Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday Musings- Air Travel Edition

So, it's been a little over a week since I came home from visiting my cousins in Spokane WA. The trauma of air travel reminded me of why it's a good thing I can't afford to do it regularly.

Starting at the airport- The desk clerk had trouble with my reservation because the moron reservations clerk spelled my name wrong. DESPITE the fact that I spelled it for her at least 6 times. And it's not an uncommonly hard name. She finally found it, said the spelling was "probably close enough that TSA won't give you any trouble" and sent me on my way.

Stood in line for TSA screening for approximately 3 years. Found out why as I got closer to the front- there were 3 lines: 1 for families, 1 for 'casual' travelers, and 1 for 'expert' travelers. All three lines were then funneled to one lonely clerk checking ID's while several others wandered about and giggled about how long the line was. I warned him upfront that my name was spelled wrong on the boarding pass- he looked wearily at me & said "If it's even close, I'll let you go through." It was, but that did not make me feel like safety was a priority. Then again, I didn't relish the thought of going back to the res desk and having to stand in that line again, either.

Next was the body scanner. Standiford Field has one of the delightful new gizmos that basically x-rays you. Every single person ahead of me was told to take EVERYTHING out of their pockets and send it through the luggage scanner with their shoes and carry-on baggage, before standing spread-eagled in the machine with their hands on their heads like they were being arrested, and every single one of them failed to follow the instructions. "But it's only a piece of paper!" It still shows up on the scanner as a  foreign object, dumbass, so enjoy your strip search. Being a reasonably intelligent person, I heard what was being said and stuck my lipgloss (the only thing in my pockets) into my purse for the scan and laid my ticket on top. The guard nearly kissed me and told me I was the first person on his shift to do what they were supposed to. I also remembered to take my quart baggie of trial sized liquid products out of the bag. (because hair gel will take down a plane, you know) Most of my fellow travelers didn't and had to have their bags searched, thus extending the wait for those behind us.

Backtracking a minute- I hate the whole hassle of having to take my shoes off to go through security, but it's been in policy for so long that I've resigned myself to it and wear shoes that are easy to remove and put back on. Many of the others around me did likewise, even if they couldn't get any of the other security instructions right. However, one dumb bitch in line ahead of me was wearing thigh-high bondage boots with all kinds of buckles/straps/studs and complained that taking them off was going to be a major hassle. It took her (highly embarrassed) boyfriend & 2 TSA guards 5 minutes to get them off her, and she and the BF were still trying to get them back on when I passed them 10 minutes later.

Highlight of the pre-boarding experience- still had nearly an hour before my flight, and there was a conveniently placed $tarbuck$ near the gate. I needed caffeine desperately, having gotten up earlier than normal to try to get some last minute cleaning done. (Mom was going to see my house while she took care of the cats for me. Nuff said?)They had a heretofore unknown to me jumbo sized coffee, so I wound up with what was basically a quart of iced coffee. Yes, I was smart enough to go to the bathroom BEFORE boarding the flight, and while I didn't need to go during it, I was very happy to get to my layover in Denver and find a bathroom close to my gate there.

I understand that airlines try to cram as many passengers as possible onto their flights because jet fuel isn't cheap. It's both clever and evil that they offer more leg room for premium pricing. Even so, as much as I would like to have the extra leg room, I can't afford it. Do you know what happens when you cram a 6ft, 300 lb Amazon into an economy class seat?  It ain't pretty. Luckily I at least got an aisle seat on each segment of the trip. Other than being whacked by the flight attendants and the beverage carts every pass down the aisle, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be...

...until the first leg of my return flight home. I was seated directly behind a 500 lb asshat college boy, traveling with his buddies. not only did this jackhole run his mouth for the duration of the 2 hour flight, he damn near killed me. About 10 minutes into the flight, we got the all clear from the pilot that electronic devices could be used. Yippee, let's break out the Kindle. (and MAN do I love having the Kindle. I used to have to fill my carry-on with books, which weighed a ton and was a pain in the ass to haul around, and since I read quickly, it also meant having to get up and root through the overhead bins for another book. Not anymore!) No sooner than I turned my Kindle on, Shamu decides that he can't possibly sit upright for the less than 2 hours left of the flight and reclines his chair all the way back. This knocks the Kindle out of my hands and traps my arms under him, while pressing the air out of my lungs. (that is honestly how close together the seats were) I managed to squeak, and the couple next to me tried to get his attention. He had his headphones on (but was still shouting conversation at his buddies) and acted like he couldn't hear them. They finally rang for the flight attendant, a sweet-natured gay man, who came up, took one look at the situation and told Shamu to sit up at once so I could at least get my arms free. He complained that he 'had the right to recline his seat' and that 'fat chicks like her shouldn't fly unless they lose weight.' I resisted the urge to strangle him on the spot AND point out that he'd needed 2 seatbelt extenders, so he had NO business calling anyone fat. Not to mention that anyone who can't sit upright for less than 2 hours probably shouldn't be flying themselves. My savior attendant picked up my Kindle for me (I put it back in the seat pocket, because I could already see what was coming next) and asked him to show a little consideration for those around him, before walking away. No sooner was he gone, Shamu slammed his seat back down. I didn't say a word, just sat trapped with my arms at my sides and literally one inch of space between us.

We got to Denver and Shamu was the first person to leap (well, lumber) to his feet, despite the fact that it was going to take at least 5 minutes to get the aircraft doors open. The front of the plane slowly cleared out (we were about halfway back) and I was presented with an opportunity for revenge. Shamu had moved up about 18 inches, just leaving enough room for me to ease out of my seat. He moved up a few inches further and I reached up to grab my bag out of the overhead bin. Checking that there was nobody directly in front of him, I swung my bag down and into the back of his fat head, knocking him halfway up the aisle. "Ooopsie," I cried. "So sorry- you know how clumsy us fat bitches are!"  His buddies were laughing at him as they all filed off the plane. I got cheered on by the passengers who'd been sitting around us. And my flight attendant pal gave me a BIG smile as I passed him on the way out and whispered "Nice shot, honey!"

So, no, I'm not looking forward to my next plane trip. I was supposed to fly to Miami this coming weekend for Wrestlemania, but that trip has been cancelled due to extraneous circumstances. It's probably for the best.

Until next week......

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Beauty and the Werewolf- Mercedes Lackey

Product Details

Another outing in the 500 Kingdoms series. I rather liked it- Isabella isn't the usual sort of fainting/crying woman men expect. She's managed her family's household for years and is eminently calm and practical. She even manages to keep her head when chased by a wolf....who unfortunately bites her. Even more unfortuante is the discovery that the wolf is in fact the neighboring Duke and Bella may become a werewolf herself. She has to go live in his manse for 90 days until they can be sure she isn't infected. While there, she learns magic, becomes an apprentice Woodsman, and falls in love. Think Beauty & The Beast meets Little Red Riding Hood plus a few others thrown in for good measure.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Monday Musings- better late than never, right?

Sorry- off track this week. I was in Spokane visiting family over the weekend and am kind of out of it still. Better, more coherent post to come later this week!

In the meantime, here is some eye candy:

Actor Ben Miller, AKA my current British crush.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Cake Simple: Recipes for Bundt-Style Cakes from Classic Dark Chocolate to Luscious Lemon-Basil by Christie Matheson and Alex Farnum

Cake Simple: Recipes for Bundt-Style Cakes from Classic Dark Chocolate to Luscious Lemon-Basil

Some of you may recognize this from my Chronicle Books Happy Haulidays Wish List. I bought it for myself after the holidays, with the discount they generously gave to those who entered their contest but didn't win. I'm here to tell you- if I'd known how good some of these cakes would be, I'd have been willing to pay FULL price for it.  The recipes are easy to follow, there are no ingredients called for that will send you on a wild goose chase around town to track down, and the few slightly unusual (to the average home baker) ingredients also come with recipes. Why buy creme fraiche & cranberry sauce if you can make your own? (I'll be making that cake for my mom, BTW)

I started with the first recipe in the book- the Brown Sugar Bundt Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze.  I admit to tinkering with the glaze itself (added 2T of butter and made more of a caramel sauce than a glaze) instead of following the recipe provided. However, for the cake, I did exactly what the book said. The batter was rather thick and concerned me, but I needn't have worried. The result was a very dense, moist cake. I made it for my cross-stitch club and the ladies loved it. My dad, Mr. Picky, got some of the leftovers and allowed as I could leave most of it at his house. I strongly suggest putting a scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream on top of a piece and microwaving it for about 20 seconds. Just long enough to slightly warm the cake and soften the ice cream. SWOON.

Next up? Either the Dark Chocolate or the Maple Nut. No matter what I choose, I don't think I'll go wrong!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday Musings- I Can't Win, EVER

So, in less than 48 hours, I am supposed to start my first official vacation this year. After last week's snowfall, immediately followed by 60-70 degree days, I developed a massive sinus infection that spread to my left ear. I'm on antibiotics for them, but the weird weather has not been helping, and it's not clearing up as quickly as the doctors had hoped. Here's why this is bad- On Thursday, I'm supposed to be flying to visit my cousins out west. Their weather is still in the 30-40's and it is supposed to rain the entire time I'm there. And then I get to come back to warmish KY.

Yep. I think I'll be on antibiotics for most of this year.

This is all supposing that I get to go on the trip at all. I have an elderly great-aunt in Iowa who's health is fading rapidly and they expect her to slip away in her sleep any day now, much like my late Gramma. Mom is not taking this well. Then my dad's brother called to say that his wife was in critical condition back in NC.


Right now the contingency plan is to hope that nothing changes until I get back in town on Sunday. If Aunt Lora passes while I'm gone, Mom & Dad will be driving themselves to Iowa. If Aunt Myrtle goes, they'll be going to NC. If, heaven forbid, they both pass away before I leave, my airline ticket gets cashed in and Mom will fly to Iowa while I drive Dad to NC. If the worst happens AFTER I get back, my aunts will pay for my mom to fly in while I drive Dad.

Confused yet? I am.

On the positive side- I finished my first ever cross stitched piece on non-aida fabric this weekend! Of course I still haven't figured out how to get my camera to upload photos, so here is a picture of the pattern that I found on Google Images:

My piece looks pretty much like this, only the fabric I used is a pale green. I added three tiny ladybug buttons, also pictured, at various points around the pattern and only stitched 2 z's on the wording. I was going to leave it off entirely, but then it looked off-balance, so I wound up doing it anyway. I haven't figured out how I'm going to finish it- the frame pictured here is cute, and I'd love something like that if I can find it. One of the ladies in my needlework group suggested making it into a bookmark, so I'm considering that as well. Any suggestions can be left in the comments. If anyone is reading this, I'd like to know what you think. Who knows, I might just send it to you!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Cocoa Conspiracy- Andrea Penrose

The Cocoa Conspiracy: A Lady Arianna Regency Mystery (Lady Arianna Hadley Mystery)

When we last met Lady Arianna, she was about to marry the Earl of Saybrook. This volume opens with her in a booksellers shop, having just discovered a lovely book of botanical etchings that she decides to buy for her husband's birthday. The only problem is that a seemingly deranged man tries to take it from her and she winds up brawling with him to keep it. Arianna does, of course, kick his butt and retain possession of the book. She later discovers documents hidden in the binding of the book that lead her and the Earl, along with their medical friend Baz, into unmasking yet another murderous plot involving several European Royals as well as the possible ruination of several friends & loved ones. While unmasking traitors, Ari & Sandro also must deal with the nasty Government Agent Trentham, society folderol, house parties, traveling to Vienna, and their growing feelings for each other. They might have had to marry for appearances sake, but they have grown to love each other more than either of them is comfortable admitting. Also includes some delicious looking recipes, and a preview of the next book in the series, due out in the fall of 2012. Can't wait!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday Musings- Will Whoever Is In Charge Of The Weather PLEASE Get A Grip?!?

So, welcome to Monday. Post is a bit late today- no real reason, it just is.

There are many out there who believe that the odd weather patterns we've been having for the last year or so are a sign of the impeding apocalypse. After the last 5 days, I'm almost inclined to agree.

Last week, we had 68-75 degree temperatures - in FEBRUARY?!?- followed immediately by tornados. Louisville was lucky and got skipped over by the tornados. Several small towns around us were not.

Last night, we finally got the snow that had been predicted off and on for months. I honestly expected it to be a "few flakes and forget about it" kind of snowfall. WRONG. sort of. I was at my parents place, eating dinner and using their computer. Dad wandered out around 9-10, looked out the front door and all but shrieked with glee. (He's never so happy as he is when the weather is awful. It gives him a chance to be the Minister of Doom & Gloom, a role he plays well.) It was rain mixed with snow at that point, and while there was some accumulation on the ground and parked cars, I figured it would stop soon or change to all rain. Wrong again. I finally reminded myself around 1 a.m. that I did have to work today and should probably stop fooling aorund online and go home.

Mom opened the front door to see me out and shrieked in horror. Not only had the rain stopped, leaving the snow to fall, it was still falling and fairly heavily at that. My car was covered in three inches, easily. I had used the remote start to get it warming up before I left, so the windshield was pretty easy to clear. That was the good part of the drive home.

The bad part was the roads themselves. The apartment complex where my parents live had taken no preventative measures (ie salt or brine in the parking lot) as usual, so getting out was a bit tricky. The subdivision also had done nothing, and there were no crews out to clear the roads. Once I got onto the interstate, past the mall, I got lucky and got behind a snowplow/salt truck.  I took a slightly alternate way home, sticking close to that truck, and it  took nearly 30 minutes, as opposed to the usual 10.

My little neighborhood was a winter wonderland to behold. Getting into my driveway was horrible- we have steep ditches on both sides of the street, kind of like moats, and I was terrified that my poor little car was going to slide off the drive and into the ditch. Louisville Metro doesn't plow our area because I live in a little incorporated city within the city, so they are responsible for it. This usually does not end well. The last good snowfall we had saw them plow the main street, leaving a 3 ft high block of snow at the end of all the conecting streets. My neighbors and I wound up having to go down to the end of the block and dig that out after we'd shoveled our own drives. Then, since we'd done that, the plow came down our street and helpfully re-created the blockage on each freshly cleared driveway. I was not amused and gave the driver a choice of coming back and clearing my drive or calling the Police Lt that I work for and explaining why I wouldn't be in to work that day becasue I was NOT digging that out again. He cleared my drive.

Anyway, I was surprised and gratified to hear the snowplow come down my street at 4 a.m. Yeah, I was still up- insomnia is my constant companion. I finally went to bed and drifted off, fully expecting to have to spend an hour digging out my car. I got up at noon and discovered that not only were the roads clear, the weather had warmed up to the point that the snow on my drive had melted away. Yippee!

Here's the kicker. On the drive in to work, the radio station weather forecast said we can expect a high of 60 tomorrow.