Friday, December 16

12 Again

 It's a silly problem but I've been needing a new alarm clock for a while.  Well, I don't really need a new one.  I'm just very dissatisfied with my current model.

I picked it up a couple of years ago but was immediately annoyed by the fact that the volume for falling asleep and waking had to be the same.  WTH?!  What idiot made that choice?  I also hated how ridiculously bright the time display was.  Even in "dim" mode you could land a plane to that damn light.  Almost immediately I just turned the display light off altogether.  I can only read it during daytime hours and even then it's hard to see from across the room.  Instead, I rely on the cable box display to give me the time.  As a result I've been annoyed for about the past 2 years.

(Yes... I have a tv in my bedroom.  I know I'm not supposed to, but I do.  When I wake in the middle of the night and decide I'm just not getting more sleep any time soon I have been known to watch some 3:00 am television.)

Anyway, today I had a few more presents to pick up at Target.  I was looking for something and stumbled upon the clock radios. Do we still call them "clock radios"?  Regardless, I stood and spent a good 15 minutes staring at them and reading their boxes for features.

It seems I have very particular needs in a clock radio.  Obviously:
  • I wanted a display that could actually dim.  
  • I wanted my bedtime volume to have the ability to be lower than my wake up volume.  
  • I wanted to be able to dock my iPhone/iPod.  
  • I wanted to have a sleep machine/environments sound system available.  (I like to fall asleep to the sound of rain).  
  • The device had to have some weight to it. (A previous model was so lightweight that every time I tried to hit the snooze bar it would simply slide across the nightstand and out of reach.  Now THAT'S annoying.)  
  • I wanted a snooze button easy to find in a groggy state and FAR from the "off" button. (That lame lightweight model had a snooze bar that doubled as the off button.  When pressed once, the snooze would be set.  When pressed twice the device would turn off.  I learned this was a very bad system the hard way. I eventually retired it to the bathroom where it couldn't do any harm.)
  • The clock radio had to be compact enough as not to take up too much space on my nightstand.
  • I wanted a weekday/weekend dual alarm option.
So there you have it, the ludicrous demands for my dream alarm clock.

I found lots of grown up and sophisticated systems but most were too dang big.  I ultimately chose one with a new feature I'd never dreamed of.  I chose this delightful clock:


What's with all of the colors you ask?  Well, umm, my fancy new alarm clock is apparently designed with the tween girl in mind.  It slowly fades from one glowy color to the next and the time display changes with it.  It can also pulse to the beat of whatever music happens to be playing.  It can also stay on my favorite color.  Don't worry, I made sure I could also just turn the whole color thing off too.

The most surprising feature is the sound quality.  It sounds really good!  I am, however,  a bit concerned about the snooze bar.  It's flush to the rest of the buttons.  I hope I'm able to manage it in half conscious state of mind.

It doesn't have environmental sounds but my iPhone does so that's covered.

I'm not sure if it has a weekday/weekend alarm option but it seems to have a few apps associated with it that may do the trick.  I'll have to download them and see if they can help with that.

It has some new fangled "Time Sync" feature that's petty cool.  When I plugged it in I didn't have to manually set the time.  I just docked my iPhone and it instantly set the time from it.  Cool!

I'm on vacation for a while and don't plan on using the alarm for a while (yea!) but I will have to test drive it before my next work day to make sure I can manage it.

So far I really like my silly, glowy, new clock radio.  If it disappoints, I'll be sure to report back.  Until then, I'm off to create a cool "Wake Up!" playlist.

(BTW, I can't help but think how this whole iPhone/clock radio/color change/morning playlist thing would have BLOWN MY MIND as a 12 year old.  Sometimes I feel like I grew up in the dark ages.  Have you SEEN video games lately.  Holy crap!  Kids today have it made.  Remember these:

)

Friday, December 9

Lights out

Last Wednesday night I found myself out with some girlfriends from work getting a MAC makeover, dining and driving home during one helluva wind storm.  I had spent part of the evening making fun of the big "wind event" on the horizon... then it hit as we made our way to our cars.  Holy crap!  It almost knocked my off my feet!  I live in Southern California for God's sake!  What the hell was going on?!

I read a text from home explaining that the power was out but candles were lit and to not bother trying to park in the garage.  Got it!  I white knuckled the steering wheel all the way home.  The wind was really raging.  I had trouble sleeping due to the noise outside.  OMG!  I can't remember ever seeing or hearing anything like it in my life.

I woke up to see the damage.  It turns out we had experienced hurricane force winds of up to 100 mph.  I was happy to see that our recently pruned oaks and orange trees were fine.  Our neighbor's non-native pines, on the other hand, had blown all over our yard.  What a mess.

That was only the beginning.  We ended up enduring six days and nights without electricity.  I realize there are people in other parts of the world suffering through far worse but... it sucked.  We happened to have hot water to shower and wash dishes in.  Without that, I would have high tailed it to Palm Springs or Santa Barbara.  Turns out an ice cold shower just isn't for me.

On the bright side we were very resourceful and discovered what really comes in handy when surviving without power.  Here is what became most important to us and a few emergency supplies you might  want to keep on hand:

Hot beverages-
I remembered our ancient campfire coffee pot and just knew Dad would have never thrown it out.  It was right were I thought it would be.  I found that filling it with hot tap water then bringing it (close to) a boil on the gas powered BBQ worked quite well.  It was really cold outside so I quickly learned to just set it in the fireplace.  In this way we were able to make coffee, tea and hot chocolate.

Radio-
Last summer I spotted this emergency radio and picked it up, just in case.  It was fantastic.  I live in the foothills and tend to get terrible reception but this radio worked like a charm.  It's a bit spendy but it's more than just a radio.  It has lots of great features (battery/solar/crank powered, flashlight, weather channels and it can charge your cell phone!).  I highly recommend it.

Candles and matches-
Just make sure your candles are unscented.  Seriously, our house smelled like a French whorehouse.  Blechh!  Unscented long burning tea lights to float in bowls of water can provide a some nice light. 

Lanterns-
Friday morning it became apparent that we would be in the dark for the long haul.  Flashlights, batteries, candles, matches and ice could not be found for 20 miles.  I decided to hit the Home Depot near work and picked up the last two battery-operated lanterns they had.  Candles are great but really tough to read by (I don't care what Abe Lincoln said).  The lanterns run on 8 D-cell batteries, which is ridiculous, but those bad boys really became important.  We were glad to have them.  I suggest having at least one lantern per person in a household.

Camping cookware set-
I found the cutest set of camping cookware in the closet.  I was able to heat up some leftover pasta and it was quite a nice meal.  I suppose I could have used our every day cookware on the grill but I didn't want to risk it.  Cooking in aluminum pots meant for a campfire seemed more sensible and they worked just fine.  Ours look something like this:



Shut the Box-
I rediscovered this addictive game.  Have you ever played?  It's so simple and fun.  Try it some time.  I pulled out a deck of cards but didn't really play anything.  I also completely forgot about Bananagrams.  Bummer!  That would have been great too.  Time slows down in the dark, keep some family friendly games around to pas the time.  Trust me.


Those were the most critical items that kept us going.  Keeping warm was the most important business at hand.  I found that hopping under the covers in bed was the best way to stay warm.  The problem was that I tended to get so tired so early.  I now understand the need to wake at the crack of dawn to get a fire going to heat the house and to get a kettle going.  This, of course, meant falling to sleep by 8:00 or 9:00 each night.  It was a strange, cold, dark week but we learned a lot and will never take electricity for granted again.

We have since packed up all of our supplies for the next time we have no electricity.  Power will eventually go out again, this time we will be even better prepared. 

Saturday, November 19

l'amour

Tonight I watched L'Amour Fou and loved it.

It's a documentary about the Yves St. Laurent as told by his partner of 50 years, Pierre Berge.  It was lovely but admittedly very sad. 

My friends all know that I believe if a film has great real estate I will inevitably love it.  This proved to be true, once again, in this film.  Those houses, not to mention their contents... wow!

The film hops back and forth between the past and present.  It begins from the time Yves and Pierre met, fell in love and launched the house of Yves St. Laurent to the recent extraordinary auction of the couple's belonging. 

Yves was the artiste while Pierre ran their joint venture until the end.  They seem to have broken up and lived separately as far back as the mid-70's but remained incredibly close while working together until St. Laurent's death in '08.

I happen to enjoy looking at classic fashion.  Even the ridiculous I can appreciate as art.  This film certainly showed lots of the famed couturier's fashion but it also spent lots of camera time lingering on the amazing homes of the couple.  Their home in Paris is packed with remarkable treasures as are those in Marrakesh and Normandy.  It was very sad to watch Christie's come in to pack up and haul away the spectacular collection of art.

My favorite moment was when Pierre throws questions at a young St. Laurent and films the answers.  The result is a completely charming look a the two before addiction and depression slithered into their lives.

Even if you don't care a hoot about couture it's worth watching for no other reason than it happens to be so darn pretty to watch.

Check it out if you can.



Thursday, November 17

Outraged again

I love magazines but I can not stand the almost instant onset renewal notices.  They start coming about 3 months into a subscription and seem to come about every two weeks until the end of the subscription.  Of course, the trouble with this is that I never know when my subscription is actually up because I tend to ignore those pesky notices.

Today I received a particularly rude notice from Food Network Magazine.  I like the magazine and had planned on renewing until I received a passive aggressive/condescending renewal notice.  In part, it stated "we fully believed you would send payment upon receipt of your invoice" (how the hell would I know when an actual invoice arrives?) and "your good standing with us is at risk."  I promptly canceled my subscription (last issue arrives this month) with a note stating I didn't appreciate their tone in the renewal letter and that their "good standing WITH ME  is not only at risk but is in fact gone." 

Assholes.

Wednesday, November 16

High Ten

Today I received a supremely nice compliment.  I'd ordinarily keep it to myself but I wanted to document it here for me to find later.

My HR person was incredibly kind, helpful and encouraging to me from the moment Dad died.  Today I overheard her saying that she would be out of the office for 2 months.  I decided to stop by her office to see if she was ok.  Several years ago she suffered a debilitating paralysis from the neck down and has been recovering ever since.  She is now able to walk short distances with her walker but she is mostly in a scooter tearing up the halls in the office.  She will be fine but her doctor has been wanting her to take some time off to focus on rehabilitation.  That's what she'll be doing for the 2 months she will be away.

I was happy to hear she was going to be ok.  As I believe I've mentioned before, we are about to go through some major changes at work that will likely involve layoffs.  Nobody knows what's going on and we're all just waiting and hoping for the best.  I told my HR friend that she had picked a good couple of months to miss since the stress that we were facing would probably not be helpful in her rehab.  She agreed and explained that she had made these plans months ago and almost postponed but ultimately decided she had to take care of herself.  I was happy to hear this and reminded her that we both know that nobody will take care of us but ourselves.  She asked how I was holding up with all of the office drama.  I simply said "If I could keep breathing and living after that phone call when I learned Dad had died then I can certainly handle whatever work has in store for me."  She immediately threw up her hands to give me a "high ten".  We talked a while about how she had absolutely been through worse than any dumb layoff, as had I, and that we'd survive this whole work  thing too.

Here comes the nice compliment: She told me that in her 30 years of being in HR she had never seen anyone come through "that kind of tragedy with such flying colors as you have."  She continued with "I mean it's not every day somebody's dad falls down a mountain.  That was truly tragic.  It's like the last thing your Dad did before he left this earth was to take all of his strength and goodness and pour it into you."  Ok, that started out really harsh but I think she recovered nicely.  I'll take it as a compliment.

We talked a bit more about how she's seen this whole work drama bring out the best and worst in people.  From top to bottom she's been surprised by people, both positively and negatively.  I'll bet!  We're supposed to know our fate after the new year and have it fully integrated by the end of February.

I told her that I in no way wanted to lose my job.  I like it and (most) of the people I work with.  However, if I did lose my job I would be on an epic road trip the very next day.

So, that's the plan.  I'll try not to stress out about that which I have no control over.  I'll just keep my head down, do my job and have great weekends.  That's the plan and I'm sticking with it.


Tuesday, November 15

Intellectuals

I don't always like my job but I do like my immediate team of co-workers.  Today I enjoyed the following exchange:

ME: Ok, so who do you consider hot?

FEMALE CO-WORKER: James Franco.

ME: Ehh.  I don't get him.  He's always looks like he's seriously ill.  (Tapping away at iPhone Googling images of James Franco)

ME:  (Handing phone over) Here, find a pic that you consider hot.

FEMALE CO-WORKER: How about this one?

ME: Sorry.  Nothing.

FEMALE CO-WORKER: Yeah, he is kinda sickly but he's hot in Spiderman.  What about you?  Who are your Top 5 in Hotness?

ME: Oh, I gotta go Clooney.

FEMALE CO-WORKER: Eww, I don't like George Clooney.  Besides, I think he's gay.

ME: HEY!  The gays can have anyone they want except Clooney.  I draw the line there.  No Clooney!!

MALE CO-WORKER: Yeah, I gave them Travolta years ago.

LESBIAN CO-WORKER: What about me?  I'm gay.  Can I have Clooney.

ME: Yes. I think you've found a loop hole.  Congratulations!


Monday, November 14

Shake it, don't break it!

Today I sat at an intersection behind a teen boy's SUV with a license plate frame that read "My other toy has tits".

Needless to say I wished him harm... a great deal of harm.

Then I laughed and thought... naaaah. That kid has guaranteed himself a lonely, frozen, vagina free existence for at least a decade with an attitude like that.

When I mentioned this to friends, most of the men assured me that there are plenty of young ladies who would happily climb into that SUV because they thought the plate was funny.  *shudder* They may be right but I can't imagine that POV working into that moron's college years.

I thought about what kind of parent might allow their child to put that on their car.  I thought about the father that will see that plate when the kid shows up to pick up his daughter and the verbal beat down that will certainly take place. I like that thought best.

Then I wondered, who on earth might actually get away with that kind of message on their car?  That's when I thought of Maks.  I started watching Dancing With the Stars because of this guy.  In the beginning I called him "the hot misogynistic one".  I still call him that but admit I can't take my eyes off him.  Well, more precisely, I tend to stare at his bottom and hips  Holy crap!  Nice moneymaker, Maks!  Any man who can shake it like that can pretty much say anything he wants.   Any woman he might consider a toy would certainly think the very same of him.

Sunday, November 13

Wisdom

I first heard of Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor several months ago when a friend posted one of her lectures on Facebook.  I watched it and was mesmerized.

So, what's her story?  Well, Dr. Jill is a Neuroanatamist who survived a massive stroke.  In other words, she's a brain scientist who suffered a hemorrhage of the brain and survived to tell the tale.  She describes the event in her talk.  She also describes what it's like to lose your sense of self, your ego, your identity and how it's actually quite beautiful and peaceful.  Imagine having a truly quiet mind, a mind that isn't constantly buzzing with to-do lists and how to operate that dumb Blackberry and that annoying conversation you had yesterday and so on.  Dr. Jill experienced an absolutely still mind following her stroke and now lectures on the peace she found while there.  Take a look for yourself:



I first watched this on TED talks.  Are you familiar with TED?  It's an amazing site that showcases folks with some fascinating things to say.  I loved this talk given by Temple Grandin.  Temple is autistic, has earned a PhD and has changed the way we understand those with autism.  She offers wonderful insights into those we often assume don't think much or don't have must to say.  Those assumptions are wrong.




Both of these talks drive home the fact that people of all kinds have thoughts and are deserving of our kind attention.  Whether a person can communicate or not, their mind is working and receiving your intention towards them be it good or not.  They may be quiet but they are in there and how you treat them matters.

How we all treat each other matters... every time.

Saturday, November 12

Bento!

I'm kind of obsessed with this little blog at the moment. It's by a mom interested in creating bento boxes for her kids that are fun and avoid waste. That Angry Birds bento is great!

Now, do I think I would ever take the time to use mini cookie cutters on my sandwiches or cut Hello Kitty shapes out of my cheese? No. I do, however, think I could handle packing a snack box for work with a few Triskets, a mini Babybel cheese, a couple of clementines and some veggies. I doubt I'll ever make cutesy toothpicks or use that little fake grass in my lunch but I do appreciate the effort and LOVE to look at the fabulous Flickr group pictures. Some of these creations are amazing. Some are so-so while others are just plain over the top. Either way I'm fascinated. Here are some of the Flickr groups I've been flipping through:

Bento Challenge

Bento Picnic

Obento my bento!

Just Bento

If you're like me, you might benefit from the whole idea of portion control when eating. This seems like such a great way to do it. Bento seems to encourage variety but in small potions.

Here is an example of the most hideously time consuming bento box meal creation ever. It's an example of what I will never do. I don't mean to be disrespectful but... yikes! (And get the damn dog off the counter!)

If you're REALLY into the whole idea of bento then you might like to peruse more links here.

Friday, November 11

Just in time

I love the idea of scarves but I'm never quite sure what to do with them. With the weather finally cooling down, I stumbled upon this little video just in time:



Wow! It looks so easy even I should be able to manage. I feel much better now.

Thursday, November 10

Up and coming

I saw a bit of this trailer tonight and was instantly excited to see it:



I saw this and remembered how much I was looking forward to it.



Then I saw this and thought... WTF?



I saw this and thought it looked very different than I'd imagined. It looks even better:

Wednesday, November 9

So you think you can dance?

A friend is officially on vacation for her brother's wedding. At lunch she told us that her bro sent an email to the 60 or so wedding guests and asked "What song would make you get up and dance at our reception?" This launched a fun car conversation on the way back to work.

Without hesitation I replied SEXYBACK!



Lynn said PUSH IT!



Allison said "I would totally slow dance to Open Arms."



I was laughing too hard to hear what Angela and Diane came up with. It's a fun game though. What would make you shake a tail feather? There are some ridiculous answers out there, the above being just a few. Maybe this would be a good choice?

Tuesday, November 8

I feel your pain

This I enjoy. I'm especially fond of that last kid.

Monday, November 7

Is that weird?


I sometimes have trouble staying asleep. I found that drinking less water later in the evening helps. Falling asleep is typically no a problem for me as long as I have some sort of white noise in the background.

I sometimes dabble in sounds from nature. I'm especially fond of my Spring Showers track. It's about an hour long and it's just plain rain shower audio. No chimes. No gongs. No flutes. Just rain. Of course, looking for this type of track can be surprisingly difficult to find. Recently, while searching for more environmental sounds (loons and wolves, anyone?) I came across some Native American chants. My Dad was fascinated with Native American culture for most of his life and passed his respect of their culture on to me.

When I visited Mt Rushmore several years ago I also visited the Crazy Horse Memorial. It blows Rushmore out of the water. Seriously. My most vivid memory of the place was when I walked into a rather large room where Native Americans were selling their wares. Native American war chants were playing on the speakers. It, frankly, freaked me out. I looked to one of the men quietly working on crafting jewelry and said "Man, that is truly terrifying!". He grinned an replied "It's supposed to be." Until that moment I had thought war chants were intended to gear natives up for battle. It had never occurred to me that the other purpose was to scare the hell out of their enemy. It only made me respect the culture more. Everything has a purpose. Everything has meaning.

Just imagine being a pioneer and hearing this late at night:



I'd run like effing hell. I can't find one that sounds quite like that I heard at the Memorial that day but the clip should give you a sense of it. I suppose they don't make many recordings of the terrifying stuff.

While driving through the Black Hills and out of the Crazy Horse Monument we listened to a CD I'd purchased. Here is a sampling:



I swore I could feel eyes on us as we drove away listening to this. Those mountains are filled with presence of those who came before us. I've never felt anything quite like it before or since.

Anyway, while searching for nighttime audio I came across some authentic sounding Native American chants. I recently downloaded these albums that I just love:

Sacred Dance - Pow Wows of the Native American Indians
Native American Chant

I find them oddly calming. They've helped me drift off to sleep for the past few weeks. When I mentioned this to a co-worker she just sighed and said "That's weird!" She may be right. I listen to it during the day and can't imagine how on earth I manage to fall to sleep listening to them, but it works. That's weird.

(P.S. Even more weird is that when I searched both YouTube and Rhapsody Music for these albums, Mormon ads popped up. I resent the sh!t out of that. Assh@les! Like Native Americans haven't suffered enough? Now they have to be targeted by Mormons? I wish they'd hold an unannounced battle cry competition in Salt Lake City.)

Sunday, November 6

Good day... again!

We left Monterey this morning and made our way for Mission San Miguel. We drove down the 101 since the 1, while beautiful, takes a lot of time. The 101 is awfully pretty too. It takes you through lovely rolling hills and plenty of California's produce farms. It's rare to see much of autumn where I'm from so I appreciated seeing that the grape vines had turned a vibrant orange.

It happened to be a fairly stormy day but entirely manageable. Most of the rain we drove through fell from a sunny sky which is a sight I happen to love.

I hadn't been to the Mission since I was maybe 13 years old or so. It was very pretty but a loud mouthed know-it-all sort of ruined the sights for me. I was trying to enjoy a peaceful moment while seated in the front pew of the church but he decided to take that moment to share his knowledge of the archangels. He was far to loud and rude so I left. I did however, manage to take this picture of a painted over doorway. It's the original paint. When the doors are closed it gets very dark which, I assume, is how the paint has managed to stay so well preserved.


I made sure the coast was clear of the loud man and made my way to the mission cemetery with Shandon and Norm. It was a bit more barren than I'd have guessed but nice all the same.




After visiting the mission we decided to grab a late lunch at Pea Soup Anderson's. It was just as I'd remembered. I may have to stay at the Anderson's Inn next time I'm passing through. Then again, Solvang is awfully close.


We drove through Solvang and decided to stop for their famous aebleskiver. We found some at the Solvang Restaurant and split an order. They were good. I recommend them!

Saturday, November 5

Good day

Well, our trip has been a good time so far. Last night we stayed in a resort that was definitely hippie friendly. I had my very own natural mineral water hot tub. I think it's safe to say that A LOT of shenanigans have gone down in that place. Shandon and Norman stayed in the "X-traordinary" room. I was placed next door in "Y-Not". When I checked in I loudly asked "Hey! Why am I in the big whore room?!"

This morning I couldn't figure out how to turn on my shower so I called for help. They take the Big Whore room thing quite literally. They sent a very attractive vampire type to help. He had to be half my age. He wore all black, but for a blood red shirt and a tidy ponytail. He had on very nice looking black dress shoes which seemed out of place at 8 am after lots of rainfall in the woods. I swear to God, when I opened the door I thought "Oh my God, they've sent Edward Cullen." Luckily vampires aren't my thing but I can pretty much guarantee that our young Edward has gotten VERY lucky during his time at the resort.

I described this whole thing to Shandon and Norman. As we drove away from the resort Howard spotted him. He said that he'd imagined a ghoulish looking vampire and was surprised to see he was a good looking kid. I don't think Norm knows that "Edward" means exceptionally handsome.

We made our way to a breakfast spot in town but passed the Madonna Inn and couldn't resist at least a trip to the gift shop. We quickly decided to eat breakfast there instead. I'm so glad we did. It has a surprisingly good cafe. The place is famous for it's kitch but the service in the restaurant was great!

We drove up PCH and made lots of stops along the way to take in the amazing views. We eventually had to pass some spots by because it was getting late and I had to get to a spot to "liberate" Dad and didn't want to do it in the dark.

I came across one place that felt right, before Carmel, but there were too many people on the lookout. A few minutes later we came across another more isolated spot and I decided to go for it.

Norm and Shandon thoughtfully disappeared as I marched down a path. I wasn't exactly looking for an audience so I asked Dad to to take me were he wanted to go and... Daddy made me hike! I followed a path for a while then, because it felt right, I stepped over the path's rope guard, walked though a lot of brush until I got near the edge high above a tide pool. I'm sure it was dangerous but, again, it seemed right at the time. My pants got caught up in some brush so I KNEW it must be a good Dad place to be. I sat overlooking the waves for a bit, tested the direction of the wind with my scarf, then flung the ashes out. The wind sort of lifted them up and away into a little cloud then the wind changed direction and the end of the ash trail blew all over me. I swatted the ashes off my coat cursing "Real God damned funny, Dad!" and that was it.

This is near the place. I think he'll be very happy here:

I can honestly say that I feel as though a bit of the grief weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Dad made it clear that he always wanted to be scattered outdoors. I'm glad he's finally made it.

It was a beautiful day that was stormy at times but that seemed appropriate.

We make our way home tomorrow. I'm so glad we made this trip. It's been a good one.

Friday, November 4

On the road

It had been far to long since our last road trip so we finally planned a new one and today we hit the road.

It rained like crazy on our way out. We had some decent BBQ for lunch then drove in and out of rain for a couple of hours along the coast. The plan is to drive up PCH with a friend who has never been much farther than Santa Barbara. I admit that while driving I kept thinking, why don't I live here? How can I make a living up here? Why doesn't everyone live here? It's so beautiful!!

We are staying at a funky little natural springs resort but I'll have to tell you more about it later. It's getting late and, well...

I didn't have a chance to take any pix today but I hope to post some soon.

Thursday, November 3

Quick update

Today is went to the very Catholic funeral of my 98 year old grandfather. We hadn't spoken much in the last decade or so. He gave me my Dad and for that I am forever grateful. Aside from that, I wasn't much of a fan. He was abusing his family well into hi 90's and I just couldn't pretend I was ok with that.

I am in no way happy he is gone but it's hard to get too upset about a man who lived well and long.

Here was my day in a nutshell including some learnings:
  • The Priest seemed to be no older than 25 and had a a pretty big accent. He called my grandfather ARfonso and claimed to be a Cath-o-RIC. That was awkward.
  • I accidentally punked my cousin by shoving her into the aisle as relatives passed us to follow the casket. I am not a Cath-o-RIC so I don't know the customs. My cousin, by marriage, followed the casket to the back of the church, then back down the aisle, with my encouragement. When she realized I had not followed her she held up a fist and damned my name. When she returned to her seat next to me I received a pretty major stink eye. I leaned over and whispered "Sucker!".
  • I learned that my Dad's aunt is still pretty mad at him for dying. If there is an afterlife, my Dad can expect to receive some pretty firm words from his Aunt when she next sees him. Run, Daddy, run!
  • I watched my brother act as pall bearer and noticed that our family is quite tall and they all had to lean way down to wheel that casket around on the gurney.
  • I broke down once when I saw my sweet aunts cry. That really got to me.
  • Cath-o-RICS really like to talk about how the Jews killed Jesus... a lot. It gets very old very fast.
  • The only woman allowed to help in the service seemed to have been given mere alter boy status. That was lame.
  • The Cath-o-RICS REALLY do NOT want you to take communion if you are not a practicing Cath-o-RIC OR have never been a Cath-o-RIC. Don't even think about it.
Tomorrow I begin a new adventure. I plan to update throughout the weekend.

Wednesday, November 2

Life lessons




Ok, so here's the deal, I like Oprah but had a bit of a falling out with her when she, as I say, started the think she was Jesus.

I think the woman has done some good in this world. Hell, what she did to get people to read and then actually TALK about books was a pretty good thing. However, she is still just a talk show host, a good one, but a talk show host none the less. I had become so put off by her evangelical ways that I didn't really watch much of the last season of her show. When Oprah launched her OWN network I tried a couple of shows and even liked a couple (her behind the scenes show was a good time) but overall I looked at the programming and thought... ehh.

Well, last weekend I was filing bills and had the tv tuned to The Graduate on OWN. It was a perfect choice because I've seen the movie lots of times, knew what was going on and could mindlessly enjoy the soundtrack. A show I had, frankly, been avoiding came on but, because I wasn't paying much attention, I just let it roll. That show was Oprah's Lifeclass. I'd been avoiding it because, umm... that title. It's so God damned self righteous. Well, I admit that I was quickly sucked right in. Oprah makes me a little crazy but turns out we see eye-to-eye on a LOT of things.

I've now watched a few of the Lifeclasses and believe in and agree with most of what I've seen. Here are a few of my own life class lessons (because if Oprah can do it so can I):
  • You are responsible for the energy you bring to a room, try to make it positive. It could make, or break, somebody's day.
  • The world owes you nothing. You are responsible for yourself.
  • Trust your instincts.
  • Be grateful for what you have. It's probably more than most have.
  • Bullies are incredibly insecure and want validation more than anyone else in the room. When confronted, they are the first to fold.
  • You can say anything if your intention is good.
  • We're all terrible listeners and need to practice being better at it (myself included)
  • Make sure those you love know it... without question.
  • You don't have to be sugary sweet to everyone every minute of every day but you do have to be decent to people.
  • Focus on what you're doing right now. You can't change the past and you can't control the future so don't obsess over either.
  • Your best friends are the ones who will welcome you into their home at 3 am when you're on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Keep those friends close. The rest are optional.
  • Why worry? It's all gonna fade.
So, there you have it: She-Blogger's LifeLessons in a nutshell. Turns out they are very much in line with Oprah's. I am secure enough to admit that I'm fine with that.

Tuesday, November 1

New Meat

We have a new President over my division at work. You can not imagine how the folks upstairs are FREAKING OUT. I've never seen anything like it but it looks a little like this:



The man seems perfectly nice but upper management doesn't know him and therefore can't anticipate his needs so they have decided to go with panic mode. It's not pretty.

Meanwhile, for the past two years I've been criticized for not quite being "strategic" enough. Last week I received a very nice review that included praise on becoming very strategic. Naturally, being strategic is suddenly no longer required in my job. Quite the contrary. As of today we were told, and made to repeat, our new world view (swear to God, we had to repeat it aloud and in unison). Ready for it? Here goes, this is what I am now supposed to keep in mind every day all day:
  • Be perfect
  • There is no tomorrow
Umm, ok. I care about the work I do and always do my best so this new world order means no change for me. No change except for the fact that I now live with the knowledge that my boss (not the new President, mind you, but the guy a couple of layers over me) has decided to base our mantra on an Apollo Creed quote from Rocky III. WTF? I'm also concerned that this mantra is scarily similar to the GOP platform. None of this sets well with me.

The good news is that I've learned to embrace change and adapt quickly. Some of the people who I don't necessarily see eye to eye with will have far more trouble with this change than I.

The next few months are sure to bring LOTS of change at work. I wish our new President lots of luck. His can't be an easy job but I hear good things about him so I'm staying positive about it all. I just hope that my good friends and I manage to hang on to our jobs. Best of luck to us all!

Sunday, September 4

Home Decor

I've been browsing old movie posters. It occurred to me that some of the most popular are so common they have become meaningless. It's too bad because all are from great films.

I happen to like Breakfast at Tiffany's but not enough to ever hang it's poster on my wall. It's sadly become so cliched.

Gone With the Wind is a favorite but do I ever need to see this poster again?


And what about Casablanca? Again, great film... tired old poster.


This one may be extremely well known but I forgive it because it's just so damn cool and Liz looks incredible.


Then, after a bit of searching, I found some lesser known (to me) posters to some of my favorite films.

Check out this one for The Long Hot Summer. I love this movie for many reasons but two most importantly: 1) I learned "Barn Burner!" was the ultimate insult from this movie and I've become fond of calling my Mom just that when we disagree. We both fall into hysterics when one of us remembers to shout out a well placed "Barn Burner!" at the other. 2) I also love this film because I don't think any man in the history of time has ever looked better than Paul Newman in this movie. Oh...My...God.


I honestly don't know which of these two posters of Rebecca I like more. They are both amazing.



Ok, some of us may have seen this poster before but I love that it's on pink and Edward G. Robinson seems to have the best billing. Ed also appears to be somewhat startled to find Fred and Barb making out.

This may be my favorite find of the evening. I don't think I've ever seen this poster before. I MUST have it. That pose is from one of my favorite movie openers.

I am also loving this poster for The Heiress. This film, of course, features one of my favorite closers to a film.

This is a fantastic Rear Window poster. It seems I'm fond of action poses in some of my darker favorites. This is just plain cool.


I, naturally, LOVE this Sunset Blvd. print. In fact, I think it, along with The Letter poster, may have just inspired a Bat Shit Crazy theme in the powder room of my future home. I can't wait!


Tuesday, August 9

The good, the bad and the challenge


There seems to be a name for every diet combo in the world except for mine (Dairy/Aspartame free and on Weight Watchers). What can I say? I like to live dangerously. This is all fine except that whenever I Google "Dairy Free" I get lumped in with those Glutten Free freaks. Let's be clear: I could give a crap about those Glutten people. However, all of the grocery stores are falling all over themselves to call out "GLUTTEN FREE" this and GLUTTEN FREE" that. Meanwhile, I'm left standing the in grocery aisle reading every word of every label trying to decipher what has diary and what doesn't. It's entirely annoying.

Most fun of all is the list of, oh, 35 ingredients that I'm supposed to memorize because they are all code for hidden dairy. It's a nightmare.

That's the bad news.

The good news is that I'm still going strong.

The funny news is the hushed tone my Weight Watcher leader used while discussing this whole dairy-free, reduced meat and limited processed foods kick I'm on. It seems she lost over 100 pounds eating this way. When I asked why she doesn't really talk about that fact in her meetings she shrugged and said "Nobody wants to hear it. Eating this way saved my life. It reversed my diabetes but nobody wants to hear about it." Oh dear.

Here's the challenge: I'm going to Big Bear for a Girl's Weekend. I usually pig out on these weekends. I've got a lot of planning to do to get through this one. Because I'm such a badass I'm considering leaving my "milk pills" (aka my safety net) at home so I won't be tempted to blow it. I know!

I'll try to post pix of the lake. It's supposed to be in the mid-seventies all weekend. I can't wait!

Thursday, August 4

Day three


I'm still going strong. I have one helluva headache but keep forgetting to take anything for it. I'm guessing it's some sort of Diet Coke or aspartame withdrawal symptom. Ehh, I'll get over it.

Today my resident vegan friend told me that most people who restrict their diet eliminate dairy last before becoming a vegan. She says I'm definitely taking hardest step first. It seems I'm a BADASS!

In MUCH more exciting news: Mom called today and began with one of her famous "WELL!"s. t seems the guys who are doing some repairs on the house started pounding on the door. Mom answered and they asked to come in the house because "the bears are eating our lunch!". WTF?! It was about 10:30 am. WHY are the bears wandering the neighborhood at that hour?! Mom looked out the window and watched as a mother bear with two cubs sat on our curb and casually ate from the worker's coolers. Unbelievable. Mom had an appointment and said that as she drove off, the police pulled up and people stopped for pictures. It was like the zoo in front of our house. Good Lord!

Wednesday, August 3

Dairy Free - Day Two

I woke up this morning and immediately realized that I had just had the best night's sleep ever. We're talking about a level of sleep that I haven't had (without medication) for as long as I can remember. One friend called it (quite hopefully) a "fluke". I don't know but I sure had lots of energy today. Was it the lack of dairy or Diet Coke? I don't know and I don't care. The same friend later turned to me very sadly with "You know this means you can't have chocolate anymore, right?". Well, lets not get crazy. I may have to avoid milk chocolate but I'm pretty sure dark chocolate is still in the mix. I then told her not to worry because "any day now I'll throw back a fist full of pills and go apeshit again."

But here's the deal, I'm as allergic to cats as I am dairy but I've always hated cats and have always loved dairy. Both make me feel like hell but I learned to hate one and not the other. I could easily take a Benedryl every time I see a cat but they're a-holes so I don't. On the other hand, I've taken my "milk pills" with every meal for decades. What the hell? My body literally screams "Stay away from that wretched beast!" when I encounter a cat, and I listen, but when it says the same about cheesecake I stifle it with milk pills.

So far this whole thing has freaked some people out... a lot. Mom, of course, said it best. She doesn't approve of my dairy free, whole grain squaw bread and told me so. I told her it was intended to fill me up along with my breakfast smoothie and that she was not required to eat it. I then explained that the dreaded bread had helped me eat vegetarian all day as an experiment and it worked. I did, however, plan to have shrimp with dinner so don't worry. Mom just stared at me and exclaimed "That's not the flesh of animal!". I can't be sure but I'm pretty sure that's Mom-speak for "pussy!". She was happy to find that along with my "Just Fruit" jam I had purchased some bacon. After all, I'm not insane.

Anyway, that's the progress report. I'm dairy free and feeling great. I can't tell you how upsetting this realization is.

Tuesday, August 2

Diary free - Day 1

So, I tossed my beloved diary products:

(Yes, that's FIVE containers of Laughing Cow cheese wedges, what of it?!)

I replaced it all with these:

This is gonna suck ass.

I didn't even try to substitute cheese. It all looked too gross. My resident vegetarian friend suggested I wait on trying a substitute cheese until I "forget what real cheese tastes like". Oh dear.

I find that I am able to make dietary changes when I immerse myself in supporting propaganda. I've been reading up on dairy elimination which leads to vegetarianism fun facts which leads to veganism fun facts. I'm pretty sure I love bacon too much to take those dreadful steps into vegetarianism but I might be able to cut back on beef, poultry and fish. My resident vegetarian friend (who is beside herself with joy over my recent decision) agreed that eliminating things a little at a time is the way to go. The only reason I'm even considering this is that the health benefits of sticking to a plant based diet are difficult to argue with. Everywhere I turn there are magical plant based diet claims of lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, weight and reversing heart disease and significantly lowering our risk of cancer and diabetes (God damn it). I'm of the mindset that old age is overrated and should be avoided but I've seen people die slowly at a relatively young age and that's no picnic either. If I don't continue to lose weight I'm heading down that path so it's time to make some sort of change.

I've read the Skinny Bitch stuff, and bought a couple of vegetarian cookbooks and they are pretty intense (Jesus!). They all make the same glowing health claims but so far the book that makes the most sense to me is Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food. His whole "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants" seems reasonable and the least hysterical. This appeals to me.

While immersing myself in dietary propaganda I found an absolutely hilarious blog by an honest to God meat lover who is starting a vegan diet for 30 days. You can check his story out here. He's a 51 year old carnivore who refers to himself as The Big Sexy. Sold!

The Big Sexy was inspired to change his meat eating ways by a cool story about a Texas firehouse that switched to a plant based diet to support their fellow firefighter who had a cholesterol level of 344 (yikes!). After a month of eating vegan together, their friend's cholesterol dropped to 196. Jesus! I'll be checking in on that site as well but mostly because the author is hot... and named Rip. Jesus!

Today I did without dairy and Diet Coke... and I lived to tell the tale. Well, I actually did one better. I not only avoided Diet Coke but I eliminated most sugar substitutes. (Yay me!) That meant no Splenda in my iced tea and no afternoon Crystal Light. This made me very unhappy but sugar substitutes are apparently going to make my intestines disolve and turn my uterus inside out (or something like that) so I'm getting rid of them too. I dug out that old box of Stevia since , it seems, it's the only acceptable sugar substitute (until further notice). I plan to use my Stevia in the fruit smoothie I'm making for dinner. My smoothie will be made with love, Stevia and soy milk... barf.

It's only been a day, so I feel no different, but I must say it was nice to not have to pop a pill with every meal. Stay tuned...

Monday, August 1

Change


I've decided to give up dairy for a while. I'm violently allergic to all things dairy but I love them so. As a result I pop what I call "milk pills" to help me digest the dairy in my diet. I pop LOTS of those little pills. I know this is ridiculous but I've been doing it for years. I realize that I shouldn't have to take "medicine" to help me digest certain foods in my diet so I'm going to stop.

I have a friend who read up on how a change in her diet could help improve her complexion. She shifted to a vegetarian diet and hasn't been sick one day since she made the change. That was about 2-1/2 years ago. I don't know if I'd ever be able to go vegetarian but I think it would do me some good to ditch the dairy and, depending on how it goes, maybe give up other things down the road.

I've been on Weight Watchers since before the new year and have lost about 35 pounds. I'd hoped for more of a loss but I've fallen off the wagon a few times but I've always hopped back on. Being stubborn seems to be working. In addition to kicking dairy to the curb I plan to avoid diet sodas. There's not one real ingredient in those evil cans and the caffeine is killing my sleeping habits. This change doesn't seem like it will be as difficult to achieve. I've done it before. It's really just a matter of breaking the habit when I dine out.

I've been reading up on how dietary changes, even small ones, can make a big difference in how we feel and how they can eliminate some annoying symptoms we just put up with. I hope to see some improvement in my sleep and my frequent upset tummy issues.

Here's the creepy thing though: virtually every website I visit on the topic of eliminating dairy seems to have a Lactaid link. That's the brand of milk/milk pills created for people like me who can't digest lactose (the sugar found in milk). When I visited the LiveStrong site on the topic the sponsors were Lactaid AND Diet Coke. That's eff'd up! It seems there are political implications with this small life change (which only encourages me). I don't lean towards conspiracies but I do believe the milk, beef, pork and poultry boards in this country are very powerful and pull a lot of political weight. I am very skeptical of the claims that "Milk does a body good" since my experience has been the opposite. I'd be up for "Beef, it's what's for dinner" but I've seen Food Inc. and I'm not impressed with the way we raise beef in this country. Of course, it hasn't stopped me from eating it but I have switched to having my butcher grind beef for me. Beef may be the next to go. We'll see.

So, if you see soy or almond milk in my fridge, don't be alarmed. It's just me trying to improve my health one bite/sip at a time... and flipping off certain industries in this country. Oh joy!

Saturday, July 2

For Shandon


Shandon recently sent me a link with a note basically saying "am I wrong in guessing this is right up your alley?". She knows me well. Here is the link she sent plus other links I found after perusing hers. Such fun!!

My Daguerreotype Boyfriend - "Where early photography meets extreme hotness"

Fuck Yeah History Crushes!! "History never looked so attractive"

Bangable Dudes in History "Dead man porn for your still beating heart"

Time Machine Cougar - "Do I have to explain? It's dudes who are currently older than me, but if I had a time machine I'd want to go back and cougar them when they were younger."

Thursday, June 30

A bit of peace


I watched something tonight that brought me an unexpected amount of peace about the loss of Dad.

I watched a film I'd never heard of before called The Wildest Dream.

You can read the description for yourself at the link above but it begins with the discovery of George Mallory's body, on Everest, 75 years after he went missing. His remains proved that he suffered a compound fracture in his leg... a fatal accident when on Everest. I started to get uncomfortable as the story unfolded but kept watching despite several similarities between Mallory's accident and Dad's. I even watched as one climber slips and almost falls 7000 feet. When his partner asks if he's ok the climber replies "I'm fine. Just a bad step." which is what I've always believed killed Dad... just one bad step.

Ultimately the man who discovered Mallory's body decided to try to summit Everest with the clothing and gear Mallory used. He hoped to learn for himself if it was even possible. While suiting up in replica clothing and showing it off to his family, his wife turned to their youngest son and asked "Would you wear that to climb Everest?" The boys replied "No". The mother prods "What would you wear?" he deadpanned "I wouldn't climb Everest."

It was like watching a conversation I had a more than once with my Dad. When I finished reading Into Thin Air I immediately handed it to my Dad and told him he should read it. He did. Soon after, I learned that we completely disagreed with the idea of a father making such a dangerous trek. I argued that climbing Everest was irresponsible especially for a father of young kids. "Why would anybody DO THAT?! Why would anyone dream of dragging themselves through delirium to a place called THE DEATH ZONE?" I asked. Dad calmly explained that he completely understood the urge to do so despite the risks. He said he didn't necessarily dream of climbing Mount Everest but, for instance, he'd always wanted to visit Antarctica to see Emperor Penguins. Great. He wanted to go to Columbia too but Mom and I flat out told him no way. I sometimes wonder if he snuck over there and just didn't tell us. I should check his passport. Anyway, we argued about crazy travel several times. In the end I came to realize that whatever it is that pushes people to take those kinds of freaky, unnecessary risks, I simply do not posses. It's just nothing I've ever been interested in participating in. I love to READ about those people but have never wanted to experience any of their antics first hand.

Watching the film tonight somehow made me feel a little better about the way we lost Dad. Daddy knew the risks in his job and his hiking but he felt compelled to do it regardless. I believe he planned to hike and climb until he couldn't anymore and that's exactly what he did. I told Mom about this little revelation and she agreed. Mom and I don't have that risk taking compulsion in our make up but Daddy did and we always knew it. Mom said that one of Dad's uncles was a National Geographic interpreter... who knew?! Maybe being so in love with nature and the world around us and the uncontrollable need to explore and protect it is inherited. All I know is that I dodged that gene and I'm glad. It wouldn't be fair for Mom to have to worry about me too.

I know that Dad's death was very different than a famous explorer's but the obsession and compulsion that drove them was very similar. I'll never stop missing my Dad but I'm glad he had such a great wonder of nature in his life. I never liked the risks Dad took but I remain incredibly proud of him. He left such a wonderful mark on the world. Do I think the risks were worth it? No, but I think Daddy would disagree with me just like he did so many times before.

Thursday, June 16

Secret Shame

I'm here to confess. I have some secret shame that I somehow feel compelled to share. I'm not talking about now televised secret shames like watching porn, or hoarding, or eating chalk, or having to do things in threes, or anything like that, but I've got some secrets to share and the time has come. Here goes:

Deadliest Catch
My shame isn't with watching this show. It's a good show that I'd recommend to anyone. No, my shame lies in the amount of time I've spent watching it. Even reruns. I can watch this show over and over again and I just don't seem to tire of it. I'm sure I'll burn out some day but so far that day hasn't arrived. I miss Captain Phil.

Kiehl's Lip Balm
I've been known to spend up to $9 on lip balm. This, of course, is ridiculous but have you ever tried Kiehl's lip balm? Have you tried the Mango variety? It's delightful. I hate that I spend that kind of money for scented petroleum jelly but I do and I will do it again.

Super Hero Movies
I love super hero movies. I don't know why, I just do. Luckily this Summer has provided some pretty good options. I really liked Thor and I LOVED X-Men First Class. I'm going to see Green Lantern this weekend but I'm afraid my luck may have finally run out. The reviews are bleak.

Twilight Series
I, along with about two dozen co-workers, was obsessed with the Twilight books a few years ago. I loved those dumb books. They are poorly written and repetitive but I loved that Bella/Edward/Jacob thing. Of course, they lost me in the third book (hated it!) but, yes, I will be seeing the movie with my Twi-buddy and her teen daughter later this year. I saw Twilight in theaters on 3 separate occasions. 1) Opening night with my sister-in-law 2) Along with friends for a Director Q&A following a screening 3) with my Twi-buddy (college roomie) and her 13 year old daughter. The weeping guitars almost killed it for me but... there I was three screenings later.

Teen Wolf
As if the Twilight thing wasn't shameful enough, I started watching MTV's new series Teen Wolf. I've watched the first few episodes and they haven't lost me yet. I described it to a friend as "fun but sophomoric". Of course, sophomoric doesn't seem to be a problem for me, now does it. (Vampires are hotter, by the way. So much more cultured than those filthy werewolves!)

Little Women
I still haven't read it. I suck.

QVC
I like to watch QVC late at night when I can't sleep. I think it's because it's the least stressful thing on tv in the middle of the night. I don't like the jewelry shows (boring!) but the makeup and cooking slots are a good time. I'm especially fond of a segment called In the Kitchen with David. I'm ordinarily deeply saddened by closeted gay men but I just love that David. So does every elderly Southern woman in the country.

Crazy People
I enjoy the crazies. I don't mean the rude in-your-face variety crazy but I do enjoy calmly crazy people... like the old ladies who call David on QVC.

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

I don't like romance novels, and given the theme of this entry I would totally admit it if I did, I do, however, wish I liked romance novels every time I visit this blog. I just love it. I'm especially hooked on it's HABO (Help a Bitch Out) entries. Readers describe long lost novels they can't remember the names of and fellow readers try to figure out what the hell they read all those year ago.

Hallmark Channel Movies
Yes, they are saccharine sweet, yes they are entirely predictable, yes their heavy handed Christian slant is annoying, yes they assume no good can come from "city folk", but sometimes the reliability of those dumb movies is just what the doctor ordered.

Frontierville
Why do I spend time on this silly game? It's not even a game! It's just clicking around on a screen. It's annoyingly addictive. It's so lame but I can't stop. (Wanna be my neighbor?)

That's it for now. I'm sure I have plenty more to report but I just can't think of them now. I'll report more as they come. The more ridiculous the better!

Tuesday, May 24

Short Cut

Because I haven't listed any songs lately, I thought I'd do a speed round of the 30 Day Song challenge that I seem to be doing in 60 days. I'm listing three tonight in the interest of catching up.

Name a song from a band I hate:

Well there are a few bands that I'd call Lucy repellent but I thin I'll go with Yes. I can't stand Yes. In fact, my brother and I joke that "Yes means no." Here is a particularly annoying song from the ironically named Yes: (It literally upset me to have to look this up and listen to a few bars of it. Blechh!)



Name a guilty pleasure song:

Ooh, that's a tough one. I have so many guilty pleasure songs that I stopped feeling guilty about them. Here is one that I have had a freakish fondness for lately. I don't know why I'm suddenly loving it so much... it just happened




Name a song that nobody would expect me to like:

I think I've got to go with Gold Digger for several reasons. First of all, Kanye is an undisputed dickhead. Secondly, like so many songs out there, this one is a misogynistic train wreck. Possibly the very worst offense? It samples a Jamie Foxx impression of a kick-ass Ray Charles song. All of the above should spell out instant hatred from me but I just can't help myself... I like this one. *Hanging head in shame*

Monday, May 23

In defense of country


I was raised in a rather loud household. Not only did we speak loudly but we all listened to different kinds of music. Every corner of our house seemed to have some sort of music loudly playing. As a result I learned to be accepting of all types of music. I learned at an early age that you really can't help what you like and don't like. Some music you learn to love while others are love at first sight (or listen).

My Dad loved classical music and classic rock. Mom took a shine to country music and show tunes. My brother liked rock and punk. I liked all of the above and even learned to enjoy jazz. I didn't come to love show tunes until much later in life when I finally had the opportunity to see musicals in person. Love was born. I was a big time concert goer when I was in high school and college but that habit was eventually replaced with seeing live musicals and theater. I only recall Mom and Dad going to a handful of concerts in my childhood. I do, however, vividly recall the very first time I heard the phrase "ape shit". Dad used it to describe my mother's behaviour at a Waylon and Willie concert in the 70's. Mom apparently "went ape shit!". Dad said he'd never seen her act that way in all his life. I must have been impressed because I remember the comment so fondly.

Which brings me to my current obsession: Outlaw Country. I have gone ape shit over the Outlaw Country radio station on Sirius/XM Radio. I've tuned in from time time time with no real love lost until recently. A couple of weeks ago I caught Shooter Jennings Radio Show and fell in love. I've also become a fan of Steve Earle's show. Even the silly country girl morning show plays some killer tunes. On my commute, and later at work, I heard kd Lang, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Lucinda Williams, Marcia Ball, Johnny Cash, Wanda Jackson, Mojo Nixon, Hank III, Allison Krauss/Robert Plant, Buddy Holly, Merle Haggard, Southern Culture on the Skids, and (of course) Waylon Jennings on Outlaw Country. I assure you, my day was better for it. Where else on earth can you hear that kind of killer mix?

Now, I admit that I thought the idea of satellite radio was bullshit when I first heard about it. I was then given a free three month subscription when I purchased my car. I've been sunk ever since. I can't tell you the ridiculous sense of freedom a new car, GPS and satellite radio gives a girl. Honest to God, you feel like you can take on the world with that magical three pack goin' on. When I had a nervous breakdown/meltdown a few weeks ago, I hopped in my car and drove out to the desert. My satellite radio made for some fantastic company along the way. When I arrived back home I was like a new person and listening to everything from La Boheme, Mahalia Jackson and Johnny Cash had a lot to do with it.

I hate to be a pusher but I must say that I highly recommend satellite radio. I can honestly say, if given the choice, I would seriously consider taking my satellite radio over cable tv. I know that's just plain crazy talk but I can tell you that more and more I've been tuning into my online radio connection instead reaching for my remote after a long day at work. If you ever have a shot at some sort of free trial of subscription radio, you've gotta try it!