Friday, October 28, 2005

Alias Fans: What's going on?

Anyone out there still watching Alias? And if so, will you admit it? I am not a fan of how the season is going. But like a car accident, I just can’t look away.

Killing and Cloning: Why did they kill off Vaughn/Andre Michoux? Okay, we know he is NOT dead. They brought back Irina because Jack really only killed her “clone”. I know she wasn’t really a clone, but something like that. I read someone elses blog where they called these doubles “clones” and they got ripped to shreds by all the Alias wanna-be scientists (and I’m suspecting Star Trek fans) out there in internet land who then proceeded to correct this imbecile. So for lack of science expertise, I am calling Irina’s double a clone. Don’t forget they had a clone-like double of Ethan Hawke and of Francie in seasons past so you know in actuality either Vaughn had on a bullet proof vest and he is in hiding because he doesn’t want the really bad wicked new SD-6 dudes to kill him, Sydney, and their unborn baby. Or his clone-like double was killed. Did anyone follow that? And don’t forget that Sloan was put to death by lethal injection and then Jack brought him back with anti-venom. Or something like that. So that’s like four people that have been doubled and or re-incarnated on the show. The writers are simply stretching out the plot to last until their contract with ABC is up—in 2008 I believe.

New characters: I am not loving the addition of new characters. I don't even know their names nor care to. They should have just kept the old and saved me the trouble of having to bond with the new characters. And because this is Alias you never really do know if the new people are good or evil. Never.

And speaking of things I don't like, why are they writing in Jennifer Garners pregnancy on the show? We all know it’s Ben Affleck’s baby and not Vaughn’s. I keep looking at Sydney while I watch the show and I can’t get it out of my brain: “Why is Jennifer Garner with Ben Affleck?” How are the writers of Alias going to deal with Sydney as a Mom? Will the baby be with Sydney in a backpack while she scales the skyscrapers? Will the baby travel with her to Budapest, Sri Lanka, and Hong Kong and be in a perpetual state of jet lag? Will the bad guys threaten to pull out the baby’s teeth if Sydney doesn’t cooperate? Or will the show go down hill once they have a baby—just like Mad About You. You know what I mean—all of sudden Jack’s fatherly instincts will kick in for Sydney and his grandbaby and he will be all mushy and lovely-dovey. If they make him cry the first time he sees his grandbaby I’ll stop watching the show. I will. I’m not bluffing. Okay, I’m bluffing.

Lastly, I predict that during sweeps week Vaughn will be brought back, Nadia will emerge from her coma (although my sister Carolyn contests that this show doesn't have room for two beautiful women so they'll have to kill off Nadia), Weiss will return, and Sydney will give birth. All in that order. (Okay, maybe Weiss is really gone, but you know the others are not.) Mark my words.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Working in a Coal Mine, part 2

Once my days of working in berry factories and bi-lingual business plazas ended I was ready to move on to the era of college jobs at BYU. For three years I worked at the Cannon Center Cafeteria on campus. I started as a cashier and I quickly became the envy of the other college kids because I did not have to start at the bottom of the employee food chain—the dish room.

I was hired as the oh-so-glamorous cashier. I’d like to think I started at the top of the Cannon Center Cafeteria employee food chain because of my poise and good looks but who knows the real reason. Nonetheless, I was a bit hated for working at the same wage as the kids in the dishroom or the salad prep folks yet I never had to get my hands dirty. However, I did have to get dirty in other ways. I had to enforce the dress standards of the BYU Honor Code. Basically I was the gate keeper of modesty before any student could enter and partake of the delicious smorgasbord. This is where I learned to be tactful and yet tell other students to get lost: “Sorry, your skirt is too short. Beat it.” Oh the power! I also was in charge of stopping the smuggling of food outside of the cafeteria. Students loved to load up their backpacks with bags of chips, fruit, and other contraband food items as they left. I pretty much turned a blind eye to the shrinkage of food. Being a meany about the dress code was enough venom spilling forth from my mouth for one day, don’t you think?

Now the really interesting part of cashiering was seeing how many local Provo families came to eat in the cafeteria on Sunday. Let’s analyze this: it is clearly breaking the Sabbath to go to eat at the Golden Corral (although that should be illegal on a whole other scale—see Food Snob blog) but for some reason it’s okay to pay to go out to eat if it was at the BYU Cannon Center. Does anyone else have an issue with this? Usually it was the folks in administration and their families that came. I understand that students need to eat on Sunday as well but do others living in homes with kitchens need to patronize the cafeteria on Sunday? Also, for employees, you could get a free meal on Sunday if you worked at least six hours. Any other day of the week, you had to work 8 hours to get a free meal. Come on! Cheapskates….

After a year of cashiering I moved higher up the employee food chain and worked as a secretary in the cafeteria office. This felt like working in a fishbowl as the office was all windows and situated in the center of the cafeteria work zone. From here you could watch the giant vats of ranch dressing being mixed like potions in a cauldron with huge wooden spoons. There is something eerie about a recipe that calls for 3 gallons of mayonnaise that makes your tummy sick—and that’s coming from someone whose favorite condiment is mayonnaise. Anyway. My favorite part about being a secretary was changing the names on the student files once the female workers got married. And if you know anything about being LDS you know that for the most part we get married young during the college years so updating the names on the student files alone took hours each week. My favorite file was of a girl names Dana Swain. I thought that was such a cool name—nice, short, easy to spell. Then she married a co-worker with the surname of Wolfersberger. Yea, you read that right. It took me weeks to change the file tab on her manila envelope to Dana Wolfersberger. I just couldn't do it. I secretly wanted to tell her that she should claim to be a feminist and keep her once respectable last name and refuse her husbands name. But alas my job description did not entail counseling. So I painfully changed her name on her file. Changing my name on my own employee file was a lateral move if you ask me. I went from Harrington to Winward during my junior year. It’s a toss up which name I like better. Then again, the bonus to becoming a Winward was that professors stopped asking me if I was related to the then-famous Polynesian Harrington brothers who played BYU football. Or something like that. "Do I look Polynesian to you", I wanted to ask? I hardly look Mexican in the summertime and with a surname like Harrington no one ever asked if I was Hispanic. Sheesh I am getting off subject.

During my senior year I entered the real workforce and got a job at Mountainlands Community Health Center on Freedom Blvd. Once again, my inability to speak Spanish didn’t help but that was a fun job. Once I graduated I needed something full-time so I got another job, in addition to the health center, at a security company doing the Accounts Payable. This job was worse than the berry factory in Boring, Oregon. My boss loved all that Steven Covey garbage but implemented none of it into our office. One time I got the credit card bill and on it was a $3,000 charge to an animal hospital in Texas. I approached the owner about this charge and he informed me that his gross and disgusting dog that he brought to work everyday and shed fur all over me needed an emergency hysterectomy while he was doing a job in Texas. “Um, okay, so how do you want me to code that?” His reply: “Just put it under miscellaneous expense.” For more outrage about this very subject look at Paul’s blog called “Paying your Fair Share.” I should’ve quit that job on day one but Paul was in graduate school and we needed the moo-lah. So I suffered at the security company for 9 long months. In the end, I quit to get a full time job at Wasatch Mental Health. Chances are, if you are still reading this blog you are crazy. And if you are crazy, then chances are I have seen your name on intake forms while working there. But don’t worry. Your secret is safe with me.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Scraped Noses & Broken Irons

After my Mother of the Year blog I made a rule never to have an entire blog about my kids again. It is incriminating and frankly, nobody cares about my parenting. But I am breaking my rule today and am going to blog about my youngest—Hallie.

There are a number of things about this picture that are disturbing, least of which is Hallie’s scraped up nose. Nevertheless, Hallie’s nose is the subject at hand.

Two days ago I strapped Hallie into the stroller to go on an errand walk. You know, walk around the neighborhood and return things to others I have borrowed or to retrieve children playing at neighbor’s houses. I crossed the street with Hallie and left her in the stroller on the curb (bad mom) while I quickly rang Nedra’s doorbell to return her iron. I had to borrow her iron because I was making a board-mounted valance for Nathan’s room (good mom) and my iron broke in the middle of the project again for the 3rd time in three years. Ten seconds later Hallie is face down in the gutter, still strapped in her stroller. I tried really hard not to swear (because I was in front of Nedra) as I ran super duper fast to help Hallie. She scraped up, or rather the concrete scraped up, her nose, left arm and right thumb.

Now for the secondary issues—why does Hallie’s hair look so bad and why is she wearing boys pajamas? Her hair looks so bad because she won’t leave in her Ouchless rubberbands. Apparently they are not ouchless to Hallie. She thrashes around and foams at the mouth while grabbing the Ouchless rubberbands out of her hair, all the while screaming, “Owwww-eeee”. Owww-eee is also the sound she makes for a cat. That’s kind of cute—kind of a backwards Meee-oww. So maybe she is really meow-ing as she grabs at her scalp. Hmmmmm. Secondly, I make Hallie wear her brother’s old jammies because I like to foster a spirit of deprivation among my children. I learned this from Liz Nelson who loves to tell her kids no. It builds character. Someday Hallie will look back and see this photo of her scraped up nose, nasty pompadore, and boy pajamas and there will be no doubt in her mind that she was a deprived child.

P.S. This time I replaced my Black and Decker iron with a Sunbeam iron. The B&D iron broke a year ago and was still under warranty. So as directed by the gods at B&D, I cut off the cord, mailed it in, and was rewarded with a new iron in 6 weeks to replace the piece-of-junk first B&D iron. My second B&D iron broke the other day, as already mentioned. I am not cutting off the cord and mailing it in again because I can not go 6 weeks without an iron. I assume they have you do that to cut down on all the scam artists out there fleecing B&D with claims of bad irons. Instead, I bought a Sunbeam iron in hopes that this one is a well made product. I’ll let you know in a year……

Monday, October 10, 2005

Martha Stewart's Fall

(pictured here making yogurt with Jennifer Garner on her show "Martha")
I have been a big fan of Martha Stewart. There, I said it. I know many of you are contorting your face in disgust and I don’t care. So before I get all the negative comments let me start out by saying that I am not sure if I like her anymore. Why? Two words: The Apprentice.

I first began watching Martha Stewart Living when I was a new mom. Her show came on every week day from 10-11am. I enjoyed watching her show. These were the years before we had satellite—so it’s really Martha’s fault I am a food snob and not the Food Network’s fault. I enjoyed learning new recipes and picking up style tips. Basically speaking, I enjoyed her joie de vivre. She seemed to find excitement in the everyday domestics as well as her field trips like kayaking down the Columbia river and then roasting her freshly caught Salmon on a spit. Mind you, I have never wanted to kayak, but Martha made it look fun! I enjoyed her other field trips to organic Pumpkin patches and small production factories where vanilla is made the old-fashioned way. She was like my Mr. Rogers for grown ups. I started subscribing to her magazine and buying some her cookbooks.

I feel like she helped to make homemaking cool again. My friend Allison would argue, “It’s always been cool!” and while that is soooo true my friends, she helped to bring us out of the 70-80s mentality of the doldrums of domestics. Okay, enough about why I like her.

Even when she went to prison, I thought, “Well, everyone makes mistakes.” Did I want her life? No. Do I wish I lived alone with a plethora of chinchillas, dogs, and well manicured cats? Heck no! But everyone has something to offer—and I thought Martha had a lot to offer.

And then the debut of The Apprentice: Martha Stewart occurred. Mind you—I have never watched a reality TV show. I despise them. I think they are mean and an insult to my intelligence. Shows like Survivior and American Idol I have never seen. Blech.

But I was a bit excited for Martha’s new reality show. I thought it would be some kind of cross between the Pillsbury Bake Off and a sewing contest. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! A bunch of people that are way too good looking (that makes me suspect right there) make up the cast. On the episode I watched they got together to write a children’s book. Huh? They fought and bickered the entire time. If I wanted to see that I would turn off the TV and spend time with my kids. I have no idea how the show ended because I couldn’t bear to watch it. I really expected more from a homemaker. Okay, I know she’s not a real homemaker, but you get my drift. What would have made the show really good is a scenario like this: You only have 20 minutes to get dinner made. Your freezer has some frozen shredded chicken and your refrigerator has tortillas and ketchup. Get going. Now that would be entertaining.

Alas, Martha has fallen prey to all the other garbage nothing-about-reality TV shows out there. I haven't seen her other new show, Martha, but I'll watch it this afternoon and see what I think. This is your last chance Martha. I'm counting on you!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Words that Business Students Love to Use to Sound Smart & Professional

(or Words-That-Show-I-am-Smart-and-Therefore-I will-Be-a-Rich-Businessman/Woman Some Day)
I realize that in blogging about such a specific topic that I may be losing a vast majority of my reading audience (all 3 of you) but I must be true to myself. I have a previous lame post called “Sew Much Fun” where I talk about my favorite sewing words. In my last post I talked a bit about my days in the Marriott School of Management at BYU. That brought on a lot of memories. So here goes.…

1. Bottleneck--No one bothered to explain what this meant to me in terms of business operations. I’m sure it was defined in a textbook, which I obviously didn’t read so I just kept hearing this word tossed around the classroom for months before I finally caught on. Heaven forbid I ask! This was the most overused word in the Marriott School of Management during 1992-1996. I bet nothing has changed. I bet every professor still urges every student to find the bottleneck in the operations of the such-and-such company. As long as you mentioned the word “bottleneck” in a paper you got an A. Give me a shovel.

2. Opportunity Cost—Unfortunately I saw Dana Carvey’s movie, Opportunity Knocks shortly before coming to BYU so every time I heard the words Opportunity Cost in class I snickered and thought of Dana Carvey’s impersonation of George Bush Sr., “Not gun do it. Wouldn’t be prudent.” This prevented me from focusing on what the Opportunity Cost was that my Professor was talking about at the time and instead to focus on all my favorite Dana Carvey skits. Can you blame me?

3. Paradigm—This word should be illegal. Every time I hear this word to this day I think of the brown-nosers in Professor Perry’s (OB) Organizational Behavior class who always said phrases like “a shift in our paradigms” to prove to the teacher that they were listening. Pardigm. Paradigm. Paradigm. Why not just say example, model, or even prototype. Snooty business school. And speaking of OB, I got a C+ in this class and went crying to the T.A. telling him that I lost my scholarship because of that C+. What I left out was that that scholarship was really my usury of my Hispanic heritage to sustain a scholarship through the Multicultural department. I’m sure those scholarships were intended to help minority students who maybe didn’t have a command of the English language (not that I do) and were underprivileged. But I didn’t care—I needed the money and I did go to public school so that is underprivileged, isn’t it? So the professor changed my grade to a B- but it sill wasn’t enough to get that Mexican Kid Scholarship. Dang!

4. PV (Present Value of Money) or FV (Future Value of Money)—We all loved our business HP calculators and also loved to enter in all the required fields and then hit the “FV” button to figure out just how much money we would have on a certain date in the future, if we sustained a certain interest rate and therefore, how rich we would be. Maybe our (mine and Paul’s) obsession with calculating the FV of money led us to realize how much we were being ripped off if we took the entire 15 years to pay off our student loans! Ignorance is bliss my friends.

5. FIFO and LIFO—No these are not names of dogs, but if I ever have a dog, and I won’t, I would name him FIFO. That way only smart business people would know just how smart and witty I really am. It would be our own little inside joke. I think a dog would respond well to Fifo. What cracks me up is that these terms were tossed around here and there in class and study groups as if we were using real business words like “investment” or “depreciation” instead of some lame acronyms. (FIFO/LIFO are systems of accounting for your inventory—First In First Out and Last In First Out. In case you are just dying to know, which you are not.)

You must be wondering to yourself why I haven’t gone on to get my MBA with such riveting course work as sampled above. Laziness…my friends…just laziness. See my previous blog….would a higher degree in business get me money’s worth? Doubtful.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Will I use my college degree again? Vote here...

Now that I have my own sewing business I am getting calls to sew this and that. It makes me feel as if I will again start using my college degree. Is this stretching it? Sewing curtains…..Finance…..Sewing Curtains….Finance. Possibly this is a stretch. Time will tell. If my business ever went hog wild (not that I even want it to) then possibly I would need some tax help and financial statements, but that’s why I am married to a CPA, so again, this is a real stretch. And why did I just say that I don’t want my business to go hog wild? What kind of red-blooded American capitalist am I? A lazy one my internet friends.

My business does involve math, but more like measuring windows and figuring out how many panels of 54” wide fabric I will need to piece to span the size of the window. In other words, 6th grade Math is sufficient to measure a window. Not the Business Calculus or Statistics I took at BYU. In statistics we learned that the standard deviation is equal to the risk in an investment…..but when will I ever use that knowledge in making a slipcover for a chair? Help me out here because maybe I just don’t see the connection. I need to make my $10,000 in student loans very worthwhile here. (At 8% interest we paid those suckers off fast! Paul’s brother is consolidating his student loans at 1%. Boo hoo for him!)

In my final business class as a senior at BYU we had to take Business Management 499. I can’t even remember the whole purpose of this class (there was none really), except that we studied real life businesses as case studies. My teacher was Professor Money. (That’s the truth.) We would analyze the various aspects of a business’ successes or failures—marketing, finance, operations, etc. Gosh I hated that class. We studied everything from Wild Turkey alcohol to Carmike movies and the theory behind charging different prices for different tickets. (It’s called “capturing the market” and has nothing to with the fact they love Seniors and children and therefore give them cheaper tickets and everything to do with Economics.) Speaking of Economics, did you know that it is an economic fact that when you raise the minimum wage you increase unemployment? I could explain this to you on a wonderfully basic supply and demand graph. Oh how I loved Economics! But I digress….

As you can see, my head is filled with charts, graphs, and statistics that I may never use again. But that’s okay because talking about chenille, gabardine, silk, and chiffon is much more interesting for you to read about…..That is if you are still reading. I may have lost you when I said standard deviation.

The Death of Summer

Is it pathetic to already be missing summer? It’s only the beginning of October for crying out loud!! But it’s true, I already miss summer. The tell-tale sign is that my tomatoes in the garden are not ripening anymore and frankly, the ones that have are kind of tasteless. Tomatoes are all I even plant anymore. I planted three pear tomato plants, three orange tomato plants, one cherry tomato plant, and 2 romas. My salad last night was dotted with beautiful orange and red tomatoes but it was a bit tasteless. Tomatoes need heat to be sweet and delicious. Maybe that’s why I love tomatoes so much? I need heat to be sweet and delicious too. Give me 100 degrees any day over today’s pathetic 56 degrees. Sigh. (Photo: Nathan and Ilene baking like salamanders in the sun at my childhood home in Chino, CA in May 2004)

And today I will make my one last pilgrimage to Allred’s Orchard to buy my last box of peaches. After that it’s boring apples and bananas for the rest of winter. Do you remember that episode of Seinfeld where Kramer and Newman go hog wild eating all the Macinaw peaches? And how they mourned the day that the peach season was over? Oh it’s true my friends! That wasn’t just a sitcom.

I already miss going to the swimming pool—and so do my kids. The other day Ilene asked, “When are we going to the BYU pool again?” My answer: “Oh, maybe in 9 months or so.” That’s just plain sad. To make matters worse—that very same day that Ilene asked this question was the day I dropped my mom off at the SLC airport to return to my hometown of Chino, California where it was 85 degrees that day. Sigh again.

(Photo of Santa Barbara Mountains)
Here is one situation I can cite as to why the cold depresses me: I was watching the snooty show “Homes Across America” on HGTV back in March. And as you all know, or maybe you don’t, each February and March I am ready to put a “For Sale” sign in my yard and move back to California—no matter the circumstance—job or no job—house or not house, etc. On this day on “Homes Across America” they were touring Santa Barbara and all their beautiful Spanish style homes. They have city ordinances enforcing the Spanish style architecture. Even the Ralph’s grocery store has a terracotta roof and stucco walls. I decided on this gloomy March day (that was most likely accompanied by an inversion layer in the atmosphere) that we were going to move to Santa Barbara. So I Googled “Santa Barbara Real Estate” on my computer and proceeded to fill out one of those real estate questionnaire forms where you enter in the price you want to pay, the number of bedrooms you want, etc. Basically, the only homes for sale that returned from the search in the $300,000-400,000 range are double-wide trailers. Brings new meaning to the term “trailer trash”, doesn’t it? Suffice to say, I will never live in Santa Barbara. Or probably anywhere in California again. (Sigh again, wipe tears, etc.)

The one exciting thing to me about the impending cold weather is that now I have new winter clothes to wear because I have been on a sewing frenzy with brown wool, chocolate twill, and green corduroy. (Doesn't Ilene look cute in this corduroy jumper?) And I made my kids their yearly fleece jackets—this time embroidered by their Grandma with their names. Oh and I also bought lots of lovely winter coats at the Lands End Overstock site. Love that website! I’m getting into trouble there though. Who can resist pink wool jackets for $45? Oh the vanity. But if it keeps me sane, then what’s the harm? A monthly purchase of sweaters and wool fabric is cheaper than a house payment in California. That’s one way to look at it Paul.

Monday, October 03, 2005

30-Minute No-Nos

Dear Rachael Ray, I was watching your show 30 Minute Meals this afternoon—as I do most everyday from 4-5pm as I cook dinner, or in today’s case, sit on the couch with a cranky baby. I have a couple of your cookbooks and download your recipes quite frequently. Yumm-o, as you would say. Anyway, I don’t mean to be a complainer—it’s just not my nature to criticize—but a few things are happening on your show and I don’t like it. First—I noticed today you now do all your chopping with an orange-handled Santoku knife. What’s that all about? I also noticed a few weeks ago that you switched from your beautiful All-Clad sauté pan to some tacky non-stick oval pan. I thought to myself—“Why is Rachael doing this? My testimony of always using stainless steel frying pans to produce a good fond will not be shaken!” Then my Sur La Table catalog came in the mail today and there you are on the cover holding an orange-handled Santoku knife. And inside is your oval pan too. Sellout! All-Clad is the best—you know it and I know it—so cut the nonsense and go back to the good pan! I realize you are now a famous celebrity chef and have your own line of lesser quality kitchen stuff, but do you have to showcase them on your show? I am watching a cooking show—not an infomercial. Even Emeril with all his ego doesn't cook on his show with his line of cookware. (By the way, I do own, embarrassingly enough, some of Emeril's pans because not everyone has a TV show that furnishes you with top-of-the-line cooking products.)  Sincerely, Cynthia P.S. The peppers you used on your show today where Poblanos—not Anaheims. Puh-lease.

Typing 101 Class *&^%

Reading Lori’s blog about the age of computers reminded me of my own computer experience in typing class. (Were you in my typing class Lori?)

In 1988 I was a high school freshman and signed up for an easy A in typing at Don Antonio Lugo High School—East Campus. (We had an East campus which consisted of portables in a parking lot around the corner from the main campus because our school was so dang over crowded there was no room left for the incoming freshmen.) Our teacher, Mrs. Burr, was used to teaching typing on typewriters. Lucky her, our school had just switched over to computers where we learned to type in Word Perfect 5.1. She didn’t like it one bit. Here she is—faced with a bunch of bratty freshmen who knew way more about computers than she did. Nonetheless, she stuck to her old ways when it came to typing. She laminated sheets of construction paper and taped them to the tops of the keyboards so that we couldn’t cheat by looking at our hands. We had to flip up this paper “hood” to put our hands under top begin typing.

She would teach us to center a title or heading by counting all the letters/spaces in our title, subtract that from 66 and divide by two to get the number of spaces we needed to space over before typing our title. I can't believe I remember that formula. I really am a Math nerd.I remember raising my hand after she explained:

Me: “Um, Mrs. Burr, can’t we just hit “Shift-F6?” That will automatically center our heading for us.”

Mrs. Burr: “No Cynthia. You need to learn to do this the right way. You won’t always have a computer to do it for you.”

I am not making up her response.

Later on in the semester she started having us type words or phrases for speed and accuracy. We were no dummies. We learned how to use the Copy and Paste function. This is where the construction paper hood came in handy. She couldn’t see us NOT typing the words under the paper hood. Instead we were just copying and pasting over and over until the timed test was up. The problem was if you copied and pasted too many times then she knew you were cheating because nobody can type 300 words per minute, let alone a 14-year old kid. Foiled! That’s when she figured out we were up to something. Down came the paper hoods so that she could spot the cheaters. Typing had changed forever for Mrs. Burr. I wonder what she does today?


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