Summer Olympics

Beware. I have some issues to get off my chest, plus I'm tired and cranky. Apparently I have Olympics Fatigue. This is a real thing. I know it is, because I saw it on television. But I already knew it was real because I keep sleeping through my alarm clock.

Why is this an issue? Because NBC has chosen to show us only swimming or diving Olympic events from London before 9:30pm ET. I don't find it interesting to watch hundreds of people  swim up and down a pool night after night. A couple of nights. Sure. Synchro Diving. Interesting. But every freaking night for two weeks. No. And I'm pretty sure that the most often said phrase during the NBC Olympics broadcast is in fact, "And now back to the Aquatics Center."

I do realize that some people enjoy swimming and diving and for them these are the premier summer sports. Okay. Great. We've now watched so much diving in our house that my youngest daughter has decided she wants to be a Chinese diver when she grows up. "Because they are the best." While she is right about this, the problem here is that this is the only sport she's been able to see because, even by extending her bedtime by an hour, it's the only thing on NBC. But surely the Olympics should be about showcasing every sport in some way, shape or form. This year we haven't seen as many of the biographic pieces that usually go along with Olympics coverage. Or maybe that information is being covered on the NBC cable channels. Along with all the other coverage I want to watch.

I'm more than a bit irked about NBC's decision to put women's soccer on their cable channel. I did get to see two matches. One, I actually watched on TV while we were on vacation at a house that had cable. The other match I watched using the NBCExtra app on my iPhone using a temporary guest pass. This was not an ideal way to watch the women's soccer gold medal match. I missed a lot of the match and the screen was very tiny. What ticks me off is that everyone talked about how iconic these matches were and still they were only available to those people who had cable TV. How are American kids supposed to learn about sports and look up to these athletes if they can't even see the game?

And don't get me started on women's gymnastics! I've been up until nearly midnight for how many nights trying to see some of this coverage. My daughters, at just the right age to be impacted by these triumphs, aren't able to stay up late enough to see any of the competition. Why? Because the Olympics are in London and I live in the Eastern Time Zone. It's about advertising. The 'good stuff' has to be shown to the most number of people in the US while they are awake and apparently that happens after 8pm Central.

So, even though we all knew - according to every website in the world because no one chose to use Spoiler Alerts except Brian Williams - who won the gold medals we still had to wait until nearly freaking midnight!! Sure, there's a chance we'd have seen a greater variety of events if we had cable but I'm not sure about that. And I'm really curious about whether Americans are really that interested in swimming and diving or if those of us on in the Eastern Time Zone were taking one for the team because no one else was actually watching.

There you go. I hope you're enjoying the Summer Olympics. I've seen some amazing feats and some wonderful and inspirational moments. I'm guessing there might've been more but unless NBC puts together a clip reel we won't see them. Let's all hope that coverage of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia is better than what we've seen from London.

Mac Love - Part II

My new Mac is almost a month old and I'm beginning to work my way through the bookmarks I had stored on my PC in hopes of getting a Mac again. One of the sites I had bookmarked was Vitamin-R.

I read about Vitamin-R, or heard about it more accurately on Storywonk with Lani and Alastair. I'd looked at it then but, of course, I didn't have a Mac. Now that I'm back in the Land of Mac and writing again everyday, or close to it, I'm looking at Vitiman-R as a way to help me chunk out my time and avoid procrastination. I'm avoiding it now - I've downloaded the trial and I'm looking forward to the white noise. I think that's going to be my favorite feature!

Mac Love

Now that I'm back in the land of Mac I'm returning to software that I know and love. Scrivener is one of my favorite writing programs. It's a wonderful way to break down novels, screenplays, and I guess anything bigger than grocery lists, into a manageable size. There are wonderful features like cork boards, which make moving scenes around so much easier than hunting around for your work in a lengthy, volume then cutting and pasting. There are 'full screen' features in case you are easily distracted, split screens in case you want to work on various versions, name generators, and when you are done Scrivener will compile your work into one full document. I've only scratched the surface of the parts of Scrivener I use, and I don't even use all of the wonderful features in Scrivener.

While there is a PC version of Scrivener, and I used it for a couple of years, I much prefer the original Mac version. But don't take my word for it, test it first and see if you like it.

Working Hard

It's hard right now not to spew my ire at the lousy work NBC is doing on the Olympics. Instead I'm going to take a deep breath and hope that they are working hard to make the second week in London better than the first.

While butterfly horses leap through the air I'll tell you that I am loving my new Macbook Air. I love my return to the world of Apple. It's intuitive, wonderful, fast, and the only thing that would make it better is if the machine came in different colors. I'm hoping to solve that problem soon my getting a skin or cover.

In the meantime, I'm getting some writing done - which is why it's been a little quiet here. But y'all are busy watching the Olympics right:) Yeah, that's what I thought.

Life in the City, Part II

Most of my driving is in the City these days. I drive to work. I drive home from work. Occasionally I have errands to run on a break during the day and since I work in the City I'm driving into and out of the City. I use the interstate as little as possible, especially since it's under construction.

I see a lot of different driving patterns and habits. I understand that people learn to drive in different places, have different styles, and perhaps different comfort levels.

That, however, is no excuse for not knowing the rules of the road. No one, not the youngest driver or the oldest driver, should be unaware of the most common expectations when they get behind the wheel.

As I mentioned in my previous post, we've had a lot of power outages lately. That means that a lot of street lights have been out, too. Sadly, many people were unaware that when a street light is out it is treated as a 4-Way stop. Or, perhaps they did know this rule and were unaware of how to negotiate a 4-Way stop. Either way, I was appalled.

Then, just last week, I was treated to one of the worst and most rant-worthy events as I drove down Monument Ave. Richmond's Monument Ave has several traffic circles. Some are true traffic circles and some are faux circles that you really just drive straight across even though there's a bend in the road. Either way, the rules are the same - don't give up the right of way if you are in the circle!!

Last week as I approached the Lee Circle on Monument, I yielded to the traffic in the circle [because a) this is what you do at a traffic circle and b) the world YIELD is painted on the road]. There was a car in the circle and it stopped. The man gestured to me to enter the circle. I shook my head and gestured back. He finally continued, exiting the circle there at the side street and I continued on my way.

What was this guy doing? He gave up the right of way because he wanted to exit the circle and didn't want to cross paths with me in the traffic. Perhaps he didn't trust that I knew how to enter a traffic circle. Perhaps he didn't know how to exit a traffic circle. You know people, if you can't get out of a circle just go around again until it works out. Use your blinkers so people know what you want to do. They are a communication device. I can't read your mind. And, for safety-sake, please don't stop in the circle and cede your right away. It puts us all in danger. It really does.

Just in case my fellow Virginian's want a refresher, here's the DMV manual. Enjoy.

Life in the City

It's been hot as all get out lately here in Richmond and we've lost power several times in the past weeks due to the vicious storms. In some areas of the country, and in the newer suburbs of Richmond, power lines are buried underground and are less susceptible to tree limbs and other storm damage. Sadly, that's not the case in my neighborhood. We have huge trees that the City is in the process of removing as they become dangerously ancient.

One good thing about living in our exact location is that are within walking distance to Carytown. We love the quirky, fun, and eclectic nature of the street and by luck it turns out that we share a power transformer with several dozen restaurants and business. Why is this such a big deal? Here's something that most people don't realize: the tax on prepared food in the City is 11%. I guarantee you that even if the businesses weren't concerned about the spoilage factor the City wants us out there eating and spending so they can get their cut.

So, Dominion Power - which has a location about 4 blocks from my house - usually has our power back up and running pretty quickly. Quickly is relative, of course. It usually means within 12 hours.

Is it fair? Maybe not. Do I like it? You betcha. Will I remember this next time I'm looking at real estate? Oh, Yeah!!

Have you found any unexpected benefits to the location of your house?

Time for a Tune Up

Yep, the car is scheduled for maintenance and the kidlets and I have all been to the dentist. It's so lovely to have insurance again. I'm not entirely sure why I need four insurance cards but I have them and I carry them proudly.

This was Joy's first trip to the Dentist. She did great and loved seeing the pictures of the inside of her head. Comfort barely stopped talking long enough for the Dentist to brush her teeth. Not a huge surprise. Her cleaning didn't take as long though as she's now lost 8 teeth. A few have begun to grow back but there's a lot of open space in her mouth. My cleaning was just as it usually does. It was a good reminder that even though I haven't been in several years my Oral B electric toothbrush, daily flossing, and good genetics have kept my teeth in great shape.

Valley of the Dolls

I think I posted about my attempt to watch this on Netflix. Or maybe I just thought about posting. Either way, it's new to me again because now apparently we're being saved from Valley of the Dolls - The Series because it turns out the developer doesn't have the rights.

My first thought was, thank goodness. I couldn't even make it through the movie. It's 123 minutes but I think i only made it two-thirds of the way through and most of that time I was fairly confused. I think the only good thing that could come from a contemporary adaptation would be better pacing and plotting, but don't hold your breath.

The Big Screen

I watched The Academy Awards [hereafter referred to as The Oscars] like many people. It was my last hurrah to cable. Yep, I finally got rid of it. We’ll still have internet but I’ve stopped paying for the TV and phone which we never use.

Anyway, this is about the Oscars and the celebration of movies. Wait, is that what they were celebrating? I wish I thought to count the number of times they said the words “big screen” because I think there was a not so casual subliminal message going there. Either that or they were playing a different drinking game than everyone else in America.

I agree that watching movies on the Big Screen is something to be celebrated. I know that there are some movies that just need to be seen on a big screen. Of course, I watch shows and movies on Netflix all the time but we also go to the movies and by going to the movies I do mean the Big Screen.

You see we have a really Big Screen in our neighborhood. TheByrd Theatre, Richmond’s Landmark Movie Palace is right around the corner from our house and this is, for better or worse, what the kidlets are learning to appreciate as a movie going experience. It is true that the seats are less than comfortable but we cut them some slack as they are original to the theater which was built in 1928. The screen at The Byrd is very large, the curtain is red velvet and they use real butter on the popcorn!! Oh, and did I mention that tickets are only $1.99. It’s true that you need to wait a few weeks to see a show, but that’s okay with me. We saw “Hugo” Saturday night as a family and it cost us $8 – we leave the pennies in the jar. How many families can go see a movie on the Big Screen without using a credit card? Yeah, The Byrd is strictly a cash establishment but there is an ATM in the lobby now which is very helpful. But wait there's more....On Saturday nights there's an extra treat when they play the Mighty Wurlitzer! Yep, it still works and they play it every week. This, my friends, is not an experience that you’ll find at the multiplex no matter how much you pay for your ticket.

I realize that no one makes theaters like this anymore and that we are extremely lucky. It's one of the reasons we chose to live in our neighborhood. In fact, I'm not even sure this is what they had in mind during the Oscars when they kept referring to movies on the Big Screen. I think they meant going to a theater that would charge between $8 and $12 to see a movie on opening weekend. Personally, I think I'm getting a better deal even without the drink holders or extra leg room.

Where Does Your Minivan Live?

Mine does not live in a garage. I think that Detroit and Japan and ever other place that makes these  workhorses thinks that all Mom has to do is walk from her Suburban home, into the garage, open the door and drive away.

Some of us live in a city and park on a street and when the nights are (^&$^&&*%$$#%$&* COLD there is ice and frost on the windows that has to be scraped. Yes, the defrost helps to melt some of this but I can't let my car run by itself unattended. That would be insane. Can you just imagine the call to my insurance company when I tell them that my car is missing.
  • "Well, ma'am, where did you leave it?" 
  • "Oh, I left it running in front of my house with the keys in it so that I could go back inside and stay warm and let the defrost melt the frost off my windshield."
  • [crickets]

That's not entirely fair to my neighborhood because it is a wonderful place but seriously who leaves their car unattended with the keys in it and running and assumes that it'll be there when they come back? So, let's just move on.

The point I'm trying to make is that the windshield is too high and wide for me.

Now, for those of you who haven't met me in person and think I might be a petite woman of about five foot two - first of all, God Bless you:), but second of all, I'm sorry to disappoint. I'm five foot eight and hale and hearty from years of childhood sports. I have a good reach, but apparently you have to be a freaking albatross to reach the middle of the windshield of a minivan and you definitely have to be taller than 5'8".

One solution might be a scraper with a longer handle. I thought of this. I did. This morning while I had my body flush up against my car and the radio antennae flipping about my head. This will help some but I worry about leverage. I think there will still be the section in the very middle and around the rear view mirror that I won't be able to reach but perhaps by the time I scrape everything else the defrost will have gotten to that part. Worst come to worst I'll just have to take my time and learn that this is just part of living in the city. It's part of the character of the neighborhood. Or I can bring the kidlets step stool from the bathroom and wouldn't that be cute.

Jobs I'm Too Old For

It’s my birthday month so my blog posts are all going to be about me.

Since I’ve just recently gone back to work my brain is stuck in interview mode. There’s something about having been through the interview process and the preparation for the dreaded “Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ question that makes me think about the jobs that I’m already too old for. I’m turning 42. Statistically, and in accordance with the longevity of my family, I’m at about half my life expectancy. But as we all know there are jobs that I won’t be asked to apply for as a 42 year old woman. Here are some of my thoughts.

I’m going to discount jobs like professional cheerleader or supermodel. Yes, they are behind me but they really weren’t realistic career choices for me anyway. I can put professional soccer player on the list as that was one of my goals when I was 9 – along with concert oboist and President of the United States [more on that later].  I am definitely too old to play pro soccer even if I had enough talent. Those women who won back to back World Cup trophies were my contemporaries and even they are retired and broadcasting from the booth. But thank goodness for Title IX that this was a possibility for some women.

Now, while I’m not too old to be a concert oboist I am old enough and self-aware enough to not put any one I like through the pain of listening to me anymore. Every again. You are all lucky that no symphony will take me. Really. 

If you have Netflix Streaming you might have noticed that in January they showed the James Bond movies. That got us to thinking when in the careers of each of the title actors did they begin playing that role. [I’m going to stick to the major film actors here.]
·         Sean Connery – 32
·         Roger Moore – 46
·         Timothy Dalton – 41
·         Pierce Brosnan –42
·         Daniel Craig –38

Except for Roger Moore each of these actors began their work in this quintessential role before or around their 42nd birthday. I’m not knocking Roger Moore, as these are the Bond movies I grew up on, but most people don’t consider these to be the Best of Bond. However, as trends go, if you want to be James Bond you need to secure this role while you can still pound down the martinis, run a lot, and not need a body double for ALL of your body.

In truth, President of the United States is the only job I can think of with a minimum age requirement. [Well, other Constitutional officers do as well – such as Congressional Representative and Senator.] So, I guess that while many jobs are never going to be open to me again I can always hold onto the fact that the highest elected office in the land is available to anyone as long as they are
  • a natural born citizen of the United States;
  • at least thirty-five years old;
  • a permanent resident in the United States for at least fourteen years. 
[Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the Constitution]

And, of course, as we all know James Bond can’t be elected President so it leaves just one more job open to some of the rest of us.

What is a Google?

I was working near Washington, DC this week and rode the Metro into town. Due to work on the line I was riding I had much time to sit and read the posters, and enjoy the pen and ink drawings, describing the new Google privacy stuff.

At one stop I was joined my a gaggle of college students. I'm not stereotyping. I know they were college students because I was one once. Long ago. In case you are worried I'll describe them. There were five of them: three women and two men and they were roughly 20 years of age. All of them were dressed casually but nice. All of them were texting, probably each other. Two of the women had large shopping bags from Georgetown Cupcakes. And like I said, they traveled in a pack.

So, college students. They were nice and polite and had various conversations with one another as we moved from station to station - or sat on the platforms waiting to move. The one of the women asked one of the guys, "What's a google?"
He replied, "You know. The search engine."
She rolled her eyes. "No, I mean. It means something. I know it has a definition I just can't remember what it is."
He looked at her like she was crazy. "Really? It's a word."
"Yeah. I think it means 'to search', but I can't remember."
This is where it becomes so hard for me to hold my tongue that I might have actually pierced it with one of my teeth. Of course it's a real word. Of course it means something. UGH. And did any of them with their phones that can text think to pull them out and Google it? NO!

Happy New Year!

Yeah, I know. The month is almost half over, but like most things recently it’s taking me a little more time than normal to get into the swing of things. One thing that I’ve already got a handle on is writing “2012”. That was an easy shift and probably the first time in my life when I didn’t have to train myself to change the digits as I moved my pen. Of course, I don’t use a pen much anymore – it’s the keyboard now a days.

For anyone who’s been when this blog for any length of time [Hi, Mom!] I have actually done resolutions in January each year. Sometimes I do them in September, too, as a back to school thing. This year I’m going to continue to put out there a few things that I’m working on.

This one won’t be a surprise since it comes up again, and again and again and again and – yes, you get the picture. Meal Planning. It’s been difficult since day one. It’s my nemesis. If there’s a method out there, I’ve tried it. Now, I’ve added another layer and so far it’s working for us. I hate that I have to kill an entire day but if that’s what it takes, so be it.

I’m going to continue to collect recipes/ pictures on Pinterest. I’m also using a Theme Night idea as part of our plan so that we have a chicken night, pasta night, crockpot night, etc. Then we sat down with a monthly calendar and planned out a month’s worth of menus – except for weekends. Why leave out two nights a week? Well, we wanted some flexibility and we wanted to plan for leftovers.

The weekends also allow me to do some baking because we’re not going to buy store bought bread. I use the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes aDay method so bread is pretty easy to make. Dump ingredients in a bucket, let it rise, put in pan, and bake. I’m testing out softer bread recipes for school lunches – especially since Comfort has lost so many teeth and has a hard time chewing. So far the buttermilk bread recipe is working for us pretty well. I love the idea that our bread won’t have preservatives in it and I can just whip it up in my own bucket!

There’s more to come but it’ll have to wait. What are your plans for the New Year? Are you embarking on a new plan or just pushing yourself to stay on track?