Monday, September 1, 2014

Life From the Mediterranean

For years, we’ve encouraged my mom to start a blog. For years, she resisted. She finally decided to do it, and she really jumped in! She has a great layout, fabulous photos, and it really looks nice. Please take a moment to stop by to check it out.

Friday, August 29, 2014

24 Hours of Booty

For the past several years, my sister has participated in the 24 hours of Booty bike ride to raise money for cancer research. Her goal this year was to ride 175 miles, and she managed to not only meet but exceed her goal. In the rain. While dealing with 2 flat tires. Geesh!  The donation page is still open for business, so please feel free to show her some support if you are able.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Fall 2014 class schedule

Classes are starting today. Here’s what Alex is taking this semester: 

French:  He took Latin in high school and did not learn a single thing in the two years he took it. He was enjoying it and starting to learn some at the beginning, then the teacher left to join the Peace Corp about 2 months into the year. The replacement teacher had a hugely different teaching style and he struggled through it. Then even that teacher did not return for the second year, so he had to take the class online to finish the language requirement for graduation. It was that, or start over again with Spanish; as he had to have 2 years of the same language, and he didn’t want to start over again with another language he did not really care about learning, he plodded through. He just didn’t learn anything.

Since we have family living in France, including his cousin who was born there, there is a chance he might actually be able to use a knowledge of French. Although it is not a required class, he opted to take it anyway. The class meets four days, plus he has both a scheduled lab and an open go-when-you-like lab outside the lecture times.  This is a 50-minute M/T/W/R class, plus labs. 

Intermediate C++: He did so well in the intro class this summer, he’s taking the next level of it. This is a 75-minute M/W class. 

Intro to Java: This is another computer language class that also builds on what he learned in the C++ class.  This is a 75-minute T/R class. 

CG Characters Production:  Doesn’t this sound fun? “Using computer 3D graphics programs as a medium, emphasis will be placed on 3D design, creative expression and communication of ideas.” I believe this class was picked partly from a desire to learn it and partly because he has had the teacher before.  This is a 105-minute T/R class. (It’s still only 3 credits, so I do not understand why it is an extra 30-minutes longer than typical twice a week class length.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

20 Years Ago Today

When I got up this morning, I reflected that it was about the same time of day I was getting up on this date 20 years ago. Except then, I was heading off to the hospital to give birth. Today, I only had to suffer a day of work. (Although it was a tough day, and the work lasted longer than my labor did, so I’m not sure which day was more difficult!) This afternoon, the baby lost his teenager status. *sniff* There’s no denying he’s an adult now. Statistically, anyway... 

I hope this doesn’t mean I’m supposed to be old now, because that will not be happening for a long time.  I’m sure my own parents will agree with me!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mommy!

My mother is too far away for an easy visit. I was working today and due to the time zone differences, it is too late to call her, so I will not be able to speak with her on her birthday. I hope she knows I thought of her several times today, and I hope that as her birthday fell on a weekend, she got to do something special to mark the day. Love you, mom!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dumpster Diving

A few years, I picked up a job doing some pharmaceutical audits. A certain drugstore got into trouble for HIPAA violations when it was discovered some of their confidential patient information had been chucked into the dumpsters rather than correctly processed in a manner that kept the patient’s name and prescriptions completely confidential. They had to pay enormous fines and submit to random store visits for auditing. They were required to do it for 3 years, and they voluntarily extended that an additional 2. There are teams of auditors from the audit company who fly/drive to areas to meet with a local person contracted to be the dumpster diver. Basically, they don’t mind doing employee interviews and looking around at things, but they don’t want to be the ones getting dirty, so they hire us to do it. They do it for 2-3 months, but since divers are local, we only have a few days. This year, I had 4 days/11 stores.

I feel like a CSI/detective/someone who actually did something with that Criminology degree she went to school for. Due to confidentiality agreements, I cannot say which drugstore pharmacy we audit, nor which stores or even cities I’ve been in, and I definitely cannot mention any results of the trash examinations. Completely separate from any patient data, I was pleased to find someone’s wallet one year, so police were called to return it to them. I’ve found a number of people are not pregnant; I’m guessing the use of the test right at the store probably means that was good news for them. I’ve found it is amazing how many people bring their own bags of trash from home to dump into store dumpsters. I don’t know why that is better than just putting it in a can by the street, unless they live in an area not served by waste pickup. But mostly, I’ve learned that I find it perversely fun. It would not be exciting to do on a regular basis but for a couple of days a year, I really enjoy it. Except, of course, for being in a big metal heat radiator in the middle of summer in the South. That part is definitely not so fun.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Joyful Temps

You know it is going to be a fun day to be working outside when it is 80F (heat index 85F) and 97% humidity and it is only 7:30 AM. Highs are expected to be around 97F (heat index 108F). I was planning to take water bottles, but I think I’ll take some towels as well!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer Classes, updated

I was a little wrong about those summer classes. It turns out he signed up for the accelerated summer courses, so they were only 6 weeks rather than the whole summer. He's done already!

Composition - passed! whew. He was doing great the whole class, did not do well on the final exam, and ended up with a C+. At least he passed it. And had fun during the term admonishing his teacher on the correct use of less/fewer. His grades might not reflect it, but he really has learned proper grammar. He just is not a good essay writer.
Edit: He looked it up and thought he saw it say C+. When checking his GPA weeks later, however, it showed a B for the class. Perhaps the grade he saw previously was his final exam and not the overall class grade. I don't know, but I'm happy for the B!
C++ programming - 103%. Nice!  A week ago, his grade was 112%. I joked that he was slacking off the last few days, and his answer was, "It's not my fault all the assignments had a maximum grade of 100."

Since he wants to work in computers, not be an English professor, I suppose these grades are appropriate.

Monday, June 2, 2014

R.I.P., my Brandi girl

1998(?) – 2014
When I adopted you in May 2000, they knew you were at least 2 years old but could not give any better estimate. I had a mental picture of you before I even went to the shelter, and I knew you were the dog for me the moment I saw you. I thought I was getting a companion for the little boy, but that was a silly idea. He was simply born a total cat person, and your personality turned out a canine version of me. I will always remember taking you on hours-long walks, frustrating chases through the neighborhood when you’d dug out of the yard and we couldn't catch you, and your never-ending desire to be wherever your people were. As long as no car rides were required, of course, since those did not agree with your tummy. The old age that caught up with you this past year was hard for you to handle. I’ll miss you, but now you can rest in peace.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Summer 2014 classes

Since the summer semester is short (3 months instead of 4), and he needs to pass his Composition class in order to be eligible to take some of the other required subjects, Alex is sticking to only 2 classes for this semester. He's retaking the Composition class that he bombed last fall, and taking a C++ programming class. Two weeks in, and both are going quite well so far. Here's hoping it stays that way!

Spring semester grade report: A. Finally!

Friday, March 28, 2014

First rule of driving? Don't hit anything.

Eleven years I’ve had this car, and driven it safely that whole time. Today… crunch. 

There’s a super busy road that runs through downtown, right past the campus of one of the local universities. On the edge of said campus is a Starbucks that does not have a parking lot nearly large enough for the traffic it needs to handle. It is well-known throughout town as always creating a traffic hazard. It does not help that the store is right at a traffic light. Today, I was stupidly going down this busy road, in the right-hand lane, and was stopped at that traffic light. I was the third car in the line. The light turned green. What does that mean? Generally, it means apply pressure to the gas pedal and move forward. That is what the other two lanes next to me did. That is what my lane started to do. Then the driver at the front of the line decided he wanted to pick up a coffee. Except the lot was full, so he had to stop in the street. The driver ahead of me saw this, and applied his brakes. I did not see that we had gone from, “It’s green now, let’s drive” to “Let’s block up the road” until a nanosecond before plowing right into the car ahead of me. Thankfully his feet were still on the brakes so he did not also bash into the person (the thirsty jerk) ahead of him. 

Fortunately for him, it was just a tiny dent near his tail light. Unfortunately for me, my front end bent into and poked a hole in the radiator, plus damaged the A/C system. I will have a good week’s worth of auto body work. Yippee. At least insurance will cover all but the deductible. It looks like just a little bang up, doesn’t it? Looks can be deceiving.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Spring 2014 classes

Remembering that he is in college, not middle school, I reminded him occasionally that he needed to find out when to register for classes, but I did my best not to pester him. Apparently I was reasonably successful, as he forgot to do it. Since he ended up selecting classes on the last day allowed to register, he ended up with only two classes: Precalculus Trigonometry and Intro to Multimedia. "Multimedia" apparently means "Flash" since that is all they are scheduled to learn about.

As for last semester... he got a B for the Psych and Algebra classes. Composition? Well, he'll be trying that one again.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Christmas dinner 2013

I wanted to keep the Christmas dinner a little more simple than the Thanksgiving meal. Alex requested seafood, but had no particular idea what. Lots to work with there…

I started with an appetizer course of spinach dip and a cheese plate. I used this recipe as a base for the dip, but then used greek yogurt instead of the sour cream and mayo. I also added some additional spices. It didn’t end up quite as creamy as I’d hoped, but it was still tasty. The cheese plate was composed of fresh mozzarella, Brie, Kerry Gold Dubliner, and Prima Donna Maturo. These were paired with pretzel crisps, crackers, and Veggie Dippin’ Chips.

For the meal itself, I picked up a 2 lb bag of mixed seafood. It contained scallops, shrimp, calamari, and mussels. I used this recipe, although with quite a bit more Old Bay. (maybe mine has lost its strength?) I used a regular onion and left out the snow peas. I think my seafood was not completely thawed out, so I ended up with rather a lot of liquid that I don’t think I was supposed to have. The milk part also did not thicken as much as I expected. As in, not much at all. I really debated whether to even add it or just leave it as a garlic sauce, but ended up mixing it in anyway. I am SO glad I did. The overall flavor was amazing, and I’ll definitely be making this again! I’m sure it would have been fine on the angel hair pasta the recipe calls for, but I skipped that part and made some 7-grain medley I had. It appears that mix is no longer available for sale, which is a bummer since it was such a nice, healthy mix of grains. It also worked well to help soak up some of the delicious seafood liquid, as did the baguettes. I baked some sweet potatoes so I could have some form of vegetable and made sure to keep them just the veggie without any heavy butter, cream, or sugars added. I should have made a salad or some other type of green veggie, but I didn’t. We had plenty of food.

I was not sure what kind of dessert I wanted to make. I was torn between a cheesecake and a key lime pie. I did not want to make both, since I knew we would eat both and we did not need that much dessert floating around. I found this recipe that sounded rather like a lime cheesecake. Voila! Perfect! Well, turns out not really. It was a nice, creamy, mild pie with only a hint of lime flavor. It’s nice, but I doubt I’ll make it again. It would have been better with a stronger lime flavor, which perhaps the suggested brand has. I used what I had, and was not impressed. But hey, we had some Lindor chocolates so it all worked out.

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!