Monday, May 29, 2017

New to this Hashtag Thing

Last week, when I was trying to think of what to get for the ninth birthday of my friend's son, I had an idea that led to me ordering a couple of books from Amazon. I was happy that they came so quickly, but when they got here on Friday, I put this photo on Instagram:
"Here's something you don't want to see: the books you ordered for a gift, poking out of the envelope, and stuck to the adhesive. Not sure if I should blame #Amazon or the USPS, but not too happy with it."
Now, I hashtagged Amazon just because I've been playing with the hashtags since I joined Instagram; they're a way of categorizing what you're posting, and I haven't fully gotten the hang of how people use them. But I threw it on there, and to my surprise, someone from Amazon answered not too much later:
Oh no! I can definitely understand. Have you had a chance to view available return/replacement options? You can do so by selecting "help" from the website, then selecting "returns and refunds."
How about that? I've read stories of people getting customer service from various companies by using Twitter to get their attention, but it never occurred to me that Amazon would be monitoring Instagram so closely.

I didn't return it, since the party was on Sunday. Fortunately, the adhesive came off without damaging the book. But still, wasn't that kind of cool?

Friday, May 26, 2017

When Fast Feels Slow

When I saw my doctor recently, she said that she wanted to have me do blood work, since it had been a while, and that fasting would be best--ideally for 12 hours. Ugh. But given that my cholesterol has been questionable before, I can see the need, so I didn't fight her on it. Of course, I also didn't get to it right away--fasting sucks and I hate it and I was in no hurry. However, I decided to get it done today. Or, rather, I decided yesterday to get it done today; nothing to eat after 8:30 last night.

My doctor belongs to the MGH network, which has offices all over the place, and she said that I could go to the lab at any of them, so I saw no need to go to the one where I see her, which isn't all that far away, but is on a major rush-hour-drag route. I found one that was much closer, and went this morning, arriving just before 8:30, when the lab would open. A woman started to check me in, and who's your doctor? Uh-oh.

It turns out that their lab is only for patients of doctors there*, and they couldn't do mine. But there's another office, ten minutes away! They can do it. Sigh. Did I mention I hate fasting?
*Which their website does not say. I checked when I got home.

Back into the car, address into the GPS, drive, park, go in. The first place was a little neighborhood storefront, this one was a big hospital-like building. The lab was just inside, and I went right in. Instead of having a person at the desk, they had a take-a-number system, like the deli counter at the grocery store.
So you take your number, then write on a clipboard what time you took it, and you wait. My number was 44; the now serving showed 37, though there were only two people in the waiting room. (Plus, a few minutes in, someone brought a person out who was done, and it turned out one of the people waiting wasn't a patient.)

I waited for about ten minutes with no apparent progress of any kind, except that that patient and another one left.

A woman came in, and instead of taking a number, she waited at the counter looking for an employee. A man came in shortly after her and kind of hovered, waiting to take a number but not wanting to cut in. Eventually the woman got hold of an employee and started talking about the test she was supposed to have today and the test she was supposed to have tomorrow, and the man took a number and sat down.

While the woman was still being helped, another employee passing through the back saw the man sitting down, greeted him as a friend, and then took him on back. Excuse me? I was here, and I've been waiting about 15 minutes now, and you have this whole elaborate system and you aren't using it? Did I mention that I'm fasting?

I stood up and went to wait behind the woman, and when she moved away, I asked the employee there, was I supposed to be dong something else, because I'd been waiting and then he just got called in, and she said oh, sorry! And brought me back to get started.

And I understand that there could be reasons why there might be a problem with the system, but I suspect it might be that The Powers That Be installed it, and the on-the-ground personnel don't like using it, and that is so very annoying.

At least from that point it went smoothly. She took the blood without fuss (on her part) or pain (on mine), and I was able to leave. I stopped at Panera on the way home to get something to eat and drink, which never tasted so good, I tell you, and finally got to sit down and work.

AND, about an hour after I left the lab, I got an email with the results, so that was part was impressively fast. (Everything looks okay to me, but we'll see what the doctor thinks.)

I am so, so ready for the (long!) weekend now. Even with this dismal weather.

(Eleven days from now, I'll be in Florida, and it will be 90 degrees. Can't wait...)

Thursday, May 25, 2017

My American Dream Score

In this morning's Globe was a column by Yvonne Abraham talking about the American Dream Score, which is the result of a quick quiz you can take to determine how much the circumstances of your life have helped or hindered your success in life.

I decided to give it a try, and the results didn't really surprise me: despite not being in the 1%, I have been very lucky.
And how they explain the numbers:
And I guess all I'm saying (other than try it and tell me what you think) is that on a gray, cold, rainy day when my ankle hurts, it isn't a bad thing to be reminded of just how lucky I am, overall.

Though honestly, the way the weather's been lately, I had to share this picture when I ran across it this morning.
Next week is supposed to be a little warmer (gosh, maybe some highs in the 70s), but it's a bit sad that I'm looking forward to visiting Florida* because it will be warmer. In June!
*Can't remember if I've mentioned it; there was another JetBlue sale, and I'm going down around my mother's birthday. Working trip this time, but heat!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Nice Shot

If you are, like so many of us these days, stepping back from the news (at one point or another) because oh-my, all-the-crazy, who-can-keep-up, well, first of all, I'm not blaming you. I do it too some of the time, and I respect your instincts towards self care.

However, I want to make sure you aren't missing this, because it's funny (and believe me, I am refraining from linking to all the non-funny things that are going on, there are too many of them and they are So Not Funny, though I will say that if you can stand it, John Oliver's summary of last week, though not all funny, is well worth watching).

And I'm not even talking about the White House document that mentioned "the possibility of lasting peach" between Israel and Palestine, though that's kind of funny, too. (This administration not valuing proofreading is, even to me, way far down on their list of problems.)

No. I mean Melania not holding Donald's hand.

So did you hear? Yesterday, the story came out that the President tried to hold the First Lady's hand when they were walking off the plane in Israel, and she swatted it away. Today, after landing in Rome, he tried again, and she deftly avoided him again. You can see it all here; there's video.

Meanwhile, Pete Souza, who was the photographer for the Obama administration, just happened to throw this lovely shot up on Instagram today.
The man is so good at what he's doing. He's well worth following, if you're on Instagram.

And if, like me, he's making you nostalgic, check out these, his favorites of the photos he took. (I think #52 is my favorite of those.)

Now, just to reward you for this foray into politics, here is something not at all political, and hey, it's stupid, but it made me laugh.
Thongs, right?

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Weather Whiplash

New England is not known for its calm, serene weather. I grew up hearing the expression, "If you don't like the weather, wait ten minutes, it'll change." And these days, of course, climate change is making things more extreme worldwide. But this week has been ridiculous even by local standards.

Last Sunday was chilly, rainy, gray, all that.

By Tuesday, it was warmer, and I was so happy for the sunshine.

Wednesday was a record for Boston, 92.

Thursday was a record for Boston, 95.

Friday was a record for Boston, 90.

And with three days in a row at 90+, that's an official heat wave. However, look what was coming, as I saw Friday night:
Way to rub it in, weather app.

So yesterday was 59. Today is supposed to be 64. Yay?

No. No yay.

Now, the heat was a bit much, even for me. Not that I don't like being warm, I do, but the more usual gradual run-up allows for preparation in a way that 30-degree day-to-day swings don't. I didn't have cold meals in the house. The fan is in the basement. I did at least have ice pops in the freezer, and could find summer clothing without a lot of digging, but still, it was too abrupt, if not too hot, for me. (It's a fine distinction, I know.)

And now, back to long sleeves and layers and closing the windows. And in a week or more, it might hit 70 again. Maybe. Like, a week from Tuesday.

Sigh...

Friday, May 19, 2017

And Yet Still More Movie Ratings!

I just love these things. I rue all the years I didn't look at what the Globe movie people thought I should be warned of. Do other newspapers put these in their movie reviews? (Partial answer at the end of the post.)

Even if you remove the modifiers, it's still a bit "which of these things doesn't belong": blasphemy, nudity, sentimentality?
In what language, now?
Even though I am strongly anti-smoking, it still surprises me to see it given as a warning.
And then of course there's this one.
Oh, well, as long as it's inspired morbidity, then that's all right.
Oh, indeed.
Not just gratuitous, even.
Am I naive (doubtless yes), but "drug references of the jazz sort"?
More smoking, and ... what exactly did they do to the cookware to warrant this?
The last one sounds more like a plus to me.
Again, not just injustice...
We're warning about fed-up language now? I guess my blog is rated R.
Fallen idols are so distressing.
Makes me want to see it, really.
I found the Washington Post review of the last one, and it just says, "Contains occasional crude language." But their review of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” says, "Contains lots of gross-out humor and at least one scene with young Greg stuck outside in his underwear." So maybe it depends.

Labels:

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Reading Things

I avoid a lot of the political coverage these days, because I value my sanity, but this morning I felt up to reading some of the Globe's coverage of the latest fiascoes, and was much struck by this sentence, about how the Republicans feel as though:
...if senators went out on a limb to defend Trump, the president might just saw off the branch.
Yeah, probably. I just keep shaking my head over the situation. I mean, what he said in a speech today, ""No politician in history — and I say this with great surety — has been treated worse or more unfairly,""--and no doubt he does say it with great surety, but that doesn't make it true!

Sigh.

In a happier reading moment, elsewhere I came across a really lovely word that was new to me:
 "He looked tired; etiolated rather than invigorated by his walk."
Etiolated! I love it.

I read a book last year that frustrated me by ending on a heavy-handed "oops, no resolution now, keep reading the series!" and aggravatingly enough, it happened again this weekend. Different author, even; last year was The Ill-Made Mute, earning Cecilia Dart Thornton a place on my Don't Read Again author list, and this time, it was The Knife of Never Letting Go, by Patrick Ness.

More than once while I was reading it, I thought about whether I really wanted to go on, but ... it was an interesting enough conceit that I wanted to know what happened. I was aware that it was the first book of a series, so I wasn't expecting every little thing to be neatly tied up at the end, but it was one of those stories where things just keep going wrong, and getting worse, and you think they might make it, and then maybe they won't, and then they do except that "making it" is completely redefined: they got where they were trying to go, yes, but it was to find the opposite of help there, and boom, the book was over. It just ticked me off.

And the other thing annoying me now is my ankle; remember that I twisted it last week? Well, the damned thing just won't go back to normal. I've tried taking it easy, I've tried moving around normally, but no matter what, it just isn't cooperating. Last night I did go to swimming, though I modified motions as necessary, and it wasn't worse after, though it was a little swollen. This morning the swelling was gone, but tonight it's back. Ibuprofen helps with the aching, and I ice it now and then, but geez, ankle, pull yourself together already! It won't be warm for long, I want to go outside, but hobbling makes it less fun.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Sunshine

The sun really was out today, I am happy to report. It was warmer than it's been lately, too, around 80 maybe, enough to have a few windows open, though I still needed layers inside. Once I got outside, though, it felt grand!

I left for the gym earlier than usual, and made a stop to get some allergy medicine; shout-out to the pharmacist at Walgreens who saw me looking at the options, asked if I wanted help, and gave me her guidance on what to get, then got it for me from behind the counter and even rang it up for me. My allergies haven't been miserable, but the sinus pressure the last few days has gotten annoying, so we'll see if this stuff helps.

Anyway, after that I drove to the gym, and sat in the car, in the sun, for half an hour, basking. I'm listening to Neil Gaiman's The View From the Cheap Seats, read by the author, and very much enjoying it (I requested the book version from the library as well, so expect to get some quotes from that later), and sitting in the sun and sniffing the pleasant breeze was just so nice.

It's supposed to be even warmer tomorrow, and more so on Thursday*, and right now they are saying "mostly sunny," so if that is what happens, I will be happy.
*And then just 60 again on Saturday; the weather here is so bipolar.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Wow, have I been dragging today. It's what feels like the thousandth consecutive day of gray, rainy, chilly weather, and although it may just be allergies pulling me down (so many people are having a bad year), I just feel like I need the sun to come out. They say--they claim!--that Tuesday will be sunny, meaning one more day of suffering before the Great Recharging.

We shall see.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Here, Have More Tulips! Well, One Tulip, Progressing

Even though I understand that when nature is involved, there is only so much people can control, I don't always like the results. Last year, the tulips I picked lasted about two weeks; by the end of that time, they were dried and decaying but somehow still beautiful. This year, the tulips were farther along when I picked them, and five days later, they are already mostly at that stage. I admit to being slightly disappointed, while not blaming the farm or anyone else. It's nature. Things vary. I get it.

And that being said, they are still so beautiful. Today was another mostly rainy, gray day (oh lord, bring back sun and warmth before I curl up in a ball and stay in bed all day*), but the colors in one particularly cheered me.
*Right now, they're saying it will be warmer by the middle of next week, which I am trying not to count on too much, but oh, I hope so!

Wait, let me step back. Here it is to start, Sunday night at home:
And not much change to Monday night.
At this point, by the way, I would have called it pink. Wouldn't you?

Next is from mid-morning Tuesday, slightly more open:
And the same time, view from above. Always look at them from all angles!
I didn't take pictures on Wednesday, being preoccupied with going into town, and aggravating my ankle (which isn't worse, but is still aggravated, and aggravating), and all that. But here we have two from Thursday. Side:
And above.
At this point, it's not 100% pink, is it? Fascinating. A little purple, a touch of peach...

And today, when I really noticed it:
This one petal off to the side just glows. It's translucent, and all the colors.

Stunning.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Hockey Update (CF) and Other

I'm kind of mildly bummed out about hockey tonight. Both of the teams I wanted to win last night lost, and while none of them are crushing blows to me personally, it does mean that of the four teams I chose to mildly root for in the second round, only one has gone on to the conference finals (not the strongest record). So go Nashville!

To revisit my choices and the results:

  • Ottawa beat the Rangers in six games. This is probably the one I mind least, since having the team that eliminated your team move on gives some strength to the defense. It's the, "Well, yeah, but Ottawa's actually good this year!" argument. You kind of hate to see a team knock your team out, then get swept in the next round. Like, what, we couldn't beat those guys? So at least I avoid that.
  • Washington lost in game 7 to Pittsburgh. Man, I really hoped this would be the year Washington got the monkey off their back. Stupid Pittsburgh. They're probably the team I like least after Montreal (which all Bruins fans are required to have at the top of the hate list).

So this means that in the Eastern Conference Finals, I am rooting for Ottawa, ever so slightly. 51-49. I really don't want either team to win. Can we arrange that?

  • Nashville beat St Louis, yay! It took them six games--none of the series in this round went shorter, they were all six or seven. Onward, boys!
  • Anaheim beat Edmonton in seven games. Mild bummer, more because I liked what Edmonton was doing. Don't know much about Anaheim, frankly.

Therefore, in the Western Conference Finals, I am strongly for Nashville, and hope to root for them in the Cup Final as well. One thing at a time. The Conference Finals start tomorrow night, and alternate nights until series are won, so I'm not in the hockey desert yet. (It's coming, though.)

And what else is going on? Well, I went into Boston yesterday afternoon to see the new office (as I mentioned last week), which is both very nice (wow, you should see the kitchen! and there actually is a keg fridge) and very open office: no cubes, not even short walls, just desktops all pushed together, it would drive me mad to try to work there so thank heavens I don't have to. Not to mention the commute, which took me an hour each way, not to mention the cost of the commute, but really it's the time that grits me more. Plus the walk from the T, which is over half a mile and not something I would enjoy in winter, for example. But anyway. Not my problem.

It was my problem yesterday, though, not that the weather was so bad, it was okay (totally sucking for May, don't get me started, but not raining or anything), but because I had, sometime recently, twisted my ankle very slightly, and it turns out that spending 3 of 4 hours either walking or standing really aggravated it (who could have guessed). I was hobbling a bit by the time I made it to my car, and put it up last night when I got home:
Carlos was very puzzled by the cushions on his spot.

I even put ice on it for a bit. It was better today, but not fully, and I decided not to go to swimming tonight, since it seemed like that might aggravate it too.

Who was it who said that getting older isn't for wimps?

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Head Being Better, Let's Talk About This Restaurant

I recently noticed a new, or at least new to me, restaurant, and by "noticed" I mean that we drove past it going home from the tulip-picking, and I said, "What is Flank?" And Mary Ellen pointed out that it's actually Flank., with the period, which use of punctuation in the name she took to mean that it's outside her price range. I agreed that that seemed likely, but I was curious enough to look it up.

Well. It's so far from my usual that I can't even see it from where I sit. The website talks about "the Flank experience," which by the way is apparently "inspired by the century old beefsteak tradition where men would gather by the dozens to feast on piles of beef, without utensils." Doesn't that sound lovely? And masculine? (And it's a tradition they carry on, if you look at the dinner menu.) But let's get to the important part: the menu. Or rather, menus.

The lunch menu is rather limited, in my opinion, and to be honest, I am not usually in a group that pays $30 for a lunch (mind you, that is for the filet, which is my steak of choice; they have things that cost less). Can anyone tell me if "red cow parmesan" is made from the milk of red cows, and why that's a thing? I also notice that they specify that they carry "Mexican Coke," which is a nice touch if you don't mind paying $4 for a bottle.

For dinner, my (larger) cuts of filet will run me $40 or $52, and that doesn't include the sides that lunch does. Isn't that $30 lunch looking better?

Of course, I wanted to see what desserts they have, and that menu is actually called Dessert & Fortified Wines, which is another thing I would need explained to me. (Also, none of the desserts listed called out to me, which is rather sad.) I thought the $98 glass of wine on the Bar menu is the most expensive drink they offer, but then I saw that they have a separate wine list and holy cow I was very wrong. Why is it that the beers are $6 to $8, and the wines go up to, well, I can't even tell if those are by-the-glass prices all the way down, or by the bottle maybe, because how can a glass of wine cost $585? (That's the 2012 Stags Leap Winery – Cask 23 (Napa Valley).) I mean, how can a bottle, either?

Oh, pardon me, there's a big bottle (Large Format?) that, well:
To think I was impressed by the Johnny Walker Blue, which is $75 a glass. (Though I would prefer to order the Monkey Shoulder, which amuses me mightily, even though it must be pretty bad if it's only $13.)

Wow. Just, wow.

Monday, May 08, 2017

A Record Broken, Unfortunately

One thing I forgot to mention that brightened my Friday was an unexpected package from my brother, containing this desk sign:
It was funny on Friday, but it was even more true today. I had a mild headache on and off this weekend, but around 2 this morning, it went very bad, and I'm dealing with the aftereffects now. My head still hurts somewhat, though nothing like as bad, but even more, I feel like I've been beaten about the head and shoulders with a baseball bat.

So that means that I went from July of 2014 to May of 2017 without an awful headache. I'm sorry to break the record, but glad to have had that long without one!

This is one of those times, by the way, when my working from home benefits the company; I wouldn't have gone in to an office, feeling as I did this morning, but I put in a decent day's work from here, considering.

I put off the chiropractor until tomorrow and opted out of stitch and bitch. A quiet evening and early to bed will, hopefully, help me regain balance.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Tulip Picking, Year 2

Well, I hope you're in the mood for a lot of tulip pictures, because that's what I've got! If you aren't, well, come back tomorrow and try again, I guess. (Just kidding: there will probably be more tomorrow.)

The car we parked next to had this plate:
And while I don't know that this is strictly true, I like the idea!
Really interesting details about what bulbs were worth in the 17th century (click on the photo to see it bigger). I expect this made people who read it less reluctant to pay a dollar a stem after having paid for admission. It should, anyway!
All right, all right, tulips! Some from a distance, some close up, a lot in the show garden but some from the picking fields.





















































And an arm full of color to bring home.
It was happy tuliping!