Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What's Wrong Here?

A very observant court reporter spotted the following in a Wal-Mart, and she was compelled to post it on my favorite message board.

Can I tell you this sort of thing drives me nearly insane? It makes my eyes itch just to look at it. What makes this even worse is that this isn't some temporary, handwritten sign, the kind of thing where errors like this are common. What makes this so bad is that it's a purposely-ordered and paid-for typo.
It reminds me of the time when, in my old job in purgatory, my boss got involved in a "Conference on Collaboration." The idea (I vaguely recall) was to get people to work together and recognize opportunities for networking and sharing resources on whatever projects they were doing. Part of my job involved putting all of the responses into a database and later printing name badges for attendees.
I don't remember how I did it, but I completely misidentified the bigwig speaker. Never mind that I worked my a@@ off on everything my boss handed to me for that conference in addition to my regular duties, that glaring error negated every ounce of my hard work. I might as well have been on vacation for several months.
And that is one of many reasons why I am an independent contractor.
(Thank you, Aminah, for posting this photo!)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

No, I haven't quit blogging

Hallie keeps poking me with a stick to make sure I'm still alive in the blogging world. I am, but I am still too busy at the moment to relax and write something fun.

Really, reallyreallyreally, I'll be back at it soon. I'm almost caught up.

I think.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Lots of Stuff Going On

I've been a bum in the Blogger world, I know. My plate has been kind of full, so playing on here gets shoved to a back burner.

In summary:

My friend E's mom died two nights ago and, for a number of reasons I won't visit here, this is really weighing on my mind. I'll just say that my heart aches for E, her brother, and their families, and I'm even more saddened by the unnecessary aggravations being forced upon their grieving hearts. I want to be ready for E at a moment's notice to do whatever it takes to make things easier. Their mom was always so sweet and welcoming to me when I was a dorky, chocolate-peddling preteen, and I'll post a bit about that later.

My Dear Old Softheaded -- er -- Softhearted Dad is getting a pacemaker at the end of the month. I know a pacemaker isn't such a big thing these days, but Hon, my stepmother, adores him and hates to think of him needing surgery of any kind.

I swallowed a huge portion of my pride and turned a chunk of my backlog over to a scopist. It was a matter of survival in terms of my professional reputation. Things were getting too stale, and pretty soon clients were going to start screaming. I still have transcripts to do, but now I feel like I can breathe a bit.

On a brighter note, I finally picked the Pacifica up today. Remember when I got rear-ended back in June? It took the adjustor almost a week to look at my car, and it took Chrysler three weeks to get the replacement bumper for our car.

And now I need to get my nose back to the grindstone.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

What Keeps 'em Alive

Last weekend I did not enjoy my wretched stay in a hotel room with two atomic children.

When we arrived home Saturday, Precious Daughter was subtly trying to schmooze her way into going to Becky's party anyway. When she realized I wasn't going to budge, she wrote the following:


Dear Becky
Wher sorry we cuoldint come to your party. It is all becases of Billy! Here the story. We were so good untel tonight. He keeps buging and buging and hruting me! So we couldint come.

Love, (Precious Daughter)

Yep. She even had the little heart in there too. The Oracle is expected to deliver this note the next time he sees the party host.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sin in a Box

If you are one of the lucky few blessed with a Trader Joe's located within fifty miles of your home, I suggest you get a box of these from the freezer section:

I tried doing a cutie post of how-to pictures, but they didn't do this glorious little cake any justice, and when I tried dressing it up with a little whipped cream, it turned out that the container was empty and it spurted droplets of cream all over my cake instead of nice little clusters about the edge as I wanted.

This is truly the best thing I never baked. Packed two per box, the cakes are maybe three inches in diameter, possibly four. Remove the plastic wrap, loosen the cake from it's cup and upend it on a plate. Leaving the cup over the cake, zap it in the microwave for 45 seconds.

When you remove the cup, it doesn't look all that interesting, really, just a little hockey-puck cake on a plate. In fact, the cake itself reminds me a bit of the texture of a Drake's Devil Dog. When you hit it with a fork, though, this wonderful warm chocolately "lava" oozes forth, rendering the fork wielder incapable of coherent speech.

That is, until the fork wielder looks at the side of the box and spouts expletives at the calorie content, which is something like 360 calories per hockey puck. The Oracle is notorious with this. Why look at the lack-of-nutrition label if you're eating something that's known to be unhealthy and fattening? Just the name, "Chocolate Lava Cake" should give you a good indication that this is not a lo-cal dessert.

But, for all its sin, the cakes do not contain any artificial flavors, hydrogenated oils, or chemical preservatives. When you read the ingredients, it's all stuff you can recognize and pronounce.

One Crazy, Wasted Weekend

I have to keep this short, because I still have a truckload of work to do. I've been plowing my way through transcripts. The Oracle left on Wednesday night for work and wasn't returning until Saturday, because, even though he finished work Friday night, he was volunteering all day Saturday. Where he volunteers is midway between home and his work destination. It only made sense for him to stay overnight there instead of driving all the way home and going out there Saturday morning.

By Friday afternoon, I couldn't spend another minute on the computer. I really felt like I was going to crack. I packed a bag, took the Shedder to the kennel, and the kids and drove an hour to meet The Oracle in the town where he was volunteering.

Our plan was to stay overnight, follow The Oracle to his volunteer site on Saturday and enjoy that for a few hours before driving home Saturday afternoon to attend a friend's pool party.

We met The Oracle, and the kids were thrilled to see him (and he them, of course). We enjoyed a nice Italian dinner and returned to the hotel to put our feet up.

By 10:00 or so, the kids were still bouncing off the walls, jumping between the two beds, and just being generally loud and obnoxious. Despite our best efforts, they would not settle down, and I finally had to resort to threats and coercion just to make them stay in bed and be semi-quiet. Threats included skipping all fun with Daddy and going straight home Saturday morning, and no pool party.

And that's what we did. Precious Daughter didn't say one word the whole way home. Mighty B. tried starting a conversation with me. (Are you happy, mommy? No. Are you grouchy, mommy? Very.) He quickly discovered the wisdom of silence.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Scenes from Barbie's Dream House

I heard the following bit of dialogue drift from my daughter's room:

"...Call 1-800-dot-com! You must be 18 or older to order!"

Do you think she's watching too much Disney Channel?

Memories of a Chessboard

I have always loved/hated the game of Chess.

I admire other players' ability to plot and plan and change strategies depending on an opponent's moves. The Oracle enjoys Chess, and in an old job he had a chessboard set up where he and his opponent would play a game for days at a stretch, each taking his turn when an opportunity arose.

I also vividly remember two men playing a game of chess in a park in Germany, using gigantic pieces that had to be picked up by the player and walked across the chessboard to its destination. I loved that chessboard, and I loved watching them play despite my inability to follow why they were doing what they did.

I stink at chess. I have never been able to focus on the "bigger picture" my sixteen pieces created, let alone think several moves into the future on what I wanted to do. As a result, I've only won one game of chess in my entire life, and I suspect that my victory had much to do with mercy (or possibly fear) from my opponent. If memory serves, I viciously struck him out of pure frustration when he captured my queen. (Okay; so maybe it was fear.)

The mere thought of Chess turns my stomach into an anxious, roiling pit of acid. I believe my Chess Stress began when I was young, maybe nine or ten or eleven years old. My fiercely competitive and startlingly brilliant sister, V, learned how to play and she taught me, but I never "got" the idea of the strategy behind it even though I understood the basic moves of each piece and the object of defending my king while cornering hers.

(On a side note, I sucked at "Stratego" for the same reasons.)

Every game we played (she always played black) never simply ended with the checkmate of my king. She could have cornered and captured me in very few moves, but she chose to decimate my army by capturing nearly every piece and surrounding me. No, a swift victory wouldn't do at all. No, because we had to play "Castles" afterward. My humiliation wasn't yet complete.

In "Castles," we each had half of the chessboard divided at the fold, 32 squares each. Once my king surrendered, he was sent back to his castle in shame along with the few remaining pieces I had when it was over, usually amounting to little more than a few pawns and a Knight or a Rook (the castle). My captured pieces were usually slaves on V's side of the board, and my king spent his "Castle" days bargaining and wheedling and whining for their release. My only true bargaining chips were the few pieces I captured during the game and my "real estate" (my 32 squares on the board), and I usually ended up trading my land to V for prisoners. And I never got them all released, either. And would it matter if they were? At least the prisoners had a place to go while those who were free were now homeless.

To this day the suggestion of a game of chess makes me twitch. It's so bad that when my kids stumbled upon a chess set in the basement and asked about the game, I fought the urge to scuttle it into a nearby trash can.

I have never and have no intention of ever partaking in a Chess battle with The Oracle. We've been married for almost 17 years, and I can't bear the thought of revealing that blighted bit of my psyche. It might just be grounds for custody and an annulment.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Uh-oh. No Turkey

A couple years ago, The Oracle talked me into a new tradition called "Turkey in July." You see, The Oracle loves roasted turkey, probably more than any other meal on earth. A couple years ago, I let him talk me into an all-day-oven event because he was practically dreaming about a Thanksgiving meal. It must've been heat stroke that let him get away with it.

This would be the third year for a July turkey, but my usual favorite spot (Whole Foods) for buying a turkey is turkey-less. How can you have no turkey? They don't even have turkey pieces. I mean, I could just as easily stuff and roast a turkey breast and roast skin-on pieces if I could get them, and I probably wouldn't need to have the oven on for six hours, either. It's a win-win, right?

If the Stupid Acme doesn't have a frozen turkey lurking in the bottom of a freezer case, I will never hear the end of it. The Oracle will not have his turkey dinner, and I will suffer months of I-told-you-to-order-it-in-advance lecture. (Because he did tell me to order it, and I kept forgetting.)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Burnin' the Midnight Oil

Why do attorneys want hurry-up transcripts when a holiday approaches? I have two days to complete decent-sized transcript, plus I have to catch up on what I couldn't work on while waiting for a new adapter.

- - - - - -

I finally got the damage estimate: $1,850. State Farm tells me the check is in the mail. The dealer tells me that most of the parts will arrive in a day or two, but others will take a week to ten days, possibly longer because of Independence Day. I keep taking deep breaths and telling myself to be thankful that work can finally commence.

- - - - - -

Pet Peeve:

It is not "Fourth of July." It is Independence Day. The why is what's important, friends, not the when. With the exception of 9/11, we don't observe "The Eleventh of November" or "The Last Monday in May."

And unless you're trying to speak in code over a kid's head, you refer to the day as B's Birthday and not "The (N)th of (Whatever)."

Every country has a July 4th. We celebrate Independence Day.