Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Thing That Drives Me Crazy #732

Companies that use cute phrases instead of numbers for their phone number in marketing materials:


This strategy used to be helpful. If I forgot my favorite bakery's phone number, I could remember "EAT CAKE", convert the letters to numbers and bingo! I'm ordering my brownies.

However, recently two problems have popped up that put a big wrench in this marketing strategy:
1) multiple toll-free prefixes
2) mobile phones

Item 1) simply confuses the issue. Even if I remember "EAT CAKE", I have to remember whether the prefix is "800" or "866" or "888". Or maybe just try them all. Kinda defeats the purpose of the cute name. And starts the crazy-driving process.

Item 2) has two sub-problems:
a) Why would I need to remember a phone number? If this is indeed my favorite bakery, I'm damn-well going to have the number on speed-dial, or in my Contacts (if I have a cool PDA phone). Who actually memorizes a phone number anymore?
b) All the mobile phones I've owned do not have the corresponding letters on the phone-dialing number keys! Can you tell this is the problem I've had recently? You saw it coming, didn't you? When this happens, I am dead in the water. I cannot dial the number until I look on a land-line phone or surf the Internet for "phone keypad letters" (Thank the gods for Wikipedia, yet again!)

Give me numbers, not cute phrases!

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Goofy Vegetable Garden: An Epic Adventure

It started out as a simple plan....teach Goofy Junior how seeds grow into plants.

The mission: Grow some easy vegetables in our backyard.

The victims: Broccoli, Spinach, Bush Beans, Peppers, Carrots
(I found out later that these aren't the usual "beginner" vegetables - oops!)

NOTE: We took a tip from Jerry Baker's "Fast, Easy Vegetable Garden" and soaked our seeds overnight in a mixture of weak tea, liquid dish soap, Listerine (non-mint).

Next, we very carefully planted the seeds into small peat pots. We quickly filled the two 72-pot trays that we had purchased and had to run out and buy two more 72-pot trays.

This should have been my first clue that the project had already gotten out of control. But Goofy Junior was digging it, so we continued...

Already, the squirrels were gathering and chuckling their evil laughs, "Ha-ha! Soon the vegetables will be ours! Bah-ha-ha! I call dibs on the spinach!"

Soon the seeds in the little peat pots were sprouting. The question arose, "Where in the hell are we going to plant these things?!"

So a site was quickly identified:
(Child included for scale only. He looks like he would be helpful, but he just wanted to play with the "cute" grubs. Ew!)

NOTE: Man, sod is hard to get up when it's attached to the ground! Much Advil was required for aching back after this stage was complete.

Raised beds were requested by Mr. Goofy. This required a trip to the Big Box Hardware Store for the purchase of large quantities of wood. But wait!!!! Lowe's did not carry the suggested cedar in 2' x 16' planks. Of course not. So we had to buy fir. Fir?!?! BTW, fir must be water-proofed if used outside. Of course.

Also, because of the length we had to buy, this increased our beds from 5' x 5' to 6' x 6'. ARG! More digging. More Advil.

Then ensued much cutting and staining/waterproofing of the wood....

Are we done yet???
Whee....that smell makes me feel all goofy inside...

...meanwhile, the seeds (now plants!) were waiting patiently indoors:

"Boy, it sure looks nice outside. Why are we still stuck inside this freaking basement?"

"I don't know, but quit pushing me!"
"Step off! You pushed me first!! Have some manners!"

Then I did my best impression of Ty Pennington and constructed the boxes that would be sunk into the ground to surround the raised vegetable beds.

I love power tools!

Four cubic yards of soil/compost mix and a half-bottle of Advil later, we were ready to plant our little darlings....

But hold that spade!!!! We then had 3 days of crazy-freaky storms, with 70 mph winds. I didn't want to plant our precious veggies and have them end up down the block. So we waited....

...and waited....

Finally, we were able to plant our veggies.

What?!?!? You have to water these things!?!? Groan.

The Lemon Pie Incident

Mr. Goofy & I know another couple that is as crazy about food as we are. If we hear about a new restaurant, we grab them and go. Recently, all of us have been a little tired of eating out. I think the strain on our pocketbooks was showing. Also, with Goofy Junior, there would have to be a sitter involved and that requires planning ahead. Something we are not great at.

So...we started a dinner club of sorts. Mr. Goofy cooked first. The other couple (let's call them Mr. C & Ms.C) brought wine & dessert. It went smashingly! We all had a great time, Goofy Junior went to bed, and we continued to have a great time. There was talk of doing it again and even talk about playing bridge at some point (Mr. C knows bridge, and Mr. Goofy & I are card fanatics).

This past Saturday was Ms. C's turn to cook. She made a yummy walnut-fig-kalamata olive spread with pita for appetizer. Then a delish shrimp with creamy sauce over pasta dish for dinner. I was in charge of wine & dessert. I chose two Chardonnays (one $16 and one $6, just to be goofy - we all liked the $16 and not so much the $6).

The dessert was to be Average Jane's Lemon Chiffon Pie. I've made it before and it's super easy and super delicious. Plus, a perfect, lighter dessert would go well with the creamy shrimp.

I started making it during Spectacular Spider-Man on Saturday morning. I got to the filling part, which is eggs, various lemon parts, sugar and cornstarch. The cornstarch thickens the filling, eventually to the consistency of gravy. That's how you know you are ready to put it into the pie shell.

Well, two Spider-Men (Mans?) later, plus a Mrs. Spider's Sunnypatch something-or-other later, still no gravy! I remembered this part taking about 10 minutes the previous time. I was looking at 30 minutes already! I added some more cornstarch. No dice. I removed the filling from the heat, thinking maybe it would thicken upon cooling. No love.

I finally gave up looking for gravy after about 40 minutes and just put the filling in the shell and cooked the pie. I blame the whole thing on old cornstarch, although the true cause will remain a mystery.

Well, when it came out of the oven, it was jiggly. Very jiggly. Pamela Anderson-jiggly.

I figured it would settled once it cooled. Nope.

I put it in the fridge for an hour. Did it thicken? Nope.

So what did I do? I FROZE it.

And guess what? It was delicious! Ms. C & I had two slices each. And it made for an interesting dinner story, to boot.

Who says I can't be creative?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Multi-Level Madness

If you ever have a friend or co-worker invite you to lunch because they want to talk to you about "a new exciting project that they are working on that they want to tell you about" or "that you might be interested in", just run. Run. Fast.

Jeez. You would think I would see the signs. But no, this happened again last night.

Another MLM (multi-level marketing) pitch.

I got a free dinner, yes. But I also got an hour-and-a-half long pitch about becoming a representive for a company that would 'build my financial independence'. *

Of course it all sounds good. They learn scripts for these sorts of things.

Then I got home an did the obligatory Internet search for the company name + 'scam'. Oh, lookey there, 8 links! All from previous "representatives". And all scathing.

At least I got a free dinner.

* I won't mention the company here, because I really don't want to attract THAT sort of linky love. No thanks.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

OMG...the weirdest dream EVER.

Okay, so I had this dream last night. It was bizarre and weird to the extreme.

I was going to a new doctor for some reason. A physical, maybe? I mentioned the weird back/hip pain that I've been having for like the past four years or so.

The doctor looked at my right knee and found...screws behind my right knee. (why did I never see these before!?) He unscrewed the two screws behind my each side of right knee (and two more he found by my right ankle) and took off the outside of my right leg. There was room for storage in there. What was there? Well, electronics. Obviously, I'm bionic. LOL. But on top of the bionic stuff was....a tray of Mrs. Fields cookies. WTF?

Of course, they were stale, but the doctor ate one anyway.

Like I said, this was one weird dream.

Then, of course, he found the same screws on my left leg, and removed a similar panel from this side, revealing a similar storage area. What was there? Well, to start with, a "Who Sunk My Battleship?" game, already in progress, with all the accompanying pieces, and about a dozen small ball-peen hammers (???).

I can't remember all the stuff that was stored in my legs, but I remember thinking, "This stuff is all from the late 80's. I can't remember putting it there, but I must have. I've been walking around with all this baggage from way back THEN???!!!"

I remember thinking, "Wow! I've been walking around with all this BAGGAGE all this time. It will be so nice to get rid of all this stuff and be lighter". Significance? I dunno. Am I ditching some emotional baggage now that I've been carrying for some time? Dream interpreters, please let me know!

On a related note: I realized when I woke up from this bizarro dream that the right side of my head was facing upwards. (I was laying with my left side on the pillow) Usually, when I dream really creative/bizarre dreams, the right side of my head is upwards, like this. When I have more practical, day-to-day dreams, the left side of my head (brain?) is facing upwards.

Does anyone ever have this same thing occur? Pay attention next time you have a weird (or not weird) dream and let me know. Maybe I'm just imagining this...

p.s. I should mention that right before I went to bed, I watched "Battlestar Galactica", you know...the show where Cylons (robots) look just like humans? And also that I'm reading Stephanie Meyer's newest book "The Host", which is about alien life-forms inhabiting human bodies, while the souls within them are still present. Might explain some of the weirdness.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Goofy + 31,000 Other People...

went to visit Warren Buffet and his Merry Berkshire Hathaway Festival of Capialism. Yes, I scored the tickets on eBay and they actually let me in to the Shareholder Meeting. Me and 31,000 of my closest friends. Buffet's fan(atics) filled the Qwest Center, and then some.

Having gotten some last minute intel from GA, I showed up at 7:10am for the 8:30am meeting. Being just me, myself and I, I scored a pretty good seat about 5 rows from the floor, on the aisle. Again, on intel from GA (thanks buddy!), I had my binoculars, so I did some intensive people watching until the show started.

I had a great conversation with very smartly dressed lady who has been coming to Warren's annual party for the past FIFTEEN YEARS. Dude! We discussed how this was probably the only event in the Qwest Center where you could "save" your seat by simply draping a newspaper over the seat and leaving. People did this! They showed up, draped the newspaper, then went and got breakfast or visited the exhibition hall. Then about 8:00am, they came back...and their seats were still there!! She also mentioned that people bring their purchases from the exhibition hall back to their seats and leave those too, when they take a potty break.

This kinda restored my faith in the human race. A tiny bit.

All in all, the BRK shareholders are pretty fine peeps. Generally older than me, there were a lot of grey-haired couples, in sweater vests and trousers, looking very dapper and buying lots of peanut brittle.

WTF? Yes, peanut brittle! See's Candies is one of BRK companies. At the exhibition hall, I circled their (giant!) booth like 3 times, looking for an opening to buy some candy. But I was DENIED. 8 rows deep was the line to check out! For candy!

I kinda like these folks....

As far as racial diversity, there was some, but not really representative of the general population, IMHO. I saw many Asians, lots of Germans, some Hispanics and Indians, but I was hard pressed to find any Black folks. ??? I pondered this way too long before deciding that, well, the companies that BRK owns maybe just don't really market towards that population. I guess. Once I noticed this lack of diversity, it was hard to overlook.

As far as male/female ratio, I was pleasantly surprised. There was pretty many women there. Probably because of the aforementioned 'couple' thing.

At the exhibition hall, I got my picture taken at the GEICO booth on a way-cool motorcycle, and flirted with the Fruit of the Loom fruit guys (the purple grape guy was especially cute).

And, the highlight of my day...I saw my personal hero, Tim Ferriss, author of "The 4-Hour Workweek". He was sitting in my section! I did one of those, "is that HIM? Is it? Nah. Hmmm... Yes! It's him! Oh shit. Do I go say something? What?!?!" I was chicken and didn't approach him. Then read on his blog the next day how he was nervous about the possibility of meeting Warren Buffet and how he prepared his elevator speech, just in case.

Lesson learned. Next year I will prepare for the impossible.

Saturday night was the big Beach Party. Food, music and lots of Buffet fans, in the Nebraska Furniture Mart parking lot. As it turned out, this was the longest line of the day! These folks wanted a damn $5 taco, and were willing to wait in line for it. Quite a long line...

We passed and ended up in the hotel room with pizza and wine and "Chronicles of Narnia". All in all, and fine ending to the weekend.

So, did I learn anything that will make me piles of cash in the next year? Well, sadly no. Did I experience something that lots of people don't and that I may not again my in lifetime. Yes!

And that, my friends...is priceless.