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Showing posts from 2009

Um, Dawnie, Not From Iowa

The Moscow Mule kicked off the vodka craze in the United States during the 1950s, when gin was the preferred "white" (clear) liquor. The cocktail was invented in 1941 by John G. Martin of G.F. Heublein Brothers, Inc., an East Coast spirits and food distributor, and John "Jack" Morgan, President of Cock 'n' Bull Products which produced ginger beer and proprietor of the Cock 'n' Bull Tavern, a bar on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles popular with celebrities. George Sinclair (2007) quotes from an article run in the New York Herald Tribune:

The mule was born in Manhattan but "stalled" on the West Coast for the duration. The birthplace of "Little Moscow" was in New York's Chatham Hotel. That was back in 1941 when the first carload of Jack Morgan's Cock 'n' Bull ginger beer was railing over the plains to give New Yorkers a happy surprise... Three friends were in the Chatham bar, one John A. Morgan, known as Jack, presi…

Getting Ready for 144

I still can't believe I signed up for the 144 Books in 2010 challenge at Goodreads.com. That is a LOT of books. However, I aim to start out the year with a bang. I have three books ready to start on Jan. 1 and, last night, I put another 5 on my library request list. I should get those in a few days.

The first three books should be easy enough to go through. The Rocket Scientist and I are going to Rocky Point for New Year's and staying at Annette's. I'm thinking TRS will spend a lot of time practicing his guitar while Annette and I hit the books. In between partying like Rock Stars, of course.

And, I'll have the ride home to read, too. That's a good 4 hour chunk of time. Fortunately, as long as his iPod is the one playing, TRS is good for driving without conversation.

Whew! Not an Axe Murderer

I've been hearing this weird squeak in the house for weeks. I suspected George and tried to track her whenever I heard the noise but she always seemed to be in a different place in the house by the time I found her. It was really bugging me so I started doing some subtle spying on her. Because if it wasn't her, then it was a ghost or an axe murderer. The former wouldn't bother me but the latter...well, I'd have to move for sure at the very least. Assuming I survived.

I finally caught her in the act tonight. She's opening the bottom door of the linen closet and, I'm assuming, crawling in there to nap. I busted her with her paw under the door and pulling it open. There's a relatively new cat sized space in there since I took out an extra pillow to use on my bed which is no doubt an appealing hiding spot.

The strange thing is that the door doesn't remotely squeak when I open or close it so I'm not sure how she's making the noise. Unless she&…

Christmas Gift - Score!

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New Dude announced a while ago that he found me an awesome Christmas present. That was a pretty bold prediction since this is our first gift giving occasion together so he had no history from which to judge.

Christmas Eve found him carrying in several packages for me, one which was clearly a booze bottle. I suspected a nice bottle of wine but had no idea what was in the other packages.

The first thing I opened was a mini Jimmie Johnson calendar. Sweet! That was a good gift for me but not awesome. The next box, however, revealed the awesome.

Four copper Moscow Mule mugs!

What? You don't know what those are? Well, let me tell you, they are the key component to making a refreshing, kick your butt drink. The bottle turned out to be Vodka and another package a 4 pack of Ginger Beer and he didn't bother wrapping the bag of limes.

Here's the recipe:
1 1/2 shot ounces of Vodka
juice from 1/2 lime
ice
Ginger Beer to fill the cup
Lime slice to decorate

So pretty!

The copper mugs get inc…

Movie Review - Hellboy II: The Golden Army

I wish I had taken a nap instead.

Book Review - The Accidental Billionaires

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The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal by Ben Mezrich


My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was so excited to get this book. I love Facebook and business stories and really enjoyed Mezrich's Bringing Down The House so I thought I would whip right through it.

But, I didn't.

In fact, it took me months to finish the book. I suspect one reason for that - Mezrich wasn't able to interview Mark Zuckerberg, the programming genius behind Facebook. There were many interesting stories to tell from the beginning of thefacebook developed for Harvard students that eventually turned into Facebook. There were also multiple apparent betrayals of business partners that led to at least one huge lawsuit payout. The common denominator to all aspects of the tale was Zuckerberg.

While still an interesting story, without Zuckerberg's take on it all, it felt incomplete.

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Maybe Now You'll Believe Me

I get a lot of crap about how I let my cat be a demon kitty. "You should get a spray bottle and squirt George every time she does something naughty" is a common piece of advice. Yeah, the thing is that water doesn't seem to bother her a bit.

Point of evidence: she jumped up on the bathroom counter tonight and draped her tail in the sink. I washed my hands and, in doing so, thoroughly drenched her tail and most of her butt.

Did she move or squawk or even give me a dirty look?

Nope.

She waited until I turned off the light and left the bathroom before she even jumped down. Then, she spent about 15 seconds on a quick grooming of her hindquarters before she was back to trying to crawl all over me.

That water thing just doesn't work.

Random Act of Kindness

New Dude and I were at Sign of the Whale watching the stupid Packers game on Sunday. (The game was stupid, not the Packers.) A woman sat down to me at the bar and asked me where I bought my thumb ring. I told her a friend bought it for me about 15 years ago. She said she liked it because she was into silver and showed me her hands. She must have had 8 silver rings on.

I told her and New Dude that I was sad because I lost my other ring when I was shopping with my Mom the day before. It was my peace symbol ring and I'm a tree hugging liberal so I really missed it.

A few minutes later, the woman tapped me on the arm and handed me a peace symbol pendant. She said, "You need a peace sign." I was taken aback and asked her if she was sure about giving it to me. She said, "Yes, I bought a whole bunch of pendants at the swap meet today and they didn't cost a lot." She then showed me a baggie full of silver charms and pendants.

I thanked her and was really tou…

I Would Be Sternly Spoken To...

My friend does the best out of office messages. While I find them quite amusing, I don't think they would fly at my work.

Hello! And happy holidays!

I'm sure you will not be surprised, this holly jolly time of year, to find that I am out of the office today - and actually for the entire week. I should be back at the grindstone for a few days after Xmas…but soon after that it’s 2010 and who knows what the new year holds?

If you have an immediate need for assistance, and you are feeling festive (and lucky), then you can contact:
XXXXXXX
OR
YYYYYY.
But there is no guaranteeing that either one of them will be around. They are probably out spreading joy or something. Caroling, maybe. Or perhaps wassailing.

I know that you are also used to being able to speak with the sock puppet in my stead most times - but I'm afraid even the puppet is off for the next few weeks, so you will just have to make do. Ho Ho Ho!

You can trust me to respond promptly to your message... around January 4th or …

Poor Facebook

This was going around like the Swine Flu on Facebook this week:
If you don't know, as of today, Facebook will automatically index all your info on Google, which allows everyone to view it. To change this option, go to Settings --> Privacy Settings --> Search --> then UN-CLICK the box that says 'Allow indexing'. Facebook kept this one quiet.It wasn't entirely accurate. If you have your info locked down in FB, then the search engines won't show it. I tested this by googling Kathy Pfister Facebook and a post that I wrote on this blog comes back along with my Twitter account and a Technorati link. (I digress but I also found an old newspaper link about our club taking second place in the Salsa Challenge.) No info from my Facebook account.

Of course, it didn't take long for people to start making fun of the dire 1984 warnings. Here are two status updates that I saw today (and reposted because they made me laugh):
As of today, Facebook staff will be allow…

Euchre Time!

If you're from the Midwest, chances are you at least know what Euchre is and you've been playing it since you were a wee child barely able to shuffle cards. OK, maybe that last part is just me and my family.

We've developed a nice sized group of people here in the Valley who either hail from the Midwest or learned to play the game from someone from that area. Enough so that we've had some Euchre tournaments which are always a blast. More so when I win and The Goat doesn't.

New Dude professed to know how to play but it was obvious from our first evening playing with The Goat and The Queen that his skills were a little, er, rusty. I confess to being worried when he asked me to explain the rules on the ride over to their house. However, I give him props for deciding that he needed more practice to improve and has been seeking out opportunities to do so.

He somehow found the East Valley Euchre Meetup Group and asked me if I wanted to play with them. I said, "So…
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The Cost of Bad Behavior: How Incivility Is Damaging Your Business and What to Do About It by Christine Pearson


My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Our Managers' group read this for Q4 at the suggestion of our HR Director.A quick summary is that not following the Golden Rule actually costs businesses a lot of money. Filled with lots of examples and some scary numbers from a corporate perspective, this could be a wake up call for managers everywhere.

Our group took a survey of how severe they feel certain incivilities are then how prevalent we thought the behaviors were in our company. The good thing is we didn't think things like sexual harassment and threatening weren't considered prevalent. However, we did feel that things like interrupting people, having sidebar conversations in meetings and micro-managing are prevalent. To that end, we're putting together a suggested code of conduct that our team may adopt for 2010.

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Saturday Morning (should) = Sleep In

My alarm goes off during the week at 6:30. George is either already on the bed and staring at me to catch me move so she can jump on me or she's somewhere in the house which gives her room to get up speed and force to jump on me when she hears the alarm.

Mostly, I have to then submit to getting my face washed or my fingers gnawed on or give her non-stop pets and scratches around her ears and chin. If I'm lucky, she'll be content to tuck her head under my hand and just lie on me and purr. No matter what she chooses to do, I'm pretty much done with snoozing. That's OK since I eventually have to get up and go to work.

My alarm doesn't go off on Saturday. My fondest desire is to sleep in as late as I can because it's usually the only day I have for that (if I'm lucky to have even one day). I thought the alarm was the Pavlovian influence on George. Turns out, it's more like the recess bell and she's still antsy and ready for play even if it doesn…

Not The Best Way To Start The Day

This morning was the "Cook Breakfast for Our Staff" day and I wanted to be in early to help out with that. I also have an outstanding fire to put out at work so I wanted to be in even earlier than early to address that before cooking.

Despite attending a Holiday party with New Dude last night that was followed by a nightcap at The Keg that was followed by some quality time at my house and several wake-ups for kitty lovings from George, I was up and in the shower by 7 this morning. That's very early for me. It was even before my paper got delivered so I bypassed that task and just got ready for work. I got one work related call at home that took a few minutes but I still managed to be out the door at 8 AM. That's unheard of in my world.

As I was driving down the 202, I visualized my day. I like to have the picture in my head before I get to the office so I can hit the ground running. However, there was something missing from the picture. I looked over at my pass…

Holiday Niceness

The managers on our floor are getting together on Friday to make breakfast for our employees. We're not only cooking, we're ponying up the dinero for the fixings, too. I think it's a nice thing to do and this is the first year they've invited I.T. to participate. My boss is out of town so it was up to me whether to join in. I told the planner, "Just tell me what to do and when and I'll do it."

I got an email from her with the list of assignments and items to supply. My assignment was plates, utensils and cups.

Score! I got the bachelor items. Apparently, my reputation for non-domesticity has fully spread and I'm not unhappy about that at all.

My Princess reputation was reinforced as I made two of my buds go to Costco today at lunch to pick up the aforementioned items. The problem with Costco is that I needed to get stuff to serve about 80 people and everything was geared to serving several hundred. I grabbed a huge bag of plates and napkins and …

Best. Driver. Ever.

In case you're not up on the Redneck news, Jimmie Johnson won his 4th consecutive Cup Championship on Nov. 22nd.

Frakking awesome!

I'm still flying. I've been a fan since the end of his rookie season and I couldn't have picked a better guy to root for. Great driver and a good guy. He and his wife (if only he had met me first...) are doing some wonderful charity work and, by all accounts, are decent humans.

The final race was pretty stressful. We had a happy hour at Margaritaville at 2 and the race started a little around 1:30. Margaritaville is clear across town so I hopped in the car right before the race started. Trying to listen to that and drive at the same time was a challenge. Especially, since there was an Ironman race in my hood which made a mess of traffic. I was equally worried about JJ wrecking and me wrecking as it took me nearly 15 minutes to get to the freeway which is a mile from my house.

I managed to get to Margaritaville without incident and then …

Very Thankful

Some of my Facebook Friends spent the month of November posting a daily "things I'm thankful for" status. I thought it was a neat idea but didn't participate. If I had, I think my status every day should have been "I'm thankful that I still have two healthy parents."

I am so fortunate.

I came home from Mexico to learn that one of my childhood friends lost her Mom on Saturday. That's the third parent of a contemporary in as many months. Dang.

It's just not right.

Book Review - The Heretic's Daughter

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The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It was my turn to host book club this month and I picked this one off of an online reading guide site. It's historical fiction based on Kent's ancestor who was tried as a witch during the Salem witch hunts in the 1600s.

Told from the perspective of the woman's daughter, the first part of the book was much to do about the way of life back then and the mother/daughter relationship. The second half of the book is about the start of the witch hysteria, the trials, imprisonment and ultimately deaths of some of the accused.

Really interesting story to me as I only had some basic understanding of what went on back then. It's hard to fathom how it all could have happened as it was just so irrational. Were people just evil or did they really believe their friends/neighbors/family members were consorting with the devil? I don't think we'll ever know the why, though.

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Fun (for me) At Work

Want to freak out your co-workers?

Walk around the office with a pen and some papers in your hands. Peer in to every office and cube. Periodically, jot something down on the papers.

That's all you have to do!

I've been doing a physical inventory of all of our printers. That means I have to go through all of the buildings, find the printers and compare them to a master list. Well, to be honest, we don't have a master list and that's a problem. I'm actually comparing them to several lists but that's not the point.

The point is that I've had people partially follow me to see what I'm doing, curiously look at me and raise their eyebrows in a questioning manner but no one's actually asked me what I'm doing. It's almost like they're afraid to find out. I have been telling folks my mission but only after I make them suspicious.

Hey, it's a crappy task so I need to get whatever fun out of it that I can.

Absence Apparently DOES Make The Heart Grow Fonder

I left George in Steven's care while I was off to Key West for the week. They have this strange "sibling" rivalry thing so it's not the best situation for either of them, frankly, and they're both pretty vocal about it.

What happens is that George hides from Steven most of the time. When she does come out, he picks on her because he's mad she won't be friendly. She then goes back into hiding. Lather, rinse, repeat.

New Dude picked me up at the airport late on Monday night. When we got to my place, George went a little nuts. She randomly jumped around, meowed loudly and wouldn't settle at all. She was clearly upset.

Our usual routine when I get home is I kick my shoes off in my bedroom then sit on my bed. She jumps up and we have some Mommy/Kitty time where she tells me about what happened while I was gone and I scratch her ears and chin and pet her. So, I went down to my room and sat on the bed thinking she would join me and I could calm her down…

No Pressure Or Anything...

Goodreads.com is a great site to keep track of what you've read and get ideas from people with similar tastes on what else to check out. There are also discussion groups, author blogs and book lists. You could spend a lot of time on there.

I used to read a LOT more than I do now. That's what adding a boyfriend to the life will do. A boyfriend who's allergic to your cat so you're always at his house and never remember to bring something to read. I don't regret the BF part at all but I do miss my books.

One of my Goodreads friends is a prolific reader and very active participant on the site. She sent me (along with many others) an invite to join a group for next year: 144 Books in 2010. The idea is to read and record 144 books during the year at whatever pace you choose. The books are of your own choosing, too, except that kidlet books are not allowed to count. Guess I can't read Where The Wild Things Are for this. Drat.

Because I have trouble saying no, …

Book Review - Finger Lickin' Fifteen

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Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich


My rating: 2 of 5 stars

An enjoyable read but I have to admit I want some resolution with the Stephanie/Ranger/Joe thing. In this book, Stephanie and Joe are off so she hangs with Ranger. It just feels like an unending loop - Joe then Ranger then Joe then Ranger...

Other repetitive themes - Stephanie's car gets destroyed, Ranger's car gets destroyed after Stephanie borrows it, Stephanie's apartment gets trashed...yadda, yadda, yadda.

I still enjoy these books but they need something fresh to keep me going much longer.

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Key West, Florida Is My Home (Sorta)

I only spend one week a year in Key West yet it feels like home to me. It's comfortable and welcoming and familiar despite the short amount of time I spend there.

One reason is the size. Or, lack thereof. I can get almost everywhere I want to go on foot or a in quick cab ride. Because it's not so big, I have a pretty good grasp of where things are, too. Not a perfect grasp - I get turned around at least once every year but alcohol is usually a factor then.

Except for one year, I've stayed in the same condo. It's become "our" condo in my mind. Even though they've made some changes to it, it's mostly the same as when we first started renting it.

It's also the attitude. It's hard to be anything but relaxed when you're wearing tank tops, shorts and sandals to every event. I also appreciate the live and let live vibe. It's the only place I've been when two men or two women can walk down a major street while holding hands and no on…

Definitely Not My Price Point

I booked my ticket to Key West months ago because I got a screaming deal. I was originally scheduled to get there at 8:30 PM which is perfect for closing out the evening at Margaritaville with the Boat Drunks.

For a while, it seemed like I was getting an itinerary change every 3 days and they were small changes so I stopped looking at them. Those one or two minute changes eventually led to my flight being scheduled to get in at 9:29 PM. Kinda late.

So, I decided to see if I could change my flight to get in earlier. While I was selecting different options, I was mentally trying to decide what my price point for the change was. Would it be worth $100 to get in during the afternoon? $150? $200?

My first scheduling change option got me in around 5 PM. That sounded pretty good so I hit the Calculate New Rate button.

The cost? $1500!

Whatever my price point might have been, it wasn't even close to $1500.And, there were no cheaper options.

I hope my friends are all somewhat sober by t…

Cold Weather Wimps

We've enjoyed a very temperate fall here in the Valley. And by temperate, I mean it's been pretty warm. Still up in the 80s and even 90s in October and I haven't turned the A/C off in my house yet.

This week, a freaky Arctic storm hit us and we've all started whining like it's 20 below with a windchill of -20. Actually, we did have a 20 degree shift in the high temperature that was pretty shocking to the system as it's only 65 today.

Here are some indications as to how cold it is:

I've worn closed toed shoes for 3 days in a row. No sandals for this girl right now.
Today, I even put on socks!
I'm wearing a sweater for the second day in a row and today's is the heavy, cable knit one.
My house got down to 71 overnight.

I realize that anyone from the Midwest or East finds those ridiculous indicators of cold weather but, for Phoenix, they're really accurate ones.

Fortunately, it's supposed to be back in the low 80s come this weekend.

Expect Even MORE Vacation Updates

My buddy Dave got a new Crackberry and, as he was showing it to me, he mentioned that he can use it as a modem for his laptop. it's a process called tethering and you basically access the internet via your phone (if you have a data plan). I vaguely remember the Verizon guy telling me something about it when I got my phone and I think it was because he was trying to sell me the cable to connect phone and computer. Figuring it was something I would never do, I shrugged it off.

But, after Dave left my office, I got to thinking. That's a way cool feature. I could take my laptop on all of my trips and not have to pay a hotel for wi-fi or leech off someone's wireless network. I asked Sugar Daddy about it and he said he thought I could do it but told me to google the how-to since he's not hooked up his iPhone and MacBook.

Google is my friend. I found a blog entry where a guy went through the steps to enable Bluetooth, download an app from Verizon and make the two devices…

Anyone Want a Cat?

I am so frakking mad at George!

I was half awake this morning when I heard a clatter and felt George jump off the bed at the same time. I didn't think much of it until I was heading out the door to work.

That's when I looked for my new glasses and realized the clatter was her knocking them to the floor off the nightstand. Brat.

I found them on top of my sandals which were next to the bed and noticed they had what looked like specks of white stuff on them. Upon further inspection, those weren't specks, they were teeth marks and they were deep into the plastic of the lenses. Sonofa...

Did she ever chew on my old glasses? No.

My loud, "Dammit, George!" generated only a meow that was easily translated as "Whaaa?" It's not like it's useful or productive to yell anyway. I didn't catch her in the act and she's, well, she's a cat. She won't give a rip anyway.

So, it's back to the optical store today. I can't imagine they can f…

Awkward

Fantasy Football is killing me. I had no interest in tonight's game because of the teams but my weekly match up was on the line. I went into the game slightly ahead with my opponent having DeSean Jackson and I David Akers left to play.

Of course, Jackson had to run in a huge touchdown near the beginning of the game. We went back and forth in the lead for a while and ended up in a tie. The tie breaker is the bench score where, thankfully, I dominated. I felt like I was owed that since I lost a previous game in the tie breaker.

That was the stressful part of the evening but not the awkward part.

The awkward part was that I was sitting between New Dude and The Rocket Scientist who were playing each other this week for the lead in their division. New Dude had the Philly Defense and TRS was done but had the lead going in.

Every muff by the Redskins was celebrated by New Dude with the highlight there being the D's touchdown. Some times jubilantly celebrated. TRS got about as vi…

I Can See Clearly Now (Mostly)

I knew my eye prescription was outdated before I went in last week but once I knew just how bad it was, I became hyper-aware of how poorly I was seeing. Especially, at night. I had hoped my glasses would be ready on Friday but was resigned that they wouldn't be available until today or tomorrow.

So, I was pleasantly surprised when I got a call at 4PM on Saturday that they were ready for pickup.

However, I was bummed since I was at Southern and McClintock at the time and heading to Ray and Dobson for chick poker at 4:30. My glasses were at 44th St and Thomas so there was no way to get there in time for poker. I thought about it for a few minutes then decided, what the hell, I'll just be late. Visibility was more important that promptness.

I shot a text message to the one poker chick who's as phone addicted as I am to start eating without me then sped down the 202. It was a quick in and out with the new specs but a lot longer to get used to them. The prescription change …

Come on, Facebook, Need the info...

I LOVE Facebook.

I'm totally addicted. I love how it's let me reconnect with lots of people from my past. I love how it's allowed me to make new friends and expand friendships with folks that I "sorta" knew. I love the games that I play. I love seeing everyone's pics. I love how people unrelated to each other except for one shared friend can have conversations and build relationships on their own.

I don't LOVE how Facebook rolls out changes. Man, they're just bad at it.

A while back, they changed the "home page" which they call the News Feed. No warning, really, just "poof!" and you had a new look. It hit some people earlier than others so the first few days were filled with people asking what was up with the change and others explaining it. Pretty much universally the change was hated, by the way.

Did they learn anything from that?

I think not a lot. They modified the News Feed again today. Again, without notice. I happene…

But At Least I'll Be Able To See

My specs are no longer doing the best job. I've noticed it for a while, especially at night, but I just didn't care enough to do something about it. Although I've been talking about going to my eye doctor for a few months now, I suddenly decided to get it done today before I leave for Key West in a few weeks.

So, I called my old Eye Doc's office to see if I could get an appointment. He is booked through the end of December and his partner through the middle of November. Well, that just doesn't work for Immediate Gratification girl.

My next call was to Sugar Daddy to see where he went for his last eye appointment and he said Alex Optical. That's where I got my last pair of glasses, which I love, so I gave them a call. I said, "I need to make an eye appointment" and the guy who answered said, "What are you doing right now?"

OK, that is just what Immediate Gratification girl lives for! I looked at my calendar and was meeting free so off I w…

Book Review - Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance

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Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance by Atul Gawande


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was our monthly book club selection and a fine choice. Warm and easy reading by a surgeon on several medical topics involving a positive deviant. That being the person(s) who did an extraordinary job and what can be learned from them.

I can't say enough about the readability. The prose was elegant and medical issues were explained superbly in layman's terms. Not the usual stuff you would get from a doctor as they're generally more jargon and technically oriented.

The chapter on medical professionals who assist in prison executions stood out the most for me. What a dilemma. They've sworn to save lives yet are assisting in extinguishing them. Beautifully and compassionately written.I highly recommend this one.

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Book Review - Dead and Gone

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Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dead and Gone seemed darker than the previous books. Or, maybe it's just been a while since I read a new one so I'm out of touch.

Anywhooo, the Weres decide to go public and all hell breaks loose. There's an ugly death (of course Jason is a suspect, when isn't he?) and a war amongst the faeries. A really ugly war and Sookie's right in the middle of it.

Harris isn't afraid to off characters and this book was no exception. I like that about authors because it really makes it feel like there's actual danger to characters instead of thinking they'll have some miraculous escape because they always do.

Best part about the book: Eric's in it quite a bit. Yummers. Hot Eric is well represented and he's sexier than ever.

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Because It's Fun For Me

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I had a coupon for PetSmart and needed to get litter trays for George's electric litter box. Man, I love that thing. So, I headed to the mall and quickly picked up the trays but I always browse for other stuff for George when I'm there.

I found some liquid catnip that I thought would refresh her toys since I'm too lazy to grow my own to rub on them and my floors are already littered with lots of her babies already - I don't need anymore of those underfoot. It worked like a charm, too. She took a new interest in the few loose babies that I sprayed so I sprayed a couple in her toy basket. A little while later, I found her sprawled by the basket looking completely stoned. Funny.

The item I couldn't resist was a Halloween costume. I know, I'm a crazy cat lady and it's only a matter of time before I have her wearing a different sweater every day of the week. But, I knew it would drive her nuts so I had to buy it.

We put it on her tonight and it was as satis…

Now That's Some Good Pizza

We tried out a nearby Pizza place tonight, Began's Classic Italian Pizza. It's tucked away in a dying strip mall on Baseline, west of McClintock. You really would need to know it's there to find it.

I was expecting a strip mall kind of joint but was quite pleasantly surprised by the place. It's very nice, well decorated and perfect for a romantic dinner. They have an outside patio and seats at the bar in addition to ten or so tables inside.

We split the Mediterranean Mix appetizer which was Feta Cheese, a selection of olives and a basket of warm, soft and tasty bread. It was a nice starter that we followed with the Diavola Pizza. That was topped by homemade Italian sausage, pepperoni, crushed red peppers, jalapenos, fresh mozzarella and tomato sauce. Really good!

The pizzas are 12 inches so plenty for two. We actually only ate half of it and are saving the rest for breakfast. I enjoyed a nice glass of Chianti with my meal and they have a pretty good wine select…

Brilliant TV

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My friend had never watched Arrested Development and I have all of the shows on DVD so we started watching them together. He's smart and clever and so's the show so I thought it would be a good match.

Watching them makes me both happy (from the laugh out loud comedy) and sad (because it got canceled and there are no more episodes once we're done with the DVDs). There is rumor of of a movie being worked on - I will be there opening day if that comes to fruition.

Consistently smart, sly and slapstick humor abounded in that show. The casting was superb. Jessica Walter steals every scene she's in and that's saying a lot considering the rest of the cast.

We watched episode 3 last night, Bringing Up Buster. The two main plot lines revolved around Lucille pawning Buster off on Michael and George Michael trying out for the school play because the script allows him to kiss Maeby who's only in the play to kiss jock Steve Holt.

Steve Holt!

I can't wait until we hit th…

Book Review - First Family

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First Family by David Baldacci


My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Solid read from Baldacci though I felt the final explanation/justification of events seemed like they would be more likely 50 years ago. The book finds Michelle and Sean investigating the kidnapping of the President's niece and a death in Michelle's family. I hope the next book finds Michelle not so weirded out about her life as that's gotten a little tired.

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It's Only A Game, Right?

Ya know, I'm usually a pretty upbeat person who rolls with the punches. Life is good for me (actually great in some regards) so I have no right to complain.

But...

I am bitter. Very, very, very bitter.

As I was watching the Packers/Vikings game tonight, it just bubbled out of me. Bitterness. That damn Brett Favre. The guy that I loved from the beginning despite the many (many, many, many) interceptions. The years I have spent with this man, I will never get back. They were great but now they are tarnished.

There he was. In purple. Playing for one of our arch-enemies. It was so wrong. Really, really wrong.

I have decided that there should be a law. The Favre law. If you cry at your retirement announcement, you must stay retired. I f0rgave him for the Jets foray but I can't forgive the Vikings.

Dude, you were the most popular man in the homeland and how you are public enemy number one! Not cool in any way, shape or form.

The thought came to my mind that it would be lik…

Welcome to Arizona, Fall

Seems like everyone has a different indicator for when it's the fall season and no one uses the actual calendar. While my friends up North are getting frost and even snow (shudder), we are enjoying some temperate weather here in the Valley. By temperate, I mean it's still been over 100, just not every day. For most folks, that probably sounds like summer.

I'm ready to call it fall despite the frequent 100 degree days because I encountered my personal fall marker this morning. My thermostat is set to 78 and it was 76 when I got up. That's the first time the indoor temp has been under the thermostat since spring. There have also been some secondary indicators like the fact that I can just have the vent on in the car without frying and I've enjoyed the moon roof being open on several evenings of late.

What I really think I'm going to enjoy is the one month or so where I won't need the A/C or the heater on at all in the house. Those are very nice electric bills…

It's A Guy Thing

We have gated parking lots here at work. The keypad is on the left side so you can reach it from the driver's side of your car but the gate opens from right to left. I haven't timed it but I'm guessing it takes 15 seconds to open far enough for you to drive through.

15 seconds is apparently too long for some people as they will punch in the code then back up far enough to move to the right side and drive through as soon as there's room. Total time savings? Maybe 5 seconds. Really? You're that impatient?

And, by some people, I mean men. I've never seen a woman do that but I thought today was the day. The car in front of me was being driven by someone with really long hair and you could have knocked me over with the proverbial feather, I was so surprised that a woman would make the backup move.

I followed in behind and saw the driver get out. It was actually one of the long-hair guys that works in our print area.

The stereotype lives.

Morning Fun (For Me, Not So Much For George)

When I went to the front door this morning to get my newspaper, it wasn't yet there. So, I left the door open for George to scope out the world and walked away.

Just a few moments later, I heard “Bam!” followed by a rattling sound. That was caused by the carrier throwing the paper into the screen so hard that it actually stuck.

About a millisecond later I heard frantic scratching of claws as George tried to get enough leverage against the tile floor to run away. She finally did and scrambled to safety. I think her nose had been right up the the screen when the paper hit.

She stayed away from the door the rest of the time I had it open.

I should probably feel sorry for her but after she punctured my finger with her claw the other morning, I'm not feeling very sympathetic.

There's Hope for the Middle East or How I Converted to Mac

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We have two distinct religions at work: Mac and PC. It's like other religious wars - it's always been that way and no one switches sides.

I was a staunch PCer. I liked the "business" use of the PC and didn't see much need for the "artsy" side of the Mac. I also didn't like the price tags. I know, the equivalent power in a laptop would cost just as much as a MacBook but you can sacrifice some power and still get a reasonable laptop at a livable price.

My first experience really working on a Mac was editing a movie for a work Employee of the Year presentation. I used iMovie on Sugar Daddy's machine and I hated it. The dang thing froze up on me countless times which is not good when you're still editing at 3 AM for a 7 AM showing.

My last movie was done on a MacBook Pro and it was a much nicer experience. It was a machine we ordered for one of the company directors and he let me use it right out of the box. No freezing up at all and it was…

Dinner at Estate House

My one night out for Arizona Restaurant Week was Estate House. It's a very nicely designed place in Old Scottsdale and would be perfect for a romantic dinner. I was with three of my girlfriends so not so romantic but pleasant nonetheless.

Here were our menu options:
First Course (choice of):Vanilla Scented Duck ConfitSpanacopita with Toasted Almonds Chilled Galia Melon & Coconut Soup with Rock Shrimp Tender Greens, Baby Vegetables, MisoVinagretteSecond Course (choice of):Flat Iron Steak, Piquillo Poppers, Manchego Hash Olive Oil Poached Salmon, Fingerlings, Lemon CremaChicken Breast, PimentonFrites, CippolineThird Course (choice of):Chai Tea Creme BruleeRuby Red Grapefruit Pate, White Chocolate Mousse Chocolate Toffee Pudding I had the Duck for the first course. It was rich and surprisingly sweet but tasty. Our waiter suggested that if you like your steak any more cooked than medium then the Flank Steak was not for you. He was quite pleased when I ordered it as rare as …

Doh!

I don't remember if I wrote about the BevMo! incident before so I'll potentially repeat myself. I was walking out of the 5 Cent sale with an overflowing case of wine when I ran into a guy from work in the parking lot.

I barely know him. He was carrying out one bottle. I must have had 20.

What could I do but say, "I really like wine."

I'm guessing he may have mentioned it at work but probably only once.

Tonight, I had to hit the store for Parrot Grande. I was shopping for myself and some friends flying in from Utah for drinks to keep in our rooms. I had an overflowing cart of Miller Lite, Corona, Diet Pepsi and Diet Coke. Oh, and six limes. That's it, no other grocery items.

Of course, I had to run into another guy from work. Literally. He backed into me.

He was getting healthy, actual groceries.

Now, this guy is the type who will tell everyone for the next five years how I'm a raging alcoholic so I got that going for me.

Arizona Restaurant Week

From Sep. 19th through the 26th, a lot of cool restaurants are offering deals to show off their establishments and menus. For $29, you get a three course meal and some places throw in a glass of wine, too. It's a relatively inexpensive way to check out some of the fancier places in town.

Last year, the Chick Poker gang caught a couple of places. This year, the timing's not so great for me so they're hitting three places but I'm only going to one (Estate House).

Check out the link to see all of the restaurants and the menus. There are some places in Tucson, too.

More Google!

We trained the final group of Phoenix employees on Google mail last week. There were 37 people from our print and warehouse areas with various degrees of computer knowledge and English language skills.

There were people who didn't have a clear idea of what the internet entails, no concept of what a browser is and I think a few had never actually used a computer. Many of them were completely unfamiliar with a keyboard and mouse. There were folks from Vietnam, Ethiopia, Sudan and Gabon and several Hispanics with limited English abilities in both speaking and writing.

We divided everyone into groups of 3, 4 or 5 by estimated computer knowledge and native language. Each group had ½ hour for training. I was the nuts and bolts mail instructor, one of our Human Resources people did the intro and another HR person helped guide the students through the class.

The training started with "What do you know about the internet?" That was followed by "What is email?" We explained…

Book Review - The Goal

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The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt


My rating: 3 of 5 stars

One of the Directors at work bought The Goal for our Manager's group to read and discuss. Several people already had for college but I'd never heard of it.

The basic message is you're in business to make money. Sounds simple, no? Well, there's a lot more to how to make the money and how to count the money. Traditional Cost Accounting takes a big credibility hit in the book.

This would be a good read for folks who aren't business book junkies like I am. The story's told in a novel form and we get to read about the manufacturing plant manager's struggles with his marriage as well as with getting his plant profitable. That makes it more engaging than a dry, technical tome.

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The Times, They Are A Changing...

Several Valley institutions announced they were closing recently. I'm talking long standing, well known places. It seems like an end of an era, somehow.

The first was The Quilted Bear Restaurant. It was started by Dale Anderson in 1973 who also ran the Other Place Restaurant. Quilted Bear was the place you took your Mom to on Mother's Day. We took my Mom, Aunt and Grandma there in fact.

The Pink Pony was the next one to fall. It was a classic old time, dark bar loaded with baseball memorabilia. Lots of the old time players hung out there during spring training.

Finally, Big Surf will be officially closing after Labor Day. It was one of the first huge man-made water parks with a wave machine that people could actually surf on. They later tamed it down and it was more for body surfing and boogie boarding and they also added huge water slides. It's an awesome place for kids. I remember one time in grade school when I lost my glasses in the huge pool. They actually fo…

The First F in FFL Stands For Frakked

We did our first Fantasy Football League with the Arizona Parrot Heads last year. Steven and I owned a team together and our relationship as co-owners was, well, a bit rocky. So, this year we decided to have separate teams for family peace if nothing else.

Only thing was, Woody (our commissioner) and Steven couldn't seem to hook up via email. Woody would say he emailed Steven with an invite. Steven would say he didn't get anything. Both would tell me and I would tell Steven to email Woody and tell Woody to email Steven again and they still couldn't hook up. Why I had to be in the middle when they're both on Facebook, I don't know.

So, draft day was decided upon and Steven didn't have his own team. Worse was that I was scheduled to be out of town. I had asked the Jello-Shot Prince to draft for me but I needed to put together a master draft list for him. As the days rapidly closed before I headed out of town, the time to put together said list grew smaller…

Poor George

I was out of town from Wednesday morning until last night so I asked Steven to watch George. That may have been a mistake. At least, I'm pretty sure George thinks so.

My first text from Steven asked me when George got so fat. I told him not to talk mean about his sister because it would hurt her feelings. (He hates it when I call my cat his sister.) He said, "why not, maybe she'll realize how much she's let herself go and do something about it?"

It's not George's fault that she's gotten a little chubby, it's mine. I haven't been home much lately so her fetch and feather on a stick play times have decreased greatly. I imagine she spends most of her time dozing in her kitty condo when I'm gone and isn't thinking about exercising.

The next day's text said that George had thrown up all over the living room and that she scratched him when he was trying to check on what was wrong with her. He also added that he'd given her no pe…

Challenge Cup - IT vs Sales

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Our latest work competition for the Challenge Cup was us versus Sales. They won the trophy in kickball. No way am I playing kickball so we challenged them to bowling. We're good at bowling and I can drink beer during the event. It's a win/win.

There was much negotiating on the event date as both departments tried to make sure their "star" bowlers were able to play. I think we finally picked a date where everyone could make it then the trash talk began.


Neener, neener, neener.

The sales team thought they would be funny and brought the trophy by "just to let you see what it looks like since you won't be winning it back". Ha ha. Very funny.

We did our usual competition format. Everyone who wanted to bowl did two games then we took the top four combined game scores from each department then those 8 bowlers faced off. Total pins for a final game for each team determined the winner.

I always hope to be out for the final game so I can sit back and drink …

An Evening at La Boca

My friends and I went to La Bocca for dinner last night. It's in downtown Tempe (but not near Rula Bula which is what I thought and why I parked far away, doh!) so we had a nice combination of the Mill Avenue atmosphere with a somewhat fancy restaurant. Think lots of dark wood and you'll get the idea.

They have happy hour on drinks until 6:30. Half off wine, well and drafts. Nice. I selected the Rudolf Muller Riesling and it was quite refreshing.

We started out splitting two of the plates. The med plate with basil humus, babaganoush with warm feta, roasted peppers, queen creek olives, artisan toast and house made flat bread and the cheese plate with a trio of craft cheese with rosemary raisin pecan crackers and artisan toast. Everything was quite yummy. I especially liked the crackers and the toast. Morgan said the feta was a little bland, though.

Tuesday nights are 2-4-1 pizzas so three of us split bocca trio - crushed san marzano tomatoes, pepperoni, genoa salami, sch…

Um, Thanks?

A friend of mine came over last night for a short visit. No surprise, but I was playing Full Tilt Poker. I'd just made the final table in a Sit and Go Tournament when he arrived.

He watched me play a few hands then started offering up advice. I gave him a "look" and he said, "Sorry, I won't tell you how to play."

That vow lasted about one hand.

Wonder how I ever made the final table without his help…

(I busted out in 7th...coincidence?)

Destined for the Poor House

I was asked last night if I were fiscally responsible. My reply was an emphatic "No." Don't get me wrong, I wish I were. It's just not something I've concentrated on but I intend to. At some point. Really.

It might be a losing battle anyway because whether you subscribe to the theory of nature or nurture, I'm screwed.

Know how I know that?

Well, let me tell you a story.

My parents have a Honda Odyssey van. It's actually pretty nice and it does a decent job of getting my Mom around town. Saturday, they get a call from the Honda dealership with a hook. "We can get you into a 2010 Odyssey without raising your payments."

Sure they can because you're going to be paying for another few years longer than you were before.

My parents went off to "just look." Steven called me to ask what the odds were that they would come home with a new vehicle. I said it was zero to two percent that they wouldn't. I got a later update from him tha…

Book Review - Fugitive

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Fugitive: A Novel by Phillip Margolin


My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Solid Margolin read featuring lawyer Amanda Jaffre who's offered big money to defend a former prison inmate turned guru on a murder charge. To add spice to the pot, the dude's been living in Africa under a psychotic dictator who's after him for sleeping with his wife. Also, the murder victim's wife was once involved with Amanda's father.

Some decent twists and turns but I had the final reveal figured out really early in the book. Kind of a bummer.

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Punny

1. The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.

2. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian .

3. She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.

4. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class, because it was a weapon of math disruption.

5. No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

6. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.

7. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.

8. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.

9. A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall.. The police are looking into it.

11. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

12. Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other: 'You stay here; I'll go on a head.'

13. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.

14. A sign on the lawn…