Saturday, December 3, 2016

An Evening

On Thursday evening, some friends and I made a field trip to the Getty Research Center for (what I believe was ) a once in a lifetime opportunity.  Filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola spoke to an audience about the making of "The Godfather".
After reading Mario Puzo's The Godfather years ago, I've had something of an obsession with organized crime.  The movie (along with the second one) is in my top 5 favorite films.  We got the tickets back in October I believe, so I've been looking forward to the event for awhile now.
He was introduced by the Director of the Research Center, and then again by the interviewer.  Upon coming onto the stage and taking a seat, his pant legs crept up a bit, revealing bright red socks.  And his whole time on the stage was as endearing as those socks.  The stories he told about the filming of the movie were fascinating and funny.  It was so interesting to go "behind the scenes" so to speak on one of the greats.  The Getty is quite close to UCLA so there were several film students at the event.  Having gone to UCLA Film School himself, Coppola was very accommodating, answering their questions about his role as a filmmaker.  
Coppola has a new book out, which was the reason for the visit.  It's not a book he's authored per say, but rather notes and documents kept during the making of The Godfather.  Rather than using the script, Coppola's process (which he shared that evening) is to create a binder or notebook of his vision of the film he is working on.  The new book is actually a reproduction of his The Godfather notebook.  Being sold for $50 a book at the museum, I didn't purchase one.  It is probably quite interesting for anyone interested in the film and would be kind of fun to read through before watching the movie again - maybe giving a new perspective.  I might see if I can eventually borrow it from the library.
Even though he was born in Detroit an raised in Queens, he does have strong ties to California. In addition to studying at UCLA,  he moved to Norther California over 30 years ago.  He's also the owner of the Family Coppola Winery in Napa whose wines were served at the event.
I don't usually do evening events on a school night due to my early mornings,  but this one was worth the missing hours of sleep.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

A Rescue

When adopting a dog from an animal shelter or rescue, there is always the possibility that the dog will have a fear or two that they have to overcome.  Rigby came to me with a few such fears.  Loud noises (food processor, blender, lawn mowers, etc.), riding in the car, and being covered with anything (a blanket as an example) frightened her.  All of those fears always made me feel so sad for her.  What had happened to her in those short few months of her life before I got her made her react that way.  She's mostly overcome them since, and she's pretty brave nowadays.
The fear of being covered with anything has probably diminished due to the morning routine.  Rigby forgets how to mind when I make the bed.  When I call her off of it, she crawls across it, makes herself longer and bigger, and somehow covers more and more of the bed with each, "Get down!".  When this habit started, I would barely touch her with a sheet or pillow, and she'd spring off the bed with such a start.  Now?  Well, I can pile all the bedding on top of her, and she falls asleep!  I think she's over that fear.  

Monday, November 21, 2016


It's been almost two weeks since our infamous election on November 8, and in those almost two weeks I've had this ever-present sense of bewilderment (and dread) over what has happened.  I know I'm not alone in this shock, and yet I feel like I've gone into my head a bit over it, trying to rationalize how this is possible and what will our future look like now.  Neither is terribly pleasant.
While I've always felt fairly street smart, self aware, and a good judgement of people, after the election results, it is quite clear I've been living in a freaking bubble.  I am stunned that someone so rude and hateful and dishonest and with the vocabulary of a 5th grader has earned the highest office in our land.  Regardless of wanting change in this country, I don't understand how someone who has insulted and degraded every societal group (except white men) deserves to be president.  And no matter how hard I have tried, I can't rationalize it.  If that makes me a whiny liberal, then I guess that is what I am.
I had to take a step back from news, blogs, Facebook, etc, for awhile because I was/am truly disgusted by the election (and what has transpired since).  I spent the last two weeks watching reruns of West Wing instead of the news, pretending that Martin Sheen had gotten the job instead.  Anyhow, I don't plan on posting about it anymore, but I felt I needed to explain my absence.
I hope you all have been well!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

An Online Experience

My allergies have been quite bad this year, and I've been fighting an on-again-off-again sinus infection due to said allergies for the last couple of months.  On Thursday of this week, it felt like I was getting a sore throat when I swallowed or ate, but by Friday night I realized it was actually ear pain.  All day yesterday I had the pain on and off, so I hoped that it was just due to sinus pressure.  Having had ear infections my entire life though, it was apparent by last night that I have an ear infection, most likely due to all the sinus issues I've been dealing with.  I had been delaying the inevitable...I needed a round of antibiotics.
We have several urgent care offices in town, but they aren't appointment based so going is a crap shoot of how quickly you will be seen.  The thought of spending my Sunday at the urgent care office, and making myself presentable enough to do so, was unappealing.  While I know a handful of people who have mentioned or even used online healthcare before, I had not ever done so.  Not quite sure how it all worked, I was hesitant to try it.  This morning though, when I woke up with the ear pain again (I had hoped it would magically disappear after drugging myself to sleep last night), I spent a little time researching it online.  There are a lot of websites for online healthcare, at varying costs.  Although I had searched using my insurance company last night and didn't find anything, I actually happened upon their site this morning.  Knowing that it was linked to my insurance company I felt a bit more comfortable trying it out as opposed to some random health site.  So I tried it!
It took just a few minutes to sign up and then there was a quick health and insurance/pharmacy questionnaire.  In about a minute it accepted my insurance, I paid the $20 copay (which is my regular visit copay) with my credit card, and I was in a virtual waiting room with two patients ahead of me.  The nice thing about the wait was that I waited in my bed reading as opposed to in the urgent care waiting room with other sick people.  I'm not sure how long I waited, since I had occupied myself with a book, but maybe 10 minutes later the iPad dinged and told me it was my turn.  Within a few seconds I was video chatting with a nice doctor about my ear pain.  An additional plus for using this service linked to my insurance is that she had my medical information beyond the health questionnaire.  She could see that I had been battling a sinus infection so it was most likely caused by that.  The doctor had me touch my ear in a couple of places and tell her if/where it hurt.  Then she asked to see my throat, which made me laugh.  Trying to hold the iPad up to my mouth and make sure the camera was looking in the right spot was a bit challenging.  We chatted for about 5 minutes, she prescribed me a Z Pack and sent it right to the pharmacy which I will pick up in about an hour.
The only downside, you have to watch yourself on camera the whole time.  Certain angles on those devices are so unflattering.  The thought of owning a selfie stick is ridiculous to me, but the idea crossed my mind a few times during the visit.
I had no idea what to expect from an online visit, which made me uncertain about trying it.  After today's experience, and the fact that it's linked to my insurance, I would definitely use it again.  It sure beats waiting in line at the actual office when you're feeling sick.  Other than a quick trip to the pharmacy, I didn't have to leave my bed.  I'm a fan of anything I can do from the comfort of my bed.  

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Have a Taco!

A few weeks ago one of the presidential candidates' surrogates made the comment that if something isn't done about the "dominant" Latino culture we'll have "a taco truck on every corner."  Here in Southern California, we have taco trucks on many corners, so that thought of one on every corner sounded like a GREAT idea.  I LOVE tacos.
Being a Californian, tacos are a way of life. We can get them with ordinary fillings like chicken, steak, pork, ground beef, and fish, as well as more "interesting" ingredients like brain, tripe, cactus, and corn fungus.  I'm not terribly adventurous in my eating in general so I leave the interesting ingredients for others and stick with the more common fillings. And generally when I make them at home I use braised or grilled chicken or carne asada, which is marinated flap meat (steak).  One type that I enjoy when I have it at a truck or restaurant is al pastor or marinated pork/pineapple.  The pork is traditionally cooked on a vertical rotisserie, which looks a lot like how shawarma meat is cooked, which is why I've never attempted it at home.   I saw, what looked like, a fun recipe on Facebook which used a skewer and marinated pork shoulder to create the tower of meat.
After buying the pork shoulder and planning on serving it for a get-together, finding the ingredients was a little more challenging than I thought.  There must have been a run on achiote paste and guajillo chili powder as both the Latino section of my market and the two Latino grocery stores nearby were out.  Maybe the Tasty recipe was making the rounds!
I ended up with a couple of substitutions (California chili powder and achiote seeds which I made into my own paste).
  On a side note, can we just take a moment to look at the voting guide in the background.  It is enormous - over an inch thick.  I, for one, can not wait until this election is over!
Making the tower was kind of fun, and an impressive sight.  There was a slight problem in keeping it standing while getting it into the oven and even once in the oven it kept losing its balance.
 After a few attempts we redid the tower into two smaller towers, which were much more manageable.
 It cut fairly easy off the tower and the flavor was quite good.  It certainly wasn't the real thing like on the trucks, but topped with cilantro, fresh pineapple, and salsa, it was a decent copycat version.

Do you like tacos?

Monday, October 10, 2016

Deleted Emails

No, not those emails!
Last week, my school district received an email from our tech department about a change over of our email servers.  The gist of the email was that school site email accounts would be taken down one at a time, transferred to the new servers and then brought back up before moving on to the next school.  It also said that depending on the amount of info on each server, and even each employee's account, the time for the change over could take an hour or two to a day or two.  Shortly after that email, I received my own personal email from the tech department.  It seemed as if the size of my email account was one of those that could cause the process to take days rather than hours.  I have been aware that I am an email hoarder.  I DO delete most of them, but then never empty out the deleted folder because I'm worried about needing to find them at a later time.
After receiving that email, I took a closer look and noticed that I was keeping emails as far in the past as 2004...2004!  Not too many, however 2005 and on took up a lot of space.  There were over 5,000 emails that hadn't even been opened before deleting them, that added to the rest there had to be 10, maybe 20,000 in that deleted folder.  There were so many that when I selected 2004 to 2014 to delete (I kept 2015 since that was just last year) it gave my computer a spasm and it was frozen for several minutes.
After deleting 10 years worth of deleted emails, there are still over 2,000 unread emails in the folder, which means in all there are even more.  But at least the purge got rid of most of them.  One of these days I'll have to go in and get rid of the ones that will definitely not be needed, but finding that time is hard. Case in point, it took me twelve years to do it!  But in those terms, it's like I'm starting from a clean slate...sort of.

Monday, October 3, 2016

A Unit

My exasperation over our current presidential campaigns has pretty much reached my limit of sanity. I'm not nearly as conflicted over my choice in November as others might be, but I'm just tired of the 24 hour-ness of it all and what is worse about the 24 hour-ness is that most of it is just intolerable and bat-sh!# crazy.  I think most feel the same way as I do, so I am not unique in that position.
What might be unique about my position is that I teach a full blown (5-6 weeks) government unit to my second graders in October.  I enjoy teaching that unit so much and the kids enjoy learning about our state and federal governments' a second grade level, of course.  The unit is brought out every year, but when it is a presidential election year, it is usually a blast.  The unit is closed out with a campaign, debates, and an election.
I say "usually" it is a blast because this year I have absolutely no desire to do it.  Teaching about what is supposed to happen seems so idealistic when what is happening across the board with our government AND the campaigns is asinine.  The kids have a hard enough time understanding the ins and outs of it all, heck, so do I if I'm being honest.  Trying to rationalize that with what is really happening will leave them mumbling to themselves.
On top of it all, I'm worried about how I will handle those other opinions.  In previous elections, it has been much easier to stay neutral, even with students with differing opinions.  The ideas and talking points that have come out this year are so hateful and so offensive to me (and aimed towards many of my students), my neutrality might get thrown right out the window.  The unit is supposed to start tomorrow.  I'm all ready for it, everything is prepared.  Whether or not I end up taking it on is another matter entirely.