Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Whetstone Coffee

Check out my bil's coffee business. His coffee is pretty awesome!
He also has a blog about all things coffee.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Thoughts of a Technocrat: Why a Cybersecurity Treaty Is a Pipe Dream

Thoughts of a Technocrat: Why a Cybersecurity Treaty Is a Pipe Dream

Mumford and Sons

I'm always on the look out for new music. I listen to my cloud player or my iPod just about all day/everyday at work.  I recently found Adele, Florence and the Machine, The Pistol Annies, and The Asteroids Galaxy Tour. I have totally been enjoying this album, it may be one of my new favorites.

My brother recommended 'The Cave' but I went ahead and downloaded the whole album. I'm glad I did. I bought it on Amazon and at the risk of sounding like a commerical I have to say their cloud player is pretty neat.
I've been doing some Christmas shopping (early!) and have made a pretty decent dent in my shopping so far. I love Amazon! Pseudo-commerical is now over.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Facebook security updates – how to make your account more secure

I think it's important to be aware of how things are changing on FB. ;)

Thoughts of a Technocrat: Linux 'Tsunami' Backdoor Ported to Target OS X Systems

Thoughts of a Technocrat: Linux 'Tsunami' Backdoor Ported to Target OS X Systems

My Life in Office Space

Recently a co-worker and I were just talking about the movie Office Space.  He made a joke about us having 3 bosses and I just had to laugh. His comment immediately made me think about this quote from the movie:
Peter Gibbons: The thing is, Bob, it's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't care.
Bob Porter: Don't... don't care?
Peter Gibbons: It's a problem of motivation, all right? Now if I work my ass off and Initech ships a few extra units, I don't see another dime, so where's the motivation? And here's something else, Bob: I have eight different bosses right now.
Bob Slydell: I beg your pardon?
Peter Gibbons: Eight bosses.
Bob Slydell: Eight?
Peter Gibbons: Eight, Bob. So that means that when I make a mistake, I have eight different people coming by to tell me about it. That's my only real motivation is not to be hassled, that and the fear of losing my job. But you know, Bob, that will only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired.

I think it's hilarous that Bob is absolutely astonished when Peter tells him he doesn't care. I wonder how many companies would react in the same situation.
At my current job I do not feel that I am living in this movie but at my last job I sure did. I had TPS reports (I kid you not), and I literally had 12 different managers. And truly... my only motivation was not to be hassled or to lose my job. As Peter says, that'll only make you work just hard enough. That's just sad.  By the time I left I was so disillusioned with my work place that I took all my personal business from them and wrote a scathing letter to the HR department on my exit interview form. The employees that are still there are miserable and I feel sorry for them.

I think it is incumbent on companies to make sure that their employees are satisfied.  I'm not going to say happy, because I firmly believe that a person's happiness is a choice we all make every day. But a company should be concerned with their employees.  Employees who feel job satisfaction worked harder and generally more efficient. Not to mention the loyalty factor. I mean really, which one would you rather have... an employee who is engaged and cares about their work or one who literally just shows up and couldn't care less? If employees feel valued most of them will work hard for you.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Wise debt management

I've heard my fair share of people say they are going to go debt free from now on. I at first thought that sounded good. But I have since changed my opinion of that, while too much debt is a bad thing, carrying a little debt is not. People with no payment history towards debt do not get as good interest rates as people who have proven they can wisely handle debt.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Since when did prom become such an expensive affair?
Why do teenagers need a limo to go to prom? The average American household spent $807 on prom this year? That is crazy, I think I spent maybe $200 to go to my prom 12 years ago.  Has inflation gotten that bad or has today's youth gotten an over inflated sense of entitlement?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Thank goodness I'm not the only one

I'm glad I'm not the only person who thinks that Ke$ha's music is bad. I've listened, and watched her on SNL. Not impressed. Then I started listening to the lyrics of her music that my 8 yr old step-daughter was singing. Dirty free for all?!?! WTH.

I have since banned that particular radio station from our house, but there really is no way that I can keep her from listening to this crap. I realize that I will have to sit down and talk with her about how this music represents a rather irresponsible "adult" lifestyle. And why "we" may like her music, this is NOT the right way to approach life.

Really looking forward to that talk.....

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Do you know where your Towel is?

Don't Panic!
It's Towel Day folks, are you carrying your towel?
What is Towel Day you say?

Towel Day is an annual celebration on the 25th of May, as a tribute to the late author Douglas Adams (1952-2001). On that day, fans around the universe proudly carry a towel in his honour.

#towelday is trending on Twitter and @towelday is posting.  Hey, I'm a geek in some ways and I'm proud of it. It warms my heart to see so many Douglas Adams fans out there! I have been a fan since I was young, playing the DOS based HHGTTG on the computer. I may have to see if I can download that game and play it tonight.  I enjoy his writing so much, it's fast pace, quirk always makes me laugh. Plus you can always find a quote from him that applies to just about any situation.....

~I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
~I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.
~I don't believe it. Prove it to me and I still won't believe it.
~A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
~It is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it... anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.
~Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.
~For a moment, nothing happened. Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen.
~He hoped and prayed that there wasn't an afterlife. Then he realized there was a contradiction involved here and merely hoped that there wasn't an afterlife.
~He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher... or, as his wife would have it, an idiot.
~Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.
~I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.
~I think fish is nice, but then I think that rain is wet, so who am I to judge?
~I'm spending a year dead for tax reasons.
~If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands.
~If somebody thinks they're a hedgehog, presumably you just give 'em a mirror and a few pictures of hedgehogs and tell them to sort it out for themselves.
~In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
~Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?
~It is a rare mind indeed that can render the hitherto non-existent blindingly obvious. The cry 'I could have thought of that' is a very popular and misleading one, for the fact is that they didn't, and a very significant and revealing fact it is too.
~The difficulty with this conversation is that it's very different from most of the ones I've had of late. Which, as I explained, have mostly been with trees.
~The Guide is definitive. Reality is frequently inaccurate.
~The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at and repair.
~The mere thought hadn't even begun to speculate about the merest possibility of crossing my mind.
~This must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
~Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.
~To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.
~We have normality. I repeat, we have normality. Anything you still can't cope with is therefore your own problem.
~You live and learn. At any rate, you live.

I highly recommend that you read Douglas Adams' work. He is a pretty cool frood after all....

    Friday, May 6, 2011

    Thoughts of a Technocrat: Photo of the Day - War Dog

    Thoughts of a Technocrat: Photo of the Day - War Dog

    10 commandments of reusable bags

    10 commandments of reusable bag use

    There's more to using reusable bags than just remembering to take them.

    By Robin Shreeves  

    I’m surprised that I’ve had so much to say about reusable bags lately. Really, it seems like I should just be able to say, “Reusable bags are good. Use them,” but it turns out there’s a bit more to the story.

    When I read all the comments on my post, How important is a nickel?, there were two that surprised me. I wasn’t surprised by people that had reasons — valid or not — for not using them. I’ve heard those reasons before. The comments that surprised me came from supermarket checkers.

    GoFaster58 had this to say:
    As a bagger for a large grocery store in Texas, all of the reuseable bags are the pits. They are hard to bag, they take longer to bag leading to longer lines and longer times at the checkout. People hand or throw them at the bagger. They're all wadded up inside one bag. They come in so many sizes it's difficult to use them. I've found them with dead bugs, live ants, used condoms, trash and even lost credit cards in them. If people only had respect for those of us who have to put up with their nastiness, it would help. The industry needs to use only one size and one type of bag. Bags the same size as paper bags and that fold out square like a paper bag would be preferred. People think they're doing the world a favor with their recyclable bags but they sure don't do me any favors. 
    Audrey added this information:
    As a cashier (of a large national grocery chain) I have a quota for how many items I scan per hour. The people who bring in their own bags drive my coworkers and I crazy ! It's time consuming ... people never bring as many reusable bags as they need, and when you tell them youre going to have to use plastic bags for the remaining groceries they freak out like you just killed a baby polar bear and they want you to remove the items and stack them back inside the reusable bag like a game of Tetris to "make it work." Get off your high horse people! Use the plastic bags if need be and bring them back for recycling! EVERY chain store offers plastic bag recycling. 
    Seems as if those of us who carry reusable bags need to follow a few rules of etiquette for our own good and to help the cashiers and baggers who fill our bags.

    I’ve created the 10 commandments of reusable bag use at the grocery store and elsewhere.

    1. Empty bags completely after use.
    2. Wash all bags regularly, after every use if necessary.
    3. Use bags that are easy for the cashier to fill.
    4. Place your reusable bags at the front of your grocery order on the conveyer belt so the cashier knows you have them and want them to be used. Don’t freak when the cashier starts putting your groceries in plastic bags if you haven’t let her know you have reusables.
    5. Separate all bags so the cashier can easily grab each one as needed.
    6. Open bags that fold up into themselves while you are waiting in line. Don’t make the cashier wait for you to open them or worse, make the cashier open them.
    7. Let the cashier know how you want your order handled if you don’t have enough reusable bags. Realize it’s your fault for not bringing enough and politely say something like “I’d like the remaining groceries to be put in paper bags, please.”
    8. Remember when you bring reusable bags that many cashiers see you as a representative of all environmentalists. Being on your “high horse” can turn people off wanting to do good.
    9. Show respect to your cashier by saying please and thank-you, helping to bag, smiling, and staying off your cell phone while she is waiting on you.
    10. Never put a used condom in your reusable bag.
    The opinions expressed by MNN Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of While we have reviewed their content to make sure it complies with our Terms and Conditions, MNN is not responsible for the accuracy of any of their information.

    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    Pasta Salad

    I've decided that I am going to make pasta salad for my contribution to the family Easter lunch. I don't normally like pasta salad, I find it's usually drowned in mayonnaise. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with mayo.... in the right proportions and on the right foods. Call me picky but I don't particularly want it on my pasta salad. Neither do I want a whole bottle of italian dressing dumped on there as well.

    I've found about 4 or 5 recipes that I need to choose from all of which are mayo-free. My pasta salad is going to be mayo-free. This works out pretty well since I've been assigned to bring the pasta salad to our pot-luck at work next week. So I can do a trial run of the pasta salad. Cool.

    I think I might adapt something from Michael Chiarello's recipe that I found on the Food Network's website.
    Tortellini Salad with Fresh Herb and Tomato Vinaigrette

    Recipe courtesy Michael Chiarello
    • 2 pounds packaged tortellini
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 1/4 cups
    • 4 cups freshly diced tomato
    • 4 tablespoons chopped tarragon leaves
    • 4 tablespoons chiffonade basil leaves
    • 2 tablespoons minced parsley leaves
    • 2 minced shallots
    • 6 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 1 1/2 pounds fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4-inch thick into approximately 30 slices
    • 4 cups fresh arugula
    • Gray salt
    • Freshly ground black pepper


    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the tortellini according to the package instructions. When fully cooked, drain and toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and allow to cool to room temperature.
    Meanwhile, in a nonreactive mixing bowl, combine the diced tomatoes, herbs, shallots, lemon juice, and remaining 1 1/4 cups olive oil. Mix to combine and season with gray salt and pepper to combine. When the tortellini have cooled to room temperature toss with the vinaigrette.
    To serve, line the perimeter of a large serving platter with overlapping slices of the mozzarella. Spoon the tortellini salad in the center and scatter the arugula leaves over the top.

    I did find another recipe that looks pretty good. It's an orzo salad from the Food Network (where else).

    Orzo Salad
    Recipe courtesy Mary Nolan
    Serves: 6 servings


    • 1 cup whole-wheat orzo pasta
    • 3 ears corn, shucked and kernels removed from cob (about 1 1/2 cups)
    • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    • 1 avocado, diced
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
    • 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley


    Bring a pot of generously salted water to a rapid boil. Add the orzo and cook according to package directions, adding the corn in the last minute of cooking, until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and transfer to a medium bowl. Set aside.
    Pour the lime juice over the avocado and coat evenly (this will minimize discoloration). Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, sugar, cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Drizzle over the orzo and add the avocado with lime juice, tomatoes, and parsley. Mix until combined and serve warm or at room temperature

    Eitherway, I'll post pictures of the one I choose and we'll see how it turns out. For now I have to go find lunch..... and darn it all I want pasta salad!

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    A Basic Human Right

    "Three-quarters of Americans agree that housing is a basic human right, and the Obama Administration says it supports the reduction of homelessness as a human rights obligation," said Eric Tars, Human Rights Program Director at the Law Center.
    Read the article here:

    A worthwhile cause....

    I posted yesterday about a guy I heard about through NPR's the story. And while I can do nothing to help him but pray I have decided to focus my efforts a little closer to home. I have found a local homeless shelter for children called City House. I am going to become a supporting member of City House and I urge you to do the same. If not at City House then some other homeless charity.
    Homeless prevention is something we can all support. In a country a great as ours it is sad to think that there are over 600,000 homeless people in the United States.  Homeless people are not all junkies, drug addicts, or mentally challenged.  A lot of times they are people who are just down on their luck and need a helping hand. The National Alliance to End Homelessness is a national organization (duh) that is dedicated to ending homelessness. Their website has a lot of information and ways that we can help. Check it out.

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    Crisis of conscience

    I'm having a crisis of conscience and I'm not sure what I can do if anything.
    I heard about this guy Chris and his blog on NPR's The Story. He is homeless. His story is from 09/21/10.
    He started a blog to chronicle his experience with homelessness. Here's a link to the podcast/story:
    and the blog:
    Here's my problem, I feel like I should do something. But what? I'm in Texas, he 's in Minnesota. Can't really take the guy to lunch. I'm strapped financially and can't really afford monetary support. I don't have a big online presence or impact.
    What to do? What to do? What to do?

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011


    I made up a new word today while talking to someone on the phone - logicalize.  Actually I said "logicalizing" but what the hey.
    At least I thought I made up a new word. According to the Urban Dictionary it means:

    To think logically; to use reasoning, usually in a desperate situation

    Here I am feeling all special and Urban Dictionary busts my bubble.  Does the Urban Dictionary count as an official dictionary? I guess that's like asking does Wikipedia count as an encyclopedia.

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    Wednesday, April 6, 2011

    Thoughts of a Technocrat: Mobile Apps Invading Your Privacy

    Thoughts of a Technocrat: Mobile Apps Invading Your Privacy


    Little known fact.... I am working on my MS in Information Assurance (Cybersecurity). I just defended my thesis about employee awareness of information security policies in the workplace.  So information security is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. That being said I would like to make known a campaign created by the DHS - Stop.Think.Connect.
    Stop.Think.Connect. is a national campaign aimed at informing people about security online.
    Stop. Think. Connect. is a national public awareness effort to guide the nation to a higher level of Internet safety by challenging the American public to be more vigilant about practicing good “cyber hygiene.” It will persuade Americans to see Internet safety as a shared responsibility—at home, in the workplace, and in our communities—and demonstrate that shared responsibility by bringing together a coalition of federal, state and local government, as well as private sector partners.
    Protecting yourself online is so so so important! Information security affects everyone.... including you.  Yeah.... you! So please stop in and check out the website for Stop.Think.Connect.  You will learn about safety online and what you can do to help pass the word on!
    I am attending a forum  on April 12th at my university and there will be a guest speaker from the STC campaign. I am looking forward to it. Let you know how it goes.

    Tuesday, March 29, 2011

    Idealistic Introspection

    Every now and then I go through a period where I need some self-discovery. I usually embark on this endevour by re-taking the Myers Briggs Personality Assessment.
    I find that by taking a look at my personality helps to ground my thoughts and help me find a little direction.  The last time I took the assessment I was an INFP. That surprised me because ever since highschool I’ve been an INTP. There are 16 different personality types according to Jung’s theory.

    Here’s a brief summary of an INFP (see below for the full description if you really want to): Quiet, reflective, and idealistic. Interested in serving humanity. Well-developed value system, which they strive to live in accordance with. Extremely loyal. Adaptable and laid-back unless a strongly-held value is threatened. Usually talented writers. Mentally quick, and able to see possibilities. Interested in understanding and helping people.

    Now I don’t really consider myself to be a talented writer I am quiet, reflective and idealistic. Reading about this helps me find a little clarity.  Maybe it just reaffirms that I do know who am I and that I haven’t lost sight of myself. It validates me. Idk. Whatever it is, it helps.
    At the moment I find myself in the difficult situation of needing to find a new job. It’s not immediate but in the next several months I will find myself out of the job. I’ve been looking into what career paths are a good fit for my personality type. Unfortunately all the possible career paths suggested for me (writer, counselor, teacher psychologist, psychiatrist, musician, clergy) are pretty much outside of my skill set. I have an undergrad in Finance, am about to have a MS in Information Assurance (cyber security) and I have experience as an underwriter.  

    So instead of looking at possible career paths I’ve decided to write out a list of ideal traits for a job for me. I’ve come up with a few so far:
    • Good benefits
    • Flexible work schedule
    • Able to telecommute occasionally
    • Does not require me to talk to people all day everyday
    • NOT customer service
    • Growth opportunities
    • Good work/life balance
    • Company values the employees
    • Good management
    • Accountability

    That’s about it so far. I don’t think that is something that is too hard to find. But does a potential employer really want to hear about how I don’t really like talking to people on the phone? Probably not. I take upwards of 20-30 calls a day and I cringe when I hear the phone ring I hate being interrupted while I’m trying to work.

    Of course this could also be be due to the fact that the people on the other end are usually combative, rude, and treat me as if I’m less than a person. That’s what you get for customer service I supposed. I reckon I’m just tired of the abuse, I’ve been doing this same type of job for 10 years now. Has it really been that long? Yikes.

    I imagine in the right circumstances being on the phone would not be bad, I’m just worn out from this job. So my company closing my office is sort of a good thing for me, it has given me the push I need to really start looking for a new job. Instead of passively looking like I have been.
    I know there is a job out there for me. I know it is a good one, one that I will find challenging and fulfilling. I just have to find it.

    The Idealist
    As an INFP, your primary mode of living is focused internally, where you deal with things according to how you feel about them, or how they fit into your personal value system. Your secondary mode is external, where you take things in primarily via your intuition.
    INFPs, more than other iNtuitive Feeling types, are focused on making the world a better place for people. Their primary goal is to find out their meaning in life. What is their purpose? How can they best serve humanity in their lives? They are idealists and perfectionists, who drive themselves hard in their quest for achieving the goals they have identified for themselves
    INFPs are highly intuitive about people. They rely heavily on their intuitions to guide them, and use their discoveries to constantly search for value in life. They are on a continuous mission to find the truth and meaning underlying things. Every encounter and every piece of knowledge gained gets sifted through the INFP's value system, and is evaluated to see if it has any potential to help the INFP define or refine their own path in life. The goal at the end of the path is always the same - the INFP is driven to help people and make the world a better place.
    Generally thoughtful and considerate, INFPs are good listeners and put people at ease. Although they may be reserved in expressing emotion, they have a very deep well of caring and are genuinely interested in understanding people. This sincerity is sensed by others, making the INFP a valued friend and confidante. An INFP can be quite warm with people he or she knows well.
    INFPs do not like conflict, and go to great lengths to avoid it. If they must face it, they will always approach it from the perspective of their feelings. In conflict situations, INFPs place little importance on who is right and who is wrong. They focus on the way that the conflict makes them feel, and indeed don't really care whether or not they're right. They don't want to feel badly. This trait sometimes makes them appear irrational and illogical in conflict situations. On the other hand, INFPs make very good mediators, and are typically good at solving other people's conflicts, because they intuitively understand people's perspectives and feelings, and genuinely want to help them.
    INFPs are flexible and laid-back, until one of their values is violated. In the face of their value system being threatened, INFPs can become aggressive defenders, fighting passionately for their cause. When an INFP has adopted a project or job which they're interested in, it usually becomes a "cause" for them. Although they are not detail-oriented individuals, they will cover every possible detail with determination and vigor when working for their "cause".
    When it comes to the mundane details of life maintenance, INFPs are typically completely unaware of such things. They might go for long periods without noticing a stain on the carpet, but carefully and meticulously brush a speck of dust off of their project booklet.
    INFPs do not like to deal with hard facts and logic. Their focus on their feelings and the Human Condition makes it difficult for them to deal with impersonal judgment. They don't understand or believe in the validity of impersonal judgment, which makes them naturally rather ineffective at using it. Most INFPs will avoid impersonal analysis, although some have developed this ability and are able to be quite logical. Under stress, it's not uncommon for INFPs to mis-use hard logic in the heat of anger, throwing out fact after (often inaccurate) fact in an emotional outburst.
    INFPs have very high standards and are perfectionists. Consequently, they are usually hard on themselves, and don't give themselves enough credit. INFPs may have problems working on a project in a group, because their standards are likely to be higher than other members' of the group. In group situations, they may have a "control" problem. The INFP needs to work on balancing their high ideals with the requirements of every day living. Without resolving this conflict, they will never be happy with themselves, and they may become confused and paralyzed about what to do with their lives.
    INFPs are usually talented writers. They may be awkard and uncomfortable with expressing themselves verbally, but have a wonderful ability to define and express what they're feeling on paper. INFPs also appear frequently in social service professions, such as counselling or teaching. They are at their best in situations where they're working towards the public good, and in which they don't need to use hard logic.
    INFPs who function in their well-developed sides can accomplish great and wonderful things, which they will rarely give themselves credit for. Some of the great, humanistic catalysts in the world have been INFPs.

    Me in a nutshell.... This is pretty accurate I think. Others who know me may disagree, idk.

    Friday, March 18, 2011

    Bueller...... Bueller......Nichole......Nichole......

    Yes, I've not posted for awhile. Mostly I've just been really, really busy. Classes, dog cancer stuff, maintaining my household, busy stuff.
    I'm sorry.
    I really am.
    I have felt so guilty about not posting I haven't even logged on to look at my blog. For shame!
    But the need has arisen, I want to make some more Asian inspired pork and the Butt Number recipe is on the blog....
    So Here goes.....Updates....
    Classes are very nearly finished for this semester. I am set to graduate in August. Yes! That being said I am defending my thesis on 03/26 and I'm mildly stressed as the paper is not finished yet. I also have a research paper due for by Business Ethics course that I haven't started yet.
    Dog cancer stuff - the dog has or had cancer. They aren't sure what kind they are thinking mast cell. They removed said cancer and they said he has a good chance of it NOT spreading and NOT coming back. So the pooch has been stuck in a cone for the last 3 weeks driving everyone crazy. But at least it was a good prognosis. So that's good.
    B/f has got a child custody thing going that is just a hot mess. I'm not going to get into details but cross your fingers that things go our way on 03/31.
    I can't really think of anything else at the moment. Hmmm seems like a lot has happened but now that I type it out it doesn't really seem to be that much.

    Here's a giggle for you. I love Get Fuzzy....

    Tuesday, January 25, 2011

    Spaghetti, wine, dominoes, and Chutes & Ladders

    Saturday was Poker night. That means that Jeff was not home for the evening.  I called up his sister and she came over, we had a girl's night of spaghetti, wine, playing dominoes, as well as Chutes and Ladders.  Well let me tell you, my Dad has this phrase he uses periodically; it's "Butt Numbers". Butt Numbers* are essentially numbers that are pulled out of nowhere, i.e. your butt.  My reason for explaining butt numbers is this..... I have created butt number cooking. I'm coining the phrase. Butt. Number. Cooking.

    This is generally how I cook.  I rarely measure anything, and I tend to add stuff willy-nilly. Essentially I pull the 'recipe' out of nowhere. I'm really just lazy if you really must know. I made spaghetti but didn't measure a dang thing.... If you haven't noticed already I tend to use approximations on my recipes, now you know why. Butt Number Cooking.  Of course I wouldn't be telling you about my Butt Number Cooking if it wasn't a success. More often than not I am successful in my cooking endeavors. I think the most important thing to cooking is to correct your seasoning as you go. That means taste it! All during your cooking process taste it and see if it needs salt, or pepper. Correct your seasoning! Of course I wouldn't recommend doing this while browning the meat......

    Anywho, the spaghetti turned out quite good.  Here's the psuedo recipe:

    about 1lb ground beef
    1 smallish-mediumish onion, diced
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 can cento peeled plum tomatoes
    1 small can tomato paste
    1/4 white wine (you could prob use red if you prefer)
    1 pkg mushrooms - I think that's 8oz?
    a pinch of sugar (to reduce acidity)
    chili powder

    Brown the beef, add onions garlic, and mushrooms, spoon off the fat (if you do that sort of thing). Toss in some oregano, the paste, and the plum tomatoes.  Crush the tomatoes with your spoon. About this time I tasted the sauce and it mostly tasted like tomatoes, which is fine if that's what you like but I wanted more than just tomato flavor. So while I was dicing veggies for my salad, I tossed in about 1/2 of a bell pepper, some parsley I found in the fridge and probably 1/2 of a stalk of celery (diced of course).  More pepper, more oregano, and some water. Oh and don't forget the wine. Then I put the lid on and let it simmer for about an hour. Don't forget the bay leaf like I did. Boil your pasta of choice (I chose spaghetti, duh) once the pasta is al dente toss it with the sauce (add a little pasta water if it is still thick). Serve and enjoy.

    *On a side note if you google Butt numbers there is no site that directly defines butt numbers. I thought for sure there would be a definition on urban dictionary or something. Interesting. I shall have to rectify this at some point.

    Monday, January 24, 2011

    Little less of a dilemma but still a dilemma nonetheless

    So results from the bloodwork, x-rays, and all that is positive. The Vet thinks that Bo does not have mast cell cancer, because it has not spread at all. That's is good. They still have to do surgery.... that is bad. Poor dog is going to have to wear a cone for 10 day to keep him from licking the affected area (his weiner). Yes, I just said weiner.  The worrisome part is the surgery is going to cost $600. Yikes! I don't exactly have $600 lying around to donate to the vet. I'll have to find the money somewhere, the Vet said in order to keep the cancer from spreading they need to do the surgery ASAP.  So you know.... no pressure. I've got some jewelry that I'm trying to sell, we'll see how much that amounts too.

    Anyone willing to donate some dollars to my surgery fund? I need 600 of 'em........No? Lol that's ok, just thought I'd ask.

    Thursday, January 20, 2011

    A dilemma

    I have a dilemma (more like a difficult weighty decision) and I’m finding it hard to deal with. My dog Bo, has cancer. The vet called it mast cell cancer.  From what I've read his chances are middle of the road based on where the cancer is located. So we are taking him to the vet tomorrow to have blood-work and x-rays done.  My understanding is that from this they will be able to tell if surgery will cure his cancer or if he will need further treatment. The vet mentioned chemo/radiation.
    My problem is two-fold: 1) this is going to be expensive ($1,000 for surgery) and I don’t exactly have a couple grand lying around that I can fork over for this and 2) is it right to subject a dog to chemo/radiation?

    I’m willing to find a way to make this happen but unless this surgery is a cure I’m not sure that I want to it.  A dog isn’t going to understand that chemo and/or radiation will help him, what will his quality of life be?  Dogs live in the moment (thanks dog whisperer!) and all he will know is the pain that is chemo.  Not to mention the cost factor of chemo, the vet said it would be very pricey.

    So I will be waiting to hear from the vet to see if surgery will be a cure or not.  From there I guess we shall see….

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    Why I hate Orchard Bank

    I hate Orchard Bank. I will never do business with them again.
    To make a really long story shorter, I got a credit card with them in 2003. Everything was hunky dory until they jacked up my interest rate to 29% without informing me of it first. I had 3 credit cards at the time and all 3 went up to 29%. Can you guess when that was? Yep, during the bank failing crap of 2008/2009. So my manageable minimum payments skyrockted, previously I was making double the minimum payment in order to pay down my balance.

    I then found myself in the situation that many people have been in; I could not pay all of my bills AND pay my credit cards. Yes I realize this is my fault, and they are under no obligation to help me, but it would be in their best interests if they did.  I considered several options, CCCS, just not paying them, and getting a loan to pay off the cards. I firmly believe in paying my debts so after trying to pay the cards for a few months, and failing I got a loan to pay off almost all of my cards. I closed all but one - Orchard. I had had the card the longest of the 3 and that was the account I wanted to keep open.

    So I kept making payments, and did ok for a few more months but *stuff* happened (as it is apt to do) and I got into a situation where I was again having a problem paying the bill. I called Orchard and they told me they could drop my rate to 9.0%! Happy day! Oh but wait, they would be closing my account. Wait! What? So in order to get any help from them they were going to close my account. Ok, I can deal with that. It's the best option I have.

    Then they said it would only be on 9.0% for 6 months. Ummmm this deal isn't sounding as good as it first did. I still agreed to it there was no way I was going to be able to pay off the balance in 6 months.  They assured me I could extend this "Hardship" program for another 6 months when the first 6 months expired. "Ok", I thought, "I can handle that." And I did. I paid, much more than the minimum due each month. All during this time they called me, the e-mailed me, they snail mailed me advertisements to open up ANOTHER card with them. Wow.

    So the 6 months expired on 01/01/11 and guess what, when I called to extend the "Hardship" program they said no. I in turn said, if you do not extend this you will not get another red cent from me. The rep informed me that I could call a credit counseling service. Clearly we were not communicating on the same plane. I then told her that I find it fascinating that they would rather get NO money from me than to lower the interest and get a little LESS money. She continued babbling about credit counseling. I hung up.

    This is just one instance of why I hate the EPIC fail that is Orchard Bank. I could go on but why? Needless to say I will be calling their executive customer service line which is 1-888-890-4204 to complain about this. Although I doubt it will do any good.

    Monday, January 10, 2011

    Pot Roast Stew

    It snowed yesterday so it was a perfect weather for comfort food. I made macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, spaghetti casserole, and stew last night. The stew and mashed potatoes were dinner, the rest was for later in the week and for lunch.  The stew recipe is something I made up on the fly (it was inspired by Jeff), it turned out pretty good, we ate it served over the mashed potatoes instead of me putting potatoes in the stew. Here's the recipe:

    Nic's Pot Roast Stew
    2 T butter
    1-2 T oil (I used canola)
    4 medium carrots, diced
    2-3 stalks celery, diced
    1/2 an onion, diced
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    3-4 T flour
    3-4 C french onion soup (or cooked both from a 4-5lb pot roast) with the fat skimmed off
    1-2 lbs of left over pot roast
    bay leaf
    salt and pepper

    Combine butter and oil over med-low heat in a dutch oven.  Sweat onion, carrots, celery, and garlic 5-7 minutes or until veggies are soft.  Add the flour and stir for 3-4 minutes.  Then add soup/broth, bay leaf, and oregano bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat, add the meat and set on a low simmer for 30 mins. You may want to skim off any fat/grease that rises to the top.  Add the peas and serve over mashed potatoes once the peas are hot.

    Here's what I do to maximize the food that I have bought. I make French onion soup (Julia Child's recipe) eat that for dinner, use the left over soup to cook the pot roast either in the oven or in the crock pot. Eat the pot roast for dinner and then use the sauce/soup concoction and make stew with the left over pot roast. That way I have 3 meals (and then some). It makes me feel like I'm being thrifty.

    The mac and cheese recipe is what my Mom used to make all the time, serves about 4-6 people as a side dish. While it uses velveeta I'm OK with that, I am not one to turn my nose up at processed cheese.... it melts soooo well and is easy to use. I justify this by not using it that frequently.

    Mom's Mac 'n Cheese

    2 C cooked elbow pasta
    2-4 T butter
    1/2 onion diced, sauteed in a little butter
    3-4 T flour
    velveeta - I never measure best guess would be about 1 1/2 C cubed
    3-4 C milk

    Grease 2 qt. casserole, add pasta, onion, and butter, toss to coat. Add velveeta, stir, add flour, stir. Pour in milk, until all is covered but not swimming. I microwave the milk for a few minutes just to preheat. Add pepper and a dash of nutmeg. Bake at 350 for 45 min- 1 hr (or until top is brown and edges are bubbly you don't want it soupy). Enjoy!

    The spaghetti casserole has been a favorite of my families since I was a kid. I have no idea where my Mom got it, I've adapted it a bit to suit my tastes.

    Spaghetti Casserole

    1lb ground beef
    1 garlic clove, diced
    1 onion, diced
    1 can cream of mushroom soup
    1 can tomato soup
    1/2 bell pepper, diced
    1 can diced mushrooms
    1 lb. spaghetti, cooked
    shredded cheddar cheese

    In a large dutch oven brown ground beef with onions, bell pepper, and garlic. Drain off fat, combine with soups and mushrooms. Add in spaghetti, toss well to combine, top with cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, until hot and cheese is melted.

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011

    My Kindle

    I got a Kindle for Christmas from Jeff and I love it! I take it everywhere with me.  I wasn't sure how I would feel about it, even though I did specifically request it. My kindle is so light and portable. I love that I can carry around an almost unlimited number of books with me. I was always slogging around books with me and some of them were prettty big/heavy. So this is nice. I've also managed to find a cache of free books from amazon and another website. I currently have 26 books on my kindle and I think I've paid for about 8 of them. Sweet!
    Currently I am reading a book called Doan & Carstairs Mysteries, Book Two: The Mouse in the Mountain  (the delightful mystery classic!). That last part makes me laugh.
    I read the first book, which is more like a short story; and I really enjoyed it. This series was written in the 1940's by a guy named Norbert Davis here is a brief history. Davis wrote a lot of short stories, however; not a lot of his work is available in print anymore. His characters make me laugh out loud with their comments and the way they behave.  So far the books have been a quick read and I've enjoyed them. For $0.99, it's a good deal, I plan on buying the other 2 or 3 novels that are available.

    Doan & Carstairs Mysteries, Book Two: The Mouse in the Mountain (The delightful mystery classic!)

    Monday, January 3, 2011

    New year.... not so new stuff

    We spent New Year's Eve on my parent's couch watching a movie. The purest example of Excitement we may not be... but I can honestly say I do NOT miss the subsequent New Year's Day hangover one bit. We had a nice brunch at Another Broken Egg. I have a new mission.... to recreate the fabulous chicken and andouille sausage cream soup they served. More on that later.

    On another note. I do not make resolutions, I look at it as just one more way to not meet a goal that I set for myself. The probelm with these resolutions? They are invariably ridiculously hard to obtain and eventually they leave you feeling down-trodden and left behind in the dust of another raucous New Year's optimistic high. How long that takes is a case-by-case basis, but I find by March my desire to adhere to my resolutions is by the wayside.

    So NO I will not adhere to the demands of the New Year's Baby, or fall to the populous and put forth yet another resolution to be more healthy, to lose weight, to stop using my phone so much, or to love myself and my family more (I love them plenty and even more each day). I will not bow to the pressure!
    I am starting my own tradition of being waveringly certain that I am OK! the way I am. No drastic changes needed here.