Thursday, April 29, 2010

Breaking with the past

I've decided to stop writing on this blog and begin writing on others. Too many bad memories here. I'm letting go of those now. (Good-bye, B.)

I'd thought about deleting the blog but instead have decided to let it live on as kind of a humble historical record of the trials and tribulations of this country over the past several years (and my own personal trials and tribulations, however insignificant in comparison).

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wednesday night

Took a nap and going to gym at 9:00. I couldn't do much there on Friday night, since they were remodeling, and couldn't go on Sunday, since I was at work till almost 7:00 (gym closes at 7:00 on weekends). Glad I got nap first. I'll catch Rachel Maddow's headlines on my way out the door.

[Later] Back from gym and store. Got ham and eggs, inter alia. Just pan-broiled some pork chops for work and packed up some more of that vegetable beef soup. The other day I'd bought two packages of boneless loin pork chops (butterflied) on sale for $4.99/lb. Very lean. Thought I'd try them. Delicious. Fried in some olive oil, with Accent, salt, pepper and a little garlic powder.

Today I got back in touch with Office Depot about the desktop computer. They have it back in the store, after shipping it away. Apparently there was nothing wrong with the hardware, so they're only going to charge me for shipping the thing away -- not the full flat fee ($349). They said they were going to try to fix some of the software code to get it to boot -- they said a driver appeared to be fouled up. If they can't fix that, they'll hook the hard drive to my netbook so I can retrieve stuff from it. I guess at that point it would be time to get a new desktop.

Also talked to Home Depot today. The kitchen expediter said she talked with someone at the General Contractor. The person at the GC said the final inspection was passed last August, so she has been trying to contact the City of North Miami. I have to say, however, that no final building inspection is indicated on my permit. If the GC can't prove that the inspection was done, they will have to obtain a new permit and make new arrangements for an inspection.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tuesday evening

Headed down to Home Depot at around 6:00 to see if kitchen designer was there and let her know I wasn't at work today (to receive call from kitchen expediter), and also to buy a new vase for the bamboo on the terrace.

The kitchen designer wasn't there today, and the expediter works earlier in the day (7:30 to 4:00 or something), so she wasn't there either. But I did get a vase, or a pot, or whatever you want to call it ($24.99). Not exactly what I was looking for. I wanted a heavy vase that would hold water, and not green (too much green out there as it is). But I settled for this. It's pretty heavy but has a hole in the bottom, so I stuck the old glass vase inside it and padded it with newspaper. I also pushed it closer to the sliding glass door, to be less exposed to the wind. (I can envision the leaves catching the wind and the whole thing crashing to the floor. Hopefully it's heavy enough and that won't happen.) (Maybe I should pack sand around the glass vase instead of newspaper, but I don't have sand.)

I also cut off the yellow/dead leaves. The bamboo has been inside for years and, in adjusting to being outside, is losing a few leaves. Inside it was getting very leggy and taking over the room. Hopefully it'll become sturdier and less gangly outside.

Ate the tacos for dinner. I like them cold. The hard shells become soft and chewy.

Going to watch two hours of RuPaul's "DragRace" tonight on VH1. Haven't seen any of it. It's a Logo show and I no longer have Logo. Glad VH1 is carrying it.

Yes, I know the vase is a little off-kilter. I'm not able to rotate it ("arbitrarily") as you can in Photoshop -- only 90 or 180 degrees. Still, tonight I donated $12 to the providers of this free program (Paint.NET).

Tuesday afternoon

Took my day off today since I worked Sunday. Called the insurance agency about driving up there to get my homeowner's policy per quote from Lily and they said Lily would be leaving at 2:30, so I cleaned up and was there by 1:45. That process took 1/2 hour, paid with check, and then got lunch. Hadn't eaten anything. First stopped at Arby's for a medium roast beef with potato cakes, then at Taco Bell for a Mexican pizza and tacos for later. I'm stuffed.

Stopped in at condo manager's office to let her copy the insurance. She said she'd received info from the City that I didn't have a final plumbing inspection either. Went upstairs and got my building permit for her to copy, which shows the inspector signing off on the final inspection. She also made me a copy, which I'll fax to the City tomorrow. I'll leave the original permit here at home, sitting out on the kitchen counter in case an inspector comes when I'm not here. (Didn't hear from Home Depot today re: the other inspection issue, but they would have called me at work about that.)

Thought I'd sit over at Starbucks and have a cup of coffee and read, but there were no shaded tables and all the umbrellas were in use, so I got a cup and brought it back home (half regular and half decaf).

Feels like summer already, and it's supposed to get into the upper 80s this weekend.

[Later] Went back to Starbucks to get my refill and I found a shaded table. Sat and read a while.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday night

Had a normal day. Was tired when I got up, however. Yesterday was pretty draining. And I was already drained.

Called the City and then Home Depot from work regarding the threatening letter I received from the City over the weekend regarding the permit problem with the kitchen remodel, for which I'd contracted with Home Depot two years ago. The City said the general contractor never arranged for a final inspection of the cabinets and thus the City doesn't know whether they were installed properly. (As I recall, Home Depot had fired this contractor before my place was completed.) I then talked to my kitchen designer at Home Depot and read her the letter from the City. She had me fax it to the kitchen expediter. The kitchen expediter called later and said she'll be talking to the general contractor tomorrow morning about the situation and will then fill me in. Was nice talking to them again. They were always helpful, and the designer was my primary contact person throughout the whole process.

Home Depot was in charge of all the contracting, and the contractors apply for the permits, do the work, and then arrange for the inspections. I'm glad Home Depot has sprung into action on this. This isn't the first time that the proverbial ball has been dropped. That's an understatement, by the way. I went for months without a kitchen.

I know the municipalities are hurting for money and have been changing rules for this kind of work, extracting more money out of it. But it's up to the contractors--and Home Depot--to keep abreast of the changes.

Today I received the optical CD/DVD drive for the Acer netbook and backed up the system. Had to get some new disks for that, since my DVD+RW disks didn't work. Got those at Target and then headed up to Publix for some cat plates, etc. Got some great pork chops, which I fried for lunch (but had to eat one). Lean and tasty.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday night

I hope this is some mistake, but I just went to the mailbox to get the mail and had a notice from the City of North Miami dated April 22, saying that progress inspections hadn't been made on the kitchen remodel and that the permit had expired and would have to be renewed within 30 days or I'd pay a $5o0 fine and possibly the work would have to be ripped out.

I have the permit with all the inspections signed and dated, including the final inspections. I'll call the City first thing tomorrow to find out what's going on. Home Depot was handling all the permits and inspections. Jesus Christ! Emotional distress!

I ended up working 7 hours today, so no gym. I was home after 7:00, the time it closes on the weekends. I'd stopped off for chili dogs on the way in to work and had eaten four of them. When I got home, I had a big bowl of the vegetable beef soup (was delicious), a piece of fried chicken, some watermelon and fat-reduced Triscuits.

Then I puttered around and watched "Desperate Housewives." Pretty good.

Sorry I've lost my funny friend from Canada.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saturday night

(Looks like day!)

Soup came out pretty good, considering I didn't do a lot of chopping. Of course it's always better with freshly chopped turnip and parsnip, e.g. It'll be better tomorrow, after it sits in the fridge. In any case, it's very healthful.

Lucky does love the new comforter/bedspread. After his dinner, he went right back on it. It's very nice. All cotton with poly fill. It's a good one. Don't know whether it'll fit in the washer here, however. That's OK. There's a laundromat half a block down the street.

The yellow tabibuias are in full bloom. They were coming into bloom last weekend. The tree above hadn't yet come into full bloom at that time, but today it was gorgeous. I went out to take a shot of it, and someone else (parked at right) was doing the same thing. I waited for him to finish before I took the shot. By then he was photographing the decorative street entrance, which looks really nice now that the date palms (?) have begun to thrive (I think one withered and had to be replaced). Anyway, you can see the guy down there in front of the structure.

Early Saturday evening

Back from Starbucks.

[Later] Got back from Starbucks at 5-something. It's now 9:11. Started making vegetable beef soup after Starbucks visit, along with chili, which I had for dinner. The stew beef is about tender now. Next to add vegetables and finish. Beef was tenderizing in crushed tomatoes, beef broth, green parts of leek, broccoli slaw, a little dill, salt, and water. I'm going to add fresh leek (white part), frozen soup vegetables and fresh dill.

Meanwhile, ran up to Target to check out king-size comforters/bedspreads. I've never had one for the king-size bed. (Had been using a queen-size that B.'s mother had bought, which was actually OK -- not too heavy, but not as nice as the Tommy Hilfiger I'd been using before, which was too heavy and not to anybody's liking (very hot, I'll say).) (A French style I can't remember right now...) (I wasn't wild about it either, but it had been on sale and was nice-looking.)

I'd received $50 gift cards for staff appreciation day this week, so I just bought a $100 Fieldcrest over-sized king comforter. Dark blue, reversible, with two pillow shams. Different subtle woven pattern on either side. Already covered in cat hair (I knew that would happen). Lucky loves it already.

Saturday afternoon

I have to work tomorrow, so I think I'll just kick back today. I'd planned on going to the laundromat to wash all the throw rugs and cushions. Instead, I'll head over to Starbucks and chill for a while. When I get back, I'll make a big pot of vegetable beef soup. Beef stew meat on sale at Publix last night, as was lean ground beef, so I'll make some chili. Got all the fixings to make those dishes.

Stayed up late last night watching wedding shows, a clutter show, and one of those "I shouldn't be alive" shows. Enjoyed some red wine (Yellow Tail shiraz, on sale). Now that my acid reflux disease is under control (with Prilosec) and my esophagus healed, I can enjoy wine again. (There's a Total Wine store down the street -- I should check out their deals.)

Can't stay up late tonight, however.

Gave myself my first pedicure of the season. Off to Starbucks soon, in sandals.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Another busy, busy day. Napped on the bus home and also here, then went to the gym. They were in the middle of installing a new front desk and flooring and most of the machines weren't accessible. In fact, they were roped off with yellow tape. So I wasn't able to do a lot. I did weigh in at 176 lbs.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thursday night

Project Runway finale was tonight. The person who I thought did the best job won. Very exciting collection. Models looked great. Music was great. I had goosebumps. Had to watch the repeat afterward, just to see that again.

One more day. It's been a pretty intense week. Today I was so tired at the end of the day that I napped on the bus all the way home (and didn't take my walk -- the sun was beating down anyway). Volunteered to work on Sunday, but will be back home in time to go to the gym.

Still on the netbook here. Don't have Photoshop but am using PaintNet. Experimented with some effects (above). Also shows the edited living room (minus giant aloe and giant bamboo). I'm sure the cleaners will be happy they don't have to move those around to clean the floor.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wednesday night

The weather was great for walking the mile after work today -- overcast. Stopped at Palacio de los Jugos along the way to order a Cuban and a pork sandwich. This is the third Cuban sandwich I've bought there. Each one has been different -- I guess it depends on who's making it. The first one was the fattest, but they've all tasted good -- some of the best I've ever had. Adding the pepperoni really kicks it up a notch.

So, I walk out the door at the Palacio with my sandwiches and what's sitting directly in front of me? A black Hummer. But it wasn't B.'s BF's. (I had to look at the license plate to make sure.) Nor did I see it parked in the handicapped space at Flanigan's, as I often do on Monday and Wednesday (B.'s days off -- the BF "doesn't work). Wasn't there on Monday, either. Could have been parked somewhere else. (Palacio is two doors down from Flanigan's, by the way, so I hadn't been all that surprised to see the Hummer there, only it wasn't "the" Hummer.) I have to say, I no longer flinch when I see a black Hummer.

Anyway, ate half the Cuban sandwich and wrapped up everything else to take to work. I have plenty of food for lunch this week, and today we had a free lunch for staff appreciation day. It was a nice, hot lunch, too: churrasco (skirt steak) with chimichurri, some kind of boneless chicken breast with capers, cheesy scalloped potatoes, rice (didn't try), plus a sumptuous salad, and brownies and cookies for dessert (didn't try, but the brownies looked awfully good).

Tonight Lucky thew up on TWO throw rugs. I think he made a pig of himself at dinner. Cleaned them in the tub with the new shower sprayer (what it was bought for) and set them out to dry on the terrace. This weekend I'll take all the rugs and the seat cushions for the wicker furniture to the laundromat down the street and use a couple of their giant washers, in preparation for the cleaning people coming back in.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tuesday night

Stopped back at the Home Depot after work to get a few solar-powered "walk lights" (i.e., little lights to line your outside walkway which you poke into the ground--on sale for $3.88 apiece). I'd bought one yesterday to see how it worked. Now I have four of them sticking out of plants on the terrace to give it a little ambience and maybe also illuminate Lucky when he's out there at night. (I often can't see him and go get a flashlight). I also moved a huge aloe houseplant out there. It hasn't been doing well since B. left, since I didn't water it much. At least it'll get some rain on the terrace. I also moved an enormous bamboo out there, something we'd inherited from one of B.'s friends before he left. It's potted in water and keeps growing and growing. Let it do that on the terrace. I'm just a little worried about the wind out there, however.

Well, the big old broken TV is out of here. It took up a lot of room. Having that space back kind of inspired me to reclaim even more of it by moving the big plants out. (I now have one live plant left in the house, a bromeliad, which is doing OK.)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday evening

Back from work. Got off the bus at Home Depot to get, inter alia, bulbs for the kitchen ceiling lights. Who knew they came in fluorescent now! (I didn't see them the last time I bought bulbs.) Just bought two, to make sure they fit, etc. They do. Going out to get some more, since another bulb has burned out. (They all burn out at around the same time.) The fluorescents were around $10 for two, but they'll last a while and save money. (Just don't much care for the light they cast.) You can see the fluorescent coil inside the bulb, but otherwise they look like regular spotlights.

[Back from Home Depot] Yeah, but those fluorescents aren't dimmable (and the lights are on a dimmer, not that I use it much -- hardly ever). (I've visited this issue before.) I did buy one dimmable bulb ($8). The problem with it, as I'd feared, is that it sticks out too far from the bottom of the can. I don't know whether to go back to the regular bulbs and wait for a shorter dimmable fluorescent to come out, or go to undimmable fluorescents (and wait for a shorter dimmable fluorescent to come out). (The dimmable fluorescent didn't dim all that much, by the way.) Probably the green thing (and the more economical thing) would be to go all fluorescent now. But then the light might be too harsh, and I wouldn't be able to dim it. Hmmmm. I do use the kitchen light a lot.

Meanwhile, someone from X-S Trash is coming to pick up the old TV tomorrow morning after 10:00. I had a voice mail from them on my work phone this morning. I called back and they quoted their minimum for a removal: $94. I called up one more place that mentioned TVs in particular, and they quoted me $200, so I immediately called X-S Trash back and made the arrangements. Talked to the condo manager, and someone from maintenance will open the door for them (and keep an eye on things). The TV should be out of here in under a minute. It's right by the door with a sign on it (and a check taped to it).

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday night

"Desperate Housewives" was better tonight. The last two episodes were so lame. This one was still a little lame -- the way Susan went about fouling up the neighbors' plumbing, for example, to get work for Mike (with Susan paying the plumbing bills behind his back). Like breaking up the insides of a toilet tank and throwing them back into the tank, as if Mike wouldn't be suspicious about that. When has it ever happened to you that you look inside your toilet tank and the works have gone totally to pieces? (And the toilet worked perfectly the last time you used it.) And shoveling loads of dirt into a tub to clog up the drain. (And then Mike found Susan's ear ring in the drain, or something?)

But the rest of it was OK. Glad to be rid of that silly Russian character with her cornball excuse for a Russian accent.

After DH, not much on that I care to watch.

Was at the gym and the store earlier. I'd bought skinned chicken breast tenders on sale the other day and today made Chicken Dijon-Sarna (recipe clipped from The Miami Herald years ago). Very lo-cal. Just a little oil in which to saute (recipe calls for non-stick pan) and no carbs (except a little wine, and the alcohol cooks out). Used red onion, which I had on hand, instead of shallots, which the recipe calls for. (Shallots are pretty close to red onions, in my book.) Also has fresh parsley, fresh dill, capers and, of course, Dijon mustard. The chicken first gets pounded flat with a tenderizer. Came out good. (Good cold, too.) I'll take most of that to work. (I also cooked a bag of microwave mixed vegetables. Nothing could be simpler.) For dinner tonight I finished up the corned beef and had a V-8. Right now I'm washing the shower curtain and liner. Used cold water and delicate cycle for the dryer. The last time I washed one of these, it shrank a few inches. It's an off-white, heavy cotton woven thing from Target. Nice-looking. Lucky's wondering what's going on, since the shower curtain is one of his hang-outs.

Fed the neighbor's cat.

On the whole, I had a great weekend.

P.S. Shower curtain still shrank a couple of inches.

Saturday night

Didn't wake up too late and actually got a lot of stuff done around here, and still had time to sit over at Starbucks and drink two cups of coffee, have a turkey & Swiss sandwich, and read. Actually, I went to Starbucks first, after 2:00, and got home at around 5:00. The weather was nice for sitting outside -- overcast, with a gentle breeze. No sweater or jacket required.

Then I came back and watered the plants on the terrace, cleaned a bathroom (some), cleaned out the cat boxes, washed a load of clothes, fed the neighbor's cat, ran the dishwasher, scoured the kitchen sink, and did online searches and got phone numbers of companies to call re: hauling away the old TV.

I also called my friend in STL/FTL and had a long talk. His schizophrenic partner is not improving. My friend said he acts normal only 20% of the time now (i.e., the percentage keeps shrinking). The rest of time time he's either withdrawn (now he even hides, in a closet or somewhere) or is in some raucous mental conflict (with himself), which often entails breaking things. A few years ago this person had a job and/or was going to law school (he almost finished). He's since been declared totally disabled by the courts and put on permanent Social Security and SSI. (He's only 42 or 43.) My friend now takes Xanax to help stay calm and not exacerbate the ongoing conflicts and also to help him sleep. (He doesn't take a lot of it and then only twice a week.)

The partner also has three personalities now (vs. two, the new one being Chico, the Caribbean Latino -- one of his doctors recently discovered him). So there's multiple personalities on top of schizophrenia.

My friend said the guy's too far gone to do volunteer work (he can't do regular work), which I'd suggested a while back. My friend said that at this stage, nobody would want him.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Late Saturday night

Was at gym and store tonight, after a good nap. Then got really hungry and ate corned beef, then went through an entire $5+ container of cut-up watermelon I'd just bought, then some dried apples and apricots, some cold steak and then fat-reduced Triscuits. Sometimes I get really hungry after the gym, which is one reason why I'd rather go at the weekends so as not to disrupt my sleep regimen for workdays (eating late keeps me up later). On Sundays I go to the gym early and can have regular dinner afterward, not too late.

Bought some wine on sale and drank some of that. Haven't had wine since I got my acid reflux under control with Prilosec (and also healed my esophagus). Still, took some bicarb too.

What to do this weekend... I have some laundry to do. Maybe some cleaning before I get the cleaning crew back in here, which will happen after I get the old TV hauled out.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Almost TGIF!

Got off the bus at Home Depot and walked up to the shopping center at 123rd Street to check out optical CD drives at Office Max by Walgreens. I need one to back up my netbook computer. The cheapest one was $79. (They had them at the Office Depot up the road, where I dropped off the computer last night, for, I believe, $69.) I then walked across the street to the Office Depot there and I didn't see any. (Yes, there is an Office Max and an Office Depot directly across the street from one another.) I finally asked someone in the store and he pointed to something (and there was only one lonely thing sitting on these particular shelves) that didn't seem to be exactly what I was looking for, and it was more than $69. The person wasn't very helpful and I gave up. I guess I'll buy the drive up at the other Office Depot.

I'd planned on walking home but it looked like rain, so I caught the next bus.

Right now I'm pressure-cooking another corned beef brisket. I'd not planned on getting another one any time soon, but they were still on sale from St. Patrick's Day ($2.49/lb.). You can't beat that, even if it shrinks. This one weighed 5 1/2 lbs. I had to cut it in two to fit inside the pressure cooker.

[Later] Corned beef turned out great! Perfect. Shrank like hell, though, which was to be expected. I don't pressure-cook often, and getting a steady burst of steam going is a bit tricky. After a false start, I finally settled on #6 on the burner, at which point I cooked it for an hour longer. Then I boiled some Brussels sprouts in the liquid. Taking some of that to work for lunch tomorrow. Have fresh horseradish to go with the meat.

I found an Acer Aspire CD burner on Amazon for $40-something and ordered it. Free shipping.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wednesday night

Just got back from the -- no, not the gym and the store. The Office Depot, where I took the desktop computer. They have to ship it to a repair center somewhere that's authorized to do repairs for HP. $349 "flat rate", including shipping. Yikes. Still, it's cheaper than getting a new computer (and that one cost over $2,000 7-8 years ago, with a 60 GB hard drive). Hopefully I won't lose anything on the hard drive. My files are backed up, to an extent -- not as I would like. The operating system just needs to work again, whatever that takes.

Got an e-card from CC today. (So the chicken came home to roost, at least for the time being.) That was sweet.

Dear Friend,

personne ne pourra jamais dire que tu n'as pas une place dans mon coeur, mon p'tit chou a la creme !
With Love

Oh, and I just noticed a comment on last night's post. Quelle surprise!

Tired. Had a big day at work, mainly designing stuff. And I was anxious all day about taking the computer in for repairs and hearing bad news. So far, news is not so bad, I guess. I've had that computer for years and never spent a cent on it for repairs. It's been a great computer. I hope it'll last a while longer (at least until I back up everything to my satisfaction). Will keep you posted.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tuesday night

Busy. Went grocery shopping after work. Cleaned out cat box. Pan-broiled a thick, jumbo top sirloin steak for lunch (at least 2 days' worth) (2.40 lbs. on sale for $3.99/lb.). Rubbed it with fresh garlic first and let it warm up to room temperature before I fried it in olive oil and a little sea salt. Afterward I rubbed it with more garlic and butter and ground fresh pepper over it. Cooked perfectly. First I browned each side on high, then lowered the heat to 4 and cooked 5 minutes on each side. Then let it rest 10 minutes before slicing in two. Medium rare. Half is going to work tomorrow. It's a lot of steak, enough for lunch and a snack later in the afternoon. Can't wait to taste it. Will bring Publix steak sauce to work. Tastes just like A-1 but it's a lot cheaper. Actually my favorite steak sauce is Bearnaise. Haven't made that in years, not since before B. left. It's not difficult. I use Julia Child's recipe from The French Chef Cookbook (based on her first TV show), with dried tarragon and shallots.

I'll be taking the desktop computer up the road to Office Depot. They're one of HP's "Partners". Got them off the HP link the online tech guy gave me last night.

I've beaten myself up so much over the situation with B., but when I now look at it realistically, I see there's nothing that I could have done better to make things turn out differently -- to "save" him from the druggie world* -- since he couldn't resist going back on the drugs, at least not after he was aggressively "pushed" back into doing them (and pushed away from me). He should have had a lot more rehab than he did. (What little he did have had a positive effect.) Now I have to put all that aside and concentrate on me. Plus I have the cats and my job. And my backup computer. Thank God for that! (It seems I've lost my friend in Canada, however. Not my doing. Claudette Colbert has flown the coop.)

I guess I'm (albeit) slowly getting over this pain. That's good. I see progress for me.

*although maybe at some point I'd just become exhausted dealing with it and just wanted it all to end, and so stopped trying. It was really getting to me and was threatening my ability to get up and go to work in the morning. Also, I was having problems with my shoulder, which turned out to have a calcium deposit in the joint and which was causing a lot of pain, to the point where I stopped going to the gym and bought a new bed and pillows. (This problem eventually only became worse and I ended up having it taken care of by an orthopedic surgeon, after B. had gone.) Meanwhile, however, it was all about B.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday night

Got home shortly before 8:00, i.e., pretty late. Huge thunderstorm downtown with flooding, so the traffic was just crawling.

Talked briefly to HP Support today and they told me my desktop was "obsolete" and no longer supported by telephone support, but was supported by online chat. That worked out, since I wasn't calling from home anyway -- and the desktop is here at home. So, when I (finally) got home, fed the cats and changed clothes, I got in touch with the chat support.

"Jack" asked some questions; we tried a few things, including disconnecting the cables from the hard drive. The thing wouldn't boot to BIOS so he could do a test. He said there seemed to be an issue with the motherboard and that it needed hands-on servicing and gave me a link to locate a place to take it. I was online with him for well over an hour. We also tried to back up my hard drive by first connecting it to my old Pavilion, but the Pavilion was dead in the water. I didn't want to lose a bunch of files, so we did not do a recovery, which would have returned the disk to its factory-fresh state.

I'd bought some more of those chuck steaks this weekend, on sale again. I really like them. Last time, I marinated them for 24 hours in all kinds of stuff. This time I just coated them with yellow mustard for a while, then scraped that off and fried them in olive oil. They're a bit chewy but not tough, and tasty. As long as the store keeps offering these at a decent price ($3.79/lb.), I'll buy them. They're cheaper and leaner than hamburger. My mother used to buy them (for herself for lunch). They're not that thick and don't take long to cook. Much tastier than cubed steaks. I just salt them and grind fresh black pepper on top.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday night

Stayed up way too late last night. It's because I ate dinner late, plus had the coffee at Starbucks. No coffee or tea today. Was back at gym.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Saturday evening

Spent an hour and a half over at Starbucks this afternoon, reading and getting buzzed on their coffee (two cups is my limit -- the refill is 54 cents). Not busy there. Had a good seat with umbrella. Cloudy at times, which is good.

Meanwhile an old friend called, so I called her back. Talked a good hour.

[11:30] My old friend told me she'd run into another old friend, so I talked to her over an hour after I'd returned from dinner at Arby's and Taco Bell (they're a few blocks from one another, in another neighborhood a few miles away). Hadn't talked to her in years. Great chat. Was sad to hear she wasn't doing well financially, on account of the economy. She has a limousine company but business has fallen off drastically since the onset of the recession. (Even limousine-riding people are tightening their belts.)

Saturday afternoon

Spent hours last night researching on how to fix the desktop computer -- thus no post. The previous night I'd found a site from which to download files for a quick boot from floppy disk. Yesterday at work I created the disk (took one minute). I was eager to get home and try it, but first I took a nap and went to the gym and the grocery store. When I got back, I tried it (repeatedly) and it didn't work. Damn! Then it was back to the drawing board.

It looks like I need a Windows XP installation CD. I've searched the house (repeatedly) for it, to no avail. But last night I found what I hope are valuable telephone numbers for Microsoft and Compaq and will call on Monday to try to get a copy sent to me (don't really know whether I ever had one in the first place -- I guess it would have been inserted into the Windows XP manual, which I don't have either). Last night I located the Windows XP Certificate of Authenticity on my Compaq and wrote down the Product Key number, model number and serial number.

I also looked into Geek Squad. A house call would cost at least $250. Meanwhile, I'll continue to get this fixed on my own. I'm OK with my backup computer for now, but there are files and software on the desktop that I don't want to lose. If it weren't for that, I would use the Compaq Recovery CD and just wipe the disk clean and start over.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Interview with Rachel Maddow re: People article

Thursday night

Last night I forgot to power up my cell phone/alarm clock after recharging it. As a result, I was a little late to work (not even an hour). So I worked a little later today. On the way home from the bus stop, stopped off at the Cuban restaurant and ordered a Cuban and a pork sandwich for takeout. Had the Cuban sandwich for dinner. Will take the pork to work for lunch tomorrow, since I'm running low on steak. That was two big sandwiches for $10. Cuban wasn't as fat as the last one I got there, but very tasty. (I think a different person prepared them this time.)

My desktop computer is still out of commission. Today I wrote an email to one of the technical people, asking him, when he had a spare minute (since this is a personal favor), to give me some advice about the problem, which I described in detail, along with my own attempts to fix it. Didn't hear anything back today. Maybe tomorrow. It appears that a Windows XP boot disk would be helpful. I haven't been able to locate one. I guess it would have been inside the Windows book I got when I bought the computer (but I don't remember getting one or, if I did, what has happened to it). I mentioned that to the technical person. Maybe they have XP boot disks lying around the technical area.

I haven't used this little computer (the Acer netbook) since my Savannah vacation last Labor Day. The keyboard isn't the best but you can type on it normally. (It's only 10" wide.)

Turned the desktop on a few minutes ago and, no, it hadn't miraculously recovered overnight.

Finally remembered to call the condo office about getting the old TV hauled away. The manager had recommended calling a charity, but I told her that those charities that do pick up TVs do not want broken ones. I also told her it had been on Craig's list for a month, listed for free. The condo maintenance people don't haul away stuff (I offered money), so I'll have to get a company to come get it. The condo people will open my door to whoever will come to pick it up. Have to make those arrangements now.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Wednesday night

Having trouble with my desktop computer. First it totally froze, then I shut it down from the power strip, and now it won't boot up. I've tried different modes. Nothing seems to work. On the netbook now.

I get the Windows XP start-up screen, but then the three blue dots keep going by and nothing happens.

Did a little research. Computer booted with Recovery CD. Will continue with this tomorrow. Too late now to mess with it further. Thank goodness I found the Recovery CD. It was in a box with a spare keyboard. I kind of vaguely remembered I'd stuck it in there.

Even later, tried to back up my files with the Recovery CD, but there were failures. Yikes. May need professional help. And I don't think I have my original XP disk, which might be needed.

Wednesday evening

Well, the Hummer was back at Flanigan's, but not in the handicapped space. Someone else had taken it. Probably a real handicapped person.

Broiling the marinated steaks on the Foreman Grill. Very good. I'm eating the first one. Cooked it a little too long, so will cook the others less. There are three more of them. Marinade did a great job. Tasty and tender, even if overcooked.

As part of my lunch today, I had some of the pasta with edamame (and since I've been home, have cleared the sink of last night's kitchen wares dirtied to make this). Frankly, I don't like eating the soybeans with the pasta. I ate the pasta first and the soybeans last. I'll never make this again. I'd rather have my pasta with meat sauce, which gives me an idea. I have a loan of Boca Burgers in the fridge. I think I'll use them in a sauce. That would be healthy, right? (I do like the Boca Burgers on toast with sliced onion and mustard, but bread goes to waste around here so I don't buy it often.)

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Tuesday night

Made the pasta dish with edamame. Never again. Why? #1 -- Nothing special. #2 -- Dirtied a lot of kitchen wares, including food processor, pot to boil edamame and pasta, colander, measuring cups, mixing bowl, etc. #3 -- I really shouldn't be eating a lot of pasta anyway, no matter if it's brown and healthy.

Going to watch "Millionaire Matchmaker" in a few minutes. I enjoyed it last time. New episode tonight.

Was good. I like this show.

Tuesday evening

Last night I bought some boneless shoulder steaks (on sale for $3.79/lb.) to prepare for lunch. I don't think I've ever bought these before. On the package it says to marinate them 6 to 24 hours, then grill them. That's what I'll do. I always like to use something sweet in my marinade, along the lines of jam or preserves, so I think I'll add some of those sugar-packed dried fruit I bought last week (by mistake, I realized, after I read the labels).

Used dried cranberries and dried strawberries. Meat is marinating. Tomorrow I'll broil them in the Foreman Grill. Meanwhile, ants had got inside the dried pineapple so I threw it out.

I have since found dried fruit without added sugar (apricots, apples, peaches, pears and prunes).

Just to show you how irrational, fearful and paranoid some people are around here, I heard today that some people in the Cuban exile community are extremely upset that Gloria and Emilio Estafan are hosting President Obama at a reception at their home this month (to which I've been invited). The person said, however, that he/she trusts the Estefans' judgment (i.e., if they like Obama, then he can't be all that bad). The person then said that so long as Obama doesn't kick Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck off the air, this person could tolerate him. I couldn't believe my ears. I said Obama could never do that, that we're a nation of laws, that we have a Constitution, etc. The person then said, well, Cuba had laws, too, and look what happened: Castro came in and took over the airwaves. I then said, well, Obama is not a Communist and this isn't a Communist country. Jeez, Louise! These people are so woefully misinformed, listening to all the crap spewn on Fox News, and God only knows what poison they're fed by the local Spanish radio stations.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Monday night

Had dinner tonight at Flanigan's. Was in the mood for dolphin fingers. Figured B. and the BF might be there, as they often are on Monday/Wednesday, B.'s usual days off. Sure enough, the black Hummer was parked in the handicapped space outside the door, and they were sitting at the bar. It was pretty packed, but I found a stool, a few seats down from them. Sat reading a new "Vanity Fair" as I was eating (soup, fish, and mozzarella sticks). (Hadn't had anything to eat all day -- stayed home sick.) Finished up and walked past them as if they were just regular customers. Pretty slick.

I might do this more often. I'd been staying away from Flanigan's when I knew they were there. The last (and only) time I saw them in there, I had no idea they were there, since the Hummer wasn't parked out front. But you know I like Flanigan's, too. Let them wonder what I'm up to.

Went grocery shopping afterwards, at the big Publix up the street (not the one by the gym). Found some frozen shelled edamame -- the other Publix only had it in the shell. I had a few bags of that and was going to shell them myself for a pasta recipe, but I went ahead and bought a couple of bags of the shelled, along with some fresh parsley so I can make the recipe. Last week I bought cilantro by mistake -- thought it was flat parsley. (They didn't have the curly, which I prefer, since it's easier to chop.) Threw the cilantro out. I have no use for it and don't really like it.

Now it's Anthony Bourdain. A show on cooking techniques.

Not one of the best. Some people might like it for the cooking pointers, but it lacked the usual humor, just a lot of bleeped profanity.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Sunday night

Facebook is working normally again. Hmmm.

[Later] Now it's NOT working, again. (Can't share photos, links, etc.)

Meanwhile I rearranged all my Firefox "Speed Dial" tabs into new, meaningful groups ("Research" [Google, Wikipedia, dictionary, etc.], "Periodicals" [NYT, Miami Herald, Salon, etc.], "Blogs" and "More Blogs," "TV," "YouTube" [its own tab], etc.). I also have a "Basic" group (in the first slot) for email, Facebook, this blog, my bank, the weather, etc. (I should also probably make a bill-paying group.) If only I could organize my closets as well as I organized my browser.

Meanwhile, I did not get my taxes done today, but that's OK. I hadn't planned on doing them this weekend.

Next president of Egypt?

Gamal Mubarak. See here.

The only good thing George Bush did while in office

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Sunday evening

Walked up to KFC for a somewhat unhealthy dinner. I'd considered walking to Chicken Kitchen (by Starbucks), which is healthier, but I was hungry and Chicken Kitchen's whole chicken breast meal would have left me hungry later. For one thing, you don't get a whole chicken breast -- they chop away part of it. And for the price they charge, you can get three truly whole pieces of chicken at KFC. Also, the mixed vegetable side at Chicken Kitchen is way too crunchy for me. At KFC I had potato wedges and kernel corn on the side, along with a biscuit. Usually I get the cole slaw and mashed potatoes.

Glad I got there when I did, shortly after 6:00. I was the only person in line (and no cars in the drive-through). When I left, the place was mobbed, including 6-7 cars in the drive-through. Brought one piece of chicken home.

"60 Minutes" on now.

Easter Sunday

Happy Easter!

Perfectly aware that today was Easter, I'd forgotten how this would affect my plans for the day. No gym (closed at 4:00 -- I'd planned on going at 5:30 or so), no grocery shopping (Publix is always closed on Easter), and no cooking (nothing to cook). Also, there will be no new "Desperate Housewives" tonight. So I have loads of time on my hands. Was over at Starbucks for a little more than an hour, reading. Had one cup of coffee, vs. two. Don't want to have trouble getting to sleep tonight, since have to get up for work in the a.m.

Fortunately I have food to take to work for b'fast and lunch and enough catfood till I can shop tomorrow.

Didn't stay up terribly late last night and didn't sleep in too late. I guess body's getting used to the time change at last.

I could always do my taxes...

Ever since Firefox upgraded the other night (Friday), I've been having trouble with Facebook. I've done all kinds of trouble-shooting. Facebook works fine with Google Chrome and Safari (Safari being recommended by Facebook, along with Firefox and Internet Explorer). I've downloaded Safari twice now and have no option to use the "Top Lists" feature (to organize frequently visited websites), even after extensively upgrading my Java (as recommended by Java), not knowing whether that had anything to do with this problem. (Apparently it didn't.)

I love my tabs management addon in Firefox, so I'll use Firefox to browse my sites and Safari to share pix and links on Facebook. (Last night I was able to do this again with Firefox, but not today.) Meanwhile I've sent help requests to both Firefox and Safari about the issues.

Saturday night late

Finally had a talk with my friend in Canada. (Too bad I wasn't partying with him.) Had a nice chat and he had to go, since he has to wake up in the a.m. to get ready to attend a family function (it's Easter).

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Jobs 'bikini graph'

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
2 Girls 1 GOP
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorHealth Care Reform

Saturday afternoon

Got up late. Had a Stouffer's breaded fish filet for lunch. Eventually got cleaned up and went over to Starbucks for two cups of coffee and a turkey & Swiss sandwich.

Meanwhile, starting last night, had trouble with new Firefox upgrade and Facebook (can't share photos or links, etc.). Couldn't fix it and sent Firefox a report. Then downloaded Safari 4 -- no problems. Now I have to recreate all my tabs.

Late Friday night

Was at the gym tonight after a nap. Been watching "What Not To Wear," including repeats of shows I haven't seen. Now it's a blonde LA Valley Girl type. Ugh. Can't stand the accent.

Had the brisket for lunch today. It was very good but could easily have been better. Now that I've found a basic recipe, I'll kick it up a notch. I'm thinking some fresh black pepper and fresh thyme sprigs, and maybe a little garlic powder.

Called today about the refinance and don't think that'll work out. It's very expensive, even with a $500 credit, although I could probably swing it. Then I have to put about $500 up front to initiate an appraisal, and I'm not even sure my building will qualify. (It didn't qualify for a home equity line of credit.) But I do have excellent credit. I just don't want to initiate this and then end up losing $500 if things don't work out. Buyer beware. I didn't get a good feeling talking to the person over the phone. And with all the press about the banks trying to take advantage of people, I'm very wary. Also, their quote for the monthly payment was higher than the quote in the letter.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Thursday evening

Walked from the far bus stop and stopped off at the store for canned mushroom soup and heavy duty aluminum foil for the beef brisket. Turns out I didn't need the foil. Browning the brisket now before it goes into the oven wrapped up in foil, with the soup and the onion soup mix -- that's it. I'll leave it in the oven for 3 1/2 hours. Rendered a lot of the fat off one side of the brisket (it's a flat cut). (The other side is lean.)

[Later] "Project Runway" on now.

Brisket is smelling good. Now 45 minutes to go.

Came out great. Made perfect gravy. I sliced the whole thing up and packed it away with the gravy to take to work. Trimmed fat as I went. I cooked it fat side up. A lot of the goodness on top of the fat was discarded. If I cooked it fat side down, however, the gravy would be too fatty. So next time -- and I will make it again -- I'll put some of the flavorings beneath the meat, less on top. It's not that economical, however, since the meat shrinks. The whole roast (2+ lbs.) sliced up, plus gravy, fit inside a 3-cup container. But that's two meals. And it was so easy. (The roast cost $9-something, on sale.)

My mother used to bake pork chops with sliced onion and mushroom soup and I always loved it. Made its own gravy, which was great over rice or mashed potatoes.

I got an offer from my mortgage company (delivered by UPS) (?) to refinance my place at 4+% (currently I'm at 7%). I think I'll go for it. I'll get a 10-year mortgage and hope to pay it off sooner. I'll try to call them tomorrow.