Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Random thought #1: I am still in the fantasy baseball basement, although within the next couple weeks I have a few (hopefully) very good players coming off the DL. I have dreams of a meteoric rise from the basement to the penthouse suite. But I'd be happy to just have a nice, clean room with a king sized bed, flat-screen TV, and a view of the city...
Random thought #2: It has been raining in Austin for what seems like a very long time. Although in reality, it's probably only been a few days. Every time we get rain like this, people say, "oh, we need the rain so bad!" because Austin is apparently constantly in the throes of a drought emergency and we're thisclose to running out of water completely, resulting in the ongoing threat that Austin will one day evolve into a desolate, dusty ghost town where nothing green will ever,ever grow again. (Seriously, I'm so tired of hearing about the "drought" when I feel like if I step outside I may just fall knee-deep into a puddle...)
Random thought #3: Rick and I drove past a street today called "Toro Grande." We then had a conversation that went something like this:
Me: What does "toro" mean? Is it "bull"?
Me: So "Toro Grande" means "large bull"?
Rick: Yep, something like that.
(A few moments of silence...)
Me: So do you suppose that somewhere in Mexico, there's a street called "Large Bull"?
Rick: Yeah... and there's probably a couple people driving past it right now having this same conversation in Spanish.
Whoa. That'd be weird...
Random thought #4: Does anyone think the swine flu panic is a little TOO panicky at the moment? I mean, yes, the number of people infected continues to climb... but a couple thousand cases in a world of almost 7 BILLION people doesn't really seem to be worth the panic just yet. I just saw a picture of someone wearing a surgical mask in Times Square... c'mon -- New York City ALONE has about 8 million people. So even if EVERY case of swine flu reported so far was in NYC, the percentage of people infected JUST in the city would be around a quarter of a tenth of one percent. And I'm not even gonna TRY to do the math for 7 billion people...
But just so everyone knows, the original culprit HAS been found, and we now know the origin of this insidious flu (I have to apologize for the language, but I seriously laughed so hard when I saw this):
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Yeah, that's right. We're crazy. As if you didn't already know...
Monday, April 20, 2009
So today begins the post-visitor slump – people from the north have been flocking to Texas this last month, presumably in an effort to escape some of the cold weather. Some were successful (sunny, 75 degrees, not a cloud in the sky…) and others not so successful (cloudy, rainy, thunderstorms…) – although I suspect it was still warmer here in the south than it was up north. But spring weather in Austin is frustratingly unpredictable – there have been many times when I’ve gotten up in the morning and thrown on a sweater, only to walk outside and realize a t-shirt would’ve been much more appropriate. And vice versa. And sometimes it changes in the middle of the day… I can’t always be walking around with a change of clothing, you know?
Now that everyone is gone, it’s time to get back into a decent routine. I’ve eaten out so much the last few weeks that it’s been a major effort to NOT gain any weight… and losing weight has been, well, a losing battle. But this afternoon we will be making a trip to Whole Foods to stock up on fruits and veggies and whatever else I need to create some healthy (yet yummy – because let’s face it, if it doesn’t TASTE good, you’re not gonna eat it…) dinners. I actually really LIKE cooking and trying new recipes from Fitness or Shape (the two magazines I subscribe to), and trying new things tends to make the whole “eating healthy” thing more fun. I think that’s the main reason that “diets” never work – because why should you have to limit yourself to no-carb-no-fat-carrot-sticks-tofu-skinny-latte-no-chocolate for the rest of your life? If you don’t allow yourself a lot of variety, you’re not going to want to stick to it. I am a big proponent of the “everything in moderation” school of thought. I eat whatever I want, but I don’t always eat it ALL at one time… Unfortunately, it’s harder to control portions and ingredients at a restaurant. And when faced with a dessert menu, chances are I’m going to order something off of it.
But I don’t have a dessert menu in my house… so that’s a good start, at least… :)
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Our friends Eric and Debbie (and our little friends Patrick and Matt! :)) are here from New Jersey this week, continuing the “people from the north traveling down to Texas to get away from the cold” trend we’ve seen the last month or so. It’s funny, because to ME, it feels a little too cool right now to want to swim in mom and dad’s pool, but all the “northern” kids who’ve been here have jumped right in and spent hours and hours playing in the water. And of course when I was a kid in Buffalo, I LIVED in the pool during the summer – even though Buffalo is decidedly cooler than Austin. Even in August. I guess it just depends on what you get used to…
So my friend Eric has informed me that I’ve been quite the blog slacker lately. And he’s right – I haven’t been updating as much as I should. It’s partly because things have been busy around here, and it’s partly because of what’s been going on in our lives – the loss of the Chicago job was really difficult. Well, the loss of ANY job is difficult, but the Chicago move was something I’d been hoping for for YEARS. And when it was finally a reality, I STILL made sure I was careful about not getting too excited… because for some reason, it never quite felt like an absolute certainty. So while it would be easy for me to go on and on about how sad I am that our move to Chicago is off the table, I’m not going to bore everyone with those details…
And the other reason I’ve been slacking with the blog lately is simply this: writing can be really difficult sometimes. I mean, there are definitely days when an idea pops into my mind, and the words arrange themselves almost effortlessly – so all I have to do is sit down and start typing. But there are also days when the ideas are jumbled or nonexistent, when words have to be pulled out of hiding like Saddam Hussein from his dirty little cave in the ground. And then, of course, they have to be cleaned up, have a good hot shower, maybe a shave, don some fresh clothes – otherwise they look dazed and insane and nonsensical. And who would want to read something like that??
It also doesn’t help that my computer has been acting nutty lately – connecting and disconnecting to the internet at will, so I never know how long I’ll have to hop on and post something. Right now, for instance, it is completely disconnected, so I’m typing this in Word and will cut and paste later on. Sigh… stupid computer (what did people way-back-when DO without computers? :)).
So I’m off to figure out this computer problem (well, okay, I’ll probably ask RICK to figure out this computer problem), so I can finally post something new…
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Everybody got that? It’s a secret message from Piva. (This is what she does when I have a Word document open and I step away from the computer for a few minutes… she also put my laptop into “sleep” mode, so I had to hit the power button and wait for it to warm up again…) It’s funny that Piva walks right onto my computer keyboard whenever she feels like it, but Allegro has always made the effort to leap OVER it, so as not to disturb the keys… (or so as not to disturb her paws…)
Anyway… baseball season has started! And with it, fantasy baseball… I have to say, these first few days have NOT been good to my team. I’m feeling a bit like the 0 and 2 Yankees right now. My top two draft picks – Webb and Sizemore – have been extremely disappointing so far, leaving me stranded down in the fantasy baseball basement once more. This is exactly where I started last year – actually, last year, I started with a NEGATIVE point count, which required several days of games to return to zero. By the time I'd made it back to where I’d started, everyone else was well into the several-hundred point range. So I am looking on THAT bright side, at least – I have a positive number of points. It’s just a lot less than everyone ELSE’S positive number of points. But I am vowing to be patient, seeing as we’re not even a full week into the very long baseball season, and I have several players on the DL right now. Sometime around May, I should have a few really decent people back on my roster – and then everyone else had better watch out. Because I’m going to sneak my way out of the basement when no one is looking…
So last night I had the news on for a few minutes, before I’d found something else to watch (I really don’t like watching the news – because it seems like most of the news is bad…). And I thought I heard one of the reporters say something strange as she was talking about the parishioners in a Catholic church. So I rewound my Tivo (isn’t Tivo great?) and played it back – sure enough, the reporter said that many of the church-goers were “clutching rosemary beads.” Rosemary beads??? Rosemary? Like the herb that tastes so good with chicken? Are rosemary beads similar to basil beads? Or are they more like oregano beads? Personally, I prefer lavender beads, because they smell so nice… I mean, c’mon – shouldn’t a reporter know that she’s talking about ROSARY beads?? I’m not even Catholic and I know they’re rosary beads…
Speaking of religion – today is Passover, and this weekend is Easter. I always find it interesting that Easter is really the holiest of Christian holidays – the foundation of the whole religion – and yet Christmas gets so much more air time. Although I suppose it’s more the secular world that has decided Christmas should be such a big deal (I have to admit, though, that I really love all the Christmas-season pomp and circumstance… :)). Maybe the simplicity of Easter makes it more meaningful. Once you’re past childhood, and no longer receiving baskets of candy from a scary giant bunny (seriously – does no one else find it extremely terrifying to think of how BIG the Easter Bunny would have to be to jump from house to house with those baskets?? It would be like some kind of nuclear accident freak bunny…) – once you’re no longer waking up to baskets of candy and egg hunts, you’re simply left with the story of Easter. And it’s much easier to reflect on the meaning when you haven’t overindulged in chocolate and jelly beans…
And I definitely need to get away from overindulging. We’ve had so many guests in town the last few weeks, so there have been many dinners out and many desserts at mom and dad’s house, and many trips to Freddy’s Frozen Custard (which recently opened a few miles down the road so it’s a bit of a novelty right now…). But I’ve also been doing REALLY well with my workouts – I had sort of plateaued with the effort I was putting forth, walking an easy two or two and half miles most days. Which is great for general fitness, but not great for seeing changes in how your jeans fit. So I started adding on to my mileage, and I’m up to walking/jogging about four and half miles at a time. Working my way toward five… (But I still need to lay off the frozen custard… :))
Okay, I’m off to watch the final inning of the Yankee game. They’re finally winning a game, so I need to concentrate on Yankee voodoo to make sure the Orioles don’t stage a comeback… :)
Thursday, April 02, 2009
In short, it is a miracle beverage.
Okay, maybe that’s a bit too dramatic. But there’s no doubt that coffee is one of those simple things in life that provide small moments of joy. It’s so silly – it’s just a beverage… and yet we’ve pretty much developed an entire culture around it. When I was growing up, my dad was the big coffee drinker – I always liked the smell of freshly brewed coffee, but any time I tried to take a sip of the stuff, I was repelled by the bitterness. It wasn’t until I met my friend Cindy – also a big coffee drinker – that I gave the stuff more of a chance. We would meet at a little place called Carlo for Coffee, where they served something that was half hot chocolate, half cappuccino. So the actual coffee content was quite negligible. And once I was used to that, I moved on to café mochas – still a bit of a chocolate taste, but a lot more coffee, too. And then once I was used to the mochas, it was pretty easy to order the occasional latte – nothing but coffee and milk.
By this time, I had a job that required me to be awake and on the road by 6:30 in the morning. I decided it was time to ransack my kitchen cupboards and find the coffeemaker that someone had given us as a wedding gift. When I opened it, I remember thinking, “a coffeemaker? What am I gonna do with THIS??” – but once I started waking up at 5:30 every morning, I decided it couldn’t hurt to give the thing a test run. I bought a little thermos at Starbucks and began to brew coffee every morning – when I would sit at my desk at 7 am (sometimes before anyone else had even arrived), my little thermos of coffee was the highlight of my morning. Every so often, I would run out of milk or creamer… and since I hated the thought of sitting at my desk with bleary eyes and a foggy mind, I would bring a thermos of BLACK coffee with me. I was quite surprised by how much I could drink without being overcome with the bitter flavor… I’d come a long way from half hot chocolate/half cappuccino.
So I’m convinced that all it really takes to eventually succumb to the call of the coffee siren is a love of the coffee aroma. Some people – like my strictly tea- and hot chocolate-drinking friend Faisal – don’t even like the SMELL of coffee. I pretty much consider them lost to the coffee cause… if you don’t even like the way coffee smells, there’s no way you’ll ever get used to the way it TASTES. But if you, like me, enjoy walking into a Barnes and Noble and breathing in the heavenly book/coffee scent – earthy paper and dust from the rows of bookshelves mixing with richly-scented ground coffee from the in-store Starbucks – then you might be capable of growing to love a good cup of coffee. As well you should – after all, it’s practically a health drink!And if you REALLY want to love coffee, get up at 5:30 every morning…
Mmmm... cappuccino in Italy... good stuff...