Sunday, August 31, 2008

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

Our Song

Among the many odd things about our relationship and us as people, Ed and I can count Our Song as another unusual thing. We don't have ONE song, we've got several!

Soon after we began dating, confessed to each other something drastic-we both liked country music. I didn't want him to come visit and be shocked that Garth, Trisha and Reba were in the CD collection. Each of us had a local country station we enjoyed, and soon after, I heard Tracey Byrd's "Keeper of the Stars" and well, it fit our situation. So it became our song.

Then, because we both liked Marillion, Ed suggested I pick up the more recent release, Brave. There was a song on that album that also fit us. So "Made Again" became Our Song number two. Both songs fit, but in different ways.

It wasn't enough to have two songs to call our own, we had to find a third. Yet another Marillion song, this time "No One Can." Three was the charm, we haven't claimed any other songs. Except the ones we sing different harmonies for, that is!

Happy Anniversary, Honey.

I Need Objective Help, Please!

You've heard me talk about it for over a year now, I've finally done it. I am writing my email to Food Network for the Next Food Network Star.

Those who want to give it a once over and critique it, let me know. I'll send you a copy. If you've watched previous seasons, you'll notice that a complaint they've had with other competitors won't be an issue. You could say that having the blog has been good practice!

Cross your fingers!


The email was sent yesterday. It detailed how my Mom and Dad, in their own ways, fueled my passion for cooking. I brought it my vision for a show and why I felt it was a necessary addition to their lineup. Only time will tell.

Thanks to Donna, Donna (Krisscop), Holly and Joyce. All had great suggestions on how to streamline the email and gave props for the things they liked about what I wrote. I dilly dallied in writing it, knowing that the right 'audition' would come out sooner or later.

Now the waiting game. If selected, I would go to New York right after Christmas-6 days shy of finishing Blog 365. If selected, I would be incommunicato for eight weeks. Ed suggests preparing non specific blog entries to get me through till the first of the year. (Methinks the hubby is optimistic about my chances-that's a switch!)

So, if I disappear on or about January 1st, know that my email worked!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Friends Drag Me Out of Feeling Funky

The past two weeks have been enlightening. I think I understand better what Ed has been feeling, looking for a job and not finding anything. Until yesterday, I hadn't heard a peep on a single job I'd applied for. Then I got a "Thanks, but no thanks" letter back on a job that I'd applied to last week. At least they sent one (it was a long shot, anyway).

The malaise is not welcome. I'm usually chipper (Mary Poppins, anyone?) and this depressing mood is all consuming. It's hard to get motivated to do anything. The ADHD that has been easy to manage in the past is now consuming my brain. There are a lot of non sequitirs floating around. I've made a promise to myself that once I've got health benefits again, I will get medical treatment for it.

Meanwhile, I have incredible friends. They're rallying around, whether across town or across country. Pep talks, funny emails and today, a dinner invite. I've been blessed on that front-the quality of the people around me? Amazing.

Yesterday, I bit the bullet and completed that SSI application. How could I not, with so many cheerleaders behind me on this one. Everyone is saying the same thing "You won't get approved the first time, big deal. Appeal." If my doctor has told me that most people with the vascular issue are on disability, why am I fighting it?

If I caved into my self doubts, I wouldn't have bothered with it. Those friends? They're all telling me I should, that I'll succeed on that front. Now I sit and wait for an answer. Those friends? They're giving me a lot of hope that this WILL come out in my favor.

I'm optimistic, for the first time in a couple of weeks. Should I be approved, it means I can go back to college and finish a degree. It'd be good to focus all my energy on the classes, rather than whether I'll make enough money to pay the bills.

To my cheering section, thank you. You have no idea how much it means to me that you're all there. To borrow from another blogging friend, Love Ya. Mean It.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Whats For Dinner Wednesday Friday

Tonight's dinner was an old favorite that I haven't made in a while, Shish Kebabs. It was a summer grilling staple up north. We don't grill in the summer here, it's just too darn hot. Instead, they got cooked in the oven.

If you've got a favorite herb or two, sometimes adding them to your boiling rice infuses great flavor. Our Rosemary rice was a great complement.

This has been featured in WFDW before, Chicken Parm. Last night, I took the picture, but was more involved with the speech and live blogging than posting the picture.

Trying to figure out the weekend's menus. Suggestions?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Live Blogging from the DNC

One of my blogging buddies, Sarah, has scored tickets to Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention. BlogHer will be live blogging tonight from various BlogHer members.

As Sarah's posting entries to Twitter, I'll be porting them over to the Live Blog. I'm readying for doing play by play tonight.

Sarah and Phil's vantage point at Invesco.View from our seats on TwitPic

Sarah and Phil, live at InvescoWe were born in the USA on TwitPic

If you didn't get to see the speech, it was posted on YouTube

Ooooh, Pretty

Ed builds computers. It sucks that he can't make a living doing that, because he would love to build computers for a segment that is unable to use plug and play machines from Best Buy.

Anyway, for the past two years, he's been buying a piece here and a piece there for his newest machine. Put it this way, the machine he built in 2000 was able to keep up with the advances in technology until 2006. He's got a good handle on that stuff.
He finally got the last few items from eBay and finished his newest machine a few days ago. (the parts were ordered before I lost my job). It's pretty.

Unfortunately, the camera hasn't cooperated in giving me clear pictures. I'm showing the blurry ones, because I just think it's so gosh darn cool-I want a new laptop that does the same thing!

The red lights? That was a complete fluke. He fired up the new motherboard and was surprised to find it had lighting underneath it. Kismet?

Here's what it looks like when you use the flash. Yes, the case is clear.
I think it looks better in the dark.

Now I've got the oldest machine in the house. Guess it's a good thing I don't need a faster machine to blog. Besides, I'm angling for a Crackberry or some other web capable phone once I'm in the land of the employed again...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What's For Dinner Wednesday

The plans for tonight were ambitious. First, I was thinking of doing chicken kabobs, since we haven't had those in a while. Alas, the chicken was frozen.

Instead, I stopped at the supermarket after applying for a few jobs and grabbed some fresh chicken, but there wouldn't be enough time to marinate it. Chicken Parmesan sounded like a good, quick idea, and I'd do the kabobs Thursday.

Instead, there was a medical issue that needed to be attended to and I didn't get home until 7pm. There were prescriptions to be filled (Gameboy's two generics), too.
So, tonight's dinner was here instead:
Justaburger, Arnold Palmer and fries for tonight. Lemon pie for dessert. Pictures of whichever of the two I make tomorrow. Deal?


This was taken outside the church where one of the Eagle Scout candidates had a Concert for the Homeless this past Friday night. Not ten minutes later, I got drenched out of nowhere!
It looks ominous, but here in Florida, you can SEE the rain coming down-this is one of those cases.
The remnants of Fay Monday afternoon.
The angle's funny because I took it from the car, but this is another one of the stray bands from Fay Monday afternoon.

Always interesting to look at the sky around here. It almost makes up for the fact that we don't see as many stars as we did back in Maryland...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Observations and then Some Humor From A Cute Kid

The job search, it goes. As related in yesterday's post (read the comments-Saffa saved me from a part two. You are awesome, lady!), I've seen some rather interesting things in the hunt for a job. Most of them make me shake my head. I'm hoping that this means I stand a better chance if that's what the job pool is like!

We've had a call every flipping day from Gameboy's teacher. He won't settle down, he's being disruptive, he's not doing his work. While I understand it to a degree, I want to know why she's just calling Ed. My phone hasn't rung once, while she seems to keep getting Ed's voice mail because he's at work.

I went to the school today to give them the heads up that Gameboy would be without medication by the end of the week, that they're in for some dramatic changes. I also wanted to know what was going on that we're getting daily phone calls-perhaps a change in the IEP is in order? The guidance counselor agreed that we need to nip this in the bud and I'll hear from the ESE specialist tomorrow.

While there, I also mentioned the paraprofessional openings I noticed (I qualify for many, having 75 credits under my belt) There's one that is right up my alley, too. In talking about it to her, I said it would give me valuable insights if I head back to college for that teaching degree AND it would help them to have me on campus should Gameboy have issues. (That kid will quake in fear if it does happen "Gameboy, we're getting your mother down here!")

On the way out, the guidance secretary greeted me and we spoke for a moment. She suggested applying to be a school bus driver-the hours and days work with the kid's schedules and I could specify our area of the county. Then, the proof that secretaries are in the know (Nurses in the medical field), I mentioned the para position and she gave me step by step instructions and why the county has them frozen for the moment. It was worth it to go down to the school for many reasons now!

Then, I decided to apply to a local establishment, figuring that they've got a good reputation AND I can tailor my hours to the needs of scouting. They've got a hiring kiosk at the front of the store.

I walked in, there was a woman at the terminal, with a guy sitting on the seat next to it. I thought they were together (he was dressed appropriately, she looked like she was ready for a day at the beach.) Okay, this will take a few.

My glasses broke last week, and figuring this would take her a few minutes, I walked to the optometrist nearby. I am hoping the next job has a vision plan they participate in, because my glasses were fixed while I waited-for five bucks. On the way back to apply, I walked into the video game store to see what used Wii games they might have for sale (no luck there). This meant I was gone for a good 25 minutes.

The woman was still filling out her online application and the guy looked a little peeved. Rather than stand there, I decided to go into the store and look around for a few minutes, coming out fifteen minutes later. She's STILL filling out the online thing, but at this point, there was nothing else for me to do nearby.

The guy says "Can't you do this at home?" while looking at his watch. He looks at me, he's frustrated. I mentioned that the website says you've got to apply in store. That's when I realize that no, they're not together and he's been waiting for her to fill this thing out for at least 45 minutes.

There wasn't enough time to wait for him and get back in time to take Ed's Mom on an errand, so I left-and stopped elsewhere on my list. This time, I got a paper application. It was pretty interesting, as one whole page was questions: What do you consider world class service? If you could work with anyone, who would be on your team and why? as well as specific questions about the type of merchandise they sell that are designed to see what you find interesting about them. I thought it was pretty cool that they want to find people who put some thought into working there.

Okay, the funny stuff from the cute kid.

Last night, while returning from Cub Scouts, we were talking about the old neighborhood in passing. He said "Oh, when we lived in the Root Beer Bottle?". The old neighborhood was a loop, and yes, it did resemble a bottle.

"Root Beer Bottle?"

"Yeah, our old neighborhood was the Root Beer Bottle and the new one is a comb." It IS comb shaped, but I never thought of it that way.

Then he tells me that when he's walking home from school each day, once he gets into the community, he thinks to himself "Comb, Sweet Comb."

What a nut!

Monday, August 25, 2008

You're Looking For a Job, Right?

I've wanted to do a post like this for eons. Elsewhere, when the end of the school year was upon us, I'd post a friendly reminder of the dos and don'ts of job seeking. Other managers would chime in with more advice and it turned out to be a good resource for that little bit of the Net.

Now, I'm on the other side, and seeing even more stuff that just makes me scratch my head. So, today, a little instructional piece on applying for jobs.

1. Be Prepared

Sounds simple, right? It is, but so many don't even get to this part, applying for jobs willy nilly. Having a pen is just the tip of the iceberg, though it's better to have two or three pens, honestly.

Being prepared means you establish a game plan BEFORE you go out job seeking. What kind of job do you want? What hours are you willing to work? If looking for retail/restaurant, which places are your favorites? If you don't have a vehicle, how will you get there? If you'll be taking a bus, when does it run? What are the hours of operation and can you work those? What are the minimum requirements of the job?

The key here is to avoid walking into an establishment, asking if they're hiring, then in the next breath "what do you sell?" A prospective employer wants to know that you want THEIR job, not just A job.

2. Do Your Research.

Find out about those places you plan to apply. What are the hours of operation? What is the going rate? What kind of experience do you need for the job openings?
This is where the internet is your friend. Spending a few minutes or an hour looking gives you an edge over the people who just walk like mentioned in the above paragraph!

3. Be Prepared, Part Two

What do I mean? I mean have all your personal facts, phone numbers and dates readily available. If you don't have a good memory, make a 'cheat sheet' of where you worked, supervisor's names and phone numbers and even the addresses of those jobs (some applications do ask for full address). If you need to, write up a brief summary of what you did. The point is that you look like someone who is efficient, who turns in a complete job application.

4. Go It Alone

I can't stress this one enough. If five people walk in together, asking for a job for one of them, it gives the impression that the four others will be hanging out visiting the person who wants the job.

Similarly, if Mom or Dad is hovering over Junior while he's applying (or worse yet, asking all the questions for Junior), then the hiring manager is wondering if Mom is going to call and say Junior has a family reunion and can't work today, or Junior has to do his term paper or the worst of all, Junior has the SOLs this week and needs to study because he didn't know they were coming! (True story, that one!)

You can ask your advice and for suggestions, in fact, it is a great idea to ask friends and family about their jobs. If you're Mom or Dad, please stay in the car if you need to bring anyone to apply for jobs. I know it is hard to believe, but they will grow up and move out of your house someday-this is that first step to independence.

5. Dress For Success.

I don't mean that you have to go out in a three piece suit to apply for a job. However, some thought should go into what you wear. The first impression you make is a lasting impression. It used to be that we'd say "wear what you'd wear to a religious service" as a guide, but that's not a good rule of thumb nowadays.

Make a uniform of things that are clean, well pressed and somewhat conservative. There will be time later to show your unique style, if the job allows for it. My suggestion? A button down shirt (unwrinkled) or polo shirt and a nice pair of khakis or slacks. Jeans are okay if they're free from holes, rips, tears and aren't faded. Clean shoes or sneakers. If they have laces, they need to be tied. Those clothes need to look SHARP.

On that note, clothes are important, but hygiene is even more important. It should go without saying, but brushed teeth and a clean, soapy smell is valuable. Note I didn't say cologne/perfume. If you do go that route, just a touch of it is all you need.

6. Have Confidence

Walk purposefully, with your head up. Make eye contact. Speak clearly. If that's too hard for you, PRACTICE with an observer who isn't afraid to give you constructive advice.

When you walk in that door, ask "Who do I see about applying for a job?" It makes a better impression than "Y'all hiring, right?" Don't be disappointed if they're not hiring or they do so online-many companies do nowadays. Politely thank the person for the information.

You've done your preparation, so you're not applying to companies that you're not qualified for, so you should have a reasonable chance of being considered.

7. No Gum

When you want to make a good impression, your mouth should be empty of gum or candy

8. Shut The Cell Phone Off

Finish any conversations before you walk into the building and please, please, please do not text while you're talking to or waiting for anyone. If you're there filling out the application, just fill out the application!

9. Use Your Manners

Please and Thank You go a long way in the work force. Even if you don't get to apply, use them. When you do speak to anyone, use them often when appropriate.

10. If at First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try, Again

In this economy, there are many job seekers out there. You need to make yourself stand out in a good way-and these pointers should help. That said, the first job you apply for usually isn't the one you get. Keep your head up and keep trying. Shake off the No and focus on the Yes.

Oops, forgot to add this one:

11. You're Only Interested in Getting ONE Job

There is nothing worse than walking into a prospective employer with a stack of applications in hand when you ask to apply for a job with them. It tells them you don't care where you get a job, you're desperate. Use a folder or an attache if you must carry multiple applications, but avoid that situation at all costs.

Also, fill the application out on premises whenever possible. There have been many times when a gentleman has returned with an application completed in flowery, girly handwriting with an illegible signature at the bottom. An employer questions whether the prospective employee will be able to do the job if they can't complete the application themselves.

That's my lesson for today. If you get that interview, remember these rules and apply accordingly. One addition here: send a thank you email or note. It helps.

Good luck!

Oh, and check out the comments. The lovely Saffa Chick has been reading my mind and gives some follow up pointers on what to do if you get that interview!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

Beautiful Brown Eyes*

Back when I was years old, I had a HUGE crush on Shaun Cassidy. My bedroom wall was plastered with various pictures from Tiger Beat, Teen Beat, 16 and the magazines of the day. The piece de resistance was a 4 foot by four foot styrofoam and poster board of the "Born Late" cover that a sister's friend got from the record store he worked at. Bruce, where ever you are-I'm sorry for the humiliation you must have endured for saying "I want it!". Anyway, I didn't just like him because he was cute, but because he played music.

There's also a long overdue apology to Giggles. We shared that bedroom and she had to listen to that music over and over and over and over and, well, you get the idea.
She exacted revenge of her own a few years later by insisting we listen to Z100 whenever Dad drove the two of us anyplace, so perhaps it evens out. Glenn Meideros' "Nothing's Going to Change My Love for You" is hated to this day, I'll have you know.

That love for his ability to play music, specifically the guitar, inspired Dad. He'd asked if I wanted a guitar of my own. I most definitely did. That year, one of my Christmas gifts was an acoustic guitar and I began lessons. Alas, I was doomed. I was a lefty, with a right handed instructor. I couldn't understand why I had so much trouble with fretting. My instructor couldn't figure it out, either.

That little foray into those lessons made me realize what a skill playing guitar truly was. Since then, I've had a soft spot for well played acoustic guitar. (Yes, I'll get to piano in a future SSS-I can hear Donna and Joyce through the internet!) While the mechanics are the same as playing electric, somehow it seems like playing acoustic magnifies whether a player is good or bad.

Fortunately, there are quite a few examples of great acoustic performances out there.
Many of these are in the SoundtrackSunday You Tube channel, but some aren't available on there, or the versions there aren't the artists I'm mentioning. In no particular order, my favorite acoustic guitar songs:

Rhythm of the Blues - Mary Chapin Carpenter
Ventura Highway - America
Horizons - Genesis
Guitar Etude No. 3 - Dan Fogelberg
Made Again - Marillion
Why Worry - Dire Straits
Playing for Time - Acoustic Alchemy

In looking for these, I found a few reminded me of two other topics, but the artists aren't playing any guitars, so they're not on this list.

As much as I enjoy good acoustic performances, there is a member of the household who plays guitar. Extremely well, I might add. I'm sure he'll come along with a comment on more acoustic performances to check out.

How about you? If you've got one to share, please add to the comments. Thanks!

*The song that I spent several months trying to master in those guitar lessons. I hear it in my sleep sometimes and my wrists cry Uncle!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Searching and Wondering

I'm not in overdrive on this job search. I'm sure Ed is confused that I haven't kicked into the typical Suzanne hyper overdrive insanity and found a job the day after getting the ax.

It's weird. There's just this thing in the back of my head saying "pace yourself." I'm applying for jobs online, but I haven't gone for the safe harbor of walking into a retail establishment or three to find a management opening.

That voice in the back of my head? It's saying this is a sign. Of what, I don't know. Only time will tell whether this is a sign that I should be on SSDI or whether I will find a Monday to Friday desk job. I think it's the former, but I will keep looking for the latter in the interim. The SSDI application is in the works, though.

I did come across something and I'm still scratching my head several days later. Monday night, I'd applied online for a job that was posted on Career Builder by a staffing agency. It was a good job fit and once I'd cut and pasted my resume and submitted, I got the message that I needed to visit the staffing agency in person to be considered for the job.

Once there, I filled out the usual paperwork before seeing a recruiter. Application, skills survey, W2, etcetera. However, the recruiter brought me back to her desk and handed me more forms. One of these was a "Post Employment Medical Summary" and it asked "Have you EVER?" regarding 100 different medical issues. Have you ever injured your knee? Have you ever had a headache? Have you ever had surgery?

It made me quite uncomfortable. Yeah, I've injured my knee-sprained it when I was a teen. Headache? Who hasn't. Surgery? Yes to that, too. It made me more and more uncomfortable.

Here's the thing. It's illegal to ask these questions as a condition of employment. They got around it saying its a "Post Employment" survey, but I haven't been offered a job-I haven't even been interviewed yet. I'd hate that information sitting there and possibly preventing me from even getting an interview. Especially since I've probably taken less time off in my entire work career than the average employee. That 7 week disability included. I. don't. call. in. sick. I just don't.

The clincher was that the form had a statement that I was supposed to sign. "I hereby give **** Staffing the right to obtain my medical records." WHAT THE HELL? The recruiter could see that I was hesitating and asked if I had a question.

I mentioned that I didn't want to sign this statement, that honestly, asking these questions before a job offer is on the table is against labor laws and I don't feel comfortable letting them pull my records. She tried to reassure me with "Honey, I've been here five years and we never have. We have to ask you to get your records." I had to point out that by signing, I would be giving them that permission.

It ended with me not signing it and telling her that if I am offered a job, I would then sign the document. However, it doesn't sit well with me. I don't think I want to work for an employer that will use my medical history to determine whether I am worth hiring.

I think that experience is why I think the SSDI is worth pursuing. I've already had Dr. J under the impression that I was going out permanently last year. I'm wondering if this document is legal here in Florida (it wasn't elsewhere that I've done hiring) and if it is, it could hinder my ability to get a job.

After some thought, I've decided I'm going back to the staffing agency and asking for that form back. Its one thing to be 20 and have a blank form, and another to be 42 and have some chronic issues that you had no control in preventing.

If you were in the same position, what would YOU do? Do you think I'm over reacting?

***I found the documentation. Quite a bit of it, in fact. I'll be going back down to the staffing office tomorrow to demand my form back and hand them a little light reading.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Holy Catfish, Batman!

Check this out:

ELKIN, N.C. - David Hayes' granddaughter just asked him to hold her Barbie rod and reel while she went to the bathroom. He did. And seconds later he landed the state record channel catfish at 21 pounds, 1 ounce.

Alyssa's father had bought the pink Barbie fishing rod for Christmas and she had caught a few bluegill before her grandfather hauled in the catfish.

The Winston-Salem Journal reported the catch Aug. 5 in eastern Wilkes County has been certified as a record by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

Hayes and his granddaughter have been fishing in the pond behind his house since she was big enough to hold a pole.

Hayes said his granddaughter worried he would break her rod. He landed the 21-pound fish on a 6-pound test line. It was 32 inches long, 2 inches longer than the rod.

Obama's Veep Spills the Beans...

I found this on Twitter...

wilw Okay, I was supposed to keep this secret, but ... I am @BarackObama's running mate. Please tell the media so they can calm the hell down. about 4 hours ago from web

WilW, witty and sarcastic man, is known to one and all as Wil Wheaton a/k/a Wesley Crusher.

Don't worry, Wil, your secret is safe with me-and my 40 readers!

When Life Gives You Lemons, Post Pictures From

the fun day you had the day before you lost your job!

We had a last 'huzzah', as Chef put it, at Busch Gardens. I loved it, because I had a coaster buddy, the kids loved it because they had a friend along, and Ed and I were thrilled to have ADULTS to talk to! The more time I spend around Bob IRL, the more he reminds me of Ed. He kept cracking Ed-isms to us.

A very nice character at the entrance. Ed commented that now there are two places you can wear construction lifts.
My attempt at an artsy fartsy shot. Didn't quite work.
I'm getting the impression that this is Gameboy's "Amusement Park" shirt. It seems to show up in every picture we've got at one!
Sheik Ra. All hype, no muscle. Seriously, the ascent is more nerve inducing than the drop!
The tortoise that probably moves faster than me. Later, we returned to the viewing area, and um, two of them were in a compromising position. I didn't stick around to report whether they do that real slow, too.
The camera focused on the one blade of grass. Pretty neat blurry shot of the elephant, though.
They had this very large Tiger Trail habitat, and this guy decided he'd stay up at the top of the bridge between two areas.
Thankyou, thankyouvery much. You can't tell how SOAKED he (and the rest of us) got with two trips around the Congo River Rapids.
White Tiger, Orange Tiger.

The day was perfect-not too hot, no rain and the best part was having friends along.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Running Around in Circles, Getting Nowhere

I screwed up royally, thanks to ADHD. I knew I had to get Gameboy's Medicaid reinstated, and I procrastinated. I thought it would be no big deal, since he'd already received it.

Wrong. We have to do a whole new enrollment. In the meantime, his medications run out on Monday. I think we'll be able to fill one or two, but definitely not all of them. Not when we don't know how long it'll be before I get a job and Ed's only giving him 33 hours a week. There is no way we can put out $1300.00 for a month's worth of medication. Rent comes first.

I'll put a call into Gameboy's psychiatrist, to see if they've got samples. I've been on the phone and all over Lakeland trying to get help. I'm getting some, but it's usually a case of "Try this agency, they might be able to help." What that translate into is:
1. They'll get you a discount on generics. (This doesn't help for the expensive Strattera and Abilify).
2. They're booked solid, and not taking new patients until October.
3. They don't dispense medications-try Medicaid.

It's no wonder I have a headache.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What's For Dinner Wednesday (and then some)

I'm glad that we're in the habit of buying multiple packages of our favorite cuts of meat when they're on sale. It does create a tendency to repeat several meals over and over. Since the beginning of the year, and since I've started doing WFDW, I've worked harder on getting out of the rut of a dozen meals.

I'll start with yesterday's meal. Ed asked what was for lunch and I decided that the cold cuts I bought in preparation for Fay weren't substantial. Instead, I used some of the fresh pork sirloin and was inspired by the Olympics.

Representing Israel, Kosher Salt. Don't let the small size fool you, China as the Five Spice Blend is the star of the show. Representing the USA, Garlic. Mexico brings the Cebolla Powder and rounding out the competition, Japan with Teriyaki.

(Don't let the spices fool you, this is clearly an Asian powerhouse meal!)

In the pan, there was a slurry of about 2 tablespoons of oil, a teaspoon and a half of five spice, a tablespoon each of onion and garlic powder and a quarter cup of teriyaki. In retrospect, I was a little too cautious with that five spice, because it normally packs a huge punch of flavor in a small amount. Then, I sauteed the pork, green pepper, 2 slivered onions and then added a half can of pineapple chunks and a bag of Publix's Japanese Blend veggies.

The finished product was served over rice. It was GOOD! A pound and a half of meat and there was easily two sit down meals for four hungry people. Even Gameboy, the pickiest of the bunch, ate all of his pork and left the rice (his favorite) on the plate!

The reason why this is important is that the freezer is full of pork, boneless chicken breasts and chicken legs for the boys. There are also two huge briskets, but they have to be thawed before I do a rub, so they don't count.

Anyway, I promised Ed that there would be dinner for him when he got his break tonight and I'd just made the pork. So, it was time to come up with something that A. Hadn't been featured in WFDW and B. Didn't take hours to prepare, since I'd been out on the job hunt. I came up with pan fried Rosemary Balsamic Chicken and my oven roasted Rosemary Potatoes.

The chicken was soaked in a variation of my basic marinade for 20 minutes. I downsized it, so to speak, just using about 1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar, 3 tablespoons ground rosemary, a tablespoon of onion powder and a large pinch of salt.

They were pan fried in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, so it's relatively healthy.

If you see how caramelized that chicken is, you can understand why I just had to deglaze the pan and make a wine reduction gravy. I added a cup of burgundy to the pan juices and baked on stuff and then a corn starch slurry, some salt and pepper. (Don't use the cheap crap wine, because it'll be bland)

Ed, Chef and I had the reduction on our chicken, I left it off Gameboy's. Irony here is that he ate the chicken first!

So, you got two meals for the price of one.

I'd show the dessert, but no one wants to see the devastation of a nearly empty rice krispy treat pan, do they? Especially when they were made with chocolate marshmallows...

Soap Net Suprises Me

**Cross posted at Aspergersville**

Way back when, I used to watch General Hospital religiously. I fell out of watching it-until Ed and I began dating. It ends up he was a closet ABC soap watcher, thanks to years of coming home from school to find his mom watching. Each night, when he and I talked (long distance relationship), he'd ask what happened on GH that day.

I got back into it, taping the shows and fast forwarding through the commercials. Then I stopped watching. He still watches, off and on-going months without watching, then catching up in a week. Soap Net helps the casual viewer get back on track. Meanwhile, I could watch for a year and I'd still be bugging him "who's that?"

There's a spin off show that is only featured on Soap Net, General Hospital Night Shift. The story lines are supposed to run concurrently with what happens on GH, with many of the same characters. It was on tonight, and wow, I recognized three characters.

With that, one of them (Jagger Cates) was holding a sleeping boy of four or five, while talking to a medical professional. I was surfing the net, not really paying close attention to the show (Ed was), but I heard "ASD" and looked up. In an interesting twist, the soap has decided to educate and inform about the Autism Spectrum by having a young child diagnosed with this disorder.

It'd be cool to see this story cross over to GH to get more exposure for ASD and what living with a child on the spectrum is like, but hey, we'll take any exposure that the networks will give. Especially when the writers are consulting with Autism Speaks to ensure that the storyline is accurate and sympathetic.

In this case, Jagger is going through the whole range of emotions that a parent goes through when a child is diagnosed. I think I may have to begin watching, to see how this story line plays out.

Art imitating life, whodathunk it?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fay Passed Us By

If we lived even 5 miles further south, we would have had rain all day. Instead, the only rain we had was around 8:30. Then again, they're saying this storm will boomerang, so we may still see the tail end of the storm.

A few pictures from earlier this evening. I'd looked into the other room, and there was bright orange light coming through the window. It made me think of when Roy is out with his utility truck in "Close Encounters" and the space ship hovers over him.

Does the Hurricane Theory Still Apply?

Fay made landfall in Florida. So far, she's been fairly quiet in these parts-kind of like the friend and coworker of years ago.

Since I *did* have a friend named Faye, does this count? Do I need to warn the rest of Florida of the storms named after friends and family? Maybe I should. In that case, we should worry about these:

Nana (we called my grandmother Nana, but it wasn't her given name-does that count?)

Bill (my stepdad)
If we include Ed's relatives in the mix, then Fred will come visit
Peter (my brother and we're seriously screwed on that one, folks)
Theresa (aka Legacy, though her given name is Therese-again, we're fucked)

Lisa (a former friend, but she'll probably end up like Fay)
Paula (we're IMing right now, I have to tell her we can't be friends anymore! LOL)
Walter (aka Socrates, but that one will loop around aimlessly)

We are safe, because middle names have never been a factor. I'll be sure not to befriend anyone with those names, just to be safe!

Joyce (okay, I need to send an email. The kids will be bummed. Do you think I can sever the friendship just before the hurricane season, then become friends after we pass that storm? :) )
Michael (nephew, does he get special dispensation from being a Florida storm because he's PDD?)
Patty (cousin, though I've only seen her a half dozen times in my life, so that doesn't count)
William (wait a minute, Bill was in 2009, they should cancel each other out)

Ingrid (but I haven't spoken to her in a long time, so maybe she'll be like Fay, too)

Save this list folks, especially if you live in Florida. Keep score along with me and see how many of my relations come to call...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Yet Another Reason I Can't Wait for 2008 to Be OVER

I lost my job today.

The writing was on the wall. It's a commission job and the customers were few and far between. The other department would get five walk ins to my side's one. If you were the person "Up" and waiting for the next customer to walk in and wander right as they entered the door, you'd be waiting a while. A half hour, hour, maybe even an hour and a half. I think the record was two hours.

We started with a compliment of 13 on our side, and quickly lost one to something more promising at Coca Cola. Another left soon afterwards for a factory job. Then one was fired for non performance for going nearly $2000 into draw. One moved into Customer Service, another the Warehouse. We were left with seven, and still the majority of us ended up in draw each pay period.

Last week, I got a final warning. It's hard to work, knowing you're failing at what you're doing, that the reasons why the customer isn't buying right now are valid. In quite a few of those cases, I suspect those customers will come looking for me in a month or two. Not that it'll help.

I wasn't the only one released today. A really nice coworker also was let go. I'm pretty sure this isn't the end of it-I think they'll be down to three within the next month and at that, those three probably won't be making much.

Why the dismal results? The promised television advertising didn't happen, because the foray into the Tampa market has been put on hold. They anticipated that this store would be the fifth in the company in sales-but didn't factor the buying patterns of the local shoppers. I wonder how much market research was done. Just because you're new and different doesn't mean people will seek you out. There's a wariness in these parts about the flash in the pan. A location that wasn't clear on our ads didn't help, either.

The picture I'd been painted of the job didn't materialize, the 'when you are in this position' of the interview just a promise unfulfilled.

I'll miss my coworkers. On the other hand, it will be nice to leave the stress of not selling stuff and feeling like I totally suck at what I do behind me.

What now?

Hurricane Watch 2008

I moved to Florida in 2004, and rapidly experienced several hurricanes. At the time, I joked about the fact that the hurricanes that hit the state were named after relatives or close family friends. Charlie (my prank playing great uncle), Frances (the great aunt who had a lot of grace) and Jeanne (my mom's BFF that she found when she moved to Florida).

Since then, I've joked that a storm had to be named for someone I know before it comes inland here, rather than further up the east coast or the gulf. Now Fay is staring us down and Ed brings up my coworker/friend Faye, that this may be another interesting ride.

Are we prepared? Somewhat. Thanks to scouting and camping, we've got plenty of gear that would get us through a power outage of up to a week. On the other hand, I don't usually stock up on water, so we're short on that front. I'm thinking the fridge in the garage is going to gain a few pitchers tonight and tomorrow. I've got the makings for Laura's killer sangria, except for the vodka-so of course, that hurricane preparation list includes the booze. (Laura's recipe is awesome-it makes A GALLON of potent sangria!)

I've got a weird preparation tonight. In advance of possibly losing power, I'm going to predate a few posts. To get to mid August without missing a day, I'd hate for Fay to be the downfall of my Blog365 efforts, lol. Why do this? When we weathered the last round of hurricanes, we lived in a different county, with a different power company.

There were sporadic outages, the longest lasting five hours. Here, along with an electric bill that has doubled for less consumption, I've heard more than a few stories of being without power for over two weeks back in '04. Oh joy.

First day of school pictures later, and let me tell you, the idea of the second day being called for a hurricane? I'm sure those teachers are dealing with a hyper they never have before for the first day of school!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

I'm wondering if it's time to put the Sunday thing to bed. Of all the posts, only SSS receives very few comments-most weeks not getting any. Just putting it out there that I may stop it...

The other night, a coworker gave me a ride home, as Ed and the boys were at the Drive In watching Clone Wars. This is the gentleman who surprised me with his love for jazz a few months back, so it was only natural that the radio in the car was tuned to the Orlando jazz outlet. A song came on, the three of us in the car were happy to hear a blast from the past and blog fodder had arrived. The song? Ace's "How Long."

If you're the average person, you may be wondering why that one song from the 70's merited a blog entry. The reason why it's notable in my book is that it is the first hit featuring vocalist Paul Carrack. Since then, Paul has had several solo hits, but he's also fronted many bands who hit the charts and has been a part of even more.

Are you familiar with Squeeze? Maybe, maybe not. Their biggest hit, "Tempted", features Paul's lead vocals. He replaced Jools Holland for their East Side Story album and returned to the band for a spell in the 90's to record their album Some Fantastic Place.

More than likely you're familiar with his work with the third band he charted with, Mike and the Mechanics. Paul is more prominent with them and you've heard his vocals on "Silent Running" and "The Living Years".

He has charted as a solo artist, too. "Don't Shed a Tear" and "I Live by the Groove" were hits in the late 80's/early 90's. Clearly, this is a guy who knows how to tap into what makes a hit.

Other artists, mostly across the pond, recognize this. Take a look at the man's discography and you'll find that he's recorded on the most popular selling single of all time, Elton John's "Candle in the Wind '97", with Nick Lowe, John Hiatt and Roger Waters, too.

Some guys work for years to break into the business. Other artists toil way, have hit after hit and they're not known. Then you've got Paul Carrack, a hit maker many times over that most people don't even realize that they've heard him time and time again.


This Olympics snuck up on us. We hadn't paid any attention to the sports casters, the previews or the hype prior to the events.

Instead, this household started watching the second day-we didn't even see the epic opening ceremonies. My plans were simple: watch swimming and gymnastics, for the speed and grace that the competitors show in abundance.

There have been some nail biting events over the past few days, but gosh, tonight was incredible viewing! Congrats to Dara Torres, in our hearts, you're a gold medalist. Kudos to Usain Bolt, for clearly showing he's the fastest man in the world and Constantina Dita-Tomescu for making marathon running interesting. Finally, thanks to the 4x100 medley relay team of Aaron Peirsol, Brendan Hansen, Jason Lezak and Michael Phelps for a nail biter of a race. It was compelling viewing.

Major kudos to Ian Crocker for displaying the same sportsmanship that was shown to him four years ago. He offered up his slot on the medley relay time so that Michael Phelps could achieve the unprecedented 8th gold medal in one Olympiad record.

After all the excitement of the past 8 days, I wonder (and hope) that the next eight bring more interesting viewing.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

My Stupid Leg, a Pictoral

**If you're squeamish, skip over this post! Anyone with instructions for how to create a jump in Blogger, I am all ears.

My Stupid Leg (trademark pending) has been giving me fits this week. The burning numbness has ramped up to a level that is hard to ignore. Sleep has been fitful.

When you look at it, though, it isn't as bright red and inflamed as in the past. I need to consult with Nurse M, but I suspect that both of these happening in conjunction with each other probably means the circulation in the ankle and leg is improving.

When you look at the pictures, the proof is there. Now, I couldn't bring myself to take pictures when it was at its worst, so you're spared seeing the gross stuff. Here's the progression:

July 2007**********************************************************************

This was right after removing an Unna Boot, which means I don't have a cankle until I stand up.

August 2007********************************************************************

Don't believe me about cankles? Take a look at that leg with an Unna Boot on!

October 2007**********************************************************************

Some shots from when I went out on disability. The thing to remember is that those wounds started as a dime size and an egg sized ulcer. It took 11 months for them to go away.

May 2008************************************************************************

Released from care about three months prior.

Drum roll, please, this is what it looks like NOW:
Almost flesh colored, but even if it were, the rest of the calf gives away that I've been through some trauma with this thing...

As I've mentioned before, I won't be getting any modeling jobs. At least I don't have to worry about losing the darn thing, though!


In honor of the Olympics, several spectacular gymnastics displays from Paul Hunt. Enjoy!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Plans Are What Get Changed

Yesterday, the planned agenda for the day were listed. Instead:

Gameboy's orientation resulted in a foray into an over crowded parking lot and the discovery that he was missing a TDap booster. We were unable to get his schedule and I stressed about that. Just as well, the place was so packed that we probably wouldn't have gotten more than a minute with each teacher.

Sporadic thunderstorms killed the trip to Busch. We'll retry Sunday. Instead, we first tried to bowl, then when that didn't pan out, a movie. No luck. We parents chose to go out to dinner, then back to Bob and Maureens. Damn, movies look good on those new flat panels (drool).

As I found out about needing the shot just before we needed to head to Tampa, and we would arrive back after five, I called the Health Department. "Yes, we do shots starting at 8am. You can show up at 7:15, when we start giving out numbers."

At 7:45, we were number 58. At 12:45, we were finally done. He was a trooper-three shots and only one got any reaction, a murmured "That hurt!" Heck, I didn't even know he'd gotten the first shot until the nurse moved away from him and he had a band aid on his arm!

For those five hours, he was well mannered. Gameboy does NOT like waiting, but he coped, even giving me some snuggle time while we waited. I'll take snuggles whenever I can.

Ed took the kids over to the school later on and got his schedule. We're all set for Monday morning-80 hours to go!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Countdown to School

Today is a hectic day for us. Chef and I went to his orientation this morning. We met his teacher, got a school supply list (the one on the website is for the 06/07 school year!) and ran into a friend from last year. So far, so good, especially since the big tub of school supplies held everything he needed but the eraser caps.

Next, Gameboy's orientation at 1pm. I'm about to print out the narrative I created last year to inform the teachers what makes him tick. It's one thing to have an elementary special ed student. They tend to be in a contained classroom with a handful of other students and the same teacher for a few years.

At the middle school level, he's expected to switch classes and deal with at least 4 teachers and 4 paraprofessionals each day. For a kid who hates transitions with a passion, it's torture. The narrative was created to help those who work with him know what his hot buttons are so they can avoid them.

This worked great with the teachers last year. The paras? Not so much. Gameboy can pour on the charm when need be and he certainly did with the paras to the point that they wanted to reward him with computers and games. This had disastrous results. I'm taking a firm approach this year: these are absolutes that can't be ignored. To do so will result in my demand for a new IEP and a one to one aide. I really don't want to force this issue, but I also don't want the kid to spend even one day subjected to in school suspension.

After the visit to the school, we head to Tampa and Gameboy's psychiatrist. He's done better in some areas this summer, but his impulsiveness has been his downfall. I'm at my wit's end on how to get this child to understand that NO means exactly that.

Finally, in a last hurrah of summer (or huzzah, as Chef said it was), we'll be going over to Busch Gardens. It looks like we'll be playing in the rain, though. Storms all day. That's good on two fronts, because we'll have less crowds and no sunburns. I may even get a Shock Top without a long wait in line.

I'm looking forward to next week and being able to rest on the days off!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I've been posting more of life with Gameboy on the other blog, but this one needs to be shared.

Last night, CHef and I dropped Gameboy at Boy Scouts while we did some school shopping and preparations. Haircut, shirts for Gameboy and three pairs of pants for Chef (that I don't have to hem, thank God!). The last stop was to Sonic for some promised slushies for the boys and then back to scouts.

We entered the room to find Gameboy coming down off the stage to a round of applause. He came up to me, beaming, announcing that he'd just recieved his Tenderfoot.

Gameboy had this rank's requirements done for over two months, but we kept stressing that it was his responsibility to get in for a board of review. I'd remind him of this when we attended meetings, but I wasn't intervening with the adults in charge-that was his job. Finally, he got his act together and did the review and saw the fruits of his efforts.

He's in a very active troop. I counted well over a dozen boys at Scout rank, and about 9 at Tenderfoot. That he's moved up sooner than boys who have been there longer just shows how invested the leaders are-they know he needs more prodding than most.

Afterwards, several leaders came up to us to congratulate Gameboy and to tell me how well he did in that Board of Review. The also told me that because he has special needs, that there may be a waiver of the swimming requirement that comes up in 2nd and 1st class scout.

We're going to give it a try, and enroll him in swimming lessons. It's nice to know that if his motor skills prevent him from learning, it won't keep him from moving up in ranks.

Last night's drive home was a great conversation with both boys-they're both eager to earn Eagle. I'd be over the moon if that happened, but I told them the fact that they're involved and having fun is great, too.

What's For Dinner Snack Wednesday

It's too early for dinner. I'm going to be at work tonight and won't be doing my usual dinner post. So how about a snack to tide you over?

Here's some of our leftover chicken fajitas made into nachos for a late night, Olympic viewing snack.


A hearty THANKS! to Jess of DaysGoBy, for showing a ding dong like me how to do the strikeout! :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sitting in the Lounge of VW, Wasting Time

(I can hear Otis Redding whistling as I write the title.)

My car is in for a recall for the airbag sensors. I opted to wait here, since this dealer isn’t close to home. I’d been told that it’d be a 90 minute to 2 hour repair, so I figured I’d have time to get some breakfast at Harry’s nearby afterwards. Now it’s almost lunchtime and I’m still waiting. So much for trying that corned beef hash today.

In any event, this dealer reminds me quite a bit of the dealer I bought my VW Fox from back in 1988. Small dealer with a very hands on approach. It made me realize just how many VW service departments I’ve seen over the years. Ed has seen more, because all that I’ve dealt with, he has on top of the ones on LI.

When you move to a new town, there are the things you take care of right away: utilities and school enrollments. Then you venture forth and determine the preferential things: which supermarket, hairdresser, gas stations, retailers, eateries.

Next comes the things that are also important, but if you’re lucky, you don’t have to tackle for a while: doctors, dentists, auto dealers. They’re still needed, but they don’t merit the ‘red alert, must find NOW’ paranoia.

So far, so good on this front. There’s a waiting area, there’s coffee, and there’s a TV tuned to the Olympics (though its more background noise for me, since I’m not a follower of volleyball or soccer). The last two dealers spoiled me somewhat-this one doesn’t have WiFi access.

Laptop in hand, I ended up doing some long overdue housecleaning. Pictures got sorted, the desktop tidied, and the spy ware and virus scans completed. Now I get to play with blogging, albeit off line for now. The selfish part of me has wanted to go and buy a Crackberry or that iPhone so that moments without Internet access are few and far between, but it’s probably good to have times like these where there isn’t accessibility.

Then again, I’m still waiting and there’s nothing left to do on the laptop. After a spectacular hard drive failure two years ago, I am loath to put more games on here than what was provided with my Windows. There’s only so many games of Hearts, Free Cell, and Spider that one can take while doing all the scans.

Guess I should have taken advantage of that courtesy shuttle, after all…

**The repair took 3 hours, 10 minutes, largely because they had to remove my bumper to replace the sensors. The service department manager told me I should have been quoted 4 hours and apologized for the delay. I'll admit that I got a little panicked at the fact that it was after 12, Ed was due at work at 1 and I had a 25 minute drive home.

Once they realized that I was frustrated and misquoted, they did bust their butts to get it done. The small town approach was evident: they offer the shuttle, they wash your car and vacuum it and once they realize a customer is unhappy for any reason, they're on top of it to make it right. I'm impressed.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Thanks to Mandy, a Monday MeMe

Ahh, how the blogging world gets to know each other. Mandy posted this and I'm at the top of her list to reply, lol!

Two names you go by:
1. Suzanne
2. Sooz

Two things you are wearing right now:
1. Sleepy shorts (for about 5 more minutes, time to get ready for work
2. aqua t-shirt

Two longest car rides:
1. LI, NY to Orlando to New Orleans (WDW and '84 World's Fair)
2. Maryland to WDW

Two of your favorite things to do:
1. surf the net
2. drink wine (alas, I don't do this one all that often anymore. Wah)

Two things you want very badly at the moment:
1. take a vacation
2. get My Stupid Leg fixed

Three animals you have or have had:
1. Sheba, sheepdog mix
2. Bear. black lab and smartest dog ever
3. TBD

Three people who will fill this out:
1. no clue
2. if Joyce had a blog she would do it
3. Sarah

Three things you ate today:
1. Eating Hawaiian Pork right now (yum)
2. licked the spoon from the brownies
3. TBD

Two people you last talked to:
1. Ed
2. Jane

Two things you're doing tomorrow:
1. sitting in a dealership having the airbag recall campaign repair
2. attending Gameboy's Boy Scout meeting

Two favorite holidays:
1. Valentine's Day
2. Christmas

Two favorite beverages:
1. Wine
2. Sweet Tea with lots of lemon

I Want To Know...

how Facebook can put up in "People You May Know" the matron of honor of someone I do know. We have nothing else in common, she is not friends with anyone who IS a Facebook friend. I've never sent an email to her, so trolling my email address book doesn't wash here.

No, I'm not in contact with the person who's wedding she was in, either. Weird how they came up with her. Small world, eh?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

The Music That Reminds Me of Home

On this day in 1972, my parents closed on the purchase of the house I lived in until I moved out as an adult. In the intervening 13 years, there were a lot of memories. Today, if I hear certain songs, they remind me of times growing up in that house.

"Wedding Bell Blues" was frequently heard on the stereo in the living room, and my Mom would not let it play without singing along, out of tune and all. She loved having that stereo play and her favorite stations were the ones that played the old standards. Similarly, "One Less Bell to Answer", "On Top of the World", "Lucille", and "Come Monday" all remind me of Mondays, when Mom was off and the music played all day while she puttered in the kitchen or worked on some sewing.

Jackson Browne, especially "The Pretender", reminds me of Peg and all the hours she controlled the stereo.

The early new wave stuff, like the Knack and The Buggles? Socrates got to the turntable. (Bill's Gerrard, with one of those fancy schmancy gadgets that would hold the albums in queue to be played).

Steve Forbert, Blondie, Police, Kansas, and George Thorogood remind me of the brief time that Pete lived back at home after leaving the Marines and moving out on his own. He was the one who really was on the cutting edge, frequently hitting a record store after hearing an act at My Father's Place the night before. As soon as I hear that piano at the beginning of "Romeo's Tune", it takes me back to being 11 years old...

Certain Barry Manilow and Duran Duran songs remind me of Giggles and the way she'd turn that radio dial to Z-100. I kind of feel bad for her, because she was the youngest, she didn't get to choose the music she liked until the rest of us moved out!

Revillie always reminds me of the speaker right outside my bedroom door and Bill's wake up cassette. I got to mix a bunch of those, but when that thing would go off every morning at 7am, I did my best to try to sleep through it. If I close my eyes, I'm back in my bedroom like it was yesterday, pillow and comforter over my head!

Some songs take me back to when I got my own stereo in my room and didn't have to wait my turn for the family stereo. Styx's "Boat on the River", Rush's "Subdivisions" and Kraftwerk's "Autobahn" got played to death and hearing them is like stepping into the time machine, too.

What about you? What do you hear that remind you of the old homestead?

Pork Chop Sandwiches NSFW


I've been trying to link to YouTube with this video for a week. Man, it is funny. Filthy as all get out, but it still has me rolling each time I watch it.

All because I mentioned making Pork Chop Pizza to Ed last week...

When I play it back, I'm getting no sound. Maybe it's just my machine, but if you're experiencing the same thing, here's the YouTube link. Enjoy.

Aboard the Disney Wayback Machine

In 1984, my Dad, Giggles and I embarked on our second "Southern Exposure" summer vacation. Three glorious weeks, the highlight of which was to be four days at Walt Disney World.

This was back in the days when there were two parks, the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT (Center). Epcot (Center) captivated us, because it was similar in feel to the first Southern Exposure trip to the 1982 World's Fair (and the 1984 World's Fair we would attend a week later). Exhibits to show us what technology would bring in the future, pavilions of countries around the world and enough to fill two full days touring that park.

All the technology exhibits were housed in two buildings dubbed Communicore, which looked like parentheses flanking Spaceship Earth (the globe that is the park's icon). Most of them were forgettable (and probably laughable now, as the ideas presented were impractical and unfeasible.)

One did stand out, and that was the Face to Face booths. The way it worked was that you would stand at a booth and look at a screen that had a camera hidden in it's corner. A cast member would show up on the screen. You could ask questions about anything about the Walt Disney Company, obtain dining reservations for any restaurant on property and request that they quiz you on your Disney knowledge.

It was a front runner of teleconferencing and web cams. I know, you're thinking 'big whoop', but this was 24 years ago and the concept was new and different. I was fascinated with this attraction and spent about a half an hour utilizing it, even making dinner reservations for the next night.

When we climbed the steps to leave the attraction, we inadvertently had a Wizard of Oz like unveiling. The Cast Members that were video conferencing with the guests? They all were sitting in front of cameras on the balcony above the exhibit floor, but far enough back that they could have easily escaped notice. It still impressed me to have real time video chat with someone. In 1984, home computing was in its infancy and modems were 300 baud-far too slow to transmit the quantity of information those cameras might have put out.

Flash forward to today. I had occasion to visit my credit union, as I needed to deposit a check in person or suffer the five day hold that happens with ATM deposits with the CU Here network members. The credit union in my last tie to working for Disney and one that I'm reluctant to sever.

It's been a couple of years since I've been to the branch. For that matter, I hardly ever bank in person with them, using the ATMs of their credit union partners. I went to the main location, one off Disney property that I'd last been in when we first moved here in 2004.

When I walked in, I noticed two young ladies at the counter in front of the branch, but knowing Partners (Vista, it will always be Vista), this was an information center. I was engaged in a conversation on the phone and wasn't paying full attention, just walking over to the stanchions and the table that had the deposit slips.

I noticed a bank of screens along the back wall and assumed that these were numerous touch screen ATMs. The credit union tends to be cutting edge when the technology has a practical application.

Once off the phone, I looked around for the tellers, going so far as to walk out into the vestibule and back into the branch. Wait a minute, the table with all the forms by the stanchions? It had that requisite "Enter here" sign, indicating that this was the line for the tellers. Then I noticed the one customer standing at one of those screens.

That wasn't a touch screen, it was a VIDEO screen. There was a phone and a little lens of a camera pointing out, and the young lady was behind a wall. I walked up to another of the screens, put my check, deposit slip and ID into a drawer exactly like you see at the bank's drive through, picked up the phone, pressed the button that said "Call Teller."

POP! The screen came to life, and there was D, welcoming me to the branch and informing me she'd come work on my deposit as soon as she was done with the man I'd seen at the wall at the screen next to mine. There are dividers between them, allowing privacy, in case you're wondering.

The screen then went to a little histor lesson, Disney style, on the origins of banking terms. In my case, I learned that the word 'coin' originated from the Latin "cuneus" or wedge. I'll take Latin words for 1000, Alex. Now you can, too!

In no time at all, D was back, my deposit slip and ID in the now opened drawer. I
thanked D, then hung up the phone and went on my merry way, off to work. As I was walking out of the branch, it occurred to me that Disney once again found a way to use something that was innovative in 1984 and make it innovative again. Pretty neat.

Now, if only they could incorporate some of the technology displayed in Horizons, we'd be all set!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

BlogHer '09

By the end of the month, I'll know where BlogHer '09 will be held. I plan on attending next year, so the polling caught my attention.

Alas, Denver and the lure of sleeping on Sarah's couch won't happen. The front runners are:
St Louis
I haven't been to two of those places, so the odds are that it will be held someplace new and exciting to me.

What about you? If you're a BlogHer member, are you going?

If not, have you traveled to these locales? Tips for the traveler? If you live in one of these towns, what should a visitor see?

I'm trying to plan ahead. WAY ahead, lol...

Friday, August 08, 2008

Would You Consider?

A coworker of mine once sold the software that Ed utilized on several mainframes with a oouple of employers. Mark is a helpful sort of guy and had suggestions on local employers he could try for jobs in the tech sector. Today, he says to me "Would you consider moving to Europe? Ed could find work over there easily!"

I took a half second to answer that HECK,YEAH!, I'd move to Europe.

Consider the possibilities:
Showing the kids all the things they learn about in the history books (that Momma has always been dreaming of seeing)
Eating all the amazing food
Drinking all the incredible wines (and touring those wine regions!)
Trying fantastic beers all over the continent
All the opportunities for photo hunting
Immersing ourselves in another language and culture
Perhaps attending culinary school

Yeah, the possibilities would be incredible. I'm usually too grounded in reality to consider those possibilities. However, the traveler that lurks in my soul took this suggestion and perked up. She said "Why not?", where as the pragmatic me said "You can't. There's too much keeping you here."

Sometimes, I wish I could follow that adventurer spirit instead of obeying the realist's sense of doing what's within reach. The realist asks what the heck would we do with our stuff, how much would it cost to get the essentials overseas, how would he go about finding work, what about work visas, how exactly does one get the kids enrolled in school, Asperger's? and what about Mom and Jane?

The adventurer, of course, is like the devil on the shoulder of Larry in Animal House, saying that we should think of us, OMG, you could check out several Michelin restaurants, travel to Mont St. Michel, see the Moldovan wineries that make wines you adore, ride in a gondola in Venice, take pictures of Lake Geneva, stand and absorb the scenery of Stonehenge.

Being a realist is a bummer. I'd rather be an adventurer...

Thursday, August 07, 2008

This Must Be REALLY Important

Mr. Benson Adeshola sent me TWO emails in less than a minute, so this must be really, really urgent. His letter is below, with my (snarky) commentary in color.
Flag this message
Thank God I Found You
Thursday, August 7, 2008 2:15 PM
"Mr. Benson Adeshola"
Add sender to Contacts
From The Desk of: Mr. Benson Adeshola
Standard trust bank Plc
Plot 245 Adeolu Hope Wall Street
Victoria Island Lagos-Nigeria

Dear Friend,
My Name is Mr. Benson Adeshola, a Banker with standard trust bank Plc;I am an account Officer to Engineer Anderson from your country, who used to work with Shell Oil Development Company.Poor guy went through life named Engineer? That really bites. Here in after shall be referred to as my client On April 21, 2003, Anderson, his wife, and their two children were involved in a car accident along Lagos/Ibadan expressway.
You’d think these guys would figure out that punctuation and capitalization go a long way to lend some believability!

All occupants of the vehicle unfortunately lost their lives since then I have made several inquiries to my client’s country's embassy to locate his extended relatives, After these several unsuccessful attempts,I contacted you to assist me in repatriating the Funds before they get confiscated or declared unserviceable by standard trust bank Plc where these huge deposits were lodged.
Holy run on paragraph, Batman. This paragraph makes text messages look like Shakespeare!

I got your contacts through my personal research, and out of desperation decided to reach you through this medium.

You contacted me. Why? Is my last name Anderson? No. Do I work for Shell? No. What gives here? Tell you what, Mr. Adelshola, I met a guy from Nigeria once, name was Kojo. Can you help me find him? I thought not. Bummer, he had a cool accent, nice guy, too. This medium? Am I not worth a stamp and a piece of paper? I’m sure that they’ll front you the dollar from the “huge deposits”

I will give you more information as to this regard as soon as you reply. I repose great confidence in you hence my approach to you due to security network placed on my day to day affairs I cannot afford to visit the embassy again because of my work, so that is why I decided to contact you and I hope you will not betray my confidence in you.
WTF? Clear and concise, ever heard of these ideas, Benson? You’re using words most people don’t even bother with. Repose? Hence? You’re putting some strong faith into asking someone you’ve never met to not ‘betray your confidence’, don't you think? You can’t visit the embassy, so why not call or send a letter? Email them? You successfully emailed me, didn't you? Trust me, I would remember meeting or being related to someone saddled with the first name Engineer!

Particularly, standard trust bank Plc where the deceased had an account valued at about ($14 million U S dollars) has issued me a notice to provide the next of kin or have the account confiscated within the 6 weeks.
Why you, Benson? So what do you care? It’s not YOUR money. You're telling me that Engineer doesn't have a personnel file with contact information?

Oh I just realized, you’re waiting FIVE years to contact me? Seriously? Dammit, I could have used that money six months ago, Benson!

Since I have been unsuccessful in locating the relatives for over go to 3years now, I seek your consent to present you as the next of kin of the deceased so that the proceeds of this account valued at ($14 million u s dollars) can be paid to you and then You and I can share the money.50% to me and 45% to you and 5% for my expenditure made during the repatriating of the fund into your account.

Hold your horses, Benson. You expect me to not betray your confidence, meaning you want an ethical and trustworthy person. In the next breath, you’re asking me to LIE and say that Engineer’s my sister’s mother’s brother’s nephew, so that you can get $7.7 million dollars? It sounds to me like you are a very greedy man, Benson. You only worked with Engineer, yet you want his fortune?

All I require is your honest co-operation to enable us seeing this deal through.
Sure, that’s all you want. You want me to lie, now you want my HONEST cooperation. You can't have both!

Does this mean that I can suggest that you donate ALL the money to charity, since you don’t want this money to be seized? Didn’t think so.

I guarantee that this will be executed under a legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of the law.
You just asked me to LIE to get the money, and you’re saying that I’ll be protected from the law. Why should I trust a guy who wants me to lie?

Enclose your private telephone number for easy communication.
812-473-7729. Call me any time, day or night. Operators are standing by.

You can also reach me via my alternative mail address:
I await your response
Best Regards,
Mr. Benson Adeshola
(External Auditor Accountant)
Smooth move, Benson. You didn't list your company name, so I can’t report you for ethics violations. Like I even thought you really existed.

---------------------- ALICE N°1 de la RELATION CLIENT 2008*--------------------
Découvrez vite l'offre exclusive ALICE BOX! En cliquant ici Offre soumise à conditions.*Source : TNS SOFRES / BEARING POINT. Secteur Fournisseur d.Accès Internet
All I want is for the prize patrol to show up with a paltry 20 grand and this fool thinks I’m desperate for his monopoly millions. I’m not asking for much-unlike Benson here!

Oh, that number is for Dial a Prayer. Somehow, I think Benson needs it to find a sucker...