Friday, December 30, 2005

Random Musings from a Commute

We live about an hour from where I work. Every morning I drive one hour to my office which, besides the fact that I wish the MBTA would extend the commuter train system to the town or even a close town, really isn't that much of a bother. I use the time to think about things going on in my life that require some reflection, plan my day at work, create a mental "to do" list for my evening, learn French, or sometimes to just empty my brain in preparation for my day.

Today was a day for random musings and thoughts...

A. Man, this is my last eggnog latte for the season.
B. It really is pretty along MA122 without the leaves on the trees, patches of snow and all.
C. I need to feed the sourdough starter tonight and did I remember to fix MBH something for lunch?
D. I wonder if Todd over at 1000 Movies got to 1000 last night?
E. What is my life's epic journey?

I want to believe we each have an epic journey to complete in our lives. I just wonder if we know when we are in the midst of that journey. Going to have to ponder that last one and get back to you.

While I think on that deep subject, time to spin the wheel on the Ipod to Shuffle and play "Friday Random 10" for the last time this year. I've looked back at my lists the past few months since I discovered this game on Andrea's blog and ironically, the lists all seem to have some deeper meaning. Maybe it is because I'm more reflective right now than usual or may not...

Anyways, let's see what we have today (links as usual for you listen along):

Friday Random 10:

1. A Kiss to Build a Dream On - Louis Armstrong
2. Seek Up - Dave Matthews Band
3.I'm Beginning to See the Light - Natalie Cole
4. My Oxygen - Richard Page
5. Bullet Proof Soul - Sade
6. Away from You - Supertones
7. Please Forgive Me - David Grey
8.We Are In Love - Harry Connick Jr.
9.Destination - The Church
10. Change - Tears for Fears

Hmm....very interesting.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Tagged: My First MeMe

My fellow blogger Andrea tagged me for this MeMe. I think she and I were separated at birth because I could have "Ctr C, Ctr V" her list in quite a few places.

Seven Things To Do Before I Die:
1. Live in Paris (also on Andrea's list)
2. Scuba dive in Palau
3. Be at the helm of a 1000ft Great Lakes Freighter while going under the Mackinaw Bridge at night
4. See the sun rise at Angor Wat
5. Celebrate Christmas Eve in Jerusalem
6. Read all of Shakespeare's plays in the original English
7. Canoe the Voyager Trail through the Boundary Waters

Seven Things I Can't Do:
1. Knit
2. Figure out raw HTML programming
3. Jump from an airplane
4. Discriminate against anyone for any reason
5. Tie a food bag up high enough to keep the bears out (have pictures to prove this!)
6. Make super flaky pie crust
7. Unscrew the tops of large mouth jars (I have super tiny hands)

Seven Things That Attract Me To Blogging:
1. I get to write!!
2. Sharing a small piece of myself with complete strangers
3. Learning I am not alone in my opinions, positions, likes and dislikes
4. Help in developing a healthy internet community
5. A little bit of vanity...
6. Stress relief
7. "Meeting" people I would not otherwise have

Seven Things I Say Most Often:
1. S#%t!!
2. That dog ain't gonna hunt
3. Yes..uh no.
4. I don't THINK so
5. Damn, that speaker is loud
6. I haven't had enough coffee
7. I love you

Seven Books That I Love:
(This was the hardest one)
1. Anthem - Ayn Rand
2. The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien
3. Hamlet - Shakespeare
4. Colony - Anne Rivers Siddons
5. Afraid to Ride - C.W. Anderson
6. Farenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
7. A Spinner in the Sun - Myrtle Reed

Seven Movies I Watch Again and Again:
(Can I have 8?)
1. The Women (My favourite movie with the best kiss off line of all time)
2. All About Eve (Bette Davis at her bitchiest)
3. Pride and Prejudice (BBC/A&E version, on Andrea's list)
4. People Will Talk (Cary Grant, enough said)
5. Persuasion (Ciaran Hinds/Amanda Root, a toss-up between P&P)
6. A Night at the Opera (Marx Brothers at their best)
7. Office Space ("Um...yea, I'm going to need you to come in on Saturday")

Note: I received the special edition of "Office Space" with extra flair from MBH this morning. Thanks Honey, I can't wait to use my Lumbergh coffee mug in my meetings with my staff!

Seven People I Want To Join In Too:
1. Imogene
2. Maikopunk
3. Lady Crumpet
4. Arcadia
5. MBH
6. Rivermomma
7. Jill over at WOT

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Last Minute Gift Idea: Menu for Hope II

It is Christmas Eve. I'm sitting enjoying a cup of very hot and steaming cafe' au lait and watching Harvard Square come to life. People are popping in and out of Dammits; scurrying here and there with looks of resignation, determination and wonder on their faces. Funny, I can tell the people who are all done with their holiday shopping because they stay and linger to wish us all a "Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays". Our friend, Ned has come and gone off to pick up one last thing from Bob Slate Stationer. Another friend has come and sat down with a sigh of relief to "be out of the house before the madness begins". Even though there isn't a chill in the air this morning, you can tell the season.

I had intended to write about my wish for an all carol Christmas service at church tonight vs the hour and half mass where we will sing only three or four. I've often thought that I would enjoy a very special mass where, with the exception of the story of the manger, we all join in the community of singing the carols, including "Cantique de Noel (Oh Holy Night)". {Why is it that only the choir gets to sing this, the most moving and beautiful of the carols?} But, that will have to wait for next year because of a more pressing matter, The Menu of Hope II.

I've been meaning to post on this for the last few days but in the hustle and bustle of the days had forgotten until this morning when reading Chez Pim's posting, I remembered to not only give put to remind all you kind, good, and gentle readers to take a few seconds out of your busy day and give a small gift that will mean so much to so many. Menu of Hope II is supporting the Unicef drive for funds to help the children who are victims of the earthquake in North India and Pakistan. Chez Pim has organised a raffle for fine food related products offered by food bloggers where for a teeny, tiny donation of $5.00 you will be entered for a chance to win some really fabulous prizes (see her menu here). The fund drive ends tonight at midnight P.S.T.

Thanks and Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Reflections on a Year

"You should blog. I really think you'd like it." That one gentle suggestion by MBH was the start of this blog. And so I did. One year ago tonight I posted my first, tentative entry in The Sour Dough. I just re-read that entry and realized that quite a bit has changed in this blog since then. I've grown into my voice. I've honed my writing and more importantly, I've enjoyed every minute of writing this blog.

When I started to keep an online journal, I figured I would use this page as the creative outlet I was lacking in my job. I would post about my hobby of baking breads and if the occasional grumbling about life and my sometime fustration with the injustices of this world spilled over that would be OK too. And, since I have always loved to write, I looked at this as just one more outlet for that often neglected passion. I really didn't think that anyone would ever read the ramblings and mumblings of a slightly high-strung, often scatterbrained, almost 40 year old in Cambridge, MA. let alone that I would develop online bonds with any of my fellow bloggers. Now, 365 days and dozens of posts later I have a circle of like minded blogging friends Lady Crumpet, Imogene, Maikopunk, Andrea, and Lauren who not only read here but always have good input on the comments page and ALWAYS make me think, laugh and yes, even cry when I read their posts on their respective blogs. I've added to my recipe collection via some fabulous fellow foodies. I've re-thought my position on several subjects and commiserated with fellow liberals. I like to think that the gals mentioned above have helped me grow as a person as well as some of the other bloggers I read. There are some really incredible writers out there and some very passionate people.

So, as The Sour Dough turns two, let me say thanks to each and every one of you who stop by for a minute to share a cup of tea, a slice of bread with butter and jam, and most importantly who share a bit of yourself with me. I'm not sure what the upcoming year will bring but I'm looking forward to sharing it with you all.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

Whew! The last package is mailed (sorry Bro...but hey, look at it like this, you get to really celebrate Boxing Day!) All that is left for MBH and I to do is sit back and enjoy the next few days of the Holiday Season. We don't have any pressing engagements but in case we have any last minute invites, all I have to do is pull out a little of this and a little of that and we will have a plate of Christmas Goodies like the one above to take to our hosts.

Last year I didn't bake. I missed it. I normally bake several different cookies and candies and this year's treat menu includes brownie bites, toffee bars with/without nuts, mini orange-cranberry bread, Grandma's spritz cookies (see previous post for the recipe), chocolate chip tea cookies, and chocolate crinkles.

The Chocolate Crinkle is a Midwestern favourite that when done right is like a soft, chewy cookie with brownie envy but when done poorly, they are hard and chalky tasting. It is a surprisingly difficult cookie considering how few ingredients there are. The trick is not baking them too long. I hadn't made them in a while. Well, truth is, I had forgotten about them but when I was doing my baking plan, I found the recipe in my card box and decided to dust it off. I'm glad I did because so far they are the hit of the plate. I've had to make two batches because they keep disappearing from the container as fast as I bake them. I think they will have to become one of our cookie jar staples.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

3 oz unsweetened baking chocolate (1 ounce squares) note: use a really good chocolate
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoon vanilla
3 large eggs
1/4 cup milk (2% or whole)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a double boiler, melt chocolate and let cool. Combine flour with baking powder and set aside. Combine sugar, oil, and vanilla. Add to cooled chocolate and mix well until blended. Add eggs one at a time, mixing each egg well. Stir in milk and then slowly add flour/baking powder mixture. Dough will be very soft and almost frosting consistency. Chill until firm enough to roll into balls. Shape into balls and roll in powdered sugar. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes (cookie will be set but not browned). Let cool and redust with powdered sugar if desired.

Makes 3 dozen.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Weekend Cookbook Challenge: Grandmother's Spritz

I was reading My Adventures in the Breadbox and found out about the Weekend Cookbook Challenge over at Something So Clever. I think it is too late to enter my post but what the heck, I'll take a chance and post for this anyways.

Here is the Challenge (abridged version, see the full challenge at the link above): Cook/make something out of your oldest cookbook in your collection. The oldest cookbook in my collection is my Grandmother's copy of the "The Victory Binding of the American Woman's Cook Book: The Wartime Edition"(copyright 1942). I remember my grandmother cooking from this book when I was little and letting me help her stir cakes, cookies, and bring her ingredients from her pantry. I would sit at the table on a stool and look through this book for hours; reading how to set a table, what wines a good hostess would serve with fish and how the true sign of a good wife was the rise in her biscuits. She died when I was 15 and the only thing I wanted was this cookbook. Even today, it still has the little cut out recipes from various ladies magazines and newspapers my Grandmother clipped out and stuck in her favourite cookbook. I am still surprised from time to time when I look at the book and find another recipe with the word "tried" written in her small spiderlike script next to the title.

This edition of the cookbook has a beautiful front piece of petit fours in full colour that I always wanted to bake and a dedication to General MacArthur. My favourite part of the cookbook however is the special section in the back for the Wartime Kitchen with ideas and plans for the women on the homefront to use the most of their food (save every little bit of fat, use the juice from canned vegetables as a pre-dinner cocktail, etc.), recipes for cakes using the syrup from canned fruit for sweetening vs sugar, and a menu plan to feed a family of six on two ration books. I've never been brave enough to try that cake recipe. But, every Christmas, I make the Spritz Cookies from this book(not out of the Wartime section), just like my Grandmother did every Christmas and so, here is "our" recipe from the "Victory" Cookbook.

Spritz Cookies

2 1/2 Cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 Cup butter
3/4 Cup sugar
Dash salt
1 egg, unbeaten
1 teaspoon vanilla

Sift flour with baking powder. Cream butter, sugar, and salt. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Add sifted ingredients in small amounts. Mold with cookie press on cold ungreased baking sheet. Bake in 375 degree or Moderate oven 12 to 15 minutes. Makes 45.

Note: today's ovens cook more efficently. You want to keep an eye on these cookies and when they just start to brown remove them. I find 10 minutes in my oven is normally long enough.

Cookie Friday Random 10

We are having a good ole fashioned winter mess here in Cambridge today: sleet, slush, ice, snow, rain all accompanied by a brisk wind. So, instead of joining my fellow "fine" Boston drivers (you heard the sarcasm right?) out on the skating rink otherwise known as the Mass Turnpike, I am working at home today.

Actually, I won't be getting much work done as Tuesday was an official day off but I ended up working on a project that absolutely had to be finished. Basically meaning instead of getting that last batch of cookies baked to go into my family's packages and those packages mailed I had to do other things. So, today, I have already completed one batch of toffee bars and I'm getting ready to start on the butter spritz cookies to add to the chocolate crinkles, mini chocolate chip tea bites, cranberry-orange mini loafs and brownies. I was going to make fudge as well but decided against it as next to powdered sugar donuts, fudge is my number one weakness (oh, and cookie dough!).

While I'm between batches of cookies I thought I'd go ahead post my Friday Random 10. You know the game: Put Ipod on shuffle, record names of first 10 tunes, no cheating to look cool and all that. So, let me brush the cookie crumbs off the Ipod...and away we go!

Friday Random 10

1. My Bonnie Boy from English Folk Song Suite - Vaughn Williams/Fredrick Fennell conducting
2.Christmas Sweet: God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman - Mannheim Steamroller
3.Lady Lynda - Acoustic Alchemy
4.Full of Grace - Sarah McLachlan
5. Into the Dark - Melissa Etheridge
6.The Holly and the Ivy- Mannheim Steamroller
7.Kiss of Life - Sade
8.Dummy Song - Louis Armstrong
9Cast Your Fate to the Wind - George Winston
10.Change - Tears for Fears

A small nod to something that brought a tear to my eye. When I was a young lass, I spent two summers at Interlochen Music Camp in Michigan where I learned that I would never play first oboe for the Boston Symphony. It is ok. I've gotten over the disappointment even if I still fantasize every once in while about playing the famous oboe solo from the Tchaikovsky 4th Symphony at Symphony Hall. During both summers at Interlochen I had the very distinct pleasure of playing under the baton of Fredrick Fennell. About a year ago, Maestro Fennell passed away. He was the antithesis of the Tyrant Conductor most people who have never sat in an orchestra/wind ensemble associate with conductors (Toscanini, et al). He rarely had a harsh word but rather a firm correction and he never publicly dressed down a musician. He was a perfectionist and he expected you to come to rehearsals knowing your parts and to make excellent music. I had forgotten I had an Eastman Wind Ensemble recording on my ipod. It was good to hear Fennell again.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Making a difference any way you can

When I sat down tonight to enjoy my evening of singledom I had no intention of writing this blog. MBH is out for an evening of lecture and schmoozing at MIT. LB, our cat, is curled up out under the Christmas tree (no "holiday" tree for us) hoping that one of the presents for him contains a cat nip mouse. My only plan tonight was to enjoy the remaining enchiladas from a pan I made for our neighbors while sipping a glass of cheap red wine and watching an old Bette Davis movie that was sure to make me cry.

While waiting for the video tape to rewind, I was contemplating both Lauren over at Ardent Eden latest posts as well as Andrea's last few posts over SGTCC. I didn't notice I had paused my surfing on Channel 5 where Chronicle was showing. I am not sure if this show's format is something all the local affiliates of ABC use, but Chronicle is a local human interest television magazine. Most of the time it is interesting, light stories about back road New England towns, local events, or some other connected theme. And, every once in a while they have truly important shows like tonight's. The show tonight was called Youngbloods. It was all about young people in the greater Boston area who are somehow making a difference in our community and in some cases on a national, far reaching scale. Two young people in particular stood out: Michael Fertik and Katya Fels.

Michael Fertik is a student at the Harvard Law School who has taken it upon himself to help re-invent the Democratic Party; one state at a time. His group, the Campaign for a National Majority (CNM), is working to support people running for local offices and build a "farm team" of clear thinking, issue minded candidates for the Democratic party who can win national elections and not lose sight of the values I believe ALL Americans support. They research the candidates and instead of blanket supporting everyone running under the Democratic ticket they select a few who meet the clearly stated values of the CNM. So far, they have tested their model in Texas and Iowa and won two seats from Republicans.

Katya Fels is the founder and executive director of On the Rise. On the Rise is a local organisation that helps homeless women and women in crisis find solutions to their situations through growth, community, and self supporting structure. What really impressed me about the group was their mission to help these women help themselves through development of self worth and life skills. On the Rise doesn't take government funding because they don't want to be subjected to the rules and regulations that this type of government funding imposes on groups and that force women in these situations to give up privacy, dignity, and most importantly self control. In the last 10 years, they have grown from a small group of women helping women into a national recognized model of community service.

I encourage you to visit these to fine young people's organisations webpages. And, better yet, help them in their endeavors. Find similar groups in your community and volunteer or donate. If there aren't these types of programs in your community then help start one.

It isn't often that I get up on this podium. There are far better bloggers like Andrea, Lauren and Siel over at Green LA Girl who daily stand at this graphical microphone leading the charge. But every once in a while, I find myself looking up from the breadboard and realising I need to add my voice to the chorus. Even if my voice is a little out of tune and I've forget the words from time to time.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Last One on the Block

You would think that as someone who has an advanced degree in a fairly technical field (acoustical engineering) and who works for a technology company (a loudspeaker manufacturer) that I would be on the bleeding edge of what is hot technology wise. You would be wrong...

MBH, now he is out there on the ragged edge. If it is new and still in alpha testing stages he will be the first person I know to have it loaded onto his computer, in his pocket, strapped to his backpack, or connected to something. He will then proceed to get to the bottom of what makes it whirl, whiz, and sometimes wheeze. Take podcasting. As you may remember, MBH recently became the proud owner of a new, shiny Ipod Nano. Within hours of owning his new toy, he had downloaded not only music but his first podcast. For weeks now, he has been listening to a biography of Alexander Hamilton, enjoying "NerdTV", and listening to Michael Feldman explain the latest headlines in a way only he can. All while walking to work and on the T! He has been after me to get "with the programme". What does he mean! I would still be running my Powerbook G3 on OS7.6 if I had my way! But, last night, at 10:30pm, I finally caved in and decided to see or rather hear what all the fuss was about. So, with our day settling down, I set about to download my first podcast, the NPR weekly food podcast.

One of the reasons I'm reluctant to be on the cutting edge with so many things is upgrading is always a hassle. Of course, this had to be no different. MBH directed me to find the "podcast tab" under advanced in my Itunes. "What podcast tab?", I asked. "The one right....What version of Itunes are you running pray tell?" "I don't know, what ever came with my Ipod", I replied. SIGH was all MBH could muster. He was ready to turn out the lights and I had decided that I couldn't wait until morning to leap forward not one, not two, but THREE versions of Itunes. After that little task and three restarts on my Dell laptop, I was ready to download my podcast. Or so I thought. I connected my trusty 20Gig Ipod to my laptop and up popped the window informing me a firmware upgrade was available for my Ipod. "Nothing is ever easy! You know, it will be my luck, that when I do this, all my music will be gone", I whined. "What type of voodoo do you practice woman. You sure you have an engineering degree because I have never met anyone who is so afraid of upgrading stuff as you are", MBH said with an exasperated tone. "Do you want me to do it?" he asked tentatively; half afraid I would say yes. "No, because you know if this upgrade DOES blow away all my music I'll be pissed and that wouldn't be fair. Besides, I need to know how to do this". About 15 minutes later, I had a nice new updated Itunes AND Ipod and I was all set to download my first podcast. MBH fell asleep as I happily searched,, Itunes, and looking for food and travel podcasts. I downloaded anything and everything that struck my fancy. I was out of control and loving it. At about 2am and I had over 6 hours of podcasts on my Ipod.

Only problem was, I was now too tired to listen to anything I had downloaded. I'll let you know how it all turns out as I'm planning on listening while I bake holiday cookies and candies later today. Typical me, last kid on the block...

Friday, December 09, 2005

Snowy Friday at Home

It is snowing outside. No, I take it that back it is SNOWING outside. The National Weather Service in Taunton, MA is saying it is coming down at over 2" an hour outside right now. It is snowing so hard MBH and I can't see the house across the street very well. Perfect day to stay snug and warm in our house where we both decided to work from this morning. Good thing too! I walked down to our neighborhood grocery store a bit ago and watched at least four people have minor fender benders. As I was walking, I could see people looking at me in their cars and imagined what they were thinking "Look at that crazy woman walking with her canvas bag. I'm glad that I'm all warm and dry inside my car". They would be wrong if they thought I was miserable. I love walking in the snow. Especially when it is snowing those big fluffy flakes. MBH thought I was crazy when I announced at 7am that I was walking to the grocery store. But I needed some more egg nog to mix with my coffee while I watch "Pride and Prejudice" and "It's a Wonderful Life" and wrap all the presents. What MBH doesn't know is that he is going to get to go for a walk in the snow in about 4 hours to help me take all the boxes to the post office ;-) "Dashing through the snow...."

Friday's Random 10

You all know the game by now. So let's get right down to business and see if any of the 65 Christmas songs I downloaded last weekend show up! (links provided for you to listen along of course).

1. Skin Trade - Duran Duran
2. Big Empty - Stone Temple Pilots
3. Black and White - Sarah McLachlan
4. Bring a Torch, Jeannette Isabella - Mannheim Steamroller
5. I will Know Your Love - Beth Nielsen Chapman
6. Red Rain - Peter Gabriel
7. Send Me On My Way - Rusted Root
8. Sailing to Philadelphia - Mark Knopfler(with James Taylor)
9. Spinning Wheel - Blood, Sweat & Tears
10.The Atheist Christmas Carol - Vienna Teng

Two of my favourite artists of all time are on this list: Beth Nielsen Chapman and Rusted Root. The Rusted Root song, "Send Me on My Way" is one of those songs that will bring a smile to your face and have you skipping down the sidewalk.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Shelves in the closet. Happy thought indeed.

Elizabeth Bennet
You are Eliza Bennett from Pride and
! Yay, you! Perhaps the
brightest and best character in all of English
literature, you are intelligent, lively,
lovely-- in short, you are the best of company.
Your only foibles are that you stick with your
first impressions... and your family is quite

Which Jane Austen Character Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

I know what I'm watching tomorrow during our first major snowstorm...

(special thanks maikopunk for finding this little gem)

Friday, December 02, 2005

Frantic Friday/Soothing Saturday

It has been a crazy few days around our household. About two days before Thanksgiving MBH and I decided to rearrange our house. I have no idea what possessed us but over Thanksgiving all we did was move furniture, clean from ceiling molding down to radiator ducts. Poor LB even received a bath from which he promptly crawled under the bed and stayed until he heard the tin of cat food opened several hours later. Most people do this in the Spring but we have decided that if we are going to be stuck in the house for the next long five months of the New England winter then by golly the house was going to be spotless.

So, after all that cleaning and back breaking, I decided we deserved an early family Christmas present. I treated us to a family membership at the MFA (Museum of Fine Arts) where a very large Ansel Adams exhibition is ongoing. MBH is an very fine amateur photographer and has been wanting to go see this exhibition culled from the largest privately held collections of Adams' work. Most of these prints have not been seen publically so we are excited to spend the day tomorrow wandering the galleries, enjoying the crisp December air and maybe a little window shopping down Newbury Street followed by hot chocolate in the Public Garden. One last relaxing weekend before all the pre-Christmas rounds of parties, baking, post-office-line-standing, deck the halling begins.

Friday's Random 10

If you are new to this game, several of my fellow bloggers including Andrea put our I-Pods on shuffle and then let you have a peek at our collective varied taste in music. OK, so some of us are closet progressive rock fans :-o No cheating is allowed, what ever the Great Ipod Shuffle God chooses goes on our lists.

Here is mine for this week(Links to listen along):

1. Non, Je ne Regrette Rein - Edith Piaf
2. La Vie En Rose - Edith Piaf
3. Sarabande for Katharine in April - Howard Hansen
4. The Way You Look Tonight - Frank Sinatra
5. Rusticano Intermezzo - Mascagni Cavaleria
6. When the Cookie Jar is Empty - Michael Franks
7. Adagio for Strings - Samuel Barber
8. Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours - Stevie Wonder
9. Let There Be Love - Natalie Cole
10. LOVE - Nat King Cole

Wow, how weird is this list? Half Classical and Half Dark Cocktail Bar with the master of Funk thrown in for good measure. And what is up with the father/daughter back to back at the bottom? Oh well, it was so much to listen to this grouping I am going to make a playlist out of it.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Civics Lesson

There's nothing like a good dose of censorship at 7am to get my blood boiling. Apparently, the First Amendment is truly dead. First, a study of high school students, teachers, and administrators earlier this year revealed that a high percentage believe that the First Amendment goes too far in protecting our rights. And now, in a high school in Tennessee, student editors have had an edition of the school newspaper seized because the administration wants to see them "re-write" certain sections so as not to offend anyone (see CNN story here).

I was the editor of our high school newspaper. I guess the First Amendment was different then. I was given the same rights as the local journalists for the various area newspapers. I even got to interview President Reagan when he visited the area right after he was elected for his first term, just like every other adult journalist. It was an honor. While, I may not have agreed with his politics and even wrote an editorial for the same issue my interview was published in which I lambasted Reagan on his position on several issues. Not once was any piece ever censored by my school administration. No matter how much they disagreed with the paper's position on a subject. It just wasn't acceptable besides being illegal.

Too bad today's students and administrators alike don't have a good grasp of the Constitution. Sadder still is they don’t seem to care…

Thursday, November 24, 2005


One of the toughest things to do when you are in a long-term relationship is to meld your family holiday traditions with those of your mate. Family holiday traditions provide insight into your mate's upbringing: does the family open Christmas presents on Christmas Eve or wait until Christmas morning, do you have ham or standing rib roast at Easter, is Thanksgiving dinner early right after the Macy's Parade or late after the Detroit Lions football game. Messing with those traditions will assuredly cause at the least a small tiff and at the most lead to a full blown, "I'm sleeping on the couch", knock out, dragged out fight.

Thanksgiving is MBH's favorite holiday and I messed with his family Thanksgiving tradition of not eating until almost 7pm. I plead ignorance but none the less there you have it. I contributed to MBH not enjoying Thanksgiving as much as usual for the past four years. MBH's father worked as a golf pro in the south, which meant that while all of us north of the Mason/Dixon line had put our clubs away in September, people at MBH's father's course were still out there getting in 18 holes on Thanksgiving day. His family didn't typically have the big formal meal until after 7pm. My family, on the other hand, eats early so that the men folk can go watch the Detroit Lions lose to whomever they are playing.

This year, while planning our meal, I laid out the day's dining/cooking schedule based around my family timetable and found myself mired in a little "disagreement". One of those that leave you wondering, "what did I say" and your mate wondering, "What are you upset about". MBH finally told me about his family tradition of eating late but "sneaking" bits of turkey through the day because his mother always fixed the turkey early. He explained to me why it is his favorite holiday and now I understand why he always comes into the kitchen while I’m cooking turkey asking like a little kid "Is it done yet?” This year, I woke up early, put the turkey in so that it would be done by noon. MBH was like a kid in a candy store. Picking at the browned bits of the breast and sharing parts of a drumstick with LB. I have my grandmother's recipe for scalloped corn, a good New England dish, in the refrigerator ready to be popped in the oven at 6:30 and my mother's cranberry relish is defrosting on the counter. MBH's family green beans are in the slow cooker perfectly timed to be finished in time to carve the turkey for our sit-down part of the meal sometime after 7pm.

And you know what, it is kind of nice to leisurely pick at the bird and sneak a black olive or two out of the bowl through out the afternoon while we sit and enjoy each other's company. The bird will keep.

MBH's Southern Green Beans

5lbs Green Beans
1lb Salt Pork
1 Cup of water

Break the greenbeans and remove ends and strings. Parboil and place in slow cooker. Cut Saltpork into 4 even sized pieces. Place into slowcooker with bean and add 1 cup of water. Cook on low temperature for 12 to 15 hours. Better next day, so make up day ahead.

My Mother's Cranberry Relish
(this is more like a chutney)

1/2lb Cranberries
2 Oranges (peeled, sectioned, remove seeds)
1/4 Cup Orange Peel
2 Apples (Granny Smith or Macon)
1/2 Cup Celery (chopped)
1/2 Cup Walnuts (chopped)
1 Cup Sugar
1 Pkg Cherry flavored Gelatin
1/2 Cup Boiling Water

Put cranberries, apples, orange sections, and orange peel into a food mill/grinder or food processor. Grind coursely. Put in large bowl. Mix walnuts and sugar. Disolve cherry gelatin into boiling water and add to mixture.
Stir thoroughly to make sure sugar and gelatin are mixed into fruit/nuts. Put in refrigerator until set. May be frozen after set.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Random Music for Friday

Ok, where did this week go? And what do you mean next Thursday is Thanksgiving?? Good thing MBH and I are going cat food shopping tonight. I will have to throw the turkey in the cart next to LB's cans of sole, sardine, and cod filet in gravy.

Well, in case you are just joining us, on Fridays a few of my fellow bloggers set their Ipods on Shuffle and then embarass ourselves publicly by letting you, the reader, see what bad disco or 70's Supergroup music we secretly listen to while cleaning the house.

So, here we go!!! (Links for you to play along)

My Friday Random 10

1. I Love You for Sentimental Reasons - Linda Ronstadt
2. Mon Menage A Moi - Edith Pilaf
3. Baby Mine - Bonnie Raitt
4. Come Sail Away - Styx
5. Under the Milky Way - The Church
6. Hungry Like the Wolf - Duran Duran
7. Ain't Talkin' Bout Love - Van Halen
8. The 8:29 - Flim & The BB's
9. Winter - Tori Amos
10. Somewhere over the Rainbow - Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

I did say embarassing remember...

And, if you don't know who Isreal Kamakawiwo'ole is, you owe it to yourself to go to the link and listen to him. He had one of the sweetest voices and will make you forget Tiny Tim in regards to the ukelele. Read the reviews and then get thyself to ITunes! RIP IZ.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Looks like an eternity doesn't it?

Not sure where I found this link but re-discovered the site while cleaning up some old bookmarks (check out the countdown clock on the sidebar!). They offer a great stuffing stocker for those of us counting the seconds as well.

MBH will tell you one of my liberal, "communist" friends sent it to me. He is probably right.

But, consider this the first post of a few rants of the day.

Oh, and pray that time flies...

Friday, November 04, 2005

Finally Friday

It has been a very long and arduous week filled with strife at work and on the homefront. Seems that my team at work and my team at home have all been on different wavelengths.

I hate it when that happens. I hate that when I wake up planning on having a great day with MBH something seems to be out of sync and we end up at cross purposes. This just seems to float right over to work where some uncertainity with the direction of the business has added a whole new element of budget planning and the operational plan I need to create by next Wednesday for the final budget meetings next Friday. So, I am most thankful that today is Friday. The end of the week.

Things are looking up for the weekend though. MBH and I have a tentative "date" for afterwork drinks and tomorrow is suppose to be one of those gorgeous Indian Summer days in New England. We will strap the bikes on the car and head over the ocean for one last hurrah on Nantucket. Here's to Friday!!!

You know the game, Andrea's Ipod Game. You know the rules by now, so let's put the Ipod on shuffle (no cheating now!) and see what the Shuffle Genie has for our listening pleasure. As usual, links for you to listen along.

Friday's Random 10

1. I'll Back You Up - Dave Matthews Band
2. Crossroads - Jim Brickman
3. Guilty - Yann Tiersen from the Amelie Soundtrack
4. Message in a Bottle - Gabriel Yared from the Message in a Bottle Soundtrack
5. Don't Think of Me - Dido
6. Come Undone - Duran Duran
7. I Can't Make You Love Me - Bonnie Raitt
8. Euphoria (Firefly) - Delerium
9. A Common Disaster - Cowboy Junkies
10. Instumental version of Natalie Merchant's Ophelia

The instrumental version of Natalie Merchant's Ophelia is a hidden track on the CD by the same name. I first heard it while doing sound for the National Figure Skating Championships that were held in Boston in 2001 (No, I can't remember who skated to it). It was my first download from the then illegal Napster (Don't worry, I own the album now). The perfect melancholy ending to a melancholy week.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Kettle Calling the Pot Black

We don't do sports here in our little house off Harvard Square because politics are sports. Basically, I live in a "Mary Matalin/James Carville" house (I'm not her!). MBH and I have agreed to disagree about fiscal policy, and in the name of peace and sanity, have agreed to only send half barbs across the dinner table for the next three years. Besides, like a good liberal that can see both sides of the same coin, I sympathize with MBH; because with the exception of Mitt Romney, he is probably the only Republican in the most liberal state of Massachusetts. So, I've tried to keep this blog politically neutral. I have other outlets for my political bent.

However, this morning, I read this article about releasing 500 Iraqi prisoners from Abu Ghraib in time to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan. This was part of an earlier release of 1,000 prisoners at the beginning of the month to celebrate the beginning of Ramadan. Didn't we berate the dictator we overthrew for doing the same type of gestures? Didn't we say we would be a benevolent helper while Iraq found it's way to democracy and show the Iraqi people that they had spent 30+ years under the thumb of a cruel, evil man? Why is it that every step of this administration I feel like I'm being told one thing and the diametrically opposed thing is actually happening? I think I hear my kettle whistling...

Saturday, October 29, 2005

That really wasn't snow I saw today was it?

I am not ready for winter. Nope. Nuh-uh. Not even. But today, while rushing to meet MBH at Bartley's Burger Cottage in Harvard Square, there they were. Falling from the sky. Snow flakes. "NOOOO!" I thought. That can't be. It just can't be. The weather forcast had been calling for snow and rain and we even canceled our day trip to Nantucket because of the cold, wet forcast. But, even with all the pre-warning, I still am not ready for snow. Seems like it was just winter. Where did fall go? We didn't even get leaf peeping this year. Or, apple picking. Or make a trip to the local cider mill. And now I have to pull out the winter clothes and find the snow shovel? You think if I went home, pulled the shades, and put on steel drum music I could fool myself into thinking it was still summer? Weather tomorrow: Partly sunny, high 67.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Killing Time on Friday Afternoon

MBH sent me this link this afternoon. Brought back memories of playing paper dolls...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Guilty Pleasures

I'm traveling on business for the next two weeks. This week Seattle at my company's corporate offices doing next year budgets and next week the Midwest: Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh on several jobsites. Poor MBH, left with a fridge full of home cooked meals and the cat box to clean. Me, I get two weeks of room service and 98 channels of cable TV. Two weeks of indulging myself with Lifetime movies, CSI (all three versions) and my newest guilty pleasure, The Apprentice: Martha Stewart. Yup, I have to admit, I'm hooked and last night, I popped some pop corn in the microwave in the room, opened a bottle of wine, sat on the couch in my pjs glued to the TV while the two teams went head to head over salad dressing. The perfect ending to a long day with bean counters and planning managers. Just me and my new best friend Martha.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Duelling Random 10's

My fellow blogger Andrea turned me onto this game and seeing how MBH just received his nice new shiny Ipod Nano, I decided to post both our results with Amazon links so you can listen along (of course). Enjoy.

MBH's Random Ten

1. Homecoming (Walter's Song) - Vienna Teng
2. The Boxer - Simon and Garfunkel
3. Window to Your Soul - Delerium
4. Homeward Bound - Simon and Garfunkel
5. The Sound of Silence - Simon and Garfunkel
6. Sting - Russians
7. Con te Partiro - Andrea Bocelli
8. Wheel of Fortune - Ace of Base
9. All I Need - Michael Franks
10. Phantasy-Danny Wright

My Random Ten

1. Bullet Proof Soul - Sade
2. I Love You - Sarah McLachlan
3. Ant's Marching - Dave Matthews Band
4. Beautiful - Mandalay
5. Gold Dust Woman - Fleetwood Mac
6. Please Forgive Me - David Grey
7. Cool- Patti Austin
8. Isobel - Dido
9. On a Date - Berlitz Rush Hour French
10. Autumn - Patrick Stewart

The last song on my list is the fabulous Patrick Stewart reading the poem Autumn. It is part of one of my favourite recordings of Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Of course, I could listen to Patrick Stewart read the take out menu from the Chinese restaurant down the street.

And now you know why we could never share an Ipod.

Update: MBH, is demanding I give him 11 songs since he had 3 Simon and Garfunkel. His 11th song was Diana Krall - "I'll String Along with You". SHHH... Don't tell him it doesn't count.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Lil' Bastard and MBH

It has been doing nothing but raining here for the entire week and not those gentle soft rains for fall but torrential downpours. It is monsoon time in New England. Sitting in my office this morning, watching the rain come down, I thought about a similar day six years ago that brought me the second best thing in my life, Lil' Bastard which led me to keeping the best thing in my life, MBH.

I was living in a small town about 45 minutes west of Boston in a condo that was converted from an old tenement building. My unit had a sloping front porch made of concrete and when it rained, it puddled about 4 inches of water right against my screen door. I was sitting bundled up on my couch, reading a book when I heard this god-awful sound coming from my front porch. Thinking some child was out in the street and had fallen down and hurt themselves, I opened the door and gingerly trudged through the small pond that had formed on my porch. Looking around, I assured myself that it wasn't someone and turned to go back into the warm house when I noticed huddled under my deck chair this gray mass of wet fur. The sound I had heard wasn't a child but rather a very wet and scared cat. After getting some old towels from the house, I went back out and coaxed the cat out from his hiding place and took him inside to dry off, pretty sure that I had seen the cat in the neighborhood and that he belonged to someone. A few hours later, after the rain had stopped, I went to all my neighbors asking if they had lost their cat. When no one claimed him, I went to the store, bought a few things a cat would need and figured someone would eventually claim him. Over the next few days, I put up posters, took out an ad in the local newspaper and left my number with the animal control officer. After two weeks, it became apparent that I had been adopted and Cedric and I became pals.

Fast forward a year, men had come and gone in my life. Every one of them had been studied and found to be wanting by not only myself but my cat. When I would bring a date home, Cedric would slink out and check them over before hissing at them and with his tail in the air, walk back to the bedroom where he would jump up on my side of the bed announcing to the visitor that it was he who was staying and that maybe not then but eventually, they would be going. Until the night I brought MBH home for the weekend. On the drive out to my house, I mentioned to MBH that in all likelihood, the cat would hiss at him, possibly take a swipe at his ankle and then sulk out of the room not to be seen again for the rest of the weekend. MBH assured me that was fine by him because he was, "none too fond of the foul beasts". I thought perfect, the first man that I really could like and the other man in my life was going to hate him.

I unlocked the door to my condo and again warned MBH about the cat and prepared myself for the typical reaction when man meets cat. Imagine my surprise when Cedric made his appearance sniffed at MBH's ankles, meowed at him and then jumped up on the couch to sit beside us. By the end of the weekend, Cedric had befriended MBH. I'm not sure if it was because he sensed that MBH was not going to back down and might hiss back or if it was the KFC chicken wing meat that MBH hand fed him (I suspect the later). And that weekend Cedric became Lil' Bastard because "Cedric is such a woosie name."

When Cedric and I moved in with MBH not too long afterwards the two became inseparable. Where one went in the house, the other was right there. As MBH works from home, they soon fell into a routine: wake up and have a "fight" (MBH and LB play rough with each other), fix breakfast, have another fight and then watch Teletubbies together, get some work done with cat tail swishing over computer mouse and plenty of mini fights, more fighting, lunch in which the cat gets a morsel for "vim and vigor", afternoon nap followed by more fighting and then WW comes home. I'd get daily phone calls, "your cat is a bastard" or "you know that lil' bastard is fast when he wants to be". Pretty soon, MBH was telling his folks about "his" cat. He taught him how to jump on a little stool for treats and to stand on a certain arm of a chair next to his computer for "butt scratches".

Now, 5 years later, cat and man are best buds. LB can do no wrong in MBH's eyes. Not long ago, when LB was diagnosed with feline diabetes it was MBH who took him to his many vet appointments while the right dosage of insulin was determined. It is MBH who every morning gives LB his shot and then plays with him. MBH buys books for LB with titles like "French for Cats". He even swears he is teaching him his shapes. When we have dinner, LB gets a little "snackeral" from MBH's plate. They really can't live without the other. And you know what, I'm glad that they are so close because I would have hated to have to send MBH to the pound...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Porky's Pig Palace

"Look! Over there!! It's Porky's Pig Palace!!!" WHAT?? It was almost 8pm and we were on our third train of the day; on our way to our hotel in scenic Newark, NJ. As we had been up since 4am, caught the 6:30am Amtrak regional from Boston to New York City's Penn Station, spent the day walking from Times Square to Noho to Chelsea and back to Penn Station to say MBH was a bit punch drunk was a mild understatement.

"What are you babbling about?" I asked him. "Over there. That rotating sign", he pointed to a rotating red, yellow, and white neon sign visible through the fog. "Porky's Pig Palace", he said with an assured air. The woman sitting next to me on the Liberty/Newark Airport Airtrain tried to squish herself even further into the corner where she had been cowering since boarding the tram car. She had issues. MBH was having issues and all I wanted to do was get to our room, kick off my shoes from my aching feet and watch a little cable TV. "That isn't Porky's Pig Palace. That is the Anheuser-Busch brewery you dork".

MBH gave me a look that said, "You don't know what you are talking about". I stared right back at him with a look that said, "I have no idea where the stuff that pops out of your mouth comes from". We both burst into peals of laughter. We had been doing that all day.

Our big day of funness in the Big Apple. I was attending the Audio Engineering Society trade show on Monday, Oct 10 and a one day mini-vacation spent wandering the bookshops and food shops of NYC was just what we both needed. We had started our day having a pretty good breakfast at the Stagedoor Deli and then I tried, in vain, to explain the NYC subway system to MBH. We were on our way to 18 miles of books at Strand Books. MBH and I decided we could probably spend a week there and not even begin to scratch the surface. "WW, I can't believe I'm going to say this but there are just too many books here". I knew what he meant. After we each purchased a book or two, we walked through the West Village. Destination the Chelsea Food Market, once a Nabisco Biscuit factory and now home of Food Network and several gourmet food shops. The Oreo cookie was invented in the walls of the Food Market and as I love both the Food Network and Oreo cookies I was pretty excited. We were both very disappointed. Not only was the food shopping underwhelming but you can't even visit the Food Network studios. The only thing walking through the Chelsea Food Market did for us was to make us very hungry. We had been planning on Chinese and had read good things about The Grand Sichuan. They have a restaurant on 9th Ave and as it was on the way back to Penn Station, we decided to give it a try. MBH rediscovered he does not like sesame beef and I discovered that you can mess up scallion pancakes. The wonton soup was very good though and the hunan chicken quite tasty as well as very spicy. We left just as it began to get dark and made our way to Penn Station via 7th Avenue.

By now our feet were hurting and we were ready to navigate the NJ Transit system to get to our hotel. Which is how we found ourselves as the unplanned Airtrain entertainment for an audience of one paranoid lady and two confused Swiss tourists.

Bet they didn't expect a stop at Porky's Pig Palace either.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

And an Ipod for thee, My Sweet

MBH has Ipod envy.

The first symptom appeared a little over two years ago when he noticed all the ubiquitous white ear buds lodged in everyone's ears on the MBTA. He would poke me in the arm and say, "Look, there is another person with an Ipod". Every time Apple would announce an update or come out with a new version of the Ipod, I would get a link to their site and a message proclaiming, "We need one of these". Then I would find myself dragged to the Cambridgeside Galleria Apple store for a visit complete with drool and the bright eyes of an excited 5 year old on Christmas morning. I half expected when Apple debuted the Ipod Mini that I would come home from work one day and MBH would say, "Come here and see what I got today". But, surprisingly he never did. Instead he made do with a RIO MP3 player and, while he seemed content, I could still see him look longingly at all those white ear buds as they jogged by us on the streets of Boston.

The full-blown case of Ipod envy set in when I purchased a 20 gig Ipod as a gift to myself when I landed my new job. I offered to let him use it when I didn't need it but frankly, our tastes in music are quite different and while I guess we could have set up different playlists, it just never seemed to be a good cure for his ill.

And then the Ipod Nano made its appearance. I remember exactly when the disease became terminal; about 5 minutes after Steve Jobs pulled that shiny black little box of joy from his front jeans pocket. A single link in an email appeared in my inbox. The link was to a glossy flash movie of the Ipod Nano. MBH now absolutely positively had to have one and he wasn't going to wait until Christmas. So, today after a few weeks of holding him off because I wanted to surprise him with one, I finally caved in and ordered it. With engraving of course.

We possess some strange twisted karma and if something can go wrong it will go wrong. If you have to fight through red tape, we will have to fight through triple the amount. If an order for something can get messed up, it will. MBH is the only person on this planet that Burger King will not make it his way. So, I don't know why ordering this little token should be any different and the fact that I only had about 20 minutes of free time this morning in which to place this order probably doomed it from the start.

I logged onto the Apple Store and began to place my order. Everything went smoothly. There was the Ipod Nano. MBH only needs 2Gig for his music and there it was in black, selected and ready for me to add a personal message for engraving. And this is where the trouble began.

I wanted MBH's IPod Nano to be personalized with: "To MBH, From WW and Lil' Bastard". A simple request really. You see, "Lil' Bastard" is MBH's nickname for our cat. LB for short. I typed in the first line: "To MBH, From WW" and WOW! It appeared on the picture of the back of the Ipod Nano for me to see and approve. So far so good. Then I typed in "and Lil' Bastard" and looked at how the two lines appeared. Perfect. Exactly like I wanted them to, centered and balanced. I felt the excitement building. I could see the look of glee on MBH's face when he opened the box and nestled in its protective wrap would be a small emblem of my love and the cat's affection. I hit submit. And there they were. Three red words that spelled trouble. "Inappropriate Message Text". WHAT? Oh no!! There went my perfectly selected and phrased inscription.

Now I understand, Apple doesn't want someone sending "hate Ipods" to people but surely if they knew that "Bastard" was being used as a term of endearment they would make an exception. If you Google our cat's name, the third entry is for MBH's homepage where he affectionately refer's to LB. Surely if I pointed that out to their customer service people, I could get the word "Bastard" on the back. I picked up the phone and called Apple Support.

After sitting on hold for 20 minutes (boy, Ipods are popular), I finally got to speak to a live person. Only the person on the other end wasn't very helpful. In fact, the person just kept repeating from the script on their screen over and over. "The word bastard is not allowed. Company policy" I said, "Google our cat. You will see. I'm not trying to be malicious". Nope. Sorry. Can't do it. "Please. You don't understand. It is a gift of love and affection". Sorry. After 20 minutes of pleading and begging (and talking to a supervisor). I had to settle with substituting the cat's name for Lil' Bastard.

I guess it isn't how it is said; it is just the sentiment after all. Engraved on the back of a shiny new black Ipod Nano...

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Stumbling around in the Dark

I sometimes think I was born a couple centuries too late. For example, recently while watching a re-run of the PBS series "Frontier House" I thought to myself, "I could have done that". One of my favorite vacations is to go canoeing in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota where you can easily be 3 days from another person and whatever you need you have to carry with you. No electricity, no cellphone, no gas motored vehicles allowed. Just you and the quiet of the wilderness. I don't mind being without the modern conveniences of the 21st Century BUT, when I am in civilization I'm just like every one of us. I like my microwave, my wifi internet connection and I like being able to plug an appliance in and get 110V/60HZ AC power.

This morning, at 5:30am, just as MBH and I were stirring to begin our Saturday morning routine of showering, feeding LB (our cat), and deciding what book to take to Dammits, we were greeted with the sudden loss of our power. The only sound to be heard in the house was the quiet beeping of MBH's back-up power for his computers. I looked over in the pitch blackness of our bedroom at MBH and uttered "Perfect, you know this means I'm not going to be able to blow dry my hair". I'm sure, if I had been able to see him, he would have been rolling his eyes. It is amazing how many different appliances I need just to get ready to go to our coffee shop in the morning. I counted them. I need 7 appliances in the morning to get out the door: alarm clock, coffee maker, a can opener (cat food), blow dryer, curling iron or hot rollers, toaster, radio in the kitchen (to listen to NPR or BBC).

So, this morning, after discovering the flashlight we keep in the kitchen for exactly these cases needed new batteries and then spending another 10 minutes trying to find alternate flashlights and candles, I got to live my Frontier House fantasy. It took me 10 minutes to find a hand crank can opener to feed the cat. Forget putting make up on or doing anything but dragging a comb through my hair. And that morning cup of coffee that I require to make me human, not happening. Probably not a huge deal because considering the way I must look right now, human probably isn't required. OK, I'm thinking. I can live with this. Just consider it a camping trip at home. Then, it dawned on both MBH and I. We weren't going anywhere soon because the bus line we live on is an electric bus line and they probably aren't running and taking the car isn't an option because without electricity we aren't opening the garage door and the handle to the garage broke off anyways. So, I guessed we were hoofing it to Dammits where we hoped to find power for MBH's wifi and my coffee.

Much to our surprise, the MBTA apparently has alternate power because a bus did arrive not long after we reached the corner and we soon found ourselves in the part of Cambridge that had power. Not for long. We had just sat down in our normal chairs at Dammits and started to make ourselves comfortable when the power went out. It was just 3 employees, us and this poor guy who had just gotten off a plane from Paris and needed some milk stumbling around in the dark. On the good news front, I'm still living on Frontier House and no one can see me in the dark. Thank goodness they had brewed the coffee before the power went out!

So much for wanting to live in the 19th Century...

Friday, September 30, 2005

Is it 5 O'clock yet?

Bored at work and browsing other peoples blogs. For example, found this gem of a blog with a game to play for the long last hour of a Friday afternoon. Here are the rules: put your I-Pod on shuffle and list the 10 songs that come up; no cheating by putting something on the list you WISH had come up or makes you look uber-kool.

Here was my list (links to where you can listen along):

1. Trippin Billies - Dave Matthews Band
2. My Medea - Vienna Tang
3. I Will Not Forget You - Sarah Mclachlan
4. Punta Arenas - Paucar and Hansen
5. You Make Loving Fun - Fleetwood Mac
6. Word List #2 - Audio Test Tracks for Acoustical Engineers (A work track)
7. You Send Me - Rachelle Ferrell
8. Linus and Lucy - George Winston
9. Everybody Wants to Rule the World - Tears for Fears
10. Too Much Time on My Hands - Styx

Boy! That was embarrassing. That last song is what they call ironic I do believe.

Can I do best of two out of three?

Friday, September 23, 2005

I'll always have Paris

Just returned from a two-week business trip to Europe. We had a trade show in London and then a new product roll out to our distributors in Europe. Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam all in one week. OK. I have to be honest here. I really didn't need to go on any of the product roll outs but hey, I was in London and Paris is only a 35 minute flight and since my boss thought I could also use the time to visit a potential client...who am I to turn my nose up to a weekend in Paris?!

One day of work and two days of pure, unabashed gluttony. MBH thought I was joking when I told him my only plan for Paris was to see how many outdoor cafes I could visit in a 36-hour period and how many meals I could consume. It took me two weeks to plan my attack. Since I knew I only had a limited amount of time I decided to concentrate my efforts on a small area of the City of Light; the Latin Quarter and Montparnesse. By the end of Saturday I had sipped cafe au lait or wine at eight different cafes/brassieres, eaten breakfast (the' au lait and pain au chocolat) not once but twice at two little corner bakeries between the Jardin de Luxemburg and the Gastronome Livre (a bookstore of nothing but cook books), sampled the plat d' jour at a little bistro on a quite street near Norte Dame, met a friend of MBH's for a desert of crème brulee at Cafe Du Monde, and finished my whirlwind foodie tour with a glass of house red and a cafe' at the Brasserie de l’Ile St. Louis. This was the penultimate goal of my dining schedule. It was the movie Amelie and a picture by Peter Turnley taken in that little bar and which hangs over the chair I always sit in when at Dammits that started my obsession with Paris. It was only fitting that my last moments of cafe sitting in Paris should be spent there. But, by far the best meal I had while in Paris was also the most humble. The still warm baguette of bread, the hunk of semi soft cheese and the fabulous Bordeaux I picked up on my way back to my hotel to pack and leave for home the next day. I can still taste the wine...

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Let them eat lobster...

Lobster is on sale this week; $6.99/lb. The same week gas went to $3.39 a gallon in the Boston area. I was scheduled to attend a lecture on lost architecture of Newport , RI. MBH just figured it was cheaper for us to buy two 2lb bugs vs my driving 180 miles! Guess I'll have to console myself with fresh Maine lobster, New England Bread and Butter corn on the cob and few cold beers on our deck...

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Nickeled and Dimed In Northern Michigan

What follows is a guest post from Arcadia. She is one of the most amazing people I know. She is also my cousin. She is putting herself through college one or two classes at a time because she doesn't want to/can't afford to take on the amount of debt that is required these days to get the degree you have to have to keep yourself out of poverty. A decade ago she would have been defined as "middle class". Now she is just getting by...

Passion, Expression and Personal freedom...Hope

When I was a child everything felt free. I could twirl around, run, jump, ride my bike, go for a walk, and I felt like I could not be defined by everything around me. I was in balance; at one with the earth, air, wind, rain, and the completeness you feel without the need for money, only hope. I want to feel that way again to get lost in the clouds, music, poetry, an autumn day, or a cold invigorating rain storm that I would run through uninhibited by those around me. I yearn for this more than anything; bringing the tears swelling to my eyes. The fears that creep up to my chest leaving a pit in my stomach when freedom is taken away. Money takes my freedom. Shoving it, stuffing it into a box that claims I must earn a certain wage to continue my intellect or the ability to gain knowledge. Every paycheck pushed into my account towards college. Loans that I don't want to take out to continue to exist. The push and pull of taking out a loan or giving up everything you have ever worked for. The dreams I pushed aside to please those around me. My own doubt leading to my disbelief that I could actually be who I really wanted; maybe even needed to be. Money is the control factor. It is what puts us into great fear. They hold it over our heads saying can you make it? Will you win or lose? The ability to gain status through owning a home, an automobile, being married. Our whole social society is based on this. What does it mean? It's not who we are, but it is at the same time. We are programmed to consume. We all buy into it, even me. My DVD collection, my apartment, my bed, my futon, my television, these items own me. Like cable t.v., I am a slave to them. I am driven to have all the things my friends have! Then, there are the people who are giving up their lives for a chance at an education. They choose to go into the Army or other military forces. I'm not saying it's bad. It does give them a sense of purpose, but most don't have a choice. It's either boot camp or they can forget ever going to college. I choose the hard route. Paying my own way. Moving at a slower pace then the rest. I am often looked down at by others for this. Not my family or friends, but past teachers from high school. I would give almost anything to go back to a certain counselor I had; who said jokingly to me upon our meeting in my home town, " What are you on? The ten year plan?" Like it was funny and I could say right back to her, "Yeah I am. Unless you're paying for it because it is my only hope of actually becoming someone; making a difference and getting my voice heard!!!" I honestly don't know how I will ever be able to finish my degree, but I am playing it by ear. I am taking my chances now so I can help change the lives of children. I want to give them the chances I never had. I want to help them to know they can succeed, and not to allow anyone to hold them back, or to tell them what their potential is! A mind is a very powerful thing. This is why our freedom of speech is so important!!! It is hard though to believe in our world today. That words actually have meaning or an impact on those around us. I often feel I can say anything I want, but no one who matters actually listens to my words, ideas, or thoughts. Our congressmen are not listening to the younger generation about what we need. We are stuck in the old, and we need new people who are actually facing these problems. It is very difficult for people who are already in power to understand what those below them need as well as how we feel. They don't wonder. "How am I going to pay for my next electric bill, rent, car insurance, groceries, etc". It is all there for them. All my life I have worked so hard: graduated in 97, received my Associates in the Liberal Arts in 2002, and I am now working on an elementary ed degree. I am working retail and still feel like I am being pushed under. I spent my summer saving money to pay for my college tuition. I could only afford two classes. I am working on getting my books and a very expensive calculator. Everyone I meet says it is so worth it. I sit sometimes and wonder is it? Will I be able to find that teaching job? Will I still be able to get health insurance? Right now, I have nothing but my thoughts of hope. Yes, I may have a roof over my head, a wonderful man who loves me, family, friends, and lucky me, I can pay my bills; at least for the time being. But, what about my teeth? My eyes? My body? Do I eat like I should? Planned Parenthood is the only place that has helped me to get my yearly check ups, and make sure I can prevent an unwanted child. Granted, if I ever got "prego" I would definitely have it. Keep it and love it. I know though that I need to put my education first so my child doesn't struggle like I am. I even question that. I want a girl. I would name her Arcadia. That is another dream of mine. Dreams and illusions are so nice. I want to just pour out tears. They would feel so good; for all the dreams that I have not fulfilled. I always thought I was so strong. Stay strong I say. Even my last semester, when I broke down at work over math. Ugh! Man, my boss said, "You don't have to be strong. It's ok." I cried on her shoulder, so much. She is one of my best friends, and I don't think she is suppose to be since she is my boss. So much is just struggling inside of me. So much confusion and I am giving so much of myself away to all of you. I am so open. It's so scary. I want so much and I don't know how I am ever going to attain it. Every one says keep on working, but it hurts so much to see others gaining ahead of you all at once. You see political leaders making budget cuts. My heart doesn't think that they even give us a second thought. How we live, or any of it. We are just at the bottom of the pyramid struggling and fighting for a piece of the pie. All I want is a home, a family, and a job with good health insurance shouldn't ever American have that right?


Sunday, July 24, 2005

Blogging for Freedom

Yup, two posts in one week! Yippee! Actually, this is just a unabashed plug for a blogging event sponsored by an organization near and dear to my heart, The Electronic Freedom Foundation.

If you aren't familiar with the EFF, they are a non-profit group who work to protect digital and broadcast freedoms in the United States. Considering the times we live in when most people are willing to suffer the erosion of their civil rights in exchange for the illusion of safety and security, organisations like The EFF deserve our support. They have an extensive section devoted to blogs, bloggers, and our rights. They were at the forefront of fighting for bloggers to be admitted to the political conventions last year as legitimate journalists and have been provided legal support to bloggers First Amendment rights in the United States.

Right now, the EFF is promoting their Blogging for Freedom event. They are asking for us bloggers to set aside for a short time our normal prose and discussions and to instead blog about why we believe in our rights to write what we want, to openly discuss our political, religious, lifestyle points of view with out fear of retaliation, and why/when we each became aware of the need to fight for these freedoms.

I am participating in the Blogging for Freedom event by asking several friends and fellow bloggers to write "guest posts". Some of the people I have asked to be a guest poster, I do not agree with their point of view. In fact, I purposely asked two of the people who's posts I will publish to write a guest post because I vehemently disagree with their stances on certain issues. But, I so passionately believe in their right to support their respective positions, that I will practice what I preach.

Because the one thing I know to be true and would die fighting to protect is my belief that we, humans one and all, have the right to say and think whatever we believe. To read, watch, listen to whatever we desire without fear of retaliation. No matter where we live, what religion we practice or don't practice, whether we are man or woman, no matter our color or creed.

Blog-a-thon tag:

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Coming to a city near you...

It looks like Summer is really here on the East Coast. We have had our first official heatwave here in Cambridge, MA. Which, according to Channel 5's latest vapid blond weathercaster, means we have had 3+ days of 90 degree temperatures. I'm not sure where the folks who came up with that definition live, but according to my calculations and the amount of humidity we have had for the past 9 days, I'd say we have had at least three straight heatwaves. Of course, the air conditioner in the car does not work so I've been leaving our nice cool house looking all managerial and get to work looking like I have been doing double duty behind the counter at our local laundry.

Another sign that it is Summer is the influx of the stereotypical clueless American tourist in Boston. If I wasn't quite convinced that we are a nation of geographical and historically challenged people, I am now. While sitting in Dammits this morning, we were all subjected to Loud-Woman-in-Bright-Print-Jacket's early morning chat with her friend back home in Arizona. Call goes like like this (at 90dB mind you, and I am not kidding):


Now I'm not sure where this lady learned geography or history from but just where did she think Boston was? As MBH so succinctly put it, "Where did she think they threw the tea?" I wonder if she knows if she drives "up" to the Cape she will find Maine? Loud Lady's comments were almost as priceless as when my mother and I were at the U.S.S. Constitution several years ago waiting to go on board for a Turn-Around cruise where we happened to overhear another Stupid Tourist gem. This cutsie teenybopper was with her girlfriend oohing and ahhing over the guys in Navy whites who where on duty, when she turned and asked the gentleman in front of her where "Old Ironsides" was and how far she had to go to get to the Atlantic Ocean. My mom and I looked at each other, turned our backs and under our breaths muttered, "Keep walking about 10 yards honey and you'll fall into the Atlantic Ocean right in front of Old Ironsides".

Yup, they are all out on a day pass and just like the Swallows of Capistrano, it is Summer in Boston...

7/24 Update: Overheard today in Public Gardens near famous statue of George Washington, "I didn't know Paul Revere wore a uniform on his ride."

Friday, July 01, 2005

Out of the Fire?

After a two week hiatus, post old job, in which I basically vegged in front our TV watching all six seasons of Sex and the City, two complete viewings of Pride and Predjudice with lots of still/pause on the famous Colin Firth pond swimming scene (note to self: must clean DVD remote of drool), re-runs of Tyler Florence's "Food 911", with a smattering of Cary Grant movies just to keep things interesting, I have been rudely brought back into the world of the working. My second week at Company E just ended. I brought boxes to work today so I guess I'm going to stay.

I am managing a great group of people. They have been very welcoming and it has made what can be a difficult transition much easier, especially since they have been essentially managing themselves for the past six months. I did, however, inherit the proverbial mess. It seems that the last manager never did any of the required Manager Paperwork. Two of my team haven't had reviews in two years, meaning they haven't had a pay raise in two years. I even found out I have a direct report I didn't know about. It seems that a special projects administrator also reports to me. She has an office on the other side of the building and lives in what everyone calls Siberia. Not because there isn't anyone over around her office but rather the AC in her office is permanently stuck on "morgue setting". Even with last week's 90+ temps, she was bundled up like it was Feburary. I was a bit apprehensive about suggesting she give up her office and move to one of the empty rat-cubes in my area. But, since I noticed her stuff starting to migrate to the aforementioned cube this week, I guess my gentle request wasn't that much of a hardship.

To say that I'm suffering bit of corporate culture shock would be an understatement. My new company's entire phone book fits on two 8 1/2" x 11" sheets of paper in the landscape view vs a 145 page directory that was required for Company B. I can walk down the hall and right into the product development wing from the engineering wing not have to flash an ID badge. They don't even have a rent-a-cop at the front door. It is, to put it mildly, a breath of fresh air. The closest thing to a corporate structure is the same institutional grade toilet paper in the bathroom that every company uses. But, I can fix that...