucked into my Stargate SG-1 boxsets. You have no idea how proud of myself I am that I have NOT ordered Seasons 5-6 for myself.

12/6 – Anna Russell: Crown Princess of Musical Parody (N) – This is very early Anna Russell (1960s) and it's in black and white. It's amusing, but if you're going to watch just one Anna Russell concert/DVD, I'd go with the one I watched later in the month.

12/6 - The Italian Job (K) – I have nothing to say about this that I haven't said before as I've watched it a good dozen times. LOVE IT! Great fun, not overly intellectual or anything like that, but a good time always.

12/10 - American Graffiti (TCM) – Sadly, I had never seen this classic before, so I was glad to see TCM showing it (along with a bunch of other good movies) that particular Sunday. I think I avoided it for so long because I thought something bad happened in it (no clue why I thought this). It doesn't and I would watch it again.

12/10 - Charade (TCM) – We all know I love and adore Audrey Hepburn to say nothing of Cary Grant. This movie is often described as the best Hitchcock movie not made by Hitchcock and I'd say it's an accurate assessment. And we all know how much I love Hitch, so you know I'm going to say that you should all check this movie out, if you haven't seen it. Trivia bit: This is the movie that Julia Roberts and Richard Gere watch in "Pretty Woman."

12/10 - Kiss Me Deadly (TCM) – This was another of my "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" book and I was lucky to find it on TCM. Definitely film noir in scope, but unlike "Scarlet Street" which I watched in November, I liked this one. And I really like watching movies on TCM because of the synopsis given at the beginning and the closing remarks after by either Robert Osborne or the younger dark-haired guy. I find the remarks helpful and enlightening.

12/15 - Singin' in the Rain (TCM) – Another movie from "1001 Movies…" I taped this from TCM as I had never seen it. I've heard it called the best musical ever, but I don't know that I would say that. I definitely liked it and would recommend it, if you haven't seen it. Another one I'd watch again.

12/23 - How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days (USA) – I was liking this movie right up until the part where they're at a fancy-do and each find out the other was playing them and then they proceed to act stupidly and embarrass each other and themselves. I hate that shit in movies. I don't know about you, but if I found out somebody had been playing a trick on me, I would have either confronted him about it or walked out. I would NOT get up on stage with Marvin Hamlisch, etc. Other than that, it was a cute romantic comedy, but because of that one scene, I can pretty well guarantee it won't be added to my collection.

12/24 - Anna Russell: The (First) Farewell Concert (N) – I had heard a number of Ms. Russell's skits on CBC Radio Two but wanted to get the full picture. She was a very funny woman (she died last summer). And if you have the least bit of musical interests in classical or operatic music, you'll love this. I have never listened to or seen Wagner's The Ring Cycle opera, but her take on it had me laughing out loud.

12/25 - Sabrina (K) – Again, Audrey Hepburn this time with Humphrey Bogart and William Holden. The first time I saw this movie I was annoyed because I had not yet gotten over my Humphrey Bogart issues. Now, I have no idea what my problem was. I know there was a recent remake with Harrison Ford and somebody, but I can't be bothered to give it the time of day. I wasted my time with the "An Affair to Remember" remake with Warren Beatty and Annette Bening and was ticked at myself for being so stupid. There are enough movies to see out there w/o wasting my time on some stupid remake of a perfectly fabulous movie.

12/25 - Cars (YS) – I was torn about seeing this movie. On the one hand, Paul Newman does one of the voices. On the other, it's about NASCAR and since I hate and despise NASCAR and the amount of press its boring as bloody hell races get, I was disinclined to see it, to say nothing of the fact that they named the lead character after Steve McQueen who had NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with NASCAR. He raced in real race cars in real races. But the YS brought it to Christmas Day at the OS's house and in the end, Paul Newman won me over and I watched it. And I'm ashamed to admit that I liked it. I can still say, however, that I've never Days of Thunder and won't.

12/30 - The Flight of the Navigator (ABC Family) – I first saw this movie around the time it originally came out, but then it seemed to disappear and I began to wonder if I had imagined it. I found it on Netflix a couple of year ago and re-watched it and still loved it. When I saw it was on, I couldn't resist watching it again. And I'll probably watch it every time it's on. I don't know why this movie appeals to me so much, but I think it's an under-rated kid's film.

12/31 - The Ugly American (N) – Based on the book of the same name, I did not like this movie. Not because it was a bad movie, but because it was too accurate. I had put this in my Netflix queue after reading All Souls Day by Bill Morris because it was mentioned quite prominently in the book and I was interested to see how it compared to Mr. Morris' description. He also mentioned the book The Quiet American which was made into a movie in 2002. I started to watch it after I finished The Ugly American but found that I was in the mood for something a titch more light-hearted, so that one is still waiting for me. The ending of the movie, The Ugly American, was an improvement over the rest of the movie, but it's not one I'd watch again, not because it was bad, but because it made me feel horrible.

12/31 - The Muppet Movie (93%) (K) – I told you I needed something light-hearted after The Ugly American and Kermit got the nod. I love this movie, I have always loved this and will always love this movie. If you don't, I don't want to hear about it, because then I'd have to think less of you. ;-)

Next on my list of things to tell you all about are my kick-ass Christmas gifts.

The first one is my Black iPod Nano. This was my Christmas gift from my brother as well as Christmas and birthday from my mother. Of course, if I had done my own research I would have figured out that I really wanted the Shuffle for exercising and then gotten a big regular iPod which could probably hold all of my music, but I let my brother do it all. I'm going to have to get an iPod holder to attach to something for when I exercise. At any rate, it's what I asked for and everybody tells me that 2000 songs if a lot. And I hope it helps me keep my body moving when exercising. I find I walk faster when walking to something like The Sister of Mercy, so I hope it translates to the elliptical machine. I finished downloading all of my pop/rock CDs (except Tori Amos and REM) last night, so tonight I hope to figure out how to make up an Exercise Playlist and download it. Wish me luck.

Next up is this book from Zahi Hawass. The really kick-ass part of it? It's autographed. Unfortunately, he was busy when my aunt asked him to sign it, so it doesn't say "To Kathleen" but it still completely rocks. She also got me an Ancient Egyptian pop-up calendar which is hanging in my living room. I hope to get off my ass sometime soon and lure Ursamajor up the stairs to help me re-arrange my apt. and perhaps hang a picture or two. This is pertinent because I got some very cool Egyptian papyri I need to hang as well.

The third and last of the totally kick-ass gifts had me in tears. We all know how I am. One of the most fabulous person in the world had my name in the Friends Christmas Gift Exchange and he outdid himself. He found a hat from the 2003 Lausitzring CART/Champ Car race where Alex Zanardi finished the 13 laps of the race he didn't finish in 2001 because of a hideous accident where he lost his legs. I have posted the pics of it at my flickr.com account. As soon as I got home from the Gift Exchange last Monday, I took the pics and sent them to HRH. Her pronouncement was "Very cool.!" If I have a job come March, I will have the coolest hat at the Vegas race.

And last but not least, Smed is offering Holiday Mix CDs if I say why I want it. Apparently "Smed rules" is not a sufficient enough example of my writing, so some of you might want to tune out now. Just for your own sake.

Basically, the reason I want to the double Smed's Own Holiday CD Mix is because I've seen the playlists of both of them and they pretty much kick all other Holiday CD mixes' asses. I base this just on the titles since I don't know a good number of the songs (or hell, the bands), but I enjoy Smed's CDs because he makes me broaden my horizons by including old stuff I don't know, new stuff from bands I've never even heard of and because he included Band-Aid (which I have on my Midge Ure CD) and Ministry (which I also have), but it makes me comfortable in the rest of his musical choices (Steve Miller Band be damned – not literally – but because he loves the Steve Miller Band and I hate the Steve Miller Band, particularly that hideous song he included on the first mixed CD he sent me).

I'm not sure if that's a good enough essay to grant me more CDs, but it's all I have right now.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


I stole the following survey from Clarity before Christmas but never got around to completing it.

1. What did you do in 2006 that you'd never done before?
Went to another state for a wedding (twice), went curling, learned to drive a manual transmission, went to a Milwaukee Brewers game in Milwaukee

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I generally don't make resolutions.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Two friends had babies this year. One a beautiful daughter to go with her beautiful son and another couple had their first baby, a boy.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Hattie from church. I still miss her, especially how she'd attack Lee (4 years old) during the Kiss of Peace and make him giggle and she was as deaf as a post, so she had no idea how loud she was. She was great.

5. What cities/countries did you visit?
Chicago; Milwaukee; Cleveland; Ludington, MI; Edmonton; Road America at Elkhart Lake, WI; Vegas; Grand Canyon

6. What would you like to have in 2007 which you lacked in 2006?
Weight loss

7. What date from 2006 will remain etched in your memory, and why?
No date in particular will stand out.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Sadly, learning how to drive a manual transmission and it's not like I do it all that well.

9. What was your biggest failure?
My relationship with the YS which suffered hugely this year.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Usual bronchitis

11. What was the best thing you bought?

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Al Gore for taking on the idiots who don't believe in global warming.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
That moron in the Oval Office. He makes me physically ill.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Racing weekends, of course.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The Tigers run to the World Series, particularly beating the hated Yankees.

16. What song will always remind you of 2006?
Anything by Delerium as that was the first time I had ever heard them.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: Happier or sadder? Thinner or fatter? Richer or poorer?
The potential for poorer is there since my company is once again laying off, although it's not being called that. And it'll probably be March before I know anything. I'm neither thinner nor fatter, exactly the same once again after exercising like a madwoman. It's a tad frustrating. I'm a fairly even-keel type person, and I'm generally content with my life, so while I'll have highs and lows, they're fairly irregular and mostly, I'm fine.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Keeping in touch with friends around the world.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Less hanging out all alone at home knitting and watching TV.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
I spent Christmas sitting home alone until it was time to head to my older sister's house. There we exchanged gifts, I knitted and we ate and watched Cars.

21. What was your favourite TV program?
What Not To Wear or How Do I Look?

22. What was the best book you read?
I read a lot of really good books. I loved Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis by Jimmy Carter, Alex Zanardi: My Sweetest Victory: A Memoir of Racing Success, Adversity & Courage by Alex Zanardi, and The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury.

23. What was your greatest musical discovery?

24. What did you want and get?
iPod Nano (for Christmas)

25. What did you want and NOT get?
Grand Prix on DVD

26. What was your favorite film of this year?
I watch a lot of movies but rarely in the same year they came out. Of the movies I saw in the movie theatre (Brokeback Mountain, Good Night and Good Luck, The Proposition, The Muppet Movie (), and Talladega Nights), I'd say Good Night & Good Luck, but for the movies that were nominated for Oscars of any sort last year (Crash, Syriana, North Country, Capote, The Constant Gardener, Tim Burton's The Corpse Bride, Munich), I would have to go with Tim Burton's The Corpse Bride.

27. What did you do on your birthday?
My b-day was a Saturday this year, so on Friday I went to the bar with some friends from work. Saturday my friend HRH came into town and we went to the Henry Ford Museum and then I had a group of about 40 friends and relative at the Tigers game (they lost, dammit). Sunday I went for breakfast with my friend Suzy who had come in for the baseball game. Then we went to Greenfield Village and topped off the day with dinner at the Traffic Jam & Snug.

28. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Not wasting my vacation time on visiting my younger sister when she didn't want me to but didn't tell me because she didn't expect me to show up because the ONE other time I made plans to visit her, I didn't go (the fact that I had shingles was apparently not a sufficient reason).

29. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2006?
Comfort with the occasional foray into cute.

30. What kept you sane?
That's quite an assumption. However, I'd say knitting and Netflix.

31. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Richard Dean Anderson

32. What political issue stirred you the most?
Anything that dumbass does "stirs" me with "stir" equaling "pissing me off."

33. Whom did you miss?
Spending time with Sal in SF.

34. Who was the best new person you met?
Chan & Cam, new racing buddies

35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2006:
Don't do something just to appease somebody else because it won't work. And no matter what they say and how much they insist they do, people do NOT want to know what you think about their new boyfriend, unless you absolutely thought he was the greatest thing since sliced bread, because they're lying and don’t want to hear it.

36. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

Born from some mother's womb - just like any other room
Made a promise for a new life - made a victim out of your life
When your time's on the door and it drips to the floor
And you feel you can touch - all the noise is too much
And the seeds that are sown are no longer your own

Just a minor operation - to force a final ultimatum
A thousand words are spoken loud - reach the dumb to fool the crowd
When you walk down the street and the sound's not so sweet
And you wish you could hide - maybe go for a ride
To some picture arcade where the future's not made

A nightmare situation - infiltrate imagination
Smacks of past holy wars - by the wall with broken laws

The leaders of men - born out of your frustration
The leaders of men - just a strange infatuation
The leaders of men - made a promise for a new life

No saviour for our sakes - to crush the internees of hate
Self-induced manipulation - to crush all thoughts of mass salvation

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Punishment for Love

Happy New Year, everybody! I have so much to say but I'll be it doesn't happen. My week off from work was insanely busy. I did not have the time to myself that I like to have. There was family stuff and then more family stuff and then, for fun, even more family stuff.

I didn't go dancing like I wanted to the day after Christmas because I felt like death, in fact, I felt exactly the same way I did the day after Thanksgiving – utterly exhausted. I'm wondering if I should go away for the holidays, maybe all the family time stresses me out too much. Tuesday I got up and went out to run some errands. I went to Jo-Ann's as I needed some specific yarn for a couple of scarf orders and then I stopped at Target (the stupid new Target which I hate, but since I was driving right past it, I thought it would be prudent to stop) to buy baby clothes, but they had literally nothing in the 6-9 months size. By this time I was ready for a nap (I had been up for a whole hour and a half or so), so I went home instead of going to my favorite Target. I watched an episode of How Do I Look? and then it was time for my 3-hour nap. It wasn't a planned 3-hour nap, but that's what it turned into. I told you that I was utterly exhausted.

OH!!! I forgot the "best" part of Tuesday! When I got up I called Ursa to see if she wanted to go for sushi, but she had plans with ElMomo already. We chatted briefly and then went about our business. She prepared to get into the shower while I made use of my bathroom facilities. After flushing and about to brush my teeth, my phone rings and I see it's Ursa. "Did you just flush your toilet?" "Um, yes." "Your toilet is leaking. I was about to get into the shower when cold water cascaded over me." "Oh no! I'm sorry." "Not your fault, but I'm calling Schneider as soon as I get out of my shower."

When I got up from my nap, I found a note under my door from Schneider telling me that I couldn't use my toilet, but Irean's apt. was open and I could use that one. (Note: Irean moved out back in October, so it's not like he was offering use of her apt.) The plumber was supposedly coming on Wednesday. I say supposedly because the bastard didn't show up until Thursday.

The first time I had to use the facilities that day was after the sun had already set. I walked across the hall and opened the door to find there was no electricity at all. Yay! I decided to pay Ursa & OOMA a visit and use their bathroom since I knew there would be lighting there. Ursa said she'd leave the door unlocked so I could use theirs, but I told them that I'd figure something out. And I did. When I got home on Wednesday, I found the note from Schneider still on my toilet where I had put it to remind myself that I wasn't allowed to put my lily-white butt on it which was a clear indication that the jackass plumber hadn't been there. I called Schneider and got no response, but a little later there was a flashlight sitting outside Irean's door. When I got home on Thursday night, the flashlight was gone, and I had a note saying "Toilet's all fixed. Happy flushing!"

Wednesday I had to get up at a decent hour because I still had to get something for my co-worker's baby. My co-worker had invited me over to meet his baby and his wife and I have to tell you that I was very nervous about it. My co-worker is Indian, so I called another co-worker, my friend Lisa, to ask about etiquette and she said definitely take something for the baby and clothes were strongly suggested. I went to my Target and found a little outfit (jeans, madras cotton shirt and cardigan sweater to complement). Whew! I got to their house a half hour early so I just parked down the block a bit and read my book (the only one I got read in December). I had a very pleasant visit with Co-Worker and his wife. The food was fabulous (I love Indian food), the baby so darn cute and happy, and the time was well-spent. I had a fun-filled doctor's appt. that afternoon and when it was over my only thought was HOME and I completely forgot that I was supposed to stop by the World's Greatest CD Store (which sadly closed this past weekend) to pick up a couple of CDs he was holding for me. Wednesday night was the last of my time sitting home alone and veging.

I had a boatload of errands to run on Thursday (prescription to get filled, post office, CD store right by my house – cleared with the owner of the World's Greatest CD Store since he couldn't get in what I needed before he closed – and then the World's Greatest CD Store) before going to Grandma's for Christmas [Christmas Eve doesn't happen anymore as everybody has a different church schedule with Christmas Day is always held at my Older Sister's (OS) house]. Younger Sister (YS) called me that morning to tell me to get to Grandma's early because she was tired and needed help getting ready. Grandma is 88, so it's to be expected that getting ready for family invasions are a little more difficult. My errands went very quickly and before I knew it I was at The World's Greatest CD Store. When I got there I was so glad I hadn't gone the day before because the place was just hopping with friends. The owner and DJ Davo were there, as were our friends from Iowa, the owner's wife, the friend who worked there and then the other two guys who worked there also showed up. All the people there helped make my last time there less sad than it would have been. I spent a good hour or so going through the Used CDs bin and left with a STACK of music. Mr. Iowa and DJ Davo helped me out by finding CDs and saying "You have to get this." A couple of times Mr. Iowa said, "You need this. Put it in my pile, I'll buy it for you." I can't even tell you what I bought, as I haven't had a chance to listen to much of it.

From there, it was on to Grandma's where she put us to work (Mom was already there and commented that she actually got somewhere before me – trust me, this does NOT happen – EVER). We cleaned up the basement which was a "disaster" (according to Grandma) so that the kids would have somewhere to play, we cut up vegetables for veggies & dip, put the leaves into the kitchen table while Fred (Grandma's husband) watched some John Wayne movie (I think it was Rooster Cogburn). Eventually, I took my customary chair in the living room and got to knitting. I got a ton of knitting done over the course of the week. I can't even tell you how many scarves I knitted, but I think it might have been in the double digits.

On Wednesday I had foolishly agreed to go shopping with Mom & YS on Friday as Mom had a number of gift cards for Macy's (aka Marshall Field's aka Hudson's) to spend and Mom is not any good at spending money. Okay, that's not completely true, she's not good at spending money on something decent. She'll spend $50 on 10 sweaters, but it's beyond her comprehension that you get what you pay for and that one sweater for $30 is a better deal, as it's probably not made from cheap-ass acrylic.

The day was LONG and pretty damned stressful. Mind you I got some FABULOUS deals (99 cents for the fully-lined grey work slacks I'm wearing right now, 75 cents for a black 100% silk skirt, $12.50 for a very cool crushed velvet shirt), but asking the saleslady at Ann Taylor to find me the suit I was trying on in a 10 while the YS was trying on size 6 jeans and then saying to me, "You see? They're all too big and look! I can take them off like sweatpants." made for a stressful day. Taking them off like sweatpants means she was then showing me how skinny she is by pulling the jeans down without unbuttoning or unzipping them. Yeah, it was fun. And she did this after I had commented that after spending 2 hours a day exercising in 2005 and then an hour a day in 2006 I hadn't lost a single flipping pound. Her commiseration? "I didn't see any waste loss until I did my 20-mile run." She's running a marathon this coming Sunday. If I had been thinking, I would have said "That's probably because at 125 lbs, you don't have anything to lose." And while I was buying a size 10 suit (gorgeous!!!), she was buying size 4 pants and small tops. Oh, I was feeling good about myself, yes, indeed. I didn't get home until midnight that night.

Saturday was Christmas with the Older Brother's (OB) family as this year was SIL's family's turn. I spent the morning finishing my wrapping as the Terror Nephew's presents were too large for gift bags. I might have watched a movie and knitted until it was time to leave. Oh yeah, I was in charge of the salad, so I walked to the Farm Market that morning, in an effort to encourage my metabolism to do something.

After the family event, where I had to teach the niece how to knit because the YS bought her a knitting basket for Christmas, I ran home and changed into my new lovely crushed velvet shirt, stopped at Merchant's to pick up a bottle of Belvedere and headed to BST's. He was having his annual holiday party and he always makes Chi-Chis which are yummy!! It's essentially a pina colada with vodka instead of rum and even though I hate coconut and pina coladas, I love those things. I figured since I'd be drinking his vodka, I'd replenish beforehand. I stayed way too late considering I had to get to church by 9:30 in the morning as I had sacristan duties, but it was worth it, as hanging with friends is always worth it.

I ended up spending New Year's Eve with a few of the same friends (after dinner with my aunt, uncle and cousins) and then New Year's Day was gift exchange with the same group of friends. Tomorrow I'm going to tell you about my really cool and kick-ass gifts!!! I have to run now. Things to do!

I hope you all had great holidays and partied like rock stars!