Thursday, June 29, 2006

Money Money Money

Sitting before me (for the last 4 days)...
  • Stack of bills
  • Checkbook
Why is it always so hard to write the checks that I am obligated to write? I plan for them every month, and even worse.. I actually have the funds to cover them yet it hurts so much to see the money go.

Don't get me wrong. I know I am very fortunate and have been lucky in my life to have been given opportunities to learn on the job, and have therefore been able to buy real estate on my own (its just a townhouse which I hate, but that's my name on the mortgage and hopefully my equity that is building), I put myself through culinary school (but will have those student loans until 2017 on the current plan) but more importantly I have never had to go to bed hungry or wanted for any of the true nessecities in life (except maybe more love and direction as a kid but that's a different post).

I hate money, yet I feel I need it and need more and more. I hate that I love CA so much that I choose to live here and therefore can never afford a comfortable life where one of us can stay home to raise a family, in a house, with a yard and a garden, in a good neighborhood/community, with great schools. Or is it that I am so afraid of change that I force myself to not see a life outside of CA. I hate that I commute 3+ hours a day in order to work at a job that is ok, but not inspiring, but I do it everyday.

I grew up knowing the finacial woes of my mom (my father had no idea of the needs of his family nor how my mother was handling the books). I knew that she was taking cash advances from creditors in order to pay the creditors. I decided to start working younger then I should have, to take care of some of my expenses in-order to not be as much of a burden on my family. I became obsessed with being financially independant, and it remains a major stresser in my life.... and a major battle in my relationship (but we're not going to open that can any wider then that).

Sometimes I want to have a finacial/life advisor tell me I'm doing the right thing to ease my mind, or to tell me what I'm doing wrong and to tell me what to do. Money is dangerous, it is evil, yet it allows me to live the life that I have. Sometimes I think I should change my life so money isn't such a focus, so I can enjoy my life and spend less time worrying. Perhaps that means moving. Perhaps that means changing myself in more ways then I can currently imagine in order to gain the peace that I want.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

New AC.... check!

Yesterday our new AC was installed. It was just a replacement so the installation wasn't incredibly involved but it still took a good 5 hours. I'm a tad annoyed by the electical work he had to do, because the shutoff box had to be rerouted to a different wall so now we have electical conduit, which is very visible, running along 2 walls. The new unit is HUGE, compared to the old one (which was original to the building - 1970). We purposely got a larger unit because its difficult to cool off the upstairs, but man its way bigger the I expected. Of course even the new AC has a hard time combating the heat upstairs so its freezing downstairs while its still warm upstairs (hopefully the new windows will help this situtation).

Of course now our 106+ heat wave from last week has past and it was actually sprinkling this morning and was nice and cool. I'm sure we'll still run it at night to attempt to cool down the upstairs (while I sit bundled in a blanket downstairs). If only we could have a normal NorCal summer so I can justify the $$$. I suppose we still have July, August and Sept to have another heat wave.

*** side note: Maya, Thank you for coming over and cooking me a lovely lunch of caesar salad and mac'n'cheese. I love that your mom was flexible with the lunch plans to bring you over to my house for your cooking lesson since I couldn't leave with the AC man still there. (J, you should post the lemony caesar dressing recipe, it was Mmm Mm good -- of course all the parm Maya put on the salad made it extra yummy too!)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Women and their shoes

Yesterday a friend of mine commented about how he's puzzled by the woman's need to have many different shoes, and asked if I could explain what is the root of this need.

Well I am probably not the best woman to ask, as I am missing the shoe buying love gene and I am stuck in jeans and t-shirts due to my lack of fashion sense and poor body image. In fact, I do believe that E has more shoes then I do. I find shoes to be beautiful, but I'm not a big purchaser because my feet are hard to fit. I'm an odd sort of woman that is way too practical and I tend not to buy something if I can't walk in it, it hurts or I'm not going to wear it on a regular basis. I never learned how to properly walk in heels, and I will twist my ankle wearing tennis shoes (I often pronate and walk a little like a duck). I have purchased the occasional shoe for a specific outfit, all to often to never be worn a second time. The most repeated shoe in my closet is an array of flip flops and perhaps the same pair of running shoes because they were on sale and I finally found a model that feels good on my poor feet.

Girls ... speak up. Why do most women need to buy such an assortment of shoes?

Monday, June 26, 2006


What an awesome weekend I had. Eric had to work all weekend so I had free license to hang out with friends. We attempted to do little bits of housework all week, so it didn't all HAVE to get done on the weekend.

The weekend started off with a BANG, with the opening day of the Alameda County Faire and the fireworks show. I joined some friends at the faire after work, and we looked at the bunnies, birds and goats, and then set up a nice spot under some trees to try to get some relief from the heat, and we all had some tasty food and let the little ones run around. The faire put on a great show of fireworks, and I got some pictures of the kids seeing their first fireworks. Neither of them got really scared, even though we were really close and some of them made some big BANGs. They were great little troupers, and seemed to love the lights.

Saturday was a fun and relaxing day hanging out with Dot for her birthday. I didn't realize it, but I was there ALL DAY long. It was great to just sit and hang out. Of course her neighbor from across the street kept egging her on to have a little extra fun with our good friend Jose (it was actually Sauza, but it all does the same thing). This is her after the 2nd shot. wooo hooo!

Sunday, I had another birtday get together with an old co-worker. We had brunch at Mudd's in San Ramon. Which was yummy. They weren't very busy, and the crowd was... well... OLD. The food was tasty though, but I did leave a little hungry. So I called up Liz (since I was already almost down to her place) and we went to lunch and ran some errands. She claims she wouldn't have gotten all of her shopping done without me there which I still can't comprehend, but I suppose an extra set of hands and extra attention to entertain a toddler while shopping is helpful. I had fun so it was no trouble to me. I like dancing funny and running around her little monkey to make him laugh. And trying to decypher what he's saying is always a good game too.

After the monkey went down for a nap, we went off to look at some SHOES! I found one pair of sandles at shoe pavillion which are so comfortable but I'll probably fall off of the 2 inch heel, and I got about 5 pairs of flip flops from Old Navy. When I was showing off my purchases, Eric said "Do you NEED all of those colors?" Of course I responded with, "yes!", and he had the best response of "oh. well then ok." (He's learning... good boy!) But then I thought, I really don't NEED them all, but I think I'd spend more on gas to drive them back to the store, then I paid for them. So I'm keeping them. WEeee

Friday, June 23, 2006

It's Friday! It's Friday!

My last post was on Monday asking where my weekend went and here I am wondering where the hell did the week go?
I just can't seem to take the time to post to my lovely blog lately. I have the time to read the few that I read everyday, and to compose comments for them, but getting my thoughts down for some simple posts for me, just doesn't happen. This new job of mine actually expects me to work all day long, and somehow the thought of turning on the computer when I get home is just not that appealing.

I'm learning how to be brief, so bare with me... a quick summary of this week's post thoughts:

  • Joys and Pains of a mid-week Bon Fire in SF. Awesome time with some great friends and we meet some new ones, but I burned my finger (logs are hot when in a fire and should not be turned with bare hands), and I got a $76 parking ticket, which amazingly I was the only person in the group that didn't really care about it -- must have been the effects of the red bull and the fact that it was already past my bed time.
  • Summer school - The summer semester has begun and I'm taking one class which meets twice a week. Last night I had my first test and realized that my teacher has never taught before and has OBVIOUSLY not worked in the operating system he is teaching about for a LONG, LONG time. He kept saying... this should theoretically work. (and yes that stuff was on the test)
  • Water Heater... check- The first of the 3 current home projects (which require outside help) was completed on Tuesday. Our new water heater was installed (twice, because the first one wouldn't light), along with some other outside plumbing projects. Eric now complains that the water is too hot because we had gotten used to not having to turn on ANY cold water in the shower. All hot, all the time was just right for the shower, but sucky for washing dishes. Now we can say that we have a hot water heater, and not just a water warmer.
Now I'm just working through the day to get to the point where the weekend begins in my office... 4pm and the beer, wine, cheese and other snackies come out (and I sneak out shhhh!)


Monday, June 19, 2006

Where did my weekend go?

I'm sleepy. I'm cranky. It's that time of month (even though my Dr put me on that once in 3 months plan, but my body has rebelled and has been causing me unjust pain, bloating and crankiness for the last week so I'm giving in and giving the pills a rest) Oh, and I think that has been why I've been so tired and numb feeling and generally poopy.

I started the weekend off with a fun Friday evening out with some of my bestest of friends. I was feeling crappy but I popped some tylenol and that helped a little. (sorry for being so poopy guys!). We even went to a variety of shoe stores but nothing was inspiring me to whip out my wallet.

On Saturday, we went to a nursery in American Canyon that has a nice variety of fruit trees and shrubs. Eric found a fellow edible landscaper and the two of them chatted and picked out plants for one of Eric's clients. Eric was thrilled, and it was a good resource find for him but I got sunburned and the crankiness began to set in.

After too much traffic on I80 and what Eric pointed out to be a silent drive home, I cooked up a surprisingly tasty pasta dish. We debated going out, but I knew we had veggies at home that I needed to use and the crankiness was overtaking me so I knew dining out would not be an enjoyable experience, so I just threw something together at home. DAMN it was really good, and sadly there was none left for my lunch today. I made a ragout with eggplant, crimini mushrooms, tons of garlic, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. I debated between putting it over polenta or penne, and opted for the penne because I simply can't make polenta unless I use cream, butter, wine and CHEESE. Plus, since I am trying to watch my portions and calories and need to somehow feed Eric's insatiable appetite (no really, it is very difficult to get him full), I went for the pasta because he could easily pile tons of pasta with the sauce, and I could eat the sauce with just a little pasta.

After this yummy meal, I started felling really worn out and got even more cranky, so I went to bed around 7pm, to be woken up by some drunk forgetting he needed to make a turn outside our place and jumped the curb and ran into a tree. That is NOT how I like to be woken up. We feared Eric's trunk was hit so we ran outside, to see the drunkard, turning around and running home with a flat tire and his tail between his legs (we assume he was drunk, but possibly just having a moment of the stupids).

Sunday consisted of sleeping in, a morning walk with Eric, and shopping. It felt like I spent hours at the mall and other various stores, trying on clothes and shoes and feeling self-conscience about everything. My toes are too long, my feet are too big, I don't know how to walk in heels, do people actually think THAT is cute? (Note to self... do not shop on the first day of your period when you are feeling crappy and bloated).

I honestly don't feel like I accomplished much this weekend besides some laundry, grocery shopping, buying some shorts for Eric and lots of sleeping. Maybe it's what I needed, but I sure do feel like it went by too fast. I will be sitting here for the 5 days, dreaming for the next weekend to come quickly.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The last AC man

Last night we got our last estimate on a replacement Air Conditioner. Luckily the guy called when he was on his way because I had completely forgotten. My friend, Liz, even asked "don't you have an AC guy coming today", and I said that we had a window guy coming and he was already done. Completely forgot, and of course I got stuck at work late, which meant more traffic.

I was 45 minutes late, but luckily Eric heard the message so he stuck around to meet with the guy. Eric really liked and trusted him and wanted us to show him our previous estimates to see if he could match them. This guy wanted to change out the whole system, so I immediately didn't like or trust him. He said that with their current special, the new furnace would only be $1000 more. (Right because I have an extra $1k in cash just lying about! I need SHOES man!) It was obvious he had already sold Eric on the idea but Eric didn't realize how low our current estimates were and it became obvious that I was going to be a force to be reckoned with. I knew the new HVAC laws and the codes, and after me giving him the stink eye for about 30 minutes, he proved to me that he knew what he was talking about, but I still didn't want to shell out $5200 when all I want is a new AC unit for $2k (our lowest bid). This guy struggled to get his only AC price to match, but couldn't really come close. He called his boss, and they agreed to knocked off some of their warranties that I didn't care about since we WILL be moving in 1-2 years, and they had an available crew TODAY so they would knock off more if we were ready to sign.

It all seemed more and more tempting, and it was 9pm by this time, and I had to get all big and fluffy (cat reference) and say that really we can't sign anything tonight. When we look at each bid, and if they were all selling the same components, all of the bids come close enough that we need to think about it (about $300 difference across the board). It would come down to who we trusted and who was just trying to make a sale. After the VERY nice and knowledgeable man left, Eric and I decided we would go with our lowest bid. I'm going to call them today to ask some final questions and then set up the installation.

PHEW! It better end up being a killer hot summer this year with all the money and pain we are going through to keep that place cool.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Where am I?

The last 2 days I haven't felt like myself. I have been really sleepy and feeling lazy. I've noticed that I've hardly interacted with E at all, and I'm feeling really bad about that. I haven't been able to wake up in the morning, even though I sleep through the night. I don't feel down about anything in specific, so I don't think I'm depressed. Maybe we did too much this weekend, and I need a recovery day. Maybe I'm coming down with something (come to think of it I have been really phlemy.) Maybe it's the realization that I have very few shoes in my closet, and none that are work appropriate or going out appropriate (just tennis shoes and flip flops).

If you see my motivation or my pep wandering around, can you please send it my way?

Much thanks!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Smith and Carlos

This weekend while we were visiting friends in San Jose, we walked through the campus of SJSU on our way to breakfast. They asked if we would like to see the statue of Smith and Carlos, which I knew nothing about. They briefly told us the story of the 1968 Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos who were students at SJSU when they won Gold and Bronze medals in track at the '68 Olympics. They told us that during the medal presentation, they turned away from the flag and gave the 'black power' solute.

The statue was amazing. Incredibly life-like, moving and beautiful. It made me sad to find out that they were then striped of their medals and sent home to years of turmoil for themselves and their family.

I couldn't believe that I knew nothing of this especially since images of them on the podium have been deemed as one of the most memorable images in history. But then I thought, why would I know about it? The Civil Rights movement was not openly talked about in high school (at least not my school when I was there). History in general was skimmed over. HISTORY... all of it! Perhaps this is a huge area of study I missed out on by not completing college. But even while I was going full-time (yes, I'm still taking 1 freakin class a semester), I had no interest in history or humanities and was only taking the bare minimum for a science degree.

I understand that I live in my own little bubble, so what else do I know nothing about?

I found many an article about Carlos and Smith, but these I found to be very interesting and wanted to share:
The sjsu site explains all of the symbolic items (shoes, left vs right fist, etc.)

Article which talks to the unveiling and why the silver medalist was not included in the statue.

Video interview with Channel 11 the day they received their honorary doctorate degrees from SJSU

Monday, June 12, 2006

This Weekend - BFD

This weekend we joined some friends for an all day music festival. Oh sure, festival sounds like a day of jazz, and relaxing. OH no, this was Live 105's annual BFD concert. Most of you probably haven't listened to Live 105 for many years, but it's still out there and still playing some progressive stuff. I must say though, that I was feeling they were moving to a softer direction, but the concert was plenty hard.

I hardly listen to Live 105 myself because I'm more for the adult alternative now a days, but I like the occasional angry teenager music too. I knew we would be surrounded by teenagers at this concert, and I'd likely be annoyed a few times, and I was, but I tried to gain perspective and I soon chilled out and just enjoyed the day.

There were 3 stages all with a different feel (Local, Festival and the Main stage). We were very surprised by how good the local bands were, we are definitely going to be following some of the bands' progress (Two Seconds , Push to Talk ). The Festival stage was home to the mosh pit, the way too crowded crowd, the feeling I touched too many body parts, the being knocked over by some ginormus boobies, and some really cool bands. One band had a pretty obvious U2 influence (Every Move a Picture), and another was very Led Zeppelin, classically good rockin music (Wolfmother). There was one band that we couldn't help but make fun of the singer's deep voice with oddly "flamboyant" finger pointing (She Wants Revenge). Sadly I got sick of the crowd right before the one band I wanted to see came on (Yellowcard), so I listened to them from a distance and pretty much just heard the drums and the bass. Then on to the Main stage where we saw some old (Echo and The Bunnymen), some newer (Franz Ferdinand, and The Strokes) and some so new (or young) that I didn't know who they were or care so we left early (AFI). A large chunk of the crowd left after The Strokes, so I didn't feel TOO old leaving early.

We got down to San Jose around 11am, and parked in a VAST expanse of parking lots. That experience took about 30 minutes alone, but we had an awesome spot and easily walked just across the street to the venue. And I must give a shoutout to the Shoreline event staff... I've never seen such an organized group of people that were helpful and happy the whole day. Just as easy as we got in, we got out around 10:30pm with all limbs still attached and only a slight headache from the sun (oh and later discovered much darker shoulders then I went in with). We then spent the night at our friends place in San Jose so we didn't have to stay awake any longer then needed (because we're old).

Even though I passed out as soon as I showered, the boys went off to a local bar for a drink or two. They of course failed to take a key with them, and the girls were quite passed out when the boys made their way back to the house. Luckily the cat woke me up when the boys resorted to throwing pebbles at the windows (apparently the phone, doorbell, yelling and crazy knocking was not working to wake us up). I swore I heard them speaking Spanish so I still didn't open the door until I our friend started calling out his wife's name.

Sunday was a LOVELY lazy Sunday where we all slept in, then walked to a local restaurant where we had the most wonderful breakfast with our friends (Garden Scrabble with eggs, young fresh veggies and goat cheese with herbed potatoes), it was so good. I'd tell you the name, but I can't remember. But it is an old garage that was converted into a restaurant, and shares a garden patio with a neighboring bagel house, and hot dog place. So wonderful. We then walked around the neighborhood and went to open houses which none of us could afford.

We were back home by 3:30pm, and continued our lazy afternoon with a costco trip, laundry, movies and pizza. Yet another wonderful weekend.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Beware of the Tan Man!

This week has been one visit after another by window and HVAC estimators. Some have been pure salesmen, and others have been owners or actual installers. Let me tell you one thing..... DON'T trust the salesmen. Sure, some of them did know their stuff, but most of them are working on commission and do not take "we are not ready to sign today" or "we need to think about it", very well.

As I wrote in a previous post, we had the lovely experience of a very tired, cranky and BAD window salesman last week. When I told my friend J that I was considering still using him for some of the windows she said, "He's way too rude, and you would have to deal with him again, and you would be encouraging his horrid behavior." She's right, why should he get commission after he screwed up like that and made me angry enough to write about the experience. Plus, once we received estimates from other dealers, we were pleasantly surprised that they were all coming in around 1/3 of his price. Of course, it was a very different product, but the less expensive stuff is just fine for what we need. We haven't figured how who we are going to use for the windows, but we know who it isn't going to be!

And then comes our HVAC experience.

We live in Northern California, and not only is it lovely and sunny, where we live it gets down right HOT. Luckily it is mostly a dry heat, with the occasional humid day. The dead heat of summer will stay in the upper 80's to low 100's, and it doesn't always cool off much at night. Since we live in a 2 story townhome, and no western protection from the afternoon sun and very old windows, it gets very hot upstairs. Each day it never really cools off and as we get deeper and deeper into summer, it easily stays 80+ degrees upstairs. We do have central AC, but the unit is original which makes it 36 years old and inefficient as all hell. Plus, this place was built with very cheap materials, so you know they put in the bare minimum. Sure the new windows will help with the heat, but a new AC unit will certainly help keep the summer heat outside.

We have converted our upstairs 2nd bedroom into a very nice office for E and I. The office is clearly the hottest room in the house, and we spend a lot of time in there with our work. E wants to wait until we see what a difference the windows make, but I know it'll take 4-6 weeks to get a new AC unit installed in the middle of the summer heat, so I want to get it ordered now. He doesn't seem to remember last year, when he slept at least 3 nights a week downstairs where it was slightly cooler(and we that was a reasonably cool summer).

We've had 4 HVAC guys out here so far this week. We had 5 appointments, but one company didn't show up and claims they didn't have record of my call, even though I VERY distinctly remember their receptionist telling me I should ask a MAN, a neighbor, friend or my father, to be here with me because sometimes the technicians use industry terms that I may not understand. GASP! I admit I researched windows a whole lot more then AC units, but come ON! I am often more technical in the way of the home then E is, and he's a man of tools. Oh and I counted how many times she said AWESOME during my last conversation with her ... 6 times! Can't wait to see who they send out.

The first guy that came out was purely a salesman. He said that our furnace was at least 30 years old and we needed to replace the whole system. GULP! And, if we went with a lesser efficiency furnace, then we were required by the state to have our ducts tested and and sealed, which would be an additional $400. I noted that our ducting is all trapped in the ceilings and not accessible and that I understood this situation waived us from the testing. He said that wasn't true and the testing company knew how to deal with the trapped ducts. I asked how they would seal them without tearing into the ceilings? and he didn't know, but assured me that the $400 would cover that. Call me crazy, but drywall work to fix ripping into the ceilings would cost more then the testing fee. CLEARLY not a man that knows what he is talking about. He then proceeded to say we needed a 3 ton AC unit, to replace the 1.5 unit we have.... something not computing to you? YEAH, me too. Anyway, he wrote up his nice estimate, was SHOCKED that we were not ready to sign, got visibly irritated, and then scooted on his way. Now I ask you, how many people sign up for a $5k purchase right there on the spot, after CLEARLY stating that they were expecting something around $1-2k. Oh sure, we trust you Mr fake tan man (because no white man should every be that brown) with severely bleached teeth which do not hide the fact that they are totally crooked (just think of Ross' teeth bleaching episode). At the point of discussing the duct testing, I think I paid more attention to his teeth, and pondering how they could be so white with all of that shit passing through them.

The next 3 guys all came the next day, ALL of them were installers or owners of their company (and one was highly tan but obviously not fake shown by the non-tan wrinkles and the Pebble Beach shirt). Each one looked at the furnace and said something along the lines of, 'Oh, you have a really new furnace! That's great because then you just need to replace the AC' and 'You have a 1.5 ton AC unit now, so I'd recommend the same or maybe a little stronger. 2 tons would be plenty to keep you cool, even upstairs' and the kicker 'Take your time on your decision, that price is good until the end of the year'. PLUS their estimates were even cheaper for the exact same equipment the first guy was pushing. OH, and they each recommended getting at least 3 estimates, and to take our time. One guy said to stay away from the companies that took out the full page ads because they tended to upsell you stuff you don't need, and another said to look at the estimator's hands to see if they have every done the work they are selling.

So sum it up.... I'm gonna be broke soon, but I'll be coooool and comfy, and wiser to the in-home salesman.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Loved it then, Love it now

I suppose this is my official moment of getting sucked into the blogworld of tagging and MEMEs and lists of shit, so here goes...

Miss J
wrote a Thursday Thirteen about songs she loved back in the day but is embarrassed to admit to now. She tagged me and I admit I wasn't going to do it, but then all the names of songs and memories started flowing.

I had quite a list, and had to narrow it down to these 13. Mostly, I'm not embarrassed about loving these songs then or now, but most of the embarrassment comes from the image of me singing them over and over and over again, and who I was heart broken over at the time.

  1. More then Words [Extreme] Oh yea... don't tell me, SHOW me you love me. And to think, MEN sang this song! Who knew they knew that love was more then words. Oh wait, I forgot.... it's not just words, it's SEX.
  2. Sailing [Christopher Cross] Takes you away, don't it?
  3. Total Eclipse of the Heart [Bonnie Tyler] You know you know every single word too. Well except maybe that one part about something something the end of the night, something something something, more, I really need your tonight...
  4. You're the Inspiration [Chicago] So young I was, and yet so sappy already
  5. Everything I Do [Bryan Adams] CRIED AND CRIED AND CRIED to this one. This was my James' song. (What? didn't you have a song for every boy you liked? and the moment you hear it, it takes you back to your bedroom while you sang the song over and over again, occasionally shedding a tear?)
  6. Right Here Waiting [Richard Marx] My first concert. I can see it now, the lights go out, a blue spotlight comes on in the middle of the stage, this song starts to play, and there he is, Richard Marx at a grand piano, rising from the middle of the stage. Do you see it too?
  7. All That She Wants [Ace of Base] So many people seemed to hate Ace of Base, but not I. I was hooked so fast. I don't know if its the ABBA like group make up, or if I'm just a sucker for a catchy toon.
  8. Make It Real [The Jets] And this was Rob's song. A completely unrequited crush in 8th grade (who of course then went out with my best friend in high school)
  9. Hold On [Wilson Phillips] Wilson Phillips opened for Richard Marx at my first concert. This was an inspirational song, for those HARD early teen years.
  10. BFrom A Distance [Bette Midler] I love Bette, and no I'm not ashamed to admit it, I love Miss Streisand too. I am apparently a gay man at heart.
  11. From This Moment On [Shania Twain & Bryan White] Sappy, Money making wedding song. I hate it when songs are obviously purposely produced to be money making wedding songs. Yet, I still totally fell for this song and used to belt it out in the car.
  12. I'll Be Loving You (Forever) [New Kids on the Block] High pitched, pre-puberty, boy seeing about loving you forever. Like he knows! But can't you hear the feeling and pain in his voice? I know I did! I LOVE YOU JOEY!
  13. I Adore Mi Amor [Color Me Badd] OH YEA I WENT THERE! Do you see the Green, Yellow and Black block colored shorts, and the funny hair? The use of the sexy French words made this one come up above their other hit "I Wanna Sex You Up!"
Apparently I can't count, because even my shortened list ended up being 16 long so I had to still delete a few more. So many memorable songs. So many embarrassing crushes. I truly do pair years of my life, with who I was with/liked or had a crush on, and the songs I secretly sang to them.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


My brother pointed me to an online game called Spaced Penguins*. Apparently, there is a Christian cartoon called 3-2-1 Penguins! about two young kids and four "out-of-this-world" penguins, exploring the galaxy while learning important, Bible-based lessons and values along the way. It is produced/distributed by the same people that do Veggietales, BigIdea.

Yes, yes, yes. It sounds very "nice" and for little kids, but this game is so fun. They have a number of games on the site for different aged kids with characters from 3-2-1 Penguins!, VeggieTales and LarryBoy (apparently another wholesome video), but Spaced Penguins is by far my favorite, and probably the most difficult. You have to slingshot one of the penguins through space to get him back to his ship. Some rounds there are planets in the way so you have to account for their gravitational pull to get him around the obstacles (the bigger the planet, the greater to gravity). The goal is to not only safely get the penguin to the ship, but to also take the longest route (so getting stuck in an orbit is a good thing as long as he will eventually collide with the ship). Your score is calculated thusly:

Distance taken to get to the ship x Level# / # of tries = Score

Try it out, or have your kids try it out. You might get hooked (so don't try it at work). E was playing it until 11pm last night.

* Macromedia Flash and ActiveX controls are required to play

Monday, June 05, 2006

Weekend in Review

Since I started this blog as a public journal (why people want to journal publicly I still don't totally know), I suppose I should jot down some updates from the weekend, instead of focusing only on the weekday (per J's example). Don't worry, next time I'll try to be more brief.

Last week I left you with the woes of home projects. Luckily this weekend included none of those!

Friday night...
I started the weekend off right with an evening with my friend Liz, where we got our piggies all done up at a new nail salon that opened up by her house. Much fancier then any I had been too. I don't get pedicures often enough to know the industry standard, but this place was the first where I experienced the Pedi-spa massage chair. Imagine a warm whirlpool spa for your tootsies, and a loungy massage chair for your achin back. They were a little understaffed for the walk-in crowd, but we simply got some dinner, and then came back. I think they did a pretty good job (although there was an action/suspense movie playing on their plasma TVs which wasn't so relaxing). More over, it was fun to relax and chat, plus the price was right ($20 plus a 20% discount - don't know where the discount came from, but I'll take it!).

On Saturday morning, we totally slept in (Ahhhh!), and then the HOA recommended plumber came to give us an estimate for the new water heater and replacing the main shutoff valve and hose bib. He was VERY fast, he was in and out and I had a very reasonable estimate in my hand (HE's HIRED!). Later in the day I went to get my hair done, but the silly appointment making people didn't schedule me for highlights, so I just got a cut. Cheaper, but not what I was hoping for. I waited 2 months to get a Saturday afternoon spot with my girl, and now I have to go back on a weeknight to get the highlights. Grrr. But she did a great job. And she is very careful to get everything right. She styled it, and played with a bunch of products to find what would work well with my finicky hair (taking into account what I already had at home - she wants to get product sales, but is very honest and reasonable). So now... I have BANGS! Long bangs, the kind that sweep to one side. I've had them before (after J got them because I want to be her), but then I let them grow out. And now they are back, a little different, and I think more fun.

That night we putz about, did laundry and some general neatening and grocery shopping. I chatted with my buddy Jon who was in town visiting family and we made plans for Sunday. Then I made the ultimate dinner (which I had never had before but have fantasized about), Fondue. I baked off some really nice sourdough, and steamed broccoli, and made fondue with garlic, beer, water, lemon juice, Emmentaler, Fontina, and random leftover cheeses. It was very nice, and I tried to be good and not eat too much. We enjoyed the CHEEEEESE and munchies while we watched Ice Age (slow beginning, but still made me cry at the end). I didn't know anything about the movie before we watched it, so it was a surprise.

Started off with a hike with E and Jon at 8 freakin o'clock in the morning. We hiked a 2 mile loop that E and I used to do daily to keep in shape for Backpacking in Yosemite. It has a number of steep hills, and then a gentle ending through a wooded area. I knew I was out of shape, but golly! My ass, hips and calves are sure sore today. After the hike we met up with Jon's family for a lovely brunch at a local Mexican restaurant, La Pinata. Yummy! Since I had hiked, I splurged and got Chirozo and Eggs. Yummy and not too greasy (but way more chorizo then eggs). I was good and didn't eat it all. It was pretty cheap and the portions were HUGE (let's just say that E couldn't come close to finishing his Carnita Fajitas). My mom came over after lunch, and while I worked on some computer work for her, she and E had some Ice Cream and visited (I like that he visits with my mom). Then we finished the afternoon with a roaring game of Upwords (mom loves the games).

Sounds like a fun day so far but wait! E took a nap and had some work he had to do, so I went to run errands. Among the errands, I needed to go to the mall to get some eye cream. And then the mall sucked me in. First I bought more then eye cream at Origins. And then on my way to Gap to look at jeans, Ann Taylor called to me. I bought a skirt which I love, that was NOT ON SALE. Then on to Gap, where I bought jeans (that don't hug to tight and do not come in at the knees too much just to flare out too far). They aren't perfect per Stacey and Clinton standards, but pretty good for $30 jeans, baby steps (oh and one pair was on sale for $19). I bought many tops but will be taking some back after a fashion show with E. We picked out the colors that really worked the best for me. And then I found an H&M in our mall, they were closing soon so I did the unthinkable of grabbing stuff that was cute, knowing most of it would have to be returned. Only one top survived the cut. I finished the shopping up at Target, and got EVERYTHING on my list. Phew! All that in 2 hours.

I'm saying that was a good weekend (minus not being able to sleep last night). I felt motivated, and didn't get stuck on the couch for extended periods of time.

Next weekend - an all day alternative rock concert in San Jose with some great frieneds, followed by a day of recovery. Maybe I should ask for Monday off now?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Joys of the Window Salesman

One of our current house projects is to replace the windows. About a year ago, I called a local company that I used to deliver coffee to in my coffee slinging days. The owner himself came out to do the estimate and was very honest and informative. He told us that the windows that he carries were higher quality then what I would probably want, but he had some install techniques that would bring down the cost. Overall, the price was still too high, so he broke down the project into 2 more manageable projects, but ultimately we decided that we live in a cheaply constructed townhome and we'd rather put more money into the kitchen remodel then the windows.

Since we would like to replace the AC this summer, we thought we'd dig up the window project again because what is the point of a new AC unit, if the windows are letting in so much heat. I contacted a contractor finding service to give me the names of some reputable companies. They sent me information on 3 companies. One of them contacted me the same day, and we set up an appointment for an estimator to come out the next day (yesterday). While on the phone with this company, I told them that I was looking for low budget windows and the lady said they were actually much more high quality, but she suggested that for my comparison shopping I should have some estimates from a variety of quality levels. So I went ahead and booked the appointment.

The guy was 30 minutes early, which was fine. He was VERY friendly and informative. He was rather disorganized though, and we were his last call of the day so he was obviously tired. He went through his pitch, and about 45 minutes later he took measurements and wrote up the numbers. Since I had already had an estimate with a comparable company, I was prepared for a high number, and one that I wasn't ready to pay (still didn't rob a bank yet). The estimate was $12,100 with a 20% discount, for 5 windows and a patio door. They offered an awesome financing agreement with 0% interest for 12 months with 0% down.

He excused himself to call his wife (we had already heard his sob story about his time being worth a lot because he has a kid who needs a quality education and that's why he does this for a living, blah blah blah, needs more time with his kid and his wife, lives in Brentwood, cry me a river already! Eric and I agreed that the windows were beautiful, and the piece of mind of the 10 year transferable warranty was great, but we needed to evaluate the budget because we didn't estimate that much freakin money!

When the sales dude came back, he asked what we thought. I said that the financing option sounded really nice. Suddenly he was on the phone with the creditors and then handed me the phone to start my application. And I was like... WHOA! I said it sounded nice, not that I wanted to do it. And then the weight of his life and his day fell on our kitchen table. He takes the phone from me and tells the nice lady, "Nevermind, she doesn't want it anymore." And then he glares at me. Tells me he doesn't understand why I wouldn't want to buy them if I like them. He starts getting really kurt and angry. I thought he might start crying or yelling, or both. I told him that I'd like some time to think about it, because it was more then what we were wanting to spend. He said he'd give us until next Tuesday to get all the discounts, because he likes us (my ASS, it said right there on the paper from corporate that those numbers were good until next Tuesday). I said that if we decided to work with him, that we'd give him a call. And he said..."But then I'll still have to come back out here and spend more time writing it up, when I could just do it right now". (Soooo loosing points, and decreasing the likelihood that I wanted to give him the freakin sale!) He kept saying he didn't understand, and he quickly packed up all of his shit and scooted out of there. I almost yelled at him to get out of my house (which I did say after he was in his truck).

Even 2 hours later, I would randomly yell... THAT MAN! His sales technique did not bode well for me wanting to call him back. You'd think that after 15 years of him being in that business, that he'd learn that some sales calls do not sign on the first visit, and that getting angry with them does not increase his odds of signing the job later or gaining referrals. We are still considering calling the ASS man back (thanks Dot for your ASS term), but maybe not doing the whole job with him. We might cheapen out on the patio door install (his quote was $6500 for that door alone).

I love being a homeowner. (I know its been 3 posts in a row about the house. Hopefully something non-house related will happen this weekend so I can break the bitch routine)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Fun of home ownership

I am truly happy to be a home owner, even if I own a shared-wall townhome in a crappy area with 250+ units, who's HOA spends upwards of $110k every year on landscape and pool maintenance, while there are freakin weeds growing on the roofs due to poor drainage and tree debris decomposing and giving the weeds a healthy soil in which to sprout! - oh yea and about 20% of the attached shed roofs are leaking and have been for the last year and the management continues to put notices in the monthly newsletters that they are still accepting estimates to replace the roofs. Accept one and fix the shit already before the water damage of the sheds, rot out the wall of the kitchens they are attached to and puts people out of their homes. (ok, I got that out)

This past long weekend, we were chatting with our shared-wall neighbors about water damage from both of our various water leaking issues. We contacted each other this weekend because we both noticed some water in our shared-wall sheds, which house the water heaters. We had a little water on our side, so I thought it was our drippy main shut-off valve (which I've avoided replacing), and they thought it was the same since they knew I had been avoiding it. Once we each got all of our stuff out of our sheds, we found the real damage and cause. Their water heater is leaking. Joy that I don't have to take immediate action, but SUCKY, because both of our shed's drywall is wet and moldy. Unfortunately I cannot pin our drywall repairs on the neighbor, as we have both had our own water problems and there is evidence of previous owners having similar issues and them painting over the mold to hide it, so we knew we had to take care of our own mold issues. Freakin previous owners.

The boys (E & neighbor dude) started the task of removing the moldy drywall. What fun it is to be a boy. I went upstairs to the computer to start researching plumbers and prices of water heaters, because if we (I'll help eventually) are going to do all of this work making the drywall all pretty again, then I don't want to run the risk of our water heater deciding to fail a week later. It's 16 years old now, and way inefficient (doesn't help that it's outside!), so I have been thinking of replacing it soon anyway. I'll get that done along with fixing the leaky main shut-off and a hose bib against the house.

Neighbor dude got his water heater replaced yesterday, and sadly, the set-up we all have is not to code (they were sitting on the ground), so they had to pay to have a platform put in, and new vent ducting, and then of course the old connections no longer reached so all new copper was put in. I looked at the work he had done, and it don't look pretty. He wasn't expecting so much labor, so he was annoyed (home warranty only paid for the hot water heater). But now I know what to expect. Sigh.

Along with the plumbing repairs and new water heater project, the other 2 big ticket items that I want done before the true Northern California heat gets here, is a new air conditioner compressor unit (that boxy thing that goes outside), and new windows. No, I'm not loaded, nor did I recently win the lottery or rob a bank, but these are things that need to be done soon, so why not now. There is no way I will ever have enough cash on hand to take care of all that needs taking care of in that house, so I might as well support the creditors and live a little more comfortably.

The first window company comes out tonight to give us an estimate. Weeeee