Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I didn't grow up very wealthy.  Quite the opposite.  So, if you don't know what Aldi is, then you've probably never had to shop at one.  It's like the cheapest store ever.  It is the quintessential everything-on-the-shelves-is-generic store.  You have to pay a quarter for a shopping cart, which you get back if you return it to the cart area at the front of the store.  There's a handy calculator on each cart, so you can figure out how much the check you will be bouncing will be made out for.  There are no shopping bags, you're expected to steal boxes from the shelves where the merchandise is displayed.

In short, Aldi feels like urban scavenging.  You feel like the clientele is on the verge of a fist fight.  I haven't gone to one since my first internship, where my roommate was from rural Iowa or somewhere and super cheap.  I like to think that my tastes have gotten more expensive throughout the years, but I've never really had the income to keep up with them.  Somebody else does... *cough*SugarMomma*cough*

However, there are a bunch of Aldis in Lexington, and I've been reading their weekly mailers.  They have some pretty good deals.  I'm tempted to go in one just to see if they still have some of my old favorites (strawberry or chocolate swirl ice cream cups and chocolate chunk cookies).

Annie caught me ripping out a recipe from the Aldi mailer, and now she won't stop making fun of me.  It was for Pork Carnitas Tacos.  Yes, it highlighted a bunch of brands you've never heard of, but it sounded good.  So don't judge.

And for those of you elitists, Trader Joes is owned by Aldi.  They're pretty much the same store, except TJs has way better marketing (and food quality).

I'm going to Aldi,

Last Breakfast

I woke up on Leap Day to the serene sounds of a tornado siren.  It ended up not being a huge deal for where I live, specifically, but there's no better way to get my ass moving before the sun comes up.  Annie's not from the Midwest.  She knows as much about what to do in a tornado as I did for earthquakes when I originally moved to California.  So, along with turning on the news and checking the batteries on my flashlights, I had to make sure she remained calm.  It wasn't a big deal, she got to focus on Angel, who was losing his shit.  Figuratively.

Within about 30 minutes, I was hungry for breakfast.  I'd like to say that this was a sign of stress, but I've always been one that could shove a big hearty breakfast into his pie hole as soon as his eyes opened.  What I did not expect was the craving.  I really wanted McDonald's breakfast.  I've mentioned how much I love McDonald's breakfasts, but I've also been pretty good about not eating them.  They're not good for you.  Fast food is not good for you.

However, my body flat out told me that if this was to be our last breakfast, it would prefer McDonald's.  Specifically, a bacon-egg-n-cheese bagel with extra sauce.  They don't have those in California, and I thoroughly miss them.  I haven't checked to see if they have them in Lexington, because that might be a slippery slope that I don't need right now.

Long story short, I guess my last breakfast, should the situation arise, would be a McDonald's breakfast sandwich with a hashbrown and heck, maybe even a cini-melt.  Fuck it.  It's my last breakfast.

Fought the temptation, but I wonder what my lunch craving will be,

Birthday Party: Part 1 - Wineries

My birthday this year was on a Wednesday.  I turned 27.  Such an awkward number.  My birthday also happens to fall the day after Valentine's Day.  Annie and I had made plans to visit the most highly regarded winery in KY that evening.  Well, they were so busy on VDay that they decided to close for my birthday.  Kind of a bummer.  So, Annie took me out to dinner at a local place that was trying so unbelievably hard to be straight outta San Francisco.  It's called Table 310.  The food was great, but the wine wasn't spectacular (for a wine bar), and we both expected a little more from the dessert menu, since the pastry chef is in line for some big award.

So, we had decided to push the winery back to the Saturday after my birthday.  We actually decided to hit up three wineries in the same area southeast of Lexington.  We had a Groupon for one, and we were recommended another, so it all made sense.  We planned to leave at 4pm.  At almost 4 exactly, I opened my door to check my mail.  2 friends of ours were stepping up onto our porch.  Apparently, Annie had lined up another couple to hang with us for the day (and one to be a DD).  Spectacular!

We started off at Grimes Mill.  This winery is brand new (opened in September), and it's not even on the KY Wine Map that gets handed out at most of the local wineries.  I like 'off the map', and I liked this place.  They only have 6 wines, and they don't have the cheapest tasting ($6 for 3 wines), but it truly feels like a small, family winery.  We bought a bottle of their Bianca, which is a fan favorite.  I met both of the owners, one of which was the grower/winemaker, and we were served by the Tasting Room Manager.  Yeah, not a huge staff.  The best part was where I got all technical with the owner.  I asked him how crush worked in KY, what the residual sugar was on his moscato, and why he didn't have any Italian varietals considering his strong Italian heritage.  I told him I thought that Nebbiolo or Barbera might grow well here (my favorite Piemonte grapes).  That caught his attention.  Though he didn't know if he could find those vines anywhere nearby, he asked if I had any interest in working there.  More about that to come, I hope!

We then progressed to Talon.  Earlier that week, I had actually put in an application to pour in the tasting room at Talon.  They never responded.  I understand, I have 2 Master's degrees in engineering, but I totally would have worked for them.  I had already tried a bunch of their wines, but this gave me a chance to hit a few more on their list of at least 15 wines.  Tastings are typically $5 for 6 wines.  A couple wines weren't bad, but one was absolutely atrocious.  I seriously thought that I had found my first example of cork taint, but the flavors didn't match.  It didn't smell like trash, but a little like horse poop.  Apparently, that's a common thing for one of the local, popular varietals.  Though, they won't say 'horse poop'.  I did.  It was staffed by a bunch of guys that looked like UK students, so at least they kept the convo light.

We ended at Jean Farris.  Their cab just won a double gold at the San Francisco Chronicle wine competition, which is a big deal, especially for a KY wine.  I don't believe any KY wine has ever won such a prestigious award.  And the wine lived up to it.  Between the few of us that were still going (one girl hit her limit by winery #3), we managed to try most of their reds.  Their pinot was nothing special, but I really liked their merlot, and their cab sauv was delicious and perfectly balanced.  As we were sitting there enjoying a delicious cheese tray, another pair of friends walked in and wished me Happy Birthday.  'Cool,' I thought, 'Annie got another couple to come for dinner.'  Before I knew it, there were 11 people there, and we had a private room.  I felt so cool.

Though the service at the wine bar left a lot to be desired, our waiter in the private room was really cool.  The whole winery had an air of pretentiousness, which I'm really surprised with in KY.  Don't they know who their typical clientele are?  However, having lived near Napa Valley, we were used to it.  The food was amazing!  I got duck confit for the appetizer, and it was one of the better things I've eaten in the past year.  The large amount of wine may have had a little to do with it, but it was really, really good.  Twice now, I've considered walking in and ordering it by itself for a quick, delicious bite.  Most people got the special, and we went through 2 bottles of merlot and a bottle of riesling.  We spent a good deal of money, but again, coming from Northern California, it was a great deal.

This day is getting long, so I'll split it into 2 parts,

Friday, February 17, 2012

Behind the Times

I remember going to college and Annie making fun of the hairstyles in all of my high school pictures.  "Girls with walls of bangs?  That was so 1992."

And I had always heard that things happen on the coasts, and the Midwest is always lagging on what's new and hip.  It wasn't until I moved back to the Midwest from almost 4 years in California that I could start to see it.

Granted, KY is way behind the times, but it's just an exaggeration of the problem.

1) Wine is growing and wineries are popping up in the oddest places.  It's exciting, because it'll be way easier to get into wine here than in California, but it's almost like they're desperate to hop onto the success of the west coast's wine industry.

2) Everything has a website in California.  Everything.  You can find all the information you need online:  menus, prices, pictures, etc.  The hispanic guy rolling down the street ringing bells selling piraguas can probably be tracked online.  You could typically place an order at any local business via the internet and swing by to pick it up.

3) Everything takes full advantage of the internet.  (As they should.)  You can pay your parking meter by phone if you're stuck in line at the post office.  You can check in at a food truck by scanning a 2D bar code with your phone.  You would be handed an iPad that can change the menu daily without wasting paper.  Hell, farmers can let you pay with a credit card by swiping it into their iPhones.  Literally years beyond the 3 places that I've found that say, "You can check in on Facebook here!"  Ummm... Facebook doesn't even work on my phone any more.

4) Green isn't a buzz word on the west coast.  It's a way of life.  Not having recycling is abominable.  Hell, not having compost is looked down upon.  Wind turbines can be seen on the horizon, nuclear power plants are placed sporadically, solar cells line roofs of houses, there's a pump for hydrogen at the gas station, Prius cars line the streets as if they're breeding like rabbits, a Smart car isn't really a joke anymore (no more parallel parking!), everyone knows and typically uses public transportation, biking to work is promoted (not jeered), everybody spends time outside each day (even if it's just walking during a break at work), parks are massive and busy, you can survive without chain or franchise anything, and people are, generally, open-minded and able to discuss things intellectually.

5) I hadn't held a real newspaper in my hand since high school until moving to KY.

I couldn't tell you how many things are better in KY.  Driving and cost of living and population density and friendliness and prices of drinks at bars and willingness to split bills are all exponentially better.  I'm just blown away by all the things that made life easier out west that are so far ahead of what I see here now.  I wish I was a professional web developer.  I'd move to KY... and own it in 5 years.

Studying html,

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Eccentric Cee-Lo

Why aren't people giving Cee-Lo the same props as Lady Gaga?  He's eccentric, but he's chubby and short and has baby T-Rex arms.  So his eccentricities are even more ridiculous.  Like cat-cessorizing.

I'm kind of disappointed that Best Week Ever hasn't made a .gif wall of him stroking his cat before a commercial break.  They're usually on top of that.

Unrelated:  other great Cee-Lo pictures:

Is Cee-Lo secretly a genius? Or is the person who made this?
Doubts Cee-Lo is secretly a genius,

Monday, February 13, 2012


Seriously, if you're in the business of holding the stork at bay this Valentine's Day (or Gonorrhea or swollen, mushroom-penis or whatever), you should try the new Trojan Ecstasy condoms.

No, I'm not paid to say that.  And I don't want to make it sound like I've tried every condom on the market, but ummm... I've used a fair number of them...

It has a better shape (there's no balloon animal  hanging off the end, and there's more room for us ummm... wider folks...)  [There's even a line of Trojan Magnum Ecstasy condoms, but who the fuck needs those?!]  They're kind of expensive, but totally worth it.  That is, unless you have access to free condoms.  Those are more worth it.

Even Angel likes these condoms.  (He ate one on Friday night.)

Just saying,

Sunday, February 12, 2012

My Whitney Tribute

I'm not really good at being sappy.  So, I'll let her do it.  She's been singing in my head all morning anyway.
We're alone now, and I'm singing this song to you.
I love you in a place where there's no space or time.
You are a friend of mine.
I'll never ask for too much, just all that you are and everything that you do.
I get so emotional, baby, every time I think of you.
Ain't it shocking what love can do?!
Where do broken hearts go?
Can they find their way home?
It's not right, but it's ok.
I'm going to make it anyway.
Goodbye.  Please, don't cry.
I hope you have all you dreamed of.
I will always love you.
I can't really explain why this caught me so off guard.  I mean, I'm more than aware of her drug problems.  I guess I always assumed she would pull through.  When she released her last album, I was so excited that she was on the rebound.  When it wasn't great (which is still better than I'll ever be), I figured that she was going to work her way back to the greatness she once was.  That's, apparently, not how drugs work.  Ya know, same script, different cast.  It'll be her catchphrase, and her internet obituary, but that is because it is so thoroughly true:

Crack is whack,

Equivalent of Crying

I'm not an emotional person.  I laugh everything off.  Not so much that I hide behind laughter, but I think that's how it started.  Now, I've trained my emotions to just be odd.  So, when I say that I at least admitted that I was affected by hearing that Whitney Houston died, that's pretty much the equivalent of crying in my book.

I never really understood any of the hullabaloo when Michael Jackson died.  Hell, I was there... kinda.  Now I do.  It just has to be an artist that means a lot to you and had a large impact at some point in the past.  Not only did I admit that I was down about it, but I had a mini-meltdown that was unfortunately documented on Facebook:

I ditched my plans for the night to go out dancing.  I seriously considered walking to a nearby pub and drinking until I thought I could out-sing Whitney.  Instead, I took off to Coldstone to drown my sorrows in ice cream:

Took me about 15 minutes.
I swung by some friends' house across the street from Coldstone, drank a bottle of wine, and they played cards with me until I was sober enough to drive home.  I didn't drive home.  I drove to Steak n Shake and ate a grilled cheese combo (with bacon and a side of ranch).  By the time I got home and I stopped whining on Facebook, I was able to snuggle up with Angel and pass out at like 3:30am.

Annie's not here.  She's at home visiting her family.  It's probably good timing.  She shouldn't have to deal with me when I'm being so ridiculous.  This is way worse than when the Spice Girls broke up, and that kept me home from school for a day.  (Puberty was rough.)

I could only be as devastated if all the members of Boyz II Men died simultaneously,

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Ridic Rupp

I went to a(n?) NCAA Men's Basketball game with Annie on Tuesday:
#1 University of Kentucky vs. #8 University of Florida

For those who haven't caught up yet, we live in Lexington, KY, now.  This is the home of the University of Kentucky, and this town couldn't be more proud of its college.  Also, their men's basketball team is pretty darn good, so the team spirit is pretty solid throughout.  It's so nice to be back in a town, like Ann Arbor, that pulses to the beat of the college.

Let's start with the fact that it felt more like a(n?) NBA game than any NBA game I've been to.  The lights go down, the spotlights start flaring through the crowd like a rock concert, and when the first string comes out, they're brought to the court with fireworks booming.  Fucking fireworks.  Inside.

Annie snagged us tickets, but they weren't together.  I was in the corner, and she was a section over, 6 rows higher.  I think she was a row from the top.  Not ideal, but it was fun just to be there.  Here's an idea of the view from my seat.
I think it says Kentucky Basketball Never Stops.
I showed up to a big Florida fan sitting in my seat.  Then I realized I was in the wrong row.  Everyone was nice about it, though.  This Florida fan was like 1 out of 10 Florida fans in Rupp Arena.  Don't get me wrong, I fucking hate Florida (read: Tim Tebow and Urban Meyer), but I always feel bad when people are so vastly outnumbered in someone else's territory.  I'm always nice to away fans at Michigan.  And I pray that people are nice to us if we're traveling to an away game.

At this point, I realized I wasn't going to be able to remember everything for my eventual blog post, so I took notes on my iPhone.
Welcome to my brain.
OK, so things that I took away.  Their student section is spectacular when the other team is shooting free throws.  At one point, the whole student section quietly sat down and 3 guys only wearing UK speedos hopped on their chairs sporadically placed among the section and started making a scene.  Not one of them should have been in public in a speedo.  It was great.  They also have a wave orchestrated where somebody conducts them and they quickly all hop up and make a bunch of motion just before the shot.  Kudos, student section.

UK fight song?  Not so spectacular.  I honestly couldn't tell when they were playing it.  'Are people clapping off-beat cuz they like this song, or is this the fight song?'  They also have a chant/song that plays over the speakers.  ♫ What's your favorite color, baby? ♫ and everyone responds ♪ Blue & White ♪.  It only stuck in my head because, well, that's two colors.  I'll tip my hat to the people on the scoreboard, though.  They scored things faster than the time it took me to look from the basket to the board.  Sometimes I wanted to clarify if the shot was outside the arc, and the scoreboard would be too quick for me.

Another realization I had is that holding up one finger is way over-used.  A camera is pointing directly at you for a nationally televised game.  What's your go-to move?  You hold up your pointer finger and yell, "We're number one baby, Go Blue!"  Well, very rarely are you actually number one.  (I remember playing USC at a Rose Bowl when they were number 2, and every time they held up that g-damn victory V, I kept yelling, "yes, you are #2.  We'll be #1 tomorrow.")  Anyway, I found it really amusing that all of these people yelling "we're #1" actually were.  UK is #1.  Yell that shit proudly.

There was one drunken douchebag (there always is) with an awful bowl cut, whom looked barely 21, that was yelling at the lone Florida fan in front of me.  Again, Fuck Florida.  But, I felt bad.  Only for you, heylookchris.  So, I kept having witty comebacks for the Florida fan, ya know, to keep things civil.  At one point, Bowl Cut, was yelling "Read me the scoreboard.  I can't read it.  Read me the scoreboard, Florida."  To which I quipped, "not saying much for the quality of a UK education."  The people next to me budded in with, "Be careful dissing the education.  Two grads right here."  Had I been in Ann Arbor, I would have told them to go fuck themselves and that I was smarter than them, so I'd say what I damn well please.  However, this isn't home yet, so I kept my cool.  I just wish they would have been present for more than half of the second half.  Or stood more.  I stood the whole time and I could honestly give a flying fuck about UK.  I was just there for the energy.

Yep, that sure is a Wildcat mascot at the top of the pyramid.
The game was king of disappointing.  2 national top 10 teams clashing?  Nope.  UK sticking it to Florida?  Yes.  I've always been a fan of the alley-oop, and boy can UK execute those.  So, at least it was interesting.  I'm so used to watching Michigan, that I forgot what it was like to have a floor full of giants that can actually block shots with their long-ass arms.

Finally, the Kentucky alma mater was less than spectacular.  Something about rolling around on the floor of a log cabin and that rough times will keep coming, but we'll make it through.  Ole Miss Kentucky.  Awkward.

Go Blue (no, not Big Blue, just Blue),

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sangria & Super Commercials

If there was a flavor that took me immediately back to the highest point of my life, it would have to be Sangria from Dominick's in Ann Arbor.  Annie and I decided to look up recipe clones and try one for the Super Bowl party we were going to yesterday.  It turned out really well.

Well, better than well.  I started drinking at about 11am.  The only thing I had eaten by the time Annie drove us over to the party, was a roll of Ritz and a few gummy tummies from TJs.  But I had drank almost 1/2 L of the homemade Sangria.  I was a hot mess, and it was like 2pm.  No better way to pregame for the Super Bowl, right?

I've recently heard that the new cool thing to do is just learn proportions instead of recipes.  Then, you can make as much or as little as you want.  So I'll do that and let you know exactly what I used.  It's not perfect, but it is so damn close that I'll never try another recipe.  Dominick's Sangria everywhere I go now!!

1 part Brandy.  I used Christian Brothers Very Smooth.
3 parts Cranberry Schnapps.  I used Dekuyper.
6 parts Concord grape wine.  I used Prodigy, a local Kentucky wine.
16 parts cheap, Red table Wine.  I used Riunite Lambrusco Emilia.
Sliced up citrus fruits.  We used 2 limes, 1 lemon, 2 naval oranges, and one cara cara orange.

So, if you use 4 cups of red table wine, then you would use 1/4 cup of brandy, and so on.  Typically you're thinking about wine in terms of bottles or liters.  Did I mention how perfect it was?!  Thank you so much swirlspice!

Aside from the Sangria, we brought the same guacamole and Asian Zing Ritz from last year's Super Bowl party.  I was rooting for the Patriots.  They lost.  I spent most of the time playing board games anyway.  That being said, here are my top 3 Super Bowl XLVI (2012) commercials in order:

 1. Naked M&Ms

 2. Dog gettin' swol'

 3. Clint Eastwood's shoutout to Detroit.  I own a 2007 Dodge Caliber, my grandpa works for Chrysler, and I know all kinds of people in the auto industry who've been struggling, so this hit home.

 Hope your Super Bowl Sunday was filled with food and friends, and slightly blurry,

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Don't Read This

My stomach has hurt for 2 days now.  The food poisoning from rancid pork from this place must have finally caught up to me.  I didn't sleep well, and I'm surprised at how pissed I am at Susan G. Komen.  So, I'm in an interesting mood.  I really shouldn't publish things when I'm like this.  Anyway...

I was listening to one of Doug Stanhope's stand-up specials, and it sent my mind on an awful side-track.

If you were to have a child in the worst part of this world, when would be the optimal time to eat it?  (He has a great bit about not judging someone where life is that hard if they decide that having a baby in order to eat it seemed like their only option.)

It would take a ton of resources to get the child through puberty to its maximum size, and there's a good chance that it might not make it to that point, so many years of resources would be lost.  I'm sure that there's another big growth spurt somewhere in between being born and first grade, but I have no clue when it is, because I hate kids.  So if you had to include resources consumed and total amount of meat produced and integrated time and risk, when would the optimal time be?  Maybe include flavor or tenderness (like veal from baby cows) into the equation if you want to make it scientific journal quality.

If you think this is awful to think about, take comfort in knowing that I started a group on Facebook in 2005 called Dead Baby Joke advocates.

Yeah, 2005.  Long before you had Facebook,

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Best Interview Ever

I sat down at a conference table while the woman whom I had been corresponding with went off to get 'everyone else'.  They left me in the room by myself.  Well, with the dog.  There were 4 resumes sitting on the table.  I reached for the pile and quickly flipped through them.  One person had a PhD.  I knew whom I was up against.

The lady brought 4 gentlemen into the room.  They sat across from me, and things weren't going particularly quickly.  So, I just took over.  I explained my situation.  I was short, and blunt, and to the point.  The position that I was applying for paid crap, and I was applying everywhere to see where I might find something worthwhile.

My small diatribe seemed to answer most of their questions, but they still had a few lined up for me.

Interviewer 1:  Favorite movie of all time?
Me:  South Park, Bigger Longer & Uncut.  But Sister Act is a very close second.

Interviewer 1:  What's your favorite element?
Me:  (pause for comptemplation)
Me:  Lithium.  I have a tattoo with 3 electrons, so it would need 3 protons to be neutral.
[Side note.  My tattoo has 6 electrons.  I didn't know that on the spot, though I've spent years staring at it.  Carbon is much more fitting.  The basis for organic life.  I won't make that mistake again.]
Interviewer 2:  Can you build a nuclear reactor outside in that field?
Me:  In this country?  No.

Interviewer 2:  Can you help us put up some solar panels on the property to spite the coal company across the hall?
Me:  My experience is in wind energy, and I've seen more wind than sun as of late, but I'd be happy to help with either.  I'd glue a windmill to the top of my car so that they have to see it in the parking lot every time they look outside.

Interviewer 3 was happy enough with my responses thus far.

Then rapid fire:
Interviewer 4: Preferred search engine?
Me:  Google.
I4:  Preferred internet browser?
Me:  Chrome.
I4:  Smartphone Platform?
Me:  iPhone.  I still have the original, though it looks like it's been through a war.
I4:  Can you fix your own computer?
Me:  I've never had one so on the fritz that I couldn't, but I've reserved most of my stressful computer work for the companies or schools I was working for.  Somebody else was always responsible for them.
I4:  Star Wars or Star Trek?
Me:  I'm nervous to say this in a table full of techies, but neither.
I4:  Dogs or Cats?
Me:  Dogs.
I4:  On a scale of 1 to 10, how weird are you?
Me:  (slight pause)  4.
(general moans)
Me:  But my blog would probably prove otherwise.
I4:  Could you build a laser?
Me:  Yes, but not one that would cut through anything.

The rest was talk about their very progressive structure like public knowledge of every employee's pay on their wiki and profit sharing and how busy they keep.  My favorite line came from the creator of the company (who doubled as Interviewer 2):  "If we can find a way to cut someone, we will, and we'll share their money."  That surprisingly inspired me.  I don't want to work for a company with a bunch of worthless people.  I'd rather be paid more to be worthwhile.

Honestly, the money is about the equivalent at working at Walmart pushing carts.  But I've done that.  And the more that I think about it, that's been my best job now that I'm not going to be working at LLNL.  Maybe I should take a pay cut and just enjoy working somewhere fun.  Hell, right now I have no money, so I guess I should be happy for anything.

I have a Sugar Momma after all,