Sunday, September 29, 2013

Enough Already

This afternoon, the House voted to attach the delay of The Affordable Care Act to government spending and increasing the debt ceiling.  The Senate says they will vote against it, and both parties point fingers blaming each other for a possible government shutdown that could take place on Tuesday. 

I’m so over this congress I can hardly even wrap my mind around what a bunch of self-righteous buffoons they are.  While they speak about loving America and all that it stands for, we are going on maybe the 40th time they’ve tried to repeal the ACA on the grounds that the American people don’t want it.  Which is ironic in that the American people voted Obama as President for a 2nd term BECAUSE of his platform on healthcare reform.  The majority of the American people do want this reform, despite the disturbing commercials that came out this past month.

On the brighter side, after being considered one of the most ungovernable states in the nation only a year and a half ago, California is making a comeback. We had several years of poor decisions under the Govern-ator that catered to that “1%” and basically broke us.  With some positive human-rights’ decisions and a budget SURPLUS, we’re getting it done these days.

It’s far from the utopia he speaks of, but it’s nice to not be the worst on all the lists and the butt of all the jokes anymore.  Yay us!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Mystery Pills

The last thing you want to do when you are sick is drive to the store for medicine.  Therefore, I usually keep a stash of drugs for such an occasion.   When I woke up this morning feeling like I might be coming down with a cold, I haphazardly searched through drawers and cabinets looking for the stash, hoping to find a Dayquil or something comparable. 

My search seemed fruitless as I dug through a flat or two of Benadryl which might stop the stuffy nose, but would have knocked me out cold for several hours.  Then I came upon these white pills.  
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Neither the front nor back of the package said what they were though.  Since I don’t buy over the counter meds except for decongestants, cough/cold, or allergy, chances are it was for something sinus related.  Not being quite sure though, I looked up the maker and the pill # and the ingredients online.  The meds are in fact a decongestant of some kind, but not knowing the reason I had bought it in the first place made me hesitant to take them.  It’s a mystery why the maker of medication wouldn’t put what it is, beyond the ingredients, on the package.  While the name of the medication helps me with its use, the ingredients don’t mean anything to me.

One last shuffle through the silverware drawer was far more successful when I found these bad boys.  I’ve never been happier to see a Dayquil package.  stuff 273

After they took effect I headed out for a couple of errands, including more cold medication and Kleenex.  I know I have 2-3 boxes of Kleenex in this house somewhere (from the last time I was sick), but for the life of me I can’t find them anywhere.  So now, I have four more boxes to hide around the house to not find when I need it.

The last couple of days I haven’t been home until after 9:00 at night so Rigby has not been on a walk in two days.  Now, not being able to breathe through my nose, I know we’re in for another day or two without activity.  As a peace offering I also came home with a new toy to vicariate in order to pass the time. 
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I know I’m partial, but really could she be cuter!?!?!

Anyhow, it’s 3PM on Saturday, and I am looking forward to a restful remainder of the weekend.  And so far the floppy dog toy is still intact. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

I Have No Words…and Then I Do

The new iPhone came out this past week.  Between the lines and the fights, it’s all just appalling – it’s A PHONE for goodness sake.  However, I am seething about THIS.  I can hardly stand the news anymore.  It does something to your psyche constantly being inundated with stories of “regular” people who are morally reprehensible.  Everyday we are faced with snippets of these people; whether driving in the car or standing in line.  People who behave extraordinarily bad.  Our society seems to be morphing into one that is inconsiderate and doesn’t care about anyone but themselves.  It breaks my heart.

Yesterday, I was driving across town when a large, white plastic bag, sailing through the air, headed towards me.  It looked like a flying carpet whipping around in the wind.  At first, I was a little nervous as it was large enough to obstruct my view if it landed on my windshield.  Luckily though it veered to the right a bit.  But instead of covering the glass it wrapped itself around my car’s antennae.  I was going at a pretty good clip so the bag held it’s form tightly, causing a vibrating sound off of the antennae.  It also looked like a I was driving down the road with a giant white flag attached to my car. 

The next traffic signal was in sight so I figured once I slowed or stopped the bag would unravel itself.  As I decelerated, I passed a shopping center with cars pulling out onto the street.  There were a few glances my way,wondering what I was doing driving around with a white “flag” I’m sure.  Once the car stopped, the bag drooped but stayed wrapped.  The wind was blowing the ends of the bag around so I rolled down the window thinking I might be able to reach across the passenger’s seat and grab it.  But with the seatbelt on I couldn’t reach it.  I thought about hopping out quickly and running around to the other side to get it.  I wasn’t sure I’d have enough time before the light changed, plus my destination was nearing.  While I contemplated all of this, a car pulled up along side of me.  It was a car I had passed.  I had just been trying to reach it when the driver looked over at me.  All of a sudden, he opened his car door, walked over to the passenger’s side of mine, and asked, “Do you want me to…” pointing at the bag.  At first I was shocked.  Someone jumping out of their car at a stop light has the familiarity of a car jacking, frankly.  But I smiled, nodded, and thanked him as he unwrapped the bag, rolled it up in his hands, and took it back to his car.  The light changed and we drove on.

I had been headed to a party when this happened.  I must have told the story 2 or 3 times last night with varied responses, but all expressed a surprise over a stranger acting in a kind way.  When we are so often inundated with poor behavior, it’s refreshing.  This man probably has no idea, but his small gesture made my day.

Monday, September 16, 2013

And the Straw Factory Thought, “Who Will Actually Count Them Anyways?”

Well, a second grade class would, that’s who!

After, I “accidentally” dumped a box of 1,000 coffee straws onto the carpet this morning the class was charged with counting them for a number sense/base-ten lesson. stuff 270 We wrapped up bundles of ten, turned those bundles into hundreds, which eventually led us to….967 straws

I’m sure the straw people assumed that no one in their right mind would count to see how many there are, but the box DOES say 1,000.  DXEHS551

Luckily, I had a bag of extras just in case. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Spinning in the Kitchen

I like salads.  I like salads a lot.  But for many years the washing and drying of fresh lettuce was a pain.  It would turn into an all day affair – spreading out the paper towels on the sink, then then wet lettuce, then another row of paper towels.  Drying always took so long, after multiple layers of the towels.  Often, I was too lazy to go through the process and would therefore not use the lettuce before it went bad in the fridge.  Sometimes I would buy the bags of prewashed/precut lettuce, but they always taste old to me and once the bag is open it doesn’t last very long. 

That was until I broke down and bought a salad spinner a couple of years ago after seeing it at a friend’s house.  When I got home from the grocery store yesterday, my initial reaction to washing lettuce was the pre-salad spinner aversion to having to wash it.  But, I pulled out that salad spinner, separated and washed the lettuce, and wound the spinner.  Within seconds, the lettuce was water free and ready to store. 

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Fresh lettuce lasts so much longer when washed and stored correctly.  I can get almost two weeks out of it.

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The salad spinner has been a welcomed addition to the kitchen.  It’s probably in my top 5 most-used kitchen equipment – worth every penny!  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Printing, Who Needs it Anyways

Every school year, I have a handful of students with terrible printing.  Over the last several years it has slowly deteriorated.  A combination of things contribute to the demise of handwriting – The emphasis on standardized testing has greatly limited the amount of time we spend working on handwriting technique.  Academic preschool is also to blame.  Three- to - four year olds are assigned class work and homework that includes paper and pencil tasks without being shown how to correctly hold a pencil and form letters.  After two or more years of preschool the bad habits have formed and they are EXTREMELY hard to break, especially in a test-heavy curriculum.  This year, there are a couple of students who hold their pencil in a fist and many who make their letters from the bottom up and therefore have very little control of their pencil.  Both scenarios end up with sloppy handwriting. 

But in the scheme of things, is it that big of a deal?  I go back and forth with worrying about it.  Those who have been teaching since before No Child Left Behind (the beginning of test prep) overwhelmingly think that printing/cursive instruction is essential, that it’s an art form and needs to be preserved, and it’s important that our kids have neat, legible printing.  To me, they are valid points.  On the other hand, how often in our lives do we actually write by hand anymore.  As a teacher, I probably print more often than most, but even then it’s not that often.  Our kids can text and scroll like nobody’s business nowadays.  They are becoming technologically literate earlier and earlier, some far more literate than many adults I know.  We regularly communicate using technology, so wouldn’t it seem putting pencil to paper is just about obsolete?

It’s a debate that continues year after year.  Until it’s decided upon by the powers that be, I’ll continue to cringe when I see fist writing.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Dinner Went Awry and Some Thoughts About Rice

In addition to being my day of rest, Sundays are slotted for the majority of the week’s cooking.  I usually make a couple of meals that I can then portion out for a few lunches and dinners.  The thought of planning and packing up a lunch each day or cooking dinner each night after work is so very unappealing.  Instead, I grocery shop Saturday while out running errands, prep and cook Sunday afternoon, and reap the benefits of my efforts the rest of the week. 

When I made my list yesterday, there were a couple of things that I assumed I had in the kitchen so didn’t pick them up at the store. Unfortunately, when I started cooking I was actually out of garlic and out of olives.  Since it’s my day of rest, a trip back to the store is out of the question.  After some scavenging through the pantry, I made it work minus the olives, and continued my day of cooking.  I had prepared a marinade for the chicken and once it had a few hours to stew, it was ready to grill.  Once the bbq was hot, the chicken was placed on the grate and the lid was closed.  After about 10 minutes, I returned the grill and noticed the temperature had fallen back to zero degrees.  To make a long story short, my grill was out of propane.  Ugh!  I had half-grilled chicken and no more heat.  But, it’s my day of rest, so I was NOT going to get it filled.  I was able to get the oven heated up and finished cooking the chicken through.  It’s not the same as grilled chicken, but at least my lunch for the week could be salvaged. 

Luckily, I’ve never run out of propane while entertaining, but I don’t ever gage the amount of propane in the tank very accurately.  The guy at Lowes who fills them told me I should be able to tell when the tank feels lighter, but those tanks are heavy, even empty, that I can’t tell.  It takes me maybe a year to get through a tank, so I don’t think about it until I run out.

Last year’s Consumer Reports’ investigation into rice and its high levels of arsenic caused me to obsess with all things rice.  Time after time I have warned others about the danger of rice.  There are so many cereals and baby foods that contain rice, and the article warned that eating it weekly could be dangerous.  It’s scary. 

I don’t eat a lot of rice or rice products, but every so often I like it with vegetable stir fry.  After reading why Asians, who have a diet heavy with rice, aren’t proportionally more ill due to their diet, I found that they wash their rice and cook it in much more water than we do.  While we only use enough water to cook the rice, supposedly the true Asian way of cooking it is to use 2-3 times as much water as we do and drain it, removing the harmful chemicals.  I tried cooking it that way shortly after reading the article and just came up with mushy, wet rice.  So I haven’t had it in almost a year, but this weekend I’ve been craving it for some reason.  Imagine my surprise when the FDA announced, due to a recent study, that rice’s arsenic levels were not harmful.  Hooray!  I’m making stir fry this weekend. 

Well, I was making stir fry, but the FDA, being the same agency who allows genetically engineered fruits and vegetables and touts corn syrup as just as safe as sugar, their study has told us the same thing the CR study did – rice won’t kill you right after you eat it.  The concern brought up last year is really about the long term effects that arsenic from rice will have.  The FDA didn’t address that in their study.  Shoot, another meal of riceless stir fry.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

And She’s Only Been Here for Three Days – day 1

After a few weeks traveling around the mainland visiting friends and family, my mom arrived at my house on Thursday night.  Having a 6:00 PM arrival into LAX is a nightmare of a time due to the traffic on the 405.  The 20ish mile trip to my house takes well over an hour during that rush hour traffic.  Although I had offered to have dinner ready when she arrived, she insisted that we go out to dinner.  The waiting around for her to get through the traffic made for a long evening, but finally about 8:30 she texted me that she was turning onto my street and to meet her outside.  I jumped in her Prius rental car and we headed to Chi Chi’s Pizza, a local Italian place a few blocks from my house. 

We had a nice, but quick, meal catching up.   Both tired, after paying the check, we were set to leave.  On the way out of the restaurant my mom stopped abruptly and gasped. I turned and asked her what was wrong.  She said that her knee had been acting up.  It had bothered her a few days ago but then the pain went away and she’d been fine.  She stood holding onto the wall for a few moments and then said she was ok so we continued out into the parking lot.  While we walked, I suggested that she go to the doctor to see about that knee.  While she told me that she was fine, she stopped and gasped again about 5 steps away from the car.  After a couple of attempts to continue her walk, she couldn’t.  Right away I offered to drive and asked her if she could get in the passenger’s side since it was closer.  I walked over and took her arm to help her towards the door.  She gasped again and told me to wait.  She leaned on me for a few moments and while she did her grip got tighter and tighter until she was holding onto my shoulder so tightly it hurt.  “Ouch, what are you doing?” I asked her.  She said she felt like she was going to pass out.  I put my arm around her and tried to drag her to the car when, all of a sudden, she let go and passed out.  My mom fell down, backwards in the Chi Chi’s parking lot!  As she fell, almost in slow motion, I waved my arms in some kind of flailing motion that seemed helpful at the time and just knew I’d hear her head hit the pavement.  Luckily, considering, she went down lightly.  I stood over her muttering, “Oh my god!” over and over again.  I called her name, and she answered quietly. “Should I call an ambulance?”  She adamantly told me NO.  I sat her up and told her to put her head between her legs, which in hindsight is something I should have said before she passed out. 

After a few moments, she felt like she could stand.  I helped her up, basically dragged her to the car, and threw her in the passenger seat.  She still wasn’t feeling well.  I mentioned I thought we should go to urgent care.  Even though it was after 10:00 PM, it was over 90 degrees outside so I tried to start the car in order to turn on the air.  I’ve never driven a Prius, and it’s not like regular cars.  Gone are the days of just putting the key in and turning the ignition.  I had to get out the user manual from the glove box to figure out how to start the car.  After about 10 minutes, she finally came around to being a bit more coherent (and more helpful in starting the car) but refused to go to the doctor.  She said that the pain in her knee made her feel light headed.  Even though I told her that wasn’t normal, she said she was fine.  Anyhow, after about 5 more minutes, we figured out how to back out of the parking lot and went home. 

I brought her bags up to the guest room and got her settled.  While she followed me around chatting I finally said, “I’ve got to get to bed.  You’ve been here less than three hours and I’m already exhausted.”  She chuckled and we said good night.

Yes, that was just the first night people!  It does continue…

Sunday, September 1, 2013

August is Over and There’s Not Much to Show For It…

The second worst thing (after waking up to an alarm clock) about ending vacation and going back to work is that I don’t have as much time to draw or paint or journal or really anything fun.  It’s the end of the month and there isn’t much to share. 

The Kathryn Wheel’s Calendar Challenge continues.  It’s getting harder and harder coming up with calendar ideas.  In fact, I think I’ve done this one a time or two (or five). 

stuff 384 A quickie in the sketchbook.stuff 388

A couple of months ago, I made a bunch of cards to use up supplies that had been retired.  I ended up selling most of them over the summer so had a good excuse to buy some new supplies which I have already used to make more cards. 
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stuff 386 stuff 387The cards are a simple way to keep me sane when I don’t have the time to create.  However, due to Labor Day, this is a 3-day weekend.  So maybe I’ll still have a chance to get my creative on.

Happy September!