Note:

This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

ShabaDabbaDoo

My new year is starting off well with a new restaurant to try.  Doesn't the new year start December 26th? MiMi and I hit ShabaShabu for lunch yesterday, while CJ had a play-date with some old friends.

I've wanted to try this place out for a good long while, well, after it opened which was quite a few years ago. Just shows how much I get out...

It was pretty empty around lunch. We were greeted warmly and MiMi requested we sit at the sushi bar. There was only one other 'family' there: a couple with their toddler son. I am already impressed with them, bringing their kids to an ethnic, high-end restaurant. That takes 1) balls and b) they like ethnic food so they must be cool.

Our waitress was also very inviting, not stuffy, but very casually friendly. It didn't feel forced. We had cool water glasses: squared white porcelain tumbers, with a lemon wedge (I didn't even have to ask for lemon).

MiMi decided on her favorites California Roll and the Avocado Roll. I liked that they had a section on the sushi menu for just "Vegetable Rolls". I wasn't in the mood for sushi, so I didn't try something with eel. I had intended on hitting on some green curry, as I recently decided that I *do* like green curry...but once my eyes found the Pad Woonsen Chicken, I knew I was getting that...#3 (out of 4) spicy.

We started off with some Miso soup, again, one of my favorites. Surprisingly, MiMi didn't like it. I, on the other hand, loved it. Definitely a slight advantage over other miso soups and presented in a really nice shaped bowl. Wish I took a picture of it.

MiMi's sushi was first. A nice presentation with a lot of sushi for an 8 year old. She doesn't have the chopsticks down (not without effort) but I usually get handcramps using chopsticks (and only for sushi) so I told her not to worry about it. She used her fingers. Hey - I think it's the BEST way to eat sushi...

I tried a few with my cramped hand and they were quite delicious. Of course, it's difficult to go wrong with california rolls and they tend to taste identical across sushi bars (to me). But MiMi LOVED them and that's what counts.

My pad woonsen was also nicely presented. I wasn't used to such flair for lunch! The variation of this dish, as opposed to other places I've had it, was the big chunks of cabbage in it. I enjoyed it but I expect that sized cabbage in a stir fry vs. a noodle dish. Regardless, it was quite yummy. A couple pieces of the chicken were grisly, so I would have expected a better cut of the chicken (wow - I sound like a real food critic). I tend to be a bit more hokey about chicken, as there was a time period where I was repulsed by it. My, how times have changed...

My #3 spicy was just right. It wasn't as spicy as I anticipated and my friend Bob would have needed the #4, or one that wasn't actually advertised. We had plenty of food leftover, which made for a nice dinner for MiMi and I.

We ended the lunch date with Banana Katsu Ala Mode. I almost took a picture but 1) the dish looked pretty phallic and d) MiMi requested I stop with the pictures already.

It was a breaded and fried banana, between a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This presentation needs some work but the dish was good. Not great, as the breading was overbearing on the banana. I think using plantains might have worked better than a regular ole banana. But hey - what do I know? That  may have been what they used...but it didn't appear that way.

I definitely would go back. The restaurant itself is really a beautiful place. The staff was amazingly good. And the food was delicious. I would definitely want to try some of their sushi specialties, as well as some of the other Japanese and Thai dishes.




Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Do I Dare?

No matter what, these things still show up more often than not...making it a freakish 21st century phenomena.

This one is from Christmas Eve. Must be a Santa present...

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Eve Before Christmas

After a big, homemade breakfast, we set off for Lake Lynn to walk our two fat asses (the twins, not Tim and I), and the rest of the crew for a walk around the lake.

My hope is to get one of the twins, perhaps Lucy, used to walking, then running, to have her as my running partner. She needs the exercise and she's manic, so she has energy to burn.

Ricky was not really in the running (pun intended) as a running partner because he is richly spoiled. He hates being outside for very long. He prefers to snuggle with anyone, preferably whatever is most uncomfortable for you, and if you take him for short walks in the 'hood, he will drag his four paws - or even resort to lying on the sidewalk in order for his human to pick him up and carry him. MOST of the time, we just drag him (gently but firmly).

Apparently, however, Lucy was the one that ran out of energy in the end and ended up being stubbornly slow while Ricky booked it in the end. Brenna, the third (and not fat) dog is a genuine pro at walking and running, so she was a "10" the whole time. Well, except when she was losing and I was running with Lucy, and Tim was running with Ricky. She howled, moaned, and attempted to drag an even more stubborn CJ, who found it hilarious to hear Brenna go nuts.

Lucy, as I have mentioned before, is a 'bad-ass'. She barked and growled at every passing dog. At one point, a doberman and its owner came over to sniff the twins. Tim warned the owner that Lucy will probably nip at his dog. "Oh that's OK" was what the owner got out before bad-ass went nipping at the dobie's face. "See." Was my reply.

Afterward, we headed to Target for christmas cookies, snacks, and pajamas. Ever since the first Christmas episode of Modern Family, we give each other pajamas on Christmas Eve, open them up, and wear them. So this year, we bought them on Christmas Eve, CJ wrapped them, and then we opened them up during the evening.

Tim has a boom lift rented out for the week for one of his jobs he's working on. So we all got a ride up in the thing. MiMi did pretty good - getting high up before she grabbed Tim and begged to go back down. CJ didn't get as high as MiMi and then, somehow, the gang ganged up on me to get in there too. I kept my mouth shut but kept a tight grip on Tim.
I'm sure it's stable, as Tim said, but not the kind of thing I would want to do everyday.

We enjoyed our new pajamas (although my shirt was itchy) and watched "A Christmas Story", which was awesome because it's one of my favorites and CJ seemed to enjoy it as much as I have. The fire burning in the fireplace was built by yours truly, ace firestarter.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

My Bests of 2011

My annual "Best of" post. Let's see if I can remember all the things I wanted to write, that I've been 'writing' in my head...

Best Song: Hands down, one of the most overplayed song on the radio...still, I love it, love it, love it: Rolling in the Deep by Adele. While I don't care to listen to it as much as I used to, I still am not sick of it. Her other songs, like Someone Like You, I am not fond of *and* I am UP TO HERE with regard to hearing it AGAIN. But she has an amazing voice and this song is such a creative upbeat song, despite it being about being scorned.

And the remakes of it? People went crazy. Why? Because that song is just amazing.
Linkin Park I love how everyone sings along with him.
A co-worker sent me this one: Vasquez.
One of my favorites is one I heard from Mike's Top Five Downloads...a cappella by John Legend.

My favorite book of the year? Well, I read some amazing books this year. The Harry Potter series would have swept this one away had it not been for George R.R. Martin. Out of his amazing A Song of Ice and Fire series, I'd have to pick A Storm of Swords. A Storm of Swords is the third book in his series and contains one after another shocking developments that I never saw coming. It changed the entire perceived direction of the story-line...which takes huge kahunas and by god, that IS what Martin is good at.

Favorite Movie: I don't blog about all the movies I watch. I really should so I can remember. But I do remember this one: The Princess Bride.

I actually have seen this one a few times before. I knew a lot of people were obsessed with this movie and I just didn't get it. But, one day, while doing laundry, I decided to watch it again on one of my on-demand channels, to see yet again what the ado was all about.

And I was hooked. I loved it. Every fricking minute of it. It was hilarious and Inigo Montoya became one of my favorite heroes. Robin Wright, Cary Elwes, Andre the Giant? Superb and perfectly placed in each of their roles.

I loved it so much that when I found out that The Colony theaters was showing this for their Cool Classics series, I immediately blocked my calendar for it. Granted, I blocked my calendar about four months in advanced. December 21st, just a few days ago, was the date and all of us attended. The theater was FULL. I warned the family that, much like Tim does around The Shining, Tombstone, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Boys of Company C (which I haven't actually watched), people will be quoting the movie out loud. They did. They clapped. A lot. And they LOL'd. A lot. Me included.

Favorite Dining: I didn't do a whole lot of eating out at different places this year. I don't get much opportunity to do this as I'd like except during work and this year, me and some girlfriends hit Coquette. I had the Croque Madam, which is one of my favorites from La Farm Bakery. Our server was friendly and prompt and the food was delish.

Funniest Moment: This happens to be one of the most embarrassing moments but surprisingly, I do not flush with embarrassment when I think about this. Honestly. The one thing I wish I had at that moment was the ability to take a picture of myself because, my description in no way compares to the way I actually looked.

And that leads me to, the best damn gift I've ever received: my iPhone 4s. I have been smartphone-less for centuries. My obstinate mind-set made me believe I didn't need such a thing: a phone, a camera, and a PDA were enough for me. But the PDA was an itouch and when I can't get service to read my email, catch up on the news or worse, play Words with Friends, I felt cheated out of life's greatest pleasures. And then Tim buys one for me...leaves it in a bucket of KFC for me to find...and I have been walking on airs ever since. I love my iPhone. Love love love it. I would tell Siri this every day if I could remember, which my iPhone can help me do.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Obits 2011

As I have mentioned before, I actually 'enjoy' reading obituaries. Morbid fascination, you may think. Yes. Sometimes it is. I tend to check out wikipedia's "Recent Deaths" section, to see who died...they are usually people known for something. But when I used to get the newspaper, I skimmed the daily obituaries. You may think it weird...and it is...but who said I cared about being weird? But the key to these things are: they summarize someone's live in just a few paragraphs, if not shorter. Someone who loved this person wrote something profound about them, and the least anyone can do is take a minute or two to read it. For a moment in time, I can imagine the life this person had, and how much they had in their lives.

I have a section of posts that are related to obituaries. One of my favorites is this one about Count Goddfried von Bismark: http://blog.yourpointismoot.com/2007/07/in-sad-news-today.html.

It's much more difficult in the online world to run across the 'average' person. Apparently legacy.com specializes in obituaries, so I'll have to check that out some day.

But this article from the NY Times? Wow. My virtual-friend Kevin posted this on facebook. I read it last night before I went to bed...and I was moved. I cried. And I read every one of these. And I'm still thinking about these people today. I couldn't imagine a better, well-thought out article to write. I have to share it again and hope you all are as moved as I was.

BTW. The first person they write about is Mike DeStefano, a comedian. He was on Last Comic Standing and he died at the young age of 44. I listened to the podcast that they cite in the article. It's an amazing podcast and I recommend listening to it. I think they picked out one of the most beautiful pieces of his interview to present in this article.

Without further adieu:
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/12/22/magazine/the-lives-they-lived.html

My Kind of Bible Story

I love Rick Gervais. I can't wait to see him do the Golden Globes again. I thought he was awesome for the last one. Stupid, stuffy, over-paid hollywood blow-hards...

Last night I watched his stand-up comedy special on HBO. He read a story about Noah. He can read this to me anytime, especially before my bedtime...snuggling.

Oh. It's over 14 minutes long. But it's worth the time to spend watching it. Or watch the entire comedy special. Or go to youtube and watch three minute increments. Why on earth anyone would do that, I don't know, but hey, if that's your thing...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Random Philosophy

This morning I made a donut run with MiMi. In true drive-thru form for us, we had another glitch in the order. The essentials were met: a dozen donuts, a cheese croissant for me (oddly enough, I am not a donut eater) but missing was the Drunkaccino that I ordered for MiMi.

"Where's the Drunkaccino?" I asked, after getting everything but.

A look of confusion and panic -- there was a big line for morning donuts -- a check on the register and a "We didn't charge you for it" was my answer. I wasn't getting one unless I placed a new order for it. I wasn't going to hold everyone up behind me over their (not surprisingly) error. After all, I have coffee at home. I told MiMi I would make her coffee at home. At one point, after she continued to berate the crappy service ("We need a school for stupid people to do this job!"), she said "Yours will be better than anything they can make". "Wait until you drink it before you say that..." was my answer to that.

Anyway, this is how this conversation went:

Me: "There is nothing better than coffee with your donuts."

Her: "Except a million dollars."

Me: "Yes, a million dollars is definitely better than coffee and donuts."

Her: "Everything is better than dying."

Way to throw a deep thought into an inane conversation about crappy service.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

And Now for Something Completely Different

This would be different only if you were coming from the last post, which I am. 

These videos came from Facebook posts that my friends posted. The first one is silly but funny. At least to me. I don't fit this stereotype in total, nor do I know very many women that do, but it's just funny.

OK. The "let me read you this..." and the fumbling through the purse is definitely me. I HATE the fumbling through the purse thing. I can't find shit. And it doesn't matter if I have a teeny-tiny purse or a big-ass purse, I still can't find what I'm looking for.

Next up is the Jimmy Kimmel clip of asking parents to give their kids early xmas presents...but they had to be crappy. The reactions are not as funny to me as the actual gifts they are given:

Lastly, a very cool video. This is amazing. The production of it is brilliant. I can't stop thinking about it. Grand Rapids, MI put this together as a response to being on the list of America's Dying Cities by Newsweek.

Assholes of the Week

I have two Jon Stewart clips to share. These ended up being on one episode, back-to-back.

The first one is incredulous, to say the least. Yet another conservative religious body that forces their ignorance into the public eye. It just amazes me that people can be happy, seeing the world through such obscene glasses. Why do these type of people hate so much, all in the name of their god and family values? It just adds so much more intolerance on my part...I continue to just be disgusted by these sort. And they continue to feed into the very reason why I cannot stand anyone who feels the need to proclaim their "christian values". Hey - I am not pretending to believe in a god and feel like I am a good christian person that loves all. I don't love all. I despise with every bone in my body the hatred anyone has for people they don't agree with...especially blacks, Muslims, Hispanics, and gays.

If anyone in my family continues to read on, know this: my children are welcomed to be muslim, love a god, two gods or no gods, love a woman or a man, no matter what race or religion that person is. Of course, I would probably freak-the-fuck-out if that person ends up being a conservative christian. That, my friends, would be a major problem for me...but not in a way that I would disown my child. I feel pretty confident that this will not be the case as my children are being raised in a household much different from how me or Tim were brought up.  They don't HAVE to be anything (catholic or southern baptist or atheist). They ask questions, we answer and we tell them that one day, they will figure out for themselves what they want/need/have to believe in. And I think that is going to work out in my favor (i.e. NOT a christian conservative ignoramus).



The next clip is about the working poor. I could barely recover from the idiotic "let's-see-muslims-the-way-my-ignorant-mind-sees-them" segment, that The Daily Show throws me this:


The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Newt Gingrich's Poverty Code
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook


My mouth dropped. My head continued to shake no in disbelief. And somewhere out there are millions of Americans who hear this fucked up dribble coming out of this fucker and agree with him. WHY? Why do you people think it is OK for you to feel this way about other people? Guess what? I know WHITE PEOPLE that are like you're stereotype of black people. And the white people that point out any of their viewed misgivings that black or hispanics have are USUALLY THE LAZY ONES WHO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF OUR GOVERNMENT. The irony. The hypocrisy. Fuck you if you think like this. Fuck you and your mamma. Fuck you Newt Gingrich. Gods, Buddha, Allah help us all if he actually gets the republican nomination...

Monday, December 12, 2011

May I Take Your Order?

This is what I wanted from my trip to McDonald's today:
2 small strawberry-banana smoothies with whip cream
1 medium french fy
1 small mocha, milk, no whip cream.

CJ usually likes to have a smoothie before volleyball practice and sometimes, I grab a coffee. The last time I came to the Mickey D's that's on the way, I waited over 10 minutes for my coffee. I was in the fricking drive-thru parking space. And when I continued to wait, I fricking got _out_ of my car, went inside, and STILL had to wait to get my coffee.

Today MiMi was with me, hence the fries and extra smoothie.

I got to the drive thru order thingy.
McD: May I take your order?
Me: Yes. I would like two small, strawberry-banana smoothies with whip cream. A medium fry and a small mo...
McD: garble, garble garble, smoothie
Me: ?? Um. Can you repeat that?
McD: Two small berry smoothies. Will that be all?
Me: Actually, I want two small *strawberry-banana* smoothies. With whip cream.
McD: Do you want whip cream on those?
Me: !!!!! Yes, please.
McD: Anything else?
Me: Yes. A medium french fry.  ...  ...  ...  And a small hot, mocha coffee, with milk and no whip cream.
McD: A caramel mocha coffee. No whip cream.
Me: No, just a mocha please.
McD: Your total is blah blah blah.


When I pull up to the window, she asks me again "You want whip cream on those smoothies?" "yes" I say pleasantly.


When we get our stuff, I can see we have the fries, the coffee and the two smoothies with whip cream. Why is the whip cream important? Because McD's charges EXTRA for the whip cream. And I have purchased it before without it being on.


So I say: yay! At least they got it right and the machine isn't broken this time.


Once I get rolling, I drink my coffee. Hmmm...this tastes like peppermint. And sure enough, the label on my coffee has this label:


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Merry Christmas

Yeah. I said it. "C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S". I ain't afraid. But if you think I am writing to _defend_ the "christ" in christmas, you've come to the wrong place.

The word "Christmas" has never meant christ to me. It's the name of the holiday, like Halloween, or Turkey Day. "X-mas", "Happy Holiday", "Santa Day"...all the same to me. If anything, when I see or hear "put the christ back into christmas", I want to throw up. But I am not offended because, you know what? It doesn't change my perspective on the word or the meaning it has for me...which has NOTHING to do with the birth of christ, those magi and the manger.

Sacrilege, I know. Blasphemous even! I love it.

But even though I am not afraid to say Christmas, it doesn't mean that those who want to FORCE IT BACK into the vernacular still don't piss me off.  Lay off, inane christian fanaticals! I'm not telling you to take the christ out...do your own thing with like-minded fools. Let me be.

But how can we when we have Fox-fucking-news to harbor on the conservative front? As promised, my Jon Stewart clips begin with that very subject:


The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Tree Fighting Ceremony
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook


And coincidentally, I saw this article on CNN today about 'share your holiday experience' if you are a non-believer. Within that article is a link to research that shows a trend towards organized religion becoming extinct.

While I find that hard to believe, bearing how much this country seems to mix politics with conservative religious views, I am not totally lost on that idea. Most of my peers are non-believers, whether agnostic, atheist, or just march to the drum of their own beat (like me). If anything, most of my peers are SICK AND TIRED of religious-fanatics forcing their dribble down everyone's throats. And it's ironic that people like that - the obscenely-ignorant-religious-fools - are trying so hard to show how they are right and it's probably one of many (like logic and education) reasons that so many of us non-believers are turning away from organized religion.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

All Done!

It's done and I'm done. Girls on the Run (GOTR) Fall 2011. The culmination of 12 weeks of training for 14 girls ended yesterday with the Reindeer Romp 5K. All but two of the girls completed the 5K with ecstatic smiles. Unfortunately, one girl ended up being out-of-town and another was plagued by asthma. But the latter was out there, in full force of support, and handing out medals to her fellow GOTR-mates.

It's been a great season and I love hanging out with these girls. They are funny, sweet, deep, beautiful, confident, and now, 5K runners. I met new people, including parents, who I normally like to avoid. And it ends up that I actually liked them. I enjoyed working with my fellow coaches too. And having MiMi part of the program *with me*.

"GOTR" spelled out
But I certainly didn't enjoy the stress of trying to make these meetings, twice a week for twelve weeks. It hasn't been easy to put a hard stop on at work and get out to our practice by 4:15. Once there, life was joyous but it takes a lot out of my day, personally and professionally, to "be there" emotionally and physically.

I would love to do this again. But I won't anytime soon. *Maybe* in the Fall of next year. Maybe. I want a bit more out of the coaching aspect than I had/gave this round. Maybe a different site. This one is too close home. Literally, it's near my home but also, philosophically, I think it would be easier for me to work at a site when I am detached from the place other than via this program.

But it's tough as this provides me with such insight to the young minds...it inspires me and I love inspiring others. Whether I am doing that or not, I'll probably never know, but in my own mind, it feels good for me to do this. I love running and bringing that to this generation is amazing.

And then there's the race. I was so happy to see all of our girls come through the finish. But my last girl? I nearly cried. Well, technically I did cry but I blinked back my tears. This girl worked so hard. And when she ran through the finish, she was giddy, laughing, raising her hands up in the air. It was the perfect ending.

I'll miss these girls and this snapshot of my time with them will just be a fleeting memory for them. I'm glad I could have been a part of it.

What's My Background?

I get that question a lot. Actually, it's more like "What are you?"

But that's not what this is about. This post is about my background on my desktop. I saw an article about what your background image says about you and while I think those things are hokey, they are fun to read.

You can read more about their assessment of personality traits based on desktop backgrounds. But this one describes perfectly a select few people I work with. They will remain unnamed and even if they read this, they wouldn't think of themselves in this way. But those of us who work with them, they know who I'm talking about.


I do put family photos up occasionally but since my (work) laptop has windows 7, I love the themes that are available and tend to use those. I try to change them every month or so. And the phase I'm in are cityscapes, landscapes, which tend to include animals. Currently, my theme set is "Galapagos by Ryan Good", with the "Characters" sound set.




Now, my *browser* has a different background. I am a Chrome-user and I have had this as my background for a good while. I love the giggles I get when my laptop is hooked up to a projector at work. So far, no one 'gets it' so no major brownie points, or instant-bonding moments with co-workers.  If I could get a GoT as a windows 7 theme, I would be in heaven.

The Third Day Cookie

Every year around this time, I receive the "12 Days of Cookies" newsletter from a couple of popular cooking sites. And every year, I read some of their cookie-a-day recipe and think "I'm going to make those!" And then either the fervor passes or mostly, I forget.

Fortunately, I have a teen who loves to bake. And cook! And she's fabulous at both. I mentioned this before and I'll mention it again (not for the last time either) that she has the ability to watch someone make something, come back to it at a later time, and make it based on her memory. It's fricking incredible to me. I mean, I can do that with foods I have made over the years but my personality is that I can do *anything* if I have directions. Sounds confident, eh? Well, without directions, I'm at a loss.

It's also a gigantic help to have her do this. It's nice to have another chef in the kitchen. Dinner is usually prepared by either Tim or I, and we enjoy it, but we love to empower CJ to take control. My parents never did that for me (no offense...but to this day, they still think I'm 15 years old and can't possibly cook; I get cooking-anxiety when they are around and Tim ends up being my co-chef or *the* chef...otherwise, it's eating out or letting them do the cooking...and my dad doesn't cook; same with my in-laws).

Back to cookies. Without knowing about the Holiday Cookie Countdown, CJ decided to make cookies the other day. This is my incentive, and inspiration, to make more baked goodies (whether it's through me or her) this holiday season. These are Oatmeal Chocolate Chips, which was a pleasant surprise as I didn't realize she would eat anything with oatmeal. I LOVE oatmeal goodies and these turned out fantastic.

Mrs. Fields Oatmeal Raisin Chews
2 1/4  cups flour
½  teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup quick oats (not instant)
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
½  cup sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter, softened
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
8 ounces raisins (about 1 ½ cups)
3 ounces walnuts, chopped (about ½ cup) (optional)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, soda, salt and oats. Mix well with a wire whisk and set aside.

In a large bowl blend sugars with an electric mixer set at medium speed. Add butter and mix to form a grainy paste. Scrape down sides of bowl, then add honey, vanilla and eggs. Mix at medium speed until light and fluffy.

Add the flour mixture, raisins and walnuts and blend at low speed just until combined. Do not overmix.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheets, 1 ½  inches apart. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until cookies are light golden brown. Immediately transfer cookies with a spatula to a cool, flat surface.

Yield: 2 ½ dozen without walnuts; about 3 dozen with walnuts.

As you can see/read, she substituted chocolate chips for raisins because, seriously, why would anyone ruin cookies by adding raisins? And sadly, she doesn't like nuts, so those were definitely OPTIONAL.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Inspiration

A great word. I am lucky that I find inspiration in something, someone, every day. I think I should write more about what inspired me 'that day'. This might counter the negative dribble that will come out of my fingers, especially with the elections and the douche-bag conservatives running...

But back to inspiration.

Wednesday was Quail Ridge Book (QRB) Teen Writing Club night. My partner-in-crime, Sam, was out of town so I headed over there after Girls on the Run (GOTR). Tim and CJ were at volleyball practice (we've come down to man-to-man defense with handling the kids' extracurricular activities) and since MiMi is a GOTR runner, she came along with me to QRB.

We stopped at Whole Foods for dinner first, where MiMi chose her own plate: mac-n-cheese, two pieces of tofu, clam chowder, and a salad. I love watching her eat good food.

Afterward, we headed to QRB and she had a choice of sitting outside the back room we meet, and reading or sitting in with me to hear the stories.

I think she confused writing club with book club because she thought the writers were writing about the books they read. "No. They write their own stories. They do this, outside of school, because they like to."

I continued with the fact that, if she listened in, she may not "get" the stories, as they cover very different story lines than what you she is used to reading. But, I said to her, I think you'd enjoy it, even if you didn't understand it. The writers themselves are so different and cool, you might just like meeting them.

She decided she would sit in. She tried to read her book but I would sneak glances her way and I could see her listening in on the conversations and the stories.  She sat a bit a way from the table and by the end of the evening, she had managed to sneak herself between me and another writer (Emily), and was right at the table. Adorable.

We usually clap after each writer's reading...not out of courtesy but because, well, it's just that fucking good. Again, at the end of the evening, I saw MiMi clapping vigorously. She wasn't mimicking us. She was truly enjoying the story. My heart soared.

Once we got in the car, she looked adrenalize-d. She was glowing.

"Maybe the next time you go, you can bring my scary story that I am writing and read it to them?"

OMG. I love this. "I think that is a great idea."

"You know. I really love to write too. I love reading but I love writing stories. Especially scary stories."

"That is great! I'm glad you like reading since I love it. I like to write too; I just don't do it as much as I'd like."

"I get my inspiration from reading other books."

"Nothing wrong with that. Anywhere you can find inspiration to write a story is a good thing."

"I also get inspiration from my mind. I have all this memory. I go to my SD card in my brain. And in there are folders with different things. So I like to go to the folder that has 'things that I am scared of'."

OMG. Did she just use computer metaphors to describe her brain capacity? Or does she really have the ability to make folders in her brain and store certain things there? If so, I want to learn how to do that!!

I asked her if she wanted to join me for the next club meeting, when I shared her story with everyone. She shyly nodded yes. I know that had to be a brave thing because, it is a difficult thing to share your story to others "out loud".

She asked me how old you had to be to join the club. I said that the age QRB publishes is 13 but most of the writers are now high schoolers and much older. I love that she felt inspired by the group because, lord knows (and I mean that as non-religious as possible), I am.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Another Writing Exercise

I ran across this one via my goodreads email, alerting me that one of the authors I follow had posted a blog post. The author has a writing exercise, named Story Weekend, which requires a story to be written about a subject matter she proposes.In this case, Most Memorable Shopping Trip. The story had to be true and less than 100 words. While writing a true story was more up my alley, writing it in 100 words or less was not.

Oh. And no foul language. That was not good as I was going to make that my "signature" move.

I managed to pull it off. I do this a lot when I tweet, cutting back my words and substituting acronyms or symbols for words to condense my tweet into 140 characters or less. In this case, however, it didn't seem appropriate to use acronyms or symbols.

This is the story I posted:
My daughters and I were at a local mall. I allowed my 12-year-old to go browse alone; my 8-year-old stuck with me. I decided to eat at The Cheesecake Factory. I anticipated a long wait. Instead, we were seated instantly. However, I was missing my tween. I left my 8-year-old at the table to search for her. Once found, she was excited. “I got you something!” Instead, I greeted her with exasperation. We walked back to the restaurant in silence. Later, she showed me the mug she bought for me. I will always remember how ashamed I felt that day.
This happened a few years ago. I had the brilliant idea of surprising CJ with a lunch break at The Cheesecake Factory. After MiMi and I window shopped, I decided it would be a good idea to get into "line" for the big wait for a table. But luck (or bad luck) was on my side and we ended up getting a table right away.

CJ was shopping solo so I had been texting CJ about where she was, how we were heading over to the restaurant, then a text about being seated. No answers.

I was getting annoyed. My number one rule is that she needs to make sure that she responds to my texts so I know where she is always. So after annoyance, and more waiting at a much-loved table at The Cheesecake Factory, I started getting scared.  Was she kidnapped?

So I was freaked. I told MiMi that I was going to see if I could see her from the restaurant entrance, that faces into the mall. I didn't want to leave MiMi all alone but I wasn't going to be long. I walked out, angry and nervous, searching for CJ.

I found her. She was walking towards me. Her face lit up when she saw me. She was excited. She lifter a bag and said "I got you something!" Instead, I was pissed. "I have been texting you!!! Where have you been???? We've been waiting for you at the restaurant!!!"

We walked back in complete silence.

We had a very awkward meal. But I can cool off quickly and I could tell CJ was feeling bad. I asked her what she got and she showed me all of the things she had purchased. Then she handed me the bag that she had excitedly shown me earlier. I opened it up and found a mug. A mug she read at the store and thought of me. It was the sweetest thing I had ever received from her and I felt instant shame.

In fact, I still feel shame when I grab that mug for my coffee. And that's OK. It reminds me of how awful I was. I had made that moment stressful by going to the restaurant, then getting a table, without CJ. It wasn't her fault (we later discovered her phone had inadvertently shut off).

Fast forward to now. When we hit the malls now, I make sure she knows where I am and she does the same. Constantly. Like every store. Or every moment ("I'm in the checkout line!"). A memorable event of a different sort.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Different Type of Exercise

One of my goals that I made for 2011 was to take a creative writing class. I wanted to have that down by November, so I could participate in National Novel Writing Month. That obviously did not work out for me for 2011, so I'll try again in 2012.


I did look for classes. I was really looking for something, perhaps through the city programs, or some kind of evening course through the community college system. But I couldn't find anything.


Really. I. Did. Not. Find. One. Class.


These may be word of mouth things that are part of  smaller writing clubs, so hopefully, those of you reading this and live in the Raleigh area, may know of something that I can look into next year.


But even if there were something available, I doubt that I could have made the time. But it's nice to think it could have happened.


I recently started "Stumble Upon"ing stuff. Holy cow. That site (well, the app on the iPad/iPhone) is friggin' (a word I heard my trouble teen say in a sentence the other day...wow. Wasn't that a shock to my ears.) incredible. I am addicted.


One of my interests I added was "writing". 


You know how those types of sites list out different things you would be interested in? But actually don't optimize to them? Well, surprise surprise. This one did and one of the things I stumbled upon was this site's Creativity Boost #3: Dictionary Excursion.


Essentially, the point is to find six words in your trusty old dictionary, following their directions. I used the one I had most of my life (I love words, hence, I love dictionaries). My dad brought me my old dictionary to me last year. Isn't it beautiful?

And a note about books vs. cloud-ware: while I love my Merriam Webster dictionary app, this book holds sentiment. The pages are folded from the pages I leafed through as a kid. I wrote this in the cover, when I first got it.


Some things just can't be saved into the cloud and bring so much emotion and memory to a person.  In 50 years, no one will remember the words I looked up in my dictionary app, but this book will still be around (hopefully), with my handwriting, and my own trail of words that I looked on when I was young.






Back to the exercise: The last word is randomly chosen by you (or me, depending on how you want to read this). My words were:
acidify





as though
 
beneficence





chambray




Cambrian (Which I just realized that I don't even have in my story! I suck. It was in the original...oh well. Novice error.)






and ciré.






The challenge, besides writing a story with an obscure subject (for me) in 250 words or less, was putting the first three words in the opening paragraph. Once I did that, I couldn't figure out a better way to use them in a different sentence.


Of course, I about peed in my pants, I was so happy about challenging myself to this creativity exercise. And, OF COURSE, I haven't written anything but these blog posts (and documentation, emails, announcements, complaints, etc.) for the past X many years. Nothing relating to fiction.


To say the LEAST, I am rusty. I attempted this exercise in three forms written, and one form in my head. I bagged the initial story and re-purposed some of it - mainly the first paragraph (which is the hardest to form, based on this exercise), and created the final product. I was not happy with it as it's not what I had intended when I was excited about the exercise.


So I decided that I wouldn't give it a big reveal. The site actually wants writers to post their final story in the comments. Oh no way was I going to do that! I wasn't going to embarrass myself. This would be something that I could look back on and go "hey, it was the beginning of getting back into my creative mind...it's OK". Even though I would laugh at my "old" self's poor writing style.


But then I decided not to be a chicken shit and post it. I made up a whole new user name, so that I could be disguised. Then I posted it. And then I spent the rest of the evening, flushing in embarrassment and regret.


But now that morning has come and gone, I'm a bit over it. It's not great. But it's also not easy to fit the words I had into a story 250 words or less. And that was the challenge. I did it. Good or bad. I came up with a story, using these mainly obscure words, in a matter of an hour. And as a logophile, I learned some new, cool words. I also learned a lot about Cambrian names, as I originally decided to use a Welsh name in this...but I couldn't pull it all together and I just became a bit anal-retentive about it.


It's amazing how glued one gets to a name. I started with Nessa but the idea came to use a Welsh name. So I found a name that I misspelled: Annwyn. I found that to be too unrealistic but decided to shorten it to Wyn and then explain that Annwyn was the Welsh name for "beloved". It isn't. And it was Annwyl. And by the time I discovered this, I was set on Wyn. And that is why the first story was bagged, as the whole point was "in name only" (my subject being "nominal"). So, I hate the title. It should be "In Name Only".


One thing I would like to add, most of all, is that I was inspired by my crew at QRB Teen Writing Club. I know ElfArmyWrites would especially love this type of exercise, so I decided to 'come out of the closet' for her, for Danny, for Emily, and the rest of those wondrous creatures that never cease to amaze me...besides my daughters.


So here's what I came up with:
Sisters in Name Only
“Don’t you look lovely today?” Only Wyn could acidify a compliment as though I would believe her. Wyn: the epitome of beneficence.
I was in my favorite chambray button down with a pair of jeans. I loved how I looked up until I met up with Wyn. Wyn was in a white chiffon blouse that clung to her like ‘drapings’ on a Greek goddess. She wore a pair of black cire pants. All together, she looked like a fashionable business woman.
“Why thank you Wyn. As usual, you are overdressed.” We were going to the fucking movies. Who else would see her in the dark?
“Dress to impress! That’s what I always say. You never know who you might meet and first impressions mean everything.”  “To you” I thought to myself.
“I’d rather be comfortable, thank-you-very-much. And besides, who the fuck am I going to meet at a theater?”
“No one that’s going to be impressed, that’s for sure.”
“Whatever.” I noticed Wyn rolling her eyes at that. God she annoys me. How did we even come from the same womb? I swear, one of us was switched at birth and ended up in the wrong family.
And yet, I oblige my sister and accompany her to the movies.
And what do you know? She actually meets someone that’s impressed with her. Some dimwit beefcake that was in the popcorn line, leaving me to sit alone, at this stupid ass movie that I didn’t even want to see.
Bitch.









Friday, November 25, 2011

Gobble! Gobble! Gobble!

We had a very enjoyable Thanksgiving this year. It was just us: me, Tim, the girls, the twins, Brenna and the cat.

With all the running around that Tim and I do every day, it was nice not to have to run anywhere. This year, I didn't even run the Turkey Trot. CJ was quite happy about not having to do that this year.

I did have to run out and get ingredients for stuffing. Somehow "we" missed getting those ingredients for Turkey Day. But thank god for commercialism: Food Lion was open.

CJ was busy in the kitchen after lunch, preparing our dessert: Mississippi Mud Pie. She claims that she made one of these before; I just didn't remember. But she is an amazing baker and cook. She takes after Tim and my mom and pretty much puts things together on her own. She can watch someone put together a recipe and make it (like in Home Ec at school), then come home and recreate it without a *written recipe*. Wow.  The part she does take after me is if it doesn't come out visually like she likes it, it's ruined. Well, I used to be like that when I was a young and up-and-coming cook but now, I'm like 'fuck it'.  Kids can do that to a person...

MiMi was not happy about seeing the turkey in the fridge. At one point, she exclaimed "how could you have this right in front of my face?" To which I thought: does she want to eat turkey this year? Are we going to let her throw her vegetarianism away NOW? But I realized, it had nothing to do with wanting the turkey; it was her fury of seeing a dead animal in the fridge.  She said to us, at one point during the day "I want tofurkey next year."

During dinner, MiMi wanted to talk about what we are thankful for. She even wrote it up, which was so adorable. It reminded me of ME as my dad would tell me that I wrote up thanksgiving prayers to read before we ate. Isn't that so sweet and ironic of me?

Anyway, she threw it away and I found it...so it's a little dirty to say the least, but you can see what she wrote out: Family, Pets, Food, Shelter, Candy, Bed, Cookies, Soda, Clothes, TV, computer, stuffed animals, and toys. Ending with "Told at the Thanksgiving Table". :)

We went around a said things we were thankful for. In my list, I thanked George R. R. Martin for writing such fabulous books. I saw CJ roll her eyes. She's really not into him becoming her next dad...

CJ had been searching earlier in the week for Planes, Trains and Automobiles (PTA) to watch. She found Home for the Holidays, one of me and Tim's all-time favorite holiday movie. It was endearing to know that she was looking for it to watch as a family, as I thought she just tolerated watching this. We watched PTA last year and she remembered that as well, which also made me quite tickled that she wanted this to be a tradition.

Unfortunately, it was nowhere on U-verse. Not even on the On Demand movies to pay for. It wasn't on Netflix either. But fortunately, Tim's Xbox came to the rescue and the movie was available there. At one point before the movie, CJ said "Um. It's rated R...?" I was like 'yeah. that's weird.' And then as we approached one of the most hilarious scenes ever in the universe, I realized why it was rated R.





The evening ended early. We were all pretty tired; some more than others. Those are MiMi's feet hanging off the end of the couch. Her head is right next to Ricky, under the blanket.

And while I thoroughly enjoyed our thanksgiving here, I truly hope that next year, we'll make time to go back to our hilltop hideaway in the mountains.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me?

Earlier this week, $Bill sent Tim and I this email:
Do either of these plans appeal to you for Saturday?1.       Meet at Royal Bean and do the Art museum path2.       Meet at Crabtree and run the trails – I did a 4.5 mile loop this morning, it was really nice.
Tim said it was up to me, to which I replied:
I like either too. Crabtree would be best for me since I haven’t been running regularly and flat and slow would be preferred…
$Bill's reply:
Ok so 8AM at old reedy creek and black creek. We can do the 4.5 mile loop I did this morning. I’ll probably get there early and do 2-3 before you guys show up. I wouldn’t say it’s flat, but I’m sure it will be slow 
Ah. I read Crabtree as meeting at the mall and taking the "trails" that shoot out from the mall. It was an odd suggestion from $Bill, since the week before, we ran Shelley Lake, taking one of the paths that head out to the mall...

So I thought I had it all figured out. But apparently, I was still dinging out since I woke up this morning thinking that we would be meeting $Bill back at Shelley. Fortunately, I got ready earlier than usual and figured out that we were driving into Cary instead...just be feeling Tim's annoyance of me not being ready to go right away.

We make it just in time and I am trying to figure out how far I want to go. I start walking up the hill to start the firetruck trail when Tim and Bill go the opposite way. Oh. We are running _Black Creek_ trails. Hmm. I don't remember that being in the email...

I tell them that I am planning to go my own pace and that they could go their own way. Tim laughed and said something about keeping up with them or I'd get lost. Huh? Why would I get lost on Black Creek?

Then they both turned onto the TRAIL trails...the bike trails...the single-track, roots-and-leaves abound trails.

OHHHHHHHH! You meant THESE trails! I was totally clueless about where the hell we were running.  And then at some point, I asked how long "we" were planning to run. Apparently, and as you can see above, he already told us the entire plan...and I just never put it all together in my head.

But quite honestly, what a great run. There's nothing better than running. I miss it. I haven't been doing a lot of it. A nice looooonnng break. This may end up being the first year in a long time that I have not run, nor trained, for any race.

And while I'm not ecstatic about that, I am actually OK with it. I don't know if I'm ready to get back into the race game yet, but I am glad to get back out and do something.

There's something to be said to get up and go out for a four mile run (last week)...with only superficial running stints through the week (mainly, running with the girls during Girls on the Run).

And there's something to be smug about getting up and running in 28 degrees. The weather screenshot is from my iPhone just as Tim and I headed out to meet Bill for the run. And to top it off, I couldn't find my favorite fleece jacket to wear, that is more a security blanket for me with the cold vs. actually keeping me warm (but it does).

We warmed up fairly quickly so the cold didn't bother me. The run through Umstead woods was wonderful. This was only my second time doing this particular trail and I never did the more than a couple of miles. We passed by a couple of deer, I think one stag and two uni-cyclists. Man, I wish I had my phone so that I could take a picture of that for this post.

It certainly was far from flat...and Bill reminded me that it was slow. But it didn't feel slow. And Tim passed the test for actually caring about my well-being since I almost stumbled and he had immediately stopped (he was ahead of me) and turned around to help me. I didn't fall. I said I was fine. And I said that it was a Wow moment, to see him actually care about me.  To which he replied: I just didn't want you falling on me.

Here's the route. It's not quite as spectacular as the Apple logo the guy from Tokyo did, but I think I'll start posting these from now on.

 And our elevation:

When Kids Text

I love texting.

I am a much better communicator that way. I am not fond of phone calls, much to the dismay of my family...especially my mom. :)

I understand. But it doesn't change the fact that this is my favorite way to communicate. And my favorite texts come from my kids...especially MiMi.

Here is the recent exchange.

The first one, dated November 18th, was a random tweet she sent me. She does that. I didn't see it until much later. I couldn't delete it. I just like to look at it several times a day.

Then today, I texted both of the girls to ask them if they were awake. That's where her "I am" starts and the rest, short but sweet, makes me smile and laugh...and makes my heart glow.


An Apple A Day...

There are some of us who are just so passionate *and* creative.

No, I am not talking about myself. But I can be, or so I'd like to think so.

But I read this article that @Minervity tweeted and I loved it.

At least for me, I love seeing the route I made during my run. It's just some weird fascination to see what kind of 'lines' you made when you run. This guy took it even further and made a route as a dedication to Steve Jobs. It's fitting, IMO: a geeky, techy thing to do, running...being healthy, a passion for Apple and Steve Jobs.
The article can be seen here: http://www.bitrebels.com/geek/apple-logo-created-with-gps-as-tribute-to-steve-jobs/.

Superfluous

This word and I first met way back in the days that I was a contractor at IBM.

I was up in a third floor lab, with my co-workers. I had entered a bug report the day before. What it was about, I don't remember anymore but I do know it was a big deal with me and my cohorts. At least to me it was. And then I made it known to the rest of my peers.

The next day, the bug had a reply from the developer. I still remember the scene: me telling everyone I got a reply, about 3-4 of my pals circling around me as I read out loud the response.

I was reading it very carefully, then started getting excitedly annoyed, so my voice was louder, my reading faster. And as I just went through the script, animatedly I stopped at the developer's use of the word "superfluous".

"What the hell does that mean?"

It was an interruption to my annoyance.

"How do you even pronounce that word?!?"

"SuperFLEWus?" Was one response.

"SuPERfuhlus" was another.

There was no help. And then me and superfluous became fast friends...it becoming one of my favorite all-time words that I didn't know how to pronounce.

Back before online audio-dictionaries, I would look the word up and see this:
soo-pur-floo-uhs
or
su̇-ˈpər-flü-əs (Seriously? How does one interpret that for pronunciation?)

It was a word I wanted to put on my license plate...but I prefer to keep my word spelled out as close to its natural occurrence as possible, and in NC, we have up to eight characters we can use for our personalized plates. S-1 U-2 P-3 E-4 R-5 F-6 L-7 U-8 O-9 U-10 S-11. Not going to fit.


The word came back up the other day, with two of my co-workers. I said "superFLEWus".  My friend responded with "You mean suPER-fluh-us?" 


Yeah. That was it. A reminder that I still had no idea how to pronounce my favorite word.


But now I do.