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Archive for June, 2010

Workout Wednesday

Posted by Lissa on June 30, 2010

I found a new muscle in my arm this week!

No, really! I looked down my arm and, right above my elbow, there was a little indent below a muscle I’d never seen in my life. Mike insists that it’s just my tricep becoming more defined, but I don’t believe him. I think it’s far more likely that the protein smoothies have encouraged the magical development of entirely new muscle groups.

The good news: I jogged 2.6 miles yesterday without stopping!

The bad news: I’m COMPLETELY out of workout music. I’m sick of all my songs.

I know some of you have been leaving recommendations in these weekly posts – thank you! Consider this a bleg, consider this a meme, whatever — I can haz song recommendations plz? KTHXBYE!

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10 reasons life is good

Posted by Lissa on June 29, 2010

Got tagged by The Gregarious Loner a few days back! Since I often marinate in The Snark here, it’s a good assignment for me.  In alphabetical order:

  1. BOOKS/LITERACY.  I’ve been in love with books since I was five.  A good book imparts some life lessons, makes you laugh, makes you think, makes you cry, and grants you a respite from your own day-to-day toils.  Bonus points if it involves magic, monsters or mystics!
  2. EMPLOYMENT.  I don’t love my job.  So what?  I don’t hate it and I’m grateful I have it.  I’m grateful Mike has a job.  I’m grateful that we’re able to afford our lovely appointment, take play-breaks every once in a while, and feed The Rajah.  (And buy him costumes.)
  3. FAMILY. Between my two families and the new in-laws, I’ve got a bountiful plenty!  I’m not gonna lie — sometimes they stress me out, and I’m damn-sure I stress them out.  But they love me and I love them and I’m so lucky to have such good people in my life.
  4. FOOD AND DRINK.  It nourishes you and helps you grow, but also provides sensual pleasure.  A gorgeously marinated filet, perfectly seasoned and perfectly grilled, with a luscious malbec on the side, makes my eyes roll back in my head.  I’m so grateful that nowadays I can put food on the table seven days a week and not worry about my bank balance going negative.
  5. FRIENDS. I’m blessed with friends from college and friends from my first days at Ye Olde Financial Company.  All of them have seen me at my worst, know my darkest secrets, and danced happily at my wedding. They’re the bestest.
  6. HEALTH.  I’ve always been lucky in this regard — I don’t have any weird exotic diseases, nor even kidney stones.  Mike is pretty healthy also.  I’m very grateful that the folks who are important to me have all their facilities — mental and physical.  It’s a wonderful thing.
  7. HUGS.  I’m a hugger!  (But you knew that.)  I’m glad there is a physical way to express happiness, friendliness, gladness, and joy that doesn’t cross any boundaries.  If no one had invented hugs, I’d be a sad panda.
  8. THE RAJAH.  Our sweetie is just over five years old now, and still dumb as a sack of bricks.  But I wouldn’t trade him!  His docility when being shoved into a chicken costume (or when having his claws clipped) is worth a hundred kitty IQ points, any day.  And his penchant for sleeping on our legs has gotta be worth another hundred.  He’s a good boy.
  9. SELF-DEFENSE.  I’m glad and proud to live in a country that thinks I have the right to defend my life.  I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.  (And oh yeah — EIEIO!!!)
  10. SUNSHINE.  I don’t think I could exist in a place like Seattle (even if it doesn’t rain as often as I think it does).  I’d rather have thirty-degree sunny weather than sixty-degree cloudy weather.  My soul grows with sunshine.

What are you grateful for?

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Night halos

Posted by Lissa on June 28, 2010

I’ve always had a problem with night halos. Driving on the Massachusetts Turnpike, at night, can be difficult; there are long periods without lights, with curves, and with Massholes blasting about at 90 mph. (I am not one of them. I usually keep the speedometer at 74. Unless I’m REALLY distracted or in a car chase or something.)

Anyway, it adds a challenge when every set of taillights is surrounded by a smeary red circle. I used to think everyone saw traffic this way, but when I got scoped for LASIK the doc said my pupils were larger than average.

Ironic, isn’t it? My body is trying its best to let me see in the dark, and the result is that I have trouble driving. Stupid body.

But — drumroll please!! — I figured out a helpful trick last night! Namely:

When my night halos are particularly bad, I try to stare into a set of headlights for a second or two.

No, really! My rearview is night-tinted so the side mirror seems to work best. If, when taillights are especially smeary, I blast a bright white light in my eyes for a sec, it constricts my pupils and the night halos go away. It’s awesome.

Now, as with any new experiment, one should try this briefly and under safe conditions. I do not, for example, recommend driving straight into incoming traffic to get those high beams blasted straight into your retinas. Nor should you carry a Maglite for close-range eye-searing. MODERATION, y’all.

Happy driving!

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More MA stupidity

Posted by Lissa on June 25, 2010

Most people who read here are familiar with the draconian and ridiculous MA gun laws.  But that’s not the ONLY way the Bay State protects us from ourselves!

Bob S described a recent situation of tactical awareness and how he responded.  He realized that it was a good idea to pull up such that he could stand at the back of the vehicle while he pumped and not get trapped between car and pump; it gave him more escape options.

Now, I assumed that this was possible because Bob could set the gas flowing and take a step back.  As it turns out, he’s just a large man driving a Blazer (which has a relatively short length between gas cap and back).  And I realized another MA idiocy with which y’all may not be familiar.

Did you know that none of our self-service stations have hold-open latches?

That’s right!  Apparently it makes us set ourselves on fire or something.  You can find the law right here:

(k) Hold open clips shall not be allowed on self-service dispensing nozzles.

I have never set myself on fire.

I have never gotten back in the car while gas was pumping.

I have DEFINITELY grumbled about how I can’t wash my car windshields while the gas pumps.  Or clean trash out of the backseat.

Or move to a point of greater visibility to keep an eye on the shady car across the aisle.


Happy Friday!!!

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License shakedown: The Fruit Vendor at South Station

Posted by Lissa on June 24, 2010

Meet Costas:

Costas’ fruit cart has been outside of South Station for as long as I’ve been working in Boston. It’s a super-convenient stop on my morning commute; I can pick up two bananas and an apple for $1.25, enough to keep me happily (and healthily) munching throughout the day. The fruit is easily as cheap as I would get in a grocery store; plus, I don’t have to carry it on the train. I’ve also grabbed cantaloupes, pineapples and strawberries on my way home when we needed fruit salad to go with dinner. Costas always had a cheerful smile and an earnest thank-you for each and every purchase.

Until last month.

One day Costas wasn’t there for the morning commute. It was weird, and puzzling, and also inconvenient – I was on a health kick and was trying to add more fresh fruit to my diet.

No fruit the next day, either.

Or the next.

A few days later, Costas returned, sans fruit. He did, however, have a petition. I gladly signed the request for City Hall to grant him a license so he could keep selling me fruit. It’s clearly a service that was utilized by hundreds of people every morning — why wouldn’t they want him to stay open?

I immediately thought of John Stossel.  He wrote a little about licensing shakedowns in Give Me A Break; he thought they were largely a tool of established businesses to keep upstarts and newcomers from taking market share.  He gave examples like Cornrows & Company which, although exclusively a hair-braiding service, was forced into getting a salon license.  Said license including 125 hours of shampooing instruction and practice.

According to this article, though, that’s not it. Boston officials say that he makes a mess, dumps his boxes everywhere and blocks handicap ramps, etc. etc.  They say they’re not requiring of him any more than they require from other sidewalk vendors:

But while Costas Katemis’s customers say he’s an institution, some city officials suggest he belongs in one. He has been, they say, a huge pain in the neck, alternatively plaintive and defiant. They say he has angered property managers, blocking handicap ramps, using other people’s dumpsters to get rid of his boxes.

They suggest he is not some guileless working stiff, but a streetwise hustler who is playing the character card to avoid licensing obligations that other vendors meet. They cringe at the notion of him being elevated to folk hero status, the David of Dewey Square getting creamed by Goliath at City Hall.

Peter Gori, a project manager for the Boston Redevelopment Authority, has been working with Katemis for years, trying to straighten things out.

“Three or four years ago, he did have all his permits and insurance,’’ said Gori. “We’ve never asked him for anything we haven’t asked other vendors when it comes to permits and insurance. Look, it’s 2010. It’s a public sidewalk. You can’t just set up.’’

Uh huh.  Some city officials suggest he belongs in an institution for being plaintive and then defiant?  I really hope that was bad journalism from the author; I’d hate to think that’s a direct quote.  (Though I wouldn’t be surprised.)

Costas had Gori’s number on a sandwich board a few days ago, pleading for people to call and help:

I’m crossing my fingers that Costas will be back today.  I need some Vitamin C.  And I can always use a smile.

*I left messages for a few people and received some voicemails in return, though I haven’t managed to talk with a live person.

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I am the most awesome chef alive!!!!

Posted by Lissa on June 23, 2010

I didn’t always think so, of course.  There’s a whole tag of “Domestication FAIL” over there in the sidebar.  I always considered myself a good basic cook who was trying to branch out into becoming a better cook.

But now I know better!  Now I know that I’m simply awesome and amazing and fabulous!


Because I have never — not even ONCE — cut skirt steak into strips, charred it to a crisp, and then cut bleedin’ FIG NEWTONS into flippers to make it a STEAK TURTLE.



Welcome to “Inedible to Incredible“!  It’s basically What Not to Wear for cooks.  Mike and I watched two episodes last night and now I know that I’m the most awesome chef that ever lived.

I’m so proud of myself.

Happy Wednesday, all!

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Sig Academy tip: Chamber check

Posted by Lissa on June 22, 2010

Good morning everyone!  I forgot to include this tip in my rundown of the Sig Academy, and it’s a good one 🙂

How do you check if you have a bullet in your chamber?

What I did previously was to grip the gun as if I were going to do a full rack, and then gently pull back until I could see either brass or the lack of brass.  (If no brass, then I would continue to the full rack and lock it open and back.)  It was difficult because it’s hard for me to exert sufficient force to slide it halfway only; it felt awkward and out of control.

What the Sig instructor taught me was this:

1) Cock the weapon

2) Brace your thumb under the hammer and curl your fingers around the sights

3) Pull back enough to see brass or no-brass

See?  MUCH easier.  (It should go without saying that, throughout this process, your gun needs to be pointed in a safe direction – like a bulletproof vest – and your finger is off the trigger.  Duh.)

(Oh, and BTW, Siguette does have a loaded chamber indicator.  My attitude has always been that a loaded chamber indicator is sufficient to confirm that your gun IS loaded.  It is never sufficient to confirm that you gun is UNLOADED.  Because all guns are always loaded all the time.)

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The Celtics make me a sad panda.

Posted by Lissa on June 18, 2010

That’s all?  That’s it?

After staying up past eleven?

After drinking my appropriately green Bud Light with Lime?

After obsessing over KG’s knees and whether Rasheed Wallace would show up and all the rest?

This is the way our Finals ends, not with a bang but a whimper.

That is all.

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Malaise – I haz it.

Posted by Lissa on June 17, 2010

Thousands of feet of “superior” boom are available in Maine, but not being used in the Gulf.

A moratorium on drilling was ordered on the recommendation of scientists, who actually recommended no such thing.

A Congressman assault citizens on the street.  Not only are no charges pressed, not only does he not resign, but blame-makers swoop in to attack . . . the citizens.

Europe’s busting up, the euro’s possibly breaking up, the area’s drowning in debt — hey, let’s add more government debt and a magic windmill program for ourselves!

Israel is not allowed to actively defend itself (i.e., attack the forces attacking it), nor to passively defend itself (enforce a blockade and guard its borders with a wall and checkpoints) without being accused of apartheid, genocidal tendencies, blood-drinking of innocent children, etc.  Everyone’s okay with this except us, and the US is slipping towards “meh” neutrality.

Elton John sings for Rush Limbaugh’s wedding.  This is a good occasion to mention how racist, homophobic, sexist, evil etc. Rush Limbaugh is.

Elton John is barred from singing in Egypt because of his beliefs and his behaviors.  “Meh.”

Social Security’s imploding.  ObamaCare’s a disaster in the making.  “Meh.”

It’s enough to make a girl want to climb back into bed with a cup of coffee and her copy of Atlas Shrugged.

(Now on Kindle!  Although, whoa, I paid a LOT less than that when I ordered it — it was $8.99 back then.)

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Workout Wednesday: Cheating edition

Posted by Lissa on June 16, 2010

Good morning everyone! Here’s a curiosity question — does your spine crack both ways?  My middle-to-lower back does.  I mean, if I’m standing around for a while and then slowly bend at the waist, my spine emits loud snap crackle ‘n’ pops.  The same happens, although not as loudly, if I arch my back or twist from side to side.  It’s like a frickin’ Jiffy Pop shaker back there.

Running also makes crackly stuff build up in my spine.  It’s not too troublesome while I jog, but as soon as I stop and bend over to stretch, there’s a mini fourth of July celebration coming out of my back.  Now all I need is the 1812 Overture . . .

Anyway, like the title says – I cheated yesterday.  I didn’t mean to, not really, though I can’t promise I wouldn’t have slowed down.  Yesterday’s run was two ten-minute segments of jogging, separated by three minutes of walking.  I ran after work, which I never do; my exercise is always second thing in the morning.  (The first thing in the morning?  Caffeine and blogging, baby.)  So I pant my way through ten minutes of jogging, walk three minutes, and doggedly start jogging again. I have a towel draped over the display so that I can’t count the minutes, seconds and heartbeats until the next rest period; I wait as long as I can before peeking at the countdown.

OH JOY! Only 30 seconds left!  I’m so happy and so pleasantly surprised – I’d guessed three minutes or more would be left!  I finish the half-minute and slow the treadmill to a quick walk . . . only the c25k program didn’t beep.  Uh oh.  I check the iPhone and — CRAP! — I had three minutes left!  Dammit dammit dammit — my desperate mental math hadn’t accounted for the rest period when I thought I was done.  Crap.

So I walked a minute and then sped up to jogging again; I completed the last three minutes and ran way faster than normal for the last sixty seconds.  Then I keeled over and died.

Coffee has resurrected me.  😉

Songs for this week:

  1. People of the Sun by Rage Against the Machine
  2. Ray of Light by Madonna
  3. What If by Creed
  4. Chaiyya Chaiyya by Sukhwinder Sigh and Sapana Awasthi (otherwise known as the opening theme to The Inside Man
  5. Through Glass by Stone Sour

Go hit that treadmill, gym rats!

P.S. I’m running out of songs to share with y’all!  And I’m getting a little sick of my current mix.  Might have to do some Amazon browsing this week 🙂

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