Friday, December 18, 2009

Were the cashews poisoned? Looks like we'll never know. Unless . . .

I just ate a whole bag of cashews from Starbucks. Yea for healthy lunches! Hey, at least it has nutritional value of some sort. But even aside the fact that the bag has about 500 calories, I’m thinking that I may have made a mistake. I’m afraid that it might have had some of what you might call “artificial flavoring,” a/k/a "I don't think that's supposed to be in there."

I’ve eaten far more bags of Starbucks cashews than I probably should have over the years, but I think I may have to give them up. While I was eating the cashews today, about halfway through the bag, I noticed that they tasted a little funny to me, but I thought maybe cashews just don’t go with gingerbread latte very much. Or possibly my taste buds were still a little wonky from the peppermint puff I’d had earlier in the day, the one with the red dye food coloring that makes me feel bad enough that I’ve started to believe the “red food dye will kill you” stuff in the Internet.

But now, I’m thinking it was just the cashews. I’m thinking they were a little “off.” Y’all, I really don’t feel too well.

This is not my first experience with Starbucks cashews What Gone Wrong. A few months ago, I bought some cashews from Starbucks, and they also were a little “off.” If you’re thinking that after my previous experience, maybe I should have figured out this time that something was wrong a little earlier in my dining experience, you’re wrong. First of all, I was in a hurry to eat and move on to work, so I was barely even chewing. And second, that time before , it was pretty obvious after eating just one that something was wrong.

“This tastes weird,” I thought. I tried to figure out what the problem was, exactly. “Kind of a chemical taste,” I thought. I tentatively sniffed the bag. Yep, chemical smell, too. A specific kind of chemical smell.

I took the bag to a coworker, because of course that’s what you do when you eat something that tastes bad—get someone else to try it. I usually don’t try to make people eat stuff that I really think could kill them or give them cancer or even just food poisoning, but I’d already eaten one! I needed to know that if later, I started having stomach cramps or went blind or something, that it was or was not because I’d eaten a toxic substance. So, yeah, my coworker was asked to participate in a small clinical trial of sorts.

“Do these taste funny to you?” I asked her. She hesitated, took one, put in her mouth, and made a face, nodding.
“Maybe like gasoline, maybe?” I asked.
“Yes!” she said, spitting out the cashew. Then she got mad at me. I can see that. The whole “may or may not be coated in gasoline” thing was information she should probably have had before the tasting, I just didn’t want to put the idea in her head and taint my data. Now I had confirmation that it did, in fact, taste and smell like gasoline. And then I made her feel better by suggesting that we get another coworker to try it. But then I felt bad and only made coworker #2 smell them. The consensus was—definitely gasoliney.

Of course, the whole thing was kind of worth it later. I’d left the cashews on my coworker’s desk so that she could remind me to contact Starbucks and ask for a refund (which of course I never did). A few weeks later, in her office, another coworker said something kind of snarky to her. She paused, looked him straight in the eye, and held up the bag to him. “Cashew?” she offered, straight-faced. She totally would have let him eat one, too, and my wide-eyed look of horror didn’t even make him pause, and although I thought it would be funny, I had a pang of conscience and stopped him. But her devious payback for the snark made her go up a notch in my list of cool people (and she was already pretty high up there).

So, anyway, yeah, I think I’m done with Starbucks cashews.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A hunting we will go

If you were wondering what the current state of the housing market is, I am here to tell you that even with the economy the way things have been, some sellers are still more than a little overly-optimistic about what their homes are worth.

Lately, I’ve been looking into the idea of looking into buying a house. It’s all very tentative. A longtime friend of my mom’s is a realtor, and she’d been helping me see what’s out there and talk through the process of whether this is really something I want to bother with.

On the plus side: no more landlord, a buyer’s market, and low interest rates on mortgages.

On the downside: yard work, which I don’t do; home repairs, which I don’t like messing with and don’t want to pay for; a committed relationship with a bank, which frightens me; and a commitment, at least for awhile, with one particular area of one particular city, instead of being free to move around the metroplex to whatever area is at that time most convenient for me.

But on the plus side: no more landlord. The no more landlord thing, that’s very appealing to me. I want to be able to rip up carpet or put a hole in the wall and answer to no one.

One of my coworkers just does not get this. She keeps trying to get me rent from her former landlords. Me: I want to be able to rip up carpet or paint a room without asking anyone first. Her: [clearly not listening to what I’m saying, as usual] I’m pretty sure they’d let you replace the carpet, depending on what you wanted to replace it with. Me: . . . Like I said, I don’t want to have to ask permission. Her: Oh.

And then a week later we have the same conversation.

Meanwhile, I’m trying very hard not to let my boss know that I’m looking. She’s a very helpful sort of person, and she’d be very supportive, but that would turn into her basically taking over the search. We’d probably have to go look at houses during lunch.

Anyway, weekend before last, I finally drug RR out and looked a few homes. The second house we looked at was lovely, but it already had an offer on it. The rest of the homes were, well, disappointing. Now, I remember looking at homes with my parents when we first moved to the area, and maybe it’s because they had more to spend than I do, but I don’t remember it being such a literally nauseating process.

The third house we went to had lovely hardwoods throughout, and a nice little office nook behind the family room that would be a great place to work. I loved the kitchen. But the floors in the living room slanted. A lot. Actually, it looked like maybe they had buckled, because the right side of the living room slanted to the right, and the left side of the room slanted to the left. Then they had also left one of those scented plugin-thingies in one of the outlets to pollute the air with a nauseating perfume-y smell. The floors made me feel like I was on a boat and hadn’t quite mastered my “sea legs” yet, and combined with the scent, I felt a little seasick. So, suffice to say, I couldn't leave there fast enough, which is not how you want to feel about your home. Also, it had an above-ground pool (which, sorry if you like those, is of no interest to me), as well as a hot tub, my feelings about which I’ve made pretty clear. Definitely a “no.” And most of the backyard had been inexplicably paved-over.

The third house had water damage and a second floor that did not give me or RR confidence in its structural integrity. There was another that I can’t remember what I didn’t like about it other than the carpet.

But the trip began and ended with the worst of the group, or the best, depending on whether you want to live there or just have something interesting to talk about at lunch.

The first house was just so darn cute from the outside. I'd been eyeing it on the real estate listing website for months now, more and more sure that this was going to be my new house. I'd even driven past it twice now, just to get a look at it in person, and it only made me want it more. On the inside, though, it was bewildering and confusing. Well, maybe it was the gas leak we detected that confused us, but I really think it was the house.

The entry was ok, an odd shaped room with hardwood floors, but immediately to the right was a very small room/alcove/entry area from the garage, a step down from the living room, laminated with some sad, old linoleum. It wasn’t big enough to be used as an actual, functioning living space, and it wasn’t set up right to be a mud room or anything like that, and although we discussed it for several minutes, none of us could figure out what it was for or could be used for.

Off the back of the living room was a family room that was actually quite cozy with a gorgeous fireplace. But there were cracks in the ceiling and floor that made it clear that it wasn’t standing on a good foundation. And in the room was a closet that, instead of a normal door, had what we we’ve been calling a “Scooby Doo door.” Instead of having hinges on the side, it had a hinge in the middle of the top, and it swung around on the hinge like the secret door always does in a Scooby Doo episode. You know, the one that the caretaker-disguised-as-the-monster is hiding behind, that swivels around so that the caretaker is in the room with Shaggy, and Scooby is in the secret passage. Except it wasn’t secret, and it was ugly.

The bedrooms were very interesting. The front bedroom had a closet that backed up to the hallway. The back wall of that closet had a door with a lock on it leading to the hallway. Which . . . what???? You can’t use the bedroom door to go into the hallway?

The back bedroom had a separate entry to the backyard with it’s own screen door and peephole. The back door looked like it had been attacked by a pack of angry dogs—a good quarter of it was missing pieces. Then, when we went outside to look at the backyard, we couldn’t get back in through that way because the push button on the screen door was missing. Fortunately, we were able to get out through the fence. I was not in the mood to climb anything.

All in all, after seeing it, we understood why it had been on the market for so long.

The last house was a historic two-story in a neighborhood that I’m dying to live in. It was understood before we went to look at it that it would need some work. Ultimately, we didn’t even go in. This is because when we got there, it was impossible not to notice that the entire house was leaning heavily to the right (well, technically, stage right). We looked at the house, at each other, and back at the house, and unanimously decided that we were done looking for that day.

And that was that. My first foray into looking for a home. I gotta say, if house hunting is going to be months of this, then the idea of continued renting is somehow seeming a lot easier to swallow.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

If this were only a marketable skill, I'd be rich

Just because we're twins doesn't mean that RR and are good at all the same things. When it comes to dancing, there is no comparison---RR got the full share of skill in that area. But I have my own area to shine when it comes to movement. Awkward movement, that is. I'm talking of course about being a klutz. My friends, I am good at it. RR is no slob in that area, sure, but I am a star.

Look, anybody can be clumsy. But me, I make it an art form. I'm a bumbling artiste.

Like tonight, for example. Anyone can lose her balance and stumble. But it takes true talent to lose your balance, stumble against the trash can, regain your balance by throwing your foot down perfectly onto the pedal, lifting the trash can lid to smack yourself in the sit-me-down-upon. That, my friends, is talent.

No, I mean it. The stuff I do on a daily basis looks like it was choreographed. That's good, because I think if you have to be graceless and uncoordinated, you might as well be entertaining at the same time.

Of course, my favorite clumsiness stories are from when I was in law school. I thought that I had blogged about it, but I can't find it anywhere, so here it is.

Second favorite clumsiness story (I swear I think I've blogged about this):
One day before class started, I was sitting in my chair. I had on heels, and I had them stuck between two rails of the chair underneath me. I do this all the time. I just like to sit that way.

I dropped a pen, and I leaned over to pick it up. The weight of me leaning over caused the chair to lean with me. I went to put my foot down to stop the chair's movement, only to discover that both feet were firmly hooked into the chair rails and weren't coming out, and I was going down. And sure enough, the entire chair tipped over, with me just sitting in it. Anyone can fall out of a chair. I give it a little something extra. My classmates were concerned that I might have hurt myself, but for me, it was just another day.

Absolute favorite clumsiness story:
One day I was walking to class, arms full of casebooks, backpack on my back. Heavy, heavy backpack with my heavy, heavy laptop tucked inside. I approached the door, but my arms were full, so I did what I usually did, what I had done successfully for years, first at work and then at law school: I pressed the handicap button with my foot so that the door would open by itself. And this did in fact work, as it had so reliably in the past.

But this time, I was wearing boots avec just a bit of a heel. And when I swung up my leg to push the button, I lost my balance and started to tip backward. I couldn't use my arms to regain balance because they were full. Being somewhat experienced with balance loss issues, I could have regained my balance with just my legs, resulting in a "I'm just dancing here" kind of movement, except that I had the aforementioned heavy, heavy backpack strapped on, and the extra weight just tilted me straaaaight backwards. Straight back. Down to the ground. On top of my laptop. Casebooks still firmly clutched against me. I wish, oh, how I wish I had it on film. I mean, straight backward. You don't see that very often outside of the movies.

And, naturally, because I have TALENT, when I had started to fall, as I tried to recover my balance, I threw my door-opening leg straight back down---hard---to the ground . . . .right into the nearly-waist-high paper recycling bin by the door. Which I took down with me, leg still inside it.

Ta-da! Bet you can't top that one.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Chicken's Finger: Wally Has The Last Laugh

Deals pointed out that I should post more. I wish I had more to talk about! Well, I wish I had more that I could talk about. Mostly, I just work, and I'm afraid to blog about that too much. Some of the people I work with do not have a sense of humor about that kind of thing. But oh, the stories I could tell.

But I can tell you about the stupid thing I did last night. See, RR and I have to give dear ol' Wally subcutaneous fluids every couple of weeks because he's in pre-renal failure. It's kind of like hooking a little I.V. up to him. So the last time we did that, I left the needle on it (with a cap on it! for safety!) so that I could remember how to hook it up properly and to make sure that we didn't actually leak more fluids out of the bag between doses. But of course, RR and I were very, very careful to make sure it was covered, and we put the whole apparatus in a bag to keep accidents from happening.

I think you see where this is going.

So, yeah, I stabbed my finger with the needle. The needle that had been injected into my cat, removed, and then left around for several weeks. It bled like . . . something that bleeds a lot. I got no sympathy from the cat.

And today, it still hurts like the dickens if I brush it up against something. And now of course, I'm paranoid that I'm going to get some kind of weird infection, or cat scratch fever by proxy, or something. I'm keeping an eye on it.

I was telling my coworker about it, and she asked the same thing I was thinking, which was, "If you're worried about it, do you call your doctor or your vet?" I still don't know. But so far, nothing's swollen or weird-colored. I'll keep you posted.

Three Things

I redid my blog design a wee bit, and somehow blogger changed my links to old, old, old links, and I'm not entirely sure how to fix it.

I currently hate blogger.

I ate way too many cashews, and now I feel ill. And fat.