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Showing posts from October, 2011

Fantasy Football - Week 8

Yeah, I know there's still a game tonight. But, unless Ryan Mathews scores 67 points, my games are in the books.

What a squeaker in the club game! I thought I was in good shape going into last night's game but Tony Romo's and the Cowboys' suckitude almost cost me the game. I ended by winning by 84 to 76. It wouldn't have been so close if I'd submitted a different lineup. All of my bench players, except the ones on byes, outscored my starters in the same positions. Any time that happens and you can still pull out a win, you have to be happy.

That makes my record go to 4-4 which isn't bad. We are almost all trending around .500.

I dominated my opponent in the work league. He had only one choice on his starters as I hit him on a big bye week for his team. The score is currently 133 to 66.04 and he has the aforementioned Mathews going tonight. I'm feeling pretty secure.

My record will be 5-3 which, if my initial ganderings are correct, will put me in sole p…

The Good Life

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If I were to believe in reincarnation, I would want to come back as a house cat. What a life. Someone feeds you, shelters you, buys you toys and loves you even when you're a demon. Well, that's the ideal house cat life anyway.

As I was running around this morning trying to get a lot of things done in a short period of time, I looked in my living room and this is what I saw:


Tell me it doesn't get better than this; enjoying a sun ray and guarding your oldest "baby". Add in knowing that your food and water dishes were full and it's a good life, indeed.

Book Review - Plugged

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Plugged by Eoin Colfer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was definitely a book I could happily have read in one sitting. Unfortunately, I didn't give myself time enough and I think I lost a little momentum/connection while finishing it up.

Daniel McEvoy is an ex-pat Irishman working as a doorman in New Jersey for a trashy casino/strip club. The disappearance of his only friend and the murder of one of his co-workers sets him on a path of violent, cunning and funny (yes, funny) investigation. It doesn't help that he suffers from PTSD from his time in Lebanon as a peace keeper.

I've read lots of Colfer's Young Adult work and really appreciated how he didn't dummy it down because it was for kids. This is definitely an adult book with very mature content but Colfer brought the same wit and reader engagement that he did to his YA work.

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Book Review - The Cuckoo's Egg

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The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage by Clifford Stoll
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great true story about computer hacking. Cliff Stoll was a reluctant systems administrator at Berkley in 1986. All university computer time was charged out to various entities and a 75 cent discrepancy is found. Tracking that down led to a year long investigation into a hacker that involved the military, NSA, NASA, CIA, FBI and other government agencies from the US and around the world.

Stoll does a nice job of explaining the computer jargon, though a non-techie might find it a little dry. He also adds a personal touch as he talks about the effect of his search on his home life and philosophical beliefs. You really get his frustration at the actions of the invader and the inactions of all of the agencies that should have reacted and supported his efforts sooner in the timeline.

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I Could Have Used a Little Less Help, Actually

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I pulled some laundry out of the dryer this morning so I could hang it up. An interim stop was to put it on top of my bed while I got the hangars.

George decided she wanted to "help" me. And, by help, I mean she first made sure she was at least partially lying on each item. Then, she attacked each hangar as I was attempting to put the clothes on them. Finally, she resorted to extended her claws so she could hook on to the clothes and retain them.

I managed to get them hung up and left the tee-shirt I was planning to wear today on the bed as I hit the shower. She had her claws in to it. I fully expected to see her still guarding it when I got out of the shower but she must have gotten bored and left to wreak her evil havoc elsewhere in the house.

It's mine, dammit, all mine!
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When I was home sick last week, I heard lots of noise outside while I was trying to sleep. It didn't actually stop me from sleeping, though. When I finally emerged from my cold coma, this is what I saw. There used to be a huge row of bushes. Now, there's just scrubs.

To give you some perspective, I park back by the dumpster and my front door is in the left corner of this picture.

I have no idea what compelled the maintenance crew to eviscerate those poor bushes.

But, I'm kind of happy they're gone.

See, I was always worried that the axe murderer (or a vampire) could hide in those bushes and jump out to attack me as I walked from my car to my door. Seriously, there was room for both to hide at the same time.

But, now that they're gone, I miss the bushes. It looks really barren out there. Having an anxiety free walk doesn't make up for that.

RIP, scary bushes. I hope you come back to life.

Bacon Works With Everything

I've gotten a little backed up with my organic fruits and veggies. I had three butternut squashes and one acorn squash waiting to be eaten so I decided I better cook one of the butternuts tonight.

Usually, I just throw some butter and Italian spices in then bake squash. However, this time I decided to chop up some bacon and cook it in the squash in the oven. I then cracked a little pepper over it and added a dash of salt before eating.

Dee-licious!

The bacon added some really nice moisture to the squash as well as that great bacon flavor. However, the squash flavor held up, too, so it was just a nice dish. And, ultimately, a pretty low calorie dish, too. Bacon is surprisingly low-cal in only 50 calories a slice.

Rain in Phoenix = Traffic Nightmare

You'd really think that since we have so many out of state transplants, they would actually be OK with driving when there's a little bit of moisture on the roads. However, you would be terribly wrong.

When I left work last night it was to find a surprising rain shower happening. Surprising, because when I left the building for a meeting only a few hours earlier, there was no indication of rain. Even more surprising was that it was a pretty steady downpour. Usually, our early evening rains are more like spits than pours.

Because I was meeting The Rocket Scientist for dinner, I was on a time table so I was little less patient than I would normally be on my drive home. I actually have no idea how many times I loudly asked, "Really?" The thing is that we were stopping (yep, complete stops on the freeway) for no apparent reason so many times that the 202 was backed up before Scottsdale Road to the 101 and I barely got over to the exit lane before I hit my exit at McClinto…

Chopped Guidelines

After watching countless hours of Chopped, I've come up with some strategies that the contestants should follow.


Make ice cream if you get the chance. The judges get so excited at just the attempt. Even if it doesn't turn out perfectly, you get credit for trying.Don't use red onion. I don't know why they don't like it but they don't. Maybe they think it's too strong or too common?Use red bell pepper in very small doses. Just like the red onion, they don't seem pleased by this ingredient.Don't be the arrogant asshole. In most, but not all, episodes there are chefs with huge egos who are convinced their cooking is far superior to their lesser skilled contestants. They trash talk the other chefs directly and behind the scenes and just seem like people you would never want to hang out with. I've never seen one of the arrogant assholes win the $10,000 first prize so clearly it's not a winning strategy. Actually, number four could be a great guidel…

Story Of My Life!

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Fantasy Football Week Seven

First of all, this isn't a fantasy. My Packers are 7-0, baby! Woot!

I got my ass handed to me in the club league so I'm down to 3-4. However, I won in the work league and that makes me 4-3 with 4 wins in a row. Both games were scary because I had a lot of bye players and injuries to deal with. I should have taken Aaron Rodgers with my first pick in the work league. He's been a complete stud.

Pick 'Em was just ridiculous. I sucked. I finally could no longer ride the wave of my first few good weeks of picks and I'm now in second place behind the Jello Shot Prince in our club league by 6 points but still somehow still in first place in the work league by only 4 points.

Correction - I'm actually in third place in the club league as The Rocket Scientist so helpfully pointed out. It wasn't fully updated for the Monday night game when I looked at it.

What Is This Situation?

I don't have Parrot Head duties, my DVR is empty, my house is clean (as it will ever get), laundry and dishes are done and I got home from work before 7. Is this opening in my schedule that thing they call "free time"? (Whomever "they" are.)

I thought free time was a myth. Like unicorns and rational Republican Presidential candidates. But, it's apparently real and I'm experiencing it.

It does seem somewhat familiar like perhaps something from my distant past. Very distant past. I'm going to enjoy it because it just can't last. I still have a lot of work hours ahead of me before vacation and then vacation (which includes no free time at all) and then lots of work hours to make up for my vacation.

But, in the meantime, I'm going to enjoy a glass of wine, read a book and relax.

Landing A Dream Job - Yay or Yikes?

A friend of mine is at his personal mecca, Cupertino, CA. That's the home of Apple for those who aren't as involved in the techie world as some of us.

As long as I've known him, he's worshipped at the altar of Jobs and wanted to work for Apple. He just got his chance as he's starting a contract position with them this week.

Is he excited? I'd say terrified is more like it. He's so worried that he's not going to be as smart as they are, that he'll disappoint them somehow or that he just won't be able to keep up.

I don't think he has anything to worry about. I've been lucky enough to work with some good software people over the years and he is the smartest, most intuitive, mostly innately skilled of all of them.

He'll do just fine.

But, I can completely relate to his anxiety. While there are some personality types that are confident they can succeed no matter what the situation, I think most of us are apprehensive of change, worried ab…

Mixed Messages

As I was getting ready for Jimmy Buffett day here in Phoenix, I noticed some glints of lighter colored hair in my part. I'll just say it wasn't the highlights.

Sigh. I hating the obvious signs of aging. I decided it was going to be a cowboy hat day for the show and tried to forget about it.

On my way to Margaritaville, I stopped at the Circle K by my house to buy some beer and water for the tailgate party later that day. I go in there fairly often.

I got carded.

First, I was like, "Cool". Then, I was like, "Dude, how's your eyesight?" Because I wasn't wearing my hat yet.

Perhaps he was influenced by the tie-dye shirt and parrot earrings and thought no old person would dress like that so I must be young.

Or, maybe they just decided to start carding everyone. Sigh, again.

I Am Not Amused

George has crept out the front door a few times but usually stopped right away because she was afraid to go too far. She would just crouch down and freeze until I would pick her up, tell her "Babies don't go outside" then put her back in the house.

That's changed and I'm not happy about it.

As I was dragging in my suitcase on Sunday, she walked right past me out the front door. Not a dart, just a nonchalant stroll in to the great outdoors. I had to follow her out and circle around her before I could shoo her back inside.

I thought it was a one time thing but when I got home from work on Monday she did the same thing. As I came in, she went out. I had to scramble to get her and even left my keys in the door in my haste. At least she moved slowly enough for me to get her.

Tonight, however, she pulled a full on dart move. She was out the door in a flash and headed down the sidewalk before I could even put my purse down.

I chased her down and picked her up while givi…

This Was Not Food

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There was a silent auction and raffle at The Last Man Standing party in Vegas on Friday night. My usual approach to those is to buy a bunch of raffle tickets and give them to The Rocket Scientist so he can check the numbers and claim my prizes. It's usually prizes plural because I buy a lot of tickets.

For the silent auction, I cruise through and write down starting bids on a bunch of items and raise a few that I suspect will go higher. I like to get the ball rolling. So, that's what I did and then thought nothing of it until later in the evening when they announced some people hadn't picked up their items yet.

I checked it out and both Crash and I had one item where we were the only bidders. Of course, hers was $10 and mine was $65 but that was just the way the weekend went for us when it came to money. In retrospect, I might have bid on the value of the basket and not the starting bid but, oh well, it was a bargain regardless.

Here's what I got:

Super fancy basket th…

Probably Not The Plague

I read an article on the plague recently. I wish I could find it to share because it was pretty interesting. The gist was that the plague virus hasn't mutated so most of us are immune to it. Why are we immune? Because our ancestors lived through the Black Death of the 14th century by either already being immune or developing immunity. How do they know it hasn't mutated? They had to move some old bodies out of a grave site and extracted the virus out of the teeth. Seriously, I wish I could find that article. Fascinating!

This is relevant because whenever I get sick (which truly isn't often) I suspect the worst. A high fever? Must be West Nile. A persistent cough? Soon to be bronchitis. Been out in the wild? Plague or Lyme disease.

What's even funnier than my hypochondria is my refusal to go to the doctor until I'm really, really sick. That's partially because, deep down, I know it's not that bad but also because my doctor is not at all sympathetic. "Yea…

Fantasy Football - Week Six

Well, I got my butt handed to me in the club league by the only undefeated team left. Guess Woody's team is the real deal. That brings me to 3-3. Oh, and I lost a backup QB in Jason Campbell. Oh, well. Better luck in the work league where I won and moved me to 3-3. I'm actually excited about that 3-3 as I started 0-3. Things are looking up! Despite mediocre Pick 'Em results in both the work and club leagues, I still stand atop the standings overall in both. I really want a good week to boost my lead (and score some cash in the work league for a top finish). Since I was out of town for the weekend, I made all my picks and set my lineups on Thursday. No last minute checking or tweaking since I didn't have my laptop with me and The Rocket Scientist didn't even boot his up. That made me nervous but it worked out OK. Not that I had a lot of alternates anyway since it was a big bye week for me.

Oh, Vegas, how could you be so unkind?

Worst. Blackjack. Weekend. Ever. I actually don't want to add up my losses because I'll probably cry. It ultimately boiled down to a few truisms: I needed 21 to win. A 20 gave me a push. Anything below 20 was a loss. Of course, being stubborn cost me even more. I just couldn't believe it could on for so long. But, it did. All three days I played were painfully bad. I should have stopped after day one but, dammit, I go to Vegas to gamble. In retrospect, it wasn't so much gambling as paying for really expensive drinks. I tried to minimize my dollars lost to drink ratio at Excalibur and the cocktail waitress obliged. She stopped asking me if I wanted another drink and just brought me a Rum and Coke each time she came by. That was nice. I think they were still $30 drinks, though. Oh, Vegas did give me something back. A raging head cold. Which explains why I'm posting this at 4:25 AM. If I lay down, I just start coughing and draining (ugh) so I'm waiting for…

Old Dogs CAN Learn New Tricks

How many spaces do you put after the end of a sentence?

Chances are, if you grew in the same era as I did, the answer is two. But, that would be wrong.

I read an article a few months ago, it might have been this one, about the two space convention. It made me decide to give up the practice because, well, it's not proper and I'm all about being proper.

I learned to type in high school, er, let's just say decades ago and leave it at that. At the time, we all learned on electric typewriters and it became an ingrained (and demanded) habit. Hit a punctuation key then double tap the space bar with your thumb.

I've done a LOT of typing over the years between school, work and my own writing. Regardless of the machine (typewriter or computer) I still did that double tap.

I thought it would be really difficult to break the habit but it was surprisingly easy. I think what made it easy was the amount of IMing and texting I've done. For the former, I'm not at all about capi…

The Chopped Effect

I am seriously addicted to Chopped on The Food Network. I have my DVR recording all episodes. Man, they play the show a lot! I have to preview my recordings and cancel the episodes I've already seen or I think I would hit my space limit.

The show has actually made an impact on how I cook. It's really challenging to get excited about cooking for one person so I usually go with really simple meals. Spaghetti and noodles. Steak and a veggie. Frozen dinner. Cheese and crackers. Fried potatoes with salsa. Greens in bacon. Occasionally, I'll actually make a mixed salad but that's about how crazy it gets.

However, seeing how they whip up colorful and tasty dishes in really not that much time has inspired me to make more of an effort in my meal preparation.

One night, I diced up a cucumber, tomatoes and celery and dressed it with a vinaigrette for my side dish. Beautiful, full of texture, tasty and healthy. Another morning, instead of my simple fried potatoes and onions, I dic…

Fantasy Football - Week Five

OMFG (that F stands for football), I actually won both of my games. I would have been devastated if I hadn't.

I played against Steven in the club league. He was 0-4 and I was projected to win by something like 30 points. Imagine my dismay when Steve Breaston came from nowhere and scored 17 points against me which made it a very close game for a while.

I ended up winning by 12 but it should have been more. I had the Atlanta Defense and they were projected to score -2 because they were up against my high scoring Packers. So, I decided to be clever and drop them for Indy. Indy ended up with -2 and Atlanta scored 5. It's just been that kind of season.

I had to laugh when I went to set up my work league roster. While I've changed my team name to The Injury Report, my opponent had changed his to I Really Hate Fantasy Football. Again, I was projected to win and my opponent didn't even start a Kicker. The game was too close for my comfort but Jahvid Best came through big time …

Subconscious Music Recognition

It seems like everywhere you go, bar, restaurant, store, there's music playing over the loudspeakers. In a lot of places, it's just background noise that you can't really hear it without focusing on it because of people talking and other activities. Most of the time, I just plain ignore it because I'm either talking to my companion(s) or on a mission to shop for something.

However, I can't tell you how many times I've been chatting with someone in a bar or restaurant and, all of a sudden, I'll stop and say "Buffett". They usually give me a blank stare until I point to the ceiling (where I imagine the speakers to be) and say it's a JB song playing.

I'm not consciously trying to hear the music at all. It's just the JB comes through for me. He's not the only one, the Bee Gees have the same effect. Everyone else? Yeah, pretty much they're all background music that I pay no mind to.

At least, I think I'm not paying attention. Ma…

An Unhappy Loss

There's a big range of reactions you can get when you find out someone's leaving (or left) your workplace.

One one end of the scale you can have "it's about damn time" reaction. I have to admit I've felt that way more than a few times over the past years. You can also feel fairly indifferent if the person's absence isn't hugely impactful and they're nice enough folk that you can just wish well.

On the other end of the scale, are those announcements that just hit you like a punch in the stomach. It could be that the person is so important to the organization that you're left worrying about the who and how of picking up the slack until they're replaced. It could aslo be that the person is just someone you care about and you're sad that you won't be seeing them every day any more.

The worst is when the person is a key player, great employee and you do really care about them and will miss having them around. That makes it feel like a p…

Book Review - The Leftovers

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The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very intriguing subject matter - an apparent "rapture" removes millions of people from the world in one fell swoop. How do those left behind cope?

Perrotta focuses on the residents of a small town; a woman who lost her husband and two small children and a family where two of the members become involved in post-rapture formed cults.

It's a great study on love, grief and human resiliency with some surprising twists. Perrotta did a great job of making the characters believable and making you invest in them emotionally.

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The Muse

Why is it that when I have time to do a blog post, I am bereft of ideas?

I've set a goal to average at least one post a day on this blog. I did that not because I want to build a huge following but because I don't want my followers to feel like I'm slacking and don't care about giving them something fresh (and I hope interesting) to read. I also set the goal because I really enjoy writing and the only way to improve that skill is to spend more time doing it.

Here's the rub. Ideas strike me all the time. But, when I get to the open web page to record them, they're gone. Even if I've mentally written half of the post, I just can't recall the idea.

Sigh.

Years ago, I decided to carry around an idea book. It's just a small notebook that I could jot down ideas to come back to later. I thought I could use it for blog ideas, song lyrics or story ideas. Just record a few sentences or phrases and it would be easy to reconstruct later.

The problem is that I d…

Book Review - Foreign Babes in Beijing

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Foreign Babes in Beijing: Behind the Scenes of a New China by Rachel DeWoskin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was our book club selection this month and the it came highly touted. It was a very interesting story.

Rachel DeWoskin moves to Beijing after graduating college in the mid=90s and lands a job at a PR company. She also wins a role on a Chinese TV show as one of two foreign girls who steal the hearts of two Chinese brothers. The show is ultimately watched by 600 million people. We saw some of it online and it's pretty much the cheesiest thing ever.

DeWoskin also talks about two other critical events that happened during her tenure in China. The first is the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade by NATO and the ensuing anti-American emotions it caused. The second is the relationships she and her friend have with two Chinese friends that ends in tragic fashion.

What I came away with was a real sense of alienness. The Chinese don't understand the Americans and Europeans …

Not A Match Made In Heaven

A few years ago (more than three, less than ten), I decided to try online dating. I was living in BFE Chandler with very few places to hang out and an unsocial roomie who wouldn't have gone out with me (except to dinner) even if there were places. I also figured I should stop dating guys from the club (a lesson I apparently have still not learned).

eHarmony was the service I chose. I fell for the personality matching algorithm because I'd heard that Match.com and the like were more meat market hookup places then long-term relationship finders.

I filled out my profile and signed up for three months and got a bunch of matches. However, I don't think those were all active profiles. I sent out lots of messages and didn't get replies nor did the matches get removed which you can do if you think someone's not right.

I even had my skinniest picture on there because, even though 2/3 of Americans are overweight or obese it seems like 100% of American men think their soulmat…

Fantasy Football - Week 4

Praise the football gods, I finally won a game in my work league! Thanks to Cam Newton and my opponent's whole team kind of sucking. I'm 1-3 and there are two other teams with that same score. Time to make a run for it!

I lost in the club league. I had a 6 point lead going into Monday night but LeGarrette Blount ended up being the top scorer for my opponent with his 19 points. Overkill, I say. That makes me 2-2, tied for second in the division and one game behind the leader. If Chris Johnson would just live up to his hype, I'd be in great shape.

The really good news is that none of my players got injured this week so I don't have to scour the waiver wires. That's a big relief as I get really ticked off when someone scoops me on a player.

Pick 'Em made me mad at myself. I honestly thought I put a lot fewer points on Philadelphia to win but I had 14 on the losers. That really hurt. I'm still in first place in both Pick 'Em games but my lead is dwindling i…

October Tasks Me

I know I'm often whining about how busy I am but, damn, I'm really busy. Like wanting to hide in my bedroom and rock back in forth in the dark to escape the busy.

What's up? Well, October is always Jimmy Buffett in Vegas month. And, we always get the tickets in hand very late thanks to the venue. Because I'm the ticket coordinator for the club, that means I get lots of emails asking when we're going to get our tickets and explaining that I just don't know.

Once I get the tickets, it's a mad rush to divvy them up then hand them out. I really only have time to do one hand out this year so a lot of people are going to get them mailed to them.

The reason I don't have a lot of time is that we charter a bus to go to Vegas. The tickets need to get to the non-bus riders because I'm not going to try to meet up with people on concert weekend. It's too stressful.

Oh, did I mention I'm in charge of the bus? Yeah, this is also the time when I send out th…

New Fall TV Shows

OK, here's what made my list to DVR this fall and my thoughts on those shows.

Unforgettable Totally formulaic. Detective has genius ability (she can recall everything that ever happened to her) but has a tragic past (her sister was murdered when they were children). Add in her boss is her ex-boyfriend and it's a trifecta! Oh, wait, I forgot that she's not a "by the rules" type. Qaudfecta? It's just OK and I expect it not to last. I'll probably watch a few more episodes before deciding whether to continue. And, on a completely shallow note, the boss' girlfriend's eyebrows are so bushy that I find them truly distracting. Seriously, they're bad.

Terra Nova I finally watched the two hour premier today. What can I say but that I'm a sucker for dinosaurs so I'll keep watching. Story line is that in the next century, humans have managed to pretty much damage the Earth beyond repair so people are being sent 85 million years in the past to start …

My Giant Acorn

They just don't fall far from the tree - even if you try to toss them further away.

I sent Steven a text today to see what he's doing tonight. He called me back to say he and his buddy decided to drive to Las Vegas to see their friend play in his band.

Yep, completely spur of the moment. No hotel reservations, no complete idea of how to drive up there but determined to hit the road and have fun.

Sometimes, that kid is so much like me it's scary. While most of my trips are planned out well in advance, I love to do last minute excursions.

Probably the biggest impulse happened a few years ago. Sugar Daddy and I were at lunch on a Friday when he said, "Do you want to go to Sea World tomorrow?" I said, "Sure."

We left at something like 4 AM, drove to San Diego and spent the day at Sea World then drove home. I don't remember what time we got home but it was super late.

The day was great fun but man, it kicked my butt because I went to the Cardinals/Packer…