Friday, November 30, 2012

Ethical Dilemma

I'm in the midst of an ethical dilemma. A colleague/vendor had lied to me. I am 100% certain of this -- no way it didn't happen. He then left the company without telling me and I found out a few weeks later. This is someone I had thought I had an established relationship with.

Fast forward a year or so and now, he has turned up like a bad penny. He has launched his own company and sent me this perky email about "let's get caught up." I dont want to get caught up with him. I ignored the email. To me, that's on par with answering it. There's his answer, "No, let's NOT get caught up."

Today he sent another email -- "can I call you right now and we can chat for a few minutes?" and I ignored that one too.

The thing is: I don't want drama, I don't want a discussion. I don't want a rehash. I don't want a he said/she said. I just want him to leave me alone.

So is it right/fair/ethical to just ignore this guy? Or do I owe him some kind of explanation such as "As it turns out, you told me a huge lie, then left without even telling me you were leaving." I really don't want to have this discussion.

I have to add that this is not a new theme for me. Somewhat dissimilar to this story which is 90% work relationship/10% personal relationship, I have done this twice before. Both times it was a female friend. One was a compulsive liar and would make up these dramas in her life for sympathy. I'd be left limp from her tragedies -- how can anyone have this much bad luck? I'd think. Then I met a mutual friend and we compared notes and my eyes were opened.  I just stopped responding to her -- didn't answer emails; didn't return phone calls. I know she was puzzled and confused.

Same with the second woman. With her, I just felt played -- again with the drama. She would drop these big bombs on me -- similar to the first one -- she may have a brain tumor (really), she is getting her papers in order just in case; her pap smear was iffy blah blah blah and every time I would rise to the bait like a hungry trout going after the lure and I'd get hooked. I finally figured it out -- when she didn't die -- that this was all just playing me.

Like the first one, I just stopped responding. She finally got the message, but what's funny is fast forward about eight years later, this past spring, she sent me a note -- she had been cleaning out her desk and found some letters I'd written her (nice ones) and thought I'd like to read them. I did, and then shredded them and I didn't acknowledge she had sent this to me.

The theme here is being lied to -- so do we owe people an explanation or are we free to just pull away?

Thursday, November 29, 2012


I had an enjoyable 45 minutes while my dinner baked in the oven looking at a bunch of catalogs. I do enjoy looking at them sometimes, but the opportunity is never good when I'm frantically picking up. One of the catalogs I looked carefully at tonight is that Old Vermont Country Store. I'm sure there's a word for it, but it stuns me when I see an image of a product that I had not seen or thought about in decades.

One of the products was this wind up alarm clock which the copy said was from 1947. I had that clock and wound it and set it and it woke me up for school many a morning. Later I graduated to a clock radio which was a big thing.

But the catalog had a page of old perfumes which brought back many memories. In high school, I loved the Windsong ads -- more than the smell of the perfume, but they were so romantic and dreamy. The catalog also sold Evening in Paris which I remember my mother having -- I wonder what that smells like. Also Arpege -- remember "Promise her anything, but give her Arpege"?

One perfume which I used to wear -- I'd say in the mid to late 1970s was Maja. It's a Spanish perfume, and I loved it. I had totally forgotten about it. I ripped the page out -- I think I might buy myself some for Christmas for old times sake. Wonder if I'll still like it.

I always used to wear perfume -- the last one I wore regularly was Oscar de la Renta's Oscar. I loved that smell. People would always come sniffing around me and ask, "Are you wearing perfume?" It was such a light, airy, floral scent. I loved that smell. I even kept wearing it after de la Renta said he refused to make his clothes for larger size women and was widely quoted as saying, "I make clothes for women. I don't upholster furniture."

But I kept with Oscar and they must have changed the formula.  Or else my body chemistry changed. However my sister was wearing it as well, and she had the same experience. I think we each bought one more bottle after the first bad one, thinking maybe we got an off lot or something, and then gave up.

So, anyone else remember Maja? What did you wear? Oh, another one I liked is Cristalle by Chanel.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My Whoops Afternoon

I did something really stupid today, and it's all Amy's fault. She had called me this morning just as I was putting a load of wash from the washing machine to the dryer. I answered the phone there, put it down and moved to the phone in my living room to talk to her. Then it was lunch time and then I went back to work.

I really hadn't noticed my phone didn't ring this afternoon as I was writing and got pretty engrossed in it. I had sent my client an email saying I would like to talk to him and he didn't call me which was unusual. Then I had a phone appointment with another client at 5 pm and she never called -- but I didn't really think anything of it.

Around 6:30, I sent the first client an email saying "Did you get my email that I need to talk to you? As the woman said in Fatal Attraction, I WILL NOT BE IGNORED."  I thought that was funny.

He immediately emailed me back saying he tried a few times and it kept going to voice mail.

Uh oh.

I pick up my phone and it's absolutely dead. Oh shit, and that means my 5 pm client had called me too. I quickly find the extension, hang it up, and luckily I only have two messages. One is from the client who said he'd tried, and the other was from another client -- lucky for me, I dodged the 5 pm bullet in that she hadn't called me so I could still take the high road as the aggrieved party who was ready and prepared for our phone conference. Ah, part of my reputation is preserved any way.

When I talked to my client who left the message, I told him the truth and he joked he didn't want me to kill his rabbit (like in Fatal Attraction) so he was sure to call me back. Then he said, "Well, at least you had a peaceful afternoon" which is true. It's kind of nice to not have the phone ringing while I'm trying to write.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cold Cuts

Yesterday, when I was thinking about my attitudes about money, I was thinking that my parents would both routinely talk about the Depression (the one in the 1930s) particularly when it came to food. Both my parents were raised in blue collar homes. My paternal grandfather was a small farmer in Wisconsin, and my maternal grandfather worked in the stockyards in Chicago for Swift & Company.

So when there was a big steak or something, one of them would often say, "You wouldn't have seen this during the Depression." I remember another time the comment was about a big platter of deli meats, but in my mind I called it "cold cuts."

That's when I heard in my mind that screeching record player needle across the record and I stopped.

Cold cuts?

I was thinking you don't hear that term any more. I don't use it. So today I Tweeted, "Does anyone use the term cold cuts any more or it that hopelessly outdated?'

Seconds later, I got this email response from someone at a client who follows me on Twitter:

I have not heard that term used since my grade schools days, though I do refer to it as "lunch meat". Is that bad?

We used the expression "lunch meat" as well... I think the difference is that lunch meat was packaged -- like a package of sliced bologna. "Cold cuts" were freshly cut from a deli or butcher. Do people even eat "lunch meat" any more? I used to eat this stuff called "cervelat" or "Lebanon Bologna" -- and I don't think it's sold anymore. I think the "cold cut/lunch meat" section of the grocery store is all healthy stuff like thinly sliced chicken and reduced sodium ham.  No more Lebanon Bologna and Olive Loaf!

Funny, but I just googled "cervelat" to make sure I was spelling it right, and the second mention that came up was a butcher -- Schaller & Weber -- an old German establishment that's been here forever and is two blocks away. Maybe for Christmas... a nice cervelat sandwich!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday Musings

I had a frightful realization today and that was that my attitudes about money are nearly identical to my parents. I caught myself being cheap with myself twice today. The first time was with a plastic bottle of shower gel which I used up today. I have become more strict about recycling. In days past, I would have just thrown the plastic bottle in the bathroom trash, but now I wanted to take it upstairs for the recycling bin. I took it out of the shower, put it on the sink, and a while later I realized that there was still 1/16 of an ounce of shower gel still in the bottle.

That threw me into a quandary. Not enough for a full shower -- maybe I could wash my hands with it -- and I am sorry to admit it momentarily paralyzed me. Finally I had to take the fricking bottle and put it in recycling-- yes with that UNUSED 1/16 of an ounce.

If I ran a video of my memories of my father, that video would include him turning bottles upside down -- ketchup, shampoo, whatever to get that last bit. I thought everyone did that until I found out that everyone doesn't do that.

And yet, I'll splurge. I'll buy good clothes and spend money in restaurants and loan money without giving it a second thought. But it's little unnecessary (or so I tell myself) items that cause me grief. I wanted to buy this certain Christmas candy to bring to Mary's for our gathering and couldn't find it in the catalog where I'd ordered it. I googled a description and found it. One box was $15, but there will be six of us, so I made it two boxes -- and then with tax I stared at that $30 plus and again became paralyzed.  Should I? Shouldn't I? Should I? It's annoying.

What's funny is that, after shaking myself by my own lapels, I clicked "check out" -- YES, I am about to spend $30+ on Christmas candy -- and I didn't notice that the default setting for shipping was FedEx overnight and when I clicked on "confirm purchase" -- the sum of $14.95 got added to my order. The next screen showed my receipt, and it wasn't worth trying to change.

But it reminded me that if we don't spend our money and keep it circulating, the universe finds ways to spend it for us.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Catching Up

First -- what I'm reading. I said to Mary the other night if she remembered years back (and I do mean YEARS) when we smoked. It never failed that you'd light a cigarette at a bus stop and as soon as it was lit, the bus would come. Without fail. These days, as soon as I plunk down in my big chair to read, the delivery comes, the phone rings, something happens. Without fail. So here's what I've started. It's a new novel. This one is also fairly dark, but so far I'd give it a B-

Mary is in Pennsylvania, today and tomorrow for a big family Thanksgiving and has sent along this shot of Gwenyth and Uncle Matt "after a big meal:"

As for me, my main computer is in hospice, and I really don't want to buy a new one. This is slightly embarrassing, but this is a computer that coffee got spilled on at a conference. Amy ran out to Wal-Mart and bought me an external keyboard -- and that was two years ago, and I was still using that $19.95 keyboard. You might say I've gotten my money's worth out of this computer.

 I don't know why I'm so disinterested in my computer since I depend on it solely to make money, but I wish the whole topic interested me more. If it were up to me, I'd hand over my credit card and have someone go buy one with zero input from me. I'll admit when I'm lazy, but this isn't about laziness. I was never one to cut out articles and shop and compare and I think I've done fairly well over the years buying appliances simply by closing my eyes and pointing practically at random. I still have my small computer (which I'm on now), but it's really a temporary fix.

What has worked well for me is to buy the whatever on Best Buy's website. I do some comparing online like when I bought my new digital camera and then I go to the store in person and pick it up. It makes my hair stand on end to think of having to interact with the sales help in an electronics store. I've yet to meet a knowledgeable one. I'm sure they exist, but I've never met one. But when I buy it on the web site, go and pick it up, I minimize the pain of shopping and comparing only to be told they're out of stock.

I did my share of Black Friday shopping, but (here I go again complaining) I hate when you take a store up on a deal, only to be sent a better deal the next day. For example, I bought two books as presents from the History Book Club under the offer of "buy two books and get a third for $2.99"). I bought the two books as gifts, then bought a third for myself for $2.99. The following day I got an offer of buy one book, get one free. That's definitely a better offer.

I had a number of emails from this site where I buy clothes -- and I decided to hold out this time for a better deal, and today I got one. (Yeah, don't ask me tomorrow!) It was buy one top, get one free, which I did. Then I bought a third. If you spent more than $100, you got a free gift (which turned out to be shea butter body cream) and then for $150, I got free shipping. I feel as if that were a good deal.

And finally, and this *is* lazy -- is there anything more delightful than taking a mini-snooze in the middle of the day?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Doomsday Prep

Now that I've survived Sandy, I was thinking this is a good time to think about the next event and get a bit more prepared. One thing I didn't have was a battery radio. When I was in Ohio, I got one of the Red Cross-approved/sponsored emergency radios which runs on solar, battery and hand crank. It also can charge a cellphone and is a flashlight. I haven't read the directions yet so it may do more.

For years I have been thinking about having an emergency cash supply, but I never wanted to take any sizable amount of my money out of circulation. What I decided to do is -- I normally go to the bank twice a month to make deposits and get cash to use. I was thinking that if I took $20 for my emergency cash fund each time, it would be painless and the reserve would grow quicker than I think.

There seems to be some fear in the air about some catastrophic event, and I'm not ready to stock military meals or whatever, but I do think I could make some basic plans. During Sandy, I was telling someone that I  have an outdoor space so I could always make a fire outside. This person suggested I could buy a camping stove. I don't think I'm ready for that level of preparedness, but it's something to consider.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

No Place Like Home

I made it home around 11:30 this morning. Checked the car in through the video machine. It's a fairly short walk back to my place -- two long blocks, but the one block is downhill. I was tired, my legs were stiff from driving and I had the big suitcase and a tote bag, and I was thinking it's sometimes harder to walk down hill than it is up hill. Out of nowhere comes a rescuer.

It was one of the Sengalese young men from the grocery store who delivers my groceries. He was pushing an empty shopping cart, I guess on his way back to the grocery store. Without even asking, he lifted up my giant suitcase, put it in the cart, along with my totebag and there we go. He asked me if I wanted to hold on to the cart, and I said yes, so I look like I'm pushing and he's in front pulling. By the time we got to Second Avenue and crossed to the other side of 87th Street, I know people were trying to figure out who this odd couple was... homeless? Well, she can't be his mother, maybe she adopted him; maybe they're a couple. why is the suitcase in the grocery cart? I'm sure we looked rather odd.

I wanted to tip him, and took out two five dollar bills which he refused, and I urged him to take it and he refused again and finally took it. I don't know at what point a tip offends someone who was doing a good turn. Sengalese accents sound very melodic to me, somewhat like a Jamaican accent -- and when refusing the tip, he said, "You are always a very kind lady to me." And I wanted to say Really??

I know I always say hello, sometimes I comment on the weather, tip appropriately but not lavishly, thank them, etc. Every so often I get an insight into how service people like this are NOT treated well. I remember this customer in a Korean manicure place who was calling out "Girl, girl!!" and wanted the "girl" to go and put money in her parking meter. She was horrible.

When we got to my place, he carried my suitcase up my steps and I thanked him again and shook his hand. It really was a nice gesture.

So yes, then I started laundry. My relaxing afternoon went by way too fast, but luckily I have (I don't want to tempt fate by writing this) what I hope to be not too tough a week coming up.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Almost Home

Nothing of any consequence happened to me today other than my body got moved from Ohio to Pennsylvania. Tomorrow morning I'll drive two more hours, turn in the car and I'll be home. It will nice to have a lazy afternoon at home with no particular thing to do. Ok, so maybe I'll start some laundry and go through the mail, but that's not bad.

Fran's Photo

Fran says this was "taken walking down Ellicott Street this crisp Saturday late morning."

Friday, November 16, 2012

Homeward Bound

Drove about four hours after work today and am close to the Pennsylvania border. I'm in a hotel (really a motel) where I've stayed before. It is the ultimate cheap motel, but so nice, so clean, so friendly if you don't mind beat up furniture and paper thin towels. Also, I just noticed, looking around for the time, that there is no clock radio. However it's $50 a night. I think this facility must have been built circa 1960s (early 60s). There is a refrigerator, a microwave, and a big screen tv, including HBO so I could watch Bill Maher tonight, his last show of the season.

So here's the slide show from today.

This is the lunch place -- City Barbecue -- which is a chain, but this is the only one I've seen. You order from a counter and get your choice of meat and two sides.  The interior is sort of rustic, rough wood paneling with handwritten signs.

This is my lunch. I did go for the pulled chicken and there are 5 or 6 sauces on the table and I put on a regular style bbq sauce. Then a scoop of corn pudding and mac & cheese.

These are the pickles which I really like and have to add I enjoyed making the perfect bite of let's say some mac&cheese with a pickle chip as one bite. Great combination.

This is the drink of choice in Ohio. Remember than Kentucky is right across the river. Yes, it's Mountain Dew -- or in this case Diet Mountain Dew. Really as popular as Coke.

Heading North toward home.

This is Columbus in the distance.

Columbus up close.

On the way here, I found the perfect Christmas present for Mary in a truck stop. I didn't buy it at the time as I was having that mental battle of "tacky or cool." Of course, two miles away I decided it was cool so I'll be on the hunt tomorrow. Next stop Allentown and then home Sunday by lunch.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Last Night in Ohio

One more day of work, well, until 3 pm tomorrow, and then it's heading back home. Actually this isn't my last night in Ohio as I'll sleep near the Pennsylvania border tomorrow. The highlight of Friday, other than heading home, is lunch out -- as opposed to eating in the company breakroom. We traditionally go to a place called City Barbecue where you get a sandwich of any number of meats. I usually get pulled pork, but we were chatting about it today and the chicken was strongly recommended. They have all sorts of choices of BBQ sauce to put on. Then you get two sides. I usually get corn pudding and cole slaw, but they have hush puppies, baked beans, mac & cheese and others. I also like the pickles they have.

I was listening to two separate audio books on the drive out and I'm also looking forward to starting those up again on the way home.

Nothing much else to report. Maybe tomorrow I'll post some photos of lunch.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mary's Late Fall Garden

This is Mary's burning bush in her front yard, at its most spectacular in late fall.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Made it to Ohio

I swear I have gone through every weather -- from warm, sweaty, sunny to freezing and snow flurries yesterday and today. Yesterday I didn't wear a coat, sat outside, had the a/c on in the car. When I pulled into the hotel last night, it had just started to rain and was very windy. I could hear the rain hitting the windows which made me think it was icy, and sure enough when I got to my car this morning there was icy slush on it. I drove through snow flurries for about 10 minutes, and all day it alternated between being sunny and being totally overcast. Now I wish I'd brought a warmer coat as it's going to be in the 20s tonight, but in the 40s during the day. I have a light windbreaker and then I brought this sleeveless outer jacket that zips. I don't have to be outside -- just walking from my car to the building so I'll survive.

Just three pictures today -- the  scenery is the same as yesterday. In this first one, I was getting drowsy so I pulled off and bought a lemonade at Wendy's which I have to say I would recommend -- hadn't tried it before-- and I sat in the parking lot to drink it -- and caught movement in the parked car next to me only to see this guy:

This is one of my landmarks -- about an hour away from my destination -- a farmer's field with the sign that says HELL IS REAL.

This is one of two chains where I stop to use the facilities. Typically it's a gas station with a convenience store filled with horrible junk food (and that's a lot coming from me), the kind of 64-ounce travel coffee mugs, the world's tackiest gifts (think crystal unicorns) --oh darn, I've blown the Christmas gift surprise -- in this one, they had those sleeveless flannel shirts that country men wear -- what are they about, anyway? It's flannel, but it's sleeveless. In this one, the PA system announces "Guest Number 47, your shower is now ready in shower number six" -- I always look around to see who is headed to the shower. Oh yes, lots of beef jerkey for sale too.  Really ugly "patriotic" type gifts. I think I like these places since it's the polar opposite of my own life, and it's a world I don't get to see. I don't mean that in a snobby way as I'm sure these folks could come to New York City and find a lot to make fun of.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Day One -- Now in Clarion, Pennsylvania

All my fears were for naught as I got a full tank of gas from Hertz. I had canceled my third reservation; kept the back up and then didn't cancel it. I was supposed to pick up the car at 10, and at 10:30 I got a message from the one I didn't cancel saying "we're trying to find a car for you." That's it for me with that location -- it is so mismanaged. Plus when I called on Sunday night about the amount of gas in outgoing cars, they told me that it was now 1/4, down from 1/2.

But back to Hertz -- even though it's in the next block (at the corner of 87th and Third), I had never noticed it in the six months it's been there. Now I know why -- it's a regular parking garage with no Hertz counter, but this very futuristic video/machine check in. No Hertz agent -- you talk live with a guy on the screen in real time.

Here was the goal... nothing more soothing than seeing a gas gauge on full.

This is closed on three sides and about the size of a phone booth. I'd never seen this before, but was able to work my way through it. You touch the screen to start, and pick up the phone handset, the guy comes on, you put in your credit card (similar to at a gas pump) and then he found my reservation. I had to scan my driver's license by holding it in a certain position and then hold it up to a place on the screen. It was really like talking to a live person.

I didn't know if "Agent Mike N" could actually see me photographing him -- but here he is, bad photo, I know, but you get the picture. 'Then the printed copy of your contract comes out of the machine, but this morning they were having printer errors, so it was faxed instead. So the parking lot guy got the fax, got my car, and I was on my way. 

This was a very pretty drive across the George Washington Bridge. It was a sunny, mild day -- no need for even a jacket -- and there was this giant flag hanging for Veterans Day.

The long, winding road through Pennsylvania.

Further west, it got cloudier. By the time I pulled into the hotel at 5, it was rainy and very windy.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Me and Phone Trees (again)

I get a new invoice for my mortgage once they've received payment for that month. This month, I couldn't for the life of me find my November invoice for my mortgage (I do know I paid October and the check cleared). So finally today I thought I'd just send my check along with the top of last month's invoice so they'd have all my facts and figures along with the check. In my case, you tear off the bottom third to mail with your check, keeping the top.

So I wrote out the check, found the top portion of October's invoice, wrote on it with a marker "For November 2012" and was going to put it in an envelope when it wasn't entirely clear what the mailing address is. Several addresses to choose from. I never really paid attention to where my checks went since a new invoice comes with a window envelope.

I decided to call the "automated customer service line" thinking if the answer wasn't automated I'd be able to ask my very simple question: where do I mail my check? to a human being.

What was I thinking??

I call the number, listen to the intro, listen to the laundry list, press whatever number for "residential mortgages" and am asked to put in my account number. No problem, I think, since I have the invoice in my hand. I look for the account number and realize that the paper shows x's followed only by the last four digits of the number. I don't know why they mask your account number, but they do. If I had the account number somewhere, I couldn't tell you where.

My alternate choice was to put in my social security number, followed by they pound sign (of course), and I did that. I was then instructed to "enter your personal access number."


I don't have a personal access number. I don't even know what it is. So I do nothing, try pressing O for operator, with no success, and the voice comes back on and says "If you don't know or don't have a personal access number, enter your account number."

I'm not kidding... then it repeated that I could enter my social security number instead, which I did, and it's back to asking for my personal access number. It's a chase your tail, vicious circle.

I try pressing O repeatedly and finally the voice had had enough of me, tells me she doesn't recognize what I'm entering and hangs up on me.

So I just took my best shot and addressed it to the Cleveland address. I don't think this is too difficult a problem -- or too strange a problem -- I'm sure I'm not the only one who misplaced/never got an invoice... why couldn't they include "If envelope is missing, send check to..."

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Yesterday when I was getting my mani/pedi, the radio station host changed from "80s weekend" (hey, no wonder I knew most of the songs) to this woman who has been around forever named Delilah. I swear she's been on the radio 30 years. A little of Delilah for me goes a long way. She is one of these people who speaks in low, sultry phrases punctuated by pauses. I don't know if she's local or syndicated, but she sounds something like this:

If your snuggling with your honey tonight...................... or just by yourself...............I know we're going to play some music................that you'll really's Delilah with you..............all night long.

It was getting on my nerves, and finally I said to Marianella that this woman has been around for years and she can be annoying and so she and I started doing our Delilah impressions... I'd start with....

if you're alone tonight.........

and Marianella would chime in with

don't worry I'm with you.........

We kept at it. We were so amusing each other and saying we should have our own radio show together and then I had this idea to have bilingual Delilah sisters and I'd say something in English, and Marianella would repeat it in Spanish. All this while the real Delilah was doing her thing in the background.

I know it sounds dumb, but we were laughing so hard we were crying. It even makes me laugh now.

So the point of all this is that feeling -- a physical feeling of having laughed so hard -- has stayed with me today. I believe I've read that some sort of chemical in unloosed when we laugh and I must have unloosed a lot. The times I have to be silly like this are so rare, and I wish it happened more.

My friend Lane is struggling now taking care of her ageing parents while trying to maintain a career, be a newlywed, etc. While her mother was in the hospital (and now in a rehab hospital), she said she needed to find some recipes that are easy to do for cooking for her father and her after they've spent the day at the hospital.

I told her my ultimate easy recipe which I learned when Stephanie was cutting my hair in her shop years ago. Trust me on this one... It is easy .... and delicious. So I told Lane about it and when she called me tonight, she said she tried it and everyone loved it.

Here goes:

Put two chicken breasts in a pan. Pour on a jar of salsa, any salsa,  your call. Bake for an hour or so.

The salsa mixes with the chicken juices, making this wonderful sauce that looks like something you've actually made. It really is good over rice. Throw in a handful of bagged salad and you're done.

Friday, November 9, 2012

New Worry

When  I had lunch with Barbara on Election Day, she mentioned that when she rented a car last Friday (a week ago today), she was given a car with a quarter tank of gas in it along with a wish of "good luck." I am renting a car on Monday and thought that won't be a problem on Monday.

However, yesterday NY started rationing gas and I started to worry. I called Dollar where my reservation is and they told me I'd get 1/2 tank of gas. Well, that's better than 1/4. There's a Budget right next door and I called them and they said they were doing full tanks, but when I tried to make a reservation they had no cars.

So then I made a reservation with Thrifty as a back up -- they had cars, but when I asked about the gas, they said 1/4. The only other place that had cars was Hertz, but it was $200 more for the week. Before I made a reservation, I called the location and they told me on Monday I'd either get 1/2 or a full tank so I made a reservation there. You know I am usually careful with money, but to me $200 is worth it to not have to eye my gas gauge for the width of NJ (where gas is also rationed.)

I now have three separate reservations, which is something I don't do normally. In fact, I don't like when people do that, but in this case I am. I think I'm going to go straight to Hertz, despite the extra money, but I'm not going to cancel the other two until I'm in the car.

I don't entirely trust Dollar as they are the folks who had no car for me for my Oshkosh trip and luckily I got one on the spot from Budget, but, again, it cost me more. Even without the gas situation, I feel better with a back up reservation.

I know in the scheme of things of what people are facing with the Sandy aftermath this is a problem the size of a gnat's butt. I get that, but it seems always like nothing comes easy. What struck me, though, is that this isn't a gas shortage. If it were, then how could one company give 1/4 full cars and another give full tanks?

I got a mani/pedi today and the manicurist was telling me that she missed work because of the storm and needed the money so she tried to get into Manhattan from Queens two days after the storm and knew it would be three or four hours in line for a bus so she called her uncle who said he would drive her into Manhattan.

However you needed to have three people in your car to come into the city so after her uncle picked her up, she rolled down the window at the bus line and said that they could take two people into Manhattan and two women jumped at the chance.

As it turned out, one of the women cleaned offices and desperately needed to get to work for the money to pay her bills. She told Marianella that she was about to give up and said a prayer Please God, get me into Manhattan somehow, and 10 seconds later, Marianella called out offering a ride. It gave me chills, and I said, "If she wasn't before, that woman is a believer now!"

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Expired OTC Drugs

Living alone, I like to keep stocked up on medicinals since, when feeling miserable, I have no one to run to the store to buy me some sort of over-the-counter remedy. For some reason, I started looking at my OTC drugs last night and I suppose the good news is that I'm healthy.

First, it was the sinus pills which I like having since nothing will beat a sinus headache except those -- and mine expired in 2010.

Then it was the Nyquil -- nothing like it for knocking you out when you're sick and want to sleep. That expired in September.

Then it was the Mucilex -- sort of an expectorant, which expires this month. 

Then it was the cough medicine -- again, nothing substitutes when you're hacking your lungs out at night. Also expired.

I haven't chucked all of this yet -- who knows why? Part of it is the money. The Nyquil isn't even opened.  I think my modus operandi is I need to think about it some times. I was thinking that maybe I'll replace this all, one week at a time. So what are the essentials? I have aspirin. I have a few bandaids (picked up at a trade show years ago). I finally threw away a box of sterilized cotton that I had gotten after some sort of oral surgery. My God, it is STERILE COTTON. I have to keep that. So other than sticking it in my mouth after oral surgery, what else is it used for? Had some Bactine that expired and also some burn ointment that expired. Had burned my hand cooking, bought the stuff, and that was it for the need for burn ointment.

I had this idea once that I would buy a first-aid kit and then I would have little packets of everything I needed, but it all expired. Not as good idea as I thought.

Meanwhile, on other decluttering topics, Meredith is organizing her stuff to come home from Afghanistan and is semi-struggling with the future of her "appropriate for a Moslem country" clothes. I sympathize with the struggle. What if I'm posted in another Moslem country? she wonders. But I think sanity will prevail. She wrote that she looks bad in the baggy clothes and will not wear them and they'll sit in the back of her closet for years. I wrote her back that I can identify. After all, I'm the one with two-year old sinus pills in my medicine cabinet.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


I've been confused all week as to what day it is. I have no natural sense in my head of which day it is. All week, it's felt like Friday and I disappoint myself when I realize it isn't.

I ordered dinner tonight and had no housework, no laundry, no nothing I had to do. I had left my glasses in my bedroom and so I couldn't read and so I decided to just sit. Which I did. Eventually, I put my head back and fell asleep. When the buzzer rang, and I couldn't have been asleep more than 5 minutes, at first I thought I was in bed and it was the phone, then realized it was the buzzer, but thought I was in bed, then realized it's the buzzer, get up and answer the door. All of that in one second.

It was a nasty day -- blowing, wet snow. Now there's about two inches of snow on the ground so I am equally confused as to which month it is.

Marilyn, my helper, came today and we switched out summer and winter clothes. I had nothing to throw away, having done that with the two pair of pants and the top last week, but I did have a shopping bag of thrift shop stuff. One is this top which may actually be stylish, since its relatively new, but it's part knit, part material and the material needs ironing which, of course, I never do and think somehow the wrinkles will come out by magic and when I reach for it, it's too wrinkly to wear so to the thrift shop it went. Maybe someone who likes to iron will find a great shirt.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I voted!

I was planning to go out to vote around 11 and then meet Barbara for lunch at 12:30. I was hoping that was enough time and it was. What's sort of ironic is that I vote in some sort of Mormon neighborhood house -- I don't know what you'd call it. When I got there, the place was jumping. I had brought the postcard with me that I had received in the mail to show where my polling place is which proved I am a registered voter.

Unfortunately they couldn't find my name. I said that was odd since I have voted regularly and have not moved in 20 years. So I had to fill out an affidavit and then a paper ballot. I have to say it took full concentration to fill out the affidavit. I was a bit disappointed as I don't believe absentee ballots are actually counted, unless necessary, which I don't think mine will be in a state as blue as New York. But nonetheless, I'm glad I voted.

Here are the photos:

But first, I noticed this must be the first garbage pickup since the hurricane. The curb was lined with it.

Close up on the garbage. It occurred to me that paper recycling is in clear bags and everything else for recycling is in blue bags. I don't separate it that well. I put all recycling in the clear bags.

This is my polling place -- some sort of Mormon facility.

The front door to polling. A good thing about this (for the general public) is that it is totally handicapped accessible since it's new construction -- no steps whatsoever.

If you vote for Romney, is your vote counted twice here?

I was given two pieces of paper -- the affidavit and the ballot and a pen and sat at a table and filled it out.

It was quite cool today, but sunny, and we'll have to see what happens tomorrow as a major storm is forecast, including snow.

Late fall on East 87th Street

Monday, November 5, 2012

Verizon Sucks

Ever since last Tuesday, my voice mail has been screwed up. People either can or can't leave a message for me; I have the constant interrupted dial tone; when I call the access number on my own phone, I don't get into my voice mail directly but have to punch in my phone again.

I assumed it was the storm, and didn't report it feeling that this was so minor in comparison to other problems people were having. Ov3er the weekend, I started thinking maybe this problem has nothing to do with the storm and maybe it's just plain broken.

So I go to the web site and just go on this wild goose chase of clicking things on that would turn out to be dead ends. And back I'd go clicking something else. I was essentially looking for something that said yes, we're having voice mail problems.

Somehow I landed on a page that had "contact us" and I called. Ok, fast forward through the annoyance of the phone tree and I'm trying to have a meaningful conversation with voice recognition software.  When it came my turn to state simply what my "techical issue" is, I said plainly "Problem with voicemail." That was easy... oh no, it wasn't... didn't quite recognizre "problem with voice mail" and the automated voice said, "I believe you are saying there is an issue with your voice mail... is that correct?"

For the love of god, yes.

So the automated voice told me that Verizon would attempt to fix it from there, and I should check my voice mail after 30 minutes to see if it's fixed.


She assured me that if it weren't fixed, and I had to call back, that the notes about the first call would be in my record.

Sure they will.

Of course, the problem wasn't fixed. I gave it more like 90 minutes -- even called my voice mail again just to make sure I didn't have to "clear it" or something -- well, it made sense to me at the time.

I call back. Same effing phone tree. Finally get Alphonso who KNOWS I'm calling about voice mail. He asks me to describe the issue. I do and then he  calmly says, "Well, voice mail is out in all of New York State."


Now, you would think that would be in big letters somewhere on Verizon's website. I could have gone there, read the notice and saved some time. When the automated lady heard me say voice mail, she could have told me. Alphonso wasn't even fun to argue with. I pointed these things out to him and all I got was a bland apology.

So if you call me, and if you get that generic Verizon voice mail, you can still leave a message. You just have to re-enter my phone number.

How long until it's fixed? Who knows?

By the way, one of the links I clicked was something like "Updates on Service Impacted by Hurricane Sandy" -- and it was a page of news release headline type announcements. Oh yeah, that's quite helpful. Let me review news releases going back a week to see if they mention my voice mail.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Phone Call

President Clinton called me today. I was doing some work-work and was fairly engrossed in it. The phone rang and I picked it up, said hello, and the voice on the other end said, "Hi this is Bill Clinton..." and for a split second, I sat up straighter. I tried to engage him in conversation, but he must not have heard me as he just kept talking.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

What I'm Reading

Susan Isaacs is one of the few authors where I will automatically buy her newest book. Her characters are always ballsy, somewhat cynical strong women and her books are funny too. So I am about to start her latest which is

Friday, November 2, 2012

So Wrong, but So Funny

I know this is a terible thing to do, but I have to say I love this image. I love how innocent the little kid looks

Break from the Storm

So many people are down over all the destruction from the storm so let's do something cheerful, something we haven't done in a long time:


Haven't checked my Fond du Lac restaurant for quite some time for its daily selections, but let's start with the specials of the day.

[Mary happened to call as I am doing this, and I asked her "What is salisbury steak? I know what it is, but what is it?" Yeah, that question makes sense. She said it's basically hamburger meat in gravy. So I said I thought it was shreddy tough meat that you cook to hell. She said that's SWISS steak. Oh yes, I said. Definitely a food of the 1950s. Both our mothers prepared Swiss steak.]

Here's Wikipedia on Salisbury steak. Mary wondered where the name came from, and I said I'd research it so here goes:

Salisbury steak is a dish made from a blend of minced beef and other ingredients, which is shaped to resemble a steak, and is usually served with gravy or brown sauce. Hamburger steak is a similar product, but differs in ingredients. Salisbury steak was invented by an American physician, Dr. J. H. Salisbury (1823–1905), an early proponent of a low-carbohydrate diet for weight loss; the term "Salisbury steak" has been in use in the United States since 1897. The dish is popular in the United States, where it is traditionally served with gravy and mashed potatoes or noodles.

And it looks like this:

And now for Swiss steak:

Swiss steak is a method of preparing meat, usually beef, by means of rolling or pounding, and then braising in a cooking pot of stewed tomatoes, either on a stove (cooker) or in an oven.

The name does not refer to Switzerland, but instead to the process of "swissing," which refers to fabric or other materials being pounded or run through rollers in order to soften it. Swiss steak is typically made from relatively tough cuts of meat, such as the round, which have been pounded with a tenderizing hammer, or run through a set of bladed rollers to produce so-called "cube steak". The meat is typically coated with flour and seasonings and cooked in a gravy made from tomato and sometimes onions and peppers.

All these years, I thought Swiss people invented Swiss steak.

And here's what it looks like:

Back to the entrees:

Grilled Center Cut HAM STEAK
Deep Fried CHICKEN

I'll do the Salisbury Steak since it comes with mashed potatoes.


Pick your pie:
•BANANA CREME PIE with Freshly Whipped Cream
•CHOCOLATE RITZ NUT TORTE with Freshly Whipped Cream
•MINCE PIE with Rum Sauce

I'll do a piece of cherry with vanilla ice cream and a banana creme to go. And you?