October 23rd 2006

this is me, actually plugging something

Kids, if you aren’t watching Heroes, you should be. Think the X-Men meets Lost meets Alias. Last night, NBC did a marathon, but each episode is also available on iTunes.

October 10th 2006

Reason # 1,953 to hate your cable company

They decide to switch from a perfectly good digital cable system to a perfectly crappy one. Listen, no one wants to look at swoopy lines and bubbles when scrolling through the guide; no one wants their settings buried behind buttons they’ve never had to use before. (Buttons on the remote, I mean. In other words, there are some settings I can’t get to unless I know which button on the remote to push.)

Seriously, I HATE the new system. It’s ugly and hurts my eyes; it’s slow; and I don’t know how to use it. What was wrong with the clean blue grid we had before? Huh?

September 30th 2006

and only $54!

Joy! Ana will be pleased to know that, in addition to the new “contoured fit” offerings at Banana, LOFT now has a “curvy fit” jean–yes, a JEAN–and it fits pretty much perfectly. (I say pretty much because my body is totally not standard and nothing that comes off rack is perfect on me.) The waist cuts in in the right place, the legs fit slim through the thighs, and they don’t show off my crack when I sit down. These things are all HUGE.

I’ll note that LOFT doesn’t have the curvy fit in petites, but that’s OK, because I think LOFT thinks that all short women wear pants with a 28″ inseam. That’s fine for highwaters, but if I want to wear even the slightest hint of a heel (which most short women do), I need at least a 31″ inseam. It’s all good, though–it’s much easier to have a pair of jeans hemmed (with the edge sown back on) than to have the waist taken in. And cheaper.

So, curvy women everywhere–REJOICE! The chains are getting it! Real women have curves!

September 19th 2006

happy feet

I had a dream about shoes.

Basically, I had all these shoes that I don’t actually own–shiny green patent leather ankle boots, camel leather oxfords, something in a pretty matte red–and for some reason, my having these shoes was going to save the day. (I don’t remember the actual context of the dream.)

So how appropriate is it that the first email I saw this morning after getting up was from Banana Republic, with prominently featured shoes?

I may have to go buy some shoes.

September 13th 2006

shuddershuddershudder

I am completely twitched. One of these scuttled across my kitchen counter today when I went make the coffee. We’d seen something like this before — maybe back in July sometime — and Mr. Angst had killed it. But that one was in the living room, near an exterior wall, so we thought it probably just came in the window when the windows were all still open after we moved in.

But now they’re in the kitchen? I am generally not all that bothered by bugs (except the dreaded cockroach, but who wouldn’t get freaked out by a 2-inch long beetle that will FLY INTO YOUR FACE with no warning?), but this sucker made me shiver all over.

Thankfully, it ran from me and my coffee pot right into the sink, where I turned the hot water on full blast and washed it away. I even got the sprayer involved, so I could make sure the drain was flushed out and the bug was DEAD.

My skin is still crawlling.

August 22nd 2006

choirs of angels singing fashion praises

Anastasia is totally spot on here–tears of joy are well-warranted over Banana Republic’s new curvy-woman pants.

See, for the last, oh, EVER, every time I’ve tried on Banana Republic pants, I’ve found them REALLY tight through my thighs and tushy, and about eight inches too big in the waist. This, frankly, shouldn’t be surprising, since they state clearly that their other pants fit “straight through the hip and thigh.” In fact, the only thing that differs about any of their other styles of pants is where they hit on the waist–low, just below, or at.

But now–now! Banana makes a pant that I can actually wear. Well, at least that I can actually have altered. Because the waist is still a bit too big. But I can have the waist taken in without destroying the line of the pants, without making my ass look like the Hindenberg. Yes, this is a Very Good Thing.

June 15th 2006

gag

If you are studying at school or in the library, certain social standards are relaxed. For instance, taking one’s shoes off in the library and walking–short distances, of course–barefoot is not totally appalling. The library is only a semi-public space.

But if you are studying in a coffeeshop, there is no relaxing of the standard. OK, maybe if you’re wearing flip-flops and you slip them off, and then have to stand/walk to adjust your chair or table. But if your shoes are SNEAKERS, taking them–and your socks!–off and then moving around the coffeehouse, changing tables, you have crossed a line.

She’s dressed so nicely, too–far nicer than I’d be dressed for Bar/Bri.

March 23rd 2006

mmmm…..nutella

We live about equidistant from two grocery stores, but within a week of moving here, we had decided that one was definitely better than the other. The one we chose–let’s call it Special Mart–prices certain things higher, like beer and wine, but its produce and meat is far superior. The other one–let’s call it Mega Mart, even though our local one isn’t that big–has more selection of certain items, but it’s oddly organized and, the first time I shopped there, I couldn’t find broccoli, only broccoflower, which is a weird broccoli-cauliflower hybrid (and gross).

So we shop at Special Mart. I like it. I know where things are and, even if they don’t have the chips Mr. Angst prefers and they sometimes run out of the kind of bread we buy, it’s a better store overall, at least in our neighborhood.

But one thing they don’t sell that I have been trying to pick up for the last several months is Nutella. Mmmm……Nutella. If you haven’t had Nutella, you probably want to avoid it, because it’s so good you’ll want to eat it twice a day. And at 200 calories a serving (a generous serving, but still), it’s probably not going to help your waistline for you to get addicted. Nutella is a hazelnut spread, with cocoa and milk added. I first had Nutella in college, but forgot about it until we went to Italy. Every morning, we’d eat breakfast in the hotel and they’d have a wide selection of pastries–and Nutella to spread on them. Every morning I’d have a croissant with Nutella (along with really good coffee and warmed milk). I fell in love with Nutella. And last fall, I came down with a craving for it. I wanted Nutella at home. But Special Mart didn’t sell it.

In searching for Nutella, I got online and found that Mega Mart carries Nutella. Why Mega Mart carries it but Special Mart doesn’t is really beyond me, but there you have it. I’d have to go to Mega Mart to get Nutella. Except every time I’ve had to run over there for something in the last several months, I’ve forgotten to also get Nutella. Most recently, I haven’t been at all because the only thing that we really buy regularly that is cheaper at Mega Mart is wine, and there’s a closer drugstore that has wine at the same low prices. So I haven’t been to Mega Mart to get my Nutella.

Well, yesterday I took the train several neighborhoods north to go to the good Asian supermarket. Mr. Angst and I are going to try making pad thai tomorrow. But pad thai requires a few specialized ingredients–if you want to be authentic, that is. While Special Mart has fish sauce and rice stick, it does not have things like tamarind juice or concentrate. Hence the trip to the Asian supermarket. Where it took me 20 minutes to find tamarind concentrate, hidden on an end shelf, at the bottom, with the label turned away from the aisle. But while I was scouring the shelves for tamarind paste, I saw a jar of Nutella, right at eye level, winking at me. I grabbed it.

Funny that I had to take a 20 minute train ride to pick up Nutella. But I did, and this morning I enjoyed Nutella on toast. As breakfasts go, it’s pretty good stuff.

March 21st 2006

Things that REALLY frustrate me

When the bookstore doesn’t order a book on the syllabus for some reason,

…so they put in a special order just before Spring Break,

…and I go all the way down there on a VERY windy and cold day during Spring Break to pick it up,

…and I bring it home and start to read it and get confused because it doesn’t seem to fit the class,

…so I look at the syllabus and notice that the book on the syllabus has the same title but was written by someone completely different,

…and I have to have it read by Monday,

…and Barnes & Noble.com is charging me $4 for 3 day shipping,

…which means I MAY get it by the weekend so I can read it for Monday afternoon’s class.

I was having such a productive-feeling day.

March 16th 2006

movies in the afternoon

How great is the joy of watching Office Space while I’m on Spring Break??

Days full of doing nothing, and it being everything I ever dreamed of. Not having to go (to school) anymore (or at least for the next week and a half).

Still, it does make me miss My Old City.

March 15th 2006

TV to the fourth power

This is my new favorite show. Though the ostensible villain got the boot on the first episode, the editors have clearly picked the new bad guy–and the one who is talented enough to stay on the show for a while. I already hate him. A Lot. It makes the watching more fun!

February 26th 2006

Sunday blogging about things that make me happy

For Christmas, I got a subscription to Cook’s Illustrated for Christmas and I finally received my first issue yesterday. I love Cook’s Illustrated. So Much. This issue had a new recipe for pancakes, which I tried out this morning. Yum. (OK, it was a recipe for blueberry pancakes, but the author stated quite clearly that a good blueberry pancake starts with a cook pancake recipe. So I made them without blueberries. A bit fluffy, but tremendous.)

The other thing I love is America’s Test Kitchen, the companion TV show to Cook’s Illustrated. ATK airs on PBS and is like a 30 minute Cook’s Illustrated fix. Right now, I’m watching a (rerun) episode all about turkey. While it’s not Thanksgiving season right now, I can always use pointers on turkey. (Though I do make a wicked turkey. From a Cook’s Illustrated recipe, no less. This episode is about cooking a BIG turkey, though, and I’ve never done that.)

The thing that I love most about Cook’s and ATK is the common-sense approach. Every article in the magazine takes you through the numerous tests required to produce the “perfect” recipe, whether that recipe is for pancakes, pork tenderloin, or even pan-roasted asparagus. The ingredients are generally simple–the sort of thing you’d tend to have in your pantry, or could get at your local megamart. And they make sense. Instead of throwing out terms like “cream,” assuming the home cook knows what that is (FYI, beating softened butter and sugar together to introduce an aerated, whipped mix, often required in baking cookies or cakes), the recipes are clear, even for the novice cook.

And the magazine has no ads. (Nor, actually, does the TV show, since it airs on PBS.)

A final bonus: the magazine has beautiful illustrations on the back cover, of vegetables, herbs, fruits, and a variety of other food products. You can frame them! (I have a friend who has.) If you like to cook, then, check out the magazine, the TV show, the website. And fall in love.

[Update: Um, I wondered why the issue didn’t have a month listed on it; I also wondered why there was an envelope tucked into the plastic sleeve with it. Turns out, my gift subscription hasn’t arrived yet; this was just a “Please Renew!” compilation issue, since I let my old subscription lapse last summer. Sigh. I guess I have to call Amazon.com (through whom the gift subscription was ordered) after all.]

February 22nd 2006

a glimmer of goodness in a sea of drudgery

Since I don’t drive anymore, I don’t get the chance to listen to NPR news, Morning Edition, All Things Considered, or The World anymore. When we moved to Our New City, I looked up the public radio station number, just in case, but since I commute by public transportation, it doesn’t do me much good at the time of day when listening to the news is most convenient.

I had also looked for NPR podcasts, but found none. Perhaps I was too early–after all, the last time I looked, the only NPR program available was On the Media. A great show, but not exactly the news.

Well, guess what? Since that discouraging search, several months ago, NPR has gotten on the ball. NPR now publishes several podcasts, all of them available in iTunes. First, I can get news updates through the day. And while I can’t get the entire program of All Things Considered or Morning Edition, I can subscribe to the individual stories–NPR Technology, or NPR Music. Which means I get hours of NPR programming, ready to download to my iPod and listen to on the train, or in the library, or while I’m walking around the city.

Thank you, NPR, for publishing your podcasts online. Those of us who don’t drive have been waiting for this. And now that I can hear public radio again, I am more likely to subscribe to public radio.

February 17th 2006

oh, you have GOT to be KIDDING

Someone is sitting in the public gathering area choosing a new ring tone for his or her phone. At what sounds like full volume.

I know this is an area where people talk and congregate and make noise, but it’s also a place where people work, and choosing a new ring tone in the midst of people who are actually studying is pretty uncool.

February 11th 2006

Saturday afternoon TV sucks

So, there’s not much on TV Saturday afternoons, so Mr. Angst and I are watching Air Force One. This movie, my friends, is a silly movie. It is very implausible and over the top. Gary Oldman spends all of his screen time chewing the scenery. Harrison Ford spends the entire movie playing President Han Solo. William H. Macy is criminally underused.

So those things contribute to the silliness of the movie. But the biggest reason this movie is silly is because it has five endings. FIVE. Things start going SUPER for President Solo and Team America, but then Team Russia gets smart. And then President Solo kills a bad guy. And then someone fires missiles at Air Force One. But someone on Team America gets in the way of the missile. And so on, and so on, and so on. And then the airplane makes a cartwheel into the ocean.

So, this movie is silly. But there’s nothing else on TV. So that’s what we’re watching. Sigh.

December 8th 2005

let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

The snow is dripping down and creating little icicles on my window screen.

But if you look past the screen, you see the cars buried below. I feel for those people, if they need to drive to work tomorrow.

This one is a little arty, but this was the only way I could get the tree to show up. I think trees without leaves covered in snow are just really pretty.

July 25th 2005

sound, not much fury

So I bought a new set of headphones over the weekend. Partly because the little white iPod earbuds were starting to make my ears ache (after several hours listening to music at work) and partly because, even though I rarely listen to fearmongers, I don’t want to be one of those people who gets targeted by petty theives or muggers just because I have iPod headphones.

So I bought these. Mr. Angst has a pair and likes them for both the sound quality and the noise-cancelling abilities.

I am using them this morning and I’m not yet sure how much I like them. Yes, they are more comfortable in my ear, but only after getting used to having them shoved down in my ear canal. And you really have to shove them in, or the sound quality is not better at all. I do like that they muffle sound, and that’s probably terrific on an airplane, but I’m not sure how good it is in the office. (It is nice, though, that I can barely hear my own clackety-clacking on the keyboard as I type.)

Obviously, I’ll continue using them—they are much better than the iPod earbuds. But I may play around with the earbud covers since I have two other sizes. Maybe a smaller size will be more appropriate for the office, muffling less noise without sounding tinny. (As of right now, if I want to muffle noise less, I have to pull the earbuds out of my ears slightly, which leads to sound quality similar to holding your phone three inches from your ear and trying to hear the other person.)

June 30th 2005

a rare music post

I’m listening to a song called “All My Little Words” by The Magnetic Fields. It was included on a CD I got last year at a “feting” (committment ceremony) I went to.

Anyway, it has the best line in it:

“Now that you’ve made me want to die,
You tell me that you’re unboyfriendable.
And I could make you pay and pay,
But I could never make you stay.”

First, I really like the word “unboyfriendable.” The second thing I like about these words is how well they encapsulate the angst of an uneven relationship.

Anyhoo.

And now, thanks to iTunes party shuffle, I’m listing to a lovely Mozart motet.

June 27th 2005

technology at work for you

I just used my first customer service chat—you know, the “chat online now with one of our customer service representatives”?

Very excellent. Every company should have one of these. So much better than calling, waiting on hold, then sitting around while the rep looks up the information you need.

June 21st 2005

just a little thing that gets under my skin

Gosh, this is a silly thing to be annoyed by, but here goes:

I am a completely visual person. In browsing (anything: wine, books, blogs) I will often ignore text and note only the color/design of something.

Now, with wine, I let the visual lead me to a bottle, and THEN I check out the varietal. Books—I let the cover art lead me to a given shelf, and then I read the blurb.

With blogs, it’s different. Each bottle of wine (or at least, each vinyard label) and book cover has been specially designed to be distinctive. But there are a lot of blogs out there that use the SAME TEMPLATES.

So I’ll click through from Bloglines, say on a link in someone’s entry, and get to a blog I don’t usually read or am not subscribed to, and get very confused because that blog uses the same template as a blog I AM subscribed to and read regularly.

I wish Blogger made it easier for folks to modify their templates without having to know CSS or HTML. Why can’t they provide a simple, “build your template” wizard, allowing people to choose two- or three-panel designs, and then pick their colors? A lot of people use the same color scheme on Typepad also, but because Typepad allows for more customization in an easy way, I don’t usually see the EXACT SAME template on more than one Typepad blog.

I know, this is a little annoyance on my part, and always very quickly rectified when I start reading the post I jumped to and note that it doesn’t sound like the author I associate with that template. And then I check out the title and realize that, of course, this isn’t THAT blog, and all is well.

But boy, it would be nice if everyone’s blogs could be a little more unique.