Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Notes from hell which hath frozen over

Wow, ya'll. It's cold. And not just the Tahoe-I-can-tolerate-this-while-skiing kind of cold. This cold hurts your lungs when you breathe in and freezes exposed skin instantly. Add a little wind in the mix and its downright intolerable. I imagine this is what Antarctica might be like...just less exotic and with fewer penguins.

I have a new found respect for all-weather tires, snow plows, salt on the roads instead of on my popcorn, my ugly but oh-so-functional Uggs, Gore-tex, and the holy grail of cold weather climates, the heated toilet seat. My god, I'm in love. Best. Invention. EVAR!!

According to DJC's stepmom, the above pic makes the crappy weather look "pretty". But make no mistake...white Christmas or not, it's hellishly cold. I'd much prefer a white sandy beach Christmas with a Pacifico, but I guess that's out of the question. Bah.

Weather aside, there are a few OK things about Wisconsin. First and foremost, Beans and Barley. This little place doubles as a kick-ass cafe and a uber-hippie health food store. I don't know what they do to make the food taste like it does, but its amazingly good. Every time DJC and I are in Milwaukee, we have to stop. I've consumed a fair amount of chai tea in my time, but Beans and Barley's is by far the best I've had. It may seem silly to look forward to a simple thing like a chai tea, but that's only because you've never tried theirs (and this is Wisconsin, after all...there's not much to look forward to). Trust's the best. And double bonus points for the fact that the Grilled Cheese and Tomato sandwich is described as a "healthy classic" on their menu. Sweeet. Only in Wisconsin. =)

On the more ridiculous side of things, we have the Kansas City airport. Our flight out of SFO was delayed (shocking), so by the time we got into KCI for what turned out to be an extended layover, it was close to 7:30pm. DJC and I wandered around the small terminal (after exiting security) in search of food. Our choices were slim. Very slim. By the time we decided on a place and sat down, we were informed that we couldn't get anything fried because the kitchen was close to closing down for the 7:45pm. Frustrated and close to the edge of insanity, we each had one Ketel One and OJ, and set off in search of real, actual food. The next place we chose informed us that we couldn't get anything to eat because the kitchen had closed. The waitress explained that most flights leave by 8pm, so there was really no need to keep the kitchen open. Dinner that night consisted of pastries from Starbucks, which happened to be the only place opened in the whole terminal. WEAK. With the amount of delays that ALL flights are experiencing these days, one would think that it would make sense to keep the restaurants open a little longer, but noooooooooo...

Anyways, its Christmas Eve, and we're going up to the lake house tomorrow. There is no internet, but the lake is frozen solid, and there will be snow-shoeing. I will take pics and post them when we return to civilization. If you celebrate Christmas, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas. I'll be back soon. Cheers! =)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I'm leaving on a jet plane

Tomorrow, the Milwaukee travel extravaganza begins. The weather here has been less than cooperative lately, and apparently, where we're going, it's been worse. Check it out. We'll be spending the better part of our "vacation" there. Woot.

Here's to hoping that the house we'll be staying in has internet! I'm sure I'll have plenty of amusing stories, but in the event that I will be sans interwebs, I wish everyone happy holidays! I'll update as I can.

Peace and hot cocoa and fireplaces and flannel sheets and extra blankets and fuzzy scarves!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Familiar Situation

So. Thanks to the lovely state of the US economy, I no longer have a job. I was notified on Wednesday (after lunch!), effective immediately. For the second time this year, I was sent packin'. It's funny (but not in a Ha-Ha kind of way). Since I've had a lot of time to think recently, I've come up with a list of similarities and differences between last time and this one. A compare and contrast, if you will....

Just like the first time I got the shaft, Wednesday's dismissal was a total surprise. I didn't even see it coming and I was VERY upset. But, unlike last time, I didn't really do anything to warrant this one, such as blog about every aspect of my job and coworkers. In fact, I'm sure most of you have noticed that I hardly update this thing at all because I adopted a no-blog policy while at work. Truth is, my most-recent former boss couldn't really give me a concrete reason for why they had to let me go. He just kept saying, "It's what we have to do". Right before the holidays. Nice.

So, since I no longer work there, my former company makes software applications for the dialysis industry. I mainly supported the clinical application, but also did a fair amount of QA and spec writing. It was interesting work and I learned new things daily. For the most part, I liked the people and the place in general. I (foolishly) thought that anything having to do with the medical industry would be recession-proof, but clearly I was wrong. As much as I enjoyed what I did, I knew in the back of my head that this just wasn't the right job for me.

Here's the kicker: Had I not screwed up my previous job at the telecommunications company, I'd still be out on the streets, as they've recently had to cut pretty much all of their workforce as well. There were 40+ people there before the cuts. Now, there are 12. Seems I was doomed either way.

Anyways, I'm similarly upset and scared at the prospect of finding a new source of income, but the job options out there are FAR fewer than the last time around. And I can't even start looking until January as I will be spending most of the remaining December days in Wisconsin. I guess that's a good thing though, because I've heard that most companies won't be doing much hiring until after the new year anyways. So, my "vacation" just go a little longer...

Last time I was jobless was during the incredibly hot summer months. Our house is so poorly insulated that it was hotter inside than it was outside. This time around, its colder inside than out. But cold I can deal with. Blankets and sweatshirts and Uggs with fuzzy socks and hot tea combat the chill just fine for me. When it was hot, there was no easy way to cool down. Most days, DJC would come home to find me sweaty, wilted and pissed off.

Gas is a LOT cheaper now than it was during the summer months. A Safeway gas station recently came to our city and currently gas is going for $1.69 a gallon. With the Safeway club card, it's $1.66, and after spending $50 in one grocery shopping trip at Safeway, the gas price drops to $1.59. MUCH nicer than the mid $4 range that we saw over the summer. This means I'm not nearly as concerned with saving my gas for times when I might really need it. I'm not house-bound. I guess that's one of the surprise bonuses of this whole recession thingy.

Right now, I have a ton of time to exercise. My gym teaches morning classes and I've been taking full advantage. Yesterday morning, I took a BodyJam class at 10am and walked out feeling pretty darn good. Exercise is such a good de-stressor. It's nice to have a gym to go to with awesome (and adorable) instructors instead of trying to find the motivation to run on my own.

Financially, I'm feeling less terrified than last time around. I know what I need to do to ensure than I will be able to pay for the necessities and I know just how much I can be frivolous with. The amount I will be getting from Unemployment will help as well. Last night, as I laid in bed listening to the rain, I was thankful for the roof over my head that was keeping me dry and for the sweet, caring, loving man next to me who was keeping me warm. Those are the truly important things in life. Material goods can't warm my heart the way a good hug can.

So, for the next week, I'll be catching up on my daytime TV (wait, did I just see that Rachael Ray has a new dog food line now!? WTF??), exercise, and house cleaning. After the Milwukee extravaganza, I'll be hitting the pavement hard in January. Wish me luck. I have a feeling I'm gonna need it.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

As much as this hurts to admit...

...I was totally wrong about Uggs. Damn it, I know. You might want to sit down. This is an EPIC post. Srsly.

So, I've gotta go to Milwaukee for Christmas. Yeah, you read that right...Wisconsin. In December. As you may or may not know, I don't do cold. AT ALL. In years past, when I've gone to Chicago for Thanksgiving, I've always made poor footwear choices. Whether bringing boots with heels that are too high and uncomfortable to do any sort of real, actual walking, or bringing along shoes that seem warm until the freezing wind, snow and slush on Michigan Avenue turns my little piggies into popsicles, trips to the Midwest have always been a huge shoe FAIL for me. I was determined to be more comfortable, warmer and drier this year. So, I bought a pair of Uggs. Black, classic, short, kids' Uggs, size 6M.

Just an FYI: for those of us ladies with smaller feet, say under a size 8 1/2, don't spend your money on adult Uggs. A kids' size 6M is equal to an adult size 8. Same shoe, cheaper price. You're welcome... =)

Anyways, when I taught high school not too long ago, all the hoochies young ladies wore tiny Abercrombie and Fitch microminis and Uggs. All year 'round. No matter the what the weather was like, the wardrobe never changed. Skirt that left nothing to the imagination, no tights, and Uggs. It was possibly the most HORRID fashion trend I could have ever imagined (keep in mind, the Crocs-virus had not yet been unleashed onto society). I loathed Uggs. They just looked so silly. I even seem to remember giving BT a fair amount of shit when she received a pair of Uggs slippers as a gift. And she swore that they'd never be worn out of the house!!

Well kids, today is a new day. Maybe because I wore 4" heels all day, and my right Achilles tendon has been hurting lately (especially after the amount of jumping I did in tonight's Core class), but I'm wearing my new Uggs now, and I'm serious when I say that I'm never taking them off. So comfortable! SO WARM! They feel like heaven on my achy feet. Even though I swore I'd never, ever, EVAR succumb to the Uggs, I have no doubt that they'll serve me well in Milwaukee. Feel free to rip into me if you must.

Yeah, I probably could have gone with something from La Canadienne and been a little more stylish, but hey, its Milwaukee and would anyone really think more of me for wearing a stylish shoe? My guess: No. The Uggs will do just fine, thanks. =)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

*Of course* I've got something to say about Sean Avery

Hello?! This is me we're talking about here. To think that I wouldn't comment on this...silly people of the internets. =)

Ok, here's how I feel about Sean Avery and the recent incident which lead to his indefinite suspension from the NHL...

Yes, he's a serious pain in the ass. Yes, if you let him, he will get under your skin to the point where you will want to punch him in the throat so that he shuts up. Yes, that's pretty much all he's good for nowadays. BUT, I freaking love the guy. He worked at Vogue, he can reference Dries Van Noten in everyday conversation, and he's DAMN good at what he does, which of course, is make people's blood boil, while playing some pretty decent hockey at that same time. So far, we've got fashion, a little hockey, and a WHOLE lotta shit talking. Some of my favorite things in life. I can respect that.

But, does it follow that because he made a crude remark about an ex-girlfriend, he should be suspended indefinitely? In a league that is painfully slow about enforcing stronger penalties on potentially crippling, dangerous head shots, this is what warrants an indefinite suspension? Really? Even Todd Bertuzzi was allowed to return to play after literally paralyzing Steve Moore. And Dany Heatly was reinstated after killing teammate Dan Snyder in a drunk driving accident. But Sean Avery mentions something about sloppy seconds and gets slapped with an indefinite suspension (Which I have to admit, cracked me up...someone's still got a broken heart, Sean?). Again...really? Priorities out of whack much, NHL?

Listen, Avery's a punk. He talks shit. That's his schtick. And judging by everyone's reaction to this, he's pretty stinkin' good at it. I have to say, though, I don't get the suspension. Last time I checked, this is a free country, yes? And one of those freedoms still includes freedom of speech, right? Yes? Well, then, seriously, WTF? And tell me again what this has to do with hockey? Riiiiight....

Its been suggested that Avery's tragic mistake wasn't saying what he said, but the fact that he said it in front of TV cameras. That seems fair, because if it weren't for the media sensationalizing this, us common fans would never know about it. If the same comment was made on the ice, would Avery be in the same boat? My guess is no. I'm sure that WAY worse comments are tossed around every night, during every game. Is it only the fact that there was media proof that sunk Avery (well, that and his reputation for being a loud-mouth jerk)? Maybe...

Due to my interest in this whole fiasco, I've been reading a fair amount of hockey blogs today and I've got a VERY important point to make. There's been lots of talk about how mysongenistic Avery's comment was. SO offensive! So degrading towards women, bloggers say. Women in general, or one woman? Personally, sepaking as a woman, I'm not offended. Perhaps its because I've spent a large part of my professional career around foul-mouthed athletes, and as a result became desensitized to talk of Avery's kind, but I just really didn't think it was all that bad. Classless, yes. But I don't think Avery was intentionally degrading ALL women with his comment. And I'm willing to bet there's a large group of women out there that weren't offended either. So, please dear hockey bloggers of the internets, do not lump ALL women into your discussion of how we should be so outraged . That offends me more than Avery's words ever could.

I liken Sean Avery to Eminem. I don't necessarily like what the guy has to say, but you can't take away his right to say it (or enforce an excessive suspension on him for shooting his mouth off). It's just silly. Should Avery be disciplined in some other way? the team that signs his paychecks. But the NHL is setting a dangerous precedent here by essentially censoring Avery's words and by assessing an arbitrary, superfluous suspension that does not match the crime...if there even is a crime to speak about. The NHL's time could be much better spent than by focusing on this. Word.