Archive for March, 2008

Monday Misery

Fair warning: this is a pity party post.

Three reasons the last three days sucked:

1. Tree trimming on major interstates. I was an hour and a half late for a scholarship fund raising luncheon because PennDOT decided to trim trees along the Schuylkill, tying up traffic all Saturday morning. We did not see the alleged tree trimming crews, but there were freshly sheared trees to suggest they had been there at some point. We got there just as  they were serving lunch. Bright side: I won a raffle basket filled with baby goodies that will make awesome presents for the zillion upcoming baby showers and pregnancy parties. (Aside-what is a pregnancy party? I guess I’ll find out Saturday morning. Pocklock? I’ll let you know if you need to have one.) Also got to eat a delicious vegetarian pasta and mushroom dish coveted by the carnivores at my table. Lesson to all: always, ALWAYS order the vegetarian dish at a hotel meeting. It’s always the best. My meal totally kicked the ass of the card deck piece of chicken (proper servings size, I know) and steamed spinach with three slivers of roasted red peppers (definitely not a full serving of veggies).

2.  90-day return policies. This doesn’t even really affect me; my sister asked me to return some things to that store with the super annoying commercials. But it was great than 90 days since she made the purchase and the manager refused to accept the return. I have grounds to call and complain about the store. It was a disaster area. They must have been in the middle of a floor move and there was barely any merchandise and huge sections of empty fixtures. Bright side: free chocolate and peanut butter candy at Gertrude Hawk! Yummy! And then I ran 3.5 miles, which might be the farthest I’ve run. (I can’t remember.)

3. Backstabbers. It’s one of those things that you’re not supposed to talk about on your blog. I’m having a hard time being myself (aka keeping my foot out of my mouth) and playing the game of office politics. I keep getting talked to, and I feel like a huge failure. I might have cried. I just don’t understand why I’m so easy to confront, but those who wrong me get away with it all the time. I’m not a tattletale, but recent events make me consider going to the dark side. Bright side: NEW! HIMYM and wine. Lots of wine.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading my bitching. I really do feel better now. Although it could be because of the wine. But I feel less like crying! How was your weekend?

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Help Me, Foodies!

I am in charge of organizing group dinners for a conference this June in Portland, Maine. I’ve never been there, but I understand there is a wealth of delectible dining options. We’re staying at the Holiday Inn, so restaurants within walking distance are ideal. Any suggestions for restaurants that can accomodate groups of up to 15 people?

 To burn off those tasty, tasty calories, I’m also organizing a morning jogging group. Are there awesome jogging trails?

Land of the Lost

Two Christmases ago, my mom (who I’ve mentioned tends to go a little overboard) went all GPS crazy on our asses and purchased me a Garmin car GPS and my youngest sister a handheld Magellan. She was introduced to geocaching at school and fell in love with the adventure of a good treasure hunt using coordinates. The one opportunity we seized to geocache that Christmas break ended with us almost getting shot and a run through the woods, pursued by yipping dogs.

The Monday after Easter, the stars aligned (she remembered to bring home her GPS) and we headed to a nearby park. Armed with coordinates for three caches, we set out on a trail marked easy. It was, but one trail lead to another as we tracked our treasures (a dollar and a dime). We found the first cache after minimal searching, the second cache was a two-parter and we gave up searching through mountain laurels for the second half, and the third cache was almost in plain sight. However, the trail from 2b to 3 was rocky and pretty much straight downhill. Which meant the return trip would be straight uphill.

We were pretty tired at this point so we surveyed our options: follow the trial, which appeared to be all uphill, or climb a fierce bank and take the road back to the park entrance. We were only half a mile from our car, as the bird flies. We decided to take the easy route and scaled the bank, encountering many snake holes along the way.

On the road, a couple hills from where we started, my sister reached to check the time and realized her phone must have fallen out as we dodged snakes. “Screw it. I have insurance,” she said. “But it sucks to lose all those numbers.”

Then we see the sign: Park Entrance 2 miles.

I just found this on the park’s Web site:

The 0.7-mile Five Points Trail is moderately difficult and features rhododendron and views of creek valleys.

At one point as we trudged through the rolling hills of the Lancaster County countryside, surrounded by fields and forest, I mentioned I felt like we were on the set of The Hills Have Eyes.

Finally we found the park and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pump our legs on the swings and I HAD to go down the slide. As we left the park, I convinced my sister to go back to the hill and at least attempt to look for the phone. There it sat, about 10 feet down the hill, right near the drainage pipe.

“Damn. I just spend two miles getting excited about my new phone,” she said.

We hiked and walked 4.59 miles that day. I planned on going to the gym that night, but decided it probably wasn’t necessary.

There’s a Tear…

I don’t define myself as a reality TV fan. But as I sit here watching America’s Next Top Model, reflecting on last night’s The Biggest Loser, I might need to review that assessment.

Did anyone else get a tear in his or her eye last night when Tim Gunn dabbed his eyes with a handkerchief on TBL? One of the brothers started sobbing when his wife surprised him at the runway show and Timmy got a little teary. It was sweet.

Not so sweet? Tyra just called out one of the ANTM contestants for not shaving her pits. Someone shouldn’t be throwing stones.

On Mud Sales and Whoopie Pies

It was almost like a high school reunion, as it is every year. Complete with the homecoming king, girls basketball stars, Miss Most Spirited and the one who got knocked up, the annual mud sale is a great opportunity to catch up with those who remember you at your most awkward. Toss in that guy, and you have a recipe for the best day ever. /sarcasm.

It was the annual mud sale to benefit the local volunteer fire company. I’ve gone for the past few years, and it’s always the same: catch up with the people you saw for thirteen straight years, Monday through Friday, September through mid-June, without all the bullshit that is synonymos with high school. We catch up for a few minutes but have the perfect excuse to move on when the conversation becomes stilted. I didn’t see much for sale that I wanted to buy, so I volunteered in the kitchen for a little while.

However, I made up for my thrifty ways the next day when I hit the outlets. Bass was having a huge sale, plus an extra 25 percent off. Ouch.

Before that, I ate my weight in whoopie pies and shoo fly pie. Gluttony is fabulous and delicious.

Lucky Me

I don’t think I have much, if any, Irish heritage, not matter what my freckles and hair-that-will-not-color-any-shade-that-is-not-red hair may make you think. But Philadelphia sure does love its St. Patrick’s Day, so I say, “When in Rome…”

I’m lucky because:

  • I have a comfortable bed, heat, running water and enough money to buy all the food I want to eat.
  • A loving family, including my delicious nephew.
  • A job that I enjoy, about which I’m passionate, and in which I believe.
  • Friends across the country who care about me.
  • A reliable car and money to put fuel in the tank.
  • The energy and ability to run a couple miles after work.
  •  Television to entertain me and books to feed my mind.
  • Cute polka dotted boots to keep my feet dry.
  • Pretty pictures to help me remember the best times.

What makes you lucky?

9021-Oh Heck Yes

To this day, whenever I mention that I have an new interest, you can bet your biscuit that everything associated with that interest will appear in my Christmas present pile. My mom, bless her, tends to go a little overboard because she loves us and wants us to be happy and surrounded by the things in which we express an minor interest. One year it was NKOTB, another sunflowers. More recently stars, but unfortunately I’m still waiting for a new Canon lens.

At an age probably completely inappropriate for the drama that unfolded, I fell in love with Beverly Hills, 90210. I never missed an episode and developed a deep crush on Dylan McKay. (I love you, Luke Perry!) I had a Brandon sweatshirt (she didn’t always get things right), a beach towel (I think it’s still floating around, somewhere) and a calendar/poster that graced my wood-paneled walls for YEARS.

Let’s not tell her I might become addicted to the spinoff. People might point and laugh at the 26-year-old in a 90210: The New Class sweatshirt.

Of Ruined Lunches and Maxi Pads

I don’t shy away from expressing my unhappiness over unsatisfactory products or service. Just the other week I called the 800-number on the back of my Lean Cuisine Butternut Squash Ravioli when I carefully peeled open the cardboard flaps, removed the black plastic tray and discovered the clear plastic film was sliced open from end to end. Nothing ruins your day faster than having to throw away your much anticipated, very delicious frozen lunch. The kind folks at Lean Cuisine were gracious enough to profusely apologize and I received a couple of coupons for replacement meals, and bonus coupons for their panini sandwiches.

As much as I pride myself in my ability to fight for my right to quality merchandise, I bow before the greatness of Wendi Aarons. She deserves some type of award for best construction of an irritated-consumer letter.

“Last month, while in the throes of cramping so painful I wanted to reach inside my body and yank out my uterus, I opened an Always maxi pad, and there, printed on the adhesive backing, were these words: “Have a Happy Period.”

Are you f-ing kidding me?”

CloseTalker

I went to happy hour(s) Friday night with a group of friends. The bar was fabulous (Urban Saloon in the Fairmount section), and the company was awesome, although the name lies-no country music! There were swinging saloon doors, though. The bar area was packed, but we were able to get a table and ordered dinner and drinks. No one was brave enough to try the bacon burger with peanut butter, but the food was good… it even offered your choice of fries or tater tots!

One friend invited another couple of friends, one of which turned out to be someone’s a former coworker (details are a little fuzzy). The coworker was a close talker. He seemed nice enough, but I just wasn’t that into him, as the saying goes. Throughout our conversation I noticed he got closer, so I would inch back. He inched forward. I inched back. And so on. It wasn’t even that loud! Eventually someone distracted us which gave me an excuse to escape Close Talker. I ask: How do you politely discourage the close talker?

Answers to Your Cow Questions!

Thanks for all the great questions about cows!  I’ve tried to answer them the best I can, but feel free to ask more!

From Pocklock

Q: Are the cows friendly? Can you pet them and love them?

A: Cows have personalities, just like people. Most of them are very gentle and loving, but sometimes you get one that just seems to hate the world. My sisters and I used to show cows, kind of like a dog show, but for bovines. We would wash them (usually with Tide to make them smell good), give them haircuts and comb their tails and put on a nice leather halter to show them off. Those cows were usually very sweet. Other cows, like Number 7 and Number 66 were pure evil. I would refuse to touch them because cows’ kicks? Hurt. I used to make my younger sisters wash and put the milkers on those types of cows. I’m a great older sister like that.

But yes, most cows are friendly and love to be petted. My favorites are the calves.

Q: Someone once told me that they all go back in the barn at night in the same order, is this true?

A: I don’t know about the exact same order, but cows are creatures of habit. Our pasture has trails from where the cows would follow the same path from the barn to the woods every day. There are different types of barns; we have a tie-stall barn. Some cows did have special stalls that they would go to. Lucky would only use the stall by the alley near the milkhouse. We had to chase other cows out because Lucky would not go into other stalls.

Q: How much milk can you get from one cow?

A: The average cow produces 6 to 7 gallons each day. Aren’t you glad you’re not a cow?! It takes 5 to 10 minutes to milk a cow with an automatic milking machine. Most cows are milk 2 or 3 times a day.

From Sara:

Q: Why are some cows white and some black?

A: Just like there are different ethnicities of humans, there are different breeds of cows. There are six main breeds of dairy cows: Holsteins (black and white, sometimes red and white), Ayrshires (red and white), Guernseys (brown and white), Jerseys (mostly brown with some white), Brown Swiss (self explanatory) and Milking Shorthorn (brown and white). Each breed has certain “dairy characteristics” that makes them unique. Holsteins are the most common cows, they are the largest and typically produce the most milk.

From Jessica:

Q: How often are the farms inspected, if at all? And for what?

A: Inspections vary from state to state. Maryland has state employees that visit each farm, at least twice a year. Pennsylvania’s farms are inspected semi-annually by field representatives employeed by the dairy cooperative or milk plant. In either case, the farms are inspected to make sure they are clean and the cows are well cared for.

Milk is tested up to 17 times from the farm to the dairy; if it’s not perfect, it’s pitched. Before it’s unloaded at the plant, it’s screened for antibiotics, bacteria and temperature (it has to be between 35 and 40 degrees).

PS-Can anyone help me figure out how to post a photo? I just get a box with a red X. Thanks!

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