Lexd's Blog

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Another axe to grind December 2, 2010

Filed under: rant — lexd @ 12:06 am
Tags: , , ,

I don’t want to go on a rant here … but I’m getting a little tired of the “wow, 1″ of snow, shut down Seattle!” jokes. Seriously, $%*# off. That’s great that you grew up in upstate New York and nothing short of two feet of snow even delayed school, but that’s not how things work around here.

While a lot of our drivers are indeed fundamentally retarded in anything more than rain, our inability to function as a city (and a county, really) when it snows is due to a few major things:

  • Topography. Seattle is a stick shift-driver’s worst nightmare, even in prime conditions. Hills inside the city limits go up to an elevation of 500+ feet, and down to sea level. Some hills have up to 21% slope. And, these aren’t just arterials. Queen Anne Ave, for example, is a pretty heavily-trafficked area, and has an 18% slope. If you think I’m crazy, just follow the link on the header for some official numbers from the Seattle DOT.
  • Anti-snow supplies. On average, it doesn’t snow more than a few days a year in Seattle and the surrounding areas. That being said, it would be kind of silly to invest in and maintain a bunch of snowplows, salt, sand and de-icer, wouldn’t it? This is particularly true in a city that is considering implementing a toll between $3.50-5/trip to pay for repairs on a bridge that has needed it for years. The money isn’t there, folks, and if a politician suggested spending money on snow equipment, he/she would be flayed alive. So, the ENTIRE City of Seattle currently has 30 trucks that can be fitted with rubber-edged snowplows, 2 honest-to-goodness snowplows, and 4 de-icer trucks. That is 36 vehicles for a city with 617,000 residents (in Seattle proper … 3.4 million in Seattle Metro), that spans 143 square miles, with 1,531 miles of streets deemed “major arterials.”  So, for every 17,139 Seattleites (CITY Seattleites, not METRO Seattleites who may commute in) and 43 miles of major arterial road, there is one truck. To top it off, our rubber-tipped snowplows will clear snow, but not ice (which, as you’ll see, is the real problem).
  • Weather. The Pacific Northwest — and particularly Seattle — serves as a “landing pad” for big weather systems moving through the Pacific Ocean. We’re also surrounded by two mountain ranges, which tends to add a level of unpredictability. In a 2008 Seattle P-I article, UW atmospheric scientist Cliff Mass said the following:

The so-called “Puget Sound convergence zone” is a moving target that describes a weather reunion — when an onshore weather system that gets split by the Olympics meets again somewhere over the greater Seattle metropolitan area. And what kind of weather you get is, of course, determined to a large extent by where you live — how close to the water, elevation and the like.

And, if you check out the average temperatures in Seattle’s winter history, you’ll see that they usually dance around 32 degrees F … freezing. This normally wouldn’t be a problem until it gets cold enough to snow … then it warms back up during mid-day or early afternoon (partially melting said snow), and then drops again in the evening (freezing said melted snow into sheets of ice). THIS is where things go awry … and leads me to my next point:

  • Drivers.

Ninja Edit: I’ll be honest, I got to this point, logged on to Reddit randomly, and found this post: “In defense of Seattle drivers.” It achieves everything I was trying to do in this post, and he’s got way more cred than me because he’s from ALASKA.

So, anyway, /endrant. Lots of fun stuff to blog about, and per usual, it’s just banging around in my head, waiting for an outlet. If I can pry myself away from my umpteenth playthrough of Earthbound, I may just do it tonight 😀

Currently Loving: Hugo’s cover of Jay-Z’s “99 Problems,” puffy vests (preferrably with hoods … this sort of looks like the one I’m wearing today), the Victoria’s Secret fashion show (not only was Gerard Butler there, but the girls all genuinely looked like they were having so much fun)

this incredible image brought to you by ShedBOy^

 

Vanity Plates May 20, 2010

Filed under: other,rant — lexd @ 8:26 pm
Tags: , , , ,

You know, I had a disclaimer written to start off this post to try and avoid offending people. But you know what? I don’t care. I think vanity license plates are just plain stupid. I think they are showoffy in most cases, or for shock value … and I dislike attention whores. Or, if your plate is actually a funny joke … that’s great, but who are you going to explain it to? You can’t exactly yell over traffic and inform the people around you. If nobody gets it, IT IS A BAD JOKE.

If you do it just to stump people, I hate you too. Because I end up thinking about it for an inordinate amount of time, and then getting frustrated and sticking your plate with the dumbest justification I can think of.

Some examples of this may include:

If you are wondering where this rant comes from (I know I get random, but this is pretty out there), there’s a legitimate reason. See, someone came in for a second interview today at my office.

Before I go any further, I should explain that my office is free-standing, and nobody parks in our parking lot but employees. We all know each other’s cars, and if there’s one that doesn’t belong … we notice.

So, said individual comes in for a second interview (so they are familiar with the parking lot situation) … in a car with a vanity plate reading “DGYSTYL.” Better, it is parked right in front of our front doors.

I have no idea if my bosses are going to call the person back or what (and they totally know about it), but from my POV that’s a pretty piss-poor move. It’s not work-performance related, but I think it speaks to your personality; it says you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how others perceive you.It’s one of those things like your email (please tell me you don’t put emails like “blondiesurfergyrl194784” on a resume), or how you treat a receptionist when you go somewhere to interview.

Who expects to be taken seriously when the only personalization you have on your vehicle says “doggy style”?

I realize there are a number of excuses this individual could make. Maybe he/she used to be a pet groomer. Perhaps it was funny when they got their car in high school, but they never bothered to change the plate. Maybe it’s a friend’s car.

But I don’t think any of these hold water. Seriously, we live in Florida. You don’t have a front license plate on your car. If you were thinking about it at all, wouldn’t you back your car in? JUST SAYIN’.

Currently loving: Starbucks soy coffee frappucinos (I never knew you could get soy milk in those), Under the Dome on audio book by Stephen King, that dinner will be made when I get home (<3 crockpot)

“satan” image from uberculture

“urme imu” image from pheezy

“mai m3” image from mai le

 

Gym Awkwardness March 8, 2010

Filed under: other,rant — lexd @ 5:18 pm
Tags: , , ,

I was thinking the other day that a post on gym awkwardness was long due. Although I thought it might be less timely now that a lot of the New Years Resolution gym rats are either dropping off or learning the ropes, it’s become pretty clear to me that you don’t need to be a newbie to do some pretty stupid/rude stuff.

  • I know it’s none of my business, but when someone is on the cardio machines or sitting on one of the weight benches on their cell phone, it drives me nuts. And, I’m not talking about an urgent call, or to their kids or significant other … I’m talking about an unnecessarily loud “… and then you know what SHE said? She said I was out of line! And then he came over and got in the way and blahblahblahblah…” It should be noted that I feel this way about these conversations in just about every public space: the bus, the checkout line at the grocery store, while shopping at Old Navy. Please, talk more quietly.
  • I can only speak for the ladies on this topic, but not once have I ever met a girl who enjoyed being hit on at the gym. I know sometimes women get all dolled up at the gym (sorority girls in college … I am looking at you), but unless you’re getting eye flirtation, smiles and the usual signals from a woman, don’t go there unless you have a legitimate reason. Some of us (most of us, from what I can tell) go there to work up a sweat and get in better shape, feel better, etc. We don’t go there to get picked up. A friend of mine said the same guy hit on her two days in a row … using the same line, as she was on the same machine. Just no.
  • WIPE OFF YOUR DAMN MACHINE. Enough said.
  • Please follow the instructions for getting into classes — this goes for newbies and for veterans. Newbies: You probably didn’t know that you need to get a pass from the front desk to get into a lot of classes. It’s a space issue (and for classes like spinning, an availability issue). Go once, and after the obligatory speech from the instructor ensues, now you know. Learn from it. Get a f*&$ing pass. Veterans: I know you’ve been coming to the Wednesday evening spinning class for 8 months. You have the special spinning shorts and shoes. You know the instructor personally. YOU STILL NEED A F*&#ING PASS TO SIT ON A BIKE. (GOD this one really gets to me. If I have a pass, I should have a spot in the class)

I think I hit on my biggest offenders, although there are certainly others (seriously, Google “gym pet peeves” if you’re bored). Did I miss any important ones?

image from icanhascheezburger

 

Some words on food service March 2, 2010

Filed under: other,rant — lexd @ 4:51 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I read a lot on the Internet. I read a lot of blogs, including Consumerist and Serious Eats, to name a couple.

A topic that comes up fairly regularly on both these sites is some aspect of food service/dining out. I usually have an opinion on these topics, having spent years in a variety of food service venues (chain to high-end dining).

Yesterday Consumerist posted a story from a reader who walked out on a $90 tab after a horrendous restaurant experience.

While I don’t think the reader and his party were justified in walking (more on that later), it was actually the comments section that struck a chord more than anything else. As I read comments from people who suggested anything other than speaking with the manager about adjusting the bill, not leaving a tip and then not coming back, I was shocked. One person said they responded to sub-par restaurant experiences by writing about their displeasure — on the table — in ketchup and mustard. Passive-aggressive, much?

Look, you have to consider who you are really punishing with your actions. Most of the time, you’re not making an impact with the entity that really matters: THE RESTAURANT.

  • No tip: This should mean you didn’t like the service. In nearly all of the restaurants I worked at, the servers don’t tip out the kitchen staff, so not tipping because you didn’t like the food accomplishes nothing. You not tipping only hurts the server … who usually has to tip out a certain percentage of their sales to the bartender, expo and bussers (not a certain percentage of their tips.)  If you didn’t like the food? Talk to your server or a manager.
  • Messing up the table, etc: The only person you are hurting here is the busser (maybe the server or hostess depending on how the restaurant is run). And really, most bussers I’ve worked with have been very nice, hardworking people. They haul ass because bussers are fairly easy to replace. A lot is asked of them, and their action is often required in less than 30 seconds. The manager and the owner certainly don’t clean the tables, and they’re often the ones making the decisions regarding how the restaurant is run. Why are you punishing the busser?
  • Filling out a comment card: I’m guilty of this one on the server side. If you fill this out and give it to anyone BUT a manager, it’s not getting there. Just sayin’.
  • Verbally abusing restaurant staff: You may scoff at this one and call me dramatic, but take your shenanigans elsewhere unless you’ve worked in a restaurant. It happens far more often than people think. While it’s never acceptable to say hurtful things to anyone, being mean or yelling at a server accomplishes nothing. Why? Besides the human instinct to avoid abuse, if you’ve reached this level, we already know we’re not getting a tip. Anything above basic service is wasted on your table. It’s not very fair, but it’s economically sound. 
  • Walking on a check: This is probably the most misguided retaliation method. As one person in the comments of the Consumerist article pointed out, the OP probably wasn’t hurting the restaurant with that move. He screwed the server big time, because servers are generally expected to cover walk-outs with their own money. Another commenter asks if this is legal — I have no idea. But it’s common practice. As they get tables, servers create “tables” on a POS (point of service) system where they input your orders, cash people out, etc. Those tables are under the server’s name. At the end of a shift, they are responsible for anything under their name. If you walk on that $90 tab? Yep, it’s still open under their name, and the restaurant holds them accountable. It sucks, and it’s why servers have been known to chase people out the door.

In closing, what should the OP at Consumerist have done? It may have been a pain in the ass, but get with the manager to get the check fixed. The manager may even have comped something (either to try and amend the situation, or just to get them out the door … sometimes the latter is just easier). If the manager didn’t handle the adjustment well, write a letter to the owner, or put a call in during a non-busy time (usually between 9 and 10, or between 3 and 4) to speak to the owner. Leave a bad review on Yelp, UrbanSpoon, whatever.

Just think about how far your actions actually go towards creating the change that you want.

image by discoverdupage

image by poiseon bild&text

 

Indulge me … about HAIR February 16, 2010

Filed under: other,rant — lexd @ 3:46 pm
Tags: ,

I said I was going to write a blog post about this, so here it is. A totally indulgent post on something I am passionate about: CURLY HAIR.

Women with curly hair (this might be true for men, but I can only speak for myself and most of the curly-haired girls I know) are usually pretty conscious of the state of their hair. For most of us, there’s no such thing as a “throw it in a ponytail” day, like straight-haired gals have.

Why, you ask?

FRIZZ. Curly hair dislikes being tamed. It will fight that ponytail holder with all it’s got. If even a few of your hairs are shorter than the rest, they will stand at attention and stick out as soon as the water from your shower evaporates. It’s curly hair’s middle finger, see.

I am one of the luckier curly gals, I think. My hair is actually pretty thin … I just have a lot of it. This means that given the right amount of product and a ponytail tight enough to give me a migraine by midday, I can make my hair lay pretty flat (basically, be presentable in an office setting).

That brings me to a huge point of contention in the world of curly hair: Product and treatment. Nearly every magazine article you see about hair types will tell you to do the following for curls:

  • Moisturize often and early. Curly hair is actually very dry. I do not know why this is.
  • Do not wash your hair every day. This blows me away. I know it relates to the above bullet, but who gets away with second-day curls and doesn’t look homeless or recently-bedded? And, don’t these people ever work out?
  • Blot your hair dry with an old t-shirt, never rub and never use a towel. I tried this once, and my hair didn’t get dry at all, which made it impossible to style, and ended up getting the back of my shirt wet.
  • Distribute some leave-in curl cream, use your fingers to create individual ringlets, and then do not touch your hair until it is dry. I do not know what this magical “curl cream” is, but if you can find me a SINGLE product that can do the work of leave-in conditioner, mousse and shine serum, please let me know.
  • Or, use a diffuser. I would rather go to work with wet hair than try to use a diffuser. I have been trying and trying to use one correctly since I was 9, and all I get is insta-frizz. 3 minutes into the process, I can usually tell that the session is going downhill. I can occasionally get solid curls in a crunch by lifting the hair in sections (GENTLY), and holding the dryer on low right next to the hair. Diffusers are ridiculous and I do not endorse them.

I would like to know if the authors of said articles actually had curly hair. I say this because you do not understand curly hair unless you have curly hair. If you are looking for a new stylist, always ask if they specialize in curly hair. It sounds high-maintenance, but the last thing you want is some idiot underestimating how much curly hair shrinks when it dries, leaving you with hair 2″ shorter than you planned. (On a side note, I had a stylist argue with me about how curly my hair was as she took a blowdryer to it — NO PRODUCT INVOLVED. I said nothing and walked out of there looking like hell just to prove a point.)

Hair has been a point of concern for me lately, because my hair has been getting less curly lately. I think it’s the birth control hormones wearing off, because when I was taking it, I had ridiculous ringlets. I loved them. And now I am realizing how much I miss them.

I’ve always been a hair junkie. I love hair products (my current holy trinity of Fructis leave-in conditioner, pantene pro-v mousse and fructis shine serum gets the job done), reading about hair styles, hair treatments, etc. Watching those makeovers on America’s Next Top Model — especially the ones where the girls with beautiful long hair go to those “Mia Farrow” cuts she talks about EVERY BLOODY SEASON — make me cringe.

On a semi-related note, do not — under any circumstances — go up to someone you don’t know and try to touch their curls. I don’t know who first decided that this was even remotely appropriate, but it has happened to me on multiple occasions. Not only are you not supposed to touch curly hair in the first place (frizz prevention), but as you can see, many women with curly hair are neurotic about it. I have a hell of a poker face, but when this has happened to me, I reportedly give a pretty good death glare. Get out of my personal space, and back the $*%& off my hair.

Thank you for indulging me. Back to regularly scheduled commentary about food, exercise and social media later.

image from Q8y_dream’s Photostream

image from Stacey Lynn Photography’s Photostream

 

The Downside to Home-made Meals February 2, 2010

Filed under: food — lexd @ 3:58 pm
Tags: , ,

As I mentioned yesterday, I spent a good portion of Sunday cooking up some meals for the week (and beyond, hopefully). I used to do this a lot more because I’m the type of person who can eat the same thing for lunch at work all week and really not get sick of it. So, I’d make a big portion of a recipe (I was on a tofu/veg stir-fry/brown rice kick for a while, which was AWESOME), portion it out, and then take it to work every day.

I wanted to get back into this. BF and I are trying to be more cognizant of our food spending habits, because we spend an ungodly amount on groceries each month for two people. Even when I try and justify it by saying that we never go out for dinner (because really, we don’t) and we cook all the time, and we buy a lot of produce … it’s still way too much money for two people. Much of that comes from meat.

So, we’re trying to start eating vegetarian more often (BF suggested 1x/week, but I am running as far as I can with this). I made a huge batch of Mark Bittman’s basic split pea soup, cooked with 2 ham bones I froze after we bought a ham a few months ago, carrots, celery and onions. I also made these Cuban black beans with a pound of dried beans I bought in the bulk section at Publix (SO CHEAP).

When all was said and done (minus the sink snafu, which is a-ok now), I had a buttload of food, portioned into baggies and put in the freezer.

Now that BF is working later, and I hit the gym after work (or happy hour or some other engagement), it’s been harder to cook a decent meal and eat before 8 p.m. And, rotisserie chickens are expensive and starting to not taste so good to me lately. I was hoping to get around that by making all this food.

It’s been great. When I got home from the gym at 7:30 last night, I had some of the split pea soup (beans were a little more al dente than I wanted, but whatevs), toast with some cheese slices on it — dinner ready in about 3 minutes. This was what I was going for.

The problem I run into is that I have no idea how many calories I’m eating … especially with the split pea soup. I looked on caloriecount.com at the calorie load for 1 c. of cooked split peas and it was around 300 … does that sound right? I thought it sounded high. Regardless, what does cooking the beans with ham bones do to the calorie load? Chicken stock? HOW DO I MEASURE THIS?

Now that I’ve been on the food diary kick for a week, I’m starting to see why calorie counting is a problem for some people. It really does make you neurotic. It’s the first thing I do every day when I get into work — fill out info from the night before, spend some time on calorie count … I’m not estimating anymore. I want exact numbers, dammit. And that’s why these meals are frustrating me.

I know that these black beans (and the soup, I hope!) are good-for-me meals that pack a lot of protein and fiber. I’m getting hung up on the calorie load, and that’s problematic for me. Anyone have any suggestions on how to a) calm my neuroticism or b) be more mindful of the calories in these homemade meals?

In other news, the weather sucks in Orlando today, and I have to go get my oil changed at lunch. Pretty much my least favorite errand ever (I hate when they try and sell me on stuff for my car! Just change my damn oil!). Good thing Mom_D sent me a belated birthday gift box with the two newest House of Night books in it … ^_^

book image from Amazon

soup image from myveggiekitchen’s Photostream

 

Warning: Food(ie) Rant October 26, 2009

Filed under: food,rant — lexd @ 5:17 pm
Tags: , , ,

I have a confession to make: I am a food snob.

This epiphany hit me over the weekend, as I was eagerly researching local restaurants here in the Orlando area for the upcoming five year anniversary with BF. I have two requirements as I plow through this search:

  • No chain restaurants
  • I refuse to pay more than $35 for an entree (call me cheap, but you shouldn’t have to pay more than that for a delicious and memorable meal)

I’ve run into this problem in Orlando before, but it’s never hit me quite as hard as it did when I was perusing Yelp and Urbanspoon. And Orlando Magazine. And Seminole Magazine. I discovered two things:

  • Orlando is a land of chain restaurants
  • Many people in Orlando equate price with quality.

As you can tell, these directly contradict my restaurant requirements above.

I figure this post might raise a few hackles, but seriously. Check out UrbanSpoon’s list of best restaurants in Orlando. Almost half of the top 20 are chain restaurants.

I am not trying to argue that chain restaurants are always crap (although the ubiquitous TGI Friday’s and Applebees are reliably terrible). In fact, I dined at Bahama Breeze last night, and had an enjoyable meal. The one time I’ve been to Seasons 52, it was wonderful. Outback often makes a great steak for the price.

But if someone from out of town were to ask me for one restaurant recommendation for the town I lived in, and the best I could muster was a chain restaurant, I’d be pretty embarrassed.

To prove my point: Check out Orlando Magazine’s restaurant rankings for 2009. Best take-out? A GROCERY STORE. Best Chinese? P.F. Chang’s. Best Mexican food … TIJUANA FLATTS? I love some TJ’s, but when it’s ranked as the best Mexican food in all of Orlando, you’ve got a problem. (To friends not from Central Florida, Tijuana Flatts is a chain kind of like Chipotle.)

Also, when I finally get a recommendation for a “great” restaurant around here, it’s usually obnoxiously expensive, and/or underwhelming. Case in point: Ravenous Pig, Ceviche, Hue, Spice, Citrus. Certainly the food was tasty at each place (most of the time … SPICE), but I think it’s telling that when I have the opportunity/desire to go out for a meal, none of these places come to mind. The food simply isn’t worth the price, to me.

To those who cry that I haven’t been to Texas De Brazil, Del Frisco’s, Charleys or Houston’s … the same principle applies. $150-200 worth of food does not a great anniversary meal make.

So, yes, I have moved beyond just being a “seafood snob” (if you have never eaten Atlantic salmon, DON’T), and into food snob land.

And, if you care, we’re going to Melting Pot for our anniversary. Last year, their high-walled booths, decently-priced bottles of wine, and the fun of fondue itself created one of my favorite anniversary dinners ever.