August 17, 2010

Thank heaven for car inspections.

Posted in The Process, The Where at 12:40 pm by Dagny Taggart

1)  I’ve been having a bit of a block lately, in case you couldn’t tell from the absolute randomness, and lack of interesting material, in recent posts.

2)  But, I’m leaving for Vegas, The Sequel in 4 days.

3)  My car inspection expired at the end of July, and I hadn’t gotten it done yet.

4)  So, I worked from home today, and went on my lunch hour.

5)  When she fails inspection, my car is called Hester Prynne, because they give you a pink sticker where the yellow one normally goes.

6)  She is currently called Madeleine, her name when she has not merited a rose-hued adhesion.

7)  This is a good thing, because I didn’t feel like spending ridiculous sums on brake, oil gasket, or pressure hose repair.

8 )  Also, it means I shouldn’t get any tickets from the local parking enforcement officer while I’m gone.

9)  Which means I won’t have to call Officer P and ask him to void the tickets once I’ve taken care of the inspection.

10) Because Officer P has a tendency to write multiple tickets over a very short period of time, which doesn’t give one time to actually GET the car inspected, and the local authorities agree that it’s somewhat unreasonable to not give someone time to correct the infraction.

11)  And, Officer P sounds pretty much exactly like Elmer Fudd and Porky Pig combined, meaning that he is VERY hard to understand, and conversations take a VERY long time.

12)  And really, it’s just kind of nice to feel like I’ve done some of the things.

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August 3, 2010

Odds and Ends

Posted in But I am... le tired, The Funny, The Happy, the pretty, The Where, The Why at 9:13 am by Dagny Taggart

A long weekend of pure indulgence and somehow, my suit fits better than it did before I left.  Perhaps standing around in 4″ heels for 6+ hours a night is a decent substitute for an hour or so of cardio?

I think I prefer Vegas weather. 

I do not prefer Vegas cabdrivers.

Also, hanging out at places where you cannot see outside at all can lead to some disconcerting realizations – like how you somehow managed to leave at 7:30 in the morning, some 5 hours after you really, honestly intended to get back to your hotel.

The gold lamé dress was fantastic.

So were these boots – not at the same time, I assure you.

There are no photos – which might be for the best.  I am, apparently, the kind of person who goes to Vegas and forgets her camera.  But the beauty of Vegas is that the experience can be everything.  When you leave, you have this vague, blurry sense of awesomeness, and the thought that it might be fun to go back… just as soon as you’ve had enough time to recover.

July 21, 2010

Zen Ze Game of Lowered Expectations

Posted in I need a helmet, The Where, The Why, The WTF at 9:01 am by Dagny Taggart

This, I had to think about.  Because, well, spas are supposed to be relaxing, first and foremost.  Invigorating, sure.  And I suppose there are spas out there that put the invigoration first and the relaxation second, but a spa whose entire existence is centered around chocolate, a spa with little bowls of free kisses and fun-size bars pretty much everywhere?  Is not a spa that is all about Health!  And Exercise!  And AWAKE!

No.  It is a spa about languid relaxation with a schmear of decadence.

So, I signed up for my package, and it included something called a “Rain Shower”.  I had no idea what this was, but figured it was probably something enjoyable, and why not give it a go?

(hint:  I’m about to tell you why not)

I changed into my bathing suit, and was escorted into a very complicated shower stall with many shower heads placed so that water could be directed towards the center of the stall from pretty much every angle.  These shower heads, I could see, were connected to some very impressive looking gauges, with some complicated knob arrangements alongside.  And, a hose.

The technician started the bottommost set of showerheads, and it was cold, and then it wasn’t, and then it was kind of hot, and then I stepped out of the stall and refused reentry until the temperature was readjusted downward.  The flow was similarly opened to subsequent sets of showerheads, progressing upwards, with a similar shock of cold followed by (thankfully, not so close to boiling) warm water.  The hose was aimed at various muscle groups, and the water pressure allegedly massaged the major muscles, and I repeatedly told myself that this was a new experience and I should keep an open mind, because I WAS NOT RELAXED, NOT AT ALL, NOT IN THE SLIGHTEST, because there was a GROWN WOMAN WITH A HIGH-PRESSURE HOSE POINTED AT ME.

And then, she stopped, and for a spit second, the warm water emitting from the showerheads created a rather pleasant cocoon.  And then, she turned on the final part of the shower – something she called a “waterfall deluge”.

All of those pictures of people happily cavorting in waterfalls?  LIES.

Freezing cold water poured directly onto my head and took my breath away.  Nothing could save me, not the warm water from the horizontal showerheads, not the fluffy towels stacked on the other side of the room, past the lady who STILL HELD THE HOSE, as though she’d use it to corrall me like some unfortunate wayward calf.  “Get back in the stall!” I imagined her shouting, as I struggled to regain sufficient control over my person to fill my lungs with air.

And then it stopped, and she told me, in that calm, quiet “spa voice”, to use as many towels as I liked to dry off, pointed out the plastic bag for my swimsuit, and said she’d meet me outside the outer door, so she could take me to my “soak”.

At this point, I was more than a little afraid of what might happen next.

June 29, 2010

!!!! !!!!!!!! !!!! !!! !

Posted in 8-ball - pool not narcotics, The Happy, the pretty, The Where at 8:41 pm by Dagny Taggart

One of us is going to Vegas this summer.  Twice, actually.

It never fails that when one forges ahead and makes plans to spend a long weekend in Vegas with spectacularly wonderful company, that roughly an hour after one buys that plane ticket, one will find out that one’s pool team is, in fact…

going to the show.

Awww yeah, baby.  I’ll be doing some winning with this, I think.

May 24, 2010

Sweet Gum Tree

Posted in *cringe*, I need a helmet, Project: Fail, The Aaaarrrghhhhh!, The Ouch, The Where at 8:21 am by Dagny Taggart

This.  This is why Dr. Taggart *really* warned me about going to school in “The South”.  Of course, it didn’t happen until I’d been out of school for a while and had decided to make my stay more permanent.

See, where I’m from, we don’t have anything called a “sweet gum” tree.  Our trees?  Would cringe in embarrassment at such a moniker.  They are called things like Oak.  And Elm.  And Beech.  And Birch, who is forever trying to prove how manly it is.  Maple gets a pass for having a “fancy”, two-syllable name, but only because of its delicious, delicious syrup.

And to a point, they still drop pollen and annoying little propeller things or wormy-looking flower things everywhere.  But they do not drop little balls of evil (called gumballs, though they are not sugary or tasty or anything you’d ever want to put in your mouth)  all over everything:

Little balls of evil that coat the walkways and grassy areas of your condo complex.  So that when you’re carrying something heavy to the trash area, in the dark, you might step on them.  And they might roll.  And you might falls, possibly partially under the heavy THING you were carrying, ONTO MORE STUPID GUMBALL THINGS.

And then you might wind up with several deep bruises, roughly the size and shape of the stupid little gumball things.  Except, of course, that one spot on your hip, where you fell on several of them that had gotten stuck together, so you have a 3-4 gumball-sized bruise.

It might have seemed like Dr. Taggart was talking about cultural differences and the inability to find really good Italian or rye bread, or the extent to which I’d miss a salt bagel with Taylor ham and cheese, but I now understand that this is what she meant.

Beware the sweetgum tree, and all of its Yankee-attacking booby-trapping-ness.

Ow.

May 10, 2010

I Did This To Myself

Posted in But I am... le tired, I need a helmet, Nerdiness, The Happy, The Round, The Where, The Why at 8:51 am by Dagny Taggart

But, I Have Managed To Convince Myself That I Should Eat Dark Chocolate Every Ninety Minutes, So How Bad Can 4 Hours Of Sleep Be, Really?

I had one of those bizarre weekends where I did not manage to sleep in nearly as late as one might think.  And last night, I went to bed at 12:30, having been pretty awake up until that point waiting for the ibuprofen to kick in so that neither spasmodic “lower back pain”* nor random convulsions of my gastrocnemius muscles** would interfere with sweet, sweet slumber.

And then I woke up at 4:45, to get to the gym this morning and then drop off dry cleaning that I have to pick up at 6:00 pm today if I’m going to have anything to wear in New Orleans later this week.  Because I’m going to New Orleans for work, this week***. 😀

And then I got into the office and the first email I see is a daily digest of some personal interest to me, that highlights an article about a study done on mice in which epicatechin, a flavenol ingredient in dark chocolate, significantly reduced stroke damage in mice, when administered within 90 minutes of the attack.  So clearly, I should eat dark chocolate every 90 minutes, just in case I’ve unwittingly had a stroke.  You probably should, too.

You’re welcome.

*oooh, look!  A present from the euphemism fairy!
**So, my new running shoes have made it possible for me to run 4-5 days a week, except that my trainer really worked my legs last Wednesday, and when I went for my run on Friday, I could but hobble in pain for the last 1.75 miles.  Strictly muscle pain, but boy howdy – when my calves are tired, they don’t f*ck around.
***Sure, be jealous, because I would be too.  But just so you’re not too jealous, let me also mention that my new cue?  The one I’ve been drooling over for forever?  It’s supposed to get here TOMORROW.  After I LEAVE.  I don’t get back until Friday.  That is entirely too long to have to go without playing with my preciousssssss.****
****Heh.  That sounds really dirty.  I should get 4 hours of sleep more often.  Also, I think I’ve given the euphemism fairy another phrase to use!

April 16, 2010

Breathe.

Posted in But I am... le sick, I need a helmet, The Aaaarrrghhhhh!, The OCD, The Small and Petty, The Where, The WTF at 6:42 am by Dagny Taggart

When I moved into my condo, everything seemed perfect.  Granted, there was a lot of new stuff, and new-carpet smell and new-carpet lint and just generally getting used to things, but it was all pretty cool, and the home inspector had even checked out my condenser, etc. up on the roof.

Which he was able to do, because there is a roof access panel just outside my unit.  He did all of that, pronounced it fine, and then I went ahead and got a home warranty anyway.

A few months ago, the access panel had changed.  It now sports a sign and a padlock, and the sign directs anyone needing access to the roof to call the property management company to have someone come out there.

A few weeks ago, the smell of death started entering my little abode.  I walked in, and WOW did it smell… chemical-y.  I thought it might be my brand-new tv, offgassing.  But, no, because I took the tv out and no change.  And then I did this fun thing where I would go outside for a while, and then run inside and sniff things to see if they could be the source of the smell.  And then go back outside… etc., etc.

W says it smells like mothballs.  To me, it reminds me vaguely of turpentine with notes of lighter fluid.  I haven’t been feeling entirely well, and it seriously smells.

Oh!  And then, it got cold.  And I turned on the heat, as opposed to the fan/AC, because it was cold.  And the smell started to go away.

So, I called to schedule an appointment for my central AC, through the home warranty people, who scheduled it for a few days later.  And then I called the condo management company, so they could unlock the padlock.

And not only did they not call me back, but they then tried to tell me that I would have to reschedule my AC appointment for Monday, because that particular property manager is in training until then, and won’t be able to come out and unlock the padlock.  Because apparently, there is no one else covering his accounts for the three days that he’s in training.  Perhaps these are magic keys, usable only by the Anointed Property Manager?

But no, because when I raised the point that the fumes were actually making me ill, and that I was pretty sure that not opening the access panel in a close-to-emergent situation kind of meant that they weren’t actually managing the property and therefore weren’t actually doing the thing they were hired to do, they decided to graciously allow me to go to their office and pick up the keys and unlock the access panel myself.  FANtastic.

I’m going to go breathe some more.  Hopefully, sometime soon, it will involve air that smells of humidity and pollen, and nothing else.

April 5, 2010

A jug of wine, a loaf of bread*..

Posted in Present, The Happy, the pretty, The Round, The Where, The Why at 11:42 am by Dagny Taggart

Get yourself one of these, if you don’t have something similar already.

It’s the perfect size for a picnic for two, though you may (as I did ) opt to carry your bread separately, so the carby goodness does not get unnecessarily chilled in the tote’s main, insulated compartment.

You might also want to purchase a small, thin cutting board and a sharp knife that comes with a plastic guard or sheath.

Once you’ve done that?  Treat yourself to some of your favorite things at your local deli.  Place them in the tote with some ice packs, a few bottles of iced tea or lemon-flavored italian soda, perhaps some water.  Then…

Go here.  Search by area, by your favorite grape, or by which winery looks like it offers the best picnicking grounds.  Stay for a tasting – most are in the $10 range, depending on how many you choose to sample.  And when you’ve tried them all, pick up a bottle of your favorite, take it and your basket to the most picturesque part of the grounds, and revel in the gorgeous weather we’ve been having while you relax and partake.

I did this here, this weekend, and highly recommend the experience.  I’ll likely go back in June, when the Vin de Sol is ready – but I was quite content with both the Viognier we had with our meal, as well as with a few others we tasted.  While they do have a small selection of cheeses and charcuterie, you can definitely bring your own picnic and enjoy it at tables adjacent to the tasting room and the Chardonnay vines.

Give it a try!  But leave some of the Vin de Sol for me…

*Edward Fitzgerald

March 30, 2010

Advice

Posted in *cringe*, Nerdiness, The Where, The Who at 9:54 am by Dagny Taggart

Someone once told me, and I was about to pass along, the following:

“When you’re looking for someone to be with long-term, you want to find someone who feels like home to you.  It’s all very well and good to want excitement and passion, but if you can’t ever be completely at ease with the person, you’ll spend a lifetime experiencing drama in a cramped theater seat.”

And that analogy makes more sense if you think about it.  Because homes can serve a number of functions.  People who enjoy excitement and drama may entertain more frequently, and so they have a portion of their home dedicated to elegance and glamour, an area that stimulates conversation and evokes passionate discourse.

But for a home to be a home, it reflects the tastes of its residents in specific, unique ways.  It contains at least a few items that bring those residents comfort, that are part of a stable routine – even if those items consist of organizational trays or travel folios set out for easy access.  A home is a place where someone is completely themselves, and is completely comfortable with that. 

So, looking for someone who feels like home sounds like a fantastic idea.  Until you remember that something like two-thirds of all accidents occur within 5 miles of home.

I realize that this is torturing the analogy a bit, but it made me giggle.  So we’re supposed to find someone who reminds us of home, and then stay 5 miles from them, lest some accident occur?

March 22, 2010

When communism comes in handy

Posted in The Round, The Where at 10:27 am by Dagny Taggart

One might not expect, coming to a page authored by a woman who calls herself “Dagny Taggart”, to see a post singing the praises of Marxism.   And normally, you wouldn’t.

But this weekend, I happened to stop by a new-ish burger place (The Counter, in Reston Town Centre) in the hinterlands, and thought it was worth a try – if for no other reason than one wall of the establishment was lined with liquor bottles and they actually offer french fries, something that my beloved HellBurger has disdained.

And I really like french fries.

On the plus side, I got to order my burger via menu card with checkboxes (they have predetermined options if you don’t want to build your own burger).  On the minus side, there were entirely too many options for me to create the perfect burger in a restaurant-appropriate amount of time.

On the plus side, they have Diet Sprite available (for those of us trying to avoid caffeine while consuming Claritin-D like it’s candy, a very good thing).  On the minus side, the fries are absurdly thin.  These are not fries, they are potato strings.   I want there to be actual potato involved, when I have fries.

On the plus side, I got my burger on an English Muffin, which made me VERY happy – bun-cohesion + subtle flavor + awesome textural experience = 😀 .  On the minus side, they state that their burgers all come pink with a bit of red center – mine was decidedly more done than that, though my companion’s was perfectly cooked.

On the plus side, they have a ton of toppings and sauces and cheeses.  On the minus side, either the grilled onions or sautéed mushrooms were so heavily spiced that I couldn’t really taste the meat of my burger or the cheese I’d chosen for it.

All in all, it’s a place I’m sure I’ll try again.  Next time, however, I’ll pretend I’m in Soviet Russia, and stick to the basics. 

Well, provided that herbed goat cheese counts as a basic.

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