Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Something New, #208

Once again, I triumph over technology. And once again, it's technology I didn't know I had.

I discovered the joy of Netflix's Watch Instantly feature. Another bonus, my old computer will actually take it.

While I painted, I watched And Then She Found Me. It stars my movie-star boyfriend, Colin Firth, Helen Hunt, Matthew Broderick and Bette Midler. The casting alone should make this a really good movie, but it was so-so. I think Helen Hunt called a bunch of her friends and said, "Hey, I'm directing a movie, be in it!" The Anniversary Party was made the same way, and it's a much better film.

Anyway, with all the sitting I do at my worktable painting, it will be nice to have some new choices besides my own DVDs.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Something New, #208

Unlike Marc Acito, who inspired this exercise, I don't plan out my Something News, I just see where the day takes me, and what I can do to veer off my usual path. This Something New has been in my kitchen cupboard for about the last 5 years, so I gave it a try.

My brother and either his girlfriend at the time, or his wife (sorry M & M, it's been so long, I can't remember) gave me a coffee grinder one Christmas. I hate to cook, and actually grinding my own coffee beans and brewing my own coffee from them, seems sort of like cooking. For most people, for me, that's the equivalent of slaughtering and processing your own cow to make hamburgers. So it's sat is my cupboard ever since.

So when I got a free pound of coffee beans with purchase at World Market, I got it down, and fired it up.

Like the Bass-o-Matic, it was quite a rush. Ready to pour.

But again, that's what this exercise is all about. Do something that someone else may think is ordinary, but that you've never done.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Something New, #207

When I was little, my cousin gave me an art history book with Manet's The Railway on the cover. Today I saw the painting in real life.

It was like seeing a rock star.

I took the Big One to the Nelson Atkins Museum where they currently are hosting Art in the Age of Steam. The exhibit also includes Magritte's Time Transfixed.

I feel somewhat negligent in my parenting skills, in that she was not familiar with either. But I did tell her to remember that she saw these works in real life, and how important they are.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Something New, #206

Usually when I get a phone call from one of my credit card companies, with the sales pitch of "we'll give you your credit report from 3 major credit bureaus, if you sign up for ....." I say no thank you and hang up.

When I got the call today, I set the handset down and started counting.

1:37 the sales person talked without drawing breath.

I didn't picked it back up right away, and didn't speak to her, just to see what would happen. I gave it another minute, and she'd hung up.

Now I know that sales person is just trying to make a living, but I really don't see it that way. Since the credit card companies are losing so much money with defaults and bankruptcies, they're trying to make it up anyway they can. Selling "free" credit reports is just another way for the credit card company to make money is all I see.

I think next call, I'll ask the sales person if they know I can already get up to 3 free credit reports a year, directly from the credit bureaus, no strings attached. Wonder what they'd try to sell me next.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Something New, #205

This Something New wasn't something I tried or learned, but rather something that happened.

I ran over an animal.

In my defense, it was dark, and I honestly didn't see anything until it was at my front driver's side tire and by that time, it was too late to react. I didn't even have time to slam on the brakes.

It made an awful thump. I don't think I'll ever forget that sound as long as I live.

I'm not sure if it was a cat, a squirrel or a bunny. I'm going to go with the squirrel though, because I hate the idea of killing someone's cat.

Actually, I'm not even sure if I killed it, because there was a car behind me with its lights on, and I didn't see anything in the road.

Or in my undercarriage.

I think I'm rationalizing.

Anyway, both girls were with me. I told them I hit a big branch.

Something New, #204

I learned what a "naked put" is.

Not nearly erotic as it sounds.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Something New, #203

The Big One has made straight A's since kindergarten, tests in the 97-98-99 percentile range on all those asinine standard tests, and in the seventh grade, has qualified to take the ACT.

But apparently, according to the Kansas Department of Education, is not qualified for their gifted and talented program.

When she was in the third grade, I felt like I was being pressured by peers and her teachers to get her into the program. She went through several rounds of tests and we both were interviewed. She missed getting in by one point on one standardized test. It was actually a relief for me, because at the elementary school level the "EL" students are put on a bus one day a week for their special program, and sent to another facility and I was not crazy about the idea. So I figured we were done with it.

Until I found out a year later that one of her classmates who scored a full TWO points lower than the minimum required got in.

When The Big One tested and interviewed, there were two others in her grade going through the same process. They too scored one point lower on one test.

However, the parents of the student who got in argued that because their older son was in, the sibling should be as well. When the older child got in, the standards were lower, and they felt the younger sibling should be admitted on that grading scale.


I had it from one of the horse's mouths that the only reason the child got in was because the parents wouldn't let up. I don't really see this as them doing a favor for their child.

So anyway, when The Big One qualified to take the ACT this year, and the child who I feel stole a spot in the program got qualified only on the basis that she's in the gifted program, it got me pissed off all over again, so we reapplied.

I filled out all the forms and she was retested. Today I met with the school's "gifted" sponsor and the school district's psychologist. We reviewed all her forms, reviewed test scores and report cards, and discussed the project "work" she submitted. Both agreed she did well on the test scores and acknowledged that her GPA is over 100%. They asked her opinions on world affairs and social issues.

I thought "World affairs? Social issues? She's 12...she's got her brain full of Edward Cullen and what she's going to do over the weekend."

They both said, "Well, she obviously makes the grades and test scores, but she's just so quiet."

Apparently, in the eyes of the Kansas Department of Education, you can not be "quiet" and be "gifted."

So toward the end of the meeting, they both kind of looked at me in a condescending way and they both agreed that they while she is "above average," she's not "extraordinarily exceptional."

I had a flash to the scene in Risky Business where Joel is being interviewed to be accepted into Princeton.

In case you've been in a cave the past 25 years, I'm referring to the scene where Joel is having a party for his friends with a houseful of prostitutes to earn money to repair his dad's Porche that he drove into Lake Michigan and the recruiter from Princeton shows up. After his interview, the recruiter looks down at Joel's record, folds his hands and says "You've done a lot of solid work here, but it's just not Ivy League, now is it?"

At that moment, if I'd had a pair of Ray-Bans in my purse, I would have taken them out, put them on carefully, and responded, "You know, there's one thing I learned in all my years. Sometimes you just gotta say, "What the fuck, make your move."
But since I was short a pair of Ray-Bans, I did Something New instead.

Instead of bowing and scraping to the professionals and leaving with my tail tucked behind me and thinking "my daughter isn't good enough," like I usually would, I said, "Look."

"My daughter has made straight As since kindergarten. She excels on all the tests she gets three times a year. I never have to tell her to do her homework, or remind her of assignments, she always is responsible for those and gets more of what is expected of her done. Her teachers have had nothing but praise for her for the last 9 years. So you're telling me that because she is "quiet", you're going to penalize her and not offer her an opportunity to better herself."

So they agreed to one more meeting, "after her current teachers have gotten to know her better."

"Princeton could use a guy like Joel Goodson."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Something New, #202

As I mentioned before, I don't spend a lot of time and money on personal grooming. For myself or my kids for that matter. The girls are pretty low maintenance and I trim their hair a couple of times a year. I stopped taking The Big One to get her hair cut, after we cut 10 inches off to donate to Locks of Love, and she broke down into tears afterward. ("But honey, we've talked about this for two years! You wanted to do it!")

So today I took the dog to the groomer for the first time. And she got the "spa package."

"Spa Package."

For a dog.

I love my dog, but am not one of those pet owners who thinks their pet is human. I don't dress her up, except for Halloween, I don't baby talk to her, I don't cook her food, and in fact, buy her GENERIC dog food. But she has been click, click, clicking on the floors the past few weeks and I couldn't stand it anymore.

We walk so much that her nails stay filed down pretty good. In the 2 1/2 years we've had her, I've only cut her nails once, and that was with me sitting on her, feeding her animal crackers and my friend Jeff, cutting them.

But I have to say, after the $40 "spa package," she looks good. The Big One said she smelled like a candle and I wouldn't let her run loose in the backyard because I didn't want her to get smelly so soon. She isn't clicking as much either.

So even though I would have preferred to spend $40 on a "spa package" for myself, I think it was worth it.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Something New, #202

Well, this is something I've know I've never done: I shaved a chair.

That's right.

You heard me.

I shaved a chair. Actually two.

I have two recliners that I sold on eBay, and was cleaning them up before the buyer came to get them. These chairs are about 15 years old and in pretty good shape, but had a lot of pilling on the fabric. I thought I had one of those sweater shavers that everyone seemed to have in the mid 80s, but I must have thrown it out at some point. So I just used a regular razor, and I have to say, they look pretty good now. For 15 year old chairs anyway.

They sold for twice of my opening bid to a woman who lives near Dallas. I did put in the listing a couple of times "PICK UP ONLY" and thought she missed that. Nope. She's having UPS come and pack them and ship them to Texas. I'm thinking this may be twice as much as she paid for them and am sure there are green wingback recliners somewhere in Dallas, but I figure it's her money. I was thrilled to sell them though, because I bought a loveseat and new rug for the living room with the proceeds. And they were part of my "married furniture" so I'm getting that bad juju out of the house.

Now if I can just bring myself to sell my wedding crystal and china.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Something New, #201

I finally got to put some of my post-secondary education into use today. Instead of just formatting documents, I did some data analyzing.

I felt kind of like Maxwell Smart. The Steve Carrell version, not the Don Adams version.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Something New, #200

Just when I think I've gotten everything up to date in Kansas City, I find out what a dinosaur I am. I used a website to find cheap airfares and book a flight for my boss.

I don't travel much, and can't even remember the last time I flew. Anywhere the girls and I go, we drive, and besides, the thought of flying alone with two kids sounds like the opposite of fun.

My dad worked for American Airlines and when we were growing up, we always had to fly stand by. You know, that's when you stand there and say "Bye" as the plane you were supposed to be on takes off. The Aingell family has a cursed travel history anyway. In 1981, we finally got out after several flights took off without us and got to Hawaii, only to have the air traffic controllers go on strike. I think we stayed about 3 days. I won't even go into our road trip to the Grand Canyon with no air conditioning or how we all got sunburned in San Diego.

Anyway, it was pretty easy to book, but so many choices, I gave up and just settled. Who knows, maybe I'll get brave and actually plan a trip for us.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Something New, #199

These images came to me in an email forwarded by my ex-mother-in-law. The end of the email praises the restaurant owner who puts these on his marquee, with the quote, "This guy should run for president!"
I find it very interesting that in the four years I have been divorced from her son, she's never mentioned all the harm and hurt her son caused me and my children, but somehow thinks that I would find this amusing in any way and would enjoy it.
Normally, I would just delete it, but for my Something New, I responded, "Ironic that this is from a restaurant, and the restaurant industry employs more illegals than any other. At least this a**hole is lucky enough to live in America where he has the right to show how ignorant he is!"
Now I know she's from another generation and thinks differently, but I felt that if I didn't say anything, she would continue to send me crap like this.
Don't get me wrong, I love free speech and the fact this asshole has the balls to do this. (That is, if it is a real place - I didn't Snopes it.) But I feel that just because you CAN do something, it doesn't always mean you SHOULD. Like porn at the library. I find it a little disturbing when I walk by the unemployed men in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week, and they've got the porno up on the public computers. I mean, there are computers at the library that have the screen down in the desk, use those!
I'm actually hoping she'll email me back, so I can really let her know what I think!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Something New, #198

I'm not sure if this technically counts as a Something New, because I didn't do or learn anything, but it's something I've never seen.

The firm I now work for was referring a case to another attorney. Apparently, the husband of a woman who had committed suicide was suing. When I was organizing the documents we were sending to the other attorney, I found the autopsy photos.

It's nothing like what you see on CSI when it's an actual person and not an actor.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Something New, #197

I started my new job today, and I have to say, as first days go, it was the smoothest I've ever had. I don't have a lot of experience as a paralegal, but I was able to jump in and work right away, and what I didn't know, I could figure out.

Guess it pays to have more formal education than a vice presidential candidate after all.

Something New, #196

I went to my friend Jodi's for a little beer and wine party. I'd never been to her house, and did my usual, "I don't want to go, I don't know anyone!" But I put on my big girl panties and went, and was so glad I did. She had just a few people over, and I have to say, I was very impressed with her friends. They were all very intelligent and the topic of conversation didn't lean toward what our kids were doing.

It was a very nice change.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Something New, #195

I'm pretty low maintenance when it comes to personal grooming. I color my own hair, don't get manicures, because my hands are always in something, maybe get a pedicure once a season, shave my own legs, and manage the deforestation of other areas on my own.

But just after reading Kabul Beauty School, there was an article in the KC Star about eyebrow threading. It sounded easy so I gave it a try.
It was really interesting. The woman that did it just used a spool of plain white thread. She held the loose end between her teeth and had about a foot long section of thread that was twisted and looped around her fingers. She just rolled the twisted thread against my skin, and it pulled out the hair. It didn't hurt at all. While I was having it done, another woman came to watch, then a couple of others. It was a real chick moment in the middle of the mall.
It's hard to tell from the photos, but there really is a difference in the way the brows are shaped. They have a much sharper line, but don't look over done. I'd definitely do this Something New again.

Something New, #194

About 6 years ago, I was in the den and heard this awful crash and sound of breaking glass from upstairs. I ran up to discover that The Little One, who was about 2, saying "I didn't do it!" and finding that the light fixture from the upstairs entry hall had fallen. I think I had changed out the light bulb and not screwed the dome in properly.

It had been like that ever since. I tried to buy a replacement dome, but apparently, those are not sold separately. So for 6 years, I've been looking at the bare light bulbs.

Since I've had this week off, I've been working like mad on my Honey Do list, and finally tackled the light fixture. It was a lot easier to replace than I thought. Actually, the most difficult part was gathering up the right tools, and since I had to throw the breaker, get enough light in to see to work.

This is what this exercise is becoming. I didn't fix the light for so long, because I thought either I couldn't or it was too expensive. If I'd known how easy and cheap ($10 for a whole new fixture) it was, I'd have done it when the old one broke. But because I'm looking for something new, gave it a shot.

And the miracle is that I didn't burn down the house while rewiring.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Something New, #193

People say that women tend to turn into their mothers as they get older. While I have found myself doing things that my mother does, like planning a route to avoid left hand turns, (yes, I will actually admit to that), today I found myself turning into my father.

I drove a 12-mile round trip out of my way to save money on gas.

I've never done this, because here in JoCo Kansas, the department of public works loves their traffic lights and it really takes a while to get anywhere with so much stop and go. But I found a station near my old office that is always much lower than the QT that's a half mile from my house. So I made a special trip, just for gas.

It was totally worth it, as it was 10 cents cheaper per gallon at $1.89. So I probably came out ahead as far as time and gas spent.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Something New, #192

jubilant [joo-buh-luhnt]–adjective
showing great joy, satisfaction, or triumph; rejoicing; exultant: the cheers of the jubilant victors.

I'm not sure this qualifies as Something New, but this is the first time I've ever used the word "jubilant" to describe my mood.

I love it.

Something New, #191

I, and several other million voters, elected a good and decent man as president of the United States.

After I voted, I went to Wal-Mart. Right after I parked, a woman came running over to me. She must have seen my Obama bumper sticker. She was probably in her mid-60's and was dressed in a sparkly sweatshirt, lots of gold jewelry, perma-nails and had what I call "Texas Hair," big and blonde. We've all seen this woman and know what the stereotype is. She said, "Oh, I just wanted you to know I just voted for Obama, too!" Appearances can be deceiving. So I hugged a total stranger in the parking lot at Wal-Mart.

It was a great moment.

I made the girls stay up late to watch the acceptance speech and hope they someday will understand the enormity of it. I had the neighbors over, and we all cried together. We popped open a bottle of champagne, and got most of it on TNG, but she didn't seem to mind. I even drunk-dialed for the first time to a friend in Chicago.

My neighbor's brother is married to an African-American, and they have four boys. When he put them to bed, he told them when they woke up in the morning, there would be a president that looked like them. So I'm even happier, because I can imagine it would have been horrifying for them if McCain had won.

Please President Obama. Don't break my heart.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Something New, #190

I filed a petition for court in person. I've filed lots of petitions, but never hand-carried one to the court house and had the clerk file it. And after dealing with the court clerk in person, am not so anxious to have a public servant job.

On the up side, I did get to check out our county's legal library at the court house. It was the tidiest library I've ever been in. THAT would be my dream job.

I also learned that my trash company has a limit on how much trash they will pick up on one day. I had about 14 bags and boxes of trash on the curb after all my cleaning, and they left eight. I guess I'll have to take the trash out in shifts now. However, I am DONE with the major purging and feel really great about how things look now. If only I could keep it this way...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Coolest Plate Ever!

When The Little One and I were hawking Girl Scout cookies, I saw that one of our neighbors has this license plate on his bright yellow mini. The photo is not the best quality, as it was done with my phone, but it's still legible.

My neighbors rock!

Something New, #189

The Little One is selling Girl Scout cookies and wanted to go door-to-door in the neighborhood. She's very motivated, because if she sells 115 boxes, she gets a stuffed horse toy.

Those people at the Girls Scout office are geniuses. The two things little girls love most, stuffed animals and horses, rolled into one. They should have a record year.

She sold 40 boxes in about an hour, which I thought was pretty good. The hard part is collecting the money when the cookies come in, but we've had good luck in the past.

Just what we need around here. Another stuffed animal.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Something New, #188

I Dumpster Dived for the first time today.

I know this has been something people have been doing for ages. I've never done it, not because I think it's gross or anything, but because I never had the opportunity.

I was picking up a love seat from the consignment furniture store with my Cute Friend Mel, and we noticed there were all these books in the dumpster. There's a Half Price Books next door, so we figured these were titles that just didn't sell. So we helped ourselves. They were all clean and we took about a dozen each.

I think it's a sin to throw a book away, except when they belong to The Ex.