Sunday, September 14, 2014

Dogs, Elevators, and Boxes

Some things seen over the weekend that made me smile...and I wanted to share with you!
Why I love dogs...
It's a long one, but it'll make you laugh...

A simplified version of Men are From Mars Women are From Venus.   Sweeping generalizations aside, it still made me chuckle.  It's not enlarging very well, so here's the link if you're so inclined.
Have a great week!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Wasting Time With a Saturday 9!

It's supposed to be 104+ over the next few days which is making it very hard to motivate this Saturday morning.
This week's Saturday 9 song inspiration is Train's Soul Sister.

1) The video was shot on a street corner in Echo Park in central Los Angeles. If you saw a film crew making a video in your neighborhood, would you stop to watch? Or would you just keep walking? Living in the Valley, just outside of LA, someone is filming something ALL THE TIME.  It's not really a novel thing here.  In fact, for the last two weeks the liquor/convenience store across the street from my school has been closed and restyled for filming.  It's kind of a pain with traffic and people milling around.  So to answer that question...unless George Clooney is there, I keep walking.
2) The singer says he remembers his girl in every dream he dreams. Do you remember if you dreamed last night?  I don't remember most of what I dream...if I dream.  Every so often I'll have some wacky dream, and I remember that.  But most of the time, I don't dream.
3) The band Train is from San Francisco. Have you ever visited The City by the Bay? I love visiting SF.  In fact, I'd like to be there now as they rarely get as hot as we do down here.
4) Lead singer Pat Monahan got his start in a Led Zeppelin cover band. Can you name a Led Zeppelin song?  Stairway to Heaven, Fool in the Rain, When the Levee Breaks, Ramble On are some of my faves.
5) In doing research for this week's Saturday 9, Crazy Sam discovered a publication called Trains, The Magazine of Railroading.What's the last magazine you flipped through? I subscribe to Vanity Fair, but tend to read it on my iPad when I travel.  They still send me an actual magazine, but only sometimes do I flip through it.
6) Do you consider yourself a leader or a follower?  It depends on the situation.  In my job, I tend to be a leader.  In my personal life it's a mixed bag.  The important stuff I feel the need to be in control.  The small things, not so much.  I'd actually rather be a follower for that stuff.  
7) Scholars tell us that "To be or not to be" is Shakespeare's most quoted line. Give us another one.  "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." 

8) How do you listen to music on the go? Car radio? CD changer? iPod/mp3 player? Your phone? My car is like a 100 years old so I don't have anything fancy like blue tooth or usb drives.  I was in a rental car a couple of weekends ago and I was shocked at all the electronic options available.  I did have a new car stereo installed about 7 years ago that lets me attach my iPod (from inside the glove box).  That's what I listen to in the car.  If I'm traveling but not in the car I have music on my iPhone.  
9) Are you a convincing liar?  No, I'm not.  (Did I convince you?)  I can white lie to people I don't care about pretty well.  Otherwise, I'm not terribly convincing as I wear it all over my face.  Although, I will admit texting makes those white lies easier.  

Happy Saturday!  It's time to brave the heat...wish me luck!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Restrictions

This week, stricter water restrictions went into effect in California.  Due to the drought, the governor called for conservation efforts early this year, hoping to reduce water usage without having to take severe action.  Unfortunately, California couldn't get it together as a whole to voluntarily conserve so a resolution was passed to establish mandatory conservation measures.  We received our letter from the water company last week.  Most of the mandates are things I never did in the first place like washing down the sidewalk or driveway (a broom works just fine), washing a car without a shut off nozzle, using decorative fountains or features that don't recirculate the water, and runoff caused by over-irrigating.  It kind of boggles my mind that this didn't happen earlier in the year when we were asked to be mindful, especially knowing the water crisis we are in.   But giving the benefit of the doubt, this was our warmest/driest winter on record so that could be why the voluntary reduction seemed for not.  Anyhow, the measures listed above didn't concern me because they're basically common sense, but in addition to those, our outdoor irrigation is being restricted beyond runoff.  We now have to comply to a watering schedule which cuts my summer watering by half.  Gah!  During the months of August - October (maybe November) my watering schedule is every day.  Even then, things get brown and dry.  Now we're limited to three times a week in summer and two times a week in the winter.
I had to adjust the timer this week to match the odd number schedule.  As I looked outside at the temperature hitting 100 this weekend I could just see the ground drying and cracking and my grass dying.  Luckily, our summer has been cooler than summers past, so this was only like the second weekend the temps have been that high.  Even so, this water situation is depressing.
Being part of a Home Owners Association, I wonder how they will react to these restrictions.  They really go after the residents for not keeping up with yards.  What's going to happen when all of our yards die?!?! 
Earlier this summer, there was a news story about a couple in Glendora who were fined by the city when their water conservation browned their lawn.  I would imagine with the restrictions in place, we'd be in the clear from any fines, but you never know.  Californians love their green lawns!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Cold Brew

As mentioned in previous posts I'm a froo froo coffee drinker.  I like coffee as long as it has milk and sugar in it.  If someone else makes it for me at Coffee Bean or Starbucks, that's even better.  I do have a single serve machine that makes outstanding vanilla and caramel lattes, but during most of the summer it gets very little use.  When you wake up in the morning and it's already 80 degrees, a hot cup of coffee isn't terribly refreshing.  However, the caffeine is desperately needed in the morning so I've been playing around with icing and blending those single serve lattes, but they just don't taste the same.  I limit myself to a coffee house ice coffee fix on Thursday mornings because I can't afford to do it any more than that.  There are still 4 work days needing caffeine left.
Then one day a few weeks ago I ran into Trader Joe's and happened upon their Cold Brew.  Not knowing what it was, I made a mental note to look into it when I got home.  I did, and I'll tell you what...it's the bomb!
The gist...when coffee is brewed with hot water it creates an acidity and some bitterness in the flavor, hence the milk and sweetener I require.  In addition, creating cold coffee drinks out of hot brewed coffee creates even MORE acidity making it taste astringent-like.  No wonder my iced lattes out of hot lattes were always somewhat of a fail.  Anyhow, the cold brew method creates less acidity making for a sweeter brew.  In addition to the pre-bottled kind (like from Trader Joe's), it can also be made at home.  There are cold brew pots that can be purchased or a French press can be used, but I spent some time researching alternative home-brew methods and found one that works for me.
I add about a cup and a half of coarsely ground coffee beans to the bottom of a pitcher.  Then pour three and a half cups of cool water over the top of it.  I run a wooden spoon through the mixture a couple of times and then let sit on the counter about 12 hours.  When time is up, I put a regular coffee filter inside a fine mesh strainer and set over a bowl.  The pitcher of newly brewed cold brew is slowly poured into the filter/strainer a little at a time.
Once all the grounds are filtered (I use that wooden spoon to press a bit more liquid out of them) toss them and what is left if the cold brew.  Of course, the measurements can be adjusted, but for me I get about a week's worth of cold brew from this mixture.
Now the thing about cold brew is that it's more like a concentrate.  Some might be able to drink it like that, but the intent is to mix it with water or milk or both and serve over ice.  I fill my Starbucks insulated cup with ice, pour the concentrate in half way, and then add equal parts milk and water to the remaining half.  Sometimes I add some agave or honey,  but I can actually drink this without sweetener too.
I add the straw, twist on the lid, and head to work.  It is a great start to my day!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Some Sunday Thoughts (Concluding on Monday)

I began writing this post last night but fell asleep before I finished, so am finishing up tonight.  They were all Sunday thoughts, just some were written on Monday. :)
After doing some laundry yesterday (Saturday) afternoon, a couple pairs of pants, a blouse, and a sweater were hung over the door to air dry.  When I went to bed last night, the clothes were still a bit damp so they were left hanging overnight.  I woke up to them this morning in a pile on the floor of my closet.  At first, I was surprised to see them there.  I was certain they were left hanging, and they didn't grow legs and walk there.  Then I stared remembering a dream I had in the night.  Someone was staying over in my guest room, so I needed to close my bedroom door.  In my sleep, I must have taken them down and thrown them in the closet because they were blocking the door from being closed.  Funny thing is, I do kind of remember starting to hang them in the closet but could tell they were still a bit wet and didn't want them hanging with the other clothes.  So my solution...throw them on the floor.  This dream might be an indication of the kind of housekeeper I would be if it were socially acceptable.
While unpacking my classroom again a few weeks ago, I came upon a box of VHS tapes.  They are so outdated, even in an outdated classroom.  We've got enough technology these days that at least DVDs can be used.  However, there were hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in that box of good, educational videos that I hated to get rid of, even though I hadn't used one in years.  Earlier last year, I called a photo/printing/copy store who advertised converting VHS to computer files, but the price was astronomical - about $30 per 2 hours of video.  There are over 40 tapes in the box with anywhere from 2-6 hours of video.  Having someone else do the job was cost prohibitive.  After some research, I bought a couple of AV cables that plugged into a VCR (I took the one from school which had finally beed removed this summer) and then into the computer.  Other than being time consuming, it's so easy.  I can store the computer files on a disc or a flash drive and that takes up so much less space than those bulky VHS tapes.  I've processed 15-20 hours of video so far.  Only A LOT more to go, but at least it's saving me some money and space after all is said and done.  I'm not sure what I'll do with them after the conversion.  Maybe give them to someone else to hoard for no reason.

This summer a couple of new dramas aired on some of the cable networks.  If a new show is playing on a network that isn't one of the Big Three and isn't SciFi, I'll usually check it out, at least for a show or two.  The content is always a bit more original, intelligent, and edgier than the shows on basic cable.  I DVRd them this summer, but never took the time to watch them.  While the VHS converting above is quite easy, most of the videos I'm converting are 30 minute kids' programming.  Not really enough time to delve into another project as I didn't want to get side tracked and forget to stop the recording after each show.  So I sat on the floor of the office, VCR connected to the computer, while I watched a couple of episodes of the new shows on the DVR.  All three shows were semi-entertaining and have some potential, but something else struck me about them.  All three shows also portrayed one of more characters using cocaine.  WHAT!?!?!  Is that still a thing?  Back in the 80s and early 90s cocaine use/abuse was often the subject of television and movies, but I can't remember the last time I saw it in entertainment or even heard about someone using coke in the news.  The first show I saw, an unhappily married couple/parents took a some hits in a bar.   I didn't think much of it as these characters slept walk through their marriage and were very depressing.  Well, that's not true, I did think about it and was surprised that the drug use was even necessary.  In the very next show I watched, a PR Rep went to her ex-boyfriends house where she stole a packet of cocaine and snorted it in the bathroom.  And in the third show, a disgraced doctor had to medically revive his one-night-stand after a night of cocaine debauchery.  Drugs aren't my thing, so maybe I'm out of the loop on the current drug of choice (I thought it was meth!), but I have been under the impression that cocaine had lost its coolness with the cancelation of Miami Vice.   So I ask again...Is this still a thing?
After yesterday's earthquake up in Napa those in California are probably a little on edge, thinking about the Big One and if/when it will hit us.  Twice today I was stopped at a light underneath a long, wide freeway overpass.  Those always stress me out after an earthquake because if it fell on my car, I'd be crushed.  I digress though.  I was also surprised at the small bit of relief I had that there were no fatalities and that overall the building structures kept it together.  After the 1994 quake in Northridge and the 1989 quake in San Francisco, California really worked hard on preparing our structures for a big earthquake. Standards are high, and it seems as if they are adhered to.  Although yesterday's earthquake was not quite as strong as the ones in '89 and '94, it was still a 6.0 which is big.  I take some comfort in knowing that the earthquake measures that have been taken might have (and hopefully will) make a difference in our safety even if that Big One does hit.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

It's Been Awhile...Saturday 9

The song for this week's Saturday 9  is Sonny and Cher's "I've Got You Babe".  While I do like their original version of the song, it came out several years before I was born.  So I think I'm partial to this UB40 and Chrissie Hynde cover of it...
1) Popular music has produced almost countless groups, but not that many duos. Besides Sonny & Cher, can you name another? Oh yes, Simon and Garfunkel were a great duo.  I'd say they top Sonny and Cher.

2)  Hearing this recording from his clock radio is how Bill Murray woke up every morning in Groundhog Day. What woke you up this morning?  The alarm clock.  I'm so afraid that I will sleep through music so have the clock set to alarm.  It's such a terrible sound.  When I hear that sound any other time, like on TV, it makes me cringe.

3) When she was growing up, Cher practiced her autograph for when she became a star. Is your signature legible? Or is it more of a scrawl?  It used to be big and flowery but now that I so rarely  write in cursive, it's a scribble - more like two capital letters and then some lines.  

4) In addition to show biz, Sonny & Cher had many careers: Sonny was a restauranteur and politician, Cher is an interior designer. Would you like to try your hand at any of those professions?  Wouldn't it be fun to be an interior designer?!?!  I already am one in my head.  I just wish I had the funds to make it all happen.  As a night owl, I think I'd enjoy a restauranteur's work hours.

5) In 1965, when this song topped the charts, Sonny and Cher were as famous for their wardrobe as for their music. Sonny was fond of tall, heavy-heeled boots while Cher often paired granny dresses with bare feet. What's on your feet right now?  My feet are naked!  In the summer, I'm usually in flip flops around the house,  but I've misplaced one of my favorite pairs so I went without rather than find another pair in the closet.  So they're bare, with pink nail polish of course. 

6) By 1968, their career crashed. Cher's early attempts as a movie actress failed, their records stopped selling and the IRS came after them for back taxes. Have you ever been audited?  I answer this question with a serious knock on wood...No, I haven't and I sure hope I haven't jinxed it.  The IRS takes about half of paycheck so I don't know what they'd audit...I should audit them! 

7) In 1971 they were on top again with their TV show. But their marriage was coming apart. Sonny said, "For the last 5 years I worried about our career, not about us." Have you ever been guilty of putting career before relationship?  Definitely do all the time.

8) By 1972 they were living separate lives -- in the same house. For the sake of The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, they pretended to be happily married another year and a half. Tell us about a time when you pretended to be happy, but weren't.  I'm not a very good actress so do not pretend very well.  I wear my emotions like a sandwich board, so pretending to be anything is not in my wheelhouse.


9) While their separation and divorce were bitter, they resumed their friendship when Cher showed up at the opening of his restaurant in 1976. Have you ever made the first move in repairing a relationship? Sure have.  I don't have any problem admitting to being wrong and am willing to eat crow to repair a relationship I may have damaged.  On the other hand,  I can be a bit of grudge holder so don't always put forth the effort to repair relationships when someone has treated me badly.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Yep, That Happened

So this one time last night I sat in bed with the TV on, a giant bag of school work sitting on the side of the bed, the computer on my lap, and the dog sprawled out next to me.  When out of the corner of my eye I noticed SOMETHING running along the bedroom wall.  At first I thought it was a spider or some kind of insect.  "Oh my god!" I shouted when I focused and realized there was a small lizard IN MY HOUSE.  It scurried underneath the armoire.  I jumped out of bed, my stomach in knots, wondering what I was going to do.  After waiting for a bit to see if it came out from the other side of the dresser, I secretly hoped it wouldn't because I had no idea how I was going to capture it.  The dresser stands on legs about 6 inches tall so I lay down on the floor and nervously peeked under the dresser.  That lizard was right smack in the middle of the back of it.  After a few seconds Rigby woke up and joined me down on the floor.  I thought about pointing it out to her but didn't really want a dead or partially dead lizard in my house either.
I scrunched my face up and whined knowing that I had to figure something out and not wanting to.  But I couldn't just leave it there.  So the sides of the dresser were barricade in case it tried to come out, it would have to use the front.  Armed with a trashcan, I made a lot of noise and smacked a flip flop on the ground trying to get it to move.  The lizard moved in between the base board and the carpet.  I think it might have been trying to crawl under the carpet.  So that wasn't working.  Rigby was left in charge of guarding the lizard as I ran downstairs and grabbed a broom and large, handled dustpan.  Things were getting serious!
Panic set in when, while running back up the stairs, Rigby met me halfway.  "You're supposed to be watching the lizard!" I told her, worried that now it was running loose in the house and I'd never find it until it was grown and tried to crawl into bed with me.  (shivers)  The lizard was still under the armoire. Thankfully?
After a few pokes with the broom and screams when it moved, it tried to run out the side (I had to unblock it because it was too dark to see).  I stopped and regrouped, trying to logically solve this problem.  There were a few whimpers about the situation, and then I pulled it together.  The dustpan JUST fit between the side of the dresser and the wall so I held it there while lying on the floor with the broom in the other hand.  I tapped the area right behind the lizard with the broom, gradually moving it towards the side where the dustpan was.  When it was finally was in plain sight, the broom brought it forward and into the dustpan.  There were a few dicey moments with the thing trying to crawl out of the pan, but with a lot of quick movements (and screaming), I kept the lizard inside.  I ran back down the stairs, shaking that thing to keep the lizard at the bottom and still whining.  But, in the end, I made it outside and dumped it over the fence.  My heart was beating so fast I thought I might have a heart heart attack.  It took me a minute to calm back down, tell myself that there weren't anymore (fingers crossed there isn't a family living under the bed) and resume the work that I was doing before the lizard sighting.  And that was just the beginning of the night.
A few minutes later, Rigby came to me like she does when she needs to go outside.  I got back out of bed, walked out of the bedroom with her, and on the landing that's where I saw it.  Rigby must have been channeling my nervous energy because in the time it took me to go back to work and her to come to me, she had diarrhea all over the 2nd floor landing.  All I wanted to do was get the school work done and go to bed, but instead I let her outside and then went spent the next 30+ minutes cleaning the landing.  Yuck!
I thought maybe I had just freaked her out with all my screaming and shaking the dustpan and broom around.  But no, she was sick.  I had to get up and let her out about five times during the night before around 2:00am when I just left her outside.
Poor baby.  I felt bad,  but she didn't have to get up and go to work in the morning.  Needless to say, today was a LONG day.  Now, I'm back in bed, with another bag full of work.  Rigby is by my side again (so far things seem to be ok intestinally) snoring loudly.  She didn't get much sleep last night either.