Sunday, November 26, 2006

I'm practically a celebrity...

I was walking out of Qdoba this afternoon, Queso Chicken Burrito in hand, when I heard someone call my name. I gave a only a half-hearted glance around, since I knew it most likely was not intended for me. I continued walking to my car, and someone called my name again. I looked in the direction of the sound, and saw this couple standing in the patio seating area of Qdoba. My mind raced, wondering who these people could possibly be. Someone I met through work? No. Through my knitting group? No. Someone from those game nights I used to go to? Nothing was ringing a bell. But I started walking over to them anyway, and the guy said, "You don't know us, but we follow your blog."

Holy cannoli, people!

Meet Kim and Chris from Massachusetts.

She initially found my blog by searching for a Trader Joe's in North Carolina, and then began reading all about our cross-country journey and my transition into Triangle life. She said that I became the face of NC for them, and I made it easier for them to move here! I don't think I could have gotten a higher compliment. I was so flattered--and flabbergasted! I mean, what are the chances that a) we would be in the same place at the same time, and b) that they would recognize me from photos on my blog?! I wish I could come up with something more eloquent, but all I can think of to say is, "How cool!!!"

We talked for about 20 minutes outside of Qdoba, about growth here, the weather (currently gorgeous), the job market, the housing market, etc. They live in Apex right now (Kim even said she thought of me when there was that big chemical explosion), and they're buying a house down in Holly Springs. During our conversation, they kept apologizing, I guess because they felt it would be kind of weird for me to talk to strangers who know so much about my life. But oddly, it wasn't weird at all. It was very fulfilling to meet poeple who actually found my blog helpful!

By the way, Trader Joe's opens tomorrow, and I'm going to be among the first in line. I've even told my boss I'll be in late. I drove by today and looked in the looks all ready to go!

~ ~ ~

Thanksgiving was lovely. I went to my parents' house where we had the traditional meal and fixings.

Even the dogs got in on the holiday feasting.

We gathered 'round the television at 9 and watched a wrenching Grey's Anatomy. What a big mess! And when you think about it, it all comes down to Izzie. She had no way of knowing that cutting an L-vad wire would have this kind of domino effect, but if it weren't for her attempt to save Denny last season, Burke would not have gotten shot, he and Cristina would not have become an undercover "team," George would not have been forced to call in an outside doctor to perform his dad's surgery, and everyone's relationships would be less strained. In an indirect way, Izzie is even responsible for putting the Chief in a position where he cannot save his marriage. If Burke had never been forced to cover a hand tremor, he would be chief of surgery, but now the current Chief has no one to leave his post to, so he'll have to stay on.

~ ~ ~

While Thanksgiving dinner was cooking, we browsed the Black Friday ads and formed our plan of attack. We decided that Circuit City was the best place to go, so the next morning we got up at 4:15 am (!) to grab our bargains. (This was my first time attempting to brave the early-morning crowds.) We didn't get to the store until after it opened, but we managed to snag some of the things on our list. (I can't say what, exactly, because they're Christmas gifts!) It was a madhouse, though. I couldn't help but laugh, it was so crowded and people were running around all confused about where to find the advertised deals. I wonder what it was like when the doors opened. Watch out!

I have to tell you about how we managed to get two of our bargains. One was a really popular item that sold out in the first couple minutes the store was open, but I happened to spy one locked up in a glass case. Score! The other item was also gone within minutes, but while my dad waited in the incredibly l-o-n-g line, my mom and I walked around looking at other stuff in the store. I came across a guy who had like 12 of this desirable item in his hand. I looked at him, looked at his stash, and was about to say, "You know, there's a limit of 6 per person," but before I could open my mouth, he asked, "How many do you want?" Score again! A few minutes later I found another one sitting on a random shelf, and I was tempted to take it for myself, but I had already gotten enough, so I walked up and down one of the long lines and held it up asking if anybody wanted it. It was snatched in a heartbeat!

When we finally got through the line at Circuit City, it was only a little after 6, so we went to breakfast at Perkins. I love going out to breakfast! It's such a rare treat. Then we went to Tuesday Morning, which was a total bust (unlike last year where both my parents and I found tons of cool toys for the kids). We went to Kohl's next, and although all of their superbargains were gone, we did find a couple of cute outfits for the kids. Once again my poor dad got stuck waiting in the long line. What a trooper! When we got to the front, a kind person gave us a 15% off coupon so we got an even better discount! We made stops at A.C. Moore and Bed, Bath, and Beyond, but didn't make any purchases there. Lastly we went to JCPenney, where we knocked out a whole bunch of other things on our list, just in time for the noon deadline for Doorbuster specials.

I think I'm going to save my money and next year try for one of the LCD or plasma TV's. By then I'll have Time Warner cable, so I can get HD channels, which will be sweet! The bargains this year were incredible. Thousand-dollar sets for 500 bucks!

~ ~ ~

While I'm here let me just post a few random shots that have been lying around for a while.

This'll be a great shot to show Cassidy when she gets her license 15 years from now:

This was outside my bedroom window a few weeks ago. He's going to town on that pinecone!

What, you can't see him? How about now?

~ ~ ~

Man, I can't wait for someone in town to stock the Canon G7.

I think it's going to be my next camera. It has 6x optical zoom (twice as much as my current camera), fully manual everything, and image stabilization (so you can take pictures in low light without a flash). It's about twice as thick and twice as heavy as my current camera, but the photos will be about ten times better. It's a good compromise between what I have and a ginormous SLR, which would take awesome pictures, but would be too big to lug around. You can only get it online right now, which stinks, because I want to see and handle it before I shell out all that cash. Wolf Camera (aka Ritz) said they would order one for me, and if I don't like it I can return it on the spot, but they'll charge my credit card in the meantime. I doubt the problem will be that I don't want'll be that I don't want to pay their full retail price when I can save over $120 and avoid sales tax by purchasing it online!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Today my coworker told me a story that could only be described as "Wow!" His wife's sister (let's call her Sharon) wasn't feeling well for quite some time. She went to the doctor, who discovered she had really high blood pressure. He prescribed a low sodium diet.

She did not feel better, so she went for a second opinion. This physician diagnosed her with pneumonia, but antibiotics did not make any difference.

Sharon went to a third doctor, who asked, "Have you ever taken a pregnancy test?" Can you guess where this is going? Lo and behold, Sharon discovered she was 31 weeks pregnant!

This doctor referred her for an ultrasound, and while that was being performed, Sharon had a seizure brought on by the sky-high blood pressure (which had, no doubt, been aggravated by the shocking news of impending motherhood). She was rushed to the hospital where she had a C-section...the very day she found out she was pregnant!

My first question was, of course, "How could she not know?!" Apparently, this woman's cycle remained normal. Really?! Well, if she says so. The second question was, "Didn't her appearance change?" Inexplicably, she gained only 4 pounds during her entire pregnancy!

You hear about this kind of thing on the news, but this time it was someone a friend of mine knows, so it's hard to be skeptical. But it is nonetheless very hard to wrap your mind around it. Imagine, one day you leave work, and the next day you have to call in sick and tell your boss, "I had a baby." No one would believe you! And just having your life change overnight like that--I mean, having a kid is huge, and usually you have nine months to mentally prepare for it. This woman had no time at all!

I guess it's just a reminder that your life can change drastically at the drop of a hat, and you never know what the future may hold.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Mint's got my back

The state quarter program is winding down. We only have two more years, and people like me were already beginning to wonder what life would be like without a reason to check our change. The U.S. Mint to the rescue! They just announced that they are starting a new series, the Presidential $1 coin program.

The Mint people are really going wild with this one, folks. The inscriptions "In God We Trust," "E Pluribus Unum," the issue year and the mint mark will appear on the edge.

You can check it out here. And the schedule for release is here. The first one will appear in January, a mere two months away!

The only problem with this is going to be finding them. The Mint is really itching to get the public used to $1 coins, because they are much more durable than $1 bills. But when was the last time you bought something and got any Sacagaweas or Susan B. Anthonys as change? Probably never, unless you got change from a post office stamp machine or a mass transit ticket machine. According to CNN, the problem with Sacagaweas was that the Mint did not make enough of them, and collectors like me stashed them away, so there was never an opportunity to become accustomed to using them. So hopefully the Mint will positively deluge the public with these new coins. If not, I'll have to make quarterly trips to the post office and pay for a book of stamps with a $20 bill just to get the change!

Sunday, November 19, 2006


I love, love, love this commercial.


These other ones are entertaining if you have five minutes to kill:
Honda #1
AK Bank
Honda #2

There's a bigger list on David Pogue's blog.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Books, books, and more books

I went to the Wake County Public Libraries annual book sale after work today. Holy cow, talk about a lot of books!

I suppose your average Borders contains just as many, but when they're spread out before you in a single layer on tables in a former Kmart, it looks like a zillion! After about 90 minutes I had to force myself to leave, because my two canvas bags were pulling my arms out of their sockets. But come on, paperbacks for a dollar?!

The travel section was my Achilles' heel--xix books on Walt Disney World alone! But I KNOW I will get there some day soon, and I will of course need to to tons of research beforehand. Yes, they may take up a lot of room on my bookshelf, but I got $90 worth of books for only six bucks. I couldn't pass it up! I also nabbed a few books on Savannah, Hilton Head, and the Bahamas for my upcoming trip, as well as "dream books" on Australia and London. Oh, and a couple on Washington, D.C., since I know I'll be going there for sure as well. I also found a couple of old Crock Pot cookbooks that I might be able to find a few good recipes in. And of course, a stack of chick lit, which I bought in the hopes of someday having a lunch hour again during which I can take a break and read. The obligatory Grisham novel, a cool British copy of Angels & Demons, the Civil War classic Killer Angels which I am ashamed to say as a history major I've never read (in my defense, it was never assigned, but still). A couple political tomes by Michael Moore and Al Franken (I might've picked up Ann Coulter's out of morbid curiosity if they had it in paperback, but I'll be darned if hers is the only book I'm forced to pay hardback prices for) and a few other assorted reads about the environment and such. Quite a haul for 40 bucks.

I could have spent at least another hour (and probably another $20) looking around but I didn't get home until quarter of nine as it was (which meant that my Crock Pot dinner had been stewing for over 12 was kinda mushy but not bad). I may go back on Sunday when the prices get ridiculously cheap--you can get a whole bag of books for $2. I guess people can get crazy about it, though. There were signs on the front door pointing out where the line started, and talking about how if you leave the line you lose your place. And there were signs taped up inside about not hoarding books you don't plan to buy. It must have been crazy when it opened at noon today!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

November 27 - Mark Your Calendars!!

Thanks to some detective work courtesy of my mom, we now know that the Cary location of Trader Joe's will open on Monday, November 27! I could just scream with delight!! Woo hoo! Come to mama! Can't wait to sink my teeth into TJ-exclusive Alaskan halibut rolls, gnocchi sorrentino, chicken lasagna, turkey meatloaf, couscous salad, black bean taquitos, and so much more. Not to mention the items that they have at half the price of other stores...Thai noodle soup bowls for 99 cents, risotto for two bucks, trail mix out the wazoo, oh, and how could I forget-----decent and affordable avocados!!!!!

Okay, so I started with the good news. The bad news for today is a two-fer. First, I got a speeding ticket. My first EVER. Granted, I've been driving for 15 years and I've always had a lead foot, so I totally had this coming, but it still sucks. (In case you're curious--81 in a 65.) Second, and completely unrelated, I took my car to get the tire patched (I'm a magnet for sharp metal objects) and they told me the nail's location made the tire irreparable, so I had to buy two new tires (lest I be struck with the dreaded "treadus unevenus"). And of course my car can't get by with the $50 kind, no, Ginny's a snob, and she requires special tires, something about a V91 rating, and the cheapest ones were $115 each! Boo hoo. So I spent a LOT of money on car-related things today. I don't know how much the ticket will cost because apparently I have to go to court in January, but I've heard you can pay a lawyer an obscene amount of money to take care of it for you and make it "go away." Which ends up being cheaper in the long run, because otherwise, on top of the fine, your insurance goes up. Poo.

But did I mention that Trader Joe's is opening a mere 5 miles from where I live in a mere 13 days? :-)

Oh, I drove seven hours today by the way, about 463 miles round trip. Did a one-hour training in a town called Mineral, VA. Nice setup with plasma screens and such. But everyone was so shy! They didn't want to record practice messages, or even receive a practice call. It was weird. But the system works fantastically now, the calls go through in a's quite impressive. However we have been getting complaints nonetheless. The answering machine detection technology was updated and it behaves slightly differently...I won't bore you with further explanation...just suffice it to say that we have first-hand experience with the old adage, "You cannot please everyone all of the time."

So I still keep thinking about that ticket and it's just weighing on me. So we need some more happy stuff to push it away. I don't believe I've mentioned here my plans for the second week of January. I'm going on a cruise to the Bahamas!!! Given the time of year, it was tres cheap, but it is going to be so much fun because my dear friend (hi, Nicole!!) is flying out, and we are road tripping down to Miami and back. Our stops will be Savannah and Hilton Head Island. And of course, there are our ports of call:

I can't wait!!

So let's recap:
Speeding ticket - bad
Trader Joe's opening 11/27 - good
Expensive tires - bad
Road trip and cruise to the Bahamas - good

Looks like the universe is in balance. Carry on.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Seriously, I'm not a Luddite

Can I just tell you how domestic I was this morning? I could not get over myself. I was frosting cupcakes, putting ingredients in a Crock Pot, and running the dishwasher at the same time! These may not sound like earth-shattering tasks to you, but they are rare for me. The occasion for cupcakes: a coworker's birthday. I made some last month for a different coworker, but these turned out so much better because a) I left them uncovered overnight, and b) I stirred the frosting before I tried to spread it (it helps to read the directions, folks.) Last time the cupcake tops were too moist and the frosting was too thick, and the result was a crumby frosting mess. This time, though, I felt like freakin' Martha Stewart!

Meanwhile I loaded corn, stewed tomatoes, kidney beans, chiles, taco seasoning, and ground turkey into the Crock Pot to stew up some tasty dinner for tonight. I really need to look for some good Crock Pot recipes. I underutilize that lovely contraption. I mean, it can't get much easier than that!

And last but certainly not least, the dishwasher. Every apartment I've ever had was equipped with an automatic dishwasher, but I've always been a hand-washer. The only explanation I have is that living alone, the quanitity of dirty dishes never justified using a dishwasher. And I always thought it was lame that you had to basically wash the dishes before loading them anyway. But lately I've been so busy, and uber lazy, so the dishes have just piled up. It occurred to me to try using the dishwasher to get caught up, and now I'm hooked! It is quite ironic, because I consider myself to be interested in all the latest gadgets, yet here I am just now catching on to something that's been around for decades! But it really is quite fabulous.

The other household item I've recently fallen in love with is the electric blanket. My apartment is not very warm unless I crank the heater way up, so it's usually pretty chilly in there during the winter. We had a cold snap recently, and despite wearing three layers, I was cold. You can imagine my glee when I slipped between the sheets and felt the cozy warmth envelop me. Again, been around for ages (and I even had one for a spell as a teen back in CA) but I'm just now hopping on the bandwagon.

I wonder what other ingenious products are out there that I've been clueless about?!

~ ~ ~

So I never went to Texas! The customer cancelled the training at the last minute. And by "last minute," I mean that if they called 45 minutes later, I'd have been at the airport already! Craziness. Our training director tried to convince them to go through with it, but to no avail. The superintendent decided they weren't ready for it yet, she waved her hand, and her will was done. They are going to have to pay a hefty rescheduling fee, because of course I'd already paid for my plane ticket and rental car, and the hotel is not refundable unless you give them 24 hours notice....I was giving them about 6. I was able to get most of the money back for the plane ticket, in the form of a credit at Air Tran, so that's good. Of course I will be reimbursed for everything, so if there had been any loss, it would have been the company's, not mine. There was about an hour of will-I-be-in-Texas tonight or won't I, and I was kind of ambivalent. If I go, cool, I get to touch the Gulf of Mexico. If I don't go, fine, I get to sleep in my own bed tonight.

Today it got to about 80 degrees here, which was quite nice. Meanwhile the leaves are falling off the trees like nobody's business. I sit in front of a window at work, looking out on the front parking lot, and several times the past few days when I've looked up, it's appeared to be raining leaves. Kinda cool. But the trees are becoming barren and that is so very, very bleak.

Lost comment: They built up to the "Fall Finale" as if it was going to be some spectacular thing, and it thus it was kind of disappointing. It's also a bummer that we have to wait until Feb for new episodes, but that's better than them running reruns the whole time, with a new episode thrown in just often enough that you are afraid to stop watching in case you miss it.

Grey's Anatomy comment: Last night's episode was about to veer into throw-your-hands-in-the-air territory when Mer was tempted by McSteamy, but thank GOD she chose Derek. My question, though, is "Now what?" The hero and heroine are together. That scene we saw at the end where they introduced themselves to each other would have made a perfect series finale. So it'll be interesting to see how the writers (hopefully) keep things interesting between these two.

P.S. Yes, the post time is correct; I'm writing this at work. Things were pretty quiet today since most schools had the day off for Veterans Day. Days like this make me miss being a teacher! (But then I quickly get over it!)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Glorious Fall

If I won the lottery, and I could afford a dozen houses all over the country and world, I would have one in North Carolina so I could visit in the fall. Autumn is the most spectacular time here. The weather has cooled off, the humidity is gone, and of course the leaves change color. The beauty of fall foliage is not a new topic on this blog, and you may be tiring of my endless photos of it. And I'll even admit that they're all starting to look rather similar. But I can't help snapping more because the sight it is just so amazing. I took these on the way to work the other morning:

~ ~ ~

Last weekend I went to the Pittsboro Street Fair again with my parents.

There was a caricature artist there and I'd always wanted to get one done. So my mom and I posed in the gusty wind while the lady sketched cartoon versions of us with our pets.

~ ~ ~

Sunday afternoon I had to drive to Asheville for a marathon training day on Monday. This was the second weekend in a row when my Sunday was not my own. :( At least the mountains were beautiful, of course, and it was not too cold yet.

~ ~ ~

I got a new cell phone a couple weeks ago, the Motorola 325. I chose it because the salesperson recommended it for its good reception quality. It did seem to work fine in my apartment (the same as, if not slightly better than, my previous model) but it did not work at all at my office. My boss sends out at least two or three test messages a day, and my phone just was not ringing. It would show three bars, then zero, then back to three again, then back to zero, all within 20 seconds. This was not acceptable to me, and thankfully Verizon has a 15-day satisfaction guarantee so I exchanged it for a Nokia 6315i. I really like it. It's not as bulky as the Motorola, and it has great reception. The sales rep said that contrary to what you'd think, sometimes a pure digital phone (like the Nokia) works better than a tri-band phone (like the Motorola).

~ ~ ~

My Weekend of Cleaning was quite productive. The apartment looks much better, and I feel better when I look at it. I finally got around to filing all my bills, etc., which I had not done since I moved in (yikes!) and I sorted through the piles and piles of mail that had accumulated over the past couple months. Ninety percent of it ended up in the recycle bin, but I did come across my Wake County voter card, which will come in handy on Tuesday. I have to vote before work, because I have a 2 pm flight to Houston. Yep, I'm goin' to Texas. Galveston, to be precise. It's on an island in the Gulf of Mexico, so it should be pretty.

Friday, November 03, 2006

I am, despite rumors, still alive

Sorry for the lack of posts. I will write something of substance soon, I promise. This weekend is all about cleaning up and cleaning out (even though it's not spring), but hopefully by Sunday I'll have a chance to put a few words and pics together and share them with y'all. In the meantime, have a great weekend!