Bureaucratic Nightmares

Aug 31, 2009

My birthday is coming up, and not so coincidentally, my driver's license is expiring. So, I trek across town to the DPS office, prepared to stand in a (relatively) quick line to pay twenty-four dollars for a bad photograph.

Except, when I get there, the line is out the door. And inside every available chair is filled, the line wraps around three inside walls, and it doesn't appear that anyone is working today.

Well, then. Screw it. I walk angrily back to my car, get in, drive away. With a license that expires in 3 days.

And you know what I learned?

The DMV of every state in the nation is run pretty much the exact same way. By government employees with no incentive to get you moved through the line faster. Managed by a bureaucracy who has no incentive to make the process faster, simpler, or more organized. And led by a state legislature and governor who think their $#!t don't stink.

If you think state-run agencies are a pain in the ass, just remember that the federal government is even worse!

That, my friends, is why nationalized healthcare will never work, will never live up the promises, will never make the vast majority of our population healthier, happier, or longer-lived.

Government can't seem to run even the littlest things well, and they shouldn't be trusted with something as important as healthcare. Because they suck at it!

Salsa Fresca

Aug 29, 2009

In your Cuisinart, combine:

3 cloves garlic
2 large jalapenos


Then add:

3 or 4 Roma tomatoes, cut into quarters
1/2 to 1/3 white or yellow onion
half a bunch of cilantro

Blend to consistent.

Finally, add to taste:

a squeeze of lime

Blend one last time. Serve.

You will think it's too hot. And your husband will think it's not hot enough. Or vice versa.

You Know You're in Texas When . . .

You walk outside and say, "Hey! It's not hot today."

And your husband asks, "At what point in our lives did ninety-five degrees become 'not hot?'"

Well, That Was Weird

Aug 28, 2009

So, I'm in the break room heating up some lunch, when a guy walks in. He goes straight to the sink, turns on the water, and begins to wash his face. This continues for a moment, until he begins to rinse out his mouth. In the kitchen sink. And then, he starts blowing his nose. Loudly. IN THE KITCHEN SINK!


The sink, in which was lying the self-soaping scrubber brush many of us use to wash our dishes. At least, I used to use it.

Not anymore, now that it's got boogers and cooties.

Unadulterated Joy

Never underestimate the power of an inexpensive, surprise gift to delight your beloved. Which delight spills in return back to you, for simply knowing him, surprising him, thrilling him.

It's not just the present, which was a hoped-for, long-sought-after thing of minimal cost; it was the act of giving that thing, of recognizing, acknowledging, and fulfilling the desires of another's heart, however simple that desire might seem.

The giver is blessed because the gifted is overjoyed.

It's a good recipe for lifelong happiness, actually.

Uncomfortably Numb

Aug 27, 2009

Tossed and turned till 3:30 this morning, without ever actually falling asleep. And you know the panic, the sheer terror: "If I fall asleep now, I can get five hours of sleep" . . . "If I fall asleep now, I can get four hours of sleep" . . . "I'm never going to fall asleep, and tomorrow is going to suck."

And while today does not totally suck, it hurts. Hurts to think, hurts to move. Kinda.

There is that weird sleep-deprivation buzz, where I can sorta feel every cell in my body, screaming at me, demanding a return to the comforts of my bed.

Must resist the temptation to fall asleep at my desk.

Animal Torture

Aug 26, 2009

Miss Trixie, of the loud-mouthed opinionated feline persuasion, had a vet appointment today.

She yowled LOUDLY AND POINTEDLY from the moment we got her into the pet carrier, until the moment she got out at the vet. And again, all the way home. And now, she is sulking, silently, under a bed somewhere.

We are obviously being punished for our insolence. Punished with glorious silence!

Stage Two

Well, the drought here in Central Texas has finally brought mandatory water restrictions to my neck of the woods. Which is necessary, but frustrating, especially considering that the residents immediately surrounding Lake Georgetown (our main water supply) are still under voluntary restriction.

So, everyone who relies on water from this lake is on mandatory restriction except for the folks who actually live in the city surrounding the lake.


Best Decision I Ever Made

Aug 25, 2009

Was marrying Handsome.

Today, he did the grocery shopping and saved my sanity. Or at least what is left of it.

Best husband ever!


funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures


persevere (v) - to persist in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement; continue steadfastly

strive (v) - to exert oneself vigorously; try hard; to make strenuous efforts toward any goal

exhaustion (n) - the state of being exhausted; extreme weakness or fatigue; the total consumption of something

anxiety (n) - distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune; earnest but tense desire; eagerness; a state of apprehension and psychic tension occurring in some forms of mental disorder


Aug 24, 2009

The house has a new roof. Installed with actual nails and complete with new roof vents. But, the interior now smells like fresh tar paper. Is that normal? Maybe it's just the god-forsaken heat?

The car has a new radio. Complete with an AUX input and a charging iPod adapter. We can connect an iPod and an iPhone at that same time. Which is very cool, but ridiculously geeky.

I got new running shoes, tax-free this weekend. It's amazing how good a shoe can feel when you consult professional running-shoe-salespeople. RunTex is a wonderful place. So wonderful they provide free, cold water on Austin's Town Lake Hike & Bike Trail. And they will take $10 off your purchase when you recycle your used running shoes, which they then donate to the homeless. Good people.

My fruit flavored employer announced our new operating system today, resulting in a deluge of phone calls. My brain is fried, and I'm going home now.


Cowboy Omelets

Aug 22, 2009

Best way to use leftover rib-eye ever!

Prep work:
Chop up leftover steak into 1/4 inch chunks. About 1/4 cup of steak is good for one large omelet.
Strain leftover pico de gallo. Or make a fresh batch, up to you, but you'll only need a tablespoon or two of pico for this recipe.
Whisk four eggs with 2 tablespoons heavy cream till smooth.

Melt a couple tablespoons of butter in a 12-13" skillet over medium heat. Use a non-stick skillet with a wide rounded edge, which makes it easier to fold the omelet.
Pour in the egg mixture and cook over low heat till the eggs are about half-way cooked. You should be able to slide the omelet around the pan already.
Toss the steak bits onto one half of the omelet, top with the pico de gallo, and some mexican cheese.
Fold omelet. This step takes some practice, but we've all been making folded omelets for years and we know how to do it. Easy peasy.

Cut omelet into serving size. I like to cut in half-ish. But if you've got more than two for breakfast and some bacon or sausage on hand, you could cut it smaller. Or you could make another omelet.
Place omelet on plates.
Garnish with sliced fresh tomatoes and buttered toast.


Roses Are Red, Hot Wax Is Blue

Aug 21, 2009

And Bliss Poetic Waxing Kit is the best smelling, least painful wax kit ever. Smells like tea roses, comes with a pre-wax oil that actually does keep the wax from tearing your skin off, and doesn't require wax removal strips.

Did I mention it doesn't hurt? Well, it hurts a little of course. You are ripping hair from the root, after all. BUT, it's nothing like anything else I've ever used, even better than a professional spa hair removal treatment.

Anyway, good stuff here and totally worth it.


Aug 20, 2009

So, here I am, back to the office at stupid o'clock in the morning. At least it's quiet. Quiet, blessed quiet.

I haven't mentioned this before, but we're having our house re-roofed. I think we're the last house on the block to finally get around to this (thank you giant and destructive hail storm of death), and we've learned some interesting things:

First, our original shingles were stapled on. Stapled, people. With staples. Not nails. Staples! The good news is that we're getting real roofing nails with our new shingles. Which explains all the banging, slamming, pounding, annoy-the-heck-out-of-the-crazy-woman-who-only-had-four-hours-of-sleep-the-night-before-and-really-needs-a-friggin'-nap-so-please-stop-it-with-the-hammering-already, dear-God-don't-let-them-fall-through-the-ceiling, kinda noise.

Next, these day laborers are seriously hard workers. Sun-up-to-sun-down kinda guys. Literally. They stomped and banged and hammered on our roof till damn near nine o'clock last night. It was dark out when they finally packed it in for the day.

Last but not least, it takes a rappelling system to climb our roof. I kid you not. I had wondered what "steep roof surcharge" meant on the insurance forms and roofing quotes. Turns out it means "additional fee for certified mountaineers." Special roofing sherpas who peak into upstairs windows and scare the bejesus out of unsuspecting homeowners.

Anyway, the office is quiet. *sigh*

How to Get $#!t Done

Aug 19, 2009

Show up to work at seven in the morning. The building is mostly empty, except for a few other insane compatriots. It is quiet, so blissfully quiet. The phone is not ringing; the customers had yet to realize I'm at my desk.

I got more work done before noon than I do by five o'clock any other day of the week.

I guess I could make this a habit and become seriously productive in my life. I could. If I wanted to. But do I really want to be awake at the butt-crack of dawn every day?

No I do not.

Afternoon Snack

Aug 18, 2009

I keep a ziplock baggie of mixed nuts and dried fruit in my desk drawer. I like to create my own mix, using bulk nuts and fruit from the health-nut section of my local HEB. I really like that I can create any combination I want using unsalted, raw ingredients.

This week I'm enjoying almonds, pistachios, soy nuts, and dried cranberries. A couple weeks ago it was almonds, pecans, walnuts, and dried cranberries. (I really like dried cranberries. And soy nuts are super crunchy!)

What about you? What kind of trail mix do you create? What kind of afternoon snack keeps you going, or at least keeps your blood sugar and appetite under some semblance of control, lest you dive headfirst out the plate glass window bordering your office?

Midnight Barbeque

Aug 17, 2009

Starting the grill at 8pm will get you dinner at 10pm. Optimistically. Or, perhaps a little later if there are appetizers and piddling around in the kitchen.

This happens to me quite frequently, truth be told. Especially on the weekend, when Handsome and I want to party like rock stars. (Ha!)

And Saturday evening, I had this mad desire to invite over some friends for a really late dinner. Although I'm not sure anyone we know would be crazy enough to enjoy this kind of a meal with us.

What was on the grill, you ask?

Midnight Barbeque Menu #1: Split Chickens. Zucchini, Summer Squash, and Portobello Mushrooms. Cavatappi with Romano. Sebastiani Chardonnay. For dessert, cherries and Bailey's.

Midnight Barbeque Menu #2: Baby Back Ribs & Rib-eye Steak. Potato Salad. Okra and Tomatoes. Beringer Merlot. For dessert, black plums and Madeira.

Remedial Driver's Education

Aug 15, 2009

The interstate on-ramp is also known as an acceleration lane. The primary purpose of this ramp is for you, dear driver, to accelerate to highway speeds as you merge with speeding traffic.

So, please open it up and give it a little gas. You might save a life or seven. Or at least, avoid getting rammed in the @$$ by those of us who appreciate the importance of this magical piece of roadway.

Not 21

Aug 14, 2009

Went out last night (on a school night!) to a Spinal Tap sing/quote-a-long and a couple clubs in downtown Austin. Had an absolute blast hanging out with friends, walking and talking, dancing the night away. Until about one in the morning, when we decided we had to go home, because, you know, work tomorrow and all that.

Anyway, Handsome and I grab some breakfast tacos at the Cabana and head home for a late-nite snack. So, it's eventually two-thirty, and I'm finally closing my eyes for some rest.

And now, before I ever even fell asleep, it's the morning and I'm working and drinking as much coffee as I can drink. (Coffee should come in Caf/Decaf and intravenous, just sayin'.)

And my voice is scratchy from staying out partying all night. (Ha!) And my eyes are dry. And my muscles hurt, just about everywhere. And I'm not sure I really want to admit that I'm exhausted and will probably need a nap.

But you know what? I don't regret a moment, and I'd do it all over again. Even if I'm not a kid anymore. So there.

Eight Reforms & Some Hard Truth

Aug 13, 2009

  • Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs).

  • Equalize the tax laws so that that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits.

  • Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines.

  • Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover.

  • Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

  • Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost.

  • Enact Medicare reform.

  • Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren’t covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Rather than increase government spending and control, we need to address the root causes of poor health. This begins with the realization that every American adult is responsible for his or her own health.

Unfortunately many of our health-care problems are self-inflicted: two-thirds of Americans are now overweight and one-third are obese. Most of the diseases that kill us and account for about 70% of all health-care spending—heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and obesity—are mostly preventable through proper diet, exercise, not smoking, minimal alcohol consumption and other healthy lifestyle choices.

-John Mackey, The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare

Post-Traumatic Hair Disorder

Aug 12, 2009

I have about a dozen or so eyebrow hairs that have turned completely white. I'm thinking it's the years of hot wax torture.

Preach It

Virtually all nationalized health systems, neither nourished nor updated by profit-driven private investment, eventually lead to rationing.

The U.S. is gigantic; many of our states are bigger than whole European nations. The bureaucracy required to institute and manage a nationalized health system here would be Byzantine beyond belief and would vampirically absorb whatever savings Obama thinks could be made. And the transition period would be a nightmare of red tape and mammoth screw-ups, which we can ill afford with a faltering economy.

How is it possible that Democrats, through their own clumsiness and arrogance, have sabotaged healthcare reform yet again? Blaming obstructionist Republicans is nonsensical because Democrats control all three branches of government. It isn't conservative rumors or lies that are stopping healthcare legislation; it's the justifiable alarm of an electorate that has been cut out of the loop and is watching its representatives construct a tangled labyrinth for others but not for themselves.

Both major parties have become a rats' nest of hypocrisy and incompetence. That, combined with our stratospheric, near-criminal indebtedness to China (which could destroy the dollar overnight), should raise signal flags. Are we like late Rome, infatuated with past glories, ruled by a complacent, greedy elite, and hopelessly powerless to respond to changing conditions?

What does either party stand for these days? Republican politicians, with their endless scandals, are hardly exemplars of traditional moral values. . . . And what do Democrats stand for, if they are so ready to defame concerned citizens as the "mob" -- a word betraying a Marie Antoinette delusion of superiority to ordinary mortals.

- Camille Paglia, Obama's Healthcare Horror

Four-point Language

solipsistic (n) - the view or theory that the self is all that can be known to exist

magnanimous (adj) - very generous or forgiving, especially toward a rival or someone less powerful than oneself

intermittent (adj) - occurring at irregular intervals; not continuous or steady

proselytize (v) - convert or attempt to convert (someone) from one religion, belief, or opinion to another

audacity (n) - the willingness to take bold risks; rude or disrespectful behavior; impudence

Not Worth It

Do you know what you get from a Bic Shimmer Lady Shaver?

Razor burn and cut on your knee, that's what.

Adventures in Corporate Hygiene

Aug 7, 2009

The office building in which I work has two sets of facilities, one upstairs and one downstairs. Several times a day, the housekeeping staff cleans these facilities, for which we are all immensely grateful.

BUT, they completely block access to the restrooms while cleaning up. Which means, we downstairs folks must go upstairs to take care of business, and vice versa. I don't mind climbing the stairs, and though inconvenient, it's not far out of the way. The odd part of all this is that our custodial team works in pairs: one man and one woman. And they clean the restroom of their respective gender, simultaneously.

So, a lady in the ladies' room denies access to all other ladies who need to avail themselves of the facilities. Likewise with a gentleman in the men's room. It's just bizarre.

Anyway, I told you all that to tell you this*:

The upstairs ladies' room has warmer water than the downstairs restroom. But, the automatic towel dispenser in the downstairs is more generous with the paper towels. So, it's hot water and tiny little towels or cold water and big towels. Also, the downstairs has passive-aggressive toilets.

It's always an adventure because you never know when the housekeeping staff is going to block the entrance. You're either going to end up with cold, wet hands or a cold, wet bum.

*That line right there is proof that I was born in Texas, a child of a storyteller. Because in the South, it is perfectly acceptable to tell lead-in stories, however loosely connected (or completely unrelated) it might seem to be.

Field Trips for the Internet Inclined

Aug 6, 2009

May I recommend some light reading:

The customer is not always right.

An incomplete list of stuff Christians like.

A complete collection of Calvin & Hobbes comics.

Around the World in the Key of Odd

Aug 5, 2009

didgeridoo (n) - a musical instrument of the Aboriginal peoples of Australia, consisting of a long hollow branch or stick that makes a deep drone when blown into

ukulele (n) - a small, guitarlike musical instrument associated chiefly with Hawaiian music

sitar (n) - lute of India with a small, pear-shaped body and a long, broad, fretted neck

alpenhorn (n) - a long, powerful horn of wood or bark, with a cupped mouthpiece and a curved bell at opposite ends, used by Swiss herders and mountaineers

No Rest for the Weary

Aug 4, 2009

Hello, and welcome to August. My fiscal year ends in eight weeks on September 25th. That gives me 38 business days to rake in twelve million dollars, or a little over 300 grand every day.

I think I can do it, but I could really use a nap.