September 30, 2004

How lucky am I?

Well, this week has been crazy. Over the weekend, our handyman L. finished removing the SCALLOP SHELL circa 1989 wallpaper from our master bathroom. The same wallpaper the builders slapped up without sizing or even painting the walls first. Oh joy. Even though I was in Las Vegas over the weekend, I could hear poor L. cursing over the “ding ding clunk clunk” of the slot machines and impassioned cries of “come on shooter!”. However, he did a great job and it looks fabulous. The downside is, he didn't finish until Monday afternoon and left the room in shambles. It has taken me most of the week to get it all back in order. To make things extra, super fun, I am suspecting he splashed some water/wallpaper removal stuff into the wall outlet because it doesn't WORK now and neither does the other bathroom upstairs. I have tried to reset all the circuit breaker thingies and have reset every GFI in the house but to no avail. To add to all the gaiety, the previous owner labeled well over half the circuit breakers “lightings & outlets”. Gee, thanks Mr. Usually Anal Retentive. I guess I was getting spoiled. Sigh. So now I have to deal with an electrician, but if I am going to call an electrician, then I should just go ahead while he's there and have him put in all the new fixtures for the dining room, the hallway, and the downstairs bathroom. The fixtures that I haven't bought as of yet. Now, I am not complaining because 1) L. does a great job painting and is very inexpensive and 2) how lucky am I to get to choose new fixtures (which I think is fun to do). So, while I am not grumbling per se, I am a little pushed for time. It didn't help that the engine light on the car came on yesterday so I had to deal with that. Did I mention that the Husband has been conveniently gone the entire week?

Oh, and the answer to the subject line is “very”. I certainly haven’t lost sight of how fortunate I really am.

September 28, 2004

Knitting Continental or English? Knit picking from a nitpicker

I am crazy about knitting. For years, I had wanted to learn how and I finally took some classes earlier this year. I thought I would be so cool learning how to knit. Imagine my extreme disappointment when I realized everyone else was on the knitting bandwagon – story of my life, always the sheep and never, ever the trendsetter. Regardless, I was hooked from the start! (and yes, that would be a pun if I was crocheting. But I’m not. So there.) Anyway, I am now the Imelda Marcos of scarves. Yes, scarves are the knitting equivalent of kindergarten, but I was traveling a lot and they are easily stuffed into a suitcase. For the most part, knitting is very relaxing – interspersed with tense moments after mistakes are made. The sense of accomplishment when those mistakes are fixed is well worth the hassle (and at times, tears. Big ones. The kind that roll down your cheek). If I don’t knit for a few days, I start to crave it. My favorite sort of evening is to hang out with The Husband and knit while we watch TV (oh, how long I have come from college. But that’s another post. Entirely. ). Anyway, knitting has saved me from going loopy with boredom in airports (okay, now that’s a valid knitting pun for you) and it has significantly reduced my anxiety from many a canceled or delayed flight. As long as I am knitting, I am in a Zen-like zone and feel very peaceful – instead of counting breaths, I count stitches. It’s all good, yo (another knitting pun for you).

With all this serenity surrounding the Zen of knitting, imagine my surprise then when I discovered a major source of discord in knitting circles – knitting continental-style vs. English-style. When you knit English, you are “throwing” the yarn and when you knit continental you are “picking” the yarn. Most Americans knit English – in fact, it seems most of the world knits English. I even started out knitting English because I didn’t realize there was more than one method. I switched teams when I discovered a classmate knitting continental and noticed she finished the project WITHIN the class itself. The rest of us had to take the project home to finish because we ran out of time. I realized then that my classmate was onto something and vowed to learn how she did it. After some research, I found out how to knit continental and I never looked back.

What has amazed me the most is how passionate people can get about their preferred method – chicks with sticks can be dangerous (yeah, maybe they are blunt sticks made out of bamboo. But still.). When my classmate was knitting continental, the teacher (an older, Grandma Knitter) insisted she was doing it “wrong” and it was obvious the classmate was upset, in particular because as she put it “my mother taught me this way and it worked for HER” (I should note this line was delivered rather curtly). Ouch. I didn’t blame her though, the teacher was slightly irritating.

Overall, I don’t understand the cause for such emotion and argument. Knitting is supposed to be the equivalent of productive meditation. This, coincidently, is much easier to accomplish when knitting continental. English BAAAD. Continental GOOOOD. Ha!

September 25, 2004

Politicking or polikitty-ing?

For those of you that don’t own cats, it may come as a shock to learn that cats are very complex creatures. Indeed, they need infinitely more affection and attention than their stereotype indicates and their social order is better than many finely crafted governments. The current feline campaign being waged in my backyard makes the Bush/Kerry rumble appear to be as complicated as a game of Go Fish. You see, the previous owners of our house never had cats. It seems a neighborhood cat had already claimed our yard as “his” before I had the nerve to move in with my own little fur balls. Now, at all hours, we hear various screeching and growling as the neighborhood cat tries to exert his ownership on my amply taxed piece of grass. It’s disconcerting to go out on the deck and hear two cats growling at each other underneath my feet. It’s disturbing to see my burly black cat H. reduced to a whimpering mass of fuzz. It’s alarming that when I go out in the front yard to chase the neighborhood cat away, he runs into MY back yard to seek refuge from ME. I am not sure what to do, because H. is not an inside cat – he would tear the place apart if kept locked in. I just hope they all come to terms with each other soon. Sigh.

This has been a very blah week - Big Al has had a constant aura of suspicion and deceit. I am going to Vegas this weekend – surely the Land of Lady Luck will provide some sort of interesting post for next week.

September 20, 2004

Where is home anyway?

This weekend, I finally felt that I was closer to getting home. Yeah, yeah, le Manse du Chat is infinitely better than the old one – we now have better neighbors, a bigger house, a nicer yard. The list goes on. However, the new house isn’t quite HOME yet. It’s certainly getting there and this weekend was a breakthrough. I am in a Canasta group (codename: Clandestine Canasta. Shhh!! Don’t tell!). I hosted the group this past weekend and I believe there was something about having my friends spend time with me in the house that helped to “christen” it. Until then, it had mainly been the Husband and I fumbling our way through boxes just trying to get through our hectic days. Saturday night with the Canasta gals allowed me to really wind down and just BE in the house. It was nice and is giving me hope that I will start to feel comfortable again.

Boss Fired, Part Two: Yeah, my manager was officially let go. The whole thing was very weird and creepy. I probably shouldn’t say more for fear Big Al will track me down like the guilty blogger I am. We are on the 20th floor (the highest floor in the building) and have always been the Outcast Gang. Is it any coincidence that it feels more and more like Flowers in the Attic up here? Sigh.

September 17, 2004

Where is he?????

My manager has disappeared. His office light is on, his bag is there, and his Blackberry is in its cradle with his laptop in the docking station. We have heard neither hide nor hair of him since TUESDAY and Big Al is acting like my manager doesn’t exist anymore. No word regarding him – not one single word. Nada. Huh??? He can’t be fired, because his stuff is in his office. I know he is alive and not injured because he took some tools out of my garage (refer to previous post where I had just purchased his house – he is still storing some things there. Of course, I can’t call him because "they" took his cell phone and his home phone is still turned on at MY current home (the irony of THAT is not lost on me either)). In all their wisdom, the management here has successfully created an environment filled with gossip, innuendo, suspicion and paranoia. Thanks!

Friday Afternoon Update: Our AVP just held a meeting to let us know that our manager is gone. Gee, thanks! didn't notice. I guess that's why SHE is the AVP and I am just a peon.

September 16, 2004

Have you hugged your loved one today?

If not, grab your husband, wife, lover, pet, whatever - and give them a big hug. Rancid Raves declares today an "Appreciate Your Loved One" day. Too often, I float through my days dragging my tired a$$ to work for Big Al and worrying about meals, laundry, bills etc. I don't make the time to sit back and appreciate how lucky I truly am.

Today will be different. I can always be an ungrateful nag tomorrow.

September 15, 2004

How Amazing was that Yield last night?

I am glad not many people read this blog as I have a dirty little secret. I am rooting for Colin and Christie in the Amazing Race. I can’t help it! They have consistently run a strong race and I just fell in love with them during the caviar challenge – Colin was so supportive of Christie in that challenge. Yeah, lately Colin has been a complete jerk, but in the earlier episodes he was much better – I think the stress is getting to him. Anyway, how daring of a move was that of Chip to Yield C&C? Kiddies – can we all say cahones? (Sidebar: Does Chip even have a partner? What is the point of Kim other than fulfilling the 2 person requirement?) I also thought it was interesting that the Yielded team could watch the task being performed. Finally, I loved how Chip was wearing a CafĂ© Nostra t-shirt that Lance and Marshall must have given him. Cool. Very cool.

Okay, if the Models for God invoke the Lord’s name one more time, I may just turn atheist to spite them. God has more important things to do than monitor the Amazing Race. Furthermore, the constant exclamations and whining of “Babe!” and “Baby!” are more irritating than a bikini wax. Get over yourselves already.

The Bowling Moms are cracking me up – how neat is that they are still in the race and are legitimate contenders for the prize??!! Of all the teams still in this thing, they deserve a prize for the team that has grown the most. I would have pegged them being eliminated a long time ago. That was a good one when they finished the car decoration challenge first because as they phrased it “We are mothers of three and we put stuff together all the time”. Rock on!

One last thought – 3 of the 4 remaining contenders came in last but lucked out because it happened to be a non-elimination round. Chip and Kim are the only ones who haven’t come in last.

September 14, 2004

Where is my underwear?

Last week, I had mentioned that my marriage had survived MOVING. It was our first move as a married couple and it was just as interesting as I thought it would be. It all started when earlier this year, my manager flippantly asked if I would like to buy his house. To his surprise, I said I would discuss it with the Husband. After viewing the house and considering the big savings in price due to the lack of realtor fees we decided to go for it. The past few months have been an exercise in getting reacquainted with all my junk and sadly, it has become quite clear that the Husband has been correct all along – the vast majority of our possessions are indeed mine. Also, I believe in keeping things. Oh, I don’t know – like my great-grandma’s china, 100 year old Japanese tchotchkes that were my great-great-grandma’s, my track medals from high school – meaningless items like that.

It certainly didn’t help that the Husband’s version of moving involves trash bags and a suitcase – everything not thrown away gets packed in a suitcase while the furniture is returned to the store it was rented from. In his defense, he was living in corporate apartments, but still….. I, on the other hand, pack items with neat labels indicating contents and preferred location. My husband didn’t understand why I was so picky. Couldn’t comprehend why I was baffled by OPEN shampoo bottles up-ended into boxes. Couldn’t appreciate why I was peeved with clothes stuffed randomly in boxes, suitcases, laundry baskets.

Moving to a new house elicits so many conflicting emotions – most people assume they will lead a happier, brighter life if only they could get a new house. Logically, I knew this wouldn’t happen and I did try to resist the temptation in thinking the new house would solve all my problems (New house! Skinnier me! Husband finally mows lawn, picks up socks, washes dishes!). Our new house is much nicer and the neighborhood is much better. Despite this improvement in our circumstances, I still mourn the old house. It was my home, after all and I will miss certain aspects of it.

However, overall everything went fine. Well, I guess we ARE missing a leg to our bed and spent several nights in the spare bedroom before figuring a stack of books would suffice in the meantime. But it went fine. Really. It did. Okay, yeah, I guess the flooding from the ice machine water line that the mover attached was a bit of a nuisance, but who am I grouse? Non-warped wood floors are way over-rated.

Needless to say, the moving process was a little taxing. But hey, we’re still married.

September 13, 2004

What if it is?

Warning: Mild spoilers to the Six Feet Under season finale are forthcoming.
One of the most moving exchanges in TV happened last night on the finale of Six Feet Under. It was during a conversation between David and his father’s ghost concerning David’s difficulty in moving on after his traumatic carjacking.
Nate Sr: You’re missing the point. You hang onto your pain like it means something. Like it’s worth something. Let me tell you something. It’s not worth $hit. Let it go. Infinite possibilities and all he can do is whine. You can do anything you lucky ba$tard – you’re alive. What’s a little pain compared to that?
David: It can’t be so simple.
Nate Sr.: What if it is?

That exchange hit me like a thunderbolt – I rewound and watched it twice more. As a continuation to my post on why the 20s were so hard, Nate Sr. hit the proverbial nail. When I was 20, I did hang onto every painful event – hell, I nourished and fed them. No wonder I was so unhappy.

Anyway, the entire episode was stunning – the display and range of raw emotions was stellar. Outstanding TV at it’s best. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the confession from Lily’s brother-in-law. It’s nice that storyline is tied up neatly with a ribbon and Nate can move on, but it still seemed to be too convenient of a wrap-up. Regardless, it was a great episode.

September 10, 2004

Can NBC get back on top?

In short, probably not this season. While their lineup is solid, we all know that isn’t necessarily a good thing – After all, “Bobby is a solid boy” doesn’t exactly ring pleasant thoughts unless you need a cow milked. Even though the NBC regular lineup will include Joey, Will & Grace, The Apprentice, and ER, I still have my doubts. Last night’s showing consisted of the premieres for Joey, The Apprentice 2, and Medical Investigation. Here are my inane observations and please note, I have made a conscious effort to include no spoilers since the Apprentice repeats on Saturday:

Joey – First, Joey was always my least favorite of the Friends. With that said, I wholeheartedly admit I enjoyed this show – I think this gig has a chance of making it. Will it be a Frasier-ed level of survival? Not unless they add a few more compelling characters, keep the witty writing coming (it WAS pretty funny – I actually giggled out loud several times), and come up with some good storylines. Basically, this sitcom has potential and I was pleasantly shocked to see that. When I first heard of the Joey concept, my first reaction was to roll my eyes and declare it a flop. Of course, what do I know? This is the same network that canceled Boomtown (more grumbling on that later). Anyway, they did a great job casting the nephew – his deadpan delivery makes him a good foil for Joey. I was very disappointed in the Gina character; she was basically a watered-down version of the Soprano’s Adriana (who I am still wearing black for. Sob.). They just aren’t using Drea deMatteo to her fullest extent. The casting of the agent was genius – let’s hope she’s a regular (unlike the hilarious one from Friends who we rarely got to enjoy). I’ll be recording this one – for awhile at least. 3 out of 4 sheep.

Apprentice 2 - This premiere was basically what I expected. Introduce the apprentices (or is it apprenti?) show Donald’s hair flapping around, get a glimpse of Donald's latest sweetie from a Eastern European Bloc country with a flashy smile (and chest), then blind us with his apartment AGAIN, and then perform some cheesy task for one of the many corporations clamoring to get on the show now that it’s a hit. I loved it! I appreciate the fact they are working for a JOB, not just prize money (and yes, they will have to work. I read People and Bill Rancic is working his heiney off. He is! People said so.) The challenge was fun, too – how can you go wrong when kids with attitudes and regrettable haircuts are involved?? They did an excellent job casting the apprentices, as well. In this crowd, there are plenty of contenders for the top positions of Omarosa and Sam so I don’t think this season will disappoint. 4 out of 4 sheep

Medical Investigation – I SO wanted to love this show – at least for the fabulous Neal McDonough in retribution for NBCs ridiculous scheduling and ultimate cancellation of the incredible Boomtown (can you tell I am still seething?). I tried, really – I did. However, this medically themed knock-off of Without a Trace just didn’t do it for me (do these 2 shows have the same producers? The cinematography and special effects were very similar). Even with Kelli Williams and Anna Belknap (um, did you get the point of her character? I didn’t). Overall, the drama felt forced and well, dramatic. I just have a hard time believing there will be major outbreaks every week in the New York City area. I might watch this, only if I happen to be home and have a hankering for Neal’s baby blues. 2 out of 4 sheep

There you have it. My 2 Lincolns on last night’s NBC viewing.

September 9, 2004

Why were our 20s so hard?

Since I have hit my 30s, every now and then I encounter situations that smacks me upside the head with the realization that I am growing older and marching a sure-fire path to my Maker. I mean, I certainly don’t FEEL old – I have to think twice when someone asks me my age, since I still see myself as 25. A few months back, a co-worker actually thought I was 23 and expressed disbelief when I confessed otherwise (although I will admit the veracity of his mental state has yet to be verified). Nevertheless, the incident got me to thinking about how different my 30s have been so far from my 20s.

When I was in my angst-ridden 20s, a good friend of mine often countered with the question, “why are the 20s so hard?”. We had a few conversations regarding this after imbibing nature’s pleasures that only a college student’s budget and body could afford –Taco Bell, Bud Light, and Capri Ultra Lites. With us being in our 20s, we were so high and mighty quite secure in our knowledge that the world was out there waiting FOR US. We only needed to finish our pesky Master’s degrees that were keeping us from getting in the action.

Anyway, my friend first broached this question while I was in my mid-20s and I have never forgotten it. Although I am at the happiest, most secure place in my life ever, I can still never forget that period of constant questioning – “Why am I here on earth? What does the future hold? Who am I? What is the point? Good gravy, WHAT is in the ashtray?” In my 20s, I often let people run right over me and rarely questioned authority in the workplace. I dated stinker after stinker. I spent money like there was no tomorrow (oh wait. I still do that.) I look back and shudder now at my naivetĂ© and wishy-washy attitude.

I wonder if the 20s aren’t more difficult emotionally because we are gradually severing those ties that bind us with our families. I remember my first weekend trip out of town shortly after going to college – I purposely didn’t tell my parents just because I COULD. The sheer freedom was exhilarating as my Ford Tempo zoomed across the state. I didn’t even have to tell them about the speeding ticket I got in the process. However, while I was desperately trying to distance myself from my parents, I also still needed their guidance and it was hard to ask. If I didn’t like their opinion and didn’t follow up on it, then I risked not having their approval and that was HARD. Or maybe I am over-thinking the situation and the 20s are hard simply due to the lack of money. Let’s face it, money may not buy happiness, but it certainly makes things less painful. After all, I may have hidden the speeding ticket, but I had to scramble to pay for it.

So while I view my 20s with a slight wistfulness (I do miss nature’s pleasures, after all and I rue the day I realized the horrors of hydrogenated oils. Sigh.) I can’t say I hunger for that period in my life. I love not letting people run over me anymore. Besides, with my 30s having started off so well, it can only make me wonder how cool my 40s could be.

Tomorrow: An outdated review of the desperate attempt by NBC to take over CBS's Thursday night powerhouse lineup. Hold your suspense.

September 8, 2004

Why did it have to be so painful?

A tale of DISH Network woe:
--Friday 9/3 - we get DISH network with cool Hindi channels and such. Very cool.

--Saturday 9/4, Sunday 9/5 - we notice the TiVo does not get along with DISH . Not very cool

--Monday 9/6 - I call DISH to order their version of a DVR (DVR 522) and they say its fine, but we have to go through the retailer. Somewhat cool.

--Tuesday 9/7 - I call the retailer and they say that since the 72 hour period had passed we can't get the DVR 522. Definitely not cool considering they weren't even open on Monday.

-Wednesday 9/8 - After talking to the retailer again, I give up and call DISH to cancel the service. Guess what? We are getting our DVR 522 on Friday after which I will be able to record 2 channels simultaneously. COOL.

This works out well, since I am totally hooked on a Hindi soap opera now - I HAVE to know if Lavanya runs away with Sandy or decides to stick it out with Nikhil....... Sandy's a stinker and Nikhil is a hottie, so the choice seems obvious, but you never know.

Where is the “real” in reality?

Note: Rancid Raves upgraded its headquarters last week (explaining the severe dearth of posts). Later this week I will blog about the bonding experience the Husband v. 1.0 and I “shared”.

I wouldn’t consider myself a huge reality fan, but I do enjoy the contest-oriented ones such as Survivor, The Apprentice, and the Amazing Race. I just don’t get the point of the other ones like the Bachelor, Blow Out, Big Obnoxious Fiancee etc other than the camera crew hanging around desperately in anticipation of a humiliating incident (exception: Joe Millionaire the Original sucked me in like a toilet gone bad). I tried watching the Casino, but the situations were so clearly staged that I cut it from my TiVo in disgust.

When people ask “how can you watch that crep?” it’s hard to explain. Do I really think the shows are occurring exactly as it happens? Or, do I believe the producers stage some incidents and film the reactions? I would go with the latter – quite a few of the so-called reality genre would be better termed as “unscripted reactions”. What really attracts me to the shows I do watch are the challenges – it is so entertaining to watch the contests and the participants’ reactions to pressure.

Now, to the show I just adore this summer – The Amazing Race 5. There’s a reason why this show has won an Emmy – it is simply the classiest, most entertaining of it genre. I LOVE the editing this season - love, love, LOVE it. Earlier in the season when they were herding sheep, I cracked up at the shot of Charla pointing to one of the goats/sheeps and saying "THAT's the bad one", and then the camara focusing on a goat with a menacing look as the dramatic music cued on spot. If there is an Emmy for editing, this season's crew deserves one. They have managed to take a huge amount of scrambled footage and make a compelling season out of it.

Last night was one of the coolest episodes yet – it’s about time they went to New Zealand, the Land of the Philiminator and Extreme Sports! The sledging down the waterfall and rolling around in a human-sized gerbil ball was priceless! I can’t say I was sad to see the Twins go, but I wouldn’t have minded the Models for God getting the old heave ho. Praying to God to help them find the clue while they are knee deep in mud? Puh-leeze.

Despite my better judgment, I can’t help but root for Colin and Christie (they have raced a consistently strong race the entire season), but I would definitely prefer to see the Bowling Moms win. With only 4 teams left, the countdown begins………