“It was sweet, like lead paint is sweet”

We had a fun and productive weekend. Jen kind of mentioned to me at work on Thursday that she was planning to paint at her house on Saturday, and I volunteered to help. After confirming with GG, I let her know that we were definitely on for Saturday. On Friday I worked from home, which is going to be part of my regular schedule now – yes, I will only be in the office three days a week now, woohoo. So Friday was a nice relaxing day at home. GG and I decided to see a movie Friday night, so we went out to PF Chang’s (he’d never been there before, so he had nothing to compare to when I made my version of Chicken Lettuce Wraps!), and then to see 50/50. The movie was really good. It wasn’t what I’d expected it to be like, but it was very funny and sweet. We laughed a lot and may have cried a little…

On Saturday morning we went out early to make the final payment on our new furniture, which will be delivered this week! GG wrote a check for the balance, and then we went to this diner because I really wanted some pancakes. I don’t like going to this diner, but I made an exception because I wanted those pancakes. After sitting there for 10 minutes without so much as acknowledgement from the waitress, let alone having our order taken, we got up and left. Just as well, because something happened with GG’s check and it was declined. So we went back, he paid with debit card (same account, somehow that method worked!), and we headed back home. On the way, we decided to try this other sandwich place, and guess what, they serve pancakes! But the menu is tjust this giant board of writing, and I read it wrong and accidentally ordered three plate-sized pancakes! And GG ordered two. So we had quite a few pancakes between us. There were some pancakes taken home.

Around noon we headed up to Jen’s place and somehow, the GPS took us some way we had never gone before. It was totally crazy, though it took the same amount of time. We got there, made an emergency trip to the hardware store for some more supplies, and then the four of us got to work and repainted their whole family room and adjacent hallway a nice beige color. Good thing I brought GG, we needed his height! We were also entertained by the three kids, who even GG enjoys. We had lots of fun, I really do enjoy painting, even more so when it’s not my house and I don’t have to do all the prep and clean-up myself :o) Plus, Jen made us a delicious Mexican dip for a snack, and we had pizza for dinner. After dinner, we had a little fire in the fireplace. I was getting pretty tired, plus getting a headache from the paint, and had an hour-long drive back home, so we left probably around 7:30. GG and I both fell asleep when we got home and pretty much missed SNL. I woke up for about 10 minutes of it, but pretty much gave up. Don’t worry, we caught up by watching the recording this morning.

Today I did a bunch of chores, food shopping, etc. I have lots of good dinners planned for this week. I set a goal of using the crock pot once a week, and so far that is going well. GG helped me take care of a big project in the house that I’ve been putting off for a long time, so that felt like a big accomplishment. I think I did everything I set out to do this weekend.

It was the best of times, it was the Best Buy of times

Last weekend, GG and I went to Best Buy to check out potential new computers for him. He’d seen something at Staples that he liked, and it turned out that Best Buy has the same one for about $50 less, so he’s keeping an eye on that. While there, I just glanced at some laptops (I was really starting to hate my Gateway laptop, it’s got a lot of issues). I saw a HP laptop that looked nice and was actually really reasonably priced, but they were sold out at the store. Minus 1 for Best Buy. I made a note of the model number and thought I might order it online.

I went online and found the laptop, which had amazing reviews everywhere. Plus, they were running a special deal where if you buy a HP computer, you can get an HP TouchPad at a big discount. I had no plans to get a tablet computer, in fact I think they’re kind of silly, but for the price it was too good of a deal to pass up. Plus 1 for Best Buy. I put both items in my cart online and went to pay for them… but kept getting different error messages about one item or the other not being available to ship, or being sold out. Minus 1 for Best Buy. I tweeted my frustration, and a Best Buy representative tried to help me out, eventually directing me to e-mail the details to one of their Geek Squad community people. Plus 1 for Best Buy.

Over a day later, I hadn’t received a response to my question, or even an acknowledgement. Minus 1 for Best Buy. I again tweeted about it, and magically I received an e-mail response! This guy told me that the items were sold out online, but may still be available at a local store. Even though the web site hadn’t been able to locate one for me at any store nearby, I gave him my zip code, and he found two stores that he said may have the laptop in stock. Plus 1 for Best Buy.

I called the more convenient of the two locations after work, and it turned out that although their computer said they had one laptop in stock, they actually didn’t have any. Minus 1 for Best Buy. But the girl I spoke to there called the other store for me, and they did have one, which she had them put on hold for me! Plus 1 for Best Buy.

I called the other store, and it turned out that the one laptop that they had in stock was one of their “pre set-up” models. Geek Squad had already set up everything on the computer, installed antivirus software, uninstalled all the junk it comes with, etc., but it’s otherwise completely brand new and in its original packaging. I didn’t know they did this, but apparently they keep about 30% of their stock in this state, for people who just want to grab a ready-to-go computer. I don’t mind setting stuff up myself, of course, but if that’s all they had then that’s all they had. But, this service added $99 to the cost of the computer. Minus 1 for Best Buy. I decided it was still a good enough deal to purchase it – even with the extra fee, it was under the amount I’d been planning to spend. The laptop was really all I wanted or needed, but then I asked… Did they have the tablet in stock? The girl I was talking to went to check. It wasn’t appearing on their computer, because… a shipment had just come in! So she put one of those aside for me as well! This girl was so nice and helpful, explaining everything to me and doing a lot of checking. Plus 1 for Best Buy.

GG and I headed out… in rush hour… in the dark. Oh, and he didn’t know we’d be going anywhere and had had a glass of scotch when he got home from work, so he wasn’t comfortable driving, so I had to drive. Even though it’s not their fault, minus 1 for Best Buy. I did eventually get us there, found the girl I’d been speaking to, avoided her sales pitch for additional products and services, and paid for my items. The whole transaction went completely smoothly. Plus 1 for Best Buy.

So overall, Best Buy ended up with zero points.

Anyway, the tablet was quick to set up, but I don’t see it replacing a regular computer for most things. Web sites don’t really work quite right, and the apps (such as the Twitter app and Facebook app) leave a lot to be desired. It’s a little heavy to just hold for long periods of time, and it’s not made for major typing. But it does have an e-reader function, and I think it will be handy to just have sitting around the house in case we want to look something up, refer to a recipe online while we’re in the kitchen, or take out on the road. I’m happy with it. The laptop, I love. Everything was ready to go so quickly, it’s much faster and more user friendly than my other computer… I think it may be more powerful than my desktop. And it’s prettier. There may come a day when I could use a laptop as my main computer, but for the time being… there are six computers in this house between the two of us. Plus the tablet. Plus our phones.

Work of Art

I first caught the Bravo reality show, Work of Art, during a marathon at the end of season 1, and was immediately hooked. We’re now in the middle of season 2, and I still enjoy watching the show, though it has some major problems. But I think the reason why I like it is because this is so much like what art school (or being an art major at a regular university, in my case) was like. So subjective! So open-ended! So random!

My first problem is the challenges themselves. Rules and expectations are not defined. This was clearly illustrated in the movement/Parkour challenge this season. Simon, their mentor and adviser, actually made everyone stop and reconsider their projects after reviewing their work because he didn’t think anyone had understood the topic – but no guidelines were even given! The most recent episode paired the contestants with student artists for inspiration, but they weren’t really told what to do with them. Make their own version of the student’s piece? Make a piece inspired by the child him/herself? Work with the child to create a new piece? The artists did all of these things, and the judges’ reactions were so mixed.

Which brings me to my next problem, the judges. I don’t doubt that they know good art and they know what they’re talking about, they’re certainly qualified to judge the competition. But with no rules, the subjectivity of an “art contest” is so apparent. Look at the winner of the “pop art” challengeYoung‘s piece would have taken me about 15 minutes to whip up in Illustrator, and then print on a large-format printer. It was a totally unoriginal idea, and wasn’t even constructed that well. I would barely even call this “art.” Yet they loved it! And look at the recent challenge with the student artists – The Sucklord got yelled at for incorporating action figures in his piece, but guess what, action figures are his medium! Have you not seen his portfolio?

Basically, I really enjoy watching the show, watching the artists come up with solutions to each challenge, and reliving my college experience. But when it comes to judging time, I totally disregard the judges’ opinions on which pieces were best and which were worst. I mean, the piece that was eliminated in the first episode was one of my favorites – art is totally subjective!

“And if I feel scared, I declare, I have everything I need”

Picking up where we left off, since I haven’t even had time to sit down at the computer this week…

Saturday it snowed, which was pretty crazy, right?! You just don’t expect to see snow piling up on autumn leaves that are still on the trees! It was actually less “snow” and more “slush” that fell, so it was just super gross and we did not go out or anything all day. We didn’t lose power, but most people around us did for at least a little while. Some were without power for several days! So I guess we were very lucky. GG and I spent the day on the sofa, watching movies, including American Psycho, which he’d never seen before! (Yet I have seen it several times and even read the book… Wow.) Then, since we weren’t going anywhere and had nothing to do the next day, I suggested we drink the bottle of wine I received at the “favorite things” gift exchange. I never drink, so that was a pretty exciting suggestion. I’m sure I didn’t get “drunk,” but we did polish off the whole bottle (It was good! If it was gross I wouldn’t have had any), and I got kind of giggly.

Besides food shopping, and going out to check on someone who’s power was out, I stayed home Sunday as well, and caught up on all my DVRed shows. I don’t know what I’m going to do next year when our free DVR thing ends… Should we continue to pay for it?

On Monday morning we had kind of an emergency department meeting. I hadn’t thought anything of it until my friend in another group said they were having an emergency meeting that morning too. Uh oh… Luckily, it was nothing bad at all, it was actually exciting! My boss is now the head of our whole group, and our group is combining with another group (that I was already sort of in, indirectly), so it’s actually going to work out very well for me. And everyone else in our group who I’ve spoken to is really excited about the change, too. We kind of felt this would happen, just not so soon. But I’m really happy.

Monday night was Halloween and trick-or-treating. Inspired by Cruftbox, we got a selection of full-size candy bars and each kid received one, instead of a handful of minis. The first group that came to the door was so excited when they saw our big bowl of candy: “Whoa! This is the cool house!” But subsequent groups seemed less impressed, even getting picky about which ones they wanted (I was just putting one piece in everyone’s bag, randomly), or asking how many they could have. But for the most part, kids were polite and appreciative. I give the “most creative” award to the two guys who dressed as the flags of Finland and Germany (they were just t-shirts with strips of fabric, but still, clever). “Most entertaining” was the girl dressed as Amy Winehouse who sang “Rehab,” badly. “Worst costume” was a kid who couldn’t tell me what he was dressed as, but had the word “BOSS” written across forehead with black eyeliner. In between groups of kids, GG and I watched “Friday the 13th” parts 1 and 2.

On Tuesday we went to this restaurant in Delaware with GG’s family to celebrate his brother’s birthday. It was fun, but a late night, and I was stuffed. Wednesday was my usual, work from home followed by band practice.

On Thursday we went to a concert, which I hadn’t really wanted to do because it was pretty late for a school night, but I’m glad I went because it was a good show and I had a good time. We went to see Cynic headline at The Note. The music of course was fantastic (except for the girl singer coming in a bit early on “King of Those Who Know!”), and I even liked the new songs I hadn’t heard before. The crowd was like 95% young guys, but at least they know how to behave, unlike some concert attendees. The funniest part was before the band went on, when GG was talking to some guys about Paul Masvidal. One of the guys said he’d run into him outside earlier and he smelled like “flowers made of sand.” Paul is an interesting guy, though. For someone who is the lead singer and guitarist in a technical death metal band, he is extremely calm, quiet, and peaceful. During the show he took a break to “stretch the heart muscles,” then later suggested that maybe we are all “co-creating the weather.” Toward the end he invited the audience to start a mosh pit, saying, “If you need to release some anger you can, but don’t hurt anyone. It’s better to put that into writing, or music.” He would totally fit in on that “Best of Both Worlds with Hugh Jackman” sketch on SNL. “Now let’s have a knife fight while singing Les Mis!”