Wednesday, March 29, 2006

And I had to clean up the kitchen myself...

On Monday night there were ten guys crowded into my kitchen, eating pizza and chicken wings and chocolate donuts and ho-hos. After everyone had eaten their fill, cluttered up every available space with empty plates and chicken bones and ho-ho wrappers, and finished setting up their laptop computers, it was time for the fantasy baseball draft. I’d already started worrying about the draft a week before, when Rick asked me what my “strategy” was going to be. Strategy? I was supposed to have a strategy? He followed that up by asking, “you know why they asked you to join the league, don’t you?” Well, of course I know why they asked me to join the league – because I am the goddess of baseball, and I demand offerings of leather gloves and Louisville Sluggers. “Yeah, because they think I’ll be easy to beat,” I answered. To which Rick replied, “you’re not as na├»ve as I thought you were.” Greeeeaaaat…

So apparently expectations were not very high for me, the rookie. As I nervously awaited the announcement of the first pick and the official start of the draft, I shuffled through pages and pages of players, watching their names run together in a giant conglomeration of baseball mumbo jumbo. I had no idea what I was doing. The only thing I was pretty certain about was my first pick – Alex Rodriguez, third baseman for the New York Yankees. Not only is he listed as a top pick in many fantasy baseball magazines, but he’s a Yankee. And I HAD to have at least one Yankee on my team. And everyone in the league figured the first few picks were already set in stone – Pujols, Santana, Carpenter. And then me, at number four, choosing Arod.

So imagine everyone’s surprise when the guy with the first pick turned around to face everyone, said, “I just can’t pick a Cardinal,” and took Arod as his first pick. The shockwave traveled through the kitchen as we all realized that every subsequent pick would be influenced by what had just happened. So much for my star Yankee. I ended up taking Chris Carpenter, which might turn out to be better, anyway. From what everyone in this league keeps saying, “pitching wins the league.” So I guess we’ll see about that…

The rest of the draft turned out to be not as confusing and nerve-wracking as I’d expected. Once I got the hang of it, I was able to start researching my next pick in advance, while everyone else was calling out their choices. By the fifth round, my team seemed to be shaping up nicely, and I was pretty happy. Carpenter, Ortiz, Ichiro, Lidge and Jeter. And I was already getting some preliminary kudos from the guys who I’d been certain, only a couple hours earlier, would be making fun of me from the get go.

By the end of the draft, when I started making picks based on darts thrown at random names (no, not really – but at that point I really DIDN’T have much of a clue who I was choosing), I was fairly confident that I might actually be able to pull off this fantasy baseball thing. My friend Nick used some kind of projection software that calculates where a team might end up by the end of the season, and it predicted Nick would finish in first place, and I would be second. And since Nick has fifteen kids and probably needs the first place money more than I do, I’d be perfectly content with second place.

But baseball is an unpredictable game, so who knows what will happen over the next six months or so. All I want is to be doing a halfway decent job at some point during the season. To NOT be in last place. Because if I had a bit of a lead over a couple of these guys, then I would feel I had the right to change the name of my team to something more appropriately competitive. I’m thinking it’s gonna be, “Yer Gettin’ Beat by a Girl.”

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Reason I Get Up in the Morning

That would be my Seattle’s Best coffee. I suppose I AM one of those people who just doesn’t feel right until they have their morning coffee, and I’ve found, through years of serious research, that I like Seattle’s Best just a teensy bit more than Starbucks. Maybe it’s because they stir the drinks before they give them to you – unlike Starbucks, where they simply pour the shots of espresso into the cup and leave it at that. This results in an extra-strong coffee taste for the first half of the drink, and (if you’re like me and order a caramel macchiato or some other flavored coffee) an extra-sweet taste for the last half of the drink. Or maybe I like Seattle’s Best more because THIS guy just started working there: I don’t know why he’s working at Seattle’s Best. Seems like that “Lost” gig would’ve provided him with enough spending money. But I guess everyone needs a little extra cash now and then…

This morning, after the Lost guy gave me my coffee and reminded me to watch this week’s episode (in which he promises to avenge Shannon’s death by tossing Ana Lucia off a cliff into the ocean… no, wait – that’s just my own wishful thinking because I find the character of Ana Lucia so annoying…), I came back home, set The Reason I Get Up in the Morning next to my computer, and went outside to clean the pool. For some reason, Texas is overrun with these ridiculous live oak trees – they don’t lose their leaves in the fall, like normal trees. They wait until March, when unsuspecting pool owners assume the approaching spring season will bring nothing with it but blooming flowers and an occasional thunderstorm. THIS is when the devious, vindictive live oak tree exacts its revenge on all the pretty trees – the trees that actually change colors in the autumn, and bloom with flowers in the spring, and are covered with canopies of lush, green leaves in the summertime. The live oak, its trunk splattered with ugly patches of lichen, starts to drop its leaves – leaves that can never seem to find a decent shade of “green,” but rather hover somewhere between brown and washed-out chartreuse – in the middle of March. And this is why, when spring approaches, I must make sure to rid the pool of leaves every day. The live oak next to my pool hurls all of its chartreuse-y leaves into the water, and if I don’t get them out, they clog the pump.

So that’s what I did today, as The Reason I Get Up in the Morning was waiting for me inside my house. And what made the job even more tedious was the fact that it’s windy today – so as soon as I’d scoop a net full of leaves out of the pool, several thousand more would be blown into the water. But eventually I had the pool looking as blue and sparkling as it was going to get this time of year, and I headed inside to finally partake of my coffee.

As I took the first sip, I felt what I thought was one of my long hairs brushing against my neck, and reached up to pull it away. But instead of a hair, my hand was touching something that felt suspiciously like a bug. Hoping it was just a stray leaf or twig, I did a sort of “get rid of the bug” dance – arms flailing, hands shaking, fingers flicking my neck to remove whatever it was – all the while hopping up and down to dislodge any other stray entomological stowaways. Then I searched the floor, figuring the little guy must’ve been wandering around on the hardwood somewhere by now. But I couldn’t see anything on the floor except a couple stray dog hairs and a sequin from a sparkly shirt I was wearing a few days ago. Where did that stupid bug go? As I pondered this question, I reached for my cup to take another sip of The Reason I Get Up in the Morning, and there, on the plastic lid, was a bizarre little beetle with orange and black stripes and a malicious grin. (I might be making up the part about the grin…) I could tell, from the way it was walking toward the sipping hole in the lid, that it was about to take a nosedive into my precious morning cup of coffee, in retribution for the fact that I’d just launched it, what in bug distance must’ve been, about a mile and half across the room. I had to quickly carry the cup over to the sink, remove the lid, and wash the offensive creature down the drain. And there was no way I wanted to replace the lid and allow my mouth anywhere near it – what with the little invisible buggy footprints all over the place. Fortunately the coffee in the cup was unharmed, and I simply poured it into one of my own ceramic mugs and continued to enjoy it.

I suppose if I’d been a better person, I may have carried the strange little bug back outside and set him free – but you can NOT mess with The Reason I Get Up in the Morning.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Happy Birthday Dave!

Since I know Dave checks my blog now and then, I thought I'd take this opportunity to wish him happy birthday! As everyone can tell from the picture, Dave is a very mature 30 years old today. Happy birthday Dave! Hope you had a great day! :)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Just a bunch of nonsense...

In an effort to help everyone get to know me better, I thought I’d talk about some of my weird randomness – you know, all of those quirks and qualities and possible personality disorders that make me “me.” I think I promised, in one of my older posts, to talk about some of my strange food aversions, so I’ll start there.

Let’s see… first of all, I hate seeds. Well, that’s not completely true – some seeds are okay. Like sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds are big enough to actually chew, so they’re acceptable as little pieces of food. But all of those little itty bitty tiny seeds – poppy seeds, sesame seeds, the miniscule seeds in strawberries and raspberries – I absolutely can NOT stand those things. They’re too small to chew completely, and too big to ignore, so most of them end up getting stuck between your teeth. Or even worse, they make disturbing little crunching noises that cause a split second of “did I just crack a tooth or lose a filling?” panic before the realization of “it’s just a stupid tiny seed” sets in. What’s sad is that I really like the TASTE of strawberries and raspberries, but I can’t bring myself to eat them when they’re in their original form. But give me seedless jelly or jam, or some kind of juice, and I’m there. Good stuff. Bad seeds.

And then there’s meat. I’d have to say I’m one of the pickiest meat eaters on the planet, and if I’d been born in ancient, Neanderthal, kill-the-antelope-and-drag-it-back-to-the-cave times, I probably wouldn’t have survived very long. I’d have been munching on leaves while the other cave-dwellers devoured the antelope, and then I’d timidly ask if I could have a few bites of tenderloin. But no fat! I’d have to use my sharpened rock to trim off the parts of antelope I deemed unacceptable, and when I was done, I’d probably be left with about an ounce of edible meat. And that’s pretty much the way I am in my own kitchen. (Except I use knives, not sharpened rocks…) It’s not my fault, though – Eric is the same way, so this is obviously some kind of genetic occurrence. I’d say it was a “disorder,” except I really feel that if Eric and I were in charge of the meat industry, everyone in the country would be eating THE highest quality meat possible. I mean, yeah, the industry would probably also be bankrupt… but sometimes you have to make sacrifices for decent food.

And while I’m on the subject of meat – I also have a problem with any kind of meat that’s been ground up and squished back together. Hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages, chicken nuggets – I can’t eat them. I used to be able to stomach a hamburger now and then, or a hot dog if I happened to be at a Yankee game. But now it seems my palate is completely anti-processed meat. Thank goodness McDonald’s has those fruit and yogurt parfaits… except that they’re full of strawberries… evil seeds. It’s so hard to find truly edible food sometimes.

I think that’s about it in the food category (although I could also get into how I think carrots taste like dirt, and I don’t like it when certain types of food touch other types of food, etc…). So now for the “borderline OCD” category:

-- When I wash dishes in the sink, I have to dry them with paper towels – NOT cloth towels. I feel like cloth towels hold onto all kinds of crazy germs, and if you dry off your clean dishes with a towel full of germs, how clean can the dishes actually BE? Of course, as a consequence, I end up using a ton of paper towels and I’m probably personally responsible for the destruction of many, many trees. Thank you, trees, for keeping my dishes germ-free.

-- I have to double check page numbers when I read a book. Like every single page. When I turn a page, I have to check the page number I’m on, and then check the next page, and make sure they are, in fact, in sequential order. I also have to read EVERY single word in book. If I skip a word – even if I know what it is – I have to go back and re-read everything I’ve already read, making sure to include the neglected word.

-- I wash my hands about a zillion times a day. Okay, that’s not true – I’m really not “obsessive” about the hand washing. But I do tend to wash my hands if I have even the slightest suspicion that I may have touched something super-germy. Like when somebody makes me hold a baby. Ha ha! That’s a joke! :) (No it’s not…) But I will mention that they say the best way to avoid illness is to wash your hands a lot – and another weird fact about me is that I hardly ever get sick. Coincidence? Maybe not…

-- I’m addicted to lip balm. No explanation for this. I really, really am. It’s the one thing I can not EVER be without.

Well, that’s probably enough weird stuff for one day. Check it out, Eric – two new posts in less than 24 hours! Don’t pretend like you’re not impressed…

P.S. Allegro says hi!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Not-so-subliminal advertising

I just got a pedometer – you know, a little gadget you clip on your belt or your pocket, and it records how many steps you take. Rick’s parents gave one to my dad for his birthday last week, and Eric and I immediately stole it and had a walking war. I think he may have won the first round… but now I have my OWN pedometer, so I can work on training for round two. Today, according to my pedometer, I walked 11,377 steps. Which is WAY more than Eric walked, because he doesn’t even have a pedometer. And everyone knows that steps walked in the absence of a proper measuring device don’t count for anything. You know, it’s like the tree falling in the forest when no one is around to hear… or something like that…

And speaking of walking, I have to say that I love the new VW GTI commercials. (Okay, that has nothing at all to do with walking. But a car IS a way to get from point A to point B – and so is walking.) So like I was saying – I really love the new VW GTI commercials. The ones with that guy from Prison Break – or rather, the guy who USED to be on Prison Break, before his character ended up with a slashed throat (wow, this post got ugly really fast…). You know the ads I’m talking about? He’s dressed all in white, with a long-legged blond sidekick, and they both have these great fake German accents. Every commercial starts with a “Pimp My Ride”-type car, which the fake Germans promptly dispose of – by hitting it with a wrecking ball, or dropping a giant metal box on top of it, or hurling it over a catapult. And then the GTI comes into view, and the fake German guy steps in front of it, calling it a “vee dub” and flashing a pseudo-gang sign “VW” with his hands. They’re great ads – and probably the only time in my life I’ve actually felt compelled to buy a car based on a commercial. And I don’t even LIKE hatchbacks…

Of course, I have to admit that the only reason I have the car I have now is because of the movie “Ronin.” At the beginning of Ronin, there’s a car chase with an Audi – it speeds down a narrow street, engine racing, zipping around obstacles. It’s a cool scene, but the movie itself wasn’t the reason I decided on an Audi. It was only when I went to test drive one that my mind was made up – as I accelerated onto the highway outside the dealership, I noticed the little test-drive Audi was making the same racing sound as the car in the movie. I realized, as I maneuvered down the highway, that the movie wasn’t a big conglomeration of special effects – it wasn’t simply sights and sounds, in bits and pieces, smashed together by audio technicians. The car really, honestly sounded that way. Wow – I had a chance to own an honest-to-goodness, Hollywood-tested, movie-car-chase car. Not that I care about that kind of stuff. But I did end up buying the car.

But maybe it’s time to trade it in for a GTI? Of course, Audi is German, too. So either way, I’m still “representing Deutschland.” Ja wohl.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Looking for the hidden meaning...

I just finished the last of some freelance proofreading I’ve been working on for a few weeks. Annual reports. Not the most exciting stuff in the universe. I still have words like “amortization” and “consolidated” and “allocated retained earnings” running through my head. I’ve spent hours digesting lilting prose such as, “the core surplus ratio measures available core surplus capital relative to risk-adjusted assets and off-balance-sheet contingencies.” Contiiiiiingencies. It just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? The sad thing is, I’ve been reading this kind of writing for years, and I really have no idea what most of it means. And even if someone explained it to me, I’d probably just end up forgetting. Because is it really important to me whether or not I understand what allocated retained earnings are? Not really. I just need to make sure proper grammar is used and everything is spelled correctly. Fortunately, it’s not my job to write anything for an annual report. Otherwise, they’d sound more like, “So here’s the thing – we made some money this year. And maybe we lost a little bit, too. But it’ll probably all even out in the end, so no worries.” Actually, maybe I SHOULD write annual reports. They’d be a whole lot shorter…

Another phrase I’ve read a hundred times but I’ve never understood is “know all men by these presents.” Know all men by these presents?? It’s on just about every legal document I’ve ever seen, but I’ve never been able to make sense of it. (But I suppose legal documents really only make sense once they make NO sense whatsoever. Does that make sense? No, of course not.) Even after some research, where I discovered that “know all men by these presents” supposedly means “know all men by the words/statements in this very document,” the phrase STILL makes no sense to me. So are we talking about “presents” as in, present and accounted for? Or is it "present" as in, “I hope I get a lot of birthday presents”? Is the document considered some kind of gift? If the word “presents” in “know all men by these presents” refers to the words and phrases in the document, then my gift shopping just got a lot easier. (Happy birthday! I got you a last will and testament and a power of attorney! It’s the thought that counts…) I’m pretty sure I’ll never really understand “know all men by these presents.” But I DO know that it’s usually spelled correctly when I read it…

When I first started proofreading, I made a big goof by allowing the word “responsibilities” to slip by me with a misspelling. I can’t remember how it was spelled – maybe an I and an L were reversed, or maybe an I was left out altogether (I mean, is it really necessary to have four?) – but however it was spelled, it was printed that way before anyone noticed. And once my boss saw it, she pointed it out to me, in the nicest way possible, with an, “I barely even noticed it myself” attitude. And my first reaction was to think, “hey, that’s a really easy thing to miss.” But then I realized that I was the proofreader. It was my JOB to catch the things that were really easy to miss. Ever since then, “responsibilities” is a kind of obsessive-compulsive word for me. Any time I see it (even if I’m not proofreading), I feel compelled to sound it out, syllable by syllable, to make sure it’s spelled correctly. It’s not responsibilities. It’s re-spon-si-bil-i-ties. I’m not happy until I’m certain that all the I’s are accounted for. Are they all there? Are they, in fact, present? Yes, I know from my nitpicky inspection of the word that all I’s are present. Therefore, I feel I have a right to say that I know all I’s by these presents.

And that’s what I’ll be telling my lawyer to write at the top of my last will and testament.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Random picture day...

Eric is here! So we ate at mom and dad's house last night, where I spent some time after dinner browsing through pictures on their computer. And I discovered that they've been hoarding some good photos. My favorite was this one of Eric and me, which I think is from the Mediterranean cruise we took last year. And we both look pretty cute in this picture, which is so rare. I mean, I look cute all the time, of course. But Eric? Ha! How often does HE look this good? :)

This one is from a cafe in Rome. They had great coffee and ice cream, and really weird sandwiches on white bread with the crusts cut off. In fact, I found a picture of one of the weird sandwiches on mom and dad's computer, too. Apparently someone found them unique enough to document for posterity...

Me next to an itty bitty smart car. Is it me, or does that tiny car make me look even shorter than I already am? You'd think I'd look like a huge giant next to a tiny little smart car, but no. I just look like a short person next to a tiny little smart car...

Wandering around Rome, looking a bit melancholy. Perhaps dwelling on my short stature... ("oh why can't I be tall like Eric?")

In front of the ruins of the Circus Maximus.

Okay, now I should go tell Eric that I posted some new pictures on my blog. He's very pushy about the blog posts. "Where's a new post, Lisa? Haven't seen a new post in a while. Blah, blah, blah..." It's a good thing we get pie every time he comes down here... :)