Friday, October 28, 2011

Walmart might have over-reached

So my coolant light came on in my 2008 VW Beetle. Turns out that I am in charge of my vehicle's maintenance. And I'd been thinking my husband was handling it. 
When he said, "You're supposed to get your oil changed regularly", I replied, "I thought you took care of that? I've always bragged about how wonderful you are for taking care of those things"

Didn't work. I'm in charge. I'm supposed to read some little sticker in the upper corner of my windshield. Fortunately, the little plastic sticker proved I was only 34 miles passed my due date.

"Tires, too?", I squeaked since I've had a low pressure light come on several times over the past 8 months.

"Just putting air in them. You are NOT in charge of replacing tires - you wouldn't get the right kind", he replied.

Needless to say, my husband will have lots of time to watch sports this weekend - it's not like he and I will be sharing any...quality time.

So, I thought, the most economical way (money and time) to get this darn oil change/fluid top-off would be to combine it with my $5 Friday grocery shopping trip. Fortunately for me, there is a Walmart next to the grocery store. The fella there (who I suspect has maybe played too many contact sports), was fuzzy on details. Every time I mentioned the coolant light, he said they would top off wiper fluid. 

So he tapped, tapped, tapped on a little handheld device that looks like those old brick cell phones (that's where they went!), and got my name wrong. Kathy turned into GABA. I can see how that would happen. Similar sound and, frankly, GABA is a much more common name.

Sign here, he said. I said, did you write down coolant fluid? And suddenly, he remembered that they are not allowed to touch coolant fluid or brake fluid. Well, I still needed the oil changed so I autographed his brick phone and went shopping.

That's when things went downhill. I swear, whenever a person is harboring unfair resentment toward their spouse, bad things happen.

After the 1 hour, I tried to wheel my little shopping cart from the grocery store to the Walmart auto location. My little cart had some kind of Lo-Jack!! It locked a wheel about 50 yards from my destination and no amount of kicking got it going again. So I had to fetch a Walmart cart and transfer all my $5 treasures (strawberry topped cheesecake!).

At Walmart, I had to wait 20 minutes behind a woman who wanted proof that she (well, her car) had received the super premium oil as stated on her bill. I totally understand that. I don't understand how there is only 1 register and - despite super-premium woman's request - they could not suspend her transaction and let me go ahead. (She might be my new and best imaginary friend yet).

After satisfying super-premium woman, it was my turn. I waited several minutes while the cashier tried to scan my repair order before telling me: it won't ring up because they cancelled your order.

They didn't change my oil? I asked

"No, GABA, they didn't", the cashier told me. "They say your canister housing can't be loosened".

So, I had waited over 20 minutes just to get my keys back. They hadn't called my cell (after collecting the number upon check-in), they spelled my name wrong, and as I looked over the repair order with the prominent CANCELLED covering most of it, I found that they had spelled canister incorrectly.

I don't really believe that correctly spelling canister would've assisted in loosening it, but this GABA is never trusting Walmart with anything automotive again.

Five Dollar Friday and Breast Cancer

Today is $5 Friday at my local grocery store. This is also Breast Cancer Awareness month. Or next month is - I am never sure if we're operating on the magazine schedule or not. You know, how magazines publish the December issue in October? Which, by the way, will prove the world won't end on 12/31/11 if Family Circle releases a January 2012 issue (unless of course all the pages are blank).

Last year, the check out clerks were flummoxed by my attempts to make donations that rounded up my total charge. This year they are trained to offer that. It is fun to watch some of them try to do the math without using their iPhone calculator.

But, it does get some so flustered that one young man asked me: would you like to add, um, 18 cents to your total to, um, support Breast Cancer?

I indignantly refused and asked him, in what universe, did he think we'd actually choose to give money to support a cancer when so many others were donating to support a CURE?

I hope I get that checker again. I'd like to think that both his math and verbal skills may have improved. 

If not, I may start a donations drive for his education.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Just In Case

We were eating lunch in a little strip mall deli, seated next to the wall as the place was pretty crowded. My husband had captured the sports section of the newspaper (score!) and was reading about the sports events he had already watched after listening to the 24 hours sports radio channel talk about the events before, during and after they happened.

My point is, he was very engrossed in reading. As usual, I was idly looking around, wishing there was a gift shop, making (silent) snide remarks about some of the other customers' attire when I looked out the front window.

A black car had pulled up and the guy driving was reaching all around with his door half open. I noticed he was donning a Santa beard, sticking a corn-cob pipe in his mouth and grasping a half empty bottle of whiskey.

Hmm, I thought. That seems a bit odd. He exited his car and I noticed he wasn't wearing a shirt, hadn't closed his Santa jacket and the jacket had Playboy written on the back.

That's weird, I said to my husband. Whmp? he mumbled. I described what I was seeing. Hmmph, he said. Oh good, he's not coming in here, I said.

But within a minute or two, the guy was back at his car looking very angry. I activated the camera function on my phone and lined up my shot. What are you doing?, hubby asked.

Well, he seems pissed and he's right in front of this big plate glass window getting into his car and I thought I should take a picture in case he crashes through. That way the cops will have his license plate#.

Hmmph, hubby said.

Oh, don't worry, I told him. Where we're sitting should be ok. I think the car will miss us and we're kinda far back for any flying glass.

This is the sort of conversation we often have/don't have (depending on which of the two participants/non-participants you query).

The good news is the guy just pulled out of the spot and drove away. The bad news? Well, my husband's sports-induced deafness apparently doesn't cover the people sitting slightly behind us and in the center of the room (or ground zero as I had called it). They seemed to lose their appetite and glared at me as they hastily left.

See what happens when you eavesdrop?

Here's my photo in case the guy hunts me down:

Coffee Leather

You can purchase 100% fruit roll-ups (or even make your own). Sometimes it is called fruit leather. Now, you can really pack some nutrition in with varieties that include pureed vegetables and still mostly taste like fruit.

But why has no one invented coffee leather? I would buy it!
Imagine a coffee bar that tastes like good, strong coffee without icky sweeteners. I've looked up coffee jello, coffee jerky, coffee paste, coffee leather... all with no luck.

If you have any ideas on how to make a coffee bar/leather/roll-up/jerky, please let me know.

What's for Breakfast?

I'll tell you what is not for breakfast: vegetables. 

Notice that I managed to use a colon correctly, I think.  I really like vegetables and I've heard rumors they are nutritious. Yet, when perusing the breakfast menu at a restaurant, the only token vegetable other than potato appears to be the queen of transgender foods: the tomato. (Is she a fruit or is she a vegetable? If she appeared on Dancing with the Stars, with whom would she be partnered?)

Why is the only corn we consider for breaking our fast FLAKEY? If we can work zucchini, beets and carrots into dessert, why not work it into breakfast? Yes, I've heard of the Denver omelet - some green peppers make an appearance along with some onions. But barely. They are mere decorations for the copious amount of ham and cheese.

Spinach omelets always seem to contain about 12 servings of spinach (I imagine the cook thinking, thank God I can get rid of all this spinach) and a vegetarian omelet is usually a Denver omelet with mushrooms instead of ham. News flash - mushrooms are not a vegetable.

Try scrambling some corn in your eggs. It is delicious! Try serving roast vegetables fresh from the oven instead of hash browns. Yummy! Get crazy with the idea and throw some creamed corn into your pancake batter. Yowza!

Truthfully, though, this isn't a big issue for me. I don't usually eat breakfast. Until someone invents coffee-jerky (and I cannot tell you how many hours I've spent researching it with no luck), I'll probably continue to drink my breakfast: coffee with a little cream.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Grocery Store Adventures

The other day, my destination was the local branch of a grocery store that has superb sales every Friday. My trip, however, took a non-mandatory detour when I exited the freeway to avoid a miles-long backup in traffic. Since every other driver had seized upon the same opportunity and the same off-ramp, taking the frontage road looked as if it would be just as slow-moving.

No problem, I thought, happily patting my Droid smartphone. I’m sure there is another branch north of here, I’ll just search my map function. Thus, empowered I drove directly to the other branch.

While my usual grocery store is a “flagship” location (something I learned while settling a small issue with the store manager quite a while ago), this location was apparently the “barnacle” version. It was dirty, cramped and looked like an aged hooker at dawn after an unproductive night. Not that I’ve ever actually seen an old hooker at dawn… I am NOT a morning person.

The produce section, my favorite, was not as well stocked as the impromptu, operating-without-a-permit roadside stands that sometimes pop up. And, they did NOT have the five dollar deals that had prompted me to wait until Friday. Nevertheless, I summoned up my pioneer spirit and found enough ingredients for a revised meal plan.

At the register, I chatted with the woman who was waiting behind me. She had no items at all and I assumed she was buying some you-gotta-ask-them-to-get-it-from-a-locked-display item. We joked about forgetting our reusable bags (although I had mine right there) and the many uses for the plastic bags – mostly as dog poop scoopers. Since we both clearly had dogs, I inquired about local feed stores as I also needed to get the right kind of dog food.

As the cashier, overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of my 12 items, listened in, she kept asking, “Is this item yours, too?”. Wondering, I guess, why the next customer had no items while I had so many. I kept answering, “yes, it is. All the items until you get to that little bar are mine”. Finally the cashier said, “Are you two together?”

In jest, I said, “Oh, do you see that woman too? I was thinking she might be my imaginary friend”. The cashier said, “Wouldn’t you know?” and I replied, “How would I ?”.

Finally reaching the end of my purchase, I was handed a “come-back” coupon fo $5 off my next purchase. I love those coupons. They apply to anything except the 3 evils: liquor, tobacco or milk. (Yeah, I, too, have always wondered why tobacco was in that group. It is not a liquid)

Remembering that I always lose those coupons before I “come-back”, I thought – hey, let’s do a random act kinda thing. So I handed it to my imaginary friend.

She smiled with absolute delight and said, “wow – I can get a bigger bottle of vodka now!”

To which I replied, “Oh, you can’t use it on that”

And she said, “You already gave it to me and can’t take it back! I can use it on whatever the F* I want!”

No wonder I have so few imaginary friends.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

What happened to singing in the rain?

I was at a department store today looking at leggings, idly wondering, if skinny jeans don't exactly flatter my figure, why did I think leggings would? Said leggings were in the same section as purses, wallets and umbrellas . Which is where things got weird.

Now, I love musicals, I really do. But never, not once, did I expect people to burst into song in real life. I don't know how many times I said it, but I've  said it at least once: life isn't a musical no matter how much you hum.

However, maybe there is something to this Glee madness. Now, I have eschewed that television show in an attempt to be on the leading edge of political correctness. That show has openly gay people who burst into song while executing smooth dance moves and dressed in cutting edge fashion. If that isn't a stereotype, what is? (I said to myself as I switched to Real Housewives of Insanity).

But, as I was perusing leggings (by Elle), the store's music department began to play a song by someone named Rhianna who was declaring her devotion by offering to share her umbrella-ella-ella. AND nearly everyone around me began to sing. Gals were executing moves and smiling at each other while I stood there mutely shocked (and not just at how small the large-sized leggings looked). 

So, apparently I've been completely wrong. At any moment it is appropriate to SING LOUDLY with the background music in a department store. And to wink at strangers while echoing umbrella with ella-ella-ella.

I have to say, I felt like I'd been left out of the umbrella's protection from reality. I considered humming "Singing in the Rain" but couldn't bring myself to do it. Life is, after all, not a musical - no matter how ho-hum.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

YKWIT: Gluten - Update

out of respect for the 1 in 133 people at risk for celiac disease, all my postings will now be gluten-free. 
And lactose-free. And low-fat. 
And BPA-free. 
Unless you mean brown-pickled-asteroids in which case, I cannot promise to be BPA free cuz what else would I do if I had an asteroid?
I will be releasing my asteroid cookbook soon.

Hello, Pakistan

So after a full day of having a blog, I checked my stats to see if anyone has looked at it. To my delight, I saw that my blog has been viewed TWICE from Pakistan. I don't know if it is one person who looked twice or two people who each looked once, but still - views from a country where only 12.5% have internet access!

Being ever gracious, I googled the official language (Urdu) and then searched for the proper way to say "Hello" in that language. According to wikipedia, it translates to HELLO.
Then I read through the common phrases and - NO KIDDING - there were very important phrases like:
Can you give me your pen?
Will you give me your pen?
Do you love me?
How many apples are in my hand?
How many did you take?

So, considering the obsession with obtaining pens and counting apples, I'm no longer certain that reading my blog constitutes the literary flattery I had assumed.

But ʃukrijə for reading, Pakistan

Monday, October 3, 2011

How to feel old while thinking of past Rock Hits

So we were trying to remember the lyrics to Jack and Diane by John Mellencamp. Jackie was gonna be a football star (?) and Diane.... hmm, wanted him to get into her car?

No, that's not right, we said. That's a different song. Get into My Car... wasn't that Lionel Ritchie? 

Hubby laughs and says you're remembering it wrong. It was "get outta my car and into my life".

I said, that sounds rude. Who would use a pickup line that starts with "get outta my car"?

Somehow, Sade came into the whole conversation since Hubby thought SHE sang the song.

I mean, really? Sade crooning "get outta my car"?

So we googled it all. Sade sang Smooth Operator and Billy Ocean sang "Get outta my dreams and INto my car".

So it was just like we remembered after all. Except we forgot to google the lyrics to Jack & Diane. Oh well, now we have a reason to get up tomorrow. 

YKWIT: Gluten, the new marketing strategy

Have you noticed all the gluten-free products? Right after whole grains marketing, the latest in marketing miracles attacks our new enemy: gluten.\

Yep, Celiac disease is now considered "common", effecting 1 in 133 people. Using old math, that's a whopping  .75%  Read closely - that is POINT 75% which, again using old math is LESS THAN 1%.

But the markup on gluten-free products is considerably more and they are crowding out other products we used to be able to find at the grocery store. 

So make sure you eat plenty of whole grain food that doesn't contain wheat, barley or rye.

Update: just learned that 1 in 8 Americans have worked for McDonald's at some point. That is 12.5% of the U.S. population. "McDonald's Employee Recovery Foods" should be coming soon to a grocer's near you.

Update #2: there are now gluten-free food pantries (!)

YKWIT about SDSU? Acronyms

I secretly love acronyms. They will keep our minds sharp long past the sudoku, crossword puzzles, and anagram games. 

Because no one really knows or agrees about the definition of every acronym, we mostly guess. 
My favorite 3 are ones I totally imaginated* into existence:

4COL : for crying out loud
SDSU : sit down and shut up
YKWIK: pronounced why-quit, it means You Know What I Think?

The operator's manual for these helpful acronyms is currently being developed but you have my permission to use them at will. Especially with teenagers.

IDK - WDUthink? I'm heading to *$ for some espresso.

* planning to copyright that word

You Know What I Think (YKWIT): about sunscreen

Youngers and the very elders all find sunshine poisonous. Witness young people with shades drawn (black out shades, no less) so they can see their myriad of screens without annoying glare. Look at old people shading themselves with hats, parasols, my sister-in-law flopped her floppy hat on her head once.

What's the problem? Getting wrinkles and/or getting skin cancer. Now, I'm not convinced wrinkles are that bad (see my post: 

Wrinkles are natural. Our aversion isn't to the signs of age but to the ultimate destination of aging. (Ya know, death?)

Skin Cancer? Well, I am not convinced that's truly caused by the sun. Oh, scientists claim a very bad sunburn in childhood increases your likelihood, but genetics play a much larger role. And, hate to break it to you, you cannot change your genes. 

Sunscreen? No, thanks. First of all, every year there are NEW sunscreens that no longer contain the dangerous chemicals they discovered in last year's batch. So what will be wrong with the NEW sunscreens next year? Who knows. I believe slathering chemical concoctions all over my porous epidermis (look at me getting all fancy) is probably not the best idea. Yep, topical application of medicines is a proven science - nicotine patch, pain patch, hormone creams... So why coat our bodies with unnatural substances in order to avoid the damaging rays of... sunshine? C'mon, put down the Kool-Aid and think about the fact that a whole new "need-based" market has been created around nothing. What next? Bottling water?

Sunshine helps us absorb vitamin D. In fact, taking a D supplement isn't even helpful if you don't add some ultraviolet rays.  

So the next time someone tells you life isn't all sunshine and lollipops, respond "it should be".  Now, go get a lollipop and make hay while the sun shines.

How to Look Old while Dancing with The Stars

Step 1: Watch Dancing with the Stars (DWTS for those of us in the know). According to the NY Times, the primary audience is comprised of women over the age of 50.
Step 2: Have cosmetic surgery and wear a LOT of "natural" looking make-up.

My husband and I played guess their age with the cast of season 13. He added 5 years to Chynna Phillip's age - in part because he figured all that make-up and too smooth skin must mean she was old enough to have something to hide.

So how old would you guess these stars are: Carrie Ann, Nancy Grace, Chynna Philips, Ricki Lake, Brooke (the hostess), Elizabetta-married-to-Clooney-once, Hope the soccer player and Kristen from some reality show?

3 are approximately the same age (I was too lazy to go by actual month for birthdates, just used year)
3 are under 40 and 1 is 40 and 1 is over 50.

Our only surprises on the male side were Tom Bergeron and Bruno M. What would you guess for their respective ages?