Sunday, January 31, 2010

Can’t You Smell that Smell?

No, I'm not talking about the barking spiders from the other day. I finally got all the books I want to get rid of listed on Amazon last night.

For those that don't know, I majored in Native American Studies and minored in Political Science and I've found that several of these books have a decent resale value. As I was flipping through the pages so I could accurately describe the condition of the books the smells buffeting my face took me back.

One thing I rediscovered through all this is how glad I am that I no longer smoke. At first the the smell of clove cigarette smoke coming off the pages was okay, now I just want it out of my house. The other scent that took me back had to do with the particular bookshop where I purchased several of my Native Studies books—Rising Arrow in Sunnyvale, CA. They went out of business years ago, but the smells of tanned leather and sage still cling to the pages of these books despite the cigarette smoke.

And of course underlying it all is the simple smell of a book, which made me remember this article about book preservation.

I decided to reread The Tortilla Curtain before getting rid of it. And I decided to keep A History of Far Eastern Art. Even though I could probably sell the art book for $40, I really got a lot from the class and the book, not to mention it's just a beautiful book.

When we were at the Art Institute of Chicago last October I was amazed that I could still tell a jue from a jia from a ding and whether it was made in the Zhou, Shang, or Han dynasty. I was actually surprised by the number of items I could at least partially identify.

Like this head of Bhairava from Nepal.

Or this Chinese-style (?) Guanyin (Avalokiteshvara).

I'm reasonably certain this is Vishnu depicted on this stele.

And this Karttikeya on a peacock from India.

It's more than a little disappointing that I'm still paying off my student loans for a B.A. that is less than relevant to my career and daily life. As for boosting my pay—now that I'm and editor, I make slightly more than I did at McDonald's in 1997—so naturally, I found this comic painfully true. In fact, the classes that have stuck with me (Far Eastern Asian Art History, American Indian Art History, and Geology to name a few) were classes I took in junior college (and therefore owe no money on). And while these classes also have no bearing on my career or daily life, I do feel enriched for having taken them.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Oh, Dudes. I hate today. But I think the worst thing about today is that I get to relive it every blessed 28 days or so. Oh, the details of the day may be different—it might rain, I may have meetings at work, one (or both) of the cats may puke and leave it for me to clean up—but believe me, it's the same damn day every time.

All I really care about is keeping Midol in my system and figuring out where the next piece of chocolate is coming from. Many kudos to my boss for choosing today to bring brownies to the editorial meeting. You have no idea how many lives you saved today.

Surprisingly though, my mood was rather mellow. I might even say it was serene. Might. But no one's life was in danger and no co-workers were harmed in the making of today's cramptastic post.

Okay, so there's one other thing I care about on days like today—keeping certain unstoppable forces of nature as quiet and undetectable as possible. And you know, sometimes that just ain't possible.

The first thing Scoob says to me this morning isn't "Good Morning" or "Hey, Sunshine" but "My god you've been making some fierce whale noises all morning." Thanks, hon. (Usually he's sensitive enough to blame it on the cats.) Because "whale noise" is Scoob's ever-not-so-delicate way of referring to this unstoppable force of nature. And it's no whale song.

Okay, are we clear, here? That's right. Toot. Gas. Fart. Break wind. Cut the cheese. Rip one. (Am I leave out your favorite?) Dudes, this day always comes with mad gas. Thankfully, period farts don't stink. It's the one time when silent but deadly doesn't apply. Usually. Ladies, you can can back me up on this, right?


*crickets chirping*

Fine. Anyhow, most of my day was spent on the first 2 things while trying not to seriously embarrass myself with the 3rd. And that's when I read this headline—"Fastest Wind" record broken on the Yahoo home page.

Well clearly they haven't been standing behind me.

Anyhow, it made me laugh. Which made me really rip one. At the office. Did I mention I've had beans the last few days? Musical fruit, beans. Thankfully this cramptastic day is almost over.

***I don't know which is more disturbing, that I looked for fart euphemisms… or that I found them… or that I'm telling you about this at all. BTW, for my money, barking spiders was the best one I saw,best being entirely subjective.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Drying Out

After a week of nothing but storms, it sure is good to see the sun again today. Scoob is out on the back patio sunning himself as he reads. Never mind that it's only about 52° out there, he's in his shorts and a tank top and will probably drift off for a nap just like that.

With the bad weather there is always the bad driving, so commuting has been… fun… this past week, and very time consuming. Thankfully I only had one close call when I nearly ended up down the embankment on the curve of an on ramp. I felt the car start to hydroplane and drift, took my foot off the gas and eased up on the turn, and by the time I was on the shoulder I had traction again.

Learning to drive in Oregon has its benefits, though I'm sure the all wheel drive on the Subaru helped. Unfortunately, the car behind me wasn't so lucky and I dialed 911 as I saw the car spin out and then roll on the embankment behind me.

Okay, then there was the brainiac on the freeway last night around 7:00 driving a dark blue Nisan in the far left lane at about 80mph without any lights on. I couldn't see him in the rain and nearly changed lanes in to him. Scared the beegeebers out of me. So I guess there were two close calls.

But that's over and I'm cozied up here with a full tummy (black bean quesadilla), a warm drink (coffee), and a kitty on on my desk, talking to you while I will away the killer headache I woke up with.

I had my last physical therapy appointment yesterday. We've basically made as much improvement as we can and more sessions won't help. I took the armrests off my chair at work last week (after which I immediately fell out of the chair—I guess I leaned on them more than I realized) and I inflated my balance ball so I can switch between that and the chair at work (reminds me of the Hippity Hop balls, but without the handle—I loved those things!).

When I sit on the ball I'm significantly lower at my desk, which is nice because it makes it easier to change the position of the monitors and keyboard tray without having to move everything around. And I find myself bouncing on the ball, especially if I've got my iPod on. (Many thanks to reader j for the tips on selective synching!) Now I'm just waiting to fall off the ball, too!

I'm to continue with my strengthening exercises and come back in 2 months if it gets worse or the pain returns to my chest again. But I'll need to get another referral from my doctor since my scrip will have run out by then. My therapist feels the problem is a combination of bad posture (big surprise there, and I am improving as my back muscles gain strength) and not being able to relax that area.

I've been told before that I carry my stress in my upper back, so that wasn't a huge surprise either. So, I'm thinking of seeing an acupuncturist. All the people I know who have seen one said it has helped them. So, we'll see. All I know is that I really don't want to have this pain for the rest of my life. And I do believe my insurance covers it. (Yea!)

*Grumble* The sun is gone and it's raining again, but at least it isn't storming. I've sold a couple more books on Amazon and really need to find a good way to do this postage thing. Sending books by Media Mail rate is the most cost effective way to ship, but so far I haven't found a way to purchase the postage for Media Mail without having to stand in line at the post office.

I lucked out on my trip earlier this week—it was storming so bad there wasn't a single person in line when I got there! So far, after Amazon takes their cut, I've made $25, and once I ship the book that sold last night it will be almost $40. Not a gold mine by any means, but still, it's better than leaving them on a shelf or in a box taking up space and gathering dust.

Speaking of books, I keep meaning to write about the book I've been reading, Traveling with Pomegranates, by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor. It's a true mother-daughter story with the mother and daughter writing alternating chapters. The book is thoroughly engaging, which must be why I haven't finished it already (I've only been working on it for weeks). I identify more with the daughter who is grappling with depression and trying to find what she should do with her life, but give me another 15 years or so and I'll totally identify with the mother who is post-menopausal and trying to gracefully accept the transition, rediscovering her spirituality through Mary, St. Anne, and Demeter, while also finding that she and her daughter can be friends as well as mother and daughter. Anyhow, I'm loving this book and both mother and daughter are excellent writers.

Off for a cup off hot tea (coffee is gone) and to find more books to list on Amazon.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Savory Chicken Wild Rice

So the plan was to cook Cornish rock game hens for dinner tonight, and they seemed to be thawing fine when we left to run errands. But after we got home from Home Depot (for home tinkering stuff, furnace air filter, light bulbs for the bathroom light fixtures, and a replacement gasket thingy for the shower door), the post office (I started putting a bunch of books up for sale at Amazon last night and 5 had sold by this morning!), lunch (Phớ Gà), the Sports Basement (because at my last physical therapy appointment the therapist told me we weren't making much improvement and I would need to get some of the equipment we'd been using at the clinic for home—a hard foam roller and a balance ball), and Coldwater Creek (mom, sent me 2 lovely shirts that were unfortunately way to large that I needed to return), I found that only the top sides of the hens had truly defrosted.

So as Scoob started tinkering in his bathroom, I moved laundry to the dryer, put the new furnace air filter in place, did my work out, then my physical therapy workout, and wracked my brain for dinner and I came up with a brown and wild rice mushroom dish called Harvest Rice that I've made before and really like. Except I don't have any mushrooms. Or cranberries. So I adapted and made something the world has never seen the likes of before. Okay fine, I've never seen it before. But in my mind it sounded like it would work, so here's what I cooked for dinner—entirely experimental. I've at least tasted the finished product, so I can vouch that its palatable. (Though Scoob hasn't had his say yet. ***Update—Scoob likes it too! This from the man who hates onions.) I sure hope it's at least partially healthy.

Savory Chicken Wild Rice

    2 cups chicken broth
    ½ cup brown rice
    ½ cup wild rice
    3 Tbsps butter
    1 Tbsp brown sugar
    1 onion, chopped
    1 apple (I used a Fuji), chopped
    1 chicken breast, chopped into small (¼–½") pieces
    ½ tsp sage
    ¼ tsp kosher salt
    ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
    ⅛ tsp allspice

  1. Mix broth, brown rice, and wild rice in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes, until rice is tender and broth is absorbed.
  2. In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion, apple, and brown sugar. Saute until butter is absorbed an onions are translucent and soft.
  3. Add chicken, salt, pepper, sage, and allspice to skillet, stirring until chicken is cooked through. Reduce heat to low and cover.
  4. When rice is finished, stir rice mixture and almonds into skillet. Serve warm.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Losing Weight

We just lost 2,600 lbs and you can too… by selling your 1997 Acura Integra. I'm still all agog that he actually, finally did it. We took the car to CarMax in Modesto, CA (instead of the Sacramento location), signed in, waited about 10 minutes for a rep to see us. He talked us through the process and took us on a facility tour, about 20 minutes, and by the time we were back at his desk the appraiser was done inspecting the car and they offered Scoob a price well over the best Kelly Blue Book price.

All I can say is wow. If you ever need to sell your car and don't want to trade it in or go through the hassle of selling it to a private party, this is an awesome option. I doubt we could have gotten as much if we had sold to a private party.

Bullet Bundle

I've been meaning to write, even put it on my To Do list in my brand spankin' new Franklin Covey planner. I'll admit I procrastinated on Tuesday and Wednesday and then Thursday and Friday sort of got away from me. But I'm here now. And so I don't run on, and on, and on, I'm going to try and just hit the main points.
  • So yeah, I finally got my new Franklin Covey planner on Monday, well after the start of the year. I like to buy my planner refills in person because in my mind a planner is an organizational tool much like a purse, and I would rarely buy a purse sight unseen. So I made trips to all 3 of the Franklin Covey stores near us only to find that they've been closed down. Not all that surprising really given the economy, but all 3 of them? So anyhow, I ended up ordering online after the new year started and just got it.

  • I finished loading my entire CD collection into iTunes and I've discovered I can no longer sync my iPod because I now have 12G of music and only 8G of storage on the device. So now I'm slowly listening to everything in the library and weeding out the songs I really do not care for and placing songs into playlists. I'm looking into ways to sync just the playlists and not the entire library full of files. (If any of you know the secret to this, please share.)

  • Also, I need to decide what to do with 100± CDs because selling them at 20¢ a pop on Amazon just isn't worth the trouble. A few options: donate them to the county library, donate them to a co-worker's child's school for a fundraising auction, or give them away for just the cost of shipping here on the blog.

  • Reader Becca at Becca's Little World introduced me to an amazingly funny blog, Sleep Talkin' Man. The English husband talks in his sleep and the wife puts the random things he says up on a blog. Some of the funnier things I've read there:

Hey, don't... don't say anything. Why don't you put it in an email, then I can ignore it at my pleasure.

Shhhhhhhhh. shhhhhhhhh. I'm telling you: your voice, my ears. A bad combination.

Do you like what you see? No? Well, bloody look harder. Strain your eyes!

  • I know there was something funny (to me anyways) that I wanted to write about and I was so sure that it was so funny that I couldn't possibly forget so I didn't write myself a note about it and guess what…I plumb forgot what it was now.

Anyhow, as soon as I do my hair, we're off to Sacramento to sell the car. Whee!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Subbie Drama

And it's a darned good thing we didn't sell the car this weekend because mine wouldn't start when I tried to leave for work this morning. So I'm working from home today while I try to figure out what's wrong and make arrangements to get it fixed. My guess is the battery is dead dead dead.

There's no clicky noise when I try to start the car, so that makes me think the ignition switch could be a factor, but the alarm, radio, and door locks won't work either and the car is approaching 5 years old, so the battery is definitely a huge piece of the problem. Luckily we still have Scoob's car so we can try to jump it and run about for parts if we need to. (Not that we have any tools to do anything with the parts.)

I need to take the Subbie to the shop anyhow. Actually tried to do it before we left for North Carolina, but there was a good chance they'd need to keep the car overnight to finish the work and life was just a little hectic already approaching the holidays and I didn't want to risk not getting my car back before we left town and then getting stuck with "storage" fees.

And what needs to be done to the car besides the battery? Well I'm glad you asked. I'm about to roll 96,000 on the odometer and I haven't had the 90,000 mile service done. It's been about 9,000 since the last oil change and tire rotation. (I know, I know.) And I received a recall notice at the beginning of December. Apparently there's a fuel valve in the fuel tank reservoir that is not functioning as designed and they need to replace it.

As I understand it there's the fuel tank, and then there's also this reservoir so that when the tank is empty, it's not truly empty and the engine will draw fuel from this reservoir. Only problem is that the yahoos that designed this thing used a one-way fuel valve between the reservoir and the tank, so sure the engine can draw fuel from the reservoir but the reservoir can't refill because it's a one-way valve. So yeah, gotta get that fixed.

Okay, and my check engine light came on right around the same time I got the recall notice. The check engine light is on solid while the cruise control light flashes. I did a bit of digging on the internets and found that this is something of a common problem for the Subarus and apparently Subaru has had a very difficult time fixing it properly. Most people I've found online have had recurring issues with this.

So, since I have to take it in for service anyhow (and I know I can't pass smog tests if the check engine light is on) I'll at least give them the opportunity to try to fix it. If they can't, I may take it to a tech in Santa Rosa. A friend at work had the same problem with her Subbie and her mechanic eventually fixed the problem (after, like, 7 tries), but he's in Santa Rosa.

And, I really would still like to put a trailer hitch on the Subbie. But I'm thinking I'd better wait to see if they can fix the check engine light problem before I shell out the cash for a hitch. Because if they can't resolve the problem I'm going to need to get rid of the car.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Almost, But Not Quite

Well, we almost made it to Sacramento this weekend to sell Scoob's car. Almost, except that we never left the house. And it's mostly my fault. Okay not mostly—it's all my fault. First I chose to sleep in. Then I dragged my ass getting ready. But what really did it was the fact that neither of us had given any thought to what else we wanted to do as long as we were making the trip.

It's a 3 hour trip there and back and that's if traffic cooperates. And seeing as how ski season is in full swing and we'll be on the same road as all those people heading to Heavenly, Northstar, Boreal, Kirkwood, Sugar Bowl, Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, Sierra-at-Tahoe, Mt. Rose, and Diamond Peak (and those are just the slopes near Tahoe) you know traffic won't be cooperating. So anyhow, I wanted to make the trip seem less chore-like and plan something interesting to do as long as we were there, but neither of us really gave it any thought and that's why we didn't go.

Now we're planning on next weekend.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I've Got the Shutter Bug

I've discovered that I really like taking pictures. I smile a lot when I'm taking pictures. I'm a grinnin' fool, I tell you. Scoob laughs at me, but he likes to see me smile like that. I caught my reflection the other day while taking photos and I looked so happy. All the way happy deep into my eyes and I thought, "I know that girl. She has a woman's face with lines around the eyes and mouth, but I know that girl."

I kind of get lost in time when I've got my camera out and trying to capture something. It's like I can detach myself and temporarily step outside of life and everyday worries and just enjoy the moment. I'm getting better at gauging whether I should adjust the aperture setting or shutter speed to get the effect I want. I still can't take a good picture of a person worth a damn unless they're totally posing, but I'm working on it. And I think I'm getting better at composition and framing as well. At least that's what people have been telling me lately. And seeing as how it's not just Mom and Scoob telling me, I'm thinking it might actually be true. Could it be that maybe I've finally found a creative outlet?

I was totally jazzed when I was using that tripod to take pictures of Christmas lights. It was cold out that night, and I was shivering because I didn't grab a jacket, and my nose was drippy because I was just getting over being sick, and I loved every second of it. As I folded up the tripod and headed back into the house I thought "I could totally get into this" I was thinking about hiking, taking nature photos; exploring new cities, taking architectural photos; and visiting gardens for botanicals. So yeah, I think I've just added a tripod to my wish list.

Anyhoodle, here are a few more photos from our North Carolina trip:

We saw this flower at the florist stand in A Southern Season and I
couldn't resist. I tried describing Southern Season to someone as part
Sur la Table, part World Market, part Pasta Shop (gourmet foodie
store in Berkeley) but all of it on crack.

Clearly this was taken before I got my hands on a tripod.
I still like it though.

In addition to hosting Christmas Eve dinner,
our friends also had a desert and wine tasting party.

Thankfully, I took pictures of more than I ate.

Sparkly. (I so think that should be spelled sparkley,
but spellcheck disagrees.)

The Duke University chapel.

Stained glass in the chapel.

More stained glass. It takes such a slow shutter speed to get the
colors that it's very difficult to keep in focus without a tripod.

I think this is the Divinity building at Duke University.
I love the contrast of orange-ish stones and blue sky.

This could be more of the Divinity building (it's not labeled on the
campus map), but again with the orange stone and Carolina blue sky.
And the moon!

A Plague on Both Your PCs

Or all 3 of them. I'm not sure why that line from Romeo and Juliet came to mind but it did. And I shared. Aren't you happy?

We've been having computer problems again. It all started in December when the graphics card in Scoob's gaming computer started acting up. The folks at Falcon NW are great and have been taking care of him. Then there was the disc shattering experience with my Dell. Then Scoob got the replacement graphics card installed on his Falcon… and the hard drive took a dirt nap. Then, to top it all off, the sound card on Scoob's HP laptop just stopped working Sunday night. Kinda hard to telecommute and attend webinars without a sound card.

Scoob's Falcon is about 5 years old but got a complete upgrade in August. My Dell was new out of the box in August. And the HP laptop was a replacement from work for the last one that died, guess when—in August. I do hereby solemnly swear to avoid making major electronics acquisitions in August. You can't make me.

On a positive note, the repair tech from Dell came by today and replaced my disc drive and all the opticals. So at least we have one fully functioning computer in the house now. HP FedEx'ed parts for the laptop which got here this morning but aren't installed yet. And we're waiting for the new hard drive for the Falcon, which is currently sitting on Scoob's desk behind me with its casing open and guts spilling out. Charming sight.

Monday, January 4, 2010

For Your Information

Oh. My. God. This remix of the Slap Chop commercial came on tv last night and I was stunned. Like a deer in the headlights I was. That is until I started laughing uncontrollably, but even then I couldn't tear my eyes away. As if the original commercial weren't bad enough ("you're gonna love my nuts").

Ok, off to physical therapy and then work. I've had a solid 2 weeks off work and I wonder if I can find my way back to the office?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Scratch That Idea

So we did some running about today. See, I haven't done any grocery shopping since we got home and I think I've raided the pantry all I can so we went out for a Chinese lunch. There wasn't much in the way of Chinese restaurants while we were in NC—Thai and Japanese, but not much in the way of Chinese. Then we did the grocery shopping, which means I get to start cooking again. Yea me. But it also means we'll save money. So I guess there's that.

After unloading the groceries and putting things away, we headed to Walmart to make a couple returns/exchanges and walked out with a new Brita water filter pitcher. The one I'd been using for years had sprung a leak and it was just time to replace it.

Then I sat down to start listing items on Amazon for sale. First up, some of the CDs that I managed to get copied before the CD drive said enough already. I looked up 3 or 4 CDs and checked what other sellers were charging—20¢ plus $2.98 s/h. Seriously, 20¢? Okay, so forget that.

Then I looked up some of the Disney VHS tapes. I thought for sure these might be worth trying to sell, but no. The best price I saw was for the Sleeping Beauty Limited Edition—$1.98. And the worst? Oliver & Company for 1¢. A freakin' penny!

Okay. Clearly this is not going to be worth the effort. I'll get Scoob to bring up the boxes of books (maybe tomorrow) and take a look at those. But honestly, I'm not very hopeful. I'm now seriously thinking about donating everything to the library or Good Will and taking a write-off.

Okay, off to cook dinner. I totally scored at the store today and got flank steak Florentine pinwheels for about $4.00. So along with a salad, dinner should be delish.

I'll leave you with some of the pictures I took at the Sarah Duke Botanical Gardens, not that there was a whole lot to see with it being winter and all.