Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cow poop

funny pictures of cats with captions

More thoughts

Continuing today's thoughts on good things.

Quite a few of my friends (during high school, college, and adulthood) have told me separately that my parents are exceptionally cool. And they really are. Although I have recognized that, it's always very nice to hear it from others.

Most recently, me and a friend from junior high (courtesy of Facebook, natch) shared a few somewhat personal emails. She went on to say that it was cool that my mom was cool with my unconventional choices, and that she always remembered my mom as being very laid back. Hang on, Mom! Your coolness factor just jumped another point.

So I figured I'd call. When I told her, she started to laugh... but quickly became serious. "Oh, pussycat," she said, "Maybe if your father and I hadn't been quite so accepting, you would have learned to avoid pain." Huh? Silence for a moment while I digested this puzzling tidbit. "I don't know about that, Mom. I really don't think that's in my nature." Big sigh on her end. Had I said the wrong thing? I was just being honest. It's really not in my nature!

I shouldn’t have worried. "Phew! I'm so glad you said that. I don't think it's in your nature either!" We laughed and laughed, and bonding ensued. Cool. Like mother, like daughter!


Istle, also ixtle, ixtli: A valuable fibre obtained (in Mexico and Central America) from Bromelia sylvestris and species of Agave, as A. Ixtli, and used for cordage, nets, carpets, etc. Also attrib., as istle fibre, plant; istle-grass, a name for Bromelia sylvestris.

Have you ever used this word in regular conversation? Me neither. Ever hear of it? Me neither.

A friend hit me with this word last night playing Scrabble on Facebook. He's going to win (as usual), but isn't it a great one? I just had to share. Happy Scrabbling!

Blessings and smiles

I have no idea why this popped into my head, but here goes.

After college, I worked in Brooklyn with a woman who had an unusual answer to the everyday "How are you?" greeting. She would ring out, "I'm blessed!" with a toothy smile, a Southern accent, a heavenward glance, and an occasional clasping of hands. (It was from her kitchen that I tried chicken backs, sweet potato pie, and other foods, but that's another story.) She said it every single time, and it always made me smile.

Thinking of this woman, I am smiling again. Since today I feel especially blessed and peaceful, I write this list of other things that made me smile this month. There are lots more, but these stand out.
  1. My favorite pants no longer poke me in the crotch. Hallelujah for ouchless walking. And sitting. And standing. And zipping! In addition, they are no longer high-waters.
  2. Unlike my pants, my period stayed short.
  3. One chin, instead of two.
  4. Car mpg is up to 24.3! For a long time I could get no higher than 23.7 on my awesome AWD 2008 Impreza, considering I probably drive too fast on the highway, and much of the rest of the time I'm doing city driving. (I love my Subaru. This baby is so much fun, handles like a dream, and is one of the safest compact cars around; just cute on the outside, but hot stuff underneath. Kind of like me! Heh heh.)
  5. Speaking of hot stuff, salsa classes begin soon. I can't wait!
  6. Next month's variable mortgage rate is 4.238, down from 4.316%. I'm watching it like a hawk, and when the time is right... bang! I'll lock it in and throw some cash at it so my monthly goes down. It's tricky, though. Come on, 4%! Or lower... my parents' rental property was 3.84% this month. Yeah baby!
  7. A haircut is scheduled for tomorrow. Phew! (I'm a little shaggy.)
  8. My state tax refund should be arriving in the near future.
  9. Normal "April-in-Massachusetts" weather -- daytime 60's, nighttime 50's. Sayonara, sweltering 90's!
  10. Doctors, surgeons, stable hands, and successful operations (Vitamin N, I'm talking about you.)
  11. Good friends
  12. Smiley babies
  13. Silly Facebook quizzes
  14. Rainbows
  15. Compliments
So what brought a smile to your face recently?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sunburns and planetburns

Asteroids get “sunburned” quickly. Hmm. Kind of like asses get sunburned quickly? How totally scientific!

36 foods, organized

You know, the more I think about it, the less I like buffets. But if you organize this into proper stations, it's not so very strange. In fact, it seems pretty well balanced! (In terms of types of food, not health-wise.)

breads and butter
the cheeses
cocktail shrimp
mixed salted nuts
the olives
smoked turkey

arroz con gandules
beef teriyaki
kashmiri naan
peanut chicken
singapore noodles
spring rolls

Fruits and Veg
cole slaw
cucumber and tomato salad
green beans

corn on the cob
french fries
bbq chicken pizza with hots
onion kugel
sicilian pizza

peanut M&Ms
Russell Stovers
italian ice
the cake
In addition, look how international I am. French fries, Italian ice, Sicilian pizza, Singapore noodles, Kashmiri naan... my stomach would be the original melting pot. Hmm. Ew...

My 36 favorite foods

In case anyone is curious.
  • arroz con gandules
  • bacon, crispy
  • bbq chicken pizza with hots
  • beef teriyaki on a stick
  • boneless buffalo wings, very spicy (no blue cheez, pleez)
  • bouillabaisse (with lots of saffron)
  • breads and butter (must include challah)
  • brisket
  • cheeses (must include Jarlsberg, smoked gouda, brie, havarti with dill, and a strong cheddar)
  • cherries (on the stems)
  • cocktail shrimp with spicy sauce
  • cole slaw
  • corn on the cob
  • cucumber and tomato salad
  • french fries, extra crispy
  • gazpacho
  • green beans (baby size, raw or blanched)
  • Kashmiri naan
  • mixed salted nuts
  • olives (black and green)
  • onion kugel
  • pasteles (not the sweet ones)
  • peanut chicken
  • peanut M&Ms
  • pineapple
  • Russell Stover milk chocolate Roman nougats
  • scoopable Italian ice -- at least cherry and lemon flavors (but not rainbow)
  • shumai
  • Sicilian pizza
  • Singapore noodles
  • smoked trout (head, eyes, and all bones removed)
  • smoked turkey rolled up in butter lettuce leaves
  • spring rolls
  • tostones
  • veggie pakora
And finally, a beautiful half chocolate, half white cake with my name on it, and maybe my picture, too.

Sort of all over the place, but what can I say? These are my favorites. This would be the best buffet EVER! Want to come over? All I need to do is win the lottery. And install a vomitorium. (Roman nougats. Get it?)

Hello Birthday Girl

"I'm the best auntie ever!" she said, modestly.

Curious? Of course you are. Niecey's turned six! Her birthday party was this past week. I wasn't able to be there, but I know I would have totally rocked the scrapbooking session and also the "create-a-wand" station as well. Of the heart and flower choices, I would have chosen a flower.

Anyway, I sent a really cool giftie as suggested by Sister -- a play makeup set (complete with Hello Kitty!) It has about a million pieces, including a lip gloss watch, a lip gloss cell phone, a few nail polishes (Niecey's favorite) and a little mirror. (How can a mother buy such a thing for her six-year-old? This is the type of thing aunties were made for! Especially aunties who are hooked on makeup, such as myself.) This kid is turning into a lot of fun.

So, it's a hit! (With both ladies in the fam.) Apparently, Niece also received an awesome present from a friend -- a shoulder bag filled with necessay items for a girl detective! They include a tape measure, rope, special pen and pad, magnifying glass, and more; and of course the cell phone lip gloss and compact will be added to the mix. An investigator never knows who they'll call... or meet!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Poof! Your breakfast

Wow! Today is a scorcher! A high of 94 degrees, and tomorrow at 60. If you don't like the weather in New England, just wait five minutes...

How does one keep cool one day, and warm the next? Powder! No, not baby powder -- instant breakfast! The Carnation packets are expensive, and it's hard to find the no-sugar-added mix in canisters. So I researched, and hello there. A recipe!

Instant Breakfast Drink Mix
1 (3 oz.) box of instant vanilla, chocolate, or butterscotch pudding
1/3 cup sugar
12 scoops protein powder
6 cups instant dry milk powder
2 teaspoons vanilla

Combine all, blend well.

To use: Blend 1 cup ice water and 1/3 cup mix, blend well. Add fresh fruit for a change of pace.

The problem is... there is sugar added. Also, isn't vanilla, wet? I can see I'll need to mess around with the recipe this weekend. I'll let you know how it ends up...

Shannon Writes

Another thoughtful blog, courtesy of the Visual Thesaurus. Shannon Reed is a playwright who also writes a VT column about teaching, and who blogs about her work and life. Right now, my favorites are her week-long "I'm Thankful For..." posts. Plus, just I love the green background.

Not a valid reason to read someone's blog, you say? Not true. I once chose a restaurant purely because I liked the color of the walls...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Read a banned book today

Read something deviant in honor of Judith Krug!

Very recently deceased, Ms. Krug, trained librarian and director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (for over forty years!) is the person to thank for the American right to read objectionable, censored, or otherwise suppressed content in public libraries. Her principled legal battles challenged book and later, Internet censorship in libraries all the way to the Supreme Court.

She believed the role of librarians is to bring people and information together. A 2002 quote: “We do this by making sure libraries have information and ideas across the spectrum of social and political thought, so people can choose what they want to read or view or listen to. Some users find materials in their local library collection to be untrue, offensive, harmful or even dangerous. But libraries serve the information needs of all of the people in the community — not just the loudest, not just the most powerful, not even just the majority. Libraries serve everyone.”

Readers, throw your hands in the hair and wave them like you just don't care. To Krug! To reading! To intellectual freedom!

Rock of love

Here are the pics of my heart of stone. Pretty cool, huh?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thursday's doings

Some stuff that happened today.
  • I found this really cool rock that looks like a heart (a human heart, not a romantic one.) One side is broken. It’s my heart of stone! I’ll post a pic soon.
  • I realized that a walnut looks very much like a brain. The wrinkles in the brain and the ridges in both the shell and nut meat look oddly alike.
  • I saw a rainbow. It was huge!
  • I'm calling the condo association tomorrow. I found two black bugs of the same type, in my bedroom! (One last night, one today. Disgusting.)
  • Spa appointment today (zip wax. Ahhhh.)
  • Dinner at a friend's tonight and Guitar Hero! Woo hoo!
  • The cloud moved from Butchie's eye and he is his regular self again.
Also, I somehow allowed my one-year blogging anniversary to pass without announcing it, on tax day. Shame on me!

And that's what's happening with me. What's happening with you?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Something interesting passed my desk today -- a printed advertisement for the Activeion Cleaning Solution.

This company has invented a specialized spray bottle to electrically charge ordinary tap water to create “super-oxygenated nano-bubbles” to attract grime like a magnet, enabling it to be easily removed from glass, hard surfaces, and carpet. When the reservoir glows greenly, the water is being properly activated. It’s also equipped with an automatic trigger so the user doesn’t suffer from shpritz fatigue. The better to clean you with, my dear…

Sounds like an “as seen on tv” wet dream! (So to speak.) Hmm. I love this idea! Think of the money saved from not buying chemical cleaners. Think of the chemical-laden mist that enters the air from said cleaners. Where does it all go? Into our lungs, I guess. Ew!

Basically, they’ve made water, better. The down side? It’s $299 per sprayer! Granted, their market is companies with spaces that require daily professional cleaning, but wouldn’t it be great if this were affordable to individuals, too? I wonder how long it would take to pay for itself…

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pea-sized planet

New planet found. And it’s weenie! Although not earth-like, planet Gliese 581 “e” is less than twice the size of Earth, and most likely rocky. Cool!


So Sunday's party never happened.

You can imagine my disappointment when I still felt like death from the night before and had to cancel the fruit shot party! Well, not cancel, more like… reschedule. But this will be a neat trick. This weekend is out of the question, the following one is not ideal… I'm thinking mid-May. Dang!

I had everything ready – food and frozen fruit (and lots of it!), drink, ice, paper goods… all I had to do was clean, and I couldn't even crawl out of bed to do that. But the more I think about it, the less anyone would have wanted to visit if they knew I was not well. So I made the right decision, but I'm not holding out much hope of getting almost everyone together again. Boo!

Anyway, it's already Tuesday, and I scarcely feel any better than on Sunday. And of course last night I got my period, so I had to separate the cramping from the general malaise of my cold.

Worst part? I wasn't even able to turn on to cool Nyquil dreams these past days. That used to be the best thing about Nyquil and a fever…

Popovers on the Square

I understand from a friend that New Hampshire may not be all bad.  It turns out that in Portsmouth (the cool part of NH and the exception that proves the rule) there is a restaurant named and fully stocked with… popovers!  It's called Popovers on the Square and the menu is pretty sweet.  They even serve salads in popovers!  How totally adorable…

Friday night delights

Want to hear about my Friday night?  Sure you do.

I met a friend in Somerville at the Green Tomato for a 7 PM meetup about astrology.  Although I didn't learn much about that topic, I was able to add to my "creep me out" list.  Pet peeve #27: people who surreptitiously take pictures of you without asking.  If you're the group photographer, ok.  If you stand up and make it known that you are taking pictures, holding the camera high, also ok.  But don't sneak out your iPhone, hold it at half mast, and take snapshots of just women.  Ick!  I'm uncomfortable enough with being captured on camera, but this was ridiculous.  When he did it in my direction, I not only turned my head, I also covered my face.  I will not be bullied!
When that was finally over at about 8:30, my friend and I shot the shit at Namaskar, an Indian restaurant within walking distance.  We talked men, work, sex, money, food, folks, fun... you know, the major topics.  I had chicken tikka masala and she had lamb rogan josh, and we shared veggie pakora and aloo naan.  The naan was a little dry and the tikka very creamy. You could cut the chicken with a fork. After, we went for a walk and possibly ice cream down the street at JP Licks.  When we arrived, we were still stuffed, so we decided against ice cream, turned around, and walked in the other direction.

Thankfully, we had quit discussing the meetup people since we ran into one of the cool ones.  One had asked her to hang, but he hadn't shown up, so she left.  15 minutes later and still walking, we run into him, with another guy. We explained that she took off.  They asked if we wanted to hang out.  Um... no thanks, we're walking off dinner now.  They appeared crestfallen.  Oh well.

We continued our walk.  And we walked.  And walked.  And walked!  We walked so much we passed the restaurant where we began the evening, and the next thing we knew, we had walked all the way to Porter Square!  We dished the whole time.  Good thing I was wearing sensible shoes (snakeskin Docs.)

By now, it's around 10:30 PM.  I make a comment that the guy who I salsa'd with lives around Davis.  Have you spoken to him recently? No talking, but he emailed last weekend. We have tentative plans for a salsa night next month. Why don't you call him?  Have a drink tonight, she suggests.  Oh, no, I couldn't.  I'm not dressed properly.  So what?  Casual is good, and you totally look cute.  I just ate.  But your breath is fine.  What if he doesn't reply?  Then you tried.  What if he says no?  Then he loses.  What if he says yes? Then you have fun!  Well, ok then.  I texted him and he immediately called me and my friend and I walk back to Davis and met him around 11:00.  She takes off.  I'm now alone with him on a very busy street, with no idea what to do next.  He tells me he left his wallet at home.  Hmm. Well, you're gonna need money, I told him, so we trekked to his car where we found that his wallet is at his house.  Hmm.  We get his wallet.

Once again, we park a fair distance from the bars.  We stop into a few and rule them out (too loud, too warm, cover charge too high, etc.) and by now my feet are killing me.  I don't complain though, because how exactly would that add to the fun factor?  We finallylocate a bar we agree on.  Amaretto on ice for me, Riesling for him.  I buy the round. We chitchat.  Lite flirtation commences. Second round, an espresso martini for me, bought by him (oh, yum!) Lite flirtation still in play (compliments and one peek down my v-neck) until we leave. I mention I may know someone for him, and throw out some info about her, but he's not biting (for her, or for me, really.) I'm still clueless as to if we are dating or if drinking as friends. I drive him to his car and he leads me to the highway. But before he leaves my car, he gives me a little kiss. So now I am even more confused. What the heck!?

Whatever it is, it's fun. So I'm not stressing too much. Guys are weird…

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Live free and die

I could die in New Hampshire and no one would ever find me. I'd die in my car and then the car would be broken into by a bear and the bear would find my rotting carcass and eat what was left. I hate New Hampshire. I HATE IT!!!

I will tell you all about my very enjoyable Friday night, tomorrow. Right now I just need to say this.

Tonight was not the footloose and fancy-free dance party I was hoping for. I completely missed the beginner class at 7:30 because the NH roads are poorly marked and even though I followed the directions, I ended up totally lost. What should have taken me three roads and 40 minutes (I had left plenty of time for the lost factor) instead took seven roads, multiple directions, and nearly two hours (I did ask people, who were very nice. They just happened to be from MA and were going to a party of their own. I should have tagged along.)

By the time I got to the venue, I was exhausted, cold, and debated just turning around and going home. But I prevailed, and arrived halfway into the intermediate class, which was ok. The teacher (all five feet and 90 pounds of her) didn't exactly have a Latin flavor, but she was cheerful and it was fine. I was asked to dance by a bunch of men and only one of them was terrible.

But by 10:00 I was really sweaty, my throat was killing me, and I could only think of one thing -- the dreaded trip home. So shortly after one of the meetup people introduced themselves to me, I took off. I asked for directions, and promptly forgot them after I started driving. Did he say 93? 293? or just 3? I forget. So because I had taken Route 3 here, I picked that one. In my defense, the sign did say "to Boston!" It was right and wrong. I drove forever and thanked God when I hit Massachusetts. The only good thing about all this quality time with my car is that my average mpg went up to 24.0.

Anyway, I finally made it home. I ate some grapes. I have a cat snuggling up. I am sipping a cup of Sleepytime. Now I will lay down and fall asleep and wake up feeling rested and refreshed. Hear that, world? Rested and refreshed!!! Good night...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Serious popovers and bad, bad beans

I went out with a friend last night to Angelica's Restaurant & Functions in Middleton for dinner and then to Trader Joe's for lite marketing. It was fun!

This was her second time at this place, and my first. I had wanted to go for years, but just never got around to it. When we arrived, the parking lot was full of Caddies and Buicks. We wore sweats, and were underdressed, but since we were the youngest people there (except for some of the servers), they sat us in one of those huge eight-foot semicircular leather booths meant for four or five, where everyone could see us (and admire our beauty, presumably.) The table was a little high, but the booth was very comfortable. We had to sit against the wall in order to hear each other. I didn't find the place "fancy" but it sure was a hoot. Around us, helmet hair, pearls, fussy furniture, gilt mirrors, and old men in sport coats abounded. Thankfully, it did not have the old-person smell. It was like dinner theatre, straight out of the 60's. We should have had highballs.

We were still in time for the (long) early bird special, so we paid practically nothing ($15.95) for salad (ordinary, but not weenie. Served without tomatoes), soup (creamy corn chowder –ok, but I could only manage half. It was very creamy indeed!) or choice of juices, a very yummy roll with butter, our choice of 8 entrées garnished with curly parsley and one side dish (the entrée was a little dry, but certainly edible. I didn't bother with the fried potatoes), and a cute hot fudge sundae with a very plump maraschino cherry on top.

Also, they employ a high-school kid to carry tidbits from table to table, and we had one of each type she brought. Spanakopita (I usually love this, but it was too soft and buttery), chicken wings (teriyaki style, very tasty), and others. I tried three things I had never eaten before: a corn fritter, kidney bean dip, and a popover half the size of my head (plucked with tongs from a basket that would have made Little Red Riding Hood swoon with envy.) The popover won. It was so very, very delicious, and I would have enjoyed another one. I would go back just for those! The corn fritter was ok, but it sat in a sauce that looked ominously like jarred sweet and sour, which was actually cherry-flavored. It should have been dessert.

On the other hand, their famous bean dip… well, that was pretty damn disgusting. Kidney beans, spicy mustard, relish, and mayo mixed together, maybe some garlic or onion? Whatever it was, I never want to eat it again. In the pink light it looked none too appetizing as well. By the time our entrees were served, the place was packed. Our waitress was very good.

After filling our gullets, we headed out to Trader Joe's to walk some of it off. I finally found Better 'n' Peanut Butter, and also picked up the best soup ever, Trader Joe's Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato. Their cheeses are also very good. My friend picked up some stuff for a member of her fam who has dietary restrictions (spelt bread and gluten-free mixes like mac 'n' cheese, brownies, and pancakes. Oh, the poor souls without Trader Joe locations close by.) Then on to Walgreens where I bought 3 Cadbury eggs on clearance for $.12 each (one caramel, one orange, and one golden.) Later, I sucked out the filling while we watched 13 Going on 30, one of my favorite movies. I chucked the chocolate. I also tried Berry Mike and Ikes, which I did not enjoy very much so I gave to her hubby. He liked them. And that was my night.

And... soon begins the long weekend! Hooray!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Beware the Swiss Cheese People

Guess what I saw yesterday.

A woman in her early fifties at the market opening different bags of grapes, then popping them from the stems and putting them into another bag. I had never seen that before! I mentioned this to my coworkers and they said, sure, people do that all the time, because they don’t want to pay for the stems.

Hmm. They don’t want to pay for the stems.

I don’t know about you, but I find that rather… well… cheap. From this point forth they shall be known as the Swiss Cheese People (you know, the cheap-ass people who “don’t want to pay for the holes.”) They probably have an attack every time they have to pay for a pit, too.

But to see if they maybe had something there, I decided to weigh the stems from my beautiful Red Globe grapes, each between 1.25 and 1.5 inches in diameter, and sweet as candy. I had the math all ready, and 15 huge grapes (.44 lb at $1.49/lb. = $.66 for the fruit = $.09 per ounce of fruit = $.00317 per gram of fruit) gleaned two smallish stems, which weighed zero grams. They didn’t even register on the scale! Double it, triple it, quadruple it, hell, quintuple it – it’s still zero.

I can understand if you were a little old lady receiving a fixed income from Social Security, suddenly got a craving for grapes, and only had 49 extra cents to buy them – you may feel you could afford an extra grape. Or picking a bag, then removing one big branch because all the bags weigh four pounds, and who can eat that many before they rot. Or even picking one bag and removing each grape and putting it back into the same bag and then buying that same bag, particularly if you needed eight pounds of grapes. You might save a few pennies by picking them off the stems, but you have wasted a few dollars by spending your time.

But all that aside, I’m much more grossed out about this woman opening all the different grape bags, and popping individuals off each one. Lady, get your paws out of the grapes! Have you no sense of decorum? Readers, you know when you get your grapes home from the market and wash them, only to discover a bunch of naked stems without any grape floaters in the bottom of the bag? These people got to them first.

Sounds like fruit harassment to me. Manager!!!


Two firsts of the season yesterday. First ladybug in the office and first deer in my backyard! It's finally becoming spring!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Be cool

Scrunchies are alive and well and living in Massachusetts!

It was so hot in my office today that in order to cool down, I had to put my hair up. However, although my personal drawer usually overflows with huge clips and ponytailers to hold my oft unmanageable hair, today there were none to be found. I rummaged, and lo and behold... a scrunchie! It was actually a scünci (remember?), because I am oh so fancy (I had bought a few kinda sorta recently at Big Lots -- 6 on a card for $1.00. That is how fancy I truly am.)

Now, anyone who has ever seen Sex in the City knows these are not to leave the house (as a native New Yorker, I know this rule well.) But somehow this one went afield, and it came to my rescue.

So the next time you are in need of cooling off, whip out that scrunchie, and wear it proudly. Scrunchie wearers, unite! And if you can't bring yourself to wear one, at least live by the scünci credo: "Dream. Imagine. Create." You can do that, right?

Life, in general

Back to reality.

Thursday night, I will put away Passover and go out for Chinois with a friend. I’ve been writing (maybe not 25,000 words worth, but writing nevertheless). I filed my taxes. I’ve been keeping my place organized. I'm going to the gym tomorrow, and I’ve even been sleeping properly. Could it be that I’m finally… gasp!...normal?

Probably not.

But this weekend is packed. I have an astrology meetup with a friend on Friday night, then possibly a jazz club after, where her cousin's cousin will be performing. On Saturday afternoon, perhaps a drive to Maine where good neighbors are having a party at their beach house, then back to New Hampshire to definitely attend a salsa social (SALSA!!!), and then I will be holding a small get-together of my own on Sunday. Just a few people for an un-housewarming -- basically, an open house featuring fruit shots made with my Magic Bullet, various light munchies, and tours of the 1,201 s.f. palace. Monday is Patriot's Day.


I will let you know how it all goes. Sounds like I will have used up all my social reserves by Sunday night. I will really need Monday off at that point...

Monday, April 13, 2009

genius and heroin

An almost disturbingly entertaining book I'm currently reading, by the expressive and thought-provoking writer Michael Largo. Full name: Genius and Heroin: The Illustrated Catalogue of Creativity, Obsession, and Reckless Abandon Through the Ages.

Did you know...

Freud was addicted to coke? That Stephen Crane survived 30 hours at sea after his boat sunk? Zelda Fitzgerald was also a writer -- many things for which F. Scott received literary credit had been lifted verbatim from her journals? And that caffeine is more addictive than alcohol?

Yeesh. And I'm only up to the letter F!

When I visited my sister in February, I picked up this book at American Eagle for a measly $1.90. But it is worth its full price of $15.95. If you have ever been fascinated by what drives people to create, and what also drives them to the edge, this is the book is for you. The writers, scientists, artists, comedians, doctors, and others Largo has densely chronicled all succumbed to their obsessions or addictions. I think the only person who could have done this book better is Mary Roach.

This book is an upper and a downer, all in one (so to speak.) While reading this encyclopedia of deaths, I also came across titles of at least six books I want to read, one play I want to see, and two works of art I plan to research, in addition to ruminating on what else Marie Curie could have achieved had she not died of radiation poisoning. Phew! What a book. I highly recommend it. But! Please read in small doses, lest you become obsessed as well...

Begin at the very beginning

So. A six-pound loss in three weeks is a decent start on the 524BS challenge, which I finally got around to starting, nearly four months after the big idea. I must remember the goal. Hopefully, by the time I lose the weight, I will have found a test subject!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

More seder and Passover thoughts

I had such a great time at our seder, and was kept so busy, I never even peeked inside my favorite, the Santa Cruz Haggadah (a Passover Haggadah and Coloring Book for the Evolving Consciousness).

I just love this kind of stuff. Using this one in tandem with a standard haggadah is fun because of the views it presents. I also like the drawings. And even though it's kid-friendly, it has some really big ideas than always make me think.

Plus, since it was our seder, we were able to finish up the way we do -- with "My Country "Tis of Thee." I am sure some find that wacky, and I suppose they have the right too... the seder the previous night ended with "Hatikvah." But last time I checked, we live in U.S., not Israel...

Matzah meal pancakes tonight for dinner. It's a Settlement recipe, and it's really good. I found it online years ago, and I can't find it again, or I would provide the link. Sorry. The pancakes come out light, like regular pancakes. I whipped up some strawberry cream cheese, too, for on top, like a mousse. My parents came over for dinner and a change of scenery, and we shared. I like having guests! (Even if they're just my parents.) And, they brought over the remainder of the chocolate prune cake (they had each had, like, a sliver apiece.) They asked me to "do something with it," like "bring it to the office or something." Maybe I will... I'm sure I could find someone who could use a slice...

Friday, April 10, 2009

2nd Seder

So last night was 2nd Seder, and of course we had a great time.

Dinner was amazing. Possibly even the best one yet! My mom went Bon Appétit on us, and made some fancy schmancy recipes: Roast Chicken with Matzo Stuffing and Cauliflower-Spinach Puree, without bothering to make the stuffing; instead, she made tzimmes, which came out like a dream. The family did not like the puree, but the guests did. The chicken was fragrant, moist, and beautiful. It made me so happy. The shallots and lemons inside really did their job. Individual romaine salad boats for easy serving, with homemade vinaigrette. Of course chicken soup mit knaidlach and store-bought filthy fish. (That's gefilte fish to you.) An hb egg to start it all off.

She enlisted my kitchen skills and asked me to bake Coconut Macaroons with Strawberries and Huckleberry Sauce. I used blackberries instead of huckleberries. Do use ground coconut if you can find it, instead of shredded -- it will be easier to chew. Cream of tartar not necessary. The sauce was amazing, and the macaroons light and tasty. Pipe the meringue/macaroon batter from the outside in.

My mom also made her mandelbrot. And compote. I also dipped dried apricots and prunes halfway into chocolate, and mixed up golden and dark raisins with slivered almonds and coated that with chocolate as well. No one could eat them though, because everyone was so full.

In addition, one of our guests brought a fantastic Passover cake (oxymoron? not this time) which weighed about six pounds. It was rich and dark and fudgy, with a lasting sweet taste, which was... prunes! A lot of them. And prune juice! Which could come in handy, in light of the amount of matzah/matzah balls/other food made matzah meal that one eats during the holiday. We found this out after slices had already been served and eaten. Needless to say, it hit me like a freight train, and had a lasting effect clear through tonight. All I could manage for dinner was some soup. If you are ever served a slice of this, please be careful!!!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Happy Passover

Last night (Wednesday) was 1st Seder.

Instead of holding both at our house (in our usual style) we accepted an invitation to the home of a couple from our temple. Background: this family is at the same level of frum-eoisie as us -- Conservative; they have a son who was married within the last year (my parents were invited to the engagement party); they are rich; they don't seem to understand many social nuances. Hmm. This should be fun...

So who would be attending? I asked my mom during the 40-minute trip. Oh, just us three, two of our friends, a few people from temple, and the hosts' son and his new wife. I'm picturing 11, maybe 12 people. Okay, sounds doable.

We arrive. I gasp. The place was a McMansion. (I practically got lost leaving the bathroom.)

We see the dining table, or should I say, three dining tables, with many, many chairs. This dining room was the biggest I had ever seen in my life, in someone's real house (and I have been to some pretty fancy houses.) Though it was technically a dining room, it should be used as an artist's dream studio, due to light pouring in from the vast expanses of glass, and a lovely nature scene to look at when the artist in question needs a break. (I for one could have had at least 5 projects going at one time, with plenty of space to work with each one.) In addition to the 18-foot length of table, there were two sofas at the far end of the room, along with bookcases stuffed to the gills with interesting-looking books. That would be my space to take a quick regenerating nap before continuing my creating.

Anyway, I had steeled myself for the hosts' son and wife, in case they were adorable. I'm sure you can imagine my dismay when couple after couple arrived. Plus, they were all slightly younger than me. I was ready to hang myself. When I thought it couldn't get any worse, another couple waltzed in, this time with a brand new baby. Now I wanted to hang myself and shoot myself. But I sucked it up. All in all, there were 17 full-sized bodies (not counting the baby.)

In addition to rampant disorganization, the seder itself was very draggy, which was a disappointment. My family has a blast when we hold one, and we are typically wary of others. They are never as much fun as ours! We invite anyone we enjoy, whether they are Jewish or not. (It's good to do that, because newcomers always bring a different perspective.) We sing joyously, we carry on, we ask questions, we stay focused, and we are interested in what the leader has to say, because let's be realistic, many of us know the seder by heart. Tell me something I don't know about one of the plagues, or give me a new outlook on the four sons/children -- throw me a juicy tidbit that I can sink my intellectual teeth into. And my dad never disappoints. But this host did.

Long story short, we won't be going back. So sorry, but we gotta be free! (Isn't that what Passover is all about? Freedom?) At other seders, people can drone on and on, while we will have great fun discussing like the rabbis did in B'nei Brak. You want a real Seder? Talk to me. I'll show you how its done...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Poor Kym

Whaaaaat!!!??? Steve-O stayed, and David got kicked off? Twelve percent margin, my sweet A. What is this world coming to? And by the way, I have Had Enough of Edyta and her ridiculous "costumes." Lawrence doesn't even have a good attitude. I was hoping he would be the one to go bye-bye after finding he was in the bottom, but no such luck. David was really much, much better than him. But I think Americans don't care for Kym Johnson. She's a great dancer, people! Also, this shouldn't matter, but I also like Aussie accent.

And how about Cheryl? No wonder she keeps winning -- she whips her men into shape! "You look weak. Too slow. Awful. AGAIN!" (I nurture a secret female crush on her.) She's tough, and oh so cool. Remember "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy?" from years ago? All her dances are that hot. Keep it up, Cheryl. Yee-ha!!!

Monday, April 6, 2009

O my Gilles!

My newest crush. I love Gilles! The man is smokin' hot! And he can really dance. Last week, he took my breath away, and he kept the momentum up this week. Now, he is tops on my Dance card, with Melissa right on his heels. Shawn is cute, but she's a far fourth. I still prefer Ty to her, despite his robotic motions. I suppose I've always enjoyed a dry sense of humor much more than perky cuteness. As for Steve-O, time to go-o. Sorry, dude. I'm glad you're not a druggie anymore, and at least you got your spirit back, but 6's just won't cut it. You're taking air time away from Gilles and Melissa!

A quick little plus -- Derek Hough reminded me of Westley in his black outfit and light blond hair, swooping Li'l Kim around the dance floor as if they were hopping over pits in the Fire Swamp. So gentlemanly. Yum!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Payment #1

So Friday I made my first mortgage payment for the condo. I have one word to say -- yeesh. And this is the first of many. It's not like I'm surprised -- of course I knew this day would come. I feel good being able to pay it, but I would still prefer to not pay at all. Wouldn't that be so very, very nice?

Seder Party!

Just call me Mrs. Balabustah:

I'm so ve-e-ry bu-u-sy! Pesach may be fun for you, but it just makes me di-i-zzy!

Here's a list of things a Balabustah has to do.
Sing along the chorus -- oh, what lies before us?
Sing along the chorus -- and you'll soon be busy, too!

Oh, there's sweeping, dusting, rubbing, scrubbing, polishing and mopping!
Washing, waxing, no relaxing -- there's no time for stopping...

And on and on. Good ol' Gladys Gewirtz, from back in the day. Hmm, I could use a Seder parader of my own. Where's Niecey when I need her?

36 words I like

Some more words I like very much. You?


Saturday, April 4, 2009

How to explain things

I came across this at work yesterday on the VT. Make Palin and comprehensible?
Not so much. Maybe not particularly relevant anymore, but still very funny...

"Images from the Visual Thesaurus, Copyright ©1998-2009 Thinkmap, Inc. All rights reserved."

Friday, April 3, 2009

Kinoki Detox Foot Pads

I bought 'em.

In my heart of hearts, I knew these toxin-removing foot pads were a crock ("footpad" being an old word meaning thief.) But I couldn't resist forking over $4.98 for 14 of them when I saw them on clearance at Target this week (down from $9.98, down from $19.99), in my favorite "as seen on tv" section (no shipping charges!)

Of course I probably should quit these occasional splurges but I seem to have such good luck. The Miracle Blade I bought back in 1995 still cuts tomatoes paper thin, and I use it all the time. The recent Pedi-Egg purchase is a dream come true. Oxygenating cleansing agents. Self-abrading hair removal kits. The Magic Bullet (although that was free, after all.) I could go on and on. Yes, I like to buy (or at least, receive. What can I say? I'm a child of the 80's.)

But I digress.

After attaching them to my feet last night after my enjoyable shower after my gradually-becoming-less-unenjoyable visit to the gym, I went online to investigate. I tried Mythbusters, Snopes, and Google, but didn’t find much, except for laugh-inducing comments. Granted, I only gave myself five minutes of searching (I had important things to do. Scrabble and Bananagrams on Facebook), but ew! Ew!! EW!!! After viewing a video that shows distilled water immediately turns the pads brown, I peeled them from my feet an hour into my experiment. Users are supposed to keep them on for 8 - 10 hours while they sleep.

The once-white pads containing some type of shakable powder were almost rock hard... and gray. And sticky. And stinky. After 60 measly minutes. And my feet had been scrubbed clean going into this trial! Can you imagine how disgusting they would be after a full night? Yuck.

Is it sweat that causes them to get gross? Does Mr. Kinoki add special “create-a-stink” stuff to make people feel like the pads are actually doing something? Are they actually doing something? Apparently you can put them on other body parts, too. Hmm. Maybe I will try them on my booty tonight, since I do have a killer ass...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Magic Bullet

This is a wondrous kitchen toy.

My favorite neighbor's sons gave her this blender-juicer-squeezer-grater-thingy a few years ago. She used the large blender part once or twice, then threw it all in a box and forgot about it. Well, we started hanging around, and you know how neighbors give stuff to each other? She gave me the Magic Bullet, with all the pieces, 90% of which were never used, and scarcely even touched. I also forgot about it until I was poking around in my kitchen a few days ago.

Look, I looooove my fancy Cuisinart blender. It was a gift, and it can do anything! And it's big enough for large jobs. But! I have been using the Magic Bullet in the mornings because I can pop on a top that fits properly, and bring the cup right to the office with me. Before, I had to actually pour the smoothie into a cup (such work! I bought 80 at BJ's and used like 10 because they are such a pain in the ass to manage), search for a lid (also bought at BJ's, but they are for coffee, so straws don't fit properly), and the cup was just never big enough. Half of it was ice anyway...

But with the Magic Bullet, it's so easy! Throw in a cup of frozen strawberries and some milk, a packet of sweetener, vroom vroom vroom, and I'm done. The "party mug" holds two cups, so I can even make my favorite passionfruit smoothie without having to guess how much will fit in the cup! Why bother with ice? The best part about smoothies is that they feel like junk food, but they are just fruit. I don't add ice cream or anything like that, so they really are healthy. And much more satisfying than say, an orange, an apple, and some grapes.

And they are perfect in the summer. I can nurse one almost all morning in the office, especially the tangy ones like mango, passionfruit, or pineapple. (Viva Caribe!) Sometimes I throw in a No Sugar Added Carnation Instant Breakfast packet (70 cals) with fruit (a cup for anywhere from 65 to 90), and milk (90) and for 250 calories I have tricked myself into thinking I'm eating something bad for me. I love that! And speaking of tricks... try adding a spoonful of sugar-free fat-free instant pudding for an even creamier treat, and hardly any calories!

I love this Magic Bullet, so very much! (and I thought I loved my other magic bullet...)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Handmade dried fruit bars

Breath-blasting pizza aside, I did make a wonderful food discovery recently that reaffirms my belief in branding. Trader Joe's sells dried fruit bars in yummy flavors, like Passionfruit, Blackberry, and Mixed Berry Fiberful (with psyllium, flaxseed, and inulin). They cost your wallet a measly fifty cents apiece, and your daily caloric intake just 50 (60, for the Fiberfuls) for a chewy, fruity, sticky, grown-up, healthy, kiddie candy. That's a penny a calorie! People, buy these. The next time I go, I'm totally picking up ten!

Kashi pizza

Don't bother.

This weekend I tried the Kashi Mushroom Trio & Spinach pizza. "Baby Portobello, Champignon and Shiitake mushrooms with spinach, mozzarella and provolone cheeses with a tomato parmesan sauce on a wood-fired, thin crust made with Kashi 7 Whole Grains & Sesame™ and flax seed. Vegetarian." Sounds good, right? I waited and waited for the pizzas to become available in Massachusetts, and I was thrilled about finally finding them.

Well, yuck! They don't mention anything about garlic, and this pizza was loaded. It was like pete-and-repeat all night. In addition, the thing never crisped, the mushrooms were too chewy, and I was so disappointed that I threw the whole shebang away. And Kashi foods are not exactly cheap.

Look, I am a Kashi lover. I don't even mind the twigs! And don't get me started on GoLean stuff... but this was such a waste. If you have had a better experience with the Kashi pizzas, please let me know. I understand they introduced a new one -- Mexicali. It sounds ok, but I am not, I repeat, not, about to throw away my hard-earned money on a stomach-churning mess. Thanks, Kashi -- for nothing!

Happy birthday

Butch and Twinkie!

My kittens are old men! 11 years old in kitty-speak. That's 77 for us! They're in really good shape, though -- still fine specimens. Butchie has a cataract in his eye, but he's had a teeny cloud in his eye since the day I got him (he was 7 weeks old.) Awww!

Jing jing! Jing jing! Excuse me, birthday playtime calls!