Wednesday, April 1, 2015


Most of the business evaluation work I do is for general or female-centered business. Tonight, though, I asked Hubby Tony to come with me and be the focus in a store that catered to males.

On the drive to the store I mentioned some of the things we'd be looking for in the visit. We walked in together, but after the associate greeted both of us she directed most of her attention towards Tony. It was fun to stand off to the side and listen as she told him about all the merchandise in the store.

When she was done we purchased one of the items she'd recommended, then left and compared notes.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Asparagus Tips

I'll be doing a stock-up grocery trip later in the week, but today the refrigerator crisper drawers were almost completely empty. On my way home from the gym this morning I stopped in at my local Aldi to pick up enough produce to get us through.

This time their fruit "Produce Picks of the Week" were strawberries, cantaloupe, and pineapple, and the vegetables were broccoli crowns, celery, and sweet potatoes.  I grabbed one of everything but on my way to the check out I saw a hand-written sign which said they were having a Manager's Special on asparagus; it was on sale for only 99¢.  Underneath the sign there was an almost-empty box that held what was left of the one pound packages.

What a deal!  I love asparagus, and the pencil-thin stalks looked like they'd be nice and tender.  Visions of roasted spears tossed with balsamic vinaigrette danced through my head. Or I could use them to make a nice asparagus risotto.  Or a stir fry.  So many possibilities!

I grabbed two.

When I got home, I realized I had already taken beans out of the freezer to make chili for dinner.  There would be no asparagus tonight.  I wanted to keep them fresh, so I decided to try a trick I'd read about.  Basically, you treat the spears like fresh flowers and stand them up in water. 

With a sharp knife I cut off an inch of the tough bottom ends of each stalk, then put them in a tall cup and poured a couple of inches of water in it.  I wrapped some plastic wrap loosely over the cup so it didn't touch the asparagus, and used a rubber band to keep it in place.  Since tonight's meal yielded enough for leftovers tomorrow night, I hope that my asparagus stays fresh until later in the week.

Five years ago today: Who Comes Up With These?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Holy Batstamps!

I buy far fewer postage stamps than I used to, but last week I needed to go to the post office and stock up. I like to get commemorative stamps, and enjoy the process of picking out just the right ones. This time there were quite a few choices available, but when I saw the Batman stamps my decision was easy. The sheet of 20 stamps had eight different designs, and the clerk pointed out that some of them were very unique.

Tonight I used the stamps for the first time when I mailed a birthday card. To make it extra fun, I used one of the four Bat-Signal stamps:

Friday, March 27, 2015

How To Make A Palm Cross

Since Palm Sunday is this weekend, I thought a step-by-step guide for making a cross from a piece of palm might come in handy:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Better To Be Safe Than Sorry

This evening I was lazily browsing Facebook.  Halfway down my home page I noticed a link to an article about how everyone is deficient in magnesium. The person who posted it has a reputation for being on the medical fringe, but I since I didn't want to get up off the couch I clicked the link to see what I could learn.

According to the article, pretty much any illness or symptom could be a sign of magnesium deficiency, and not even trained doctors can notice it. Why is it such a problem? We're poisoned by our food. We're stressed out. We're eating too much sugar.  All pretty dramatic stuff. 

I was pretty sure most of the facts in the article were a little overblown (especially when it segued into an advertisement for the author's patented supplement which was guaranteed to restore health) and decided to find some more information on the subject.  The National Institutes of Health had a much more balanced view of the issue.  It said that most people could stand to have more magnesium in their diet, but a deficiency due to low dietary intake in otherwise-healthy people is not common.

I eat a pretty good diet. The only supplement I take (on the advice of my OB) is a combination calcium and Vitamin D tablet.  Just to be on the safe side, though, I decided to take a nice hot bath and throw some Epsom salts, otherwise known as magnesium sulfate, in the water.  Better to be safe than sorry, right?

Five years ago today: Not Just For Kids

Monday, March 23, 2015

I've Been Looking Forward To This For Weeks!

When I went out to the compost pile today, I saw tiny green leaves poking out of the ground:

I know the dandelion's really a weed.  However, since it's been years since we've applied fertilizer or weed killer to the yard, last summer I experimented with 'harvesting' it and other weedy greens and plants. I'm looking forward to continuing the practice this year.

Once I started looking closely around the yard I saw tiny dandelions popping up in several places.  I grabbed a shovel and dug some of them out.  I also scooped up some day lily shoots that were growing in the wrong place, and a few wild violet shoots.  (I could have had handfuls of chickweed, but I don't really enjoy it-it tastes too grassy to me.)

I brought my greens inside and washed them in several changes of water, then chopped them up.  I cooked them and added them (along with some other vegetables) to a bowl of rice and beans for lunch.  The greens added a nice fresh taste of spring.

Five years ago today: Get A Job!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The $2.00 Bill I Tried To Spend

A friend sent me this funny story in an email. I decided to share it with you, but first I wanted to track down the source. It didn't take long to do that; according to Snopes the author is "Captain Sarcastic", who posted it to a couple of newsgroups in December 1993.

The following is a true story. It amused the hell out of me while it was happening. I hope it isn't one of those "had to be there" things.

On my way home from the second job I've taken for the extra holiday ca$h I need, I stopped at Taco Bell for a quick bite to eat. In my billfold is a $50 bill and a $2 bill. That is all of the cash I have on my person. I figure that with a $2 bill, I can get something to eat and not have to worry about people getting mad at me.

Me: "Hi, I'd like one seven layer burrito please, to go."

Server: "Is that it?"

Me: "Yep."

Server: "That'll be $1.04, eat here?"

Me: "No, it's "TO-GO" [I hate effort duplication]

At this point I open my billfold and hand him the $2 bill. He looks at it kind of funny and . . .

Server: "Uh, hang on a sec, I'll be right back."

He goes to talk to his manager, who is still within earshot. The following conversation occurs between the two of them:

Server: "Hey, you ever see a $2 bill?"

Manager: "No. A what?"

Server: "A $2 bill. This guy just gave it to me."

Manager: "Ask for something else, THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS A $2 BILL."

Server: "Yeah, thought so."

He comes back to me and says:

Server: "We don't take these. Do you have anything else?"

Me: "Just this fifty. You don't take $2 bills? Why?"

Server: "I don't know."

Me: "See here where it says legal tender?"

Server: "Yeah."

Me: "So, shouldn't you take it?"

Server: "Well, hang on a sec."

He goes back to his manager who is watching me like I'm going to shoplift.

Server: "He says I have to take it."

Manager: "Doesn't he have anything else?"

Server: "Yeah, a fifty. I'll get it and you can open the safe and get change."


Server: "What should I do?"

Manager: "Tell him to come back later when he has REAL money."

Server: "I can't tell him that, you tell him."

Manager: "Just tell him."

Server: "No way, this is weird, I'm going in back."

The manager approaches me and says:

Manager: "Sorry, we don't take big bills this time of night." [It was 8pm and this particular Taco Bell is in a well lighted indoor mall with 100 other stores.]

Me: "Well, here's a two."

Manager: "We don't take those either."

Me: "Why the hell not?"

Manager: "I think you know why."

Me: "No really, tell me, why?"

Manager: "Please leave before I call mall security."

Me: "Excuse me?"

Manager: "Please leave before I call mall security."

Me: "What the hell for?"

Manager: "Please, sir."

Me: "Uh, go ahead, call them."

Manager: "Would you please just leave?"

Me: "No."

Manager: "Fine, have it your way then."

Me: "No, that's Burger King, isn't it?"

At this point he BACKS away from me and calls mall security on the phone around the corner. I have two people STARING at me from the dining area, and I begin laughing out loud, just for effect. A few minutes later this 45 year old-ish guy comes in and says [at the other end of counter, in a whisper]:

Security: "Yeah, Mike, what's up?"

Manager: "This guy is trying to give me some [pause] funny money."

Security: "Really? What?"

Manager: "Get this, a two dollar bill."

Security: "Why would a guy fake a $2 bill?" [Incredulous]

Manager: "I don't know? He's kinda weird. Says the only other thing he has is a fifty."

Security: "So, the fifty's fake?"

Manager: "NO, the $2 is."

Security: "Why would he fake a $2 bill?"

Manager: "I don't know. Can you talk to him, and get him out of here?"

Security: "Yeah..."

Security guard walks over to me and says:

Security: "Mike here tells me you have some fake bills you're trying to use."

Me: "Uh, no."

Security: "Lemme see 'em."

Me: "Why?"

Security: "Do you want me to get the cops in here?"

At this point I was ready to say, "SURE, PLEASE," but I wanted to eat, so I said:

Me: "I'm just trying to buy a burrito and pay for it with this $2 bill."

I put the bill up near his face, and he flinches like I was taking a swing at him. He takes the bill, turns it over a few times in his hands, and says

Security: "Mike, what's wrong with this bill?"

Manager: "It's fake."

Security: "It doesn't look fake to me."

Manager: "But it's a $2 bill."

Security: "Yeah?"

Manager: "Well, there's no such thing, is there?"

The security guard and I both looked at him like he was an idiot, and it dawned on the guy that he had no clue. My burrito was free and he threw in a small drink and those cinnamon things, too. Makes me want to get a whole stack of $2 bills just to see what happens when I try to buy stuff. If I got the right group of people, I could probably end up in jail. At least you get free food.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Cash Drawer Arrangement

This year I volunteered to work as a cashier at our parish fish fries every other week.  Tonight was one of my nights., so at 5:45 I was in the cafeteria to relieve one of the first shift volunteers.

During my work career I've had two jobs that involved handling money.  At both of them, the cash drawer was set up with the small bills to the left and the larger on the right (in numerically consecutive order).  That's how I learned how to do it, so in my mind it must be the right way.  The person who sets up the tills, though, does it the opposite way.  When there's a long line of people waiting to order, I'm afraid I'll get confused and start giving out the wrong change, so the first thing I do when I start my shift is change things around to suit me.

There are three cashiers working, so I don't feel bad about keeping customers waiting the few minutes it takes me to switch the bills.  All of my volunteer co-workers are aware of my quirk and tease me a little about it.  Doesn't bother me one bit.   I'd rather get it right than be embarrassed.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Toss, Toss, Toss

It's the third month of the year, and I'm decluttering and organizing a third room in the basement of our house.  It's the most difficult one yet, because the room is the office, which is used for so many things.

One wall is lined with bookshelves. A second wall holds Hubby Tony's desk and a large filing cabinet. Across from that is a smaller desk that holds the printer.  (Its drawers are filled with miscellaneous cords and old software boxes.) My sewing area is along the fourth wall. The corners of the room hold milk crates, boxes, and other 'stuff'.

I started with the bookshelves.  A couple of years ago I'd purged some of the books,, but now I was ready to make another pass. I went through and made a pile of things to donate (and made Tony do the same). Soon most of the shelves were looking tidy. However, several shelves of one of the bookshelves held photo boxes and old albums that needed to be culled through.

I've never been the world's greatest photographer. Back in the days of film that meant for each roll of 24 photos there might be a couple of excellent ones and a handful of acceptable ones. The rest were too dark, too blurry, or poorly composed. I felt guilty about throwing them away, so they all ended up in boxes. However, now I was determined.

I tackled the four boxes in chronological order. Some images were easy to get rid of. If we had
two dozen photos of the same event I only kept the best ones. Same with pictures of scenery. If the photo was an unflattering image it got tossed.  I tried to ask myself if anyone would want to see the photo (other than Tony and me) twenty years from now.  In the end I had half as many pictures. Not all of them are great, but all of them bring back memories.

With that done it was time to tackle the albums.  Most of them had been my mom's, filled with the Polaroids she was so fond of taking.  Sadly, most of them were faded and stuck to the adhesive album pages. I was able to salvage a couple of family events, but didn't feel at all guilty tossing out the ones of her work colleagues, people I'd never met.

I still have a little more work to go, but I'm pleased with  the results so far.  The shelves look much neater, and it's easy to find things.  Now to tackle another part of the room.....

Five years ago today: Sharing Local Information