Sunday, November 30, 2008
But here she is, my niece Ainslie:
P.S. I've been buying her clothes. On Thursday night, when I went over to my brother's house to stay with Alex, I brought an outfit with a black top and white patterned pants. My sister-in-law, Becky, had already purchased the exact same outfit..for Boxing Day at my house.
Digg has a weekly podcast called Diggnation where the founder, Kevin Rose, talks about the pieces that were popular that week. His co-host, to my shock, is a guy named Alex Albrecht who was my friend and next door neighbor for two years in college.
Alex and I have not been in touch for years. The last time I saw him was at Louie’s wedding and that was..what, eight years ago? At the time he was in L.A. starting up an Improv Company. He was a techie whose heart was in entertainment and he seems to have found his niche. I am proud of him so I thought I should give him a plug. This is a recent clip:
I cannot seem to make the screen get centered here, but this is exactly the way I remember him. I would come home from class and go to Louie and Dean’s room to hang out before dinner and he would be there playing Mortal Combat III and mouthing off about stuff.
Alex also does The Totally Rad Show and I spent over an hour watching the Halloween Episode last night.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Fresh Market set up the pre-cooked carry out menu. You pre-order and then pick up on Wednesday. Reheat on Thursday - then send you home with an instruction sheet. I chose this one:
Traditional Holiday Dinner (Serves 6-8) - $79.99
10-12 lb Fully Cooked Turkey (regular or smoked)
3 pounds of Traditional Herb Stuffing
3 pounds of Yukon Gold Whipped Potatoes
30 ounces of Home-Style Turkey Gravy
1½ pounds of Cranberry Relish
1 dozen Soft Yeast Rolls
The store had trouble with my order in that they couldn't find it and had to pack it up while I was waiting and trying not to get killed by last minute grocery shoppers. That was a bit disappointing in that I hadn't just pre-ordered onsite - I had pre-paid onsite.
The food was really good. The turkey had to cook for a couple of hours, so a complete amateur might have had a bit of trouble. My mother followed the "time" of cooking, rather than using a thermometer, so she had trouble carving it..("The meat is just falling off the bone!") but it wasn't dried out or anything.
I heated up the potatoes in the conventional oven, but because I was required to make green bean casserole I ended up putting the stuffing in the microwave. It turned out just fine.
My grandfather was all.."Your cooking is better", but we were perfectly happy and the work was minimal.
There were other vegetables that we could have added on, and of course there were desserts. The basic meal was plenty for us. Good showing by Fresh Market.
I have purchased doggie ice cream. Doggie birthday cake. Fresh made doggie cookies of many varieties. I have generally determined that unless it it is a matter of health or other special needs, there is no reason to spend serious money on dog treats. I have never seen a dog that wasn't perfectly happy with that which can be purchased at PetsMart.
I have drawn the line. I thought I saw a 100 calorie treat pack while standing in line at the store. I was not about to get out of line to satisfy my shocked curiousity. Because that is what the Internet is for..and here it is.
I am as lazy as they come, but this is ridiculous.
Friday, November 28, 2008
I was thinking that I like Fellowship the best of the Hobbit films. I am not sure if it is because it is less dark, or because I appreciate the character development.
Then I thought of the first Harry Potter film. Again, I like it the best, so far. It is less dark. But it wasn't just introducing characters. It was introducing a whole new universe on screen. To a John Williams soundtrack.
Sadly, a whole bunch of our state landmarks are closing - including Carl Sandberg's birthplace and one of the Frank Lloyd Wright houses downstate. I am ashamed of myself for two reasons:
First, the article in the Travel section of USA Today was the first I have heard of these closings. And second, I do not recall having ever visited a single one of those historic sites. Although the Lincoln Log cabin might have been part of our 7th grade capitol trip.
This is the List, and the towns that will lose the tourist traffic:
_Castle Rock State Park, Oregon
_Lowden State Park, Oregon
_Illini State Park, Marseilles
_Hidden Springs State Forrest, Strasburg
_Moraine View State Park, Leroy
_Weldon Springs State Park, Clinton
_Wolf Creek State Park, Windsor
HISTORIC SITES CLOSING:
_Dana-Thomas House, Springfield
_Lincoln log cabin near Charleston
_Fort de Chartres, Randolph County
_State center at Bishop Hill, Henry County
_Carl Sandburg birthplace, Galesburg
_Hauberg Indian Museum, Rock Island County, but the adjacent natural area will stay open.
_Jubilee College, near Peoria
_Apple River Fort, Elizabeth
_Fort Kaskaskia, Randolph County
_Pierre Menard home, Randolph County
You can read the full text of the article here.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I am in line at security at O'Hare. Security gives me a "Is this your bag?"
Him: "Do you have any sharp objects in this bag?"
Me: (Holy crap!) I don't think so.
Him: (Pulls something out of the bag) "What is this?"
Me: (Melting into a puddle on the floor) ...staple remover...please go ahead and throw them out...
Him: Are there any more?
Me: I think there are a total of four.
He pulls out all four and hands them to another guy who takes them somewhere. They are brought back and put into my bag. I am dismissed.
I told Dwight that would happen when he gave me those things in Raleigh. He said it wouldn't be a problem. Well, not at his airport, I guess.
When I arrived in Fargo, I told the story to Kim, who picked me up at the airport. She said:
"If you took those through security in Fargo, they would have been confiscated and you would have been strip searched. We will mail them back to you."
Security guard walks up to me:
"I'm sorry about this, but we are on camera, so I have to tell you. All photography must be cleared by the Building in advance."
I asked who I should speak with in the office and he gave me a name. I walked over to the office. Assistant manager lady came out and I introduced myself. I explained that I had taken three pictures for our employee newsletter and understood from Security that was a problem.
She said, "We need to know in advance. You could be anybody taking pictures for any reason."
I understood "any reason" to mean "so that you can blow up the place".
"OK," I said. "So it is a security issue, as opposed to a copyright issue."
"It could also be a copyright issue," she replied. "What are you going to use them for?"
Apparently, using them for an employee newsletter is fine as long as the newsletter is only for "use in our space". So sending it to our employees outside of Chicago, "would have to go through corporate first".
"It isn't worth it. I will delete them right now."
I was going to say something nice about our Landlord to all of our employees and all of our retirees. Now they are all going to hear it on the Grapevine. Because I stood and shouted about it in our lobby.
The other thing I learned today is how our receptionist knows everything.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
So I decided yesterday to put the tree up since I wasn’t going to want to do it in a week and Alex is with me.
He says, “Daddy, your job is to put the tree up.” (He’s all excited about having jobs and stuff since going to preschool.)
I said, “Okay, what’s your job?”
“I’m going to eat this cookie….. and watch.”
Sunday, November 23, 2008
McDonald's sued after nude pics lost in phone go online.
Yeah. The AP is running the story of a guy that left his phone at a McD's. Apparently, he called and the employees said they would "secure" it for him. The naked photos of his wife show up online. Because they were on the phone.
So he is suing McDonald's for $3 million dollars because they had to move away.
I was in college when the famous McDonald's coffee case was decided:
Woman was driving with a McDonald's coffee cup between her legs. Coffee spilled and she was burned, admittedly pretty badly, then sued McDonald's for not telling her the coffee could due that. She won the case.
I wanted her arrested for driving that way. And being stupid. And cashing in on being stupid.
Anyway, if the guy wanted to sue the jerk who put the naked pictures online, it would be one thing. But unless the store manager put the pictures up on McDonald's corporate web site, I think this is utterly ridiculous. Awarding him a dime is just encouraging the madness.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Even I am tired of the people lecturing him on statistics of pure-bred dogs in shelters and how many hypo-allergenic dogs can be found on Petfinder.com.
We are talking about two little girls that were promised a puppy. They just want a puppy! You want to make this a teaching moment?
What I hope the President-Elect teaches his daughters is how to take care of them. To take the responsibility seriously. To understand that any family pet will be dependent on them for its physical and emotional needs. That a dog must be properly trained and supervised so that it is never a threat to other people or pets. So that it will not run off into the street and get lost or hurt. That a pet is part of the family for the rest of its life.
This is the article that started my rant. And this is the picture it printed of the President-Elect and the rescued dog being used in the campaign to shut down the puppy mills.
This afternoon she wanted to put up the Christmas tree. I wanted to start the cleaning and avoid the madness. But nothing sounded good to me because if we do hard core cleaning now - the kind that involves moving furniture and electric scrub brushes and steam cleaners - it will just have to be done again before Christmas. At the same time, if we do the vacuuming and dusting now, she will just want to do it again Thursday morning.
Here is what I came up with:
That, ladies and gentlemen, is my pantry. It is cleaned out for real about every five years. I know this because the oldest expiration date I found on a can of soup was 2003. And the clean out time before that was when Geoffrey was still living in the house, so it was either 1998 or 1999.
Someday, I will remember to do a "Before" pic. But not today. And now I am tired.
"This is a good a place as any for me to trot out my reason why I think Chicago is so special: It’s the largest city in the US that is truly an American city. New York and Los Angeles are great, don’t get me wrong — you all know I’m from the LA area — but I think of them as international cities, with New York looking toward Europe and Africa, and Los Angeles looking toward Asia and Latin America. Chicago, on the other hand, looks out toward the rest of the U.S.; it’s got a unique sensibility that’s both cosmopolitan and heartland. I would go so far as to say it’s the Great American City. You can argue with me about that, if you like, but you’re not going to get too far."
We know the Eastern Establishment and the West Coast..however you label them...look down on us. "Flyover" territory. I remember a radio DJ on a rant a couple of years ago. Saying something like, "There are too many people here, anyway. We don't need you jokers." Of course, that guy wouldn't count me in the club, seeing as how I live outside city limits.
Anyway. Scalzi's comment - particularly about the Midwestern Sensibility - is probably why I can't seem to bring myself to leave.
That and I am 20 minutes from a direct flight to anywhere. But this is what I really want to tell everyone on the Internet:
The Obama family did not make Chicago cool. They just swung the spotlight over for a minute.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I am not kidding. I am there about once a year and if it weren’t for the cold…the kind of cold that makes you unable to breathe…I would want to live there.
Every person you meet is nice.
Last year when I checked into the hotel, the lady at the desk told me that the restaurant was on the second floor. I said, “Thanks, but I’m just going to order a pizza.” She handed me a menu, saying that Domino’s would deliver to the hotel, but this place was better.
Someone from the office always picks me up at the airport and shuttles me around for the entire time I am there. They take me out to eat. I should be taking them out to eat, because I am working the expense account anyway. But they won’t let me. Something about being a guest.
Last year, I was there early Thanksgiving week. I was invited to go to the tree lighting ceremony. Tree lighting. Like in Chicago but without 9,000,000 people.
I do not remember ever seeing a Starbucks or a Lexus in Fargo.
A couple of years ago, there was a scuffle over who would take me to the airport and buy me lunch. Because the airport restaurant has the best beer cheese soup. This year, when I noted that if I flew out early, I would miss the beer cheese soup, my colleague said that they sell it by the quart and someone would pick some up for me.
At 9:30 this morning, I went flying into the Fargo airport, in my urban uniform of black, black and black trying to hop on standby on the 10:37 flight to O’Hare. I was the person that I hate. Guy at the counter told me to breathe - there were seven seats left and I would have time to spare. He was right. He knows he was right because he was also the guy that printed my ticket at the gate. And then the guy that boarded us.
Every single person in the security line was in a good mood. There was laughter. In the security line. TSA guy hands me my bag and says, “Wow. It is really busy today.” Which is when I thought I wanted to live there.
Then I looked at the board and remembered that Fargo has direct flights to exactly three cities. I couldn’t really live there. But it is a very nice place to visit.
This book was originally published in 2005 and it won the Pulitzer. So color me happy that the aftermath of the election seems to have re-ignited an interest.
Because seriously, everything else on that list was involving those kiddie-Vampire books.
She notes that the name on the ticket is not the same as the name on his i.d. Apparently he is called by his middle name. She asks for a different i.d. He kinda rolls his eyes and takes out another i.d. card. This one confirms the initials, but not the full name. She asks for another piece of i.d.
I can see his ticket from where I am standing. He is a 1K flyer. I may have mentioned that my friend the retired meeting planner is only at 830,000-some lifetime miles. 1K flyers do not do things that they remotely think will get the held up in security. I think this chick is being unreasonable.
On the other hand, people that go by their middle name should be used to this problem and make accomodations.
Then I hear her say, "No, sir, I am not kidding."
Holy crap, dude. Did you just say, "Are you kidding? " to the TSA? Are you an idiot? Now I am on her side.
He was pulled out of line until they could talk to a supervisor and I moved on. The guy was on my flight back to Chicago, so it must not have been a tragedy, but still.
Friday, November 14, 2008
There is a …I’ll go ahead and call him Senior…Asian gentleman that I have seen at the Library a couple of times in the last month or so. He reminded me of the grandfather of my childhood friend Augie.
I had never heard him speak, (which makes sense, because we were in the Library) so I wasn’t sure whether he spoke English. But tonight, he came over to look at the used books and started a small pile on the desk.
He asked if we were doing a holiday sale. His English was accented, but clear. Like he was raised in another country, but had been here for 20 or 30 years. I gave him the dates, December 6 and 7. I said that if I were him, I’d go on Saturday because the really good books would likely be gone by Sunday. He said, “Yes, but don’t you do a clear-out on Sunday?” No. No “$2 to fill a bag” deals here.
“Well, then I will take your advice.” He weeded out a couple of books from his pile and wanted to buy the remaining three. I checked the prices. He said, “Oh, they are only the $1 books. I check because I am cheap.” We laughed.
I took his money, gave him change and put his books in a bag. I noticed his clothes – very modern American, brightly colored. Why had I wondered whether he spoke English? Was it because of Augie’s grandfather (who didn’t)?
Why am I telling you this? Check out what he bought:
- A modern mystery/thriller. I forget the author’s name, but it was of the Kellerman variety
- A memoir by Bob Zmuda (not 100% sure I have that name right) about his friendship with Andy Kaufman
- A history of the New York Yankees
I suppose that the books could be gifts..but I rather think that I simply misjudged this person.
I went to Famous Footwear to buy new gym shoes last night. Again, they had the Buy One Get One Half Off sale, so I went to find some new gym shoes for my nephew. This is how I deal with my urge to not pass up a sale and still avoid spending way more money than I should. What size was he again? I called my brother’s phone:
Me: Tell me again what size shoe Alex wears.
Me: Hm. There is a cool pair of size 8. Oh! And that 7 ½ is even cooler.
Him: Maybe the 8 is better.
Me: Are you sure?
Him: No! Why are you calling me! Call Becky!
So I call the house and talk with my sister-in-law. She validated everything he said. He was growing out of his shoes and the 8 would be better. Fine. Black and blue with Velcro. (When should we be teaching him to tie his shoes?)
At the counter, the guy asks me if I want to donate $3 to the March of Dimes. Famous Footwear will triple my points or something. Very quickly, I do this in my head:
- March of Dimes really isn’t my charity
- I never use those rewards certificates in time, anyway
- $3 is more than the usual “rounding up” or “extra dollar” donation
- I am already spending a bunch
- If they are putting their money where their mouth is, I should, too
- ‘Tis the season or something
So I told the guy to go right ahead and add the extra $3.00. Ringing it up, he said:
“You know, I have worked retail for a lot of years. Stores try to collect for charity all of the time and I never saw it working. Until I came to Glenview.”
Yeah. This is often a stupid town. But it’s my stupid town and it was nice to hear we are getting one thing right.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
The answer is no. Paper products are not a good deal.
Milk is good. Meat (as long as you are going to eat it) is good. Frozen foods are ok, but only if you have the storage space (and for my mini pizza bagels, I make room). Their ready to bake pizza is good, but I literally cannot fit it into my oven.
Electronics at Costco are a good deal. I normally pass it up for 12 months/no interest at Best Buy, but perhaps those TVs are worth another look.
The best deal at Costco, which is no surprise to me, is good booze:
"Warehouse clubs sell more Bordeaux than fine-wine shops," says Natalie MacLean, the editor of NatDecants.com, a wine education site. Costco recently offered a magnum of Chateau d'Yquem Sauternes 1997 for $500 -- $300 cheaper than the price on WineAccess.com.
You can read the entire article here.
While doing a look through, I saw there was blood on Zachary’s feathers. Zachary is a female Goffin’s cockatoo and a feather picker. I took her upstairs to the bathroom with a towel and some supplies to look more closely.
When a bird breaks a blood feather, it is important to remove the entire feather shaft. They can be painful, cause more damage to the skin and even get infected if they aren’t removed. The blood on Zachary’s feathers wasn’t dripping, but it was fresh. I couldn’t tell where it was coming from. Some on one wing, some on the other and some on her butt. I called our director, Rich. He is a cop and was on duty at the time. He suggested that I bring her to him at the police station. With a towel. And the fancy surgical tweezers (hemostat?).
Zachary went into the carrier like it was all a big adventure. She was dancing in the car. Dancing. This bird clearly has no fear.
There were five broken feathers so small that I couldn’t even see them. Rich removed them all, with kisses and cuddles for the bird the entire time. How does he do that?
I’m not good at this part.
Anyway. Zachary must have bumped her butt on the way back because she started bleeding again. I stuck around to make sure it was clotted before putting her to bed and going home. You can read more about Zachary here.
Monday, November 10, 2008
My best answer is that most of us will..sort of. But if you don’t submit one, we will definitely think less of you. Here is my take:
Will I read a cover letter all the way through before looking at a résumé? Probably not. But I will read it if something on the résumé strikes me as odd. Like if you had a break in employment – a cover letter is a great tool to explain where you’re coming from. Like:
“For the last three years, I have been out of the country with my family while my wife was working an overseas assignment. While unemployed, I spent the time by….and kept up with the industry by…” Can you find a way to make that experience sell you as a better employee?
Or if you are changing fields and are willing to consider a “lower level” position in order to begin a new career. Use the cover letter to explain.
My favorite point from the article:
“The more personal the letter is to our business, the better. You wouldn't believe how many times we've seen letters that are glaringly obvious canned messages," Renzi muses. "Sometimes candidates even leave in other companies' names or positions." “
Or the title of the position is incorrect. Or the source of the referral is incorrect. Spend the time on each cover letter.
Recently, I read a cover letter where the applicant listed all of the requirements I placed in the posting, in bulleted form, and wrote a sentence on how she met the requirements. I had never seen that before and it won points with me.
So how important is it to win points with HR? Depends on the company, depends on the HR professional. In my company, it depends on whether the hiring manager cares what I think. Some really want my guidance and some want to handle it all themselves. In some companies, if HR doesn’t like it, the résumé goes no further. And yes, there are HR people that will not let one pass if a word is misspelled.
It doesn’t require very much time to take the process seriously. So take it seriously. And no phone calls, please.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
It is time for the flannel sheets. Topped with the comforter covered by a flannel duvet. Topped by the aforementioned red quilt. The purpose of the quilt is to have something light weight and easily washable at the surface to soak up all of the cat fur.
Winter is also when Spooky the Cat goes from wanting a fresh towel on his Pillow Bed (every three days) to wanting a fresh blanket on his bed (every three days):
I flashed a camera in his face and he didn't even blink. Seriously - do cats hibernate?
Friday, November 7, 2008
Girl was whining, lady was ignoring her and looking at her phone. I think they had just come from one of those Building a Teddy Bear stores.
Suddenly, the girls says, "It came out!!"
I look at her. She is holding a bloody napkin. She had just lost a tooth.
There was a time when I would have been really grossed out. But then she is saying that she has lost "four on top and four on the bottom". And I am trying to gauge how old she is, and how long before my nephew starts losing teeth. And what is the Tooth Fairy's going rate these days?
Then she says, "It feels very awkward in my mouth." And I wonder how old I was when I started using words like "awkward" - because I am pretty sure it was high school.
My brother and sister in law are expecting their daughter in a few weeks and I think I have a pretty good handle on the aunt thing. I'm still not sure I can bring myself to build teddy bears.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I was in my early 20’s when, in a moment of brilliance, my father said this:
“You are an adult. You are the client. The dentist cannot touch you without your consent. If you are uncomfortable with your treatment, you get up out of the chair and walk out the door.”
Is that allowed? I thought.
Of course it is allowed. Easier said than done, though. In the end, I found a dentist about my own age (so as to avoid any subconscious subservience to the patriarchy) who was very patient in explaining exactly what we were doing, how long it would take and never starting work until I was absolutely ready. He specifically said that a second shot of Novocain was a perfectly reasonable request. Sometimes I need it and sometimes I don’t.
Yesterday, I was talking with a co-worker – say in her mid-20s. She has bronchitis and was literally coughing up blood before she went to the doctor. She said that she has asthma and hadn’t been taking the preventative treatment her doctor prescribed because it made her feel worse. Then she said that she told her doctor she was taking it.
“Dude.” I said, using my stern HR voice. “Lying to your doctor is not cool.”
She hesitated for a minute. I think it was my tone of voice which wasn’t my most pleasant. She said that she knew it, but the doctor didn’t listen when she told him she didn’t like the drug. He and the nurse both said she had to give it more time. Maybe they were right, but it didn’t feel right to her.
After the call, I decided that I had just made it worse. Poor girl is feeling sick, and I understand asthma to be a pretty damn scary disease anyway. My point hadn’t been about the treatment, it had been about lying to the doctor. So I called her back and gave her my dad’s speech. Then I said, “And if you still feel uncomfortable, you call me back and I will help you find a new doctor.”
I hope she felt better. I hope she feels empowered to take control of her own health. Because seriously, people. It is an important, and expensive service that doctors provide. Don’t stay with one that doesn’t listen to you, doesn’t hear you, and doesn’t include you in making decisions about your health. And for the love of all that’s Holy, do not stay with one that makes you feel worse.
You are the client. And there are plenty of doctors out there (assuming you have the insurance, but that is a different rant).
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Then. Kiwi decided she likes carrots. And green beans.
And Daisy took a bath in her water dish:
And because I was having a hard time looking at the screen and not having a heart attack, I finished these:
And then the Bears won.