Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve...Great Expectations

New Year's Eve is often billed as the event of the year, but I have found it doesn't really live up to its hype.  Not unlike Valentine's Day, there is an unwarranted pressure to have an especially good time on New Year's Eve, and those great expectations often leave the night falling short.  Sure, I have attended some fun New Year's Eve parties, but no more fun than parties on any other occasion, or on no occasion at all for that matter.
In order to bring in the Millennium (remember the calamity that was predicted when changing from 1999 to 2000 - hard to believe that was 15 YEARS AGO!), some friends and I decided to bring in the New Year with something exceptionally better than usual.  Living in Boston at the time, we made plans to spend the New Year's weekend in NYC - staying in a fancy hotel, dinner at some trendy restaurant, and bringing in the New Year by club hopping around the city.  I'm not trying to be vague on the plans, but see, I don't remember much of it.  Unfortunately, that wasn't due to the great time I had.  The week leading up to our time away, I came down with a cold.  By the time we left, it had turned into a really bad cold. I spent most of the weekend on serious cold medicine and forced myself to  get out of bed, take a shower, put on my fancy party dress, and leave the hotel room.  It was New Year's Eve, and I did not plan on spending it sick in bed.  But that's exactly what I should have done.  By the end of the night I could hardly walk on my own and spent New Year's Day at the hotel...in bed, waiting for Urgent Care to open on the 2nd.  After being diagnosed with pneumonia we headed back to Mass. where I was nursed back to health in my own bed.  New Year's Eve is never what it's cracked up to be!
I returned home from Hawaii on the red eye a day ago and don't feel like I've caught up on my sleep yet, evident by the nodding off every time I sit down.  I've received a couple of invites for this evening.  Although, a soiree is what is expected for tonight, staying in my pajamas, soup for dinner, and early to bed sound much more appealing to me this year.
How about you?  A fan of New Year's Eve parties or of going to bed at a reasonable hour?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Gifts

It's always a relief to have finished all the Christmas shopping.  Gifts for kids are pretty easy.  Even if you don't know what to buy for a kid, their parents are usually able to give hints on what the kids want, because they want A LOT of things.  Adults, on the other hand, can be quite challenging.  Adults don't go around much commenting on the things they want because most of the time adults buy those things for themselves.  Every so often, a mention might be made about something they'd really like to have, but often that is larger than the average friend or family member might buy -  like a car or a new kitchen (I've tried!).  Therefore, on most occasions I'm left to my own devices with finding gifts for friends and family members.  Once Christmas arrives, all the presents have been wrapped or stuffed in bags, there's an "I'm done!" feeling that occurs.
But it doesn't last long!  January is only a few short days away, and I have some important January birthdays to worry about.  Before my dad passed away, there were only 11 short days between Christmas and his birthday.  But even now, January still has a few birthdays that I buy for.  And I've used up all my good ideas with Christmas!  No rest for the Christmas gift weary...It's time to get my thinking cap back on again!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The 50th State

A few weeks ago, BuzzFeed posted a "story" about how employees in their London office were given maps of the US and were asked to fill in the 50 states.  The results were shared, and they are quite funny.  These are just a few.  
I can't say I'm surprised.  Most from this country can't name all 50 of them either...especially those rectangles and squares in the middle.  The map they were given was a bit confusing too as both Alaska and Hawaii were moved from their actual location to where Mexico would be.  A few of the Londoners still located the 49th and 50th state, some mixed them up, and others left them alone altogether.  

While Hawaii and Alaska are not attached to the rest of the country, they ARE still part of the US.  While I'm not sure what the rest of the world is taught about our geography, how specific they go beyond locating the country, I am almost certain that the high powered executives that run companies like Staples, Amazon, Costco, and Home Depot DO know that Hawaii and Alaska are part of the United States.  So why is it that they either refuse to ship there or charge more to do so?

With the holidays right around the corner, I've been making my shopping list and checking it twice.  Since I'll be spending Christmas in Hawaii this year, it is much easier to order gifts (what I can) and just have them sent right to Hawaii than buy them here and try to lug them over in my luggage.  Plus, the tax in Hawaii is only like 4% compared to our 10%.  That's the beauty of online shopping, right?  Well, wrong, a lot of the time when shipping to Hawaii (and Alaska).  

After shopping around for the electronics on my list, I found that Staples had the best deal on the price and free shipping.  However, after entering all of my shipping information the order stopped with a "We don't ship to Hawaii" message.  Most everything else I needed I was able to order on Amazon.  I had just recently signed up for a free month of Amazon Prime, which offers free 2-day shipping and is amazing when I'm having things delivered here  - sometimes it only takes a day and it's even been delivered on SUNDAY!  Anyhow, after having all my items in the cart, ready to pay, I got to the shipping screen....a few of the items were not available 2 day, but were guaranteed 5 day, a few more were not guaranteed any time, and they wanted to charge me $5 to send a gift card for Kindle books to Hawaii - the exact same gift card that came in an envelope through the regular mail was going to be free sent to my house but $5 to send to Hawaii.  When I send mail to Hawaii it still costs me $0.49 to mail an envelope so where in the world did they come up with $5?!?!?

That's the thing about all of these weird shipping practices.  When using the US Postal Service, the costs don't change because it's Hawaii.  Their priority shipping is based on weight and zip code.  Shipping to Boston will cost the same as shipping to Kona - it's the same distance.  And envelopes are sent with the cost of a stamp - regardless of where it's going.  And Hawaii IS part of the United States.  Of course UPS and FedEx are going to be different, but still.

After all was said and done, Apple shipped the electronics I needed on Thursday, and the package arrived yesterday...for free!  I ended up shipping the gift card to my house for free as that is easy to pack and had the remaining items sent to my mom's place, still taking advantage of the free (albeit slower) shipping.  Fingers crossed everything arrives by the 25th!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Out of the Mouths of Babes - Staying In School

One of the reading groups in class has been reading biographies/studying people who have made a difference over the last couple of weeks.  This week their passage was about Elizabeth Blackwell, the first women to receive a medical degree in the US.  The passage told of how, in a time when a woman's role was vastly different than it is today, Blackwell always worked very hard in school, always practicing and asking for more work.  Her father had also been quite influential in her motivation.  I asked the kids some guiding questions to build comprehension of the reading.  They found words that were new to them and used the context clues to figure out the meaning.  During this discussion about working hard in school, one of my boys said, "My dad tells me I have to stay in school and learn."  We all agreed and then he said,  "My dad quit school and now he is plumber."  I told him that a plumber is a good job.  (My plumber makes more per hour than I do.)  He shook his head, "No, my dad said he has to work in poop.  He comes home with poop all over his pants.  I'm going to stay in school.  I don't want to get poop on my pants."
Well, that's as good as any reason to stay in school!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

When It Only Rains Every Couple of Years Or So...

"It is like a firehose aimed at us from the south of Hawaii," was the news report this weekend about the rain forecast for this week.  As we know, it doesn't rain here very often (especially over the last 3-4 years in particular) so when a storm is coming it makes headline news.  I wasn't holding my breath though.  We've had a whole year worth of rain forecasts that were unfounded.  So imagine my pleasant surprise when it was actually raining this morning when I left for work.  I wouldn't say "firehose" raining, but it was real rain anyhow.  I think this was the last time it rained for real here.  It has been that long since I've used my windshield wipers.  They're maybe three years old and have only been used a couple of times.  And that's why they did this this morning on my way to work...
My short drive to and from work this morning had the rubber on the bottom of the driver's side wiper flapping back and forth, the wiper virtually useless.   It frustrates me to have to buy new wipers when, literally, they've been used less than five times.  The dry weather and lack of use dries them out so quickly that they probably last less time than if I used them regularly.  
Replacing the wipers is also a challenge for me.  Obviously, buying new wipers is few and far between, so I'm not very practiced in it.  I threaten to really watch how to take them off hoping that will help me understand how to put them back on.  But in the end, I have such trouble with them.  They're like a puzzle, and the directions on the package are unclear.  
By the time I get to the autoshop, the storm will have passed.  There, I'll buy another pair and it'll be another two years before I get to use them again.  
But hey, at least it IS raining.  It's sorely needed and definitely a welcomed sight.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Hasta La Pasta

After my first trip to Italy about 10 years ago, I came home obsessed with making my own pasta.  Up until that trip my only experience with pasta was dried, from a box.  Fresh pasta is on a whole other level. It is heavenly.  I bought a hand crank pasta machine shortly after returning home.  I used it a couple of times and then it found its way into the small-kitchen-appliances-that-were-a-good-idea-at-the-time cupboard.  And stayed there for a very, very long time.  Up until this most recent summer break, I had kind of forgotten I even had it as was evident by the inches of dust on the box.  
I pulled it out out and cleaned it up over the summer and made a couple of batches - linguini and tagliatelle.
The making of the dough, even by hand, is pretty basic - flour/water, flour/egg, flour/egg/olive oil.  There are a few options, but all combined using a well of flour.  The challenging part (and the reason why the box was covered in dust) is the rolling and cutting of the dough.  It's difficult to turn the hand crank, feed the dough through, and catch it coming out all at the same time.  Three hands would be ideal for this job.  After the summer was over, the box was packed back up and put in the small appliance graveyard cupboard. Making pasta from scratch was just too time consuming once back to work.
For my birthday, however, I received pasta rollers and cutters that attach to my KitchenAid stand mixer.  While quite excited to try them out, I just didn't have the time to experiment...until this week! We had the entire week off for Thanksgiving.  Between family gatherings and art projects and chores, and leftovers, I found a little time to play with my new toys.
Oh my goodness!  It cut the time in half, maybe more!  The process is the same.  The only difference is the rollers/cutters turn on their own so both hands can be used on the dough.
After the dough had rested and was ready to work, the pasta sheets were rolled out in no time. I was able to divide the dough into fourths and it went right through.  On the hand crank, depending on the dough consistency (which changes as it sits out), I'd have to cut it into more pieces to make it work.  The sheets zipped through in seconds.  The cutters were most impressive.  The hand crank was very finicky and didn't always cut evenly or at all for that matter.  Again, in seconds the sheets were cut into tagliatelle. I wasn't ready to cook and serve it yet.  It kept nicely in the fridge on a floured pan until I was ready to boil it.  Originally I served it with a light tomato/basil sauce.
     
The next day, I heated the leftovers in pan with a little butter and a lot of garlic and topped with a little grana padano cheese.
They were both delicious!
Fresh pasta certainly isn't a 30 minute meal, but with the new tools I can see it being made more often than it was before.  Anyone need a hand crank pasta machine?
PS - There were so many photos I wanted to include so I put them into some basic collages.  That makes them a bit small, but the collage will enlarge into full size and make things easier to see...if you are so inclined.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Turkey Day!

If you are celebrating Thanksgiving today, I hope it's a great one with family and friends (and good food)!


The teacher in me laughed out loud...
And the liberal in me did too!
 I miss West Wing.
 Will you be participating in Black Friday?  I'm not going near a store tomorrow (or today for that matter).
Enjoy your day!

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Cos

Since televisions became a staple in most homes, family sitcoms have been a mainstay in our lives.  The 50s had Leave it to Beaver and I Love Lucy, the 60s had My Three Sons and The Dick Van Dyke Show, and the 70s had The Brady Bunch and Happy Days.  I remember watching those shows in reruns when I was a kid.  But the 80s, my formative years, had The Cosby Show.  There was very little television I was allowed to watch growing up, but The Cosby Show was one I not only was allowed to watch, we watched it together as a family every Thursday night at 8:00.
It was a typical sitcom about a successful African American family.  The kids were essentially well-behaved and respected their parents.  It was funny and a lot of Bill Cosby's comedy act about family was adapted for the scripts.  His humor reminded me a bit of my dad.  It was a show I enjoyed.  Even as an adult, while flipping through channels, I've stopped a time or two and reminisced while folding laundry or cleaning the kitchen.  
What a disappointment to learn of accusation after accusation that Bill Cosby drugged and assaulted numerous women at the very time he was making this "perfect family" sitcom.  I guess claims on his behavior have been made and blown off for years, but I had not been aware of those.  So it was truly a shock.  This 80's cultural icon does not seem to have been as wholesome as we were all led to believe.  
Even though there will not be a trial due to the statute of limitations, Cosby has already been found guilty by the media and a lot of the entertainment industry.  His upcoming shows have been canceled and The Cosby Show reruns have been pulled off the air.  My feeling is that he probably did it.  It's a shame that these women are not going to be able to have a trial.  It's a shame that they felt like they were not in a position to make the charge all those years ago.  It's a shame that a generation's role model (warranted or not) has been exposed as a dirty old man instead.  It's sad. 
His behavior is no laughing matter, but leave it to Bill Maher to make me laugh...
"I think it's ironic justice that a nation of black teenagers now gets to say to Bill Cosby, 'Pull up YOUR pants!'"

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Misc.

This coming work week will be the first week since the second week in September that I will be in the classroom all 5 days.  Between holidays and staff development meetings/trainings I have been out (and have had to write sub plans) at least once per week for almost two months.  While it's always nice to have a classroom break from time to time, it makes getting things done or taught more difficult, especially when being out is a regular occurrence.  My regular sub is fantastic, but still, trying to cram 5 days of instruction into 4 (or 3 for some weeks) is very difficult, and I've often felt behind this year because of that.  It'll be weird to work in my room for 5 days straight, but I think it'll make the week go quicker.  Sitting in a meeting all day makes the day drag when you're used to to going all day long.
I'm feeling kind of handy again.  There were two broken drawers in the kitchen - in one the plastic piece that holds the drawer slide onto the cabinetry had become brittle and fallen to pieces and in the other the guide that helps the drawer move back and forth was cracked and kept falling off the slide.  Both have been broken for awhile as I really hate to ask friends to help with these minor problems...I like to save my favors for the big stuff.  And I've been waiting to have more things to fix to make it worthwhile to call my handyman.  Fixing it wasn't even in my wheelhouse.  That was until sitting in the other room while talking on the phone last weekend.  I had an eye-line view of the cabinet and its two lopsided drawers.  After the phone call, I marched into the kitchen determined to figure out what was making them fall.  I added giving a go at fixing it to my Thanksgiving break to-do list.  Then this weekend, I just decided to get it out of the way.  To make a long story short, after cleaning out the drawers, a trip to Home Depot (where they sold me the wrong thing), and so another trip to Lowe's I got everything I needed.  Not having all the tools needed, some things had to be done in a round about way, but even so it got done.  It's so nice not to have to look at those lopsided drawers anymore.
I made my first "one-pot" meal a couple of months ago.  Tonight, I made another one.  They're brilliant!  Everything (protein, veggies, and maybe a starch) goes in one pot, and about 20 minutes later it's ready to serve.  It's different than the slow cooker, which is also great, but the one-pot meals are done so much faster than the 6-8 hours using the slow cooker.  And the best part...there's only ONE POT to clean!  Maybe all meals should be one-pot meals.
Yep! It's Sunday!



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

When Rigby Went Missing

Since it's Veteran's Day, it was a school holiday today.  It was weird not working on a Tuesday, right in the middle of a work week.  But I'll take it!
After spending the first few hours of the day on some around-the-house chores, I had big plans to do nothing the rest of the day except play in the art room and catch up on some recorded TV.  When I settled in, I realized my dog was not nearby as she usually is.  I called her a few times but nothing.  I went downstairs figuring she was outside, but she wasn't there either.  A house search ensued and after a few minutes of still not finding her panic set in.  Other than dragging the trash cans out to the street, I had not been outside, but I worried that Rigby might have snuck out behind me while the garage door or side gate were open.  I used the front door and looked out for her and even called her name a few times.  Nothing.  Another run through the house was made as I've been known to close doors to bathrooms and the other bedrooms to keep her out without realizing I've actually closed her in.  But again, the search was fruitless.  There wasn't a peep.  I called her again a few times   hoping that she was asleep under a table or in a corner.  And when that didn't work, I headed out to the garage to find her leash, figuring I'd have to start walking the streets.  When I opened the door from the kitchen to the garage there Rigby sat, head cocked to the side, looking at me like, "Well, it's about time."  What a relief!
Rigby is often right on my heels and does follow me out to the garage often.  Most of the time she follows me back inside as well, but must have been distracted (clearly so was I) because neither one of us realized she wasn't at my side.  It's funny though because she barks or talks to me about most things that are bothering her from being hungry, thirsty, full, even tired.  But being stuck in the dark garage didn't seem to warrant any kind of sound.  Silly dog.
She spent the rest of the day doing this with me...
She's so cute!  I'm sure glad she didn't really go missing. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Nothing says "It's the holidays,"

Being the 2nd weekend in November, the holidays are nearing.  People are planning their Thanksgiving meals, Black Friday ads are already airing, Christmas music is playing in the stores, and there are loads of Christmas boutiques and open houses popping up all over town.  It's that time of year...oh wait, it's 90 degrees outside and my air conditioner just kicked on.  Nothing says "It's the holidays" like the sound of an air conditioner!

And just some funnies because it's way too hot to think about the holidays...
Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

It's That Time of Year Again...

Everything about the time change that occurred earlier this week makes me very happy.  Even the day "ending" sooner with dusk coming near 4:30PM is cool with me.  The only problem I have is I keep leaving the house under the assumption that I will drive home in daylight and the leave my glasses at home.  Twice this week I've had to use the spare pair I keep in the car, and then last night I left the spare pair in the house so drove home in my sunglasses tonight.  It's like anything else that becomes a habit, I'll eventually remember to bring them, it'll just take a few more times without them to make sure it sinks in.
Do you have a salt pig in your kitchen?  I do!  Well, I will have one - the order should be arriving tomorrow.
I'd never even heard of one until this weekend when I purchased a box of Kosher salt.  The salt grinder purchased at Costco a year or so ago is just about out, so I figured I'd buy a box to refill/reuse the grinder.  Best laid plans...the grinder is actually not refillable.  As hard as I tried, the thing wouldn't open so no refilling, and now I have a big box of salt and no place to put it. My research found that there is such a thing for this very problem - a salt pig!  It's used for easy access to the salt when cooking while keeping debris out of it. Some of the salt pigs I saw even had little pig ears on the top.  Mine does not, but it is red so it matches my kitchen which is all that really matters.
Last night's midterms were a bit of disappointment weren't they?  I guess that depends on who you ask, but if you're asking me, I was disappointed.  What is it about "us" that makes us vote so obviously against our own interest?  In all but a few states the voter turnout rate dropped (some to record lows).  Pathetic.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Day After Halloween

There are very few days during the school year that a teacher vehemently dreads, but the day after Halloween is such a day.  Which is why I am so glad the day after Halloween is ON A SATURDAY this year!  Having Halloween on a Friday (and a minimum day for my school no less) is the ideal schedule for a teacher.  Most years I do enjoy "celebrating" Halloween with my class.  The day after however sucks.  The kids are tired from the night-before's festivities while being amped up on candy at the same time.  They are useless so the day in the classroom is pretty much useless too.  My colleagues and I have often discussed how wise it would be to just make Halloween the last Friday of every October.  With all the festivities (both child and adult) wouldn't having them on a Friday with the weekend to recover make so much sense?!?!  I might have to try to get it on the ballot for the next election...teachers alone would give me enough signatures!
Yesterday was a good day.  The kids participated in some learning activities made fun with a Halloween theme.  We've been studying spiders this month so we wrapped up that unit as well.  There was a "party" during the last hour of the day.  We have such little parent help at my site so the party is low key since I plan it myself.  A little snack, a drink, a goodie bag, and movie is what made up this year's party.  That is pretty much my party M.O. 
I changed up this year's snack a bit due to our district's new wellness policy.  We are supposed to limit the sweets (candy, cupcakes, cookies) which at my site hadn't really been an issue due to the teachers running the show but had become quite a problem at some of the other sites where the parents are in charge of the parties.  Anyhow, trying to honor the policy I created treat bags for class with some healthier treats...
They were a complete hit!  The kids thought they were so funny, some almost fell on the floor laughing and gasping...especially about eating ghost poop!!  Just in case it isn't clear, the snack is dried cranberries, pretzel sticks, and air popped popcorn.
There were about 15 minutes left in the school day after the movie was over and we had cleaned up.  The kids had kept it mostly together up until then, but their excitement was coming to a head.  They were like a kettle that hums and shakes just before it starts to boil.  So we packed up, and I took them outside to play on the jungle gym for the last 10 minutes of the day.  Even then, I was exhausted just watching them.  The excitement was seeping out of them.  When the dismissal bell rang and their parents arrived, I waved and wished them a fun evening.  As my team and I walked back to our rooms we dripped with relief about not having to teach the day after Halloween.  
And I'm still relieved while still in bed on a Saturday morning writing this post.  This is a much better way to spend the day after Halloween! 
And to add to this happy, relief-filled weekend Day Light Savings time ends tomorrow!  It'll be so nice not to drive to work Monday morning in the dark.  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fright Night

What is it about haunted houses?  Knowing full well they are fake and what to expect we still scream and holler and jump and hide our eyes.  A park nearby has been advertising for a haunted house over the last few weeks, and every time I drive by I think, "It might be fun.  We should go.  Are we too old to go?"
And then I wonder why in the heck do I think I want to go to a haunted house!?!?  I don't even like people sitting behind me in a staff meeting so self inflicting pretend horror shouldn't be appealing.
The most incredible haunted house experience I have had was in Salem, Massachusetts.  The site of the Salem Witch Trials, Salem goes all out for Halloween.  One year, right after college, a group of friends and I spent a frightening evening touring haunted houses.  Up until that point, my experience with them was Disneyland's Haunted House "ride" and the local parks & rec kid-friendly versions in the neighborhood where I grew up.  Neither prepared me for Salem.
Salem is hardcore.  I've seriously never been so afraid it my life.  The actors (is that what you call them) jump out at you from the front, from the side, and worst of all FROM BEHIND!  While that is plenty scary, they also get THIS close to you.  The plus about the whole thing is that they are not allowed to touch you, but instead they pretend they're going to touch (or attack) you, which is almost worse.  It's truly horrifying.  And it's not just A haunted house.  We roamed the city streets going from one haunted house to the next.  By the end of the night with a house or two left to go I relegated myself to holding onto the waist of the person in front of me, face buried in the hood of his jacket, screaming bloody freaking murder.  It was exhausting.
I was not aware of this until I saw the video, but Ellen Degeneres (from The Ellen Show) sends one of her writers to a scary haunted house every Halloween.  There are 4-5 years worth of videos on YouTube and they are fantastic.  As someone who scares easily, I can identify with Amy the writer but they still made me laugh out loud.  How do the "actors" not burst out laughing?
This is one from last year...
And the year before...

Why do we do this to ourselves and call it fun?!?!  And who wants to go with me?!?!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Curses

After my nail appointment on Friday afternoon, I left the salon which sits right next door to a sandwich place.  At the exact time I walked out the door, a dad and his two young sons were leaving the sandwich shop, and I found myself right in the middle of a parenting moment.  "You better get your act together and show me some fucking respect!" he hollered at one of his sons.  It's never a good sign when someone is yelling AND swearing so I tried to make myself very small and hustle to the car.  I think the dad realized I heard him as he said the whole thing again when he walked to the care, but switched to "...show me some freaking respect!"
Isn't it ironic that he was demanding respect and showing his kid such little respect at the exact same time.
When did swearing at your kid become ok?  Back in the olden days when I was young like these boys, I didn't know any adults who swore...in front of me at least.  It just wasn't done.  Like everything else, times have changed and those taboo words have certainly become more mainstream. We hear it in a lot of music and on tv, and the movies put them in like their trying to win a contest.  They've even become a part of our regular vocabulary.  I've been known to drop an f-bomb or two when I'm angry.
But I'm having a hard time with it being used so freely, or at all really, around little kids.  There's no way to shield children completely from the "bad words" as the entertainment business doesn't really care about them, but with that being said, shouldn't the people who are supposed to care be a bit more conscientious about keeping them small and innocent for a little while anyway.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

This Might Be Futile

Midterm elections are in a couple of weeks.  My absentee voter ballot arrived on Saturday, and I've spent the better part of the last three days researching and trying to figure out who/what the heck I'm going to vote for.  
In the mail alone, I've received a General Election booklet, and General Election Supplemental booklet, a sample ballot, a guide to voting in the election booklet, and absentee ballot booklet, and various partisan-based literature about the propositions on this year's ballot.

One would think with all this literature, navigating what to do based on my ideology would be easy.  No such luck.  I felt like I was reading tax code for all the good these documents did. An "Elections for Dummies" guide would have been much more helpful, so I headed to the Internet to see what kind of information I could find there.  Even sites written for the common person made no sense for what I should do.
And then I was stumped.  The nominees for my District's State Representative are both Republican!  Where is my other option?  After some research, I found this is a byproduct of our Open Primaries which were adopted in 2012.  I'm frustrated about my lack of choice for a Representative to Congress (who have been an utter disgrace over the last few years).  I'm voting in the hopes to make a change and my only two choices are the status quo.  Humph!
Our country has such a low voter turnout, and after hearing about Scotland's recent 85% turnout in their independence election, I'm ashamed.  It's our duty and a right that we shouldn't take advantage of. In the past, I've always felt empowered and accomplished when I voted.  I was enacting change!  But I will say, it was a lot of work to fill in my ballot this year and after all is said and done, I'm not terribly convinced that I voted correctly nor that anything will change for the better.

No wonder Americans don't vote.  On the other hand, since I am voting I'm allowed to complain about my government.  So at least there's that.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Pattern Therapy

This afternoon, I finished my sketchbook for The Sketchbook Project.  There were not plans to do one this year.  The blank book is often a stressful deterrent.  Usually more time is spent staring at it and wondering where to start than actually working in it...too much pressure. However, they were offering a discount on it via Facebook over the summer, so I caved.  It arrived in mid-July and sat on the table collecting dust while I worked in a sketchbook that wasn't getting sent in for others to see.  Then August came.  With school starting it got buried underneath other books and projects.  Then a few weekends ago with work being over-the-top busy and my mom being in town (since the middle of August by the way) I went into the art room, closed the door, and tried to find some semblance of serenity.
I was inspired by some patterns I had seen recently and just started playing around with my watercolors.  The paper in these books is terrible - it buckled and didn't hold water very well.  I was limited to mostly drawing with the brush instead of using washes and had to skip every other page due to bleed through.  But it didn't matter. The time spent mindlessly creating these patterns made me so very happy.  In fact, I think I'd like to quietly draw watercolor patterns in the art room with the door closed as my full-time job.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Oh, What's the Point

By the time I left school and headed home tonight a total of five people told me "how cute" my hair looked today.  On one had, that is so very kind, and if I knew how to take a complement I'd appreciate it.  On the other hand, I didn't really do my hair today so I'm left wondering why I even bother anymore.
My morning routine is as follows...
5 - 6 Walk the dog
6 - 6:40 Shower and start getting ready for work
6:40 - 6:45 Choke down breakfast
6:45 - 7:15 Finish getting ready for work
7:15 - 7:20 Fill up water bottle, make coffee, and head out
While I am truly not a vain person it takes me SEVENTY MINUTES to get ready in the morning - maybe 10 of that is showering, maybe 5 of that is brushing my teeth and putting on make up, and maybe 3 of that is actually getting dressed (including shoes and jewelry).  So that makes what, about 20 minutes (for good measure).  The remaining 50 minutes is spent doing my hair.  It kills me to say it, but I spend 50 minutes on my hair.  FIFTY MINUTES ON MY HAIR!?!?!  The hair on my head is very fine but there is a TON of it.  It literally takes me 25-30 minutes to just get is dry using the hair dryer.  Now that wouldn't be so bad, but said hair is bone straight in some places and slightly wavy in others so simply drying it doesn't do (think lion's mane).  After breakfast I spend another 20 minutes styling it - straight if the weather is dry, wavy if the weather is humid.  It's the bane of my existence most of the time - a slave to my hair and its whims!
So back to today.  This morning it was necessary to get into work a little earlier.  Work has been CRAZY with non-teaching stuff and some extra time in the classroom was necessary.  Since I already wake up at 5 in the morning (and when I say morning I really mean the middle of the night), starting any earlier isn't an option for my sanity.  So something had to give today.  I wasn't quite sure what that would be as there were no intentions to bypass the hair.  After breakfast though, I put part of it up in this half pony-half bun thing that I do so I'm not styling all the hair at once, looked in the mirror for a few moments,  said "F@$& it!", and left it the way it was. After throwing on some make up and getting dressed I was ready to go about 17 minutes earlier than usual.  
This uninspired, unstyled mess on the top of my head was unsolicitedly complimented multiple times today.  Which leaves me to ponder the time and effort put into this morning routine.  I'd love 17 extra minutes of sleep!!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Anticipation

About a year and a half ago, I read the book Gone Girl.  It was a book club book, and I downloaded it before I left on my trip to Portugal.  While I don't tend to read a lot when I'm traveling (there is just too much to see and do), it rained and rained and rained, so I read a lot more than I normally would have.  And really, I could not put the book down.  Gone Girl - a little bit love story, murder mystery, and suspenseful thriller - is quite clever and takes twists and turns never expected.  By the time the book was over I both loved and hated, commiserated and despised the two main characters.  And I hate to say too much more than that in case you've not read it yet, because it would be a shame to spoil such a fun read.
Because I enjoyed this book so much, I was thrilled to see it was being made into a movie earlier this year.  I was excited to see Hollywood's take on the movie, even though I'm usually disappointed.  But for this film, the author also wrote the screenplay and David Fincher (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - US Version) directed it, so there was a chance it would be good.  The previews began a couple of months ago, and remembering how crazy the book is, I got almost giddy when I saw them.
Finally, after months of anticipation, Gone Girl opened this weekend to decent reviews, and I got to go see it.  My first reaction?  It was well done, and I don't think once I was irritated about how the book was handled (and that's rare when it comes to books made into movies).  The actors chosen played their characters well, and the screenplay was fairly true to the book.  I read an article earlier today that contrasted the book with the movie.  The differences were minute - when turning 450 pages into 150 minutes something is bound to be left out, but overall it followed the story quite well.  But that is why I think I'm a bit indifferent about the film.  This book threw a lot of curveballs at the reader.  I had formed opinions about characters and situations that were completely turned on their head from one chapter to the next.  I spent many moments gasping about this book across Portugal on trains, buses and airplanes.  And in the movie I KNEW THEY WERE COMING!  Someone who hasn't read the book yet would probably enjoy the movie very much. It was very comprehensive and the twists and turns were all there.  Knowing all the twists and turns made it a little less exciting the second time around.
With that being said, I'm glad I saw it.  The story is cra-cra and that was done flawlessly in the movie.      I wonder if I'll ever think a Hollywood movie based on a book is WONDERFUL.  Probably not, but this one is probably the closest they've come.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

When It Comes to Kleenex, I Feel Like I'm Losing My Mind

I woke up with a terribly stuffy nose this morning.  It cooled off enough this weekend to open up the windows at night, so I'm hoping I'm just suffering from allergies rather than actually sick.  That's what I keep telling myself anyways.  But that's not my point tonight.  What I'm really going on about...I can't find my freaking Kleenex!!!  Every time I come down with a bug or these darn allergies, I head to the store and buy some Kleenex.  And, because this is America, I can get 3-5 boxes for the price of one.  From there, part of one is used for the duration of the illness and then sporadically after that.  The remaining boxes are stored.  Where?  I don't have a clue?  I know for a fact that I have at least two boxes sitting in a cupboard somewhere in this house, but for the life of me, I can not find any of them.  So how do I know they are here?  Because I found the ones I couldn't find last time over summer break while looking for something else, saying to myself, "Ah!  There they are!  At least I have them for next time."  Well, it's next time, and they are NOWHERE!!  I may have to resort to paper towels if I run out before I can get to the store tomorrow.  That's hard on the nose!
It's been a few months since I've seen a movie...summer break is the worst time of the year to see them unless you're a 10 year old.  Now that fall is here, the quality of films has improved, and I've seen three over the last three weekends.
The Drop, which was James Gandolfini's last role...
but Tom Hardy was amazing in it.  It was intense, but well done.
This is Where I Leave You - a good cast and a ton of laugh out loud scenes.  The reviews were so-so, but I really enjoyed it.
Makes me wish I had a large family...and then maybe not.
A Walk Among the Tombstones - based on Lawrence Block's Matthew Scudder novels, with Liam Neeson...
Holy cow!  It was suspenseful and kind of creepy.  It wasn't what I expected it to be, but it was good.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

First World Problems - I Don't Know How to Do it Like That Anymore

Before school started this year, I wrote about starting the year WITHOUT an electronic whiteboard.  I've had one in my classroom (between this school and my previous school) for about eight years.  The first day of school is spent more on getting-to-know-you activities and learning procedures so my panic over not having a board in my room after the "updating" was for not.  That afternoon we were told that the new and improved boards would be installed the next day...the second day of school.  After taking the kids to another room for a couple of hours we returned to a classroom with a new board.  There was a small learning curve as I had been using a Promethean Board for all those years and the new one is a Smartboard.  Within in week though, things were up and running fairly smoothly and over the next 5 weeks it was a regular part of my teaching repertoire.
Then it happened...my new Smartboard started to get glitchy about a week ago!  I lost the ability to write on it and shortly after lost the ability to use the touchscreen altogether.  It's currently only a REALLY expensive screen and projector.
And I'm SOOOO frustrated!  Now that we are well into the school year, I use it for almost every lesson or activity for one reason or another.  To have no access to it now...well I don't know how to teach without it anymore.  And right now I'm stumbling through old school lessons and just pointing to assignments in actual size, not projected 100X larger in front of the kids.  I would not dream of teaching without it, and here I am living the nightmare of very limited tech in the classroom!
Someone from the installing company came out today, and apparently there is a camera in the board that is out and there's something wrong with the bezel...whatever that is.  The parts have been ordered and I have to suffer through it for 3-5 more days.  Humph...

Oh!  And after updating to IOS 8, my iPad will no longer send group texts!!!
I tell ya, I'm having a tough week!  ;)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Equal Pay for Women (and I may have to give my feminist card back now)

There has been a lot of chatter this year about the Paycheck Fairness Act which was proposed back in 2009 to counteract the issue of women making 77-86 cents (depending on whose data you read) to every dollar a man makes.  It has faced significant road blocks since its inception and continued to be blocked via filibuster (what hasn't these days) earlier this year.  It seems like a no brainer to me.  If a woman does the same job as a man, that pay should be equal.  Why wouldn't it be.  I know that's idealistic, but it makes sense to me.
One of the push back issues for the Act is the fact that women often take time off or leave the workplace for extended periods of time to have and raise a family.  Women who do this often come back with a wider gap between their pay than that of their male counterparts who didn't take the time off.  While, I understand the rationale to a point, it goes back to - if it's the same job, the same performance standard, it should be equal pay, end of story.  Determining that is another matter entirely, but the pushback on the Act itself was kind of confusing - fair is fair.
This past week, my work colleagues and I met in our staff meeting room to schedule parent/teacher conferences which are coming up in a couple of weeks.  Trying to make it more convenient and increase the chance of our parents showing up to the meeting, we try and schedule sibling conference times close together.  For about 30 minutes, right after school on a Tuesday, we engage in sort of a free-for-all of scheduling. Identifying teacher colleagues with siblings in their class, locating those colleagues by calling them from across the room, lining up to wait for the teachers on the list to become free, coordinating 2 or more times that match up by fifteen minutes can be anxiety ridden for the faint at heart.  This year I had multiple with three siblings at school and one with 4 (5 kids in all to schedule with 5 different teachers).   Usually, I'm right in the middle of the action to get my times booked, but this year I was hot (it was 107 degrees outside that day) and tired, so I sat at one of the tables and waited for them to come to me.  I spent that 30 minutes nodding and saying, "That's fine," when someone asked me to set a time.  But I digress...
Anyhow, while I sat at the table working with someone, another teacher (I'll call her teacher A) came up to book a time with me.  While she waited for me, another teacher (Teacher B) came to her and I caught bits and pieces of the conversation.  The gist...Teacher B wanted to book a time with Teacher A.  B  already had a pretty full schedule so asked A for a later time (we are contractually required to be available from 3:00 - 6:00 on that particular day).  Teacher A responded with, "No, I'm a mom and won't stay that late."  At first I wasn't fazed.  The mom card is played on a regular basis by a member of my team so I'm pretty much used to it anymore.  But since then, I've kind of been obsessing over it.   You won't stay that late even though those are the required hours?  So because you are a mom you're not required to be available for that time block like the rest of us?  What about the teachers who are Moms (like teacher B) who are booking times later in the day as per their contract...does that make them a bad mom?  There are so many things this person is saying when she says, "I'm a mom so I won't (fill in the blank) at my job."
Since I'm not a mom, this is just my view looking in on the situation, but I'm thinking this is part of the reason we can't get equal pay for equal work.  Some of us (women) are not willing to do the equal work due to family/home commitments or the perception of them anyhow.  Which is certainly their right to do.  However, how can we expect to be paid the same if we play that card and men usually don't.  Just something to ponder.
Now, in my own little world of teacher compensation, we are paid equally - men and women.  Our salary is based on number of years taught and number graduate units attained.  It is placed on a salary schedule and everyone has equal opportunity to attain the highest salary level if desired.  The comment made above irked me a bit because of that salary schedule.  Teacher A is getting paid essentially the same as the rest of us, but when refusing to work the expected hours that she is getting paid for, it is not equal work.  Heck, I don't want to stay until 6 either, but I often do work that late, even when it's not a contractual day like this one is.  And I don't have a Mom card to play.  I have other cards though...plans, appointments, exhaustion, LIFE.  Why is it that we accept one, but not the others?
My intent isn't to bash moms.  In fact, women as a group spend enough time second guessing themselves they don't need anyone else doing it for them.  I know the working mom (part time and full time) vs. stay at home mom is already one decision that gets a lot of judgement from those looking in.  I'm not trying to add to that.  With that being said, I would expect someone who has chosen to work at a paying job to do that job in order to get paid, regardless of them being a mom.  Am I being unreasonable here?

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.