Monday, July 31, 2006

Just letting it go

Exchange with my parents, as told by my mother:

Dad: "I need to use the car to go to the store to buy some milk"

Mom: "We have plenty of milk."

Dad: "It's for the baby raccoons" (side note: my father has fed the mother raccoon since she was a baby, so of course she has her baby's under the house so my father will feed all of them.)

Mom: "What makes you think their mother's milk isn't good enough that you have to give them cow's milk"

Dad: "What is the purpose of cows if not to feed all of the baby animals? grumble grumble grumble" and so on for a few minutes

Mom: stands there in silence and then continues whatever she was doing (she calls this, "Just letting it go")


She says he didn't go to the store but I'm sure he whipped up a very fattening and tasty meal for the momma raccoon, you know, so she can make better milk then the cow's. I can't wait until he starts letting them all into the house to feed them prime rib at the table. The baby raccoons may be adorable now, but when they all start having their babies under that house, I think there will be a bit of a problem.

Since my brother and I moved out, he has taken it upon himself to feed ALL of the wildlife in the now very suburban neighborhood. I'm sure the neighbors love the 5 loud ravens that visit every morning to get their fill of peanuts and scrap veggies, along with their morning baths in the various water dishes around the yard.

He means well. He doesn't know any other way to express caring and love without the use of food (oh and little envelopes of money slipped under the table, but the raccoons and ravens can't really use that).

Friday, July 28, 2006

working from home

I was working from home yesterday and was thinking how lucky I am that my boss occasionally lets me work from home when I have stuff going on like appointments, house projects, and school. And then I looked up and realized a few more things that make working from home more joyous (you know more joyous then driving 44 miles into the office)
















At home, I have a window seat and can open the window to feel a breeze (and finally!!! yesterday there was a cool breeze). Unlike at the office were I can sorta see some filtered sun light over my cube wall, and there is an AC vent above my desk.

At home, I don't have to go across the street to get ANOTHER sandwich from the deli. At home I have a freezer with ice cream sandwiches. So much better then egg salad!

At home, I can take a little nap when I'm nodding off or don't feel well (I think the ice cream sandwich played a number on me).

Then the best part of working at home...my boys come and hang out with me. Yes they occasionally get a little annoying as one of them likes to get attention by pacing infront of the laptop, or if that isn't working, he just stands across it so I can't see the screen or use the keyboard (he's big, he can stand with his back feet and the front feet on both sides of the keyboard). And you know my papers and files make a great bed. Plus, they are a great distraction when I need to get away from all of the computer stuff.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

NPR = OLD

There is new proof that I am getting old:
  1. I have only listened to NPR during my commute this week, and was interested in every report (usually I only listen to it during the drive home)
  2. Monday I worked really late and I was bummed that traffic was light so I was not going to be in the car for an NPR report I wanted to hear
  3. I stayed up late listening to all of the NPR shows and reports I had missed on Monday which are not in podcast form, so I couldn't download it to my iPod
  4. My iPod has more NPR shows then songs
  5. I am considering buying an iPod car kit thingy so I can listen to my backlog of NPR podcasts, when I'm not interested in listening to the on air program
  6. While I worked today...I listened to NPR

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Debit Card Monopoly

ACK!
In Europe, Monopoly's colorful way of introducing kids to money management, worth, and simple math is being lost to the electronic age. I heard this on the radio this morning, it is quickly running around the net (as witnessed here, and here, and over here), and it is currently the talk of the office. Yes, the games will still be sold with the traditional paper money, but how many kids would willingly take to calculating the money in their head when they can just swip their little card through the VISA scanner and let the machine do it for them (yes it actually says VISA on the scanner).

As one co-worker said "It'll make kids dumb, or at least won't give them the opportunity to learn more important skills".

And another said, "We wouldn't want them to think for themselves, or learn how to ask inquisitive questions."

I find this incredibly sad. True, we have been moving to a no paper sort of world, but kids need that tactile stimulus, the visual experience of seeing all that money (or lack there of) to really grasp the concept. How many of you have had your kids say, 'Mama just go to the ATM and get some money so we can buy ____', or 'Daddy, just use your credit card'. They see us acquiring "stuff" by simply swiping a plastic card in a machine and pushing some buttons or signing a piece of paper.

Yes, kids can learn about money and economics, and get to practice math by means of other activities, but that is what these games are about.... yea yea yea, spending quality time together, but they are also about making learning fun.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Joy's of a Summer Semester Final

I've been really stressed about this summer class I'm taking. This is the last week of school, so that means a test tonight (that I'm not prepared for ... again), and a final on Thursday. Last Thursdays test, I was only able to answer one question, and who knows if I actually got it correct. And of course, since I had such I a lovely weekend, I didn't want to spoil it by actually sitting down, stopping the fun and studying!

So I am pleased to annouce (good for me, bad for those in need of AC), a major transformer just blew by the college and the college is closed until further notice! Yes, this means my final will likely be next week, but that gives me another chance for some weekend studying.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Our first visit to Copia
















What a beautiful weekend. We spent all of Saturday afternoon at Copia in Napa. It was hot, but beautiful. We got some great shots of the edible gardens, and these are just a few of my favorites. Feel free to check out the rest of the set over here.

We got there later then we wanted to, but we both had a lot of stuff we had to get done this weekend, so the morning was full of errands, house work and studying. We managed to get to Napa around 2pm, right about the time the the sun was blazing at it's hottest. Luckily in Napa, it felt much cooler then in Concord (only 30 minutes away).















We arrived just in time for the last garden tour of the day. What luck! The tour guide was very smart, personable and knowledgeable. I think we toured the gardens for about 2 hours in that sun. Even with liberal sunscreen application, my legs still burned a touch, but I only noticed it behind my knees. The gardens were so beautiful that I didn't really mind the heat. It was just wonderful.
The main reason for our visit to Copia on this particular day was to take part in a stone fruit tasting. As you already know, I love me some summer fruit, especially stone fruits. To boost this love of the fruit, Eric has started a landscape design business specializing in edible landscapes. Sometimes this means fruit/veggie garden deigns, but mostly its incorporating edible plants into a decorative landscape. Eric is also a member of our local rare fruit growers society, so as you can tell, he loves the fruit too. The main fruit tree grower in the area, Dave Wilson Nursery, was hosting this stone fruit tasting to see people's reactions to some new varieties, and some heirlooms that most people are not exposed to. Eric did a lot of networking and information gathering, and I just grazed while he was busy working. I didn't think it possible, but I was fruited out by the time we left.


And no.. there were no ill effects from massive fruit consumption.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Cherry is full of Cherries

**Warning** If you are sensitive to TMI stories, don't bother reading any further. But if you were that sensitive to TMI, then you likely wouldn't be reading blogs anyway.

Sometimes I wish I was working from home everyday. You never know when you wish you could crawl and hide from your co-workers. For example, yesterday I had a very busy morning researching some issues at work, and even though I had the pangs of hunger at 10:30am, I ignored them. 'I'm busy right now body, I'll feed you later.' At noon I was almost done with my research so I thought I'd eat the fruit I had brought for my afternoon snack. The next thing I knew I had eaten about 2 cups of fresh bing cherries. MMmm Mmm, love my summer fruit.

About 30 minutes later I was feeling a little ill. 30 minutes after that I was very uncomfortable, yet getting hungry again, so I start popping the Tums. An hour later I decided maybe a walk would do me some good, maybe relax some muscles, and I could get some crackers from the store at the top of the hill.

The walk was perfect. I was feeling better by the time I got back to the office, but strangely as soon as I sat down, I was in pain again. WTF!

I mention my pain to a friend online, and she said... sounds like gas! What? Gas? I'm freakin 31 years old and I don't know what extreme gas pains feel like? I guess I'm lucky, but I want to curl up and cry at this point. Should I go home? Traffic looks bad and the thought of sitting in the car for 1-2 hours sounds unbearable.

I had mentioned to my boss that I wasn't feeling well, and about 30 minutes later he walks by my desk to find me working while standing yet hunched over my keyboard trying to be productive. I look up in agony and extreme embarrassment. He says... "Those Cherries can be really acidic huh? Maybe Cherry shouldn't eat so many Cherries. Cherries are giving Cherry a pain in the ass?" I look up, smile but can't laugh due to the extreme cramping that was running ramped through my body. I say I think I should go home. He giggles and agrees. How embarrassing.

And yes, of course there was an accident on the Bay Bridge so it took me over an hour just to get to the other side, and I won't go into what the Caldecot Tunnel looked like, nor the 24/680 interchange. So wishing I worked from home yesterday, or at least lived less then 44 miles away.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Summer School

This summer I decided I would be able to handle 1 class. It's a computer science class, and an intro class at that, and it would help me out at work. Somehow I have failed to realize that studying might help me actually understand this stuff. And not just studying, if I were to actually do the assignments or the reading before attempting a test, maybe I would not stare blankly at the page.

Since it is a summer class, everything is accelerated. I thought I would do ok since I work in this operating system everyday. We have 7 tests and 1 final, which will cancel out the 2 lowest test scores. Since we have fewer meetings then a normal semester, and we moved very slowly during the first few weeks, we now have a test every class meeting. The first 3 tests, I did great. Last Thursday's test, I stupidly erased correct answers for stupid inpulse changes. When I turned it in, my teacher glanced at it and chuckled.

Last night, after I turned in my test, I mentioned to my teacher that I should have taken the class credit/no credit, so if I did poorly it wouldn't effect my transcript. (But someplace in me thinks that someday I'll go back to school full time to get a ComSci degree (I'm clearly high), so I just might need a letter grade for this class. Plus, my boss wants to work this class into my goals which support my bonus.) My teacher asked me why I think I would need to take it credit/no credit, that I've been doing fine. Then he looked at my test. Look up at me, smiled and said," Maybe you should have."

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Thursday Thoughts


Taking the follower position from my buddy Autumn's Mom, here are the next 13 things that enter my brain... let's see if my fingers can keep up:

  1. Damn... gone blank. What a waste of the first thought.
  2. My wrist hurts and my co-worker wants me to read a book on the psychological connections of chronic pain to suppressed rage. Is he trying to say something?
  3. Babies... Babies are on my mind. Want them, love them, want all to be healthy and happy and thrive.
  4. Pain... not that physical kind, but the emotional realm. So sad for my friend and her baby. The service was yesterday. so tiny! so very very tiny.
  5. I like working at home, so I can easily bug my kitties anytime I want to and I can wear my jammies and no one will think any differently of me. The kitties may not like being startled awake by me petting them while they snooze next to me, but I like having the option.
  6. Blogs are taking too much time of my day. If only my job was not to work with the internet, or I would request to have my internet access limited so I would not be tempted to see what people are saying. I can't even just go to a blog once a day. I have to check back to see if people have commented. I'm sick I tell you... sick! And then I find I feel an obligation to read and comment on every blog I enjoy. After doing all of that, I don't have time to write on my own. So many blogs, so little time.
  7. Stress and depression. nuff said
  8. I wonder what I shall have for lunch today? oh wait, its almost 3pm. I wonder what I will have for dinner today?
  9. I have a therapy appointment this weekend. I don't wanna. It will ruin my day. I will be an emotional blob the rest of the day. I hate that I do not look forward to therapy. It seems to cause more pain then good, even though I know that getting out that deep shit is painful and it is better in the long run, but on the day I have to go, it never seems worth it. Besides, then I have to write her a check, and we know how I feel about money.
  10. Ack Money! Did I mention the stress and the depression?
  11. Food mixed with Stress and Depression. Lately I have found I don't enjoy food. My friends have said its probably my stress/depression. I guess I know what I will be talking about at therapy on Saturday.
  12. I have the best friends in the world. They are all very good listeners. I want to learn how to be a better listener.
  13. I love summer fruit. Summer fruits are grand. Today I have consumed an apricot, a nectarine, blueberries and some plums. Somehow, the bananas on the desk just don't make the cut when there are these great fruits within reach.
HA! I just read through these. I clearly am thinking about my stress and depression (sorry, had to say it one more time) a bit too much, which probably adds to it. Thank goodness for friends and summer fruit! Kiss Kiss!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Reduced fat.... but extra CRAP!

I have a hard time eating properly and often do not get in breakfast, which causes me to over eat at lunch. I had started eating a banana or an apple in the morning, and putting a little peanut butter on each bite to give me a more sustainable satisfaction. I stopped eating the peanut butter when I started being more conscience of my food choices, but then found that I also stopped eating the bananas and apples, and therefore, no breakfast.

I read an article about how peanut butter can actually help people loose weight, because when they had a serving (2 Tablespoons), they felt full longer and would tend not to snack. So I decided to bring peanut butter back to my morning routine, which had dwindled to me just being hungry and whiney and more apt to get a big fat bagel or doughnut. I usually eat natural peanut butter at home, but at work I'd like to have one of the good ol' preservitive filled kind, so I can keep it at my desk, with no refrigeration. Sometimes ease out-weighs the whole food movement.

I got the reduced fat Jif, thinking if I'm going to have the bad kind, I might as well get it with a little less fat. I failed to read the label in the store though. It has the same calorie count as regular Jif (190 cal/serving), and only 20 calories less from fat (110 cal vs 130 cal), because it is full of stuff I can't pronounce AND the label calls it Peanut Butter Spread because it only contains 60% peanuts. Thats right.. the other 40% is sugar and CRAP.



** Thank you to Liz for buying me the peanut butter while I went shopping with her and her toddler, but forgot I had put it in the cart when we got to the checkout so she ended up paying for it. I see how it can be difficult to shop wisely while also entertaining a toddler. **

Monday, July 10, 2006

Cameron

Usually my Monday morning routine is to jot down my weekend review in as few words as possible (of course I'm much too verbose for a few words). However my weekend seems pointless when I am greeted by an email from my oldest friend.

Today I am saddened by the news that my friend's 2 week old, beautiful baby boy, Cameron William, was taken from his loving family while he rested his sweet little body in his crib.

I know Rachael does not read this, nor do any of you know her, but please take a moment from your day to think of of the young souls who leave us all too quickly, and the emense love and longing their families are left with.

Cameron, you are a wonderful baby boy and you will always be loved and cherished. May your wings protect your family and hold them with warmth and strength.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Student Loans

Back in 2002, I decided to go to a vocational school to get a Culinary Arts degree after I was laid off for the second time from the high-tech industry. Because the culinary industry is HOT, and because teaching the culinary arts is now more a business then a desire to share knowledge, my loans are higher then my sister-in-law's vocational undergrad and graduate loans put together, and my program was only 18 months. I never really intended for it to be a career move because I already had a mortgage and quickly approaching goals to have a family, and quite frankly the food industry doesn't pay much, especially when SO many people are turning to it because of the food network, celeb chefs, magazines, books, etc. I just wanted to go because I never wanted to say I didn't but always wanted to. So I did, and I'll never tell a single soul to do what I did!

If there is anyone out there with a student loan with an adjustable interest rate, you know that on July 1st, the rates went up. As they do every July 1st, but this time they REALLY went up. I got a lovely letter from my loan provider for 2 of my 4 loans, with the new raised minimum payment amount. I had already praised myself on making payments larger then my minimum for years even while I was out of work (ok, I was never completely out of work because I continued to work in catering and at a resort until Sept of last year, but we had to dip into savings every month to make ends meet even with those 2 jobs), but now my minimum is even higher then that.

I did see the light at the end of the tunnel though. At the bottom of my letter there was a break down of the loans.
  • Loan Date
  • Original Loan Amount
  • Outstanding Principal
  • Interest Rate
With loan dates of 2002 and 2003, I am proud to say that it only took me 4 years to finally get the Outstanding Principal below the Original Loan Amount. That's right, I've been only freakin' paying for new and capitalized interest (capitalized interest = interest which was accrued while actively enrolled full-time in school and during the grace period which is then applied to the principal and any future accrued interest is then calculated with this new HUGE amount). I have a feeling that when we do get around to selling the beloved (GAG!) townhouse, all of the equity earned will be going to those good ol' student loans. Moving out of state is looking more and more a necessity.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Summer in SF

I very safely got this photo of the lovely overcast over SF during my commute this morning. I'd like to also note that it was flippin COLD and WINDY this morning when I left for work. It is July in California, and I'm wearing a sweater (but of course still wearing sandals).

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

What a lovely vacation!

I am oh so lucky to be one of THOSE people that work for a company that are smart about scheduling company holidays and I had Monday AND Tuesday off for the 4th. To add to the enjoyment of a 4 day weekend, I took Friday off as well. Woo Hoo! That's right, 5 days off, and a resulting 2 shortened work weeks. LOVELY!

Sorry for my absence in the blogosphere, but during my vacation, I opted to also vacate most of the internet except for the occasional curious factoid look-up or movie listings.


I spent the Friday with my buddy Dot, her pre-teen daughter, her niece and nephew, and her friend and daughter. We all woke up way early and went to Marine World (Aka: Six Flags Marine World, but I hate calling it that because although I enjoy the rides, I do not like what they represent nor the stress they are putting on the animals which were there first - yes I know I'm a hypocrite because I still went and spent money, but I don't have to like it! And yes, I cried at the Whale show too, I always do.). My favorite morning radio show, Alice 97.3, was doing a remote there, and the first 1000 got in free (big deal considering it is now over $50 admission). Dot amazingly got her family in the car and was there by 6am. I arrived late at 7am, but still got in FREE!

The rest of the weekend (4 days still left), was spent sleeping, cooking, drywalling and painting the tiny shed, and organizing Eric's landscaping supplies and tools so they fit into said shed. Eric came to the conclusion that even though he runs his own landscaping business, he does not yet have employees and therefore does not need 3 of the same kind of rake. This realization was repeated for a number of tools and supplies. We both have a tendency to grab free/cheap stuff when its offered, so ample quantities of stuff that is and will never be used tend to accumulate in spaces which then make the items and the space unusable. Since we live in a small space with little storage, organization and limiting the "stuff" factor is a must.

Sadly (even though I thought of it multiple times) I failed to snap any before pictures. But here are some afters. The patio still needs some work, but I'm ok with that. I'm told that all of that landscaping "stuff" if ear marked for a client install this week, so it should be gone by the end of the week (I've heard this before, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt this time).


oh yea baby.. thats the new AC!

For the before shots, I will ask you to use your imagination. Think of this shed so packed with stuff to the ceiling that it took skill to open the door safely, and then imagine noticing water coming from under all the stuff due to the neighbor's failed water heater, so all that stuff had to be piled onto the 12x12 patio which is also used as our main entry and my outdoor kitchen, and it already had its own pile of stuff because it was being used as the shed overflow. Then imagine moldy walls, and then ripped up walls...but with a new water heater.

I will also let you imagine the site of our trash can, today, two days before trash pick up. Imagine it... can you see it? I know I can. But most importantly, I can see most of the patio now and I USED the BBQ on the 4th! oh, and if anyone needs a tape measure, I think we found a total of 5 (including the one that Eric bought on Sunday because he couldn't find any of his.)