All Stars

We all know that there are Quirky fans (legions, right?) and we all know that there are hockey fans (maybe slightly less than the number of Quirky fans), but because most Quirky fans reside south of the Mason-Dixon line where hockey is not quite as popular as other sports (football, baseball, underwater basket weaving), the number of Quirky fans who are ALSO hockey fans are probably rare. (My official guess is 2, +/- 2, so who knows?). That probably also means that the number of people who really care about my trip to the All Star game is...okay, just me. But stick around anyway, because you'd be surprised how addicting grown men chasing a little piece of frozen rubber around while carrying large sticks and occasionally pummeling each other can be.

For those who didn't know (everyone), the NHL (National Hockey League) does this thing where fans can vote for their favorite hockey players to come down to Atlanta and have a stompin' good time playing a hockey game with other fan favorites in a "just for fun" game. During this weekend, there would be all kinds of fun hockey stuff to do, like play on the same team as other hockey favorites, and participate in skills competitions, and purchase incredibly overpriced hockey memorabilia. And Tony, being an A number 1 hockey fan, and me, a supportive wife who doesn't mind hockey, decided to go and witness the festivities.

Tony and I hang out by the zamboni in Atlanta. He is sporting his Tampa Bay Lightening jersey, and I'm supporting the San Jose Sharks.

First off, being a hockey fan at the All Stars is amazing for the sole purpose that you're surrounded by other people who are also, and thus can identify, other hockey fans. This may not be unusual if you live in Russia or Canada, or even Detroit or Anaheim, but it is very unusual when you are used to being the only hockey fan in the entire state. I've had people ask if that was a football jersey that I was wearing, or know that it was a hockey jersey, but not what team it stood for. ("What's the name of the team you like? That one with the face on the front?" Yes, I'm talking to you Mother). But during All Star weekend, EVERYONE knows who your team is, and will also quite frequently, break out in a team cheer as you pass.

Anyway, Tony and I donned our official hockey jerseys and headed down to Atlanta on Saturday. We checked into the hotel and then moseyed downtown for the official All-Star red carpet arrival. Here's a picture of some random hockey player on the red carpet surrounded by 50 bajillion hockey fans, and spouses of hockey fans, and children of hockey fans, and a couple of confused homeless guys who couldn't quite figure out what was happening but didn't want to miss any of the action either.
Massive crowds of hockey fans hoping for a glimpse of their favorite players on the red carpet.

After that, Tony and I raced the crowds to a little Mexican restaurant, which had the genius and forethought to be offering a special abbreviated menu "just for hockey fans" (which is Spanish for "we've quadrupled our prices and you'll still wait an hour to get a table"). After some tasty $40
enchiladas, we headed over to the arena to watch the famed skills competition. The skills competition consists of a 4 part obstacle course relay, fastest skater races, an elimination shootout, the youngstars game (which is an abbreviated game for all the NHL rookies), accuracy shooting, fastest shot, and finally the breakaway challenge (which is like Olympic freestyle skate only with an attempt to score a goal at the end). It was awesome. The pictures do not relay the awesome awesomeness.
The obstacle course relay, where Mr. Hockey Man is attempting to "one-time" past the goalie and into the net.

The fastest skater race, where you will note in the picture above that one Duncan Keith, who happens to be a cutie-patootie member of the Chicago Blackhawks, is totally smoking his competition. (Keith is the one in the white jersey with the "picture of the face on the front" - in case Mom was curious).

Here's everybody getting ready for the Rookie game, which basically translates to a lot of stretching and willy-nilly skating all over the place.

All that happened on Saturday. The next day, Tony and I took a break from hockey player mania and spent the morning in the Georgia Aquarium. It's supposed to be the largest aquarium in the world, and it is a sight to behold. I highly recommend it. A funny thing happened while we were in the Amazon River part though. I was looking at piranha when Tony suddenly realizes that that really tall guy over there? The one that's all built? Yeah, he was the guy who won the fastest puck shot last night! He's a real live NHL hockey player! In the flesh! (Tony was very excited. I was surprised to learn that piranha don't eat people. If they bite you, it's by accident). We thought that both things (the player sighting and the piranha bites) were just flukes, but right around the electric eel tank, Tony spotted another player...and then another! It turns out that the aquarium was having some sort of player lunch (which sadly, we were not invited to) and after their vittles, the players were just wandering around, watching the beluga whales just like us commoners. It's always nice to be able to get right up close to minor celebrities...and stingrays.

Anyway, after the aquarium, we headed back for the main event, which was the All Star game. The East was playing the west, and because the Blackhawks are in the west, we were rooting for them. (Atlanta, however, is in the East, so everyone else in the arena was cheering for the East). It was a close game, but the East managed to pull one more goal out to win 7-6.

Before the game starts.More willy-nilly pregame skating. They do that a lot.

Health Day

I know, I're still waiting for All Star highlights. I'm working on it. It's taking a while because I don't want to forget a single little detail. Future generations of hockey fans will depend on my personal live account of my weekend, and I need to get it just right.

In the mean time...

I'm back at work, and it's Health Day! Ye Ol' Company is tired of our general lousy health costing them so much money, so they've started a new campaign where if you agree to a health screening and follow-up health appointments, then they'll give you a discount on the insurance premiums. (They want to do BMI and blood pressure checks to figure out how many of us are statistically likely to kick the bucket here at work, thus lowering the amount of toilet paper and coffee stirrers that the company needs to supply). Normally, this whole thing would make me nervous, because it smacks suspiciously of a doctor visit, and I do not like doctors and their overwhelming tendency to stab me with shots and needles. But this is just my company pretending to be a doctor, and I figure that the worst thing they could do was take my blood pressure, so I wasn't overly concerned. I filled out their little healthy living questionnaire about how many servings of vegetables I eat each week (does candy corn count?), and when my last physical was, and how often I juggle machetes while playing hopscotch down the middle of the interstate, and then bebopped my unsuspecting self down to the room where the screenings were. (They had told me that I needed to fast starting at midnight for my cholesterol check, which in hindsight should have tipped me off to the fact that they had something nefarious in store for me, but I just didn't put two and two together).

Anyway, when I got down to the screening room, a very helpful group of people dressed in scrubs weighed me and measured my height and gave me a HIPPA privacy notice, and it was all good. I was kinda enjoying the whole thing since it gave me a chance to get away from the phone for a few minutes. Then they sat me down in a little chair for my blood pressure check. Only first, they just needed to run a "quick little cholesterol test". So instead of strapping the little arm cuff on me, the nurse very unexpectedly pulled out...a giant needle! And I've got a pretty strong phobia about needles, so I unexpectedly punched her in the nose and bolted from the room.

Well, not really. But I gave it some serious consideration, because the needles? We are not friends. Nuh-uh. No way. The nurse may have sensed this by the way I started shrieking, so she grabbed my hand in her evil nurse vice-grip so that I couldn't get away. Not to worry, they only needed to gently prick my finger (which in nurse-speak translates to going to stab me in the finger with the giant freaking needle). I would barely feel it. (People always think that the problem with needles is that it's going to hurt. "This won't hurt a bit" they say. I don't care about the pain. It's the needle piercing my flesh that gives me the willies. Hit me in the head with a hammer if you want my blood. Just don't jab me with the needle).

The nurse, perhaps fearing a phychotic episode, loosened her grip while she waited for me to quit hyperventilating. She even started telling me about her yoga class that she used to take because it was so calming. I wasn't letting my guard down for a second, but she also wasn't holding the needle anymore, so I was cautiously optimistic. Maybe nurses that aren't actually in doctor's offices can't stab you against your will. Maybe in an office setting, they have to acquiesce to your wishes of not having a steel point jabbed into your tender finger flesh. Maybe she forgot about stabbing me. (That's me. The eternal optimist). Things were actually looking up as she got rolling on her "They joys of yoga" speech, and when she turned to ask the nurse next to me if she had ever taken a yoga class, I actually looked over to hear the other nurse's response. And that was the exact second when she whipped the needle out from behind her back and stabbed my unsuspecting finger. She had the needle gone again and was busily squeezing drops of blood out by the time I figured out what had happened. I made the obligatory threats and whimpering noises, but in reality, that was probably the best way for her to get what she needed, which was namely, my blood. Her only mistake was trying to do the blood pressure test immediately after, because I was so worked up that the cuff almost flew off and shot around the room with all the pressure I had built up in my preparation for fight or flight. She tried it a couple of times to see if my heart rate would ever drop back below 200,000 beats per second, but I was having none of it. I prefer to stay on high alert for several hours after any needle situation, even if it does report to my company that I'm ready to stroke out at any possible minute.

Stab me once, shame on you. Stab me while distracting me with a silly story about your yoga class in the name of health and wellness, well...shame on you again.

Hey Now, You're an All-Star...

So, this weekend was NHL All-Star weekend, and Tony and I went, and we just now got back home, and it was incredibly AWESOME and I'll tell you all about it...later. Yeah, yeah, I'm building your anticipation of the event by doing this teaser, because according to my marketing class, successful marketing is about creating a buzz.

Well, that and I forgot and left the All-Star program at home, which has the names and spellings of all the players, and you just try spelling Ilya Kovalchuk without it.

I'll write all about it later though. Feel free to buzz amongst yourselves until then.

Did I Mention the Fiery Molten Shards of Glass?

Oh ya'll, I caught the funk. And not the fun dancing funk either. The black plague of death funk. I'd been tired for a few days, but I thought it was just because of some recent insomnia (it comes and goes). But then, during the one night that I was actually able to go to sleep, I woke up at about 2am and thought, "Oh no! I've accidentally swallowed shards of glass!". (Hey, it seemed plausible at 2am. I'm not one of those 'instantly coherent upon waking' people even on the best of days). I got up and got a throat lozenge and then tried to go back to bed, but sadly, once you realize that you've swallowed shards of fiery molten glass, there's no going back to sleep. Except maybe for a second...right before your alarm goes off, because that way you can feel sick AND groggy when you drag yourself out of bed. And no, there's no way that I can stay in bed and just call in sick because there's a ton of new stuff going on at work, and I'm interviewing people for my thesis, and I'd never be able to get all of those people rescheduled. Never. So I hauled my draggy funk-filled self into work to spread my germs of joy with all my co-workers and several members of senior management. (I'm a firm believer that misery loves company). Then I went home as soon as I could and fell face-down on the couch and stayed there in a funk-induced coma.

The next morning, the fiery molten glass shards were back, and my ears hurt, and OH MY GOODNESS THE PRESSURE! You know how your ears pop when you change altitudes? Now imagine that you can't get your ears to pop, and the pressure just keeps building and building and building until your head is threatening to explode and you have desperate thoughts like, "VanGogh was right! I could just cut it off!" and "If I stab myself in the ear with this pencil, would it relieve the pressure?" I'm pretty sure that I've come down with the very rare sinus infection with strep throat and ear infection and side of Black Plague of Death. Do you pity me yet? I'm in serious need of pity.

Of course, if anyone else was going through this, I'd be channeling Mr. T and being all "Go to the doctor fool!" And that's good advice, it really is. But...I can't. The sinus infection with strep throat and ear infection and side of Black plague of death couldn't have picked a worse time. I'm completely and totally booked until oh, next Wednesday. No time to be sick. Missing meetings and training sessions now would have long-term ramifications. Maybe worse than death itself, which I'm beginning to think wouldn't be so bad if it meant that I wouldn't feel my ears and throat. So yes, I know going to the doctor would be a good move, but I don't have a GP, which means being a new patient somewhere, and filling out 80 bazillion forms, and spending most of a day sitting in the waiting room with a bunch of other sick people, and I just can't swing that right now. Yeah, yeah, I know. My health is very important. Don't judge me. Go back to that pity thing. That was nice.

So here I am. Struggling through my meetings by completely ignoring the recommended dosage limits on throat lozenges and sprays and cold and sinus pills. I'll see if the weekend revives me, and if not, I'll try to take a few hours to see someone on Monday. Assuming of course that the sinus infection with strep throat and ear infection and side of Black Plague of Death doesn't finish me off before then. If that happens, I'm gonna need you to bump the pity up a couple more notches.


Wouldn't you know it? I made fun of Knoxvillians freaking out and refusing to drive in winter weather, and then the next day, we all tried to drive in winter weather, and everybody ran off the road. In our defense, there wasn't any snow, so how were we to know?

It turns out that it rained Monday night. But the rain wasn't snow, so we weren't worried. Then, after the rain, it got really cold. And unbeknownst to just about everybody, the wet roads all froze. And the city woke up on Tuesday to cold yet clear conditions, and foolishly tried to go to work. And that was about the time everybody slid into a ditch.

Well, not everybody. Tony called me on his way to work and told me not to even bother trying to leave the house. The roads were completely iced. He managed to make it to work because his job is just down the street, but he told me that he slid the whole way and passed several people who were stranded sideways in people's lawns. He thinks he made it because of his superior winter-weather driving skills...I like to think that the only reason Tony's light pick-up truck managed to stay on the road was because it was weighted down with several bags of Moo-nure that I had purchased for the garden the other day and then was too lazy to get out of the back of his truck. (Which, on a philosophical note, is another fabulous example of manure keeping you out of...well, deeper manure).

But I digress.

Tony made it to work and I turned off the alarm and dozed to the voices of the overly-excited news anchors describing all the icy roads and all the people who had already attempted car Icecapades and failed. Between the hours of 7am and 9am, there were over 200 accidents in the city alone, and something like another 150 in the county. Police and wreckers were so busy that they sent out notices that unless you were seriously injured, they weren't even coming. You had to find a way to pull yourself out of the ditch.

The city also dispatched both all of our salt trucks, which resulted in fabulous TV footage of the salt trucks also sliding down the road sideways. They'll be showing that clip for years to come.

Meanwhile, I did what I always do when the city is in a state of emergency...I lounged around in bed and laughed at the country bumpkins that the news found to interview. (Side note: If you ever happen to catch Knoxville news, please know that we don't all sound like that. It is my belief that the new stations will keep interviewing perfectly intelligent sounding people until they come across the old guy in overalls that says something like, "We-llll, than I dun seed that there truck comin' right tawds me, and I dun said, 'Elsie! we gotta be gittin' outta dat dere feller's way!" For reasons I will never understand, news stations loooove to put that guy on the air. Extra points if he's in a rocking chair on his front porch or sitting on a tractor).

Anyway, by 11:00 I was tired of watching the city's rendition of Disney's Cars on Ice. I figured that the roads were dry enough by now, so I made my way past all of the abandoned cars on the sides of the roads and on into work (luckily without incident). Sure enough, everyone who had managed to make it to the office was all aflutter about the "Great Ice Storm of 2008!" and how many hours they sat in grid-locked traffic due to the wrecks. No doubt this cautionary tale will continue to be passed down from generation to generation, (much like the "Great Blizzard of '93"), detailing the trials and tribulations of the city being in total ice-covered chaos for Three. Whole. Hours!

And there still wasn't even snow.

High on the Hog

Ya'll, you will be shocked to learn that even though it was bitterly, bitterly cold this weekend, there was no snow. That's right. I know this is hard to believe, but the weather man was wrong! (gasps!) Not one teeny little drop of snow. Not that I particularly like snow, but if it's going to be minus 40 bazillion degrees, then we might as well get some snow out of it. It's only fair that we have something to obsess over while our eyeballs freeze into tiny eyeball ice cubes. (Not that my eyeballs were freezing because I was smart enough to stay wrapped up under the blankets in my pjs all weekend. But you know other people's eyeballs may not have been so lucky). Anyway. No snow.

You know what? I take that back. I did go out this weekend. Tony and I went to Famous Dave's on Saturday night. Famous Dave's is a barbecue place out around the Cedar Bluff section of K-town. I'm not a huge barbecue fan, so I never gave it much thought, but Tony's loves the stuff, plus we had a coupon for it in that school coupon book thing that we bought, so why not? I exchanged my woolly socks, blue flannel pajama pants and orange sweatshirt with more than a few paint stains on it for woolly socks, jeans and a fairly clean shirt, and off we went to Famous Dave's.

If you go between 5:30 and 6pm, there's not really a wait at all. And like any good barbecue place, the whole restaurant positively oozed Eau de Smoked Hickory Chips. (I swear that it must be a Glade plug-in scent called Smokehouse, because all these places smell exactly the same).

Anyway, they led us back to a tiny booth surrounded by duck hunting paraphernalia, where we settled in to have a romantic date night dinner with just the two of us...and about 50 wooden duck decoys suspended above our heads. (I was worried about how secure the duck decoys were. I could just imagine my battered body being rolled out on a gurney while the 6:00 news anchor stood just behind me saying something like "Duck decoys take revenge by flattening local woman...details at 11". Even if you survive, you just don't live that kind of stuff down). Anyway, while I suspiciously eyeballed the Duck Decoys of Death, Tony was drooling over the menu. Apparently there's a meal that contains so much food that they serve it on a trashcan lid as the plate. (I sincerely hope it's a new trashcan lid and not ones that they actually use). It comes with like, 24 lbs of cow, half a pig, an entire roasted chicken, slaw, corn bread muffins, baked beans, corn cobettes, and a partridge in a pear tree. Tony's eyes glazed over at the mere thought, and I think he started whimpering, but I brought him back to earth with a quick jab of the Duck Decoy of Reality. There's no possible way someone could eat all that. I'm no expert, but I think single-handedly stuffing down 4 or 5 farm animals can be bad for digestion. As it was, Tony ended up ordering only half a cow and one side of pig, and I got the salad (which totally got a dismissive sniff from the waiter. Yeah well, it just so happens that I LIKE salad. And much more than getting covered in sauce as I rip the flesh off the bones of animals with my teeth. That's just a little too Conan the Barbarian for my tastes. To each his own, Mr. Waiter). As it turned out, Mr. Waiter's dismissive sniffing was way premature. This salad was HUGE! Like, a family-sized bowl of salad. If Tony was working his way through eating all the farm animals, I was mowing through about 500 acres worth of lettuce. And tomatoes. And carrots. And cheese. And chicken tenders. I ate and ate and ate and still couldn't make a dent in it. I could have done the backstroke through that salad bowl. Tony's bowl was equally impressive, only filled with the meaty ribs of some unidentified animal instead of lettuce. And unlike me, Tony has no qualms about ripping flesh from bone with his teeth, because he dug right in. To top it off, Famous Dave had thoughtfully included 5 types of sauce at each table, so Tony wasted no time trying each one. (He highly recommends Texas pit, Georgia mustard, and Sweet and Zesty). He would squeeze some sauce out, run a rib through it, slurp the meat off the bone, and close his eyes and sigh like he'd never been happier in his life. It was like realizing that you've died and ended up in Tony's version of heaven somehow.

In the end, after every sauce was slurped and rib ruminated, Tony, stuffed completely full of pig and cow and slaw and cornbread, and me, packed with roughage and Tony's stolen corn cobette, and toting a to-go box with another 50 lbs of leftover salad, rolled ourselves out to the car and headed for home- content to climb back into our warm cozy pjs and snooze on the couch.

Because barbecued farm animals are one of the few things on the planet that are worth risking frozen eyeballs for.

Snow Day

We're supposed to get up to an inch of snow here this weekend. And if you know Knoxville, you'll know that there's already panic in the streets. We can't help it. It's just hardwired for us. Snow is such an anomaly here that it is regarded with utmost awe and caution. It's beautiful but dangerous...much like lightening strikes, or Cher's hair. Snow literally shuts the city down completely. And while I logically know that it is possible to continue function normally in the snow, I don't, because that's the way it always has been.

Case in point:

When I was young, approximately 10 or 12 or so, the family woke up one wintry Sunday morning with full intentions of going to church. One look out of the back windows though, and we realized that we were snowed in. The whole back porch was covered! Inches and inches (well, maybe an inch and a half) of snow! It would take us weeks to dig out! (Luckily, we had heard that such a blizzard might take place, so we too had joined the rest of the town in stocking up months of grocery supplies the day before). My mother, always making the best of a situation, realized that getting to church would be an impossibility with all the roads closed, and instead dressed us in snow suits and gloves and boots and scarves and hats and then another two layers after that so that we could go out and play in it. Oh the snow! Safe from the treacherous driving conditions, we were free to frolic on the porch, throwing snowballs and making tiny three inch snowmen, and sliding around in all the two inch snowdrifts. (Quit snickering. I told you that snow was a big deal for us). Anyway, we played for hours, until we received a call from some fellow church goers, wondering why we didn't show up to Sunday school today. Sunday School? We couldn't possibly make it to Sunday School! The roads were all closed! Didn't they see all the snow?

It wasn't until we walked around to the front of the house that we realized that the ground was too warm, and all the snow from the "snowstorm" had melted upon impact. It only stayed on our back porch because it was raised off of the ground. The rest of the yard, driveway and all the roads were completely clear.


I just finished a phone conversation with a woman that has the unfortunate last name of Snork. (I could not bring myself to call her Ms. Snork. I just couldn't. Instead, I just called her by her first name, which also starts with S, as in, Sally* Snork. Poor woman). This brings up a very important question (other than did this woman volunteer to date, become engaged to, marry, and legally change her name to match a guy named Snork? Because this woman is a saint if she did. I hope Mr. Snork is worth it). Does anyone remember that old cartoon about Snorks? Out of the murky recesses of my childhood, I seem to recall that Snorks lived underwater, and had bizarre macaroni shaped protrusions coming out of the top of their heads. (I think they were blowholes). The name Allstar Snork comes to mind, and there seemed to be a Snork dog as well? I think there was a whole gang of Snork children, and they had underwater adventures, along with an official Snork theme song, which I would now pay good money to have as a ringtone for whenever Sally calls.

I loved the Snorks. I have such good memories of jumping around in front of the television, pretending to be a Snork too. (Although not enough to actually marry into the snork name like Sally there).

Anyway, I just knew you'd enjoy taking a moment out of your day to remember the Snorks and pity Sally. I know I did. Now it's back to work, where I'm about to return a phone call of a new customer, first name Thundercats...last name Ho-oooo!

*Her real first name isn't Sally, but it does start with an S, which is equally bad.

Pimp My Potty

Because when PC Magazine tests toilets, I tune in. These totally techie toilets will give you a toasty tush while tapping to tunes and toting the TP.

Top 10 High-tech toilets.

Insurance Fraud

It's a new year, and that means new calendars, new resolutions, and most notably, a new insurance plan. Sigh. I HATE getting new insurance. (Every year Ye Ol' Company contracts our insurance with the cheapest most value-added plan provider, and every year, due to complex insurance rates and contract plans and random darts thrown on a random dartboard on a random day, that company changes). This does not really bother me since all the plans basically provide the same pay-out scale for doctor visits (roughly 0.00007% of the total bill) and cost basically the same (roughly 99.999997% of my paycheck). What does bother me about insurance companies is all the time I have to spend trying to convince them that I really am who I say I am.

Here's the thing. I do not go by my first name. I go by my middle name. (And sometimes, I go by a nickname of my middle name, just to trip people up. I have three aliases). Insurance companies, however, only know you by your first name. Sure, they make you put all the names on the forms, but they do not really care about your middle name and your nickname. This causes confusion for them because my doctor sometimes turns in my claim form with my middle name. And as insurance companies do, they studied the claim thoroughly, and sent me a letter:
"DENIED!" screamed the smug little letter. "On this date, (middle name)(last name) filed a claim, when the policy holder is actually (first name)(last name)! DENIED! DENIED! Nanny-nanny-boo-boo!" And I sighed, and called them up.

Me: Hi. My name is (first name)(middle name)(last name). You have denied my claim.
Insurance company: Yes, that claim was for a (middle name)(last name), and she is not covered under your policy.
Me: Yes, but that is me. I am both names. The policy covers me- (first name)(middle name)(last name).
Insurance company: Yes, but (first name)(last name) does not cover dependents on this policy.
Me, now with eye twitch: I'm not a dependent! I'm the policy holder! Check the social security number. Same person.
Insurance company: Hmmm. Yes, the social security number is the same for both. Do you want to change it for your dependent?
Me, ripping out chunks of hair: No! It's just me! There's no dependent! NO! DEPENDENT! How can I be a dependent of myself? I AM (first name)(middle name)(last name)!

You get the idea. This conversation went on and on for about 45 minutes until I managed to get it through that I did not spontaneously clone myself, go to the doctor, and then try to scam the insurance company by trying to get them to pay for the "other" me. I've started going by my first name at the doctor's office to avoid confusion, but the dilemma still pops up randomly from time to time...almost like the insurance company is testing me to make sure it really is me and not the "other" me.

Another problem with my first name is that it's one of those ambiguous names that can be either male or female. (The army hounded me for years because they thought I was a guy that they wanted to enroll. Oddly enough though, as soon as they found out I wasn't a guy, they quit calling. Hmmmm). Apparently, the army forgot to pass that information along to the insurance company though, because when I stopped by the pharmacy to pick up some certain lady pills necessary for hormonal sanity, the insurance company once again denied my claim.

Pharmacist: I'm sorry, these pills are not covered by your insurance.
Me: What? Sure they are.
Pharmacist: I have your insurance company on the phone if you'd like to talk to them.
Me, on the phone: Hi. My name is (first name)(middle name)(last name). You have denied my claim....again.
Insurance company: Yes, those are lady pills, therefore (first name)(middle name)(last name) is not eligible for those pills.
Me: What? Why not?
Insurance company, smugly: Why, because he is a man of course!

At this point, the pharmacist wrestled the phone away from my death grip and testified that from what he could see I was not, in fact, a man. Then he filled my prescription and ushered me out of the store before I could unleash hormonal wrath on unsuspecting customers.

Last year, the insurance company attempted the insurance trifecta by confusing me with someone else entirely. They sent me a card for a guy (again) who works with me, but has a completely different name. The only thing that was similar is that we had the same initials. INITIALS people? What are you smoking in your little insurance break room? My only guess is that the insurance people do this on purpose to amuse themselves, and then have a pool to see how long it takes me to call them up and tell them that they've confused me with a 65 year old man who works on the floor above me and apparently has just been diagnosed with an enlarged prostate (and by the way, they're only paying for 97 cents of it).

Now once again, we have a new year with a new insurance company and new forms. I'm waiting for my new card to arrive in the mail. This time I'm hoping they'll make me Elvis. Our names contain some of the same letters, so the chances are good.

It's too bad Elvis's insurance-caused eye twitch is considered a preexisting condition.


Have you seen the Extra gum commercial where people are just riding the subway, all blah, and then the guy puts the piece of gum in his mouth, and suddenly everybody's dancing and jumping all over the place? They only play one line or so of the song, but if it got your foot tapping anyway, you have come to the right place. Don't you worry, Quirky will take care of you.

The song is Bossman by Chicago band, Lucky Boys Confusion. It's crazy addictive. The rest of their songs are a little too punk/hip hop for my long-term tastes, but if you need something upbeat to get you through your treadmill session, check it out. (Just be careful not to twist your ankle while trying to dance on a moving treadmill...and yes, people are pointing and staring at you, but it's only because they wish that they could dance like that too).

Bossman by Lucky Boys Confusion

(If the above link doesn't work for you because you refuse to download rhapsody, then you'll have to settle for this youtube video of the song, played by someone on gituar hero 2).

School Supplies

It's class time again! This semester is Marketing Strategy (an interesting sounding class but a new, unknown teacher, so who knows?) and Business Research Projects, which is my thesis (major barf, but my advisor is a good guy). Actually, if I'm disciplined and write faithfully throughout the semester, the thesis paper won't be so bad. (And the chances of me actually being that disciplined after the first chapter are about the same as the Pope nominating Brittany Spears for sainthood. Place your bets now people).

Of course, both classes are already attempting to bankrupt me by requiring books that cost a billion-gazillion dollars, but I have managed to get around that by asking if it's okay to get a previous edition (it is). So while the 11th edition retails for $180 smackaroos, the 10th edition can be purchased for $27. (Quick bargain boogie for! I love you, internet shopping!)

With book buying out of the way, we turn our attention to gathering other necessary supplies such as pencils, post-its, and a file folder (easily liberated from work), a calculator with questionable battery power, and healthy class snack rations (Twix bars, Fudge Shoppe cookies, Cheese-its, chocolate chunk granola bars, half a pack of gum and one almost-overripe banana. See? I told you it was healthy).

Now I'm ready to rock and roll. My book bag is packed, my mechanical pencil is sharpened, and I've already harassed my teachers via email by asking 50 billion questions before the classes have even started.

Class is officially back in session!

Bloggy Sleepover Topic: Makeup!

Warning to male reader(s): This is a girlie girl post, so you can either run for the hills and wait it out, or hang out and be glad you don't use this stuff.

Like every other female in the entire universe, I'm on a hunt. The hunt for the perfect makeup. The problem, however, is not that makeup is hard to find, rather it's that there's just to blasted much to choose from. Millions of companies, with millions of price ranges, with millions of types, in millions of colors. Do you want anti-aging? Hypoallergenic? Acne fighting? Long lasting? Award winning? Tax filing? Cancer curing? And makes a great omelet? There's a makeup, nay, thousands of kinds of makeup for you. You would think that would be a good thing, but the other problem is that all of those above mentioned makeup companies also employ clear-skinned, blemish free, beautiful models with lovely airbrushed faces, so you can't really tell what makeup is actually good, and what is going to leave you looking worse than you started. (Makeup brands are like politicians, they look really smooth and helpful at first glance, but so many of them fail to live up to their promises that you don't believe any of them).

And so the hunt continues as women everywhere wade their way though millions of concealers, foundations, blushers, lip sticks, eye liners, shadows, dark circle correctors, glosses, lip pencils, mascaras, powders and eye brighteners just to find the one thing that works for them. Every now and then, if you are very lucky and the stars align and the you've just been living right, you'll find THE perfect something which does exactly what it says that it will do, and now you can't live without. And while makeup is a very personalized choice, it's also true that like relationships, your friends can probably tell you who (or what) is and isn't worth bothering with. So I'm curious, bloggy readers, what are you wearing (on your face, that is)? What have you found that you love? Just can't live without? Transforms you from morning pre-coffee zombie hag to flawless Catherine Zeta-Jones skin that lasts all day? Pretend it's a bloggy sleepover and spill all your favorite makeup secrets. We'll compare notes and later, watch scary movies while we do each other's hair! YAY!

Since it's my bloggy sleepover, I'll go first. For simplicity (and because I'm cheap), all my makeup shopping is done at wal-mart. My goal is long-lasting. I want to put makeup on once in the morning and not have to touch-up for the next 16 hours (bonus points if I can wake up the next morning and still look flawless). Some stuff I've found...some I could certainly use some suggestions.

Concealer/dark circle cover: My major concern is dark under eye circles. Ohhh, how I hate you, dark circles! I look like I haven't slept in years, even though I have. I've recently (last week) started using a new concealer called "Circle Rx". It's supposed to not only cover the dark circles, but lighten them permanently in two to four weeks. (I'm not sure how...revolutionary something or other with plant extracts and blah, blah, blah). Whether there are long term benefits or not, it does do a pretty good job of concealing what you have now, and sticks around all day without getting cakey or settling into lines.

Foundation: I also just started using Maybelline Superstay Silky foundation, and I must say, it it FABULOUS! It's silky, and lightweight, but has full coverage power and -get this! really does stick around all day! It took me forever to find my shade, even with the clear "shade finding" sheet that you hold up to your face, but once I had it, I loved it. Two thumbs up for my new even-toned self.

Blush: I don't have a favorite on this one. No brand loyalty here. Anyone know anything good?

Mascara: I used to have the problem of mascara oozing off my eyelashes and settling into my above mentioned dark circle pool. Since then, I changed to Maybelline Waterproof Lash Stylist with comb. Warning: it goes on clumpy and gooey. The comb really blobs it on thick and all your eyelashes clump together. But Patience grasshopper! Once your lashes recover, they'll separate again. The stuff does cling to your lashes like tar though, so if you want that natural lash feel, avoid this stuff. Each application hangs on for about three days, regardless of the cleanser you use, so you really only have to apply it twice a week.

Lipstick: I actually wrote about this stuff before when I first found it, but it's the Maybelline Superstay lipcover. Also designed to wear for 16 hours, and as long as I don't rub my lips, it does a pretty good job. It's got the dye on one end, and a shiny clear gloss on the other. My only complaint is that they need to make one with just 100% lip color, because I run through that pretty quickly, but I have a ton of the gloss left. If you're listening Maybelline, either increase the lip color size or make refills that can be switched out and still use the same gloss.

Eye Shadow: I have two eye shadows, and while both are okay, I'm not die hard for either of them. The first is Revlon Eye Glide Shimmer Shadow, and the other is other is a Merle Norman free giveaway shadow in "Locha Mocha". If anyone has some that they adore, let me know.

That's my basic makeup bag. I don't do lip or eyeliner, but if you like yours, let me know what you have anyway. I just noticed as I was doing the list that my favorite long-lasting stuff all seems to be Maybelline, but that doesn't stop me from trying other brands. Got a blog? Blog about it and join my sleepover. If not, see that comment button? You know what to do. (And if you have a great dark circle zapper, you are hereby required to share it. Right now. Seriously. NOW!) Pull out your best tips and tricks while I go change into my sleepover jammies.

Canticle of Turning

One of the things I really like about my church is the music. While the morning mass tends to run to a more sing-around-the-campfire genre with the use of the guitar, the evening mass is 99% college students, so the music is more upbeat. I like the early mass. I LOVE the evening mass. The music is so...powerful. That's the only word I can think of that describes it. I don't want to call it contemporary, because we do the old hymns too. But old or new, fast or slow, the music moves you. You just don't have a choice.

Anyway, there's a song that we sing at church that is one of my absolute favorites, and I thought I'd share it with you, since I just found it here on Ye Ol' Internet, and it is just so awesome.
I guarantee you that you'll be singing it all day, so I'll post the words for you, saving you the trouble of looking them up yourself, because believe me, you will.

It's called the Canticle of Turning, and it's by Rory Cooney. The music is an Irish folk song called Star of the County Down that will stay with you, but the words really lend power to this song. You can hear the song here and the words are below. And if you want to hear it in person, 200 voices strong, then drop in for the Sunday evening mass. It'll floor you.

(Click this here clickey button below for the song to play. Go ahead. Click on it.)

My soul cries out, with a joyful shout that the God of my heart is great,
and my spirit sings of the wondrous things that you bring to the ones who wait.
You fixed your sight on your servant's plight, and my weakness you did not spurn,
so from east to west shall my name be blest. Could the world be about to turn?
My heart shall sing of the day you bring.
Let the fires of your justice burn.
Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near,
and the world is about to turn!
Though I am small, my God, my all, you work great things in me,
and your mercy will last from the depths of the past to the end of the age to be.
Your very name puts the proud to shame, and to those who would for you yearn,
you will show your might, put the strong to flight, for the world is about to turn.
My heart shall sing of the day you bring.
Let the fires of your justice burn.
Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near,
and the world is about to turn!
From the halls of power to the fortress tower, not a stone will be left on stone.
Let the king beware for your justice tears every tyrant from his throne.
The hungry poor shall weep no more, for the food they can never earn;
there are tables spread, every mouth be fed, for the world is about to turn.
My heart shall sing of the day you bring.
Let the fires of your justice burn.
Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near,
and the world is about to turn!
Though the nations rage from age to age, we remember who holds us fast:
God's mercy must deliver us from the conqueror's crushing grasp.
This saving word that our forebears heard is the promise which holds us bound,
'til the spear and rod will be crushed by God, who is turning the world around.
My heart shall sing of the day you bring.
Let the fires of your justice burn.
Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near,
and the world is about to turn!

The Mistress

There's a new family member in our house. One that Tony loves more than anyone else, including me, his mother, and Nikolai Khabibulin combined. I'll give you a hint: it's 42" across the diagonal, picks up HD, and is currently mounted to my living room wall. Oh yes, we are now the proud new owners of a flat screen TV, and Tony's little heart swells with adoration every time he looks at it. It all started innocently enough. We went to see Tony's family at Thanksgiving, and his Dad had remodeled the family room, complete with snazzy flat screen TV. And Tony longed for such a TV, all huge and...well, huge, but unless we came into an unexpected sum of money, it was not to be. And so we admired the monster TV, and then mentally filed that under the "Nice, but never happening" category. (At least I did). And life was good. Then lo and behold, we came into an unexpected sum of money! Tony got a really nice Christmas bonus. Nicer than he expected (although completely deserved if you consider all those Saturdays that he had to work), and The House of Quirk rejoiced, and then settled down to figure out how to spend it. Tony immediately wanted to buy a flat screen tv ("A big one!") but it wouldn't fit in the entertainment center that we have now, and we didn't have room in the living room to get another one (plus I was hoping that the tv thing was just a phase, and that he really wanted to invest that money in some respectable stocks and bonds). But a new TV was the only thing Tony talked about, and it was his Christmas bonus, so we agreed to invest half of it and buy a tv with some of the other half). I rearranged the furniture to make room on a blank wall, and we agreed that the tv would hang on the wall instead of taking up additional floor space with a new table. (I'm turning the space where the old tv went in my entertainment center into additional hidden pullout shelves for dvds. I'm in the process of designing and building it now, and it'll be pretty cool if I do say so myself.) Oh! and we got a new coffee table/ottoman to balance out the new furniture arrangement, which is nice. Very feng shui.

The tv in question is a 42" LCD TV, came from Best Buy, and is something called 1080i, which is supposed to be what all tv channels will be broadcasting to in about 5 years. (So we're all set for that and will never have to buy another tv ever again after this one). Best Buy wanted $600 for professional installation, but we're cheap independent, so we hung the TV ourselves, and I've gotta say that unless you're hanging your tv 150 feet in the air over a pool of mutant sharks, that is no $600 job. (Cough-ripoff!-cough). We had ours installed and working in about an hour. Tony has been staying up late to watch everything he can on this new, fabulous tv. I think he'd sleep down there with it if he could. This TV ranks up there with the purchase of Satellite on Tony's list of all-time best things that has ever happened to him. (I'm hoping that I'm somewhere on that list too, but I'm afraid to ask where). I have to admit that I was less than enthused about the tv at first, but it is pretty cool watching stuff up on the wall like that. And it is bigger. And brighter. And more beautiful.

Yes, that new TV is a seductive mistress.


I saw this on Antique Mommy, and since 1) I thought it was cool, and 2) I have a teenie weenie bit of hero worship going on there, I blatantly stole borrowed the idea. It seems Antique Mommy got it from MotherPie, who is either amazingly brilliant in her own right, or blatantly stole borrowed it from someone else. And so the Internet circle of life continues. Anyway, if you have a blog and are no doubt looking for poignant New Year-ish revelations (and really, who isn't?), I highly suggest you blatantly steal borrow this from me.

Still amazed: that I managed to snag such a fabulous husband who not only does dishes without being asked, but also always puts the toilet seat down and knows exactly when I need a hug.

Still getting used to: winter. 27 years, and the cold weather still surprises me.

Still loving: Japanese hibachi food. Yum Yum!

Still proud of: how well classes are going for me. 3.833 GPA baby!

Still not proud of: how selfish I can be sometimes

Still hoping: that the jiggle that my backside has developed will magically go away on its own

Still worried: about those mysterious noises in the middle of the night. Good thing Tony still gets up to check them out for me, even if it is just the house settling.

Still never going to: watch reality shows. Or Donald Trump. Or anyone who is looking for love in Paris by going on dates with 25 women at the same time.

Still pretending: that my metabolism will always allow me to eat junk food and stay thin

Still reading: cheesy romance novels. I'm a sucker for a happy ending.

Still wanting to read: anything I can get my hands on, especially in the bath tub.

Still interested in: home decorating shows

Still not interested in: Hollywood gossip- get a life people!

Still looking forward to: spring bulbs blooming. Tulips, Hyacinths, Irises, Lillis. C'mon spring!

Still not looking forward to: writing and defending this thesis. Ack!

Still failing: to walk away from that last piece of chocolate

Still grateful for: the closeness of family

Still praying: for direction.

Still not believing in: diet pills, get rich quick schemes, and that I have won the Nigerian lottery...even though all I have to do is send them a check and they'll send me my winnings.

Still believing that: God will show me the path my life is supposed to take and allow it to touch others for the better

And It's Only Going To Get Better

Well, 2007 is over. Another year come and gone. And is it just me, or did it seem to go REALLY REALLY REALLY fast? I have a quirky sci-fi theory that time is speeding up. Maybe the Earth is spinning faster...maybe it's because of some other reason. But I think that each year goes faster and faster until eventually, time will go so fast until it becomes nothing and that will be the end of the world because poof! time as we know it will cease to exist.

Shocked silence from all of you out in bloggy-land.

Or, you know, maybe that's just me. Anyway, the point is that 2007 is over and we're rapidly gearing up for 2008. Looking back, 2007 was actually pretty good for me. I bought a new car, went hiking, watched an old Geezer take gold, built a deck, saw several Cubs games, met the only baby I've ever liked, purchased new bedroom furniture, fought the ants, went white-water rafting, survived the Young and the Poo-less, ate too much, and managed to get an A in every class I've taken this year. (And according to the counter thingie, you were along for a lot of it, with 2805 visits in 2007). Like all years, it had its ups and downs, but I've gotta say, there have been many more ups than downs. God takes care of us.

2008 looks to be just as good as 2007, if not better. I don't want to jinx it, but there's an opportunity at work that I'm very excited about. And barring something really bizarre happening, I'll graduate this summer. We'll be able to go on a nice vacation this year, and there will be lots of hikes and bike rides and little weekend trips to see Cubs games. We're healthy, we're happy, and life is good. The Seester will also graduate from Hah-vard, and one of Tony's sisters will get married. Mom is happy with her retirement, the family is healthy, and Dixon has gone back to using the bathroom. Things are looking great. We are very blessed here at the House of Quirk, and I hope you and yours will be just as blessed as we all see what 2008 has in store for us.

Thanks for sticking with me in 2007, and here's hoping we'll have just as much fun in 2008.