29 September, 2006

Stop Complaining!

I e-mailed Scott yesterday before my shift started and told him I wasn't going to complain about work this week. I said, "it's only 4 days. I can handle 4 days."

Three hours later I was pitching a fit about something.

Honestly, I blame my years in the Call Center for this. Those women were champion complainers.

What set me off was some lady I called (because she had booked a same-day reservation and one member of their party had a "severe allergy" and the reservationist didn't say WHICH member of the party) yelled at me and told me to call her back in 10 minutes. Biotch! I didn't even get to tell her who I was or why I was calling. Eleven minutes later when I called her back and identified myself, she was perfectly nice and even apologized for her bad attitude.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Lucky for her, I won't remember her in a few more days. So never say never, I guess.

26 September, 2006

A Horse of a Different Color

Scalzi's Monday Photo Shoot for the week asks for horses: Horses are nice. Show us a horse picture you've taken. It can be new, or one from your files. It just needs to have a horse in it. Donkeys, mules, ponies, zebras, and quagga are also acceptable, and I'll be impressed if you have a picture of a quagga in your files, being that they've been extinct for 125 years and all.

Sadly, though I went to 3 years worth of equine summer camp, have gone on trail rides in the Tetons and in Vermont, and even took weekly lessons for a while, I do not have one single picture of me on a horse. And I don't even have any pictures of the zebras or even okapi at Animal Kingdom. (yes, I know the okapi are relatives of the giraffe... but they still look half-zebra). I do, however, have pictures of some Disney horses:

The only people who get to see the Headless Horseman gallop down Main Street U.S.A. are those who pay for the after hours "Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party." It's quite an impressive sight -- this giant horse goes galloping right past you, and wow - that man has no head! This may look like a pony, but it's actually a miniature horse. He(?) lives at the petting farm at Ft. Wilderness - the Tri Circle D Ranch. The ranch is also the home of the other horses on this page, plus the white ponies that pull Cinderella's Coach. You can't really see it in the picture, but the horses are branded with the "Tri Circle" logo, which looks an awful lot like Mickey Mouse.

And what display of Disney Horses would be complete without a shot of the horse-drawn carriage in front of Cinderella's Castle? There's a few "hidden mickeys" on this horse's harness as well. Can you spot them?

Note: the Horseman photo was taken by Mike, whose last name I cannot remember. Sorry Mike!

Banned Books

I wrote about Banned Books Week last year, and didn't really intend to devote a post to it again this year, but since I just got back from having my teeth cleaned and my entire mouth feels as though it was in its own personal earthquake, and because I absolutely love the BBW poster this year, I thought I'd mention it.

I continue to be shocked that Harry Potter, A Light in the Attic, and Where's Waldo are on the list. I get that the Jesus Freaks hate the HP books (not that I support a ban) but what, exactly, is wrong with a book of kid-friendly poetry? And Where's Waldo? Unless he's in a porn shop or Jeff Dahmer's kitchen, I can't IMAGINE why he's been banned!

My throbbing gums are preventing any further intelligent analysis, so, umm...

Go read a banned book!

25 September, 2006

Hammy Aftermath

Ham sandwiches... hot ham and side dishes... ham and eggs... when will the ham-sanity end? Probably in a few more days.

I made the best scrambled egg/ham/cheese sandwich (on wheat toast) for breakfast the other morning, and it made me wonder why I don't eat eggs more often. It took me 3 minutes to cook a hot breakfast. That's just 1 minute longer than oatmeal, and much tastier!

Today's adventure: pasta salad. More accurately, cheese & spinach tortelloni with ham and peas in a sauce of mayo and dijon horseradish mustard. I'm cooling the pasta now. Let's hope it's edible!! At the very least, it's colorful and has a lot of flavors.

24 September, 2006

Cleanse My Mind...PLEASE!

Our restaurant, as you may know by now, creates personalized menus for each person. We include their name, and a second line is available for "Happy Birthday" or other such nonsense. And every now and then we have some smartass call wanting something strange put on their menu. I think "Enjoy Being 39" was my favorite.

Last night I was doing menus for a man and woman with different last names, and the instructions were that her menu was to read "First Rendezvous."

STOP! Before reading on, I'd like you to form an opinion on what this couple was "celebrating" with their big fancy dinner that that was what the man wanted to put on her menu.

I, whilst printing and assembling menus, couldn't come up with anything that wasn't tawdry, or at the very least creepy:

1) They boinked for the first time last night. Or at least that was the plan. After seven courses of rich food, my guess is that they slept it off.

2) They met in some on-line chat room and this was their first meeting. (ok, I guess that one has the potential to not be tawdry or creepy... but I still think it is)

And even if they were celebrating something completely innocent, like their first vacation together, I think he picked the creepiest way to spell it out. Men say the darndest things when they're trying to be suave.

23 September, 2006

Hammy Goodness

There's a ham in our oven. And I put it there. Don't get too excited -- I'm not really cooking it. See, we - ok, Scott - has been trying to cook this damn ham for almost a week. He almost got there yesterday - he may have even turned the oven on. But then work called and wanted him to start early. Overtime outweighs home cooking in our house every time.

And then he got home at 1 this morning and turned on the oven... which I convinced him was a bad idea. Who wants to stay up with a ham for 2 hours and then wait for it to cool long enough to put it in the fridge? So he turned off the oven.

So we compromised. He prepped the ham (unwrapped it and stuck in in an oven bag) and all I had to do was pre-heat the oven and pop that bad boy in. When I woke up this morning, Scott rolled over and told me there were directions on the stove.

There were directions. Written. On the stove. My tired brain couldn't even wrap itself around this. "He sharpied our stovetop? That was pretty stupid." Then I realized that we have a ton of dry-erase markers that we never use and that this was, in fact, a genius move.

Why don't more people write on their stoves?

And of course, it's Scott. So the directions are pretty straightforward:

Preheat to 325
Set timer for 1 hour 48 min
Enjoy Hamy Goondess

Of course, these directions aren't completely idiot-proof. Nowhere on there does it say to put the ham IN the hot oven. Luckily, I'm not a complete idiot.

So tonight when I get home, I'm going to have a ham sandwich with horseradish dijon mustard. And it's going to be so worth the week-long wait.


Yesterday, I got a comment on this post complaining about my high school reunion. The commenter said that Reunion Makers cancelled his/her reunion 3 days before the event and didn't refund the money. Random, eh?

Imagine my surprise when I came home tonight to an e-mail from Reunion Makers and THREE e-mails from saying that new messages had been posted to the Reunion site. Here's what Reunion Makers had to say:

Due to lack of ticket sales, after nine (9) years of planning and hosting successful reunions nationwide, Reunion Makers, Inc. is closing down.

Unfortunately, we have to cancel your event. We know this is as heartbreaking for you as it is for us. Please accept our sincerest apologies.

Reunion Makers Staff

Well, I can't really say that I'm heart broken. Actually, I'm glad I didn't get the time off from work, buy non-refundable plane tickets, book a hotel, pay the $80/person for the reunion, and then have no reason to be in New Jersey on Thanksgiving weekend. I can only imagine the heart attack for our former class president. Here's what she had to say on the message board:

Ceise Buying Reunion Tickets

CHS CLASS OF 1996!!!

Unfortunately after several years of working on class reunions, it has come to my attention that Reunion Makers has recently gone out of business. Myself and others are taking action to see whether or not we will still be able to have our 10 year reunion as scheduled. Until then, I advise you to please STOP PURCHASING tickets through Reunion Makers online, via phone, or through the mail.


Please contact myself or Jxxxx xxxxx immediately (my e-mail address is listed on the CHS alumni website.) We will certainly keep everyone in the loop and will advise the entire class of the next steps...and again, I SINCERERLY apologize for the difficulty we are currently experiencing.

Thank you, in advance, for your patience, as we continue to work this out.

First, I'm going to be petty and point out the word "Ceise" in the subject line. spell check on Second, I'm wondering how many people had actually bought tickets, and whether they'll get their money back. Third, if you write SINCERELY in all caps, does that really make is seem more sincere?

I can't wait to see how this plays out over the next month or so.

... and I'm so glad I didn't touch this reunion with a 10-foot pole!

By the way, the invitation is still open for anyone who wants to reunite in Orlando... not that anyone will take me up on it.

20 September, 2006

Further Thoughts on Gatorland

Gatorland smells. Although, given that it is primarily a reptile park sitting on a swamp, it could smell worse than it does. Gatorland also appears to have a shortage of performers. Follow me here:

Our first stop of the day was the gator wrestlin' show. The two performers (stuntmen? whatever - the dudes in the jeans and khaki shirts) were Brandon and Kevin. Kevin, by the way, is the smart@$$ who was poking the alligator in my previous post.

After the gator wrestlin', we went back to the front of the park for the "Gator Jumparoo." This show had a different host, who introduced two brothers who wanted jobs as gator wrestlers. The brothers were Bo and Cooter, but they looked an awful lot like Brandon and Kevin with denim overalls and straw hats.

After the jumparoo, we went and fed the birds, and then we went to the Up Close Encounters show. Guess who was there, this time wrangling rattlesnakes and scorpions. Yep, Brandon and Kevin.

These are the only three shows in the park. So after the last show, we figured we had seen the last of these guys. And then we got on the train... and Kevin was narrating our train trip! Really, I was starting to feel like a groupie!

By the way, if anyone reading this ever goes to Gatorland, keep an eye out for this guy. He only has one foot. I rather like the idea that he tried to steal a chunk of hot dog from an alligator and that's how he lost his foot. Don't feel sorry for him though - the birds here to quite well stealing hot dogs and other foods from little children.

19 September, 2006

What Could Possibly Be Unsafe?

We went to Gatorland today with Beth and Pete and their girls. I had never been, and was really excited about seeing another facet of the Central Florida tourism economy. Gatorland is pretty neat - the have gator wrestling, gator jumping, gator breeding, baby gators, gator feeding, gator eating (gator nuggets and ribs are on the menu) and some non-gator activities as well.

Beth bought everyone's tickets, and bought the "deluxe" ticket, which included admission, unlimited train rides, gator feeding, and your very own opportunity to "wrestle" a gator. So here's what we learned about junior gator wrestling: it's fool-proof. They tape the mouth shut, you straddle it, you hold the head up and smile for the picture, and you climb off.

I watched the girls do it, I watched Pete do it, and then it was my turn. Well I got down on my knees, grabbed the mouth, smiled for the picture, and then the gator got loose! He shook his head and the next thing I knew, I was riding the alligator towards the concrete moat! The trainer guy declined to help me, and got up and walked out of my sight line. But he was talking on the mic the whole time so I knew he was still there. And I thought it was funny, thinking "I can't even wrestle a taped-up gator!"

It wasn't until about an hour ago when I looked at the pictures Scott had taken that I saw the trainer guy behind me, with his foot suspiciously in the air as if he had been prodding the gator making it move! Scott claims to have seen nothing, because he was too busy taking pictures.

What you see below are my other family members performing their jobs properly, and me screwing it all up (the pics of me are in reverse order), and a picture of Scott with his friend the bird.

Well, that's the most exciting part of the Gatorland trip. We did have fun doing other stuff, but dinner is ready. Speaking of dinner, you know what they give you to feed the alligators? Cold hot dogs! I guess Scott got a hot dog craving, because that's what we're having!

18 September, 2006

Opposites Attract

For Scalzi's Monday Photo Shoot, I went to the archives. Post a picture that focuses on the contrast between two opposing colors.

As soon as I read the assignment, I knew I had to use a picture of Milo, the orange cat, sitting on the blue chair.

Since the blue chair is currently covered in orange fur, thus making it less of an opposite, I needed to pull out an old picture taken when the chair was still blue. This was taken in May of last year. And in case you were wondering, he's still the prettiest cat ever... and he still knows it!

(and yes, we do clean the chair. in fact, Scott vacuumed it less than a month ago. but every time that happens, the cats smell a challenge and roll around on it extra!)

17 September, 2006

I Own A Car!

That's right folks, Frances is all mine! I paid her off earlier this year, but the title has always been in Joanne's name (because the loan was also in her name). So we spent an hour on Friday afternoon going to the tax collector in Brooksville to re-title the car. $60 later, I have a registration and in 7-10 days I'll have a title, both with MY name on it. And then in March I'm going to renew again, and bump Joanne's name completely off. Then the car will be 100% mine. Woot!

When we got back to the hotel, I ran into my mom and some other family in the hall and started yelling, "I OWN A CAR!" I was so loud that Scott came out of our room to yell at me for the noise. He was kidding, of course. But if it hadn't been 5 in the afternoon, I probably would have been yelled at by someone else.

Of course, the reason Joanne and I were in the same place at the same time was for Mom's wedding. I figure everyone who cares about all of the details was there, so here's a short list of my favorite parts:

  • Pastor Tim speaking during the ceremony about how both Mom and Michael have adult children and grandchildren. For the rest of the afternoon, my aunts and cousins were all asking when I had a kid and why they didn't know. Then Scott got in on the act, looking straight at me and saying "why didn't **I** know?"

  • Pastor Bob changing the words to Come What May. The real lyrics say "listen to my heart, can you hear it sings, telling me to give you everything." He changed it to "telling you to give me everything." Actually, he was my favorite part of the wedding weekend. If I wasn't committed to the First National Church of People Who Work on Sundays, I could actually see myself driving down there for church every week.

  • Seeing the family. We don't see nearly enough of eachother.

    By the way, can someone please tell me what the appropriate response is to someone saying, "congratulations on marrying your mom off"? My response, "yeah... now she won't be a burden to me in old age" didn't go over so well. I can honestly say it went over less well than a fart in church. I mean, why are you congratulating ME? It's not like I set them up or something. And I WAS kidding.

    As always, my camera performed less than ideally. My only two pictures of me and Scott together were too blurry to save. And of the four we took with me and mom, none came out, and I had to crop us out of a picture with other people. And we're still fuzzy. So the only picture I'm going to post here is one taken after the ceremony. I titled it, "Bridesmaids Jockeying for Position." That's me allll the way on the left, and the matron of honor alllll the way on the right, with mom and a bunch of other women in the middle.

    I guess they didn't get the memo that it's all about me. Oh well!
  • 15 September, 2006

    "Will This Make Me Gay?"

    Scott and I went out yesterday for pedicures (and a manicure for me). He asked, "does this make me gay?" I told him no.

    ...of course, the DVD of all of Whitney Houston's music videos playing in the nail salon might.

    I still can't get a good read on the whole Scott-gets-his-feet-rubbed thing. I think he liked it. But he wasn't gushing about the experience either. I can't imagine anyone being neutral about a pedicure. Seems like a "love it or hate it" thing to me.

    By the way, the title of this picture is "Four Happy Feet on the Man Chair."

    You can't really see the color of my toe nails very well in the pic, but my fingernails are the same color. It's totally illegal for work, but I work for two men. I bet I could wear pajama bottoms to work (perhaps not the ones I'm wearing in the picture... they're a little extreme) and they wouldn't say anything. Anyway, it's darker than I generally wear on my fingers, and has a little bit of sparkle to it (like car paint. in fact, I was just thinking I'd love to paint my car this color!). I also got my nails trimmed short, to make the broken one less noticeable.

    So that's the story of our "girls day out" or "Scott and Jamie's day of beauty." Which sounds less gay?

    On a completely unrelated note, I had a roach dive-bomb my face while I was laying in bed the other night. My immediate response was to jump up, slapping the shit out of my own head, landing on Scott, and then wondering why he wasn't getting up to kill the thing (I had him pinned). We had to trade sides of the bed because I was so freaked out that it had escaped. And then five minutes later, it was crawling up the wall a few feet away from the side I had moved to. But Scott killed it (without a shoe) and I was able to sleep a creepy-crawly-less sleep.

    Yep, he's my hero.

    11 September, 2006

    Step Away From the eBAY

    I have an illness. It's true. And tonight my eBAY obsession took a surprising bad turn:

    I discovered the joy of swooping in minutes before the end of an auction and stealing cheap things right out from under other peoples' noses.

    I also discovered cheap jewelery.

    I bought three things tonight, and paid about $25 including shipping. I bought a pair of fake diamond studs for $2.50, a cheap knock-off of the Tiffany necklace I love for 99 cents(!) and a really nice knock-off of the bracelet that matches my Tiffany necklace for less than $7. Sure, it's junk jewelery. But if just one of the items lives up to my expectations, I'll be happy.

    Actually, today wasn't the standard JAMIE monDAY. Scott is having an issue with his foot, and couldn't get in to see the doctor until tomorrow morning, so he called in sick. I, nurturing soul that I am, took him to IHOP for breakfast. I haven't been to IHOP in ages (probably since the summer I spent with Mom and Alicia). It's actually more ghetto than Denny's. But our server was great, and I was happy to look at a menu other than the brown paper one at C.B. I got the stuffed french toast, which turned out to be more of a deep-fried donut. Tasty, but sweet! Now I know why it came with "normal" breakfast food too.

    I am also about 3/4 of the way through making the batch of Irish Potatoes I was drafted into. I don't know why I'm bothering -- the whole batch is probably going to be a whopping 50 potatoes. (and I'm making them small!) And does anyone know how well cream cheese travels? My suggestion to anyone reading this: don't eat the tiny brown balls at the wedding.

    And Scott washed the 600 TC sheets today, which went immediately back on the bed. I'm curious to see how long a set of sheets will last when not in rotation with another set. Apparently I should have bought another set when I had the chance! See? Sometimes internet bargain shopping pays off!

    Speaking of the internet, Karen from the Naked Ovary met her daughter in China yesterday. I dare you to read her first "mommy blog" post and not cry happy tears for a random stranger.

    And thus concludes this evening's stream of consciousness. Good night.

    10 September, 2006

    The Day the Earth Didn't Stand Still

    This morning I had just finished getting dressed and had gone into the bedroom to grab some knee-highs. I figured all I had left to do was pack my lunch, so I'd go ahead and kiss Scott goodbye while I was in there. Right when I kissed him, the walls creaked, and then Scott's dresser (and everything on top of it including the TV) started to shake. Now that's what I call a kiss!

    The shaking actually lasted longer than when a big truck goes by, and Scott asked me why we were having an earthquake. And all I could think was, "why are you asking me?" So of course, he didn't go back to sleep. I went back into the livingroom to find both cats all puffed up (which takes more energy than my lazy cats generally care to muster) and staring intently at the bookshelf. They were frozen. They were so frozen that I called to Scott and he came out and SAW them frozen. Milo actually looked like he was holding on to the ottoman. Upon closer inspection, I saw that two of my Captain Jack action figures had fallen off of the bookshelf, along with a candle.

    So while I was packing my lunch, Scott started channel surfing, looking for a story about our imaginary earthquake. I knew he wasn't going to find anything. After all, this is FLORIDA! My concern was that the building definitely shook. And I really worried that there was a big sinkhole and I was going to come home from work to a condemned building. So I called Beth as soon as I started driving. She lives two buildings away from me, and figured maybe she knew what had happened.

    Do you know how crazy it feels to call someone and say "did you guys just feel an earthquake?" Imagine my surprise when her response was "oh my God Brian -- Jamie is on the phone -- she felt it too!" After she and I talked for a while, I called Scott to tell him that Brian also felt our imaginary earthquake. Now that there was someone else NOT in our building who felt it, we figured we could rule out sinkhole. Phew! But what the heck was it?

    At work, neither my trainee nor the sous chef had felt my imaginary earthquake. I think they both thought I was a little batty. And then I got a phone call from Scott. That's right -- there was an earthquake! In the Gulf of Mexico! A big one -- 6.0! And I pretty much confirmed I was batty because I immediately called and left a crazy message on Beth's voicemail at work, and made sure that everyone I saw knew that I was perceptive enough to notice the quake. How exciting!

    Of course, here I am making it out to be this big event. I can't even say that I felt the shaking. I just knew that the stuff around me was shaking. The space shuttle landing makes more of an impact... but it doesn't last for 10-20 seconds.

    I told Scott to call Channel 9 and ask if they were getting reports from anyone about an earthquake. I guess I wasn't the only one who had that idea. "In Central Florida, tremors were felt all over this morning. Channel 9 Eyewitness News received reports from Orlando, Altamonte Springs, Longwood, Clermont, Kissimmee, Celebration, Cocoa, Meritt Island, Vero Beach, Palm Bay, Daytona Beach, Leesburg, Deltona, Lakeland, and Winter Garden."

    Anyone else feel it? Wanna buy an "I Survived the Earthquake of '06" t-shirt or bumper sticker? Anyone else think that now that we've got more than just hurricanes and tornadoes that we should prepare for a blizzard too?

    And remember the state motto...

    Florida: visit while you still can!

    Just Desserts

    We had a wedding party of 21 last night for first seating. 21 is actually the max capacity for our private room. With 16 people or less, we can move the tables together to seat everyone at one table. With 21, they sit at 5 separate tables and they like it.

    Yesterday around 2:00, I got a call from the front desk saying that there are people from the wedding who needed to set up the space and no one was there to greet them. Umm... that would be because no one knew they were coming! I was really worried -- how much "set up" were they planning on doing? I went out there and was relieved to find a harried sister of the bride and a cousin with just two boxes - favors (one per couple) and toasting glasses for the bride & groom.

    They also had a seating chart, for a 3 table set-up.

    I told them that 3 was impossible, but I'd do my best to split up the list correctly. The glances they exchanged said it all: "she's not going to like this..."

    I was in the dining room around 4:30 helping to sort out the mess of who-gets-which-favors and in walks a different lady associated with the wedding. She's the groom's aunt. The bride's mother sent her (apparently she was expendable) to find out what the "problem" was with the tables. I gave her the reconfigured seating chart and sent her on her way.

    I guess the rest of the night went smoothly as far as this party was concerned. No one was raving about them later. And when I went into the kitchen later on, Chef handed me a half-piece of cake. With raspberry mousse. I can only imagine that it was leftovers from Bridezilla's cake. And it was delicious.

    9/11 - from another angle

    I just spent a good chunk of time reading other people's responses to Scalzi's weekend assignment on 9/11, and the blunt honesty of this lady talking about her own fears of other ethnic groups brought back the most vivid memory of a friend of mine from High School.

    Right after the Oklahoma City bombing, my friend Shadi and I were watching the news and he was so upset. "Every time something happens, they assume it was us." And it's true - all of the initial reports on that event were that Arab terrorists must be to blame. He seemed to take the whole thing so personally, and I just couldn't relate. After all, what do people ever blame blondes for, except the general harmless stereotypes?

    On 9/11, most of the initial reports again jumped to the conclusion that we had been attacked by people from the Middle East. And I thought of Shadi. It had been five years since I last saw him. I assumed that he was still living in New Jersey, and I hoped that he was in an environment of supportive people. I hoped that ignorant people weren't hating him personally. And I hoped that everything worked out ok for him. I still do. Shadi was the kind of guy that everyone needs to have in life -- he cared about everyone. He had the biggest heart around. And when the rest of us were forming cliques and ignoring people who had been our friends the week before, he continued to be friends with everybody. And I bet he's still like that.

    Right after 9/11 I also remembered reading "Farewell to Manzanar" in high school and I remember wondering if the powers that be were going to try to "protect" another generation of another race by sending them away to camps like they did to the Japanese Americans during WWII. I was glad to see that we as a nation did learn from that mistake and allowed citizens to respect and even embrace eachother's races and religions.

    I've looked Shadi up a few times, but he's not on the Alumni web board or on myspace (seriously... who ISN'T on myspace? my GUINEA PIG is on myspace!!). Whenever I think of 9/11, my thoughts eventually stray to him. And I wonder how much more his world has changed than my world.

    09 September, 2006

    9/11 - almost five years later

    Scalzi's weekend assignment is really the "where were you when JFK was shot?" of my generation: Share your thoughts about 9/11. You can remember back on what you were doing on the day or give some thought to how we think about it today. Thoughts personal, political or philosophical are all up for consideration. Tell us all what you think about when you think about September 11, 2001.

    I wasn't going to tackle this assignment, because my "where were you?" moment came when I was in the bathtub shaving my legs and my dad knocked on the door and told me. I honestly don't know what I saw live and what was being replayed. Work for the day was cancelled. And I pretty much sat at home and watched TV, cursing the fact that my modem had fried the month before and I couldn't get online to find out more.

    September 12 was the day I remember most vividly. I worked at Epcot at the time, in the American Adventure pavilion. AA is one of those attractions that people go to when they're hot and tired and need to cool off for 30 minutes. It's not that popular with kids, so a lot of people skipped us over.

    So we opened back up on the 12th after being closed on the 11th. And, though park attendance had completely tanked, we were busy. It was almost as if it was a healing place for people who were away from home and wanted to feel some kind of connection to America, even though we were still in America. Or maybe people felt guilty for skipping us over before. But I'm convinced that everyone in Epcot that day must have passed through our doors.

    There are two singing groups that perform in the Rotunda of the building. On that day, American Vybe, whose sets were mostly jazzy renditions of songs like "Fever" and "Just a Gigolo," ended their first set of the day with the most passionate rendition of God Bless America I'd ever heard. The soloist at the end had tears streaming down her face, and I don't think there was a dry eye in the house. It's a moment that still gives me goose bumps. Probably because it was the moment where I thought maybe everything was going to be ok after all.

    (by the way, I still think things are going to be ok. I guess 4.9 years ago I thought everything would be "normal" again, but now I see that maybe "normal" has been forever redefined.)

    I wasn't able to find any video of American Vybe, but here's one of the Voices of Liberty, the original entertainment in the American Adventure:

    08 September, 2006

    What Have I DONE???

    Ever since the year I gave up eating mammal for New Years, I've had a weird relationship with meat. Sure, I'll eat any of the standard stuff -- beef, pork, chicken, etc. I even had buffalo (bison?) and elk at my cousin's wedding. But I wouldn't or veal or lamb. C'mon... how could I possibly eat poor little Norman? (by the way, I was so hoping to find a picture of Norman to accompany this entry, but I googled every combination of Norman Cow City Slickers and couldn't find a single one!) But now I have this job in this fancy restaurant, and I feel like I'd be doing myself a disservice to not taste anything that's offered.

    So yesterday my boss saved me a bite of his dinner -- a piece of veal sweetbreads. Not only did I eat BABY COW, I ate "thymus (neck/throat/gullet sweetbread) or the pancreas (belly/stomach/heart sweetbread) or genitalia of an animal younger than one year old." (wikipedia) It was quite tasty, but I don't think I'd order it. I can't get over the face of poor sweet Norman.

    And today I was in the kitchen and I was handed a spoon with a piece of meat and some potatoes (I would say "mashed potatoes," but it was probably "potato puree") on it. It was lamb. I ate it, and it was delicious. And I would eat it again. And I would enjoy it. Sheep be damned... I'm a lamb fan now!

    We also had a special request tonight for butternut squash soup, and I sweet-talked myself into a half mug full. I really love squash soup. The stuff at my restaurant is so different from the stuff they serve at Puck's I can't even compare the two. It was great...and quite rich. I didn't even eat the dinner I packed for myself tonight!

    Tomorrow we have a new temp starting (hopefully this one will last more than a week). And apparently I'm training him. That's so ridiculous I can barely fathon it! I've only been here for 2 months. Am I qualified to teach someone else? I guess we'll find out...

    06 September, 2006

    On the Menu

    Scott and I saw this recipe on an episode of TLC's Take Home Chef. We bought an eggplant two weeks ago, but it was moldy by the time we got around to using it. So we're trying again this week. I'm prepping the meal (not cooking it, because I have an aversion to frying) and Scott will finish it when he gets home from his man expidition.

    Deep Fried Eggplant and Mozzarella with Basil
    Serves 4
    1 eggplant (cut crosswise into 1/8 inch slices)
    One 7-ounce ball fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese (cut crosswise into 8 slices)
    8 fresh basil leaves
    2/3 cup/95 g all purpose flour
    4 large eggs, beaten to blend
    1 1/2 cups/210 g dried plain bread crumbs
    Safflower oil, for deep frying

    slices with salt and allow them to sit for 10 minutes. Rinse the eggplant under cold running water to remove the salt. Pat the eggplant slices dry with paper towels.

    Place 1 slice of cheese and 1 basil leaf atop 1 eggplant slice. Top with a second eggplant slice. Repeat to make 8 sandwiches total. Place the flour, eggs and bread crumbs in 3 separate shallow bowls or pie plates.

    Working with 1 eggplant sandwich at a time, dredge the eggplant sandwiches in the flour, shaking off the excess, then dip the sandwiches in the eggs, allowing the excess egg to drip back into the bowl of eggs, and dredge in the bread crumbs to coat completely.

    Repeat the process to give the eggplant sandwich a second coating of the eggs and bread crumbs (not the flour). Add enough oil to a heavy large frying pan to reach the depth of 2 inches/5 cm. Heat the oil over medium-high heat to 350°F/180°C.

    Working in batches, add the sandwiches to the hot oil and fry until they are golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Using a slotted spatula, transfer the fried sandwiches to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.

    Sprinkle the hot sandwiches with salt. Cut each sandwich into 4 wedges. Serve the sandwiches on a platter with the warm tomato sauce.

    We'll let you know how it comes out.

    05 September, 2006

    Labor Day Sales

    Scott and I set off for a miserable mall excursion today. The agenda: white clothes, whatever we could find. Of course, he was looking for work shirts, and I had my eye out for anything special. I really hate mall shopping. It's generally a pretty miserable experience. But this time we ended up spending less than $30 each for some pretty full bags of clothes. Scott caught a clearance sale at J.C.P and got 4 short-sleeve shirts for work (ok, 3 for work and a white one). We then hit about 5 other stores, finding nothing for me but white capri pants with tacky multi-color floral embroidery. But then I hit the mother load. I could've spent all day combing the clearance racks at Sears. I actually tried on 8 things, and bought 4 -- 2 white skirts, a white top, and a silky blue button-down. Yeah - Sears! I can't remember the last time I bought something for myself there. I thought they were beyond ghetto. Maybe they are - but whenever I can get a skirt for $7 I'm happy.

    We also got a hardcover complete works of Edgar Allen Poe for $8 from Borders (also on clearance).

    My most expensive purchase of the day was this $12 t-shirt. The printing is actually purple, but you know what type of pictures my camera takes indoors. I can't wait to have an excuse to wear it somewhere. Oh heck -- I'm going to have to make plans just to have somewhere to wear it!

    So I guess this shopping trip wasn't so bad. But I'm still glad it's over and I don't have to do that again any time soon.

    04 September, 2006

    Dispatches from a Soup Bowl

    Yesterday I was about to pop a bowl of chicken noodle soup into the microwave when I noticed two very strange things.

    1) There is a seal just to the left of the big Progresso banner that says, "inspected for wholesomeness by U.S. Department of Agriculture." Do you think there's some USDA employee out there who puts "Wholesomeness Inspector" on his tax return every year? What are the standards of wholesomeness? Are there other foods out there with the wholesome seal of approval?

    2) On the metal lid that you have to open before microwaving, there are instructions printed across the top. "Remove before microwaving?" No. That's printed about five other places. These instructions say, "shake twice before opening." Just twice? Who shakes anything just twice? That's like saying a serving of Oreos is 2 cookies. Pah!

    Inspection of a microwaveable bowl of Campbell's wedding soup reveals a similar USDA seal, only theirs doesn't mention wholesomeness. "U.S. Inspected and Passed by Department of Agriculture." And this makes me wonder what the USDA is inspecting for. If not wholesomeness, then what? Rat butts?

    The wedding soup is also made with REAL acini de pepe. Thank goodness, because I can't fathom using anything less.

    03 September, 2006


    When I was in junior high and high school, I hated the boys who lived next door. There were three of them - one older, one in my grade (mom, you might get a kick out of this link. scroll down to the third picture), and one 2 years younger. The oldest one was nice. And the parents were nice. They should've stopped at one.

    Those two boys tormented me for years. They toilet papered our house one year on mischief night. They kicked soccer balls into our yard. They took great pleasure in torturing me any way they could. I hated them. I really really hated them. Fortunately, I haven't seen any of them or really heard about any of them since I graduated from high school.

    So imagine my disdain when I was working on the seating chart for last night and came across MY name paired with THEIR last name. It sucked me into some alternate reality... and it was an ugly place.


    01 September, 2006

    Broken Neck

    This morning at 5:40, I woke up to the world falling out from under me. Actually, it wasn't the whole world - it was my pillow. And it wasn't falling - it was being yanked violently from under my peaceful head.

    I rolled over and yelled at Scott, "hey that one is MINE!" And I took it back. I asked him this morning about it. He has no recollection of the event. But he did think it was funny. We had a good laugh.

    Of course, I got him back about an hour later when I elbowed him in the chest while I was rolling over. He doesn't remember that either.

    ahh...the joys of sleep...