Thursday, July 20, 2017

Race against the machine

I always make a full pot of coffee. But what I've learned, is that if I pour from a full pot, I spill too much on the counter or the floor, or me. Not a huge loss, but a pain to clean up. I've tried pouring more slowly and more quickly. I've tried putting the cup close to the lip of the carafe. I've tried holding the carafe much higher than the cup. I've tried regular and decaf, all to no avail and much spillage.

Yes, I could make less coffee, but why would anyone do that?!

And then I remembered our simple coffee pot has a 'hold' function that allows me to pour coffee before the whole pot is done brewing. Elegant and simple solution - I pour from a half-filled pot and problem solved. No spillage! Success! Never let it be said that I have complex wants or needs.

As it turns out, this only works if you (meaning, I) don't walk out of the room while brewing. Yup, this whole, simple, brilliant solution only works if I don't get distracted from the task at hand. Two minutes in the living room wiping up the rain that has blown through the screens and the coffee pot may be full.  Answering the phone to a telemarketer and walking to my office forgetting the task at hand, the pot is full. Unloading the dishwasher and thinking, "sure, I have time to empty the silverware rack before the pot is full" - wrong!

And that old adage about a watched pot never boiling holds true in a way for my coffee maker. If I watch the coffee drip and the level rise in the carafe, it never quite gets high enough to fill the cup while I have the patience to stare at it. If I look away for a moment, it may as well be full.

I have learned that the magic number is 5. If I hand wash five items left in the sink over night, that is about equal to the first cup of coffee. More than that and I will get distracted and be too late. Fewer and there isn't a full cup. This does mean that there are still a few unwashed dishes in the sink but no spilled coffee. I'm okay with that.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Semper Ubi Sub Ubi

In Latin, this translates to always where under where" which only makes sense if you don't think about the actual definitions. I'm not sure why, but this is one of the only things I remember from middle school Latin and if you asked me what else I remember, I'm not sure I would have much to say (other than Mr. St. Clair was a fabulous teacher!).

Last night at our Citizen Police Academy class, we heard from the Forensics unit. As you might expect, actual CSIs and crime labs are very different than the television versions. Officers don't wear high heels or dress clothes, and getting DNA back from the lab can take a month or more, and that's on the quick end! The Evanston Police Department now uses a crime lab in Vernon Hills where the turn-around time is on the quicker end. In Chicago, it can often take more than a year, at which point it may be too late to file charges against someone. The implications here are enormous and extremely disturbing.

In addition to investigating all sorts of major and minor crimes, the Forensics Unit is called to investigate any death in Evanston outside of a hospital, nursing home or hospice setting. Yesterday, they spent the day investigating a man who had been dead for several weeks and because of the temperature/humidity factors in his apartment was essentially mummified.

The officer told us that in many non-violent death cases, they find many of the bodies in bed and naked. She said, "If I leave you with anything tonight, I ask you, please, wear underwear to bed!"

Semper ubi sub ubi!

Friday, October 07, 2016

The Reunion

On Tuesday, for a variety of reasons, I found myself driving slowly down the small street behind a Whole Foods in a community about 10 miles away from home. As I pulled around toward the parking lot, I stopped for a pedestrian crossing in front of me (um... it's possible I almost ran into her, but that's not relevant for these purposes). She looked like a typical suburban soccer mom: black leggings, a black jacket and toting the requisite cloth bags that would hold whatever she purchased.

But she looked familiar, which I thought was odd. Not only do I not know that many people in this town, but especially on this day (Rosh HaShanah) I definitely didn't expect to see someone I knew in the store parking lot. So I looked again.

The person I thought she resembled was someone I'd lost touch with 20+ years ago. I don't often see people who just look familiar - either I know who they are or I don't.  And even if a total stranger did look familiar, I would never approach them and say (the equivalent of), "Do I know you?"  But in this case, I figured if I was wrong, I could drive away and never return.

So I rolled down my window and yelled, "Sandra?" She paused and looked around. And kept walking. And so possibly acting as a complete idiot, I tried again. "Sandra?"

And it was!

Other than now being married with two kids and living in the suburbs, she is EXACTLY the same.  Always polite, she said I was exactly the same, too.

I'd searched for her on line a few times a year, but never found her. Clearly I was not looking in the right places, and the parking lot at a suburban Whole Foods never would have made my list.

Lesson learned. Stop Googling and start looking at the grocery store.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Sock Day

It's Sock Day. That's the day I need to wear socks again after a long, barefooted spring and summer. There's no particular temperature that demarcates the festivities, just a point at which a choice must be made between very cold toes and the inevitability of returning to the sock drawer.  I always try and push Sock Day as far forward as possible, but today, in 2016, today is the day.


On the upside, this brings back a whole group of shoes left alone in the closet during the spring and summer and the difficult decision of which should be chosen for this occasion.  Truth be told, it's not such a difficult choice. I don't own that many pairs of shoes and it's easy to figure out that today isn't a day for heels or tennis shoes or motorcycle boots (though I do love my boots...).

I may be wearing socks but I refuse to put on a jacket yet. Maybe tomorrow.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Long time, no writing...

It's not that I haven't been writing, I just haven't been writing here. I'm not quite sure why so I'm just going to pretend nothing much has happened in the last four years. 

Except it has. 

Immediately after my last post, I was told my job was being eliminated from an organization I'd worked with in some form for nearly my whole career. And that same day, a close friend called, needing help to navigate a serious family crisis that required every ounce of my focus and attention.  And two days later I was going to be driving halfway across the country with a friend and her 4-year old son. 

Like I said, lots to write about, and that was just three days later. 

I spent the last four years working as the interim executive director rebuilding an organization that had collapsed under the weight of their crisis. It was the hardest thing I've ever done and by far my best professional work to date. So many things to say and nothing on paper, so maybe it didn't really all happen. 

My last day was this past June 30 and it could not have been more anticlimactic.  That sentiment was short-lived.  

I spent the last two months not working, and not worrying about not working or finding the next job. It was liberating. I read. I wrote (but not here), I spent time with friends I hadn't seen in years. I finally went through my file cabinet and got rid of my notes from three years of Russian. I found the shady places at the beach. I rejoined the YMCA (and went). I signed up for community programs. I didn't watch daytime television but I did spend an entire day one weekend watching Fast and Furious 1-5. (Note to anyone who hasn't seen these yet: don't bother with 2 and 3.)

And now I'm looking for a job for the first time in nearly 25 years. I updated my LinkedIn profile, put together a decent resume, and am learning to ask for help. 

Stay tuned....

Friday, June 15, 2012

Watermelon Games

The best thing about summer is a great watermelon.  You might think that the worst thing about summer would be excessive heat or humidity or catching a cold or  bacteria in the lake, but you'd be wrong. The worst thing about summer is a watermelon that should be great but isn't.

And that's because you don't know if it's a good watermelon until you've actually cut into it. And there really can't be anything worse than the disappointment in finding that the watermelon you cut into isn't as delicious as it should be.

When I find a great watermelon, I like to play a game I call, "How much watermelon is too much watermelon?" Inevitably I find the answer as evidenced by the inability to put even one more bite into my mouth.

A little known side effect to this game is memory loss. In the case of this game, it means you get to play again because you actually forget how much watermelon is too much watermelon.

And before you suggest re-purposing an imperfect watermelon for other things, let me just say that other things that taste like watermelon aren't the same. Snow cones, Jolly Ranchers - it doesn't matter, they shouldn't even try to taste like a perfect watermelon because inevitably, they'll fail.

I'd write more, but I have a game to go play!.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Boca Burgers and Pie

I often make a Boca Burger for lunch. It's simple, fast, and a good excuse to eat homemade pickles. It's also one of the only times I use our microwave to actually "cook" something. Usually it's just a timer or maybe I reheat my coffee.

But I digress. I buy the packages of Boca Burgers from Costco, which means they're the big ones, not the ones that come from the regular grocery store. Why is that important? Because it means they take longer to heat up and so I flip them over mid-way through. And invariably when I flip it over, I reveal the grill marks. And every time I see them, I wonder how they got there. And then I think, how is it that every single time I stick a Boca Burger in the microwave, I put it grill marks-side down to start with?

Yes, I know that they are put there in the manufacturing process and not by using the microwave. But every single time, without intentionality, I put it in grill marks-side down. That's like rolling double sixes every time in backgammon. What are the chances?!

And it is March 14th, which means it's Pi Day. Which means that 8" apple pies at Whole Foods were only $3.14. I wouldn't ordinarily buy a pie but I somehow felt the need to celebrate. I did not also buy ice cream which eliminates the need to ask the ridiculous question "Pie or ice cream?"