Thursday, July 30


This year I forgot to schedule any summer vacation time off. I remain in saving mode so an elaborate vacation was not in the cards for me. I originally thought that I'd just take several Mondays off and enjoy some nice long weekends throughout the summer. This just never seemed to happen and next thing I knew the end of July was coming on fast. Work has been extremely busy so I decided to take a one week stay-cation. I'm so glad I did.

What am I doing with my precious week off? Well, not much and that's the point.

I'm seeing some movies and having dinners/lunches with friends. I enjoyed a nice sleepover with my niece and nephew and stomped them in Disney Monopoly. That was fun. I've also been reading one of the creepiest books ever called The Little Stranger. The book creeped me out so badly last night that I had to stop reading at midnight to watch some Conan O'Brien just to calm down. I'm also slowly tackling some of my clutter. I picked up a fun new paper shredder and have shredded all kinds of dumb old paperwork. There is something so satisfying about shredding all of those credit card solicitations and other junk mail, ya know?

I've also been slowly going through closets and drawers and clearing out the old junk I don't want, need or use. I've done some research on where and when to recycle Household Hazardous waste and E-Waste. For those in my neck of the woods you'll be happy to know that there will be a HHW/EWaste drop off location in Sierra Madre on August 15th. I've gone through my old medications and cleared out a tons of old Sudafed, Tylenol and other expired meds. I've also started a stack of old electronics to drop off including an old VCR, a DVD player some random remotes that don't seem to have any use.

Is this a glamorous way to spend my time off? No. Is it effective? Absolutely! I can't tell you how much happier I am when I can open a desk drawer and find my stamps or a pen or that tiny thumbdrive. I also love having my bathroom drawers all in order. The linen closet is now a dream. I even invested in some over priced dryer sheets just so I could throw a few used ones in my closets and drawers to keep them smelling extra nice. I haven't hit my primary closet but it will be done soon. I've otherwise made some great progress. I find that putting down my scary book for about 15-20 minutes at a time is all it takes to really make some head way. In fact I just cleaned out the cabinet under my bathroom sink and it took almost no time at all.

As satisfying as all of this clearing out is I don't recommend spending an entire day doing it. That would only annoy you, trust me. I like the small spurts of time approach instead. Turns out I'm not alone in this theory. Have you ever visited She's an organizational diva who also subscribes to the baby steps way to de-clutter. My favorite tip is her "De-clutter 15 minutes a day" idea. Pick a spot to de-clutter, set a timer for 15 minutes and... go!

So, that's what I've been up to. I'm feeling so much better already!

Now, back to my book before it gets too dark out!

Sunday, July 26

Now THAT'S a chef!

So, with all of this Julia Child hype surrounding the new Julie and Julia movie (that I can't WAIT to see) I thought I check out our old friend Julia Child and see if she was as cool as I remembered. Well, I'm here to tell you that she is! I Tivo'd an episode of Julia and Jacques and was blown away by the deliciousness those to whipped up. The episode I caught was on Julia and Jacques favorite sandwiches. They made croque-monsieur and lobster rolls. Holy smoke did those sandwiches look amazing. However, more than anything, I was touched at just how sweet Jacques was with Julia, He clearly adored her and seemed very protective of her. By the time they shot those shows Julia was getting up in years and Jacques seemed to take very good care of her. I like that about him.

Of course, all of this nostalgia made me recall another favorite chef of mine. Well, really he was a favorite of my whole family's. We happened to be very big Justin Wilson fans back in the day... I ga-ron-tee! Do you remember good old Justin?

He was a fabulous old Cajun chef who was a kick in the pants long before the Food Network existed. Justin was old school, he even makes a oleo reference in that clip. I loved him and wish "chefs" like that stupid Sandra Lee would step aside and make room for some Justin reruns on the Food Network. (I've said it once and I'll say it again, NEVER trust a skinny chef. Can you say "repressed"?) Justin was and remains far more sincere and entertaining than the lame-os out there like Sandra Lee. Am I bitter? Well, yes. Yes I am. Give me a big old Cajun chef in red suspenders over an artificially perky Sandy any day.

BTW, I checked and discovered that our friend Youtube seems to have a lot of older clips of Justin but I remember him a bit long in the tooth and cooking outdoors before an audience. The clip above is the only one that resembles the Justin era shows I remember. Ahhh, now that's a chef I can adore. I enjoy Paula Deen and Bobby Flay but in my book nobody these days is as entertaining as Julia and Justin.


I saw this photo on one of my new favorite websites.  I can't stop laughing.  Is that bad?

Thursday, July 23

The work is too hard

I work with some really good people. Some drive me nuts but for the most part I like them.

Take my sales guy, Clark. He's got an affable, huggable, dad kind of thing going for him. He can be very demanding but he works on my biggest chunk of business and I've learned to work really well with him.

Today Clark called me all up in arms about another company we work with. He was really ticked off at them He called and said "Let's call those knuckleheads and get them back on track. God almighty!"

Clark put me on hold then conferenced the other company in. The trouble is that these people really are knuckleheads and it took a looooong time for them to finally get everyone in a room together to take our call. They kept dropping our line, then we'd call back their receptionist couldn't find them, then they call us on one of our cell phones (which doesn't do a bit of good for conferencing) and on and on and on. While we waited (about 15 minutes... I'm not kidding) I could hear Clark tapping away on his computer. We'd chat and sigh from time to time but mostly we worked quietly on our emails and waited. Eventually the follwoing happened and it was my favorite moment of the day:

Lucy: Clark?
Clark: Yeah?
Lucy: Umm, I have to go potty.
Clark: ...
Lucy: Clark?
Clark: (With all the certainty in the world) Put me on mute and take me in.
Lucy: NO! I hate those people and always double flush just to rat them out. No way!
Clark: Well then you just have to hold it.
Lucy: ...

I have no way of knowing if the receptionist heard us but I hope she did. She was as annoyed with the knuckleheads as we were. I hope it at least made her smile. I know it cracked me up.

Thursday, July 16

NYC Update

I'm in NYC this week. I arrived last Sunday night and will go home tomorrow. I always have a good time in NYC but it's also exhausting. I've been up and at 'em for 8:00 am breakfasts every day. We then march around town to and from meetings all day then meet at the hotel to catch a cab and go to dinner. We usually don't get back until 10:00 or so each night. See what I mean? Sorta fun but very busy.

I won't bore you with the business end of things but I did get to some fun restaurants.

The Monday night a few of us went to a new place called Hotel Griffou. It's in an old house that was later converted to a boarding house by a French socialite named Madame Griffou in the 1870's. I asked if it was a women's "boarding house" or a brothel. I'm always after the dirt and I liked the brothel idea so much more. The waiter didin't know for sure but seemd to also enjoy te brothel idea. They had a pork chop dish that came directly from a recipe they found in a wall during reconstruction. It was a good story but I went for the surf and turf instead. I just saw the words "petite fillet" paired with "brioche & lobster" and went for it. I'm glad I did. I also got busted for taking this picture:

They feature original local art and shift it around every few months. I was told I couldn't take pictures due to copyright issues. They were telling me about copyright issues? That's hilarious. When the waiter told me to stop I blurted out "Oh no, do you have to kill me now?" He didn't laugh but he also didn't make me delete the picture so there it is. Yes those are 4 fox pelts hanging around that firepalce looking thing. it's actually got a pane of glass in there alowing a view of a exocitcally lit wine cellar. It was uber cool. They waiter appologized for the dead fox pelts hanging there but explained that they were not real. (I ordered the surf and turf for God's sake... like I cared.)

The next night we went to another new restaurant called DGBG Kitchen & Bar. It was delightful. The place is covered in in quotes about food. I had an even better steak here. It was perfectly seasoned and I really enjoyed it. The place seems to specialize in sausage and beer. While I'm no beer drinker I can certainly enjoy a good link. I tried The Vermont and The Chorizo from and appetizer assortment ordered for the table. I admit, being from So Cal, I'm always a snob when it comes to Mexican food from anywhere but the Southwest states. I don't know why. I don't freak out when I have bad Mexican in LA but if NYC tries it I immediately flip out. Both links were excellent.

Last night I went to an old favorite in the theater district called Bond 45. I love this place because it is all about antipasto, salads and super thin pizza. I had the appetiser special which was essentially a caprese salad. I never order caprese salads back home but always when I'm in NYC. I've found that LA cuts a rubbery slab of mozzarella and sandwiches it between tomato and calls it a salad. WRONG! In NYC, the mozzarella always seems to be imported from Israel or home made. Bond 45 made theirs and I'll be dreaming of it for a long time to come.

Right after dinner at Bond 45 we went to a performance of this year's Best Musical Revival Hair. I never really understood the big deal about Hair. God knows I love a good hippie but when it came to Hair I just thought whatever, it's a bunch of stoned hippies singing and dancing around. What's the big deal? Well now I get it. One of the generous gentle who escorted us to the show had seen the original with his wife before they were engaged. He also scored us front row seats. I've heard Hair is rather interactive so siting in the front row was intimidating. it all turned out great. i now completely understand the show and why it was such a big deal. I can't even begin to describe the energy in that theater last night. Within 5 minutes I was exhausted just watching them all jump around but having a great time. The best part about being in the front row is that you can really hear each individual's voice and every one was outstanding. the cast was also very apologetic. One very pregnant character apologized after enthusiastically running her hands trough our hair and touching our faces by scampering away and under her breath saying "Sorry guys!". Another rather militant African American male character zeroed in on the woman next to me and wouldn't let up for the rest of the show. During the finale he dropped the character and warmly smiled at us in a clearly apologetic way.

This will give you a taste of the energy in the place (such fun!):

I was surprised to find I knew most of the songs in the show so that was a lot of fun. During intermission our host told us that Hair was the first time African American had ever been portrayed as equal to white characters on stage before. This alone was revolutionary but throw in music that young audiences were into then add issues they cared about, full frontal nudity, humor and drugs and you've got a show the likes of which had ever been seen before.

During the curtain call the lights come up and the audience is invited to come up on stage to sing and dance to Let the Sunshine In. I stayed at my seat. I had front row and knocking people out of the way to get on stage just seemed greedy.

The only strange part of the night was watching the poor kid at the end of our row. He could not have bee a day over 13 and her was sitting with a man who seemed to be his grandfather. During intermission an younger woman (his mom?) switched seats with the older man with the cane. I'm not sure which would be worse at the age. Watching faux humping, full frontal nudity, and LSD trips with my Mom or my grandfather. That poor kid! I've never seen wider eyes in my entire life.

It was incredible and I can't wait to see it again.

I was too beat to go out tonight. I thought of dragging myself out to see Next to Normal but I'm just so tired and I really have to pack. It seems a waste to sit in my room knowing there are fantastic shows going on just 10 blocks away but I already spent too much this trip. I've been in the market for a grown up watch for a couple of years now. I finally found one I love at Macy's Herald Square and bought it. Did you know that if you're from out of town there is a 10% discount available to you at the Macy's Visitor's Center? I had no idea. A young woman in the shoe department told me to go to the "one and a half floor". I accused her of punking us but she swore she was telling the truth. She was! I used the 10% off coupon (good for three days) added a Christmas gift card from my parents plus another $25 card from my cellular phone service provider and I got a deal! I love my watch. I haven't bought much of anything for about 3 years but in the past 6 weeks bought a car and a nifty big girl watch. I now have to stop!

So that's been my trip so far. Tomorrow I land at around 2:00. It will b good to be home and back into my routine. See you then!

Wednesday, July 8

Up in arms

Last night I saw a solid documentary called Food Inc. As expected, it got me all riled up but it made me realize a few things about myself too.

I half expected to be completely grossed out by all meat after the film but that didn't happen. I still don't mind eating meat, I just prefer it be a bit on the natural side and as cruelty free as possible. The film interviewed one fantastic independent farmer who (gasp) allows his chickens, cows and pigs graze almost entirely freely around his farm. The animals eat/cut the grass, while naturally fertilizing it. They seem to live very nice lives up until the last 5 seconds before being slaughtered quickly and personally. You'd think this was all some great new concept by how rare it is these days. Meanwhile, the big meat companies stuff animals in tiny pens, feed them corn, not the grass as they are naturally inclined to eat. What's wrong with corn? Isn't "corn-fed" a good thing? Not really. Think about it, corn may fill you up but humans and animals are not capable of digesting it. It goes in and comes out virtually the same. It will fatten you up quickly without offering any real nutrition. It's just not something you'd want to live on. These days the cows we eat stand in 18 inches of manure (that's where all that Ecoli comes from) and develop and spread disease. Their meat is eventually washed in ammonia, to kill the bacteria (yes, THAT kind of ammonia) but, obviously, this isn't always effective. The meat eventually gets churned up together then packed in nice clean Styrofoam packages for us. One ground beef patty can contain meat from thousands of cows. I know... blechh! All the while our local independent farmer struggles to stay afloat while trying to harvest fresh produce and good, clean, happy livestock.

It's a mess I tell ya!

I left the film about 12 kinds of angry. Angry at the treatment of workers, angry at the treatment of animals, angry at the nepotism that is allowed to exist in government, angry at the way the poor are not able to afford fresh foods, angry at the thugs running the soy bean industry who roam around at all hours of the night spying on and harassing farmers, angry about the deaths that happen more and more frequently from the disease that comes from mass produced meat, angry at how corn is subsidized and in virtually everything we buy (everything from Motrin to cola). Angry, angry angry!

In the end I realized I already have clean living tendencies. I shop at our farmer's market, I recycle and I regularly freak out when people waste water. For God's sake, I just bought a hybrid! Thing is, I didn't buy the hybrid to save the planet. It's nice that it's a low emissions vehicle but the number one reason I bought it was to ensure that I pay oil companies as little money as possible. I believe a reckoning day is coming to the oil industry and I want to do what I can to speed the process up.

Turns out I am most motivated by retribution. That can't be a healthy attitude but there it is. Case in point: My lottery dream. If I were to win the lottery I'd do some traveling and buy my dream house but what exactly is my dream house? Well, it's a small cottage with enough solar panels, fresh water and natural gas to pull it entirely off the grid. I'd plant a decent sized garden and spend time roaming around picking up additional fresh produce, meat and baking supplies from local/organic farmers. Would I do this to save the planet? Not really. Oh sure, I'd do it to leave a smaller carbon footprint and to improve my health but mostly I'd do it so that I paid as little as possible to big business. They're awful, terrible people and they all deserve to go under. I'd love to be a part of their undoing.

By the way, this is all incredibly hypocritical of me. I work for and with the biggest companies in the world. As I've said on numerous occasions, I genuinely enjoy my job. It's just that given the choice and ability the first thing I'd do is leave it all (well, except for a satellite dish and WiFi) behind and do everything I could to tell "The Man" to stick it.

So that is what I really walked away with after watching Food Inc. If nothing else, it really made me think. The film didn't obsess on animal cruelty which I appreciated. (I am completely turned off by hard core imagery and believe it rarely helps a cause.) I only had to avert my eyes a couple of times so don't be scared. If you have a chance you really need to check this one out.

Other docs that got me riled up were Why We Fight, Who Killed the Electric Car and Fog of War. I recommend them all. Speaking as an obviously hard core liberal you might be surprised at how these films avoid laying blame on any one administration or political party. (Well, Why We Fight is not exactly pro conservative but check it out anyway.)

The woman I sit next to at work is a vegetarian. She first tired it out about a year ago and it stuck. She immediately admitted that it had nothing to do with ethics or politics but entirely about her health. She was turned off by what she was learning about growth hormones and thought they were messing with her skin. As a result, she stopped eating chicken, pork and beef. She believes it has helped her skin but admits that despite all the research she's done and all that she now knows about how bad modern food is for us she still craves a chicken McNugget every time she passes a McDonald's. I like that kind of honesty in my friendly vegetarians.

My point? I guess I'm just trying to say do what you can to improve the world no matter what your motivation.

Monday, July 6

Trading books rocks!!!

As mentioned in numerous posts I am an active member of both Bookmooch and Paperback Swap. Trading books not only keeps my bookcase less crowded but every once in a while a book arrives with a special treat.

Today I received a like-new hardback copy of Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq.

The best part about this mooch was the fantastic bookmark I found inside. It is in the form of a buckslip from an attorney in Texas with a hand written note that reads "Bill- If you have already read, give it to someone with a "W 2004" sticker. - Eugene"

Sweet Jesus, somebody in Texas gets it!

That note made my day.

Saturday, July 4

Happy 4th!

May your day be filled with family, friends, good bbq, some sunblock and a healthy portion of your local Twilight Zone Marathon!