Working The Polls

The Florida primary election is today, and I’ve got a job to do! This time I’m an EVID operator – the person who checks your ID as you come in to vote. It’s all computerized with a card swiper and electronic signature pad. Our county has a really great Office of Elections… they do good training and produce expert instructions that are easy to follow, so hopefully we’ll be prepared for any event tomorrow. The lady I’m working with is really nice and has done this before, so we should be good to go!

I already voted… not that it counts for the Presidential preference or anything, but I still feel compelled to exercise my right to vote. And we also have a proposition, an amendment to reduce taxes. It sounds crazy but I voted No, because our state is facing a huge budget shortfall and reducing taxes isn’t going to help. There are better ways to fix the problem – I can’t understand why every politician is all about cutting taxes at a time when our country isn’t doing very well financially. But that’s another topic for another day. Hope you vote in the primaries!!

Our Jester is So Very Entertaining!

When we lived in Columbia, South Carolina, Trav made friends with a feral cat, and eventually she came inside to live with us, along with two of her kids. Jester is the coolest kitty… lots of personality… she talks to us and just generally loves to be near us. We joke that Trav is her bed at night andΒ  sheΒ  does this thing called “Dad surfing” where she stays on top of him as he turns over in bed. It’s amazing to watch, she’s so good at it. πŸ™‚

Here’s a picture of her laying on top of Trav’s monitor – one of her favorite places to be:

Jester on Trav’s Monitor

Happy Birthday, Trav!!!

Trav got Babylon 5Today is the day the love of my life was born, back in ’71. This year the cake of choice is Devil’s Food White-Out Cake – thanks for that recipe, Mom! And he got a really good present this year… the entire series of Babylon 5, purchased on eBay from a delightful seller (and my first buy on there). Doesn’t he look happy?!! πŸ™‚ πŸ˜€ πŸ™‚

Best wishes, my love, for a wonderful day.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Guess where the world’s largest landfill is…? If you said the Pacific Ocean, you would be right. Apparently there’s an area twice the size of Texas that’s filled with trash – mostly plastic. It’s a terrible, huge problem, killing more than 1 million birds and other sea creatures every year, because they eat it, get stuck in it, or feed it to their babies. And because of the way plastic degrades, it’s pretty much impossible to clean it up.

Most of it comes from land, either washed in via storm drains or blown in by the wind. Once the trash enters the water, it’s carried by currents and wind into the patch, where it can drift for many, many years before being eaten, sinking or washing up on the beach.

Here are a couple of places with more information, from HowStuffWorks and a personal account by Charles Moore. It’s rather frightening, and I keep wondering what I can do to help clean up this mess. Maybe that will be my next job?

I’m So Lucky

Here’s what I found on my desk when I got up this morning:

Sweetheart Sweet Tarts

SweetTart Sweethearts, yum! Even after 14 years, Trav still leaves candy for me – how romantic!! I’m very, very lucky and grateful to have Trav in my life.

Understanding People

Scott Young is one of my favorite bloggers – I often find his writing insightful and useful. Here’s a very good article about basic ways people act…

The Critical 7 Rules to Understand People

I’ve been trying for a long time to overcome selfishness and being self-centered, with some success, I think. It’s a wonderful thing to take an interest in others, ask questions, and really listen to the responses. Even if it’s just another shopper at the deli counter who has a recommendation for frozen lasagna (Marie Callendar’s).

And on a related note, here’s another article from Scott about humility. Being humble can open you up to so many new and different things, because you can admit you don’t know it all and can learn something from anyone you meet.

YayyyYYYaAAYyyyy!

Last night’s debut of American Idol was awesome. I’m sooo glad it’s back on!! They’ve got some great talent already, and also the very most pitiful rejection EVER on the show… this adorable 16 year-old girl auditioned and wasn’t very good but she had a whole sad story of her mother being sick, and when they told her no (in the nicest way), she screwed up her face into the most pitiful pout I’ve seen. Sadder than a pound puppy. She almost made me cry, too!

I’m trying to decide if I should watch it tonight… or ration it out over the next few days… hmmmmmm!

Oh and on a totally unrelated note… check out this video of an unusual friendship.

Exploring PHCC Campus

Today while Bleys was at school, I wandered around campus taking pictures. I wanted to be able to identify the different kinds of turtles in the pond there. When I peeked over the railing, here’s what I found!!

Alligator

He’s a little alligator, maybe three feet long. He was swimming around with the turtles and when the turtles would push him around, he snapped at them. I look forward to seeing him when I go there. I accompany Bleys because he still has only his permit – hopefully he’ll get his license soon!

Today’s trip netted two new marks in the wildlife book – I saw a small flock of female Hooded Mergansers and identified four different kinds of turtles in the pond, only one of which was in the book and hadn’t been marked before… Florida Soft-shelled Turtle, Florida Red-Bellied Turtle (new), Peninsula Cooter, and Red-Eared Slider (new but not in the book). I also found a really cool document that helps you identify water turtles based on head shape and markings (pdf).

Skull Gate

A while back we went down to St. Petersburg and visited Haslam’s Book Store, where I bought a big stack of 10-cent books. One of them is called “Skull Gate” by Robin W. Bailey, and it’s really good so far – I’m about halfway through in just a few days. The problem was, they put a big X on the cover with marker, and it was coming off on my fingertips. Luckily Trav knew just how to solve it… with a bit of rubbing alcohol it came right off. Thanks, dear!

I definitely want to keep this book to read again. It’s about a female mercenary in a magical world where she has to save the princess, and dark enough to make you wonder if the princess will survive or not. We shall see.

First Weekly Menu of the Year!

Wow, this week is filled with soup because it’s been really, really cold. We had a hard freeze last night – it got down to 27 degrees. I hope our lone pineapple is OK! I haven’t looked yet because everything will be covered until tomorrow, when it starts to warm back up again.

Anyways, here’s our list for the week:

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2008! Along with the new year comes a new design for our web site…

WebSiteCleanup.com

The redesign has been in the works for quite some time, and since I told my brother it would be up by the end of the year, it is! And thanks for the suggestions – I know they’ll make a difference. Feel free to leave comments here or there…. I’m happy to get feedback!

I’ve made just a couple of resolutions this year… the keep the house cleaner (by doing lots more little cleanups) and to get back on an exercise program. We do take a walk every morning with Sadie, but I need some resistance training added to the works… apparently that can make a big difference in your health, especially guarding against osteoporosis. Now that I’m done stuffing my face with all of the delicious holiday cookies, candy and pie, I’m ready to make improvements. How about you – any resolutions for 2008?

My Next Job

Maybe my next job will be to make and sell stepping stones. There are so many interesting designs! One of my favorites is the sand dollar. Wouldn’t those be cool to have in the yard of your beach house? Oh, I suppose I’ll need one of those, too… to go with the stepping stones.Β  Except, if I have a beach house, I don’t know how I could ever get any work done, at least for the first few years of liiving there. I would sure like to try, though! πŸ˜€

Wish You Were Here

Trav found this really cool program for me – it’s called TuxGuitar. You can load in a guitar tab and it will play the song and show exactly where your fingers go, what strings to pluck and the music, all at once. Way cool! I found and downloaded the tab for one of my favorite songs of all time – Wish You Were Here, by Pink Floyd. It’s the first song I’m going to learn on my guitar!! Perhaps when I learn it, I’ll post a video, bad singing and all. :>

Park Cleanup

Today, with my nifty new grabby thing, we got to pick up a whole grocery bag’s worth of trash from our walking route in the park! I was thrilled. What a great way to directly help the environment. Thanks, Bleys, for the gift! And thanks, eagle-eye Trav, for spotting the trash, helping to pick up and showing me how to use it better. I’ve never been so happy picking up trash!! πŸ˜€

Merry Christmas!!

What a wonderful day. We went over to Gramma’s house and ate waaaaaay too much delicious food and shared good company. This was the year of the kitchen gadget for my family, and the year of the tie-dye t-shirt for Trav’s family and our friends. Hopefully everybody enjoyed their gifts as much as we enjoyed ours!! Right now we’re listening to Trav’s collection of John Volby and other assorted funny Christmas songs.

I took lots of pictures today, too. Here’s a self-portrait… it turns out I love the camera so much I have a hard time giving it up, so I don’t get to be in many pictures. I think I can learn to take more like this one, but with me and whoever else in it.

Emmy Christmas 2007 Self-Portrait

Oh, and did anybody notice… I put the wrong freakin’ year in all but one of the Christmas cards I did this year. For some reason, I’ve been in a time warp for the last few months, putting 2008 on everything. I guess that’ll work out well pretty soon – I’m used to the new year already! πŸ™‚

Lamburgers and Curried Rice

MmmMmMMMMMmm!! Last night we had the Spicy Lamburgers and they were delicious. We all agreed to rate it a 5 on Allrecipes, because we would be satisfied if we got it in a restaurant. And for breakfast this morning, we had Curried Rice Pilaf, and everybody liked it! Definitely a keeper recipe to go into the book. Thanks, Mom!

Oh and speaking of restaurants… it turns out Taco Bell is not intended to be Mexican food (like we all didn’t know that already, hah!).

Weekly Menu – 12/18/07

We have at least one new recipe to try out this week… yummy! Plus I’ll be making the macaroons for a treat.

  • Lamburgers
  • Steak Marsala
  • Skillet Lasagna Florentine
  • Pizza with Pepperoni, Mushrooms and Onion
  • Japanese Stir Fry
  • Mixed Greens Salad with Italian Herb-Crusted Chicken
  • Chicken & Shrimp Fried Rice

Cherry Almond Macaroons

Mmmmmmm, I found what looks like a really good cookie in Aunt Susie’s “Cooky” recipe book (I think my parents have this book, too). Hopefully I can try them soon. Of course, it being so close to Christmas, we have a ton of treats in the house. But these don’t have any flour in them and almonds are good for you. Plus I’ll use either fresh or dried cherries with no added sugar. The recipe calls for blanched almonds but I’m not going to do that because the skin is good for you and nobody but me really cares about how the cookie looks, as long as it tastes good! Here’s the recipe:

Cherry Almond Macaroons

5 oz. slivered almonds (blanched, if preferred; about 1 1/4 cups)
3/4 C. sugar
3 egg whites
1/4 C. chopped maraschino cherries (or fresh or dried?)

Grind dry, crisp almonds through finest blade of food grinder/processor. Mix nuts, sugar and egg whites in sauce pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 8-10 minutes or until a path stays clean when spoon is drawn through. Remove from heat, stir in cherries. Drop level teaspoonsful of dough on 2 greased and lightly floured baking sheets. Let stand at room temperature until cool (this insures rounded macaroons).

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Bake about 20 minutes or until delicately golden on exterior but soft and moist inside. Remove from sheets immediately. Makes 2 dozen.