Friday, April 26, 2013

Off to the north again

Heading up to NY and NJ to celebrate my mom's birthday tomorrow.

Of course there is the usual flurry of stuff I need to do before I leave--pay the bills, clean, do the laundry, and make sure there is plenty of canned and frozen food as well as honey nut cheerios. And of course, eat all the fresh produce, which would just rot while I'm away.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I just found my new auto shop

One of the benefits of Groupon and Living Social deals, besides the savings, is it's become a great resource for discovering places and businesses.  I found my gym and computer repair place through them.  Recently, I took advantage of a Living Social special for an oil change at The Auto Club:

I usually cringe at folks co-opting God or Jesus for an agenda or gain, so when I saw the motto "Where work is done with Christ-like integrity!", I was a little hesitant.  But I was really pleased not only with their service but their willingness to work with you.  When I asked how much an oil change was normally, he said "$25 if we supply the oil and filter but $10 if you supply the oil and filter."  In my experience that is unheard of--I mean isn't the oil and filter an opportunity to make a bit more profit on? 

So then I brought our other car in and also asked for the turn light signal bulb to be replaced. Unfortunately, I ended up waiting for over 90 minutes.  I had been wondering what was taking so long and finally it was done.  I kind of just wrote it off as the laid-back way of the South. When I went to pay, the owner said he wasn't pleased how the delayed auto part was handled (that I wasn't informed and kept waiting) and refused to let me pay for anything.  Christ-like or not, I haven't run into such integrity from a business in a looooong time.  They certainly earned a customer in me.

So, if you're looking for auto service in Columbia, South Carolina, I highly recommend The Auto Club!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Birthday Portrait

Had a great birthday, with loot from my Amazon Wish List but the capper was this flattering portrait the girl did of me:

HA! Needless to say, I would LOVE to look like this. If I get my hair cut like this, will I look like this?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Put this bus in top gear: RIP, Christine Amphlett

Christine Amphlett, lead singer of the Divinyls passed away yesterday.  I loved this first album (yes, I have it on vinyl), "Desperate" so much.  I would listen (and sing along) to the whole thing all the time.  In retrospect, I should have included her on my list of strong and sexy women.  She exuded that  toughness that I dig so much.  And apparently it wasn't just an act--she was fighting both breast cancer and multiple sclerosis until the very end.

I also absolutely loved her voice.  Her voice, persona, and songs had not only that strength but also a vulnerability that I appreciated so much (on a related note, voices I appreciate similarly is Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill).  Though her voice lives on in the songs I will be playing ad nauseum today, I am sad that she won't be making any more music.

Sigh. I guess I'll just watch this video over and over.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

TKD test

The girl passed her big TKD test.  Lots of kicking, sparring, defending, and breaking:

Like over 8 hours of it. I joked that I deserved a black belt for lasting/watching the whole thing. Well at least we've got a couple of years before she'll have to test again.

Next time I'll bring provisions.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Art Museum school trip

All the "artists of the month" at the girl's school were invited to go on a field trip to the local art museum to see their Impressionism exhibit before it closed.  And bonus, they were looking for chaperones! 

I made the cut.  And as you can see, the girl was thrilled.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Last Monday after getting the taxes in, I was so mad at the girl for forgetting to write down her school trip 2 hours away on the calendar because we had a rescheduled orthodontist appointment for one that she missed without canceling 24 hours in advance. Because of this school trip, we would miss this new appointment too and it was too late to call so they were probably going to charge me the $25 cancellation fee that the office forgave the last time.

Then later in the day, of course, the horrible Boston Marathon bombs.

Then Paul comes home, rushing in, "Please tell me the girl is riding my bike!" Of course she wasn't. I had left the garage door open when I got home earlier and at some point in the hours between that and Paul's return, someone swiftly rode (STOLE) his bike (that he riding to work, weather permitting) out of our garage.

Obviously our little events pale enormously to what happened in Boston, but the cumulative summary to me was that People Suck. In our little neighborhood, I wanted to believe that we're all good people, in the same boat, and leaving the garage door open during the day while I was home wasn't too much to ask for. I felt stupid and I could hear multiple voices give a sighed eyeroll to my naive trust. In this day and age, what did I expect after all?

Times that by a million for the community of the Boston Marathon. What should have been an event that reveres the human spirit and will achieving such a grueling athletic feat in a city celebrating Patriots Day became a nightmare. It's harder to think of clearer examples of innocent victims than those who died and were injured and maimed by these bombers.

What a bleak damn day.

Then I had heard about Patton Oswalt's Facebook post:

Boston. Fucking horrible.

I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, "Well, I've had it with humanity."

But I was wrong. I don't know what's going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.

But here's what I DO know. If it's one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we're lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they're pointed towards darkness.

But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We'd have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, "The good outnumber you, and we always will."
Needless to say, this post came at the right time.  "The good outnumber you, and we always will."  Such a reminder in the faith of humanity is just what I needed to hear.  And perhaps to drive the point home, when I told a friend about what happened to Paul's bike, she volunteered lending her mountain bike that she hadn't been using.  And the icing on the cake, was when I called the orthodontist office about missing the appointment because of a field trip, the woman laughed and said, "Is that just like kids? Let's just reschedule that..." without any mention of the cancellation fee.

I am so grateful for these breaks.  Maybe People don't suck after all.

Monday, April 15, 2013

I Hate Myself

Every year I vow that next year, NEXT YEAR! I will do our taxes before April. And here I am, AGAIN, working on them the night before they are due.

EDITED to add: Okay finished them and now I can't seem connect to pay to e-file my state taxes. I keep hitting Continue over and over but it's like the servers are busy. Are there are other people who might have waited for the last night to do their taxes too?

EDITED AGAIN: Finally able to e-file after midnight but got an e-mail this morning that my e-file was REJECTED. It turns out my e-file PIN was wrong. Corrected and re-e-filed. Got an e-mail that our Federal return was accepted. Just waiting to hear from the State. Fingers crossed...

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Weekend: The girl was busy

The girl had her last Quiz Bowl meet on Saturday as a middle schooler.  She was captain of Team B.  Unfortunately, due to some schools not showing up, they had high school teams compete against middle school teams, and well, none of her school's teams made the afternoon rounds.

More painful than that was how the kids struggled with pop culture that wasn't in the last 5 years.  When the question asked which actor was "in Bill & Ted's Big Adventure as well as all three of the Matrix movies directed by the Wachowski brothers", NO ONE buzzed in with Keanu Reeves.  And when another question asked what female trio lead by Diana Ross bumped the Beatles off the Billboard charts in 1966, a young man buzzed in, "The Spice Girls?"  I'm pretty sure every adult head in the room hit the desk at that one.

Overall, the girl did well and I was proud of her.  Though it did make me itch to play Trivial Pursuit again.

Later that evening, she met up with some friends at an Anime convention (called Nashi-Con) at the "formal" on Saturday night.  She had missed the Con during the day while she was at the Quiz Bowl meet but went the next day with friends.

Pretty sweet life the girl leads, right?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Flashback Friday: Max Capacity

With a bunch of friends having babies recently, I advised that while taking tons of baby pix are going to be second nature, be sure to take some pregnant pix too. I realized that I had very few taken--I was pregnant before digital cameras made picture taking so cheap and easy. And I realized I had even fewer good ones--a friend and I lamented how we were pregnant before maternity clothes became cute and affordable through Old Navy, Target, and H&M. I remember investing in a few work clothes from the Motherhood Maternity store, but otherwise mostly being in elastic pants and oversize shirts.

For what it's worth, these are probably my best pregnancy pix:

And of course, these were taken at a baby shower for me and my friend Joanne (who remained slim and only looked like she was stealing a basketball under her shirt) where I was pretty much at max capacity at over 190 pounds.  I managed to gain 20 pounds in my first trimester and 50 overall.  Yes, I definitely took that license to "eat for two".  And yes, I made that dress.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Bridesmaid Again: March Madness

Like my football pool, I came in second AGAIN. This time, the March Madness pool:

Sigh. Well, at least it was an exciting game tonight. Congrats Louisville!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Spring Break

The girl had spring break and it was very low-key and local, which still was fun for her.  There were sleepovers every other night, and I usually made some kind of treat like these chocolate chip cookies with marshmallows and cornflakes:

We also made a day trip to Congaree National Park, which is only about 30 minutes from us:

She brought some friends as well to enjoy the natural beauty:

And she kicked some bricks:

And we also watched some DVDs together, like "Hiroshima, Mon Amour", "True Adolescents", and "Albert Nobbs". It was nice having a mellow staycation with the girl at home--I loved it!