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Wednesday, July 16th, 2003
10:49 am
I'd been feeding a stray cat and I was down by the mailbox looking at the muscadine vines and the cat started to run across the road to greet me and got hit by a car and now it's dead :(

current mood: crying

(10 comments | comment on this)

Sunday, June 29th, 2003
10:37 am
Gloria and I (mostly Gloria) have been busy gardening! Here you see the front yard as it stands today.


More pictures:
Read more...Collapse )

(5 comments | comment on this)

Sunday, June 1st, 2003
2:23 pm - And more pics
The previous pictures were taken in April. These were taken a few minutes ago.

http://tourmaline.us/temp-pics/front06012003m.JPG

http://tourmaline.us/temp-pics/front2-06012003.JPG

I made that path! All that hauling wood-chip mulch is great upper body exercise.

http://tourmaline.us/temp-pics/mydeck06012003.JPG

There's so much more I could be doing with this deck. Ultimately I want to extend the deck and screen it in.

http://tourmaline.us/temp-pics/garden06012003m.JPG

I've never gardened before. I planted corn, lettuce, cucumbers, beans, cantaloupe, and watermelon all from seed, and then a few tomato plants from local nurseries. They're all doing amazingly well, except the lettuce which I suspect the rabbits are noshing on. Also the past month of near-flooding and daily rains caused about half of them to rot.

Here's my first baby tomato!
http://tourmaline.us/temp-pics/babytomato06012003.JPG

My melon patch is going insane!
http://tourmaline.us/temp-pics/melonpatch06012003.JPG

My lawnguy, the son of a sharecropper and someone who *really* knows his business, looked over my veggie garden and was amazed how well I'm doing considering it's my first time ever. He had some bad news for me, though. He asked me if I'm sure that I planted watermelon? I showed him the seed packet and he shook his head in disbelief. "These aren't watermelons dearie, hate to be the one to let you down.. but they're some great-looking squash." I swore to him I planted watermelon and cantaloupe but he says if these are watermelon and cantaloupe vines they aren't like melon vines he's seen before.

http://tourmaline.us/temp-pics/mysterysquashblossom-06012003.JPG

http://tourmaline.us/temp-pics/mysterysquash06012003.JPG

I wanted watermelon and cantaloupe! Phooey. Maybe he's wrong. Anyone know?

(5 comments | comment on this)

1:46 pm - first LJ entry in months, yes I know I'm bad
Between work, hanging out with housemates and gardening, hanging out online and mudding, LJing has really fallen by the wayside. However I want to show off my new house. Please check out these pics & feel free to leave adoring comments.

http://tourmaline.us/temp-pics/malachicutesm.JPG

http://tourmaline.us/temp-pics/WEIRDmillipedem.JPG

http://tourmaline.us/temp-pics/strangecricket-good.JPG

http://tourmaline.us/temp-pics/lazystream-goodsm.JPG

http://tourmaline.us/temp-pics/house-goodsm.JPG

http://tourmaline.us/temp-pics/pathbystream-goodsm.JPG

http://tourmaline.us/temp-pics/woods2-goodsm.JPG

http://tourmaline.us/temp-pics/turkeys-goodsm.JPG

http://tourmaline.us/temp-pics/turkeys2-goodsm.JPG

http://tourmaline.us/temp-pics/tree-sm.JPG

http://tourmaline.us/temp-pics/sunthroughtrees-sm.JPG

http://tourmaline.us/temp-pics/stream1-sm.JPG

http://tourmaline.us/temp-pics/stream2-sm.JPG

http://tourmaline.us/temp-pics/stream3-sm.JPG

http://tourmaline.us/temp-pics/laurelbystream-sm.JPG

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Monday, December 23rd, 2002
10:03 am - Here's a bit of holiday cheer!
http://www.pquinn.com/fries/

Warning: involves listening to Burger King: The Christmas Carol

(comment on this)

Thursday, September 19th, 2002
10:47 pm - travel cappuccino
While I was in LA for a week I had to fend for myself food-wise, of course. The first 2 nights I stayed at the Beverly Hills Hilton and had a fine free breakfast graciously provided to me. The other 4 nights I stayed at the Beverly Hills Park Hyatt, a beautiful and very swanky place. Definitely more luxurious than the Hilton, and that's saying something. I felt compelled to tip a lot at the Hyatt.

But the free breakfast at the Hilton meant free cappuccino in the morning. At the Hyatt, room service cappuccino would cost $11 plus tip. Hey-- have some pity here! There wasn't even an in-room coffee maker! A crude Days Inn would have an in-room coffee maker! The Hyatt had a huge yet tasteful marble bathroom with plush 600-thread count Egyptian cotton towels, bathrobe and a balcony to die for. I sunk into the hot water-filled marble tub and stewed, resentfully.

The next morning I bit the bullet and ordered room service coffee, in fact a whole breakfast. WTF, I'm on an expense account. They brought me coffee, cream, eggs, bacon, the works! It was uncommonly good and I tipped the waiter gener-- oh wait, I didn't, an 18% tip was automatically added to my bill. Hmm. I guess if you're that swanky you don't want to be seen handling crude cash.

Now that I had cream, I could handle the coffee service myself. You see, I had just bought a stovetop espresso maker (like http://www.viecokitchen.com/mokexbia.htm if you want to see, but I paid much less) and had a pack of preground espresso and lots of Splenda with me. Travel espresso kit to the rescue! I would've made it sooner but I prefer a latte and didn't have any milk, and to be honest I was a little put off by one thing: there was no stovetop. I stalked around my hotel room naked but for the plush bathrobe with the Hyatt coat of arms waving in the breeze from the balcony. Start a small fire? Rest the espresso maker on my Thinkpad? That would've worked but I didn't want to risk the boiling espresso spilling onto the keyboard.

Not for nothing are humans the top of the food chain. The hotel room had: an iron! That's just like a stove-top! Aha! I propped the iron hot side up using some of those Egyptian cotton towels, carefully rested my espressomaker on it and in about 15 minutes the rich aroma of espresso hissed out of the pot. Ok, there's a bit of historical revisionism there. The first pot slid right off the slick iron (DUH) and spilled a bit. Fortunately the towels were there to catch the spill. But the second pot along with a bit of milk and splenda resulted in the yummiest hotel latte ever.

I bought a bunch of individual boxes of Parmalat milk, so next time I won't even need room service to supply the white stuff. Travel cappuccino! If I had a way to steam the milk, I would RULE the EARTH.

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Sunday, September 8th, 2002
11:57 am - Rosh Hashanah services
Happy New Year to my fellow lansmen! L'Shanah Tovah!

I'm in Los Angeles for a business trip. Priceline got me a swank hotel room at the Beverly Hills Park Hyatt for $99/night. It's right near my cousin Marti and Tony's Wilshire Drive apartment.

When I told my Dad I'd be in LA for the weekend for business, he asked me "you know that weekend is Rosh Hashanah right? What are you going to do for services? Hey I know, you should call Cousin Marti and go to services with them! I'll call them and see if they can get you a ticket."

Oops. If he'd paused to let me answer, I might have admitted that I am a bad Jew and had anticipated skipping services entirely. It's a nice family tradition and a great opportunity for reflection on the state of my soul, though, so even though I am skeptical about the mumbo-jumbo part of Judaism, I find some value in the life-affirming aspects. So ok I'll go, I thought, and it won't take up the whole weekend either.

We had a family reunion last weekend (pictures at http://tourmaline.us/nelkin_family_reunion_2002.htm for the curious). Dad cornered me and Marti and asked her to take me to services. She gave me a quick panicked look and mouthed 'we'll talk' while reassuring Dad that she'd take care of me. She, also, is a bad Jew.

She came up with a plan though! She and her daughter, cousin Jayme, have been going to Kabbalah classes for the past two months at this place in Beverly Hills. She assured me that the classes weren't religious but more intellectual, and full of positive, uplifting spiritualism and debate. Awesome! Also Madonna attends class sometimes so who knows who I'd run into at the service, but it wouldn't be a traditional mind numbing exercise in claptrap. Er, no offense to anyone who actually enjoys that shit.

The Kabbalah Service

We arrived at 10am, Marti and I looking fashionable in pant suits and Tony in a spiffy grey sports coat. We walked in and were surrounded by guys dressed all in white. Some of them were wearing white t-shirts, others in Arab-style long shirts and pants, others in dressy white button-down. Ok... They looked at me and Marti and scowled. Ooops! We found the women's side and sat in between two enthusiastic Sabra girls who helpfully opened our prayer books for us and pointed out which Hebrew word was being read. Tony looked uncomfortable among the guys-- no one had told him to wear all white, darn it. Ok, so everything was all Hebrew. Marti and I as previously mentioned are Bad Jews so we don't speak it. But the girls were very, very helpful.

I flipped through the prayerbook and read a lot of background on Kabbalah. It's a weird religion, certainly based on the Torah but with pseudo-scientific buzzwords, magic and numerology on top. Your Jewish name, for instance, is the DNA of your soul and by computing its number and finding other words with the same number you find out more about yourself because you share the same DNA. There are 10 worlds, but 6 are collapsed into each other, just like superstring theory says, haha, those funny scientists! The ancient kabbalists knew this millenia ago but only now is science discovering it! There are three kinds of energy, positive, negative and neutral, just like there's three kinds of elementary particles that compose the atom, protons, electrons and neutrons! See how scientific and modern it is?

My skepticism boiled and bubbled until I thought about other religious texts, which are even more ridiculous on their face. I relaxed and sang along to "yachad, yachad" (those were the only lyrics so I picked it up just fine. The two girls gave us lyric sheets anyway.) Wow those people were happy. With each verse we whooped it up more. The guys in front started drumming on the benches and really provided a great accompaniment. We were all clapping and then dancing broke out, and with one chorus of "yachad, yachad" the girl next to me let out a primal ululating whoop! Yeee-haw!

This service wasn't boring at ALL. Yes, the endless hebrew reading was incomprehensible and tedious but I got to read about the Light and how we're all Vessels and want to Share but Shaitan wants to keep us from the Light, yada yada yada, do these people really believe this shit? The two damn Sabra girls kept taking my prayerbook from me and turning it to the right page. I could have been annoyed but I tried making ululating shrieks during the songs and I'll be a fig cobbler if it didn't make the service more fun. Also, for no reason I could discern, multiple times during the service everyone would take their fingers, point in the air and go "whoooOOOOOOOO!" while rotating their hands in a circle, followed by a Seig-Heil like salute and shouting "Immortality NOW!", the only English in the whole ceremony.

Cousin Marti asked a Sabra girl for an explanation. Apparently by whipping your hand around in a circle and going 'whooooooooOOOOOOO!' you generate energy which you then cast upwards toward the Light, and then redirect the Light you've gathered towards Immortality which will bring us all closer to Immortality. Mmm hm.

I glanced over at Cousin Tony, whose gray dress shirt stood out like a peacock among a flock of white-feathered chickens. More about chickens in a moment. The other guys, now that I took a good look at them, had to be gay. They were mostly very good-looking, many had frosted hair (do straight guys frost their hair?) and were taking turns doing a circuit around the men's area, one at a time ritually and methodically hugging each other. Tony too. He's ok with that.

All of a sudden everyone jumped STRAIGHT into the air. Well, except me and Marti, we had missed the cue. This happened a few more times before I figured out that the trigger was the word 'kadosh'. This was a fun game! High-jumping in heels was difficult but I could play along.

Marti got really impatient when she realized it was nearly noon and the service showed no sign of stopping. She quieted up for a little bit after I found a portion in the prayer book about how impatience with the length of prayer is Shaitan's attempt to close off the positive energy pathways that have just opened. She asked Sabra #1 how much longer we had to go. '30 mins' we were told... Ok, we could do that. Thirty ululating minutes passed without much measurable sign of progress. We'd already taken the Torah out like three times and marched it through the congregation twice. The passion and drumming must have gotten to some of the guys because instead of the usual deferent kiss or touch, some of the guys were coming over to the Torah and snogging with it. I mean full-body hug plus burying their face in the cloth cover and really, really getting intimate with the Torah. I don't know how I feel about that. Good touch, bad touch? No snogging with MY Torah please. But maybe I'm a prude about these things.

We asked the other Sabra girl, who said maybe 20 more minutes and then we'd eat. Finally! The rabbi did announcements, telling us about upcoming classes and reminding us that the sign-up sheet for chickens was in the lobby. Guys have to get roosters so be sure to put down your sex, it's $26/chicken. They'll take it from there, the rabbi explained, so take advantage of this opportunity during the high holy days to transfer your sins to the chicken and start the New Year afresh!

The twenty minutes turned into 45 and then those bastard rabbis took the Torah back out. Enough was enough. Marti and I bailed, making frantic hand motions at Tony, and hung out in the lobby for a bit. I examined the chicken sign-up sheet but decided that if I wanted to sacrifice a chicken for my sins, I'd rather wield the knife myself. One of the classes looked interesting though. Using Kabbalah to enhance your sexual pleasure with Light (http://www.kabbalah.com/k/index.php/p=life/sex). Maybe Madonna'll be at THAT class. She wisely had skipped the service. I wonder if they're going to kill a chicken for her?

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Wednesday, August 14th, 2002
3:28 pm - a quick note
Weight loss progress has stalled for the time being as I flirt with depression and vague feelings of illness. I don't know why, I think I just need some time to regain inner balance.

Anyway, I'll be traveling all over the place in the near future. A trip to New York Aug 22-25 with my friend Gloria ought to be a blast! Only, we're staying with her mom. Whee! Then I've got a family reunion in Kansas City Aug 29-Sept 2, I'm conducting training out in LA Sept 4-10 and more training out in OKC Sept 18-20. I better get laundry done, and fast.

I ran across a couple funny URLs today and wanted to share:
http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2002/08/13/BA200448.DTL
Aristotle's law petition confounds blase Berkeley

In a philosophical effort to come up with a city law that no one could ever break, conceptual artist Jonathon Keats wants Berkeley to legally acknowledge Aristotle's law, commonly expressed as A=A.

More plainly put, it means a table is a table. A blade of grass is a blade of grass. The mayor is the mayor.

Mayor Shirley Dean was dumbfounded.

"I haven't a clue what that means," Dean said of Keats' proposition.



And here's another one good for a smirk:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/printFriendly/0,,1-2-382839,00.html
Four trapped boys take 27 hours to open door

FOUR teenage boys spent 27 hours trapped in a loft, escaping only after realising that all they needed to do was pull the trapdoor rather than push it.

Oops! Well, now I feel a little less down.


Back to work!

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Thursday, August 8th, 2002
12:25 pm - Signs (spoilers behind a cut tag)
I went to see the new M Night Shyamalan/Mel Gibson movie Signs last weekend. Capsule review: except for the last 10 minutes, it was great! If you have the strength of will to set your watch to beep 110 minutes into the movie and get your ass OUT of the theatre before the crude, pandering ending, you might enjoy this movie far more than I did. Most of the movie was full of tight, suspenseful, creepy shots. I thought that the reaction of the characters to the events unfolding around them seemed genuine and unforced. How would you react to a crop circle appearing in your field, and then seeing on CNN that crop circles appeared all over the world? Immersing oneself in healthy skepticism is one thing but what if it *really* happened? Anyway, on that level the movie worked for me. That's what I really enjoy about good science fiction-- when it takes a fantastical premise and explores the consequences with insight and realism.

The namby-pamby religious element of the movie didn't work for me but I didn't take offense at that. I guess I kind of expect religious elements in movies to be stupid and shallow. My expectations were met.

In the last 10 minutes of the movie, though, Shyamalan showed all his cards. Sadly, he wasn't playing with a full deck.

spoilers ahoy! ye have been warnedCollapse )

(3 comments | comment on this)

10:45 am - quiz result



Being a vampire is spooky enough, but you are the Master Vampire of St. Louis. You won your position with a lot of manipulation, powerholds, and just plain hard work. You began the powerful triumverate that gets Anita into all that boy trouble. Sure, you're manipulative, but once people get to know you, and can stand you, they can't help but love you.

Which Anita Blake Character Are You?





If y'all don't know what I'm talking about, you haven't read the vampire/werewolf/porn/fantasy series by Laurel K Hamilton. Thanks again to nihilistic_kid for giving me the most recent Anita Blake book in HARDCOVER no less for SeKrit Satan last year! Make no mistake, the books are total fluff. Great bedtime reading ;)

Oh, and I gotta say this test seems to have nailed me pretty well. *coughcoughcough* except for the blood-drinking part anyway.

(3 comments | comment on this)

Monday, August 5th, 2002
1:37 am - a bar in Buckhead on a Saturday night
Last night I stopped by the Tavern at Phipps to grab some take-out sandwiches. Me and some friends were eating a late dinner and the Tavern's pastrami sandwiches are out of this world. I was on a diet and just having salad but I volunteered to stop and pick up the fatty meat on rye. No ordering by phone at the Tavern though, so I sidled up to the bar, elbowing my way through the crowd of Buckhead Bettys and Toms. Them: drunk, dressed for trendy buckhead bar on Saturday night, slim, comfortable. Me: cold sober, wearing a cute shirt that showed off my cleavage but with jeans and running shoes, somewhat slim but with memories of fatness, feeling like an impostor. I've never hung out in bars. Ever. In college I belonged to a co-ed frat full of geeks. We held frat parties and had a happening social scene but we all knew we were geeks just pretending to be normal. That's what I felt like in the bar as I waited for my food. A geek spy from the other team, observing the socially adept beautiful people. They didn't talk to me though.. not until a group of blonde Bettys bustled up to the bar for a group shot. The bartender shoved a shot glass at me and soon me and the chicks were enjoying free drinks! Whoa. With an alcoholic beverage in my hand, I guess I was safe to talk to. The guys nearby me started chatting me up. It was freaky... I just never even *tried* to go into a bar and meet total strangers.

Fortunately the food arrived, so I was able to escape with my dignity and self-image mostly intact. Geeky unattractive smart chicks, unite! And stay the hell out of bars on a Saturday night!

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Saturday, August 3rd, 2002
2:01 pm - trite saying of the day
Happiness isn't having what you want, it's wanting what you have.

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12:57 pm - neat articles
in the papers today:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A23641-2002Jul30.html
Supreme Discomfort

More than a decade after his bitter confirmation battle, African Americans are still judging Clarence Thomas guilty. Is that justice?

Having recently read 'Blinded by the Right' by David Brock and thus being more aware of the odd social dynamics surrounding Conservatives and politics than I used to be, I found this article fascinating. Even as David Brock felt like a traitor-- well, arguably WAS a traitor to gays by being a vocal part of the Conservative movement, Clarence Thomas is viewed as a traitor to blacks, but the Conservative group of politicians that make up the activist core of the movement seems to be a very tightly supportive clique. I guess it's almost like a cult, as to be a member you have to espouse radical views that effectively isolate you from your normal peer group. The article shows him to be principled and saddened by the hatred targeted at him... but also reviews some of his controversial decisions and lets the reader draw their own conclusions, like in Hudson v. McMillan, a 1992 case where Thomas said that guards beating a (black) prisoner didn't constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Fortunately the majority on the Court ruled otherwise, or I guess it would now be perfectly legal to beat prisoners in jail.

I ran across another neat article in the NYT Magazine! This one was a little more light-hearted, whew. It's about Amanda Latona and the music industry (yay!). Apparently Amanda wants to be a star, and the music industry'll just make that happen. They have that power, apparently.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/08/04/magazine/04LATONA.html?8hpist

(comment on this)

Monday, July 15th, 2002
3:55 pm
Weight update: 136. Stepping on the scale each morning is becoming addictive; every other day, maybe, another 1/2 lb has clearly been leached off my frame. Ok it's about as exciting as watching paint dry but for the second I step on the scale, at least, I get all bouncy and happy. Well moreso than usual, that is, since y'all know I am generally bouncy and happy anyway.

I am about to pay the price for success; the pants I bought earlier this year (size 14) are now noticeably very baggy. Oh lord no, not more clothes shopping! Anything but that! I hear the siren call of the Neiman Marcus Last Call outlet store.... Jennifer... big discounts... designer names...

But I've got bigger fish to fry... albeit not literally. Can't eat fried food, not on MY diet. I mean, I could, but since I'm limiting my calorie intake to 800-900 cals/day, I've found I prefer to spend my budget on veggies and low-fat meat, with the occasional slice of cheese or piece of chocolate for a treat. Anyway I don't want to spend a lot of money on new clothes right now because I'm paying off my credit cards and saving money for a new house, plus blowing extra cash on weird diet food. Dessert bread from synergy diet, for instance: http://www.synergydiet.com/holidaybread.html is only 36 cals/slice. The stuff tastes nearly exactly like my mom's Passover honeycake. Like mom's honeycake, it's a bit dry but I slather it with this sour cherry jam made with Splenda (http://www.synergydiet.com/steelgourche.html and only 6 cals for a tablespoon) and it is quite the dessert.

I think half the fun I'm having dieting is from spending time finding food that's on "sale" calorie-wise. I'm redirecting my Jewish shopping energy into eating! Hey maybe *that's* the hook I should use to write a weight-loss book, 'A Yenta's Guide to Dieting: Eat Like You Shop'. AHAHAHAH.

(5 comments | comment on this)

Tuesday, July 9th, 2002
7:55 pm - boring weight loss update
1 year ago today I weighed 193. Today: 140. 140's the breakthrough point! Since I'm 5'3", that means my BMI's dropped below 25.0 so I'm officially normal, not even overweight anymore. WAHOO!

No one's bought my house yet. Darn it. Ah well, I'm happy enough with the current state of affairs.

Latest weird new diet food I've adopted: fruit2o by Veryfine. The stuff's made with Splenda and looks like bottled water. But it tastes like real lemonade, or real tangerine juice or real other juices, depending on the flavor. It's even got vitamins in it. Yum!

I let my spaghetti squash sit in the pantry too long. It didn't rot, but when I sliced it open, I discovered that the seeds had actually sprouted inside! The remaining squash kind of tasted funny. Oops!

(10 comments | comment on this)

Wednesday, June 26th, 2002
4:28 pm - "tourmaline is"
Tourmaline is one of the most unusual of all gemstones

Tourmaline is familiar with the following languages, tools and technologies: C/C++, Visual Basic, ...

Tourmaline is from the famous Kunar Valley in Afghanistan

Tourmaline is said to aid the nervous system as well as remove negative vibrations

Tourmaline is a fairly gentle reef break and as such is a very popular longboard surfing spot as well as a windsurfing spot when the conditions are right

Tourmaline is said to amplify one’s psychic energies

Tourmaline is associated with the planet Saturn

Tourmaline is the national gemstone of the US

Tourmaline is still in the matrix

Tourmaline is pink in the middle and green around the outside

Tourmaline is thought to bring favor from the Muses and is sometimes considered lucky for artists, writers and other persons pursuing "creative" careers

Tourmaline is protected from Danger and misfortune

Tourmaline is famous for stunning electric teals

(1 comment | comment on this)

Thursday, June 20th, 2002
11:30 am
Quick update: I now weigh 144 lbs, I've discovered Walden Farms makes 0-calorie ketchup and 0-calorie barbecue sauce that taste just like the real thing, I've gotten back to exercising daily and spent most of last week in Las Vegas on a company-paid vacation with my coworkers, where one of them took the following picture of me. I'm on the left, the guy in the middle is our company VP and that's his wife on the right. I was just blown away by the picture-- do I look hot or what?



I was poking around my hard drive a couple days ago and found some pictures of me from 3 years ago before I started dieting.



Since I'm not using the private posting option, I will spare your eyes and my own dignity and NOT post the naked pics.

(19 comments | comment on this)

Tuesday, April 16th, 2002
10:11 am - Zero-Calorie salad dressing, Splenda, taxes, etc
Just wanted to plug Walden Farms calorie-free salad dressing. I've bought three bottles so far at our local Whole Foods market, Ranch, Honey Mustard and Italian. The Italian is the best and if you didn't know it was zero calories, you'd have no idea. It tastes just like a GOOD regular salad dressing, kind of a spicy with red wine, sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar and other taste elements I can't quite identify. The ranch is ok but only in small quantities and really only makes one wistful for real full-calorie ranch dressing. As we all know, real ranch dressing has on average 120 cals/serving (2 tbsps) and is nearly enough by itself to make a healthy salad into the dietary equivalent of a cheeseburger. I haven't tried the honey mustard yet.

It's just mind-blowing to me that this stuff has zero calories. I mean, I don't get it. Here's the ingredients for the yummy Italian dressing: Purified triple filtered water, cider vinegar, white vinegar, salt, minced garlic, minced onion, oregano, natural flavors, natural spices, lemon juice, red bell peppers, xanthan gum, propylene glycol alginate, sodium benzoate (to preserve freshness), sucralose. Sucralose, btw, is Splenda. More information may be found here: http://www.lowcarboutfitters.com/wfdress.html

I use Splenda now for sweetening my coffee, oatmeal, iced tea and drink it in Diet Rite. Now I eat it in my salad dressing too. I hope it doesn't turn out to be bad! In any case it can't be worse than sugar, at least not for me who still battles her food addiction daily.

fin9901 and I went to Kroger to drop off our taxes yesterday. The whole tax experience kind of sucked. The tax guy I use, he's great but as much as death and taxes are dependable, he is not. He was supposed to come over Tuesday but his car was broken into and his dog ate his glasses. Then we rescheduled to Thursday at 8pm. He did arrive at 10:30, his poor car sporting a broken window. He brought his old, chewed-up glasses to display to us sadly. I have to admit, I wondered if this man kept a collection of disaster objects to display to clients on a regular basis. Thursday he did sylphon's taxes but by the time he was done it was too late to do ours. Then he was going to come over Friday at 8 but his car ran out of gas and he has no cellphone and can't walk so he had to wait by the side of the road for a passing stranger's pity. This, of course, took hours. Saturday we said 9pm but I called to confirm on Saturday morning and he begged off, saying he was exhausted and would like to reschedule for Sunday at 2pm. FINALLY Sunday at 8pm he shows up. Note that the whole time I had been calling his home line repeatedly, like 5 or 6 times/day, to try to confirm ahead of time or find out why he's late and when he'll be showing. He probably saved us $2k in taxes, telling me about deductions I hadn't known and finding every last penny we were owed. But was it worth it? I rankle with frustration, still.

On the other hand, actually getting the taxes in to the IRS was exceedingly pleasant. fin9901 and I went to Kroger to turn them in. Kroger is a large grocery chain but they keep offering strange non-grocery goods and services. We bought our last TV there. They have great deals on inkjet printers. Every so often, a pallet of electronics will just show up and have some amazing price marked on it. Hmm... Well last night they had IRS agents and State of Georgia Tax agents manning Q&A desks, a slew of FREE copiers, all the forms, and free coffee. Wow! We walked in and availed ourselves of the copying and handed the forms over to friendly, smiling tax agents who even checked the forms for simple errors. We then walked out of Kroger without buying a thing. The experience left me feeling kindly towards them, but Publix and Harry's Farmers Market/Whole Foods still have better groceries.

(7 comments | comment on this)

Thursday, April 11th, 2002
4:14 pm
Huh, apparently propylene glycol is in lots of foods. Who knew?

(comment on this)

3:21 pm - Another journal entry about weird things in food
For various reasons I cannot discuss, I grew curious about the ingredients of Sbarro Pizza's food. Their corporate website has nothing. A websearch found ingredients and nutritional information on a website at Indiana University. Most of the information was what I'd been expecting, but in their Marsala Sauce (used in their Chicken Taormina dish) there was one unexpected ingredient-- propylene glycol. Antifreeze? When did antifreeze become a food ingredient?

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Thursday, April 4th, 2002
10:21 am - free coffee, hopefully without paint
Last night I went to Publix on the hunt for coffee, among other sundry items. They had a bunch of brands of coffee, from the standard (and very good) Eight O'Clock, to various bags of Starbucks and even more expensive stuff like St Ives coffee. They had a display announcing they'd started carrying Barnie's Coffee, complete with many expensive-looking bags. I had to check them out. I really love a good chocolate-flavored coffee. Harry's Farmers Market makes a swiss chocolate almond coffee with big slivers of roasted almond in it that is out of this WORLD. It really satisfies my chocolate cravings. But Publix, for all that it carries something like 175 different brands and kinds of coffee, does not carry a SINGLE chocolate-flavored coffee. This sort of injustice will not stand! Even the new Barnie's coffee, though it had many flavors, didn't cater to my whims. Or did it? Barnie's seems to make a huge variety of flavors but they have strange names like 'Cool Cafe Blues' and 'Santa's White Christmas'. The bags, however, gave no hint of these flavors actually might be. Perhaps if I were more culturally immersed in the coffee scene I would just know. Hey, these coffee bags are saying I'm unhip! I feel insulted!

Outraged by the lack of chocolate coffee and Barnie's snideness, I went to see the store manager. (An Indian store clerk pointed her out to me: "She's behind the service counter... The one in the middle, you see? The white one.") "You have no chocolate-flavored coffee!" I blustered. "Despite having hundreds of hazelnut and vanilla flavors! It's not right!"

She took it in stride. "Did you look at the new line of Barnie's coffee?" she suggested helpfully.

"Yes I did! And it's weird, but I don't think it's chocolate. It's got flavors like 'Cool Cafe Blues'. I mean, what does a cafe taste like? And 'Santa's White Christmas'-- it's not Christmas yet! What's up with that?"

One of the counter clerks, listening in, couldn't contain herself any longer and started laughing uncontrollably, trying to stifle it with a hand over her mouth and saying "Not Christmas yet!" over and over. The manager smiled and offered to give me a free bag of coffee, comps on the house. Woo! We went back and examined their stash. She looked over a bag of Cool Cafe Blues critically and agreed with me that she had no fucking idea what a cafe might taste like. The ingredients listing just says "Coffee and natural and artificial flavors." The ingredients listing for Santa's White Christmas was a little more informative, it said "Coffee, titanium dioxide and natural and artificial flavors." WHAT? They're putting WHITE PAINT in coffee now? Hence the name, I guess. She'll be talking to the Barnie's Rep tomorrow. Perhaps they'll let her in on the secret but in any case I took a bag home with me and soon I will find out for myself. I cracked the bag open and spent awhile inhaling the aroma. Smells like... coffee. Hm.

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Sunday, March 17th, 2002
1:18 pm - life update
I spent Friday night and ALL yesterday working on catching up. I am now pretty close to caught up on work and can get started on non-essential things again. Time to go in for a tooth cleaning, for me and my kitties! Willow's breath is NAZTEE boyz, oh my sweet JEEZUS is it bad. Maybe I should look into a pet health insurance plan. Anyone know any good ones?

In the last month and a half I have lost 3 (three) pounds and the scale now consistently reads 149 when I wake up. Under 150! yes!! That's in spite of eating a whole box of ice cream sandwiches and most of a box of banana pops and bread and real cheese and all sorts of bad things. I didn't do so well, eating-wise, the past week or two. Stress-related binging, y'all understand I hope. Now that I've got some breathing room I can devote energy to resisting food, and exercising again. My poor gym bag sits dusty and neglected in my bedroom.

Friday our contractor (Jim MacKenzie of All Phases Contracting) finished work on our basement. Now, except for painting and carpeting, it is DONE! Bathroom installed, lights, ceiling, drywall, doors, even without the paint and carpet the basement looks like part of the house now. I am thrilled. Jim did the work for a reasonable price and he was fast and it looks like a quality job. Yay!

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Saturday, March 2nd, 2002
11:32 am - Addendum to previous dog story
The vet told Kara that worms like that are really the snakes entertwined around the Caduceus, because in ancient times that's a big part of what doctors did-- take sticks and wind them around worms to pull them out of people. I thought that was a bunch of hooey, but looking around the web I have found other references to that belief. For instance:

Some sources believe that the Caduceus was originally decorated with ribbons rather than snakes. Another source has it that the snakes were worms and the staff was a stick. Before modern medicine, doctor`s treated infection by parasitic worms with a stick & knife. The doctor would cut a slit in the patient`s skin just in front of the moving worm. Later, as the worm crawled out of the cut, it was wound around the stick until the entire worm had been removed from the patient. Doctors would promote their services by using a sign with the stick and worms painted on it.

Cool :) Not that I still necessarily buy it, but it's possible I suppose.

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11:12 am - My Dad's doberman, Amber
My Dad has a doberman pinscher named Amber. She's a sweet dog. She used to be a little crazy but she's gotten better. Anyway, two days ago my stepsister Kara noticed that she seemed to be limping. My stepmom was having terrible leg pains and thought the dog must be doing it out of sympathy. Kara took a closer look and noticed that her leg was grossly swollen. In fact there seemed to be two spots, one mid-bicep and one down by her ankle, that were nearly three times the diameter of her other legs.

So Dad and Kara took Amber to the vet. The vet was back with her for a few minutes and then asked Kara if she was at all squeamish. Kara's had two kids so she bravely went into the exam room with the vet. The upper swollen spot had burst open in pus. She took a closer look... There was something MOVING in the pus. It started to come OUT! The vet grabbed some forceps and carefully latched on, eventually pulling out a healthy-looking eight inch worm. Thank GOD I wasn't there. I've seen too many X-files episodes to handle it. And I haven't had any kids.

Well, the vet had no idea what kind of worm it was. He wanted to keep it for investigatory purposes. Bring Amber back in 3 days, he said, and don't worry about the other swelling, it looks just like an irritation.

Kara DID worry about the other swelling and indeed it's good that she did, because she wasn't at all surprised when yesterday it burst open and ANOTHER worm began waving from the wound. Yet another occasion for prayer on my part. They took dog back to the vet where he revealed that the thing is Dracunculus insignis, a pond parasite.

See http://cal.vet.upenn.edu/dxendopar/parasitepages/filariidsandspirurids/d_insignis.html for all the gory illustrated details.

The vet gave Amber some deworming pills. Those will kill the larvae in her. But the already-hatched worms are sliming their way through her body to her limbs, which will swell and burst in wormy pus explosions. Someone must be there to grab the worm before it slithers back inside. It could go on for weeks. They already have found one other swelling.

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Saturday, February 16th, 2002
1:20 am - Ares must not have slept 6-7 hours/night
My net is still down, except to nytimes.com and livejournal.com. Speakeasy says it could be restored sometime in the next 24 hours! They hope! They're just surprised that I can get to nytimes and livejournal.com. Anyway, at least I can surf on nytimes and post about it on LJ.

Actor Who Played Xena's Love Interest Dies
http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/arts/entertainment-life-newzealand-xena.html

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - A New Zealand actor who played the leather-clad, bicep-bulging God of War, Ares, opposite Xena in the television series ``Xena: Warrior Princess'' has died in China after a fall. Kevin Smith, 38, died in hospital late Friday from head injuries he suffered in Beijing, where he had been working on a film production, the NZ government said in a statement.

That sucks so hard. I had stopped watching Xena awhile ago but the leather-clad Ares still occasionally occupied my thoughts. Goodbye, Kevin Smith.

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