Thursday, August 31, 2006

Flashback Fridays

In honor of the start of school year (go teachers!), my flashback on this Friday is my kindergarten class photo. I also have my first and second grade photos, which will follow in the next two weeks.

I loved Mrs Parks. She was my sister's kindergarten teacher three years earlier and won Teacher of the Year from Akron Public Schools. There is even an award in her honor, the 'Marilyn Parks Lifetime Achievement Award.'

I remember so much about this woman, even though I was 5 years old in her class. She was well known for her dedication to teaching and her endless compassion. I'll remember learning the letter people and completing schoolwork on the 'ditto' machine worksheets. I was lucky to have her in my life. She was an excellent teacher and had an amazing heart.

Sadly, she passed away in 2001. I attended her viewing. I hadn't seen her in 5 or 6 years... and it had only been 5 or 6 years because she attended my high school graduation party. How awesome is that?

So, here is my kindergarten photo. Can you spot me?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Tagged By Melon

I am typing with one hand. It takes skill. And lots and lots of time.

Thank you, Melon, for the tag...

1) You have been selected as the next super hero in your city. What power will you choose to have? - Bionic eyeballs. I'm already halfway there!
2) Lemon or Lime? - Lime (with any Mexican beer)
3) How many speeding tickets have you recieved? - Three
4) It's last call for alcohol what will you order? - Corona or Modelo (I'm predictable.)
5) Which video game character would you want to be? - The Orcs, Warcraft III
6) What event do you think has had the most effect on this country?
a) 9-11 - Check
b) Iraq War
c) 2000 election of Bush
7) What was the street name you lived on the majority of your childhood? - It's a fair split between two: Woodward Ave & Wexford Blvd
8) The name of your first pet? - Nippi (the cat)
9) Your first grade teacher's last name? - Atchison
And the final one...
10) What color are your current undergarments? - Pink with teeny weeny white polk dots

I tag:
Missy B
Marie T
Johnny Dollar
NPR Junky
Jason J. T.

Are Any Of My Readers Doctors or Nurses?

I have been exhausted all day and planned to come home and camp out on the couch. So why did I attempt to "straighten up" before I put on the pjs and hit the sofa?

I don't know.

And I burned my hand.

Yep. I wasn't thinking and grabbed my clothes iron. Oh. My. Dear. God. It hurts so bad. I burned a dime-sized area on the palm of my left hand. On the "pad," if you will, where the index finger meets the palm. I guess I am fortunate that it was my left hand because I am right-handed, but the pain is unreal. I've hand my hand under the faucet, on ice, and in ice water for 45 minutes now. I'm not exactly sure when I can/should stop that.

I went to the Safeway pharmacy about 15 minutes after I burned my hand, but they really didn't have anything for burns. The Pharmacist recommended Tylenol and Neosporin. It wasn't really the aid I was hoping for.

Are any of my readers in the medical field? How long do I keep it in water? Tylenol or Ibprophen? To wrap or not to wrap? Sweet Jesus.

Update @ 7:30 AM 8/31/06:
My hand finally stopped hurting by 10/10:30 PM. I'm not sure if it was time, the 3 ibprophens, or the 3 glasses of wine that did it. This morning the burn appears smooth and red — much like a curling iron burn. I guess now it's just a waiting game to see if a blister develops. I read it can take 24-48 hours for that.

Tuesday (BB7 and Claddaugh) Nights

First things first... I came back from Claddaugh to watch BB7 on I could KILL Erika. She replaced Janelle with Danielle. Grrrrr. Honestly, from a 'Fantasy Big Brother' point of view, that doesn't mean too much, because two of my girls are safe... but STILL. I heart Danielle big time. Erika is soooo stupid. And she's not going to win, which leaves me with Janelle as my 'go to' girl.

Claddaugh was FUN! I saw so many folks I haven't seen in months. Wes (as in Wes McDonough) FINALLY sang my song.... which is why I boycotted him a few months ago. But I forgive him because he sang it as soon as I walked in. Nicely done, man... nicely done.

Here are a few photos... I really need to go to bed.

Wes singing... I forget now what it was. Small Town Fame, maybe? Very nice tan, too.

Russ and Jess... who are proud owners of a new golf cart I hope to soon have a joy ride in!

Heather and Charissa... you ROCK, lady. Missed you.

See you all next week! :)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Words of the Day

Straight from BuzzWord:

opportunity: Something bestowed upon you by your boss that provides all of the stress of taking on additional job responsibilities with absolutely no increase in financial compensation.

relanguage: Term used by $300-an-hour consultants when $5 words, such as reword, rephrase or rewrite, would work just as well. "I think we can relanguage that to be more effective."

bulletize: To highlight supposedly key information using bullet points. "To help explain my idea, I've bulletized the main points on the next slide..." Often used by people who can't explain themselves in complete sentences.

And dammit, I've been using this one for years:
genericize: To make generic. "We need to genericize this training videotape."

I need drinks... Heather Red Bull and I are going out, dammit.

Another Pretty Flower

Last night, Antonio and I took an 80 minute walk. We went down by the Canton waterfront because I thought it would be a nice change, but he couldn't have cared less. By the end, he was just plain pooped. It really ended up being more of a dog drag than a dog walk. Maybe I should stick to upper Canton and Patterson Park.

Anyway, I saw another pretty flower. There can't be too many of these left anymore.

Once again, have a Happy Tuesday.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Netflix'd Transamerica

I just watched Transamerica, a movie that earned Felicity Huffman an Oscar nomination. It was very good, and it was very interesting. In case you don't know, it's about a transgender man who discovers that he has a son about a week before his surgery. Felicity Huffman was amazing. It was uncomfortable for me to watch, I admit that, but mostly because I cringed every time I thought Felicity's character was going to be exposed/embarrassed/etc. The sexuality bit didn't bother me as much as did feeling horrible for all of the pain and suffering. Either way, it is a great movie, albeit with a very unusual subject. I rated it four stars... and Felicity should have won an Oscar for sure.

Oh, and Dolly Parton, one of my favorite people ever, sings the song during the closing credits. Loved it. I will download it tonight.

Did anyone else see this movie?

Photo Schmoto

Here's another mystery photo for your guessing pleasure!

Note: Brian, Jill and Rob cannot participate, since you were all with me when this was taken...

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Netflix and a Big Brother 7 Update

Netflix tonight was Match Point, with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Scarlett Johansson. It was hot, thrilling and intense. I don't know what it is with me and stressful movies recently... but I hope the next few are light-hearted and happy. I recommend Match Point highly. I gave it four stars.

Big Brother 7. Janelle and George were nominated by Erika on Big Brother today. Retarded. I mean, I am thankful that she didn't nominate Danielle, but why didn't Will go up? It's crazy. With any luck, Danielle will win veto and Erika will have to nominate Will. If Janelle is taken off the block, I hope Erika is smart enough not to put up Dani. Grrrr.

Current Fantasy BB7 Stats (houseguests in red are nominated for eviction):

Charissa's Team
Janelle, Danielle, Erika (HOH)
Voted out: Kaysar, Howie

Richie's Team
Will, Mike Boogie, George
Voted out: Diane, Marcellas, James

Sunday In All Its Glory

We went to the park today so I could get some good reading done. I'm almost through with my current book. It's taking me a long time because I've only been reading it at the park... which is once a week if I'm lucky.

But while we were at the park an interesting thing happened. Antonio and I were lying down when I heard the sound of a jingling dog collar. I looked up, and a german shepard mix, maybe 40 lbs, was coming at us... with no leash. Instinctively, I pulled Antonio into me (I was lying on my side), put my hand around his muzzle to keep him from barking, growling or biting, and wrapped both arms around him to cover him as best I can.

As it turns out - the dog wasn't vicious, but just broke free of his owner who spent the next hour or so chasing him around Patterson Park. What really got me was my instincts. I once told a friend that I'd throw myself in front of a car to save my dog, and he said that I wouldn't... that my own survival instincts would kick in and that I wouldn't allow myself. Of course, I argued the point because I can't imagine my life without my pets. Anyway, today as I was trying desperately to cover Antonio, it occurred to me that I was probably going to get bitten, but it only hardened my resolve. I just figured that I could take the attack better than he could, and I was willing to face it.

Instincts are interesting, aren't they? Maybe Antonio would feel safer if he understood what happened today, but he probably already feels safe with me. I'm a good mom.

Oh, and for dinner I made yummy pasta with tons of mushrooms. Delicious.

Boordy Vineyards

Last night a group of us went to Boordy Vineyards in Baltimore County. It isn't that far away from civilization, but you have to drive 5-10 miles on windy foresty roads to get there.

Saturdays they have a band and wine tasting. So you buy a bottle, spread out a blanket, and picnic. They have dance instruction, which we didn't do, and there's catered food. The food was tasty, but next time we all agreed to bring snacks instead, because it was pretty expensive. One crabcake was $12. That's crazy.

So Teresa and I shared a bottle of their Chardonnay, which was the driest white they had, and Rob and Jill drank all reds. I bought another bottle of the Chardonnay to take home with me, too.

The event went from 5:45 through 9:45 PM, but we left at 9 PM to beat the traffic. Afterwards, we all went home — there wasn't a point in drinking any more after a number of glasses of wine.

Here are some fun photos from last night.

Jill and Rob — how cute are they?

Charissa and Teresa — sisters... not.

Rob and Jill and their classic vacation photo.

Charissa, Rob and Teresa: Three's Company!

Potato Sticks go with everything...

Charissa, Rob, Teresa and Jill

Friday, August 25, 2006

Mike or Matt?

I've seen a few Jennifer Lopez movies lately, including The Wedding Planner and Monster-In-Law, and it got me thinking about J-Lo's hot co-stars.

They're all good looking. But who's hotter here? Michael Vartan? Or Matthew McConaughey?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Quick BB7 Update

James is out. It's kind of sad, because I really like him... but again, he isn't on my fantasy BB7 team, so he's gotta go. Right after he left, the houseguests competed for HOH, and Erika won. This is good, because it ensures Erika and Danielle will stay, but Janelle is now vulnerable again. Remember... it's not that I like Janelle, but she, like Danielle and Erika, are on my BB7 fantasy team.

Here's the thing: Erika is likely to make some bad decisions this week because she hearts Mike Boogie. Mistake. But there are so few people left in the house, she's basically limited to Janelle, Will, and George for nomination. She's likely to honor her alliance with George, because she can do so without too much drama, and nominate Janelle and Will. Of course, she'll say that Will is the pawn, because Boogie isn't going to be happy about Will being on the chopping block.

All of this is okay with me... although I think there is a genius way to change the game: the girls could align. I know that it is unlikely, but can you imagine a Janelle, Erika and Danielle alliance? That would ROCK. It would be risky for Danielle and Erika because Janelle easily wins competitions, but Will and Mike Boogie would be goners. Erika's chance of winning is small because even if she makes it to the final two, almost everyone has played the game more creatively or with more risk. Because of this, she also makes a great partner. Danielle could win against Erika, but it would be risky to be in the final two with Janelle because Janelle's competition record is well-respected. The girl alliance would be completely to Janelle's advantage without question. She's not likely to win against Will or Boogie if she partners with them.

I've left poor George out of this, and I feel bad about that because I genuinely like him. He's on Richie's fantasy BB7 team... but if George can make it to the final two I will be crazy-happy for him.

Current Stats:

Charissa's Team
Janelle, Danielle, Erika
Voted out: Kaysar, Howie

Richie's Team
Will, Mike Boogie, George
Voted out: Diane, Marcellas, James

All of that said, I will now open the floor to comments.

Birthdays and Drinks

We went to Fuddruckers for Steve's birthday today. He is 31! I forgot how delicious Fuddruckers' burgers are. I had the three cheese 1/2 lb burger. It was soooo good, although I paid $8 and some change for it and a soda which is atrocious. This is a photo of Heather, Steve, Bruce and Jill (left to right).

After work I got talked into happy hour (again), so I met Todd, Donny, Scott, Z, Dave and Richie across the street. Here's Z with her bourbon (I think - I am so pathetic, I know nothing about liquor).

We also saw Jessica, Jill's sister, there. And because she loves us, she brought us a round of SoCo and lime... which I hate, by the way. Here we are cheers-ing to Jessica for her love and support.

Thursday Work Notice

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Netflix and Happy Hour (wait. reverse that.)

After work today, a few of us went across the street for happy hour. We've all had a difficult couple of weeks, so it was nice for us to get together again and chill out. I even captured this lovely photo of a crippled Rob tasting a crab pretzel. Isn't it funny? Okay, he actually ended up cutting it with a knife like a normal person, but I'm relatively bossy and he's a ham for the camera. It works.

After two drinks, I came home and watched Monster-In-Law from Netflix. First I'd like to say that Michael Vartan is adorable. Heart him. What a cutie! (sigh) The movie itself was a bit corny at times, but generally it was all right. There were a few scenes that really went too far, but overall it was what I expected. You know what? I know she's not a fabulous actress, but I don't mind Jennifer Lopez movies. They are 100% chick flicks, I agree — but I'm a chick! And for heaven's sakes, she's always opposite a hot co-star. I'm totally cool with that.

I rated Monster-In-Law 3 stars. I "Liked It."

In the News...

Bags In Trees will now have updates three times a week! Check back regularly for new photos!

Paramount chooses not to renew Tom Cruise' contract! I quote, "We don’t think that someone who effectuates creative suicide and costs the company revenue should be on the lot." Ha! Funny.

Las Vegas wedding chapels scrap the midnight shift. Wedding chapels will now be open only between the hours of 8 AM and Midnight. Luckily Britney Spears is already married — what would she do?

Virgin Mary appears to chocolate workers in California. "This has given me renewed faith," says one employee.

More to come later...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Big Brother 7 All-Stars Update

Good, good, good. Janelle is safe. I'm not a huge Janelle fan anymore (she whines too much), but for some reason Chill Town feels the need to keep both her and Danielle around... which helps my fantasy team. Now James and George (poor George) are on the chopping block, both of whom are on Richie's fantasy team, so he'll definitely have someone going home.

Current stats for our fantasy BB7 game (houseguests in red are nominated for eviction):

Charissa's Team
Janelle, Danielle, Erika
Voted out: Kaysar, Howie

Richie's Team
Will, Mike Boogie, James, George
Voted out: Diane, Marcellas

I'm gonna WIN!

On a side note, I've probably seemed relatively quiet lately, and I apologize for that. I've had a busy and exhausting few days. There is actually quite a bit on my mind, but nothing I can share quite yet. I promise I'll spill my guts soon. :)

Thanks so much for checking in on me.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Baltimore's Painted Ladies

Okay, so they're not Victorian, nor are they incredibly colorful, but every time I see this row of houses on Eastern Ave I think of San Francisco's famous Painted Ladies.

I've taken way too many photos of these rowhouses, but they're actually quite pretty, don't you think?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Big Brother 7 All-Stars Update

Wow. Howie left. Again, I have mixed feelings. Sure, he's on my fantasy team, but he wasn't helping Danielle (my fav)... so what can I say? The argument could be made that Janelle is extremely at risk (also on my fantasy team), but there's no point in voting her out now that she's alone. Interesting how that works, isn't it?

On the flip side, Mike Boogie gets HOH. Who will he nominate? Probably Janelle and Erika. That would make my team pretty thin. He might put in George, but not likely after George followed Mike's advice today about who to replace when James won veto. Of course, if Janelle is nominated and WINS veto, George is the only replacement outside of the Legion of Doom.

Goodness. Now that the alliances are playing themselves out, it's getting VERY interesting on the fantasy BB7 game. Here are the stats after today's eviction:

Charissa's Team
Janelle, Danielle, Erika
Voted out: Kaysar, Howie

Richie's Team
Will, Mike Boogie, James, George
Voted out: Diane, Marcellas

Patterson Park Lady

There's an elderly woman who is always at the park when I go with Antonio. I don't know if she's homeless or if she just has her own "spot," but she's always under the same tree with all of her stuff. She's well protected... she has two large German Shepard mix dogs. And when the police do their hourly drive by, they often honk or wave at her, probably to make sure she's okay.

She'll get up, get water, walk her dogs, etc, but I'm not sure what she's up to as she sits there. I never sit close enough to be able to see. But every time I'm on the lookout for a nice shade tree, I look for one nearby. Close enough where I can see her, but far enough away so I don't seem like a stalker. I don't know why I care, really. I guess I just wonder what her story is.

Netflix and Sundays

What heavy Sunday morning. I just watched American History X. I'd never seen it before. But I got it. I get it.

How do you write a pseudo-review on a movie that's been reviewed, analyzed, quoted and recommended? I'd be surprised if any of my readers hadn't seen it - but I am often the last one to see movies of consequence. It took me 3 years to watch Schindler's List, because when it came out I didn't feel I could handle it. When I did finally watch it I loved it... which is what happened here. American History X was moving.

I'm actually still slightly nauseous from the murder scene at the beginning of the movie. Some images tend to haunt me forever: like a few scenes from Seven, and one in particular from Saw (which eliminated any chance of me seeing Saw II, by the way). But beyond the strong images in AHX, it's a strong story. You know the whole time you are watching it that it can't end well, but I really thought it would be Derek that would go, not the little brother.

Anyway, I give it 5 stars. I know. I've put it up there next to Amadeus. But some movies receive 5 stars because they are well-crafted, insightful stories, while others succeed in entertaining me to the highest degree. There are different reasons a movie can earn 5 stars.

This movie has left a lasting impression on me.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Netflix Was A Downer

Oh. My. God. I'm depressed. I just watched Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room documentary. What a disaster. I had a job in the energy industry about 4 years ago, working for the company that was ultimately blamed for the August 2003 NYC blackouts. Enron collapsed while I was still at that company... but by the time the details of the bankruptcy emerged, I had moved on to another career. I guess I never followed the story very well after that. This film was insane.

This documentary (and the book that it is based off of) details the rise and fall of the great company. It wasn't the billions lost or millions cashed out that hit me the hardest - even though it's unreal. It was the magnitude of the scandal. There were so many players that everyone had to know what was going on. 'Everyone' from Arthur Andersen to the 7 or 8 banks that financed Enron's business. As someone in the documentary stated, "No one said no." They got away with murder.

As the final credits roll, this way creepy song plays in the background: "God's Away on Business" by Tom Waits. I'd never heard it before, but it was creepy as all get-out. That song is going to give me nightmares.

To read the lyrics, click here, but this is a sample.
I'd sell your heart to the junk-man baby for a buck, for a buck!
If you're looking for someone to pull you out of that ditch,
You're out of luck, you're out of luck

I also found the video on YouTube. It completely freaks me out. DO NOT WATCH IT if you don't want to feel paranoid afterwards. It's sooo creepy.

Damn Lifetime

I am so pathetic. I've been watching Lifetime TV movies all day, and I keep crying. Two movies were about teenage mothers... and when they decide to keep or give up their babies - I can't help but tear up.

I'm not even hormonal. Just a complete and utter sap.

My Friday Off

So yesterday I had a nice day off. As I mentioned in a previous comment, Antonio spent a few hours at Patterson Park. Going there is my new favorite pastime. I bring water, snacks, a dog toy, a book and a blanket. I lay around and read, and Antonio watches people, squirrels, and plays with his toy. It's very relaxing, and I've been spending quality time reading... so soon I can change at least one of the books off to the right (in the sidebar).

Later on, Brian and I caught dinner at Coburns and then met Rob and Jill - who are back from their cruise, praise Jesus - at Bartenders, a nice little bar near the Gin Mill on Boston Street and possibly one of my new favorite places. It was loud but not too crowded. I appreciate that in a bar. It was a really fun night, although I'm not sure the mix of wine at dinner and beer at the bar was good for my head or my stomach. I haven't felt right all morning. Stupid girl.

Here's a dorky photo of Jill... just because I find it fun to embarrass her.

And a decent one of me...

Friday, August 18, 2006

Netflix and My Day Off

I'm off work today, and I just watched This Is Spinal Tap in my pajamas. I rarely take vacation days, so I'm playing this one by ear: maybe a visit to the park? Maybe a PC game? Maybe lunch? We'll see...

This Is Spinal Tap was.... funny, I guess. There were a number of scenes that made me snicker, but I probably wouldn't bother to watch it again. It was a bit over the top. I realize it's supposed to be a parody, but it's been a long time since heavy metal was mainstream - the movie was probably funnier ten years ago.

Don't get me wrong, I own the Monster Ballads album! And I even saw Cinderella and Extreme in concert... but that was another lifetime.

Thank God rockers don't wear spandex anymore, though.

Photo Schmoto Revealed

Well, unlike many of your guesses, the tree isn't dead, burned, or diseased. But yeah, it's definitely a tree.

This tree is in Patterson Park, and it's bark is so unusual (and white) that it caught my eye. I don't think it's a birch or a eucalyptus. Does anyone out there know?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Big Brother 7 Summary and Update

Okay, NPR Junkie had some questions about BB7, so these questions are prompting me to do some explaining. I apologize in advance for this looooong blog entry.

The current version of BB7 is like Survivor in that the players are voted off regularly until a winner is named. It differs in that they decide their own fate, and can win "power" over the other players by winning a variety of games. Weekly, there is a Head of Household competition, where one player earns the sole power to nominate two players for eviction that week. There is also a Power of Veto competition, which provides the winner a chance to "veto" one of the Head of Household's nominations. Other games include food and luxury competitions - all with the goal of stirring things up in the house, but they exist for drama alone (much like Survivor's competitions where players can win a car or a bath).

The cool concept behind Big Brother is that players are completely cut off from the outside world. For as long as a player is in the house, and still in the game, they have no access to TVs, radios, phones, or visitors. Think MTV's Real World but more more drastic. On top of this, the house they are living with is covered in cameras. There aren't camera crews following the players around. Instead, there are cameras in the walls behind glass and trained on every single area in the house. There isn't one place in the house that is safe from a camera (not even the toilet - although they don't show viewers that footage).

Additionally, the beauty of the game beyond all of these elements is that it is LIVE. Big Brother is playing out as we speak in a "house" on a soundstage in California. The show airs three times a week because all of the drama is occurring in real time; there's no over-editing by producers to create an instant "made for DVD" season. Every eviction is voted on by the houseguests and done LIVE as we watch it.

At the end of the game, the three final houseguests compete in a series of competitions over several days to determine the final two. At that point, all of the houseguests return to vote for and crown the winner of Big Brother. The prize is a cool half million.

I hope that sums it up. For the full Wikipedia version, click here.

That said, George amazingly won Head of Household today after Marcellas was voted out. He is by far the most unlikely winner. The twist this week is that he immediately had to make his nominations for evictions after his win, putting him on the spot. He nominated James and Erika.

Here are the stats for the Fantasy BB7 game that Richie and I are playing:

Charissa's Team
Janelle, Danielle, Howie, Erika
Voted out: Kaysar

Richie's Team
Will, Mike Boogie, James, George - HOH
Voted out: Diane, Marcellas

Best. Website. Ever.

(Except for mine....)


Photo Schmoto

Step right up! Whaddya think?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Netflix and Alfredo

Tonight I made Fettuccine Alfredo. Both the pasta and the Alfredo packet are still left over from my quest to eat everything from my kitchen, so although I shopped last week for the first time in over a month (only $82 at Safeway!), the quest is still on. It was good; I only wish I had broccoli to add to it. I would've added chicken, but I was too lazy to bother thawing it today.

Movie Update: I just watched Proof with Gwenyth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins. Back in September 2005, I saw it on stage at a community theatre in Ohio, starring Holly Humes... a childhood friend of mine. (Incidentally, her boyfriend also proposed to her that night. They are getting married next month.)

I really liked the story of Proof then, and I really like it now. Superb acting - I've always liked both leading actors. It had some dialogue issues, which is what I call those awkward sections of dialogue where the back and forth feels more suited for stage than for film, but once those passed (mostly in the beginning) the movie progressed smoothly.

I don't think this movie received too much press when it was first released, so if you are hearing about it for the first time now, go add it to your Netflix queue.

Great story. Great actors. Great script. Four stars.

Word of the Day

Someone of consequence said this word to me today and it made me very, very happy. I will provide no context at all, but as a result of this person's use of said word, I have chosen this as my word of the day. Or maybe of the week.

no-brain·er (nō'brā'ner) n. Informal. Something so simple or easy as to require no thought.

NO-BRAINER (slang) a decision-making situation where the correct choice is so obvious that it requires no thought.

no-brainer (slang) Something that is perfectly obvious; easy to do, requiring very little effort.

6:10 PM Update: I should have a contest for whoever guesses how my word of the day was used, but I won't announce it publicly, so maybe that's a bad idea...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

No Ramen Shame

Apparently a 29 year old woman eating ramen noodles for lunch is not a shameful thing. My friend, John, sent me the following article from

A person in their 30s, with a family and a mortgage, should not have to schedule lunch for a time where nobody will notice a bag of ramen being prepared. And yet that's what I find myself doing -- dressed in a suit and tie, using the 190-degree water in our office kitchen to heat up a bowl of six-for-a-dollar soup. That's not because I'm a penny-pinching cheapo (well, not just because of that). It's all about the taste. Really. Whether it's chicken-flavored Oodles of Noodles or something higher-end (as much as 99 cents a pack!) from the Asian supermarket by the office, it's hard to go wrong with a hot lunch that comes with its own seasoning packets chock full of monosodium glutamate. Plus, does any other lunch food have that kind of versatility? Paired with a tuna sandwich, it's part of a well-balanced meal. On its own, it serves as the perfect light lunch. Plus it's easy to spice up. Add vegetables, hot sauce, beef, chicken, random leftovers … ramen noodles can be pretty much anything you want them to be. If that's wrong, I don't want to be right.
-Craig Berman

Oh yeah. And I forgot to mention that they were on sale at Safeway: 10 soups for $1.00.

(Paying off those credit cards 10 cents at a time...)

Pretty Flower

I just like this flower. When Antonio and I went walking yesterday, it was one of the few flowers I passed that was still alive because it's just been so hot.

Happy Tuesday.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Hell YA! Kitchen

Two things.

First, I am very proud of myself. Tonight I took very mediocre leftovers from Shuckers and made them better for dinner. I ordered Pasta Primavera yesterday when I was with Stephanie, but it was tasteless and boring. So today I improved it. I cooked chicken in olive oil with season salt and other mixed seasonings and then tossed that with lemon juice and Parmesan cheese. I mixed the chicken into the mediocre Pasta Primavera, and VOILA! Masterpiece.... or, at least better.

Second.... Heather WON Hell's Kitchen! YES! I am THRILLED. I am so glad. This girl has determination, confidence, talent, skill, and persistence - all qualities that I respect and value in a person. So what if she came across as harsh at times? So what if her manner was abrasive when she was in the heat of the kitchen? This girl GOT THINGS DONE. She expected A quality work from herself and her team, and she was entirely capable of producing it. I love that people like Heather are rewarded for kicking ass. It's that kind of thing that makes me want to wake up tomorrow and start another day.

Reality Bites

A quick summary of my reality TV shows... (in 60 seconds or less)

First things first: Big Brother 7. Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh! Janelle is HOH again, which is fine because she's on my fantasy team, but Danielle and Erika are severely at risk. Thank goodness that most of the houseguests seem determined to keep Danielle come hell or high water. It's difficult to have my players both as HOH as well as (soon to be) on the block.

So does anyone have any thoughts on the Coup d'Etat? It has to be huge, like... you can replace a vetoed nominee with the HOH or something. Doesn't it? Thoughts?

Here are the current stats:

Charissa's Team
Janelle, Danielle, Howie, Erika
Voted out: Kaysar

Richie's Team
Will, Mike Boogie, Marcellas, James, George
Voted out: Diane

Hell's Kitchen

As I post this, Hell's Kitchen is not over - but I've already predicted a Heather win, so I feel comfortable publishing this post before 10 PM. So this is what I'm thinking...

Can Virginia be any more of a moron? My goodness. She's a horrible communicator (I say that with experience, because I've known a few), and comes across as plain naive. She's the Janelle of Hell's Kitchen though, because she wins all of the challenges... but there's no way Heather can lose this unless this final hour is a disaster. It would be almost embarrassing for Virginia to win. Heather is 100% solid. No wavering. No questions. Black and white. She's a hard worker, and I respect her immensely for that.

C'mon Heather!

My Reality....

...still bites. Today was a typical Monday, that's for sure. By noon I was ready to head home, but I received some good news in the afternoon that got me through the rest of the day. This is my third (?) official whine about Jill and Rob being on vacation and leaving me alone. Today was only the first day of work without them, and I already have so much to say.

I will desperately try to be in bed by 11 PM tonight (so that I can be rested for work tomorrow), but not before I publish a final post, of course....

Ode to Mondays

I got this in an email from Rob. It is highly appropriate for a Monday (especially because Rob and Jill ditched me this week).

Ummm.... where is this prescribed, please?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Arizona on my Mind

My girlfriend Stephanie is visiting from Arizona for exactly 15 hours. Actually, she's been in DC for two days, but came up to B-more today to spend the afternoon with me. She flies back out early tomorrow AM.

Today was so much fun! Steph and I headed to Fells Point, because it's seriously one of the most attractive and appealing neighborhoods in the city. I forgot about the flea market, so we had fun shopping the stores as well as the vendors. There was a set of 1940s drinking glasses I came really close to buying, but they were $5 apiece... and I couldn't justify spending $30 on glasses that I don't really need. Damn shame.

We ate at Shuckers (used to be Timothys) and sat and talked. We toured the Fells Point pier and walked along the waterfront. It was great to spend good girl time together. We don't get enough of that.

Here's a seven month pregnant Stephanie.

Stephanie and Charissa at the pier at Fells Point.

Netflix'ing Shopgirl

I read Shopgirl about a year ago and really loved it. It was sweet, sad, heartbreaking and loving. It was odd. At the time it was definitely what I needed. Those emotions usually don't fit together - they often can be felt at the same time but are disconnected. But yet, here in the story of Shopgirl, they all coexist. It works.

NPR Junkie saw this movie a few weeks back and loved it too. It's extremely hard to watch at times, maybe because we are all vulnerable like Mirabelle, more so than we'd ever admit... even to ourselves. It reminds me why heartbreak is so essential, because it teaches you what you want, or what you need to be happy in life. Heartbreak is rarely avoidable. Without warning it's in your face, and your only choice is to allow the pain to consume you or to survive. Most of us choose survival, and if we let ourselves, we are better, happier and wiser for it.

Five stars.

Pet Peeve #2

Today marks the second part of my Pet Peeve series. The first being here.

I'd probably describe myself as a planner. I like to plan things. For instance, today my friend Stephanie will be visiting Baltimore, so yesterday I planned to clean. Today I planned to sleep in, and tonight I plan on taping Big Brother 7 so that I don't miss it when I take her out to dinner. I plan.

Now this isn't to say I can't be spontaneous. Happy hours usually aren't planned, but after a horrible day at work I am easily convinced. I'm actually up for just about anything, unless I've already planned something. Planning allows me to get things done when I say I'll get them done. I don't believe in missing deadlines, breaking promises or neglecting my commitments. Period.

So anyway... back to my pet peeve. I simply don't understand when people invite me to do things as they are doing them. How hard is it to give someone an hour's notice? Thirty minutes? Fifteen?

Last night, a friend who shall remain nameless (sorry, man... but I had to get this off of my chest) texted me at 10:30 PM that he was out in Fells. At 11:00 he texted me again that a group was meeting in Canton and that I should join them. He continued to taunt me with who was going to be there. What? I'm sorry, but if I haven't gone out already, by 10 PM I am in pajama bottoms and my hair is in a ponytail. Once the hair goes into a ponytail, all bets are off.

How is it that these people feel the most appropriate time to call is after they have already had the opportunity to plan? Apparently they had enough time to make the decision to go out, get cleaned up and drive to wherever... and the rest of us are supposed to drop everything at a moment's notice?

Okay, I realize it sounds like I am angry, because I just reread what I wrote. I'm not angry - just irritated. This friend is not the first person to do this to me, just the first in awhile, and it irks me. I know that I am a bit of a perfectionist, and I can be anal retentive at times - they're some of my most charming qualities (haha)... but when people ask me last minute, it makes me feel like an afterthought. I'm just not keen on that.

It seems polite to me to invite someone in advance. Is it difficult to make a quick call? For me, planning provides simple expectations - when things will be completed or when some thing/project/person/idea will receive my 100% attention. If you didn't consider inviting me three hours before, why invite me at all? I'm not asking for anything unreasonable, am I?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Saturday in the Park with Antonio

Antonio and I spent about two hours in Patterson Park today. We parked on the north side of the park and walked in toward the duck pond. After walking awhile, I found a large tree with a lot of shade, and we spread out on a blanket.

I'm still reading The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, so I relaxed completely and enjoyed my book. Antonio, on the other hand, spent most of his time people/dog/stroller/bike/car watching... I think we'll try to do this on a more regular basis (maybe once a week?).

Netflix'ing Brokeback Mountain

I just watched Brokeback Mountain, although I really should have been cleaning since Stephanie is coming over tomorrow.

About six months or so ago, Angela emailed us college girls saying that she saw Brokeback Mountain and didn't like it. She said it was slow... and that she fell asleep. When I mentioned last night that I had Brokeback Mountain at home, Tiffany said she loved it.

So I just watched it, and minus the "I'm A Cowboy" posturing that happened throughout the movie, and the slow start... I really liked it too. I imagine that a few scenes would make most men squirmy, but I wasn't very bothered. There's a whole lot worse out there than this movie.

Just like Tiffany said, it's a love story. I admit that it was unusual to watch a love story with two men, but it was still a love story. All of the challenges and obstacles (okay, plus a few more) that come with loving someone still applied in this movie. It was heart-wrenching, and it was sad.

Four out of five stars.

Antonio are going to go read at Patterson Park.

Friday Night Out

It was so nice sleeping in today. I woke up at 7:40 AM, sure... but I forced my body back to sleep and woke up again at 10:45. I really needed that.

Last night was such a great night; I had a lot of fun. First Brian and I met for an early dinner at B, which is a cute and quaint restaurant in Bolton Hill. We sat outside - which might have been one of the first times I have done that all summer because it has been so hot. It's really been awhile since I've been on that side of town. I forgot how gorgeous Bolton Hill is with it's beautiful rowhouses and tree-lined streets.

We had a good time chatting, and we even saw a bag in a tree on his street! I'm sure it will be properly showcased on Bags In Trees in the future.

Brian couldn't stay out, so I met up with friends in Federal Hill. We started and ended at Ropewalk, to my complete and utter relief. I just wasn't in the mood for bar hopping at all. We scored an awesome table as soon as we arrived, and I wasn't about to give that up for standing-room-only at another bar.

This night out was a bit of a send off for Jill, since she and Rob are taking a cruise vacation next week. (Don't worry, I'll whine about it frequently over the next seven days.) I also saw Tiffany, a girlfriend I hadn't seen in a long time. It was so much fun hanging out with everyone... thanks, all, for making Friday so great for me.

Jill and Dave

Charissa and Jill

Charissa and Tiffany - oh, Tiffany... I have missed you so!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Flashback Fridays

With Brian moving to Bolton Hill, I've been thinking about my first little apartment in Bawlmer; it was over in Mt. Vernon. It was in a renovated rowhouse (actually two rowhouses) and one of about ten units, all one bedroom or studio apartments. I was the first to live in the renovated building, so it was generally pretty quite.

Once I accepted the job with my current employer, the drive down 83 and across Fells Point and Canton grew irritating, so after a short 5 months (it was a month-to-month lease), I found another place in Upper Fells Point that was far more convenient for my drive.

In total, I have lived in 4 different places in Bawlmer in 3 and a half years. Crazy.

Here are some photos from that first apartment. I loved this apartment.

This is a view of the front of the building. My mom is sitting on the front stoop and I'm walking over on the left.

This is from the living room looking into the bedroom.

Charissa and Antonio in the kitchen, which was just an extension of the living room.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

BB7 Update

This will be quick - I need to get a reasonable amount of sleep tonight. I can't believe that I'm actually lying in bed before 11 PM. That's a significant accomplishment for me.

Anyway, BB7. Kaysar was voted out. Grrrr. I really liked Kaysar, but at the end of the day he didn't step up and campaign for votes. Like I said yesterday, I have mixed emotions... because even though James is staying (and not on my fantasy team), he'll help Danielle stick around.

The Head of Household competition (sorry, Brian - the Household Head competition?) moved Erika into power, which is still good for me because she isn't likely to nominate Danielle. She may nominate Janelle again, and possibly Mike Boogie if she knows what's good for her. A player like Erika has few real friends in the house, and she needs to break apart the powerful alliances when she has the opportunity. I'm guessing Janelle/Howie, Janelle/Mike Boogie, Janelle/George, or George/Marcellas (if she's dumb). I guess we'll see on Sunday!

Here are the current stats:

Charissa's Team
Janelle, Danielle, Howie, Erika
Voted out: Kaysar

Richie's Team
Will, Mike Boogie, Marcellas, James, George
Voted out: Diane

Fabulous Quote

I just heard a fabulous quote on TV. It's from "Good Advice," some mediocre Charlie Sheen movie that was playing when I got home. I'd like to apologize in advance to the men in my life that haven't pissed me off lately... so here it goes.

"Any woman who aspires to be equal to a man clearly lacks ambition."

Take that.

It's Not Friday?

How can it not be Friday? Today was one of the most God-awful days that I've had in awhile. Not only were my allergies out of control (mold, maybe?), but I had so many least favorite people today that I stopped counting. I am so mentally exhausted that I am 'cooking' ramen noodles for dinner. Me. A 29-year-old, college-educated, marketing professional and I am going to eat ramen noodles. Not only is that mildy pathetic, but indicative of my mood, my motivation, and my overall morale. I'm so done.

One of my (very pregnant) girlfriends from college will be in DC this weekend. She'll be up in Baltimore for lunch on Sunday, then stay the night at my place before I drop her off at the airport early Monday morning. She's a good 7 months pregnant, so I am trying to decide where to take her that's "cool" Baltimore, but that doesn't require a lot of walking or exercise. For instance, no harbor walking, Fells strolling, etc. One of my favorite things about Baltimore is the small-town feel of its neighborhoods. I'm not sure I can show her that on Sunday. Any ideas?

I Told You So

I know. I'm never supposed to say that. But it's so fun to be right sometimes!

I have a skill. For two years I have correctly predicted the American Idols. (No, I didn't vote.) And last year I predicted the win of Michael from the first season of Hell's Kitchen (incidentally, I predict Heather this season), and Matt on The Biggest Loser.

Okay, so some of you think that I watch way too much TV, and you're right. I'm working on that.

Well tonight I've done it again because Josh Blue won Last Comic Standing. I knew it, I knew it, I knew it. I love that kid.

For those of you that haven't been watching, Josh is a comedian with cerebral palsy and tends to poke fun at his own condition. If you haven't seen him, take a few moments and watch video here. (Work folks: YouTube is blocked for us in the office. Sorry.)

Just as a sample of his humor, in one video Kathy Griffin asks him, "Well Josh - everybody loves you obviously. So what inspired you to do stand up of all things?" Josh answers, "I didn't think I had a choice, really. What am I gonna do? Be a traffic cop?" (Picture Josh waving his arms in the air frantically.) It sounds horrible sure, but if he can't laugh at himself, or make us laugh at his differences, well then - who can?

I am very excited that he won, but more importantly - what exactly does this mean for my Big Brother 7 odds? Unfortunately, BB7 wasn't on TV last night because the stupid Orioles broadcast their game. So Richie and I downloaded it and watched it tonight instead.

I haven't yet had the chance to talk to Richie since I've been caught up, but things are definitely getting interesting. Here are the standings to date. The houseguests in red are up for eviction on Saturday.

Charissa's Team
Kaysar, Janelle, Danielle, Howie, Erika

Richie's Team
Will, Mike Boogie, Marcellas, James, George
Voted out: Diane

I am actually feeling more confident now that Janelle won the Power of Veto and Kaysar was put up for eviction in her place. I realize that there is a good chance that Kaysar will leave, but so far he has managed to stay under the radar. I believe that he's a better strategist than James, and I suspect that he will also be better at mustering votes than either Janelle could have been or James will be.

If anyone can save himself against James, Kaysar is the man. All he has to do is expose James' alliances with Danielle and The Legion of Doom. I realize this can hurt me later, but I think that the Legion is already falling apart after the POV competition. Kaysar can win votes from Janelle, Howie, Erika, and potentially Marcellas (if Marcellas knows that the others tried to have him nominated instead). Will and Mike Boogie can be bought if the price is high enough.

Things are definitely still lookin' good....

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Fallout Shelters

Antonio and I were out walking a few hours ago, and I saw a "fallout shelter" sign on the Shrine of the Sacred Heart school building. I admit that I was surprised to see it because nuclear bombs aren't exactly on my list of major concerns.

It's probably left over from the Cold War era, but the sign looked relatively modern. Are these shelters really operational? You know - just in case?

I guess I could get there within 5 to 10 minutes if I really, really, really (i.e. North Korea) needed to... creepy.

Birthdays and Holidays

Today is a very important day!

First, today is Snay's birthday - so please take a moment to wish him a happy day. Second, it is National Underwear Day - so please take an additional moment to appreciate your knickers.

Happy August 9th!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Updates and Upshots

Update #1
So I am now the proud owner of a very small filling. Not lemon filling or cherry filling. Surprisingly, I didn't become a donut. I got a tooth filling. It was a very small cavity. Work is so uninspiring anymore that I was actually looking forward to my visit to the dentist today. Is that some sort of sign?

Update #2
Today was my bazillionth eye appointment. Left eye is 20/20. Right eye is one point off of 20/20. That's awesome considering it took three surgeries to get here. The only potentially "bad" news is that my astigmatism might not have been completely corrected. My next appointment is in early October, so we'll know more then, but if the astigmatism continues to present a problem, I'll have another procedure done called RK. This one can be done during a regular office visit though, so I'm not overly concerned.

In between appointments, I walked around a small park in Bel Air taking photos. I don't claim to be a good photographer, but years ago I took classes and considered making it a full time hobby. That never happened, but I take my responsibilities over at Bags in Trees very seriously, so I'm trying not to let Brian down. The park itself was relatively uninteresting (sorry, Bel Air readers), but I took a few nice tree shots and figured I'd share them below. Enjoy!

David Sedaris at the Meyerhoff!

David Sedaris is coming to the Meyerhoff (Baltimore) on October 4th, 2006. Tickets are only in the $30-36 range!

Does anyone want to go??

I'm Like a 3 Year Old

I don't know what it is, but I am incapable of going to bed at any reasonable hour. It's after midnight, and while many of my responsible coworkers have been asleep for a few hours, I am sitting on the couch watching Comedy Central and blogging. I have a cat on my left and a dog on my right, and they are both asleep! It's pathetic.

I'm like a 3 year old because no matter how tired I am, I always feel like I am missing something by going to bed. What could possibly be more important that being rested for work?

I imagine that to some extent I am partially a product of my environment. After 9-11 in particular, I became a knowledge-aholic. I absolutely hate being the last to know things. I probably hit up five to ten times a day, just to stay on top of any 'breaking news.'

So today, after too few hours of sleep last night, I was mildly nonfunctional. Of course, my inner 3 year old would argue that the sleep deprivation was worth it, because the lion documentary on Animal Planet was actually quite interesting. (Seriously!) Unfortunately, Jeff Foxworthy is nowhere near as stimulating tonight. I'm not even listening at this point.

Next Steps: Let out dog, queue up my 'Tuscany' CD, and crawl into bed.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Newsworthy, um... News

I hate to be all newsworthy - I feel like I'm encroaching on Snay's territory a bit here - but GO FILL UP YOUR GAS TANK! In case you haven't heard, 16 miles of pipeline from a BP oil field in Alaska needs to be replaced, which resulted in the shutdown of an oil field that represents "8 percent of daily U.S. crude production."

Gas per gallon in my neighborhood was $3.09 when I filled up on the way home from work. God only knows what it will swell to over the next few days...

"Went To PA"

I saw this sign on someone's back fence while I was walking Antonio last night. It might as well say, "No one's home. Please take what you want." It cracks me up.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Big Brother and Cooking

I love Big Brother. Last Thursday Diane was voted out of the house. That definitely improved my odds in the Charissa-Richie Fantasy Big Brother game. Today, my girl, Danielle, won Head of Household. Woo-hoo! Here are the standings to date. The houseguests in red have been nominated for eviction this week.

Charissa's Team
Kaysar, Janelle, Danielle, Howie, Erika

Richie's Team
Will, Mike Boogie, Marcellas, James, George
Voted out: Diane

My issue now is this: Janelle deserves to be voted out of the house. No question. And as an average viewer, I'd be all for it. But now that Richie and I have this fantasy BB game going on, I'm a bit torn. On one hand, keeping Janelle in the house increases my odds by simple numbers. On the other hand, keeping Janelle in the house also increases the odds that Will and Mike Boogie will win... so I have to decide if the effect of losing Janelle in the short run will actually increase my chances in the long run. This is going to be an interesting week in the Big Brother house, that's for sure.

On a different topic, I was going to make homemade mac and cheese today; I made the cheese sauce and everything. But there was a small problem. When I went to make the elbow macaroni, some of those you've-let-this-box-sit-in-your-cupboard-way-way-way-too-long dead bugs were in there. So I trashed the whole box, of course, and then I went on a trashing rampage. I am so grossed out. I threw out a box of Bisquick, cereal, and anything else from that cupboard that fits in the "breads" category. Ew. Ew. Ew.

So now I have a huge saucepan of cheese sauce, and no macaroni. My cupboards are looking more bare than ever because I threw so much away. I tossed out a lot of food from the fridge too... like I said, I was on a roll.

This may be the week I go grocery shopping.

King Kong

Okay, so I just watched King Kong. Snay obviously didn't like this movie, but I gotta tell you... I did like it. I didn't love it, but overall I thought the special effects were pretty darn good - especially the Kong vs. animals of the jungle scenes - those were fantastic! (With the exception of the swampy-worm things eating the one guy face-first... that made me very nauseous.)

Okay, so it was long. And there may have been too many "ooooh, scary beast" scenes, or "ooooh, the pretty girl is screaming" scenes, but it was still enjoyable to watch the action scenes. Besides, I've always been a fan of Adrien Brody, and Jack Black wasn't so bad either.

Overall - I'll give 4 out of 5 stars in Netflix. King Kong received high marks for action, adventure and computer-generated effects... and in my world of computer games and being a bit of a computer geek - that's something to be proud of.

He's All Worked Up

Antonio and I have been playing a lot today. I think yesterday at the Fiesta was stressful for him because I left him on the lead or in the dog run quite a bit. He was safe and contented, but since I live alone with two animals, they tend to be a little more clingy than animals who live with more people.

Here's a short video of Antonio getting worked up over a kid toy that is essentially indestructible. It's a little dark, I didn't have the ceiling light on, but funny nonetheless. Love it.