Friday, February 28, 2014

PaniniRiffic, Tampa

The lunch truck today was one I hadn't seen before, PaniniRiffic. I like paninis, they're good. In fact, if I suggest making my family paninis (using a cast iron pan as my press), they're all over it. In fact, we had roast beef with horseradish mayo and cheddar last Saturday. So, the idea of someone else making them definitely appealed.

They came prepared, truck at the ready with a staff of three. Smart move, as they'd be the only truck and it was a gorgeous winter day around here.

The menu had something for all tastes: roast beef, mojo chicken, a cuban, and a vegetarian option. Plus, they had fried yucca, plantains, and guava balls for dessert.

This was my mojo chicken panini. I asked for grilled onions along with the mojo, because it seemed like it'd be a little better with them. Each panini comes on a bed of seasoned french fries, similar to the kind you get at Checkers. That was kind a surprise, because I saw one or two peeking out from under my sandwich and then realized that oh, there are fries. Most trucks don't include fries-nice bonus.

The Thai Sweet Potato soup sounded delicious. I wasn't expecting Thai hot, so when it wasn't I wasn't disappointed. It's a delicately seasoned pureed soup that has the tiniest hint of heat and a definite thai seasoning. Now I'm on a quest to find a recipe to do something similar for niece and her fiance, we all love sweet potato!

A closer look at the sandwich. Good crunch, good flavor all around and a very satisfying lunch for ten bucks. Hope they come back soon!

Paniniriffic on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 27, 2014


About two months ago, a friend shared on Facebook that our 30th high school reunion would be held this summer. I was waffling about the idea of going, but she is gung-ho and well, Ed thought a summer trip to NY would be cool. We started contemplating it, and decided that if we went, the reunion would be at the beginning of our visit up there, so that if it was a dud, at least we'd have some sightseeing to do and family to see.

However, this week, a friend sent me info about my college '1.0' major program's 50th anniversary reunion. It's the kind of event I like: multiple years attending. Even better, these are people I willingly spent a lot of my free time with for several years.

The finances won't allow for two events. If they did, I'm of the mind that I'd much rather the college reunion, since it was where I really enjoyed the entire experience. Heck, one of my friends from that time is telling me to ditch the HS event because the 'cool kids' are going to be at the college!

Of course, as is typical nowadays, there's a Facebook page. It's been a nice walk down memory lane, reinforcing that yep, this was one fun program.

Thankfully, I've got two months to decide whether we're going up to NY for this one. The heart definitely says yes.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


This semester's class has given me plenty of reading, and even more food for thought. It is the last class that my department offers in philosophical pursuit, which is why it fuels so much contemplation.

I am so very thankful that I had a germ of an idea sprout while seeing Tony Attwood speak in Fall, 2010. Then to have this desire to learn, to explore, to share what I discover become a solid idea grounded in educational theory, and then refined through the many probing questions of my major professor.

This class energizes me more than any other, and this saying quite a bit, because there haven't been many classes in the past five years that weren't enjoyable. However, I leave and have many things I want to write down, to synthesize the evening's discussions as they relate to my specific topic of research.

For a while, I've thought it may be time to start writing a professional blog. No, not one that is about making money with it (though that would be nice.) Rather, one that features musings on scholarly pursuit and where I am in this journey, what I find relevant to the upcoming research. My best work comes from writing it down after many hours of letting it tumble dry in my head.

So, with tonight's class, in which I presented half the discussion, it is time. Time to start that new blog.

That doesn't mean an end to this one, though. Where else have I been able to be my ADHD self in cyberspace better than here? No, it'll be a separate page, lest I put people to sleep with the stuff that gets me wide awake with excitement at the ideas and knowledge gained.

This time, I'm going to jump ship. Eventually, it is possible that this little endeavor will make the move over to Wordpress, but that one has to start there because there are many more features that I'll need to incorporate.

Seven years of writing every day has really improved my skill overall. Writing content specific material regularly will just make that dissertation that much easier to put together...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ages and Stages

When you're in your teens, you want to be invited to the Sweet 16s/Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and the various milestone parties. The prom, the fraternity formal.

Then the bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and weddings.8579 Then you reach the stage in your life where merely getting the invite doesn't do it for you. Having a real connection with those celebrating the milestone is what matters, because you don't want to spend the day in the company of strangers that you'll probably never see again. (and I'm a very social creature saying this!)

I think I mentioned this a few months back, when a coworker was tiptoeing around wedding invites and I honestly had no interest in going. Today, on the other hand, I was given a verbal invite ahead of a wedding in the fall for a friend's daughter. An online friend, who has become an IRL friend and whose daughter has also become a friend.

This one, I want to attend.

If we can make it happen, we will be there, because you want to be there for friends.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sunday, February 23, 2014


Since I was a kid, I've had migraines.

As an adult and new mom, my nurse practitioner went through a series of medications to find a best fit for me to treat my 4 or 5 migraines a week, since Cafregot was no longer on the market. Ultimately, I ended up with injections of Imitrex and carried a package that looks kind of like an epi-pen dispenser.

image from

Injectibles are what work best for me. I have no problem with them, and if it gets rid of the migraine, I'm all for it. Fortunately, my brother in law figured out a major trigger and I went from numerous migraines to around a dozen a year.

However, about 5 or 6 years ago, I was without insurance and didn't have the money for the refills. I would tough out the migraines and use other less effective methods to deal with them, since they weren't as frequent as they had been.

My new neurologist specializes in the treatment of headaches, and while I detest her bedside manner, her first priority was to make sure I have the tools in my arsenal to deal with the different headaches I have. I told her I'd identified the Chiari headaches and what worked for them, and that 'these were the headaches that the Imitrex didn't do squat for before I knew why', so she listened to what does work for them and said stick with it.

However, the fact that I still have what is considered frequent migraines bothered her. I was sent home with four prescriptions, one was for that little case and twelve vials of Imitrex.

The last time I had the prescription, my insurance company fought giving me that many at one time, so it was surprising to get this large bag of medication. My purse sounds like I'm carrying maracas from everything else the doctors have prescribed, but this thing sits in there, quietly.

Then, this morning at about 5am, I woke up with a monster migraine. I found my purse and the pack, go to dose-and find that there must have been some change to the StatDose since the last time I've used it. First, I couldn't get the syringe on it. Then, I couldn't get it to trigger. Finally, I got it to trigger and unlike the past, there wasn't a dribble of medication from the injection site.

So, I'm sitting there, wondering if it worked, not sure if I should take another injection. The meds should kick in around 5 to 10 minutes later-it didn't. So I decide to try another dose-and can't get the thing to work!

I think I need to do a little reading up on it, because I clearly don't know how to use something that worked well for about 7 or 8 years!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

New Nails

Friday, February 21, 2014

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Work From Home

It seems that once again, I have a deadline before me that probably was a little ambitious.

It can be done, but only because I had put in 9 hours of overtime prior to yesterday. Today, I had a need to stay close to home, but I've done work intermittently throughout the day. I'll probably put in another hour to complete a section of questions, then pack it in.

I was thinking that I might get 4 hours of work done with the other things I'd need to do for the day. Instead, I've got over 8 hours into this work so far.

Because I'm salaried, overtime becomes comp time. The question becomes 'when will I take it?' Would love to take it tomorrow, but the due date is tomorrow, and I should be on campus to test it out and fix whatever bugs may have occurred with my branching logic. (I found one, but no others...yet).

Instead, it may be Monday or Tuesday and I'll take a much needed day to sleep in!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Further Proof of My NPR Nerdom

Over the years, I'm sure it has been covered about my love for NPR. It probably is a good thing that the radio in my car was always tuned to it, because the car stereo started acting wonky a few years ago and well, the only station that comes in clearly where I live is NPR.

A couple of months ago, though, I got an alert from Twitter (before I shut off all the notifications from there) that Neda Ulaby started following me. I squeed with happiness, and the majority of the twitterverse was like 'who?'. I don't know what I said that she found me worthy of a follow, but this fan girl followed right back.

Now if only I can get Ari Shapiro, Steve Inskeep, David Greene, and Scott Simon to follow her lead, I'd be a really happy fan girl.

About six months ago, I stepped into an Ulta store for the first time and signed up for their loyalty program. They send emails on a regular basis and now that there is a local Ulta, I tend to stop in about once a month after a nail appointment. Anyway, today, they sent me an email and it just furthered how much NPR is part of my life.

The email headline was that there was a sale on Mario Badescu beauty products. Frankly, I have no idea what kind of products, but my brain immediately interpreted it as Andrei Codrescu beauty products. Andrei is a very engaging commentator and is editor in chief of a web journal site.

I was trying to figure out the tie in between Ulta, and the talented Andrei, and Exquisite Corpse, and laughed. Makeup for cadavers? *

Even Andrei would find that funny.

In an NPR Nerd kind of way.

*An Exquisite Corpse is actually a writing technique in which collaborators work on a project together following a specific rule for composition or by allowing the next contributor to only see the last sentence of the previous content before continuing the writing.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Parental Concerns of the Special Needs Teenager

We have a lot on our plates around here in the next two months. So much so that I made the decision that I will be dropping one of my classes this semester in order to gain more time to get the 'To Do' list accomplished. You see, in under two months, GameTeen will be turning 18.

I know, a big milestone. He can register to vote, join the military, legally purchase cigarettes, enter into binding contracts, get a tattoo or piercing without mom or dad saying that it's acceptable. But that would be if he were a typical kid. No, GameTeen probably will not have the maturity to do many of these things for quite a few years. Rather, the maturity to NOT do some of them-like those cigarettes, tattoos, or piercings, and I think the military would exclude him with his Aspergers Syndrome.

This presents two things that are front and center on the agenda for him and other special needs kids-Guardianship and Social Security Disability. On the second, he was determined to be disabled and received $90 a month in SSI from the time he was seven until about six months before I became unemployed in 2008. I was determined to make too much money for him to receive benefits, and there was considerable red tape in trying to get it restored and I gave up.

Last month, though, with his looming 18th birthday and the knowledge that it is easier for a minor determined to be disabled to gain benefits than someone over 18, I contacted the Social Security Administration to inquire whether we are supposed to apply for reinstatement or complete a new claim. I haven't gotten a response, so we'll operate under the assumption that he needs to begin a new application. At least there are 13 years of medical and school records to offer as supporting evidence. Still, there's some legwork ahead, and it will be time consuming.

The other part is equally important. While he is an extremely intelligent person, he has the emotional maturity of an elementary school child. So, with GameTeen on the verge of 18, we are applying for guardianship for our own child. This is a common situation for special needs parents. I've gathered snippets of information here and there and found that in Florida, you petition the court in your county as opposed to the state. Thankfully, there are a few counties that have posted guides to the process and they're very similar, so I am hopeful that our county is somewhat similar and I'll just have to spend one day doing all the leg work, drop off the paperwork to a lawyer or the clerk of the court (depends on the county, I'm told), then appear in court with GameTeen to complete this process.

That has a domino effect, for once that is done, we have to prepare specific types of wills-and that will definitely require the services of a lawyer. We have a good estate lawyer that we've worked with before. Yay, that's one thing off the list.

It's funny, someone said to me last month 'wow, you must be excited that he's turning 18 soon!' I laughed with the person, but I really don't think she knew that it has some important stuff tied to it that the average person never will have to consider.

We won't even talk about the part where my job contract ends and I'm job seeking like mad before the contract ends, doing schoolwork, AND trying to get all this accomplished, too! There's a vacation on the horizon and my goal is to have all of this done, so that the vacation is just rest and relaxation and fruity drinks.

Wish me luck.

Monday, February 17, 2014


I had the blog a couple of years before I added Sitemeter. It's a nifty little widget, telling me who visits, where they're from and how long they've been on my blog. Well, that last one isn't quite accurate, because I know I've logged in from work and it shows :00 despite me being here for a couple of minutes tinkering.

The number has been creeping up lately, and while I don't normally pay attention to the hit number, rather what brings people to the blog (in order to write more of that content), and I saw this:

So tomorrow, that number will move into the six figures.

Kind of cool.

While I get weekly and monthly stats breakdowns, and yearly for a few things, it'd be interesting to see what my top ten all time blog posts are. I have a pretty good idea of the top five, but the rest? Not sure.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

IOS 7: Changing iMessage to Show Only One Phone

You've got a new iPhone, or you just upgraded to IOS 7, and all of a sudden, you've noticed a problem. You're getting your texts AND your husband's. Or you text him, and your phone indicates you have a new text-but it's the one you just sent.

I'd been hearing about this problem from others for a while, but didn't personally have it, so I hadn't paid much attention. Then, my sister Giggles got an iPhone for her birthday (yay, she's joined the dark side), and I got an iMessage this afternoon. Later, she texted me again to ask why she's getting her husband's texts as well. She was helpful, though, telling me they share an iTunes account.

Searching for answers, I came upon what's happening. Not only are they sharing an iTunes account, they must be using iCloud, which pushes all content to all devices. I only share my iTunes account with the boys, and I don't use the cloud, which is why this is a problem that didn't affect me. That said, if you ARE affected and want to fix it, here's the info I provided Giggles in an easy to follow tutorial. You know, since I'm the techie of the family.

How to change the messaging settings with IOS 7:

Step One

1. Find Settings. Touch it to launch the application.

Step Two

2. In the settings tab, scroll down to locate Messages. Touch on it to open the screen.

Step Three

3. Locate Send & Receive. If you’re having issues with multiple accounts linked to one iTunes account getting all getting texts, this will indicate 2 or more addresses.

Tap on this bar to modify your incoming and outgoing messages.

Step Four

4. My settings allow one phone number and four email accounts to send and receive iMessages. These are all drawn from my email accounts I’ve configured into my phone and my iTunes account.

I do not use iCloud, otherwise the other phones that share my iTunes account would show up, too. However, you can fix this by touching any phone number or email account you don’t want to be added to iMessage. This will toggle the setting to off.

Having access to your kids' phones is good, but you will want to go into their phones and toggle your phone OFF from their access. Otherwise, they might see holiday texts that talk about buying the item they want the most!

I hope this is helpful if you're trying to find the answer to getting everyone in your iTunes accounts texts!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Street Surfers, Tampa

Some days, a new food truck is paired with one that has food that smells so good and you KNOW it's good that the temptation is to forgo the exploration for the sake of blogging and just get the tried and true. Such was the case Thursday, as Just Smokin' BBQ was there, some 'que would have been good right about then. Instead, I forged ahead with trying the new guy.

I'm glad I did.

Street Surfer is an apt name for a food truck, surfing the streets of Tampa on a quest to bring funky flavors to the masses. The truck has a great retro vibe.

The menu, oh the menu. I was like the couples on house hunters, forced to rule choices out in order to make a decision. Italian beef was scratched off merely because I make a respectable version at home. I didn't want hot dogs, and I was down to the Mojo Nachos or the Shrimp Po Boy. In situations like these, I ask the person on the truck which to get. The gentleman told me the nachos were good, but the PoBoy was better. PoBoy it was.

I hadn't noticed the conch fritters until afterwards and debated adding them on, but I had a feeling the sandwich would be quite enough on its own. In short order, it appeared in the window and yep, this one is big. I know the picture may not appeal, because of that gumbo gravy, but just look at that crusty, flaky bread.

I took the fork. A traditional PoBoy has lettuce, tomato, and mayo and you can eat it like a hero or sub. That gravy made this more like a bread bowl soup, which was perfectly fine by me. The bread was crispy, toasted with garlic butter, and soft inside. I would have just eaten that garlic bread and been happy, but the shrimp and the gumbo were expertly seasoned, with large chunks of Andouille sausage, creamy, and warming on a chilly (45 degree) Florida day.

I ate the large pieces with a fork, then had the gumbo coated bread afterwards and was very happy that I wasn't swayed by the old stalwart sitting beside Street Surfer. You probably may want to do the same if faced with such a decision.

Street Surfer on Urbanspoon

Friday, February 14, 2014

Finding Your Passion

A former boss and I periodically catch up via phone calls and Facebook chats. She will post stuff on my wall from time to time "Had crabcakes, but I wanted yours!" and generally indicate that she would like me to move back to the DC area. (With all that snow? No way!)

She recently had surgery, so we caught up a few days ago on how she was doing. Today, she IMed me and we got to talking about that mind shift that happens when your body decides it will throw up the white flag and refuses to be like everyone else's. I told her that for me, it took about two years to find peace with the fact that I would never again be 'the old Suzanne'. The one she worked with, that never rested, worked with migraines and remembered the UPS guy's birthday and brought him cupcakes.

The question is cropping up, the 'what if I can't do this anymore? I'm not tech savvy like you.'

I had an answer, suggesting she go back and get her Master's degree.

We talked about which program should she consider, and I suggested one and what she could do with it that combines her 30 years of experience with a job that isn't so physically demanding. For now, while she's home recuperating, she needs to contemplate what is the first thing about the job that gets her out of bed every day, the thing on that To Do list that she tackles first. Then, find the corporate side equivalent that will let her enjoy it.

After working together five years, I know her strengths, which is why I made the suggestion I did. I also shared that a Master's degree is easier than a Bachelor's, in that you are studying one topic in-depth, and should be passionate about the topic if you're doing an advanced degree. That news surprised her, but it's true. The workload can be tough to handle sometimes, but the coursework isn't impossible.

I know the time is going to come soon when we have a few more serious conversations about the what comes after and is the Master's really the right fit? For her, definitely. I've been down the path she's starting on, and know there are some rough realities in front of her. Putting some trail blazes out for her now may make it a easier journey.

That's my hope, anyway.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Chocolate Covered Strawberries (and other fruits)

A family tradition we've done off and on since moving to Florida is chocolate fondue for Valentine's day. On the way home from work, I got a half flat of strawberries and two pineapples for ten bucks and realized that I had way more strawberries than I would need for tomorrow.

So what to do? Make chocolate covered strawberries. You know, the same thing that Godiva charges $3 EACH for (yeah, they're good, it's freaking Godiva on those bad boys), but a lot cheaper. Even if you live in a part of the country that gets those strawberries trucked in for $8 a quart, your cost per strawberry will be somewhere around .25 each if you do it yourself.

And it is EASY, people. Really easy. Less than 20 minutes and you can go from :

to this:

What you need:

1 cup half and half or flavored creamer
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
1 cup chips of your choice
(don't cheap out on these. I used Nestle, but prefer using Ghiradelli dark chocolate chips. White are fine)
1 quart of strawberries or fruit of your choice (pineapple works well for this, as do oranges) Directions: Pour the first three ingredients into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave one minute and stir.
Then, if the chips haven't completely melted, microwave another 30 seconds and stir.
If needed, repeat 30 seconds. It should be rather soupy and easy to stir. If not, add a 1/4 cup of half and half at a time.
Dip the strawberries into the chocolate, rolling gently through until thoroughly coated, then place on wax or parchment paper (I had cupcake cups).
NOTE: The strawberries have to be dry or else the chocolate won't stick.
Refrigerate for at least a 1/2 hour, then they are ready to serve.
Yes, a lot of directions, but it's really simple.
You can give them as gifts to friends and loved ones, or you can just enjoy them all by yourself. I'll never share the secret that you know how to make these.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Kind Grinds, Tampa

Yesterday's new food truck appealed right off the bad, for it is Asian inspired. Kind Grinds is relatively new to the food truck business, and was a first timer at USF's lunch trucks, but if what I had is any indication, they're going to be around for a long time.

Smart business practice: start small. It's easier to build your business when you are already out there serving your food, so they've got a pull along trailer, instead of one of those Grumman delivery trucks. It's small, with an eye catching exterior.

Personally, I think the windows on both sides idea is good, especially as they build a clientele, they may need to serve out of both someday soon!

The menus boast a variety of tastes and it was really hard to decide what to get, because there wasn't a single thing that didn't sound good.

Ultimately, the idea of trying something I'd never had before (daikon) tipped me from a bowl to the Banh Mi, but which meat was going to be on it? I totally went eeny meeny minie moe, and opted for the Shogun beef, then asked them to add some kimchi on top, figuring that if I didn't like the daikon, that still would be good.

I shouldn't have worried. The daikon had a texture like onion and an almost sweet flavor that isn't like other radishes. Their kimchi was also very tasty, with a nice burn at the end.

The sandwich was actually a little too soggy to eat as a sandwich, but I didn't mind. It was partly because of the sauce, but mostly because of the quantity of ingredients on the pretzel bun. The shogun, which was beef shank, had a texture like pot roast and a good soy flavor. The veggies and kimchi gave it fantastic crunch and that pretzel roll was very soft. This is definitely one I will try again, though I'm still probably going to have to randomly pick from the other flavors.

Good solid effort, good portions, great price. You won't be disappointed.

Kind Grinds on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Rock Royalty

My fingers look like crap, but my nails look good!

I still haven't gotten my skin back to normal since the trip to New Jersey, but I stepped it up with some neosporin on the nail beds and it seems to be helping. In the meantime, we visited an old favorite, and Mandi placed Rock Royalty Shellac on my fingers.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Dude and His Food

We seem to be getting one new contender into the rotation of lunch time selections at USF, and the addition this past week was A Dude and His Food.

The offerings were all sorts of 'cheesesteaks' with beef or chicken, then various fries, and the day we saw them, cheese fries or onion rings. They also run a lunch special with fries and a soda for $10.

In looking over the menu, I liked the idea of a gyro-inspired philly sub, though I fully expect it to be a huge mess to eat. The staff running this truck were very friendly and fast-an important skill on this blustery day. None of us wanted to be out there waiting for food, so they were speedy. I opted for the special with the drink and fries.

I started off with the fries and they were closer to the crispy side and perfectly salted, which makes me happy. Didn't need anything added to them, a bonus. Started off eating that sandwich with a fork, and was afraid to pick it up, due to the quantity of fillings. I shouldn't have-it was well engineered. The tzitziki was awesome, good flavor, the meat chopped finely. Overall, a good sandwich, one that I will get again.

If you're in the mood for cheese steak, I'd hazard a guess that their basic isn't 100% traditional, but it will taste really good. Give the Dude and His Food a try and I suspect you'll agree.

Dude and His Food on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Subs N Such, Tampa

The other day, I decided that studying during my lunch just wasn't going to cut it and asked a coworker to leave campus for lunch, because I needed conversation instead of solitude. He suggested 'a really good sub place', and that is how we ended up at Subs n Such.

It's a basic, no frills kind of sub shop, with walls lined with antique bottles of soda, coolers filled with hard to find varieties of other sodas and a menu signboard from the 80's, one that you place the blue plastic letters on a white background.

My friend suggested getting the steak and cheese, and I did, opting for it as a pressed Cuban. While the meat was microwaved, it still had good flavor. It was then pressed with mozzarella, lettuce, tomato and onions. The whole package was perfect- good crunch on the bread, just the right amount of mayo, fresh tomatoes, not too much onion, and ample lettuce. The best part is that it had great flavor without being greasy.

The bonus was that I got to have some Louisiana favorites with my sandwich. I found Abita Root Beer in the cooler and Zapp's chips and I was a happy camper. To be honest, that sandwich was so good, I didn't even crack open the chips until later, but the root beer was a good balance to the sandwich.

With Subs and Such only being 5 minutes from my office, I think I've got a new addition to the lunch time possibilities if the food trucks aren't appealing.

Subs n Such on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Why You Want a Front Load Washer

In one of those cases of 'I thought I blogged about this, but didn't', today's post is about some of the product knowledge I have and until now, have pretty much just shared face to face.

When we first moved to Florida, we purchased an LG front load washer dryer pair from Best Buy. We got a good deal, by virtue of them having cosmetic damage on the sides where we'd never see the scratches. Once we switched to front load, we never wanted to go back.

For a brief period of time, I sold appliances, and my big goal was to be the most informed about the differences between the products. So, I did a cost comparison analysis for top load washers vs. front loaders. Detailed below are some of my findings.

1. Uses less resources.

Your typical top load washer with an agitator in the middle uses between 60 and 80 gallons of water for each cycle you run. For most machines, that's three fill ups and up to 240 gallons of water for ONE load of laundry.

In comparison, the average front load washer uses 5 gallons of water per cycle and in a machine that usually has 1/3 more capacity. We won't sweat calculating that difference, but

240-15=225 gallons PER LOAD

If you're the average family of four, you're doing about 10 loads of laundry a week (I'm using a 5.0 cf washer, I know that's like a double load in the average top loader). That's 2,250 gallons per week, or 900 gallons per month or 11,700 gallons per year.

Then you get to the electricity consumption. The motor needs a lot of torque to spin a tub with 80 gallons of water (that weighs about 10 pounds per gallon) and your clothing, so it uses a lot more electricity. Less water and a magnetic drive in the case of most front loaders, you're generally using about 20% the electric per load that the front loader uses.

Something else to consider: using less water in the wash cycles means the clothes going into the dryer have less work to do because the clothes are damp, not completely soaked. Saves money on the dryer cycle, too.

2. The financial impact. I don't have the hard and fast numbers ready anymore, but for my community, using their rates in 2008, the savings for ten loads of laundry per week for a year was calculated to be somewhere between a $300 to $350 savings. No, not a huge amount of money, but in two years, you can pay for a basic front loader with those savings. Your community may vary, but you will save at least that amount each year. If you're like me and your front loader dies after years of use, you spend about $1000 on laundromats and as soon as you get the new one, the TIME savings is worth more than the monetary savings.

They use HE detergent. This means you're probably going to use 2 or 3 tablespoons of liquid detergent. While a jug of this detergent, on the surface, looks like it costs a lot more for the same quantity of liquid, you're actually getting a lot more loads of laundry for that price.

3. The quality of the wash.

I learned about front loaders when I was part of the opening team of a store that sold appliances. All the employees wore the same uniforms and at first, we all looked identical. A month later, some of the shirts weren't as vibrant. Three months later, it was easy to pick out who had a front load washer and who had a top loader.

The lack of an agitator means that your clothes aren't getting beaten against it dozens (hundreds?) of times in each load. This helps you to keep that very expensive pair of pants or dressy blouse looking like it was last week's purchase instead of last year's.

In addition, both of our machines have had a sanitize cycle, which is great when some sort of illness has invaded your house. I like to use it on my towels every once in a while to get all them super clean.

4. Larger capacity.

Our current machine does the equivalent of two top loader loads. We save time by having to wash less frequently. I can do a week's worth of my clothes in one load.

All in all, I find it cheaper and better to wash my clothes in a front loader and will never willingly go back to top loaders. It was a personal preference at first, but the true benefits have convinced me that its the way to go.

Friday, February 07, 2014

You Don't Realize That A Place Had Become 'Home'

We're coming up on 6 years in our current neighborhood. I don't think either one of us thought we'd still be here, as we'd moved here to help family. Little did we know, we'd be in their house now.

But almost 6 years on, we have a few t-shirts from local businesses, we have some friends, and we have restaurants we recommend to others, many featured here on the blog.

It won't be our final landing place, but sitting at a local craft beer bar, after having pizza from a local places, wearing a local business's t-shirt, I realize that we're more entrenched than we ever thought we would be.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Workplace Suggestions to Live By

In my (cough) thirty years in the workforce, there seems to be a difference in how coworkers interact with each other, bosses guide their employees, and the communication with internal and external 'customers' has changed, there are some common guidelines that seem to have fallen into disuse. Today, I'm going to address some of them.

As I really enjoy with this type of post, please feel free to contribute in the comments. Comments are lovely gifts any time received, but the sharing of insights is especially good on these types of musings.

Okay, so in no particular order, here is my incomplete and random list of things that make the work experience much better.

1. Exchange pleasantries.

When you come into the workplace, say hello to your coworkers. If you're a grump until you get to the coffee pot, try to smile, grunt or otherwise acknowledge the people you spend 20, 40 (or more) hours per week with. Along the same lines, maybe let your peers know if you're leaving for a meeting, for lunch, end of the day. Say goodbye or good night, whichever is appropriate.

It generates good feelings for your peers when you do, and gives a good impression of you. If you're the boss, it is especially important to spend that minute greeting the rank and file to let them know you value them.

2. Have regular team/store/department meetings.

In retail, most of my employers scheduled weekly management meetings and quarterly store meetings. At the school I taught at, we had two weekly meetings that included everyone and a team meeting that was just my peer group. Most offices, I've had weekly or at the very least, monthly meetings.

They don't have to be elaborate affairs. Just a way for the group to know what's on tap, what's been done and to share best practices. Even if it's a ten minute affair to hear what each person has on their desk, it goes a long way towards employee morale.

3. Praise in public, criticize in private.

If you want to tell a coworker something good about their work, make sure others know it. It's a good ego boost. On the other hand, if something isn't up to snuff, take that person in private, because it is embarrassing to have others hear about those failings-for EVERYONE in earshot.

4. If you have something difficult to say, please say it tactfully and as diplomatically to the person as is possible.

If you can't do that, either involve a higher up or don't say it. I had a colleague years ago really press me on why she wasn't getting promoted. (I was her boss.) It was an opening to a conversation about what skills she brought to the table and whether they matched the needs for the job.

5. Respect isn't freely given, it is earned.

Treat others the way you'd want them to treat you. The janitor is there to perform a needed role and your office would smell if he/she wasn't there to empty the trash and clean your toilets. That person deserves just as much kindness as the CEO, maybe even more because he cleans your crap!

6. Don't lie.

If you tell a person that you're letting them go for one thing, then the others in the office are told another story, it DOES get back to them.

If you have a pattern of doing this, others DO notice it, and while they may not be saying something to you about it, they are taking note of it and avoiding interactions with you unless absolutely necessary.

7. Put Yourself in the Other Person's Shoes.

Live with integrity. If you don't know that that means, find out. Know it and live it.

8. Don't talk smack.

If you wouldn't say it in a crowded room, or put it in writing, don't say it to anyone else. It undermines and creates a toxic work environment. And if that's what you contribute to an environment, don't be surprised if the people you are talking smack to aren't talking smack about YOU.

9. Don't Burn Bridges

I had a very difficult relationship with a boss that ultimately leaving an employer I loved. I left with my head held high (after pointing something out to LP that ultimately found a thief in our midst.) Once I was gone, it slowly became obvious how much grunt work I did without saying a word, because it needed to be done. We became friends a few years later and there is a good back and forth about workplace dynamics.

I don't know much about her POV, but I do value her opinions and it feels pretty good when she seeks out my opinion.

There are many more things that I could say, but that's my start. To paraphrase Wil Wheaton, 'Don't be a jerk.' It goes a long way for making a decent work environment when you live with that mindset.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Unexpected Surprise

The main class I am taking this semester is technically the hardest one I will ever take, but it really isn't.

There is a ton of reading but A TON of discourse each week. I'm hearing about my peer's work toward their research, and it is fascinating. We weigh the pros and cons of the methodology, the rationale for research, what the gaps in knowledge on each topic may be.

I look forward to class each week. Today, work was frustrating and the thing that kept me out of a foul mood was the knowledge that I had class tonight. Heck, I'm thinking that each time it is offered, I'm going to ask to sit in on the class, because there is something so motivating about seeing the ideas others have and how they plan to complete their research.

I suppose that this is further proof that I'm not your average student...

Tuesday, February 04, 2014


I was studying at the library, and passed by a display of a few books on my way to the restroom. My mind registered the title of this book as Neuroscientology, though I knew it could not be what it said.

On the way back to my study carrel, I stopped and took a look and found it really said this:

It did make me wonder, thought. Scientologists are against the idea of psychiatric medications and treatments, so Neuroscientology would be a difficult science to explore. Would it involve studying the neural networks of those who believe an alien named Xenu dropped their ancestors into a volcano to find out what else they'll believe?

Monday, February 03, 2014


I can honestly say I have never seen a Phillip Seymour Hoffman movie. I will see one of his roles when I finally get around to seeing Catching Fire shortly, but all I've seen of the man is awards clips and heard/viewed an interview or two. I saw a couple of different clips from 'Capote', and I was convinced he was a short, flamboyantly gay man and when I saw and heard him interviewed a few years later, I was amazed at the man's ability to transform himself so much more than the lines of dialogue into a convincing portrayal of someone completely different from himself.

It is a gift.

Which is why so many are stunned at the news that he died of an overdose, that he succumbed to the demon known as heroin. Some are quite vocal at the sadness of it all, how he was sober for so long, others scoff at the notion that he had so much and threw it all away. Unfortunately, it's not quite as simple as that.

I'm the daughter of an addict. His drug of choice was alcohol. He was lucky, because when he hit rock bottom on a night in December, 1974, he realized that HE had to change. And change he did. Quit drinking, quit smoking and turned around his health. When he was drinking, he was an angry man with a legendary Irish temper. Sober, he was passionate about books, exercise, and his two daughters.

I have written many times over the years about my dad, how much I admired and loved him. It is because I saw the change in him, how hard he worked to overcome his personal demons and how he maintained sobriety for over 17 years when he died.

Basically, he traded addiction to alcohol and booze to addictions to healthy eating and exercise. To support his family, he worked as a bartender as a second job. That's a job where it's really easy to succumb to temptation, but I know the disconnect that one makes with the wares they ply as just being 'things', and I'm pretty sure that's how he did it. He avoided attending baseball and football games, two types of events he did a ton of drinking in his prior life. We went to a few hockey games, but that was something he'd never done prior to my fascination with the sport-so it didn't have the same pull.

Sobriety looked effortless, but a couple of things made me realize that a lot of work went into it. When I was in high school, a customer gave him some chocolate covered cherries as a tip. Nothing was said about the brandy that the cherries had been soaked in. He took a bite of the first one, tasted the booze and the next day, the box was brought to my Mom's for us to enjoy. The second was when I worked for Hess, I had a dozen NFL pre-season game tickets and called him to go with me, the then fiancé, and a couple of co-workers and friends. Dad was an avid football fan and he adamantly declined. "I cannot put myself in that situation."

Like I said, he made it seem effortless, but it was always an effort for him.

On the other side of the spectrum, there are others with addictions in my family. The difference is that they don't see it as a problem. I was recently told of a conversation my sister had with another sibling's daughter 'Why can't all of you get along?' It is doubtful the daughter realizes the scars her parent's addiction has left on every sibling relationship. Some of us are not willing to put up with an alcoholic in denial. Yes, I know I should feel bad and have some understanding, but I don't want to put myself in the line of that person's fire. Maybe that will change if the person wants to make the effort to confront their addiction and find the strength to beat it. Maybe not-I just don't have the answer.

That addictive personality exists in everyone in my family. Some of us are lucky in that they're channeled into positive things, but others just don't want to accept that they have an addiction. To be honest, that probably describes a good many people walking the face of this planet, addicted to something, but it's the luck of the draw whether it's watching a soap opera fanatically, exercising, porn, drinking, or shooting up heroin. What sucks is that some people have that inborn drive to conquer whatever demon they face, others have the desire, but not the strength. Some don't even have the desire to change. I've seen all three-and the second two deserve a lot of sympathy.

I guess having a front row seat to a success and a few failures with addictions makes me ponder Hoffman's sad fate. He made an effort for a long time to beat one of the nastiest drugs in existence. It is no small feat to beat heroin, and he did for years. I don't know what changed that he relapsed, but from the glimpse my dad gave into his alcoholism, maybe Hoffman wasn't so strong or self aware of his triggers. Maybe he had some sort of stressor that weakened his resolve. Whatever the case, what worked for him didn't work anymore and he was back on that drug and it did him in.

It may be easy to armchair quarterback this one, but it isn't black and white.

Sunday, February 02, 2014


This is the text exchange from the other night that started when I dropped a friend off from us going out for a drink:

Yes, I got the cake.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Tech Gloves

When you have constantly frozen fingers, you tend to have a bunch of these:

What I didn't realize is that they're not common everywhere. A friend in Australia didn't know what I was talking about, and I shared that picture.

For the uninitiated, the lighter fingertips are designed so that the user can use a smart phone or tablet, or any touch screen device while keeping their fingers warm. A good thing to have when your index fingers don't register with those touch screens because they're too cold.

It's always fun to sign for a purchase on a touchpad when the cashier thinks these are regular gloves.

If your hands are cold, check these out. :)