Thursday, November 30, 2017

NaBloPoMo Day 30

I probably should find a gif of someone high-fiving herself. Or maybe a real quality dab or a Heisman maneuver. Meanwhile I'll crank up Ode to Joy super loud and the air shall erupt with sparkles. A smoke machine would be cool.

Because this is -- drum roll please -- NaBlaPoMo #30. Count 'em kids. 30 posts, 30 days.

*drops laptop and twerks twice*

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Tom and the cat emojis - The Penultimate Day 29 of NaBloPoMo

Tom came home from work looking a little bewildered. I asked why.

"Remember that guy, the one I kept seeing at a bunch of triathlons? He's a real Ironman muscle guy. Very fast." said Tom.

I nodded and had no idea where this was going.

"We were swapping messages on facebook about a workout plan. He wrote that he'd coach me and it would only cost $5. I wasn't sure if he was kidding."

I uh huh'ed.

Tom goes on, "I didn't know what to write back. Seriously, what if he's only kidding? But then again, what if he's not kidding? I thought about my response for a really long time."

This had to be going somewhere. You'd expect there'd be a story arc of some kind.

"Finally I decided to write back 'I'm In!' with a smiley face. Then I'd wait to see what he replied. At that point, I should know if he's kidding."

Right, right, I said. You'd expect you'd know at that point.

Is that a litterbox?
"I was having trouble with my keyboard. I plugged it in and then I unplugged it and jiggled it around and finally it was working, so I sent my reply."

That's good, I said. Sucks when ye olde keyboard is on the fritz.

Tom shook his head. That wasn't his point. He says, "Here's the thing-- when I actually looked at what I sent, instead of sending 'I'm in!' I sent two cat emojis."

Oh, I said.

"I sent another message real quick, like 'I don't know how that happened!'
He hasn't written back yet."

I laughed so hard the neighbors' dog started barking.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Peggle on the Big Screen - Nothing on the Small Screen - NaBloPoMo Day 28

It is true. We do play a lot of peggle on the big TV. Mostly when there's family and friends around because:

When you achieve great Peggle success, it's better when people you love are all around throwing pillows at your head.

I considered getting a game of some kind on my phone - not peggle because once you go big screen you don't go back - but like Tetris or something. I heard a podcast where an expert said that Tetris is great to play in 5 minute increments during the day as sort of mini-yogic retreat. Let me restate - as a don't-have-to-move-your -lazy-ass kind of mini-yogic retreat. Sounds fine.

But I never did pull the trigger on the download because I was appalled by the privacy policy or lack of privacy policy on every single game I looked at. No, I will not give you access to my camera and microphone at all times, thank you very much game-maker person.

And so, that is the end of this story.

Monday, November 27, 2017

My gift from Ella - NaBloPoMo Day 27

A few years ago, my niece Ella gave me this necklace as a gift.

A couple months ago, just after her tenth birthday, she walked by my dresser, saw the necklace and said, "I can't believe I gave you a necklace with my own name on it, Aunt Stacey."

I said it's one of my favorite gifts because I smile every time I look at it.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Things that are Annoying - NaBloPoMo Day 26

Last week, we were at that comedy show-- the one with the twenty comics stumbling around in the zone called "not ready for an audience." The host of the show opened with a bit about how she is wildly annoyed by people sipping their coffee from mason jars on the subway.

Not #1: Coffee in Mason Jars

I am not annoyed by people sipping their coffee from mason jars. It's a little hipster twee... like I wouldn't be surprised if I saw a unicorn sticker on the mason jar or some homage to beardsmanship. Even then, I wouldn't care.

Also Not #1: Slow Walkers

You can't have a list like this without the chestnut of all annoyances to kick shit off: Slow walkers in the city. I could say I'm annoyed by people walking slowly on the sidewalk, but the target of my annoyance has shifted. I'm now less annoyed relative to the individual persons engaged in the slow walking and more annoyed by the entire scenario of being trapped in the middle of a short-legged horde and occasionally bopped with a giant quilted handbag.

My annoyance is tempered by the fact that I alone put myself on 5th Avenue in the fifties on a Sunday afternoon. So-- no. Slow walkers are not #1 on my Annoying List because I feel, to be truly annoying, the source of the annoyance has to be out of your own control.

#1: Self-Righteously Annoyed Captions

Here's something annoying that maybe I'll go with as a start: The Saturday after Thanksgiving, a facebook acquaintance posted a photo of a crowd. This crowd was huddled in front of the Starry Night painting at MoMA.

This facebook person captioned her photo: "I hate people."

I became annoyed by this caption.

Seriously, dude. You go to MoMA the Saturday after Thanksgiving and you're shocked and amazed by the crush of tourists admiring probably the only painting they actually recognize in the whole damn museum. Go on Wednesday at in the middle of winter like any self-respecting New Yorker for chrissake we're all old enough to know better.


Yeah, you're right.

I should unfollow this person and, with a simple click, evaporate this annoyance. I'm re-thinking beginning my list with this one. Give me a do-over, ok?

#1: Being asked for advice on how to sell personal hygiene products at a fair

I'd call myself both annoyed and baffled in equal measure when someone asks me for advice on how to sell personal hygiene products to consumers who are attending a fair, when I have never sold personal hygiene products to consumers who are attending a fair.

Yes, this is a good one to start with.

#2: Being asked again for advice on how to sell personal hygiene products at a fair

It is yet more annoying when someone, someone to whom you've just explained you have no experience selling personal hygiene products at a fair, informs you that yes you have sold personal hygiene products: you did so at your first job out of college.

You say, good memory, because your first job out of college went down almost thirty years ago and to the best of your recollection, at that job you weren't really selling personal hygiene products except in the most tangential way.

And then the person you're conversing with replies that you were, in fact, highly successful at this job and they demand advice on how to sell personal hygiene products at a fair. Clearly you are withholding this crucial information because you are unhelpful and disagreeable.

#3: Someone who refuses to believe that you may not have been highly successful at your first job out of college, and who still wants your advice on how to sell personal hygiene products at a fair

Let's just say at your first job out of college you would quit work everyday at around 2pm and pursue other endeavors that were not exactly conducive to on-the-job success. At best you were a B or B+ employee and it was definitely for lack of trying. It was also before the internet.

So for #3, let's call it annoying when someone insists, even after all this, that they know or remember better than you, and you were in fact highly successful at your first job out of college. So could you write out some notes on how to best sell personal hygiene products at a fair.

I suspect this is not what Sheryl whatsherface had in mind with her leaning in. She should write a chapter on what to do when someone chases you around with a "compliment" so they can force you to give advice on selling personal hygiene products at a fair.

I need to learn to smile and walk away is what I need to learn. My current strategy of backing away slowly and trying, but utterly failing, to be polite is clearly insufficient.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The guy in our building - NaBloPoMo Day 25

I get in the elevator with a guy and his dog. I've seen him before. The elevator doors close. I wait, because I know something's coming. It doesn't take long. He says, "That's a gangsta handbag. Gangsta."

I nod my head. My handbag is kind of gangsta. It has silver studs.

I smile. The dog inches a little closer to me. The guy goes, "She likes the ladies." I pat the dog on the head.

I get out on my floor.

I just started reading Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Letham which is great. The hero has Tourettes. So on that day I figure out the guy in the elevator also has Tourettes.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Cards Against Humanity Snafu - NaBloPoMo Day 24

I think we have every set of Cards Against Humanity. Someone gave us the first few sets as a gift and then we bought a couple and then we got a few more as gifts. We have boxes and boxes. It's important that this be fully realized, because it's my main excuse.

We have a pile of loosely child-friendly cards haphazardly jammed in a box lid. We break them out when we play with the niece, nephews, grandma and grandpa. These games are hilarious. The kids go giddy with laughter. One time Jack laughed so hard he went airborne. When he came back down, his little tushy crashed right through the bottom of a plastic lawn chair and he still has a scar. In other words, this is the perfect game for Thanksgiving family fun.

However. As most know, neither Tom or I are known for our spectacular attention to detail. For example, today I inadvertently picked up the wrong box of cards for our game. Instead of the box of cards censored for the kids, I picked up a different one.

It could have been a whole lot worse. I had a suspicion there might have been a mistake made when I got the "a slightly shittier parallel universe" card and Jack gave himself hiccups when he won a round after playing "That Ass."

Grandma's eyebrows drilled through her forehead moments later. She clocked me on the forehead with two cards on the smutty side. She said, "I do not want to have to explain to anyone what these mean."

Fast as lightening, I switched out the one box for the other box, but any cards people had in their hands remained in play.

The next round, the question is, "No matter what, Anderson Cooper spends fifteen minutes every day with.... (blank)."

Someone played "The Chronic."

Ella wants to know what this is.

Tom, Mary and I search each other's eyes for the right way to go about the explanation. Grandma jumps right in, "It's like heart disease or diabetes," she says. "Or like grandpa and his high cholesterol."

That'll do.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Practically Swiss - NaBloPoMo Day 23

Last week, Tom says he wishes his jeans were shorter in the legs, but he can't figure out where to get them hemmed. 

I say go to the dry cleaner we always go to for pant hemming. 

He says he does not want his jeans to look like they're hemmed. If the bottom seam isn't there, his jeans will look like denim slacks. That would be horrifying. Jeans should not look like denim slacks. 

I say she has a trick, that old lady in the dry cleaner. She cuts off the bottom seam, clips a couple inches off the pant leg and then sews the bottom seam right back on. She’s fucking ingenious. I show him my jeans she hemmed and they definitively do not look like denim slacks.  

Ten minutes later, Tom comes out of the bedroom wearing his too-long jeans, with another pair of jeans slung over his shoulder. 

He says, “see how efficient I am? I’m going to wear these long jeans down to the dry cleaner. Then after the old lady does her measurements, I’m going to take them off and put on these other jeans. I’m practically Swiss.”  

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

New Blacksmithing Gloves - NaBloPoMo Day 22

I got these svelte new blacksmithing gloves the other day. Cool design, lots of black. Most of the blacksmithing gloves I've burned to a crisp during my tenure have been really industrially radioactive shades of blue, green and orange. These are certainly a step up.

In the top photo above, you will notice my new gloves artfully displayed on my anvil. My anvil is a 150lb English Anvil. Tom got it for me for Christmas years ago and she's a beaut. 

Photo credit:

I was glad Tom found me the anvil that he did because before that, I had made a terrible and super embarrassing error. I ordered an anvil online. There were problems right out of the box. Literally.

Shipping tip: It's really hard to send an anvil in a cardboard box. I received an anvil, and then kind of separately, a beat up box with an anvil-sized hole in the bottom.

Anyway, I was up at the Pig Iron Pig Roast and I happened to mention to one of the smiths that my anvil was getting rusty and had all these chips and dings in it already. The smith rolled his eyes, like a full three-hundred-and-sixty eye ball roll. He said, "You didn't get one of those Chinese anvils did you?"

Well it turns out I did. I was mortified. And I can tell you from experience, Chinese anvils suck. They're cast iron. Not good. Not strong and no bounce. Also no hardy hole or pritchel hole and the horn is not round enough to actually make anything unless you're going for lumpy.

A really high carbon steel face plate is key. You want to drop the hammer and have it bounce back so fast the back of it could clock you in the head if you're in there too tight. Which is, if you must know, the most common blacksmithing injury- hammering yourself in the head. I guess lots of blacksmiths do not have Chinese anvils.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Adrenal Years - NaBloPoMo Day 21

We were out to dinner with Wanda and Derek and I mentioned probably my favorite TV show ever. The entire show was one camera angle. Just a video camera sitting there. In a pen with a whole bunch of puppies. And in the back of the pen was an old school TV playing music videos.

So you'd watch the music videos, but mostly you were watching the puppies doing puppy things and climbing around on the TV. It was great. It was on from maybe 3:30AM to 5. I watched it all the time. Wanda and Derek both agreed it sounded like terrific television.

Tom calls 2000-2002 'the adrenal years.' I had two adrenal glands back then, one of them going full throttle 24/7. Basically this amounted to not sleeping much. I got a lot done, but the neighbors didn't like me. There's only so many nights they'll stand for someone being up at 4am drilling holes in boards and hanging up shelves or something.

So I started watching a lot of Fuse TV. They had this "Up All Night" programming. Perfect for those of us with adrenal tumors and also I suspect meth addicts.

A few years later, after me and my overly enthusiastic adrenal gland parted ways, Up All Night held onto its allure. At midnight, Pants Off Dance Off came on.

So Awkward.

One time I was up taking in a Pants Off Dance Off marathon. I perked up when I heard the song choice - Galvanized by the Chemical Brothers. A great adrenal-friendly music choice. And guess who the pancer is? It's this guy who lives around the corner. I was over his place once or twice to play the bass with his band.

Shake it, neighbor guy.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Big news of the day - NaBloPoMo Day 20

Some big news today and I'm not talking about how it snowed some in New Jersey this morning. And I'm also not talking about the bottle of Heinz 57 I found jammed in the back of the fridge which expired in 2007. I'm talking about the t-shirts that me and Derek made which are now on sale at your friendly local webstore:

These t-shirts have been in the works a super long time. It all began when I was in Gothenburg in  Sweden in 2014. I wanted to buy a t-shirt with the city emblem on it-- a really cool lion. Except I did not want a "Gothenburg" shirt. I wanted a "Göteborg" shirt. Gothenburg is the tourist name. I wanted a Swedish t-shirt. Not an American tourist t-shirt. No. Where. To. Be. Found.

So then I poked around in Stockholm for something cool. The only t-shirts I could find in Stockholm had New York City on them.

Then, back home, I saw the "Keep Calm and Carry On" shirts, and I had the best idea ever-- an"Ingen fara på taket" T-shirt. Technically it means "There's no danger on the roof."

At Fredags-øl last month, Felix did some research and the whole phrase originally was "Ingen fara på taken så länge skorstenen står." Meaning, There's no danger on the roof as long as the chimney is standing.

I guess that might make a little more sense. Or maybe it doesn't, but it kind of feels like you could put it together if you thought about hard enough.

Also why does how you say "chimney" in Swedish translate to "shoe stone." You can contemplate that while you're at it.

Buy a shirt, look as tres chic as I'm going to in 9-12 regular shipping days, and support our club!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Amazon Subscribe & Save can be treacherous - NaBloPoMo Day 19

We have a modest collection of laundry detergent. Tom says we're set through 2019. Such are the dangers of Amazon Subscribe & Save.

If you plan ahead and order on a schedule, you save like 15% off normal Amazon prices. You pick whether you want something delivered once a month or once every two months. In theory it's really quite terrific especially if you're somewhat of a serial obsessive.

Think about it:

* You save 15%
* Good for environment, lots of stuff comes in one box
* Like magic, things you need show up
* Save time, you only have to click to buy once instead of repeatedly

Let me offer some advice: you don't want to be all hasty and slapdash when contemplating your household needs. I was feeling all Frau Badass nailing that submit button and now we have a closet full of moisturizer and nineteen bars of soap.

Also, we're out of tea and vitamins and I staunchly refuse to pay full price mid-month. I can wait two weeks. It's the principle of the matter, not the five bucks.

Ordering Subscribe & Save requires a spreadsheet. One must track one's consumption prior to committing. One must also set a calendar reminder to go around and assess the pantry situation prior to the cut off date for order changes. If you miss the date, you will receive another box of goods whether you want them or not.

Should there be a zombie apocalypse, see us for dishwasher detergent, chewing gum and steel cut oats.

And yet, our cornucopia of extra toilet paper cannot overcome a major life challenge I'm facing right now. Here's a photo of the tea Wanda recommended and I love but which we are out of until November 29.

Some pretty great Genmaicha Tea

Saturday, November 18, 2017

A Few Moments of Comedy at Dangerfields - NaBloPoMo Day 19

One guy totally forgot his set. Another dude had a red hat at the ready for his lengthy "Donald Trump On The Campaign Trail in 2016" impression. An ophthalmologist rattled off a series of retina-based puns. There was an excess of rhyming spoken word poetry that was possibly supposed to be accapella rapping.

I'd estimate 12-20 people took the stage. Three had potential. Another one dropped the mic, but it was an accident. Under no circumstances am I implying that we witnessed a mic drop.

I said the whole thing felt like a non-gentle anthropological probe that I needed far more whiskey to understand. Tom described it as "A talent show with a two drink minimum and really expensive drinks." If you put these facts together, your conclusion should be that two drinks was not sufficient but we were not going to belly up for more, given the outrageous price point. Thus the ensuing consternation.

Dangerfield Comedy Club Takeaways

  • Dangerfield Comedy Club does not have any sort of vetting process whatsoever.
  • "This crowd has gotten very old," said one of the comedians toward the ass-end of the pack. That was when I learned millennials are smarter than us.

    Everyone under the age of 30 had filtered themselves out the door by the seventh act.

    (We were there to support the host, and she was on until the bitter end. Plus I was mesmerized by the misplaced confidence on full-frontal display. Who are these people who think they're ready for a crowd after practicing in the bedroom mirror for a sadly insufficient length of time?)
  • Jokes about Heathcliff the Cat, especially when delivered in song, result in an audience shopping for boots on their phones under the table.
  • White people should under no circumstances use the n word. It's not funny or appropriate. Ever.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Where we're at NaBloPoMo - NaBloPoMo Day 17

This is the NaBloPoMo rough patch, these middle-of-the-month days. My entire stockpile of ideas is tapped, but I'm not yet at the place where it's ok to post whatever the hell, like I'm totally fine with at the ass end of the month.

But let's fast forward shall we, because it's 11:47PM and we just got back from dinner at Kubeh and drinks at Analogue with Helen and Matt.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Tom v Old Lady - NaBloPoMo Day 16

The facts are, it's pretty impossible to win the lottery to get into the NYC Marathon if you live in NYC. Or anywhere else that is not exotic, at least in the eyes of race officials.

The workaround is to do a "9+1." Meaning if you join the New York Road Runners club and, within one calendar year, run nine of their races and volunteer at one more, you auto-qualify for the marathon the following year.

Tom decided he wants to run the marathon next year, so he signed on for the 9+1 plan.

Last Saturday was Tom's "+1". He volunteered to help out at a pretty massive 5k in the park. This 5k is kind of a tradition. It happens the day before the marathon, so finishers cross the same finish line as the marathoners and run through the stands and all the hoopla set up for the marathon. Except they only have to run 5k instead of 26 miles so by all accounts this is a very clever maneuver.

Tom got down to the race area at some ungodly hour. They gave him a fluorescent green reflective vest and a hat. Turns out, most of the volunteers did not get a vest. They just got the hat. So Tom was a very special volunteer. At least by all appearances. Someone told him to stand by the finish and make sure the area stayed clear of spectators, etc.

Then the cops came by and closed the barricades around the finish line. Tom was now barricaded onto the race course. Which made him look even more special and official. A security guard asked him a question about what should go where. Tom shrugged and answered the question. More people started asking questions. Tom answered the questions. Tom starts feeling the power of his vest.

At the very end of the race, an old lady moseys up with her walker and says she wants to cross the race course. Right at the finish line. Tom hooks his thumbs in his vest and says she has two options. She can wait until the ambulance goes by, meaning the race is over because the ambulance is behind all the runners. Or, she can go around the back of the finish line and cross that way, which wouldn't be far out of the old lady's way. He also points to the ambulance. It's coming around the corner and would be by in five minutes, tops.

The old lady is pissed. She always crosses the park right here, she does not want to go around and she wants to cross immediately.

Tom says it isn't safe to cross immediately, but if she waits four minutes....

The old lady gives Tom the what for. She is ten shades of not happy. She tells him where he can stick his safety concerns. She tells him she always walks out into the middle of traffic.

By that time the ambulance goes by. Tom strips off his fluorescent green reflective vest and it's Tom. Out.

He has no idea what the old lady did, but he thinks she went out on the race course and wobbled across the finish line. He says he suspects that was her sneaky plan all along.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Poop on the Sidewalk - Hours of Fun -Poo NaBloPoMo Day 15

Photo of poop I texted out to the family

I knew exactly what would happen as soon as I took this photo. Poop is subject matter certain people find mesmerizing. Everyone in my family, you see, fancies themselves an amateur scatologist.

Moments after I hit send, my sister-in-law is on the scene: "Fox or a large cat."
Pop steps up: "3:1 - Fox, Raccoon."
Mom elbows in: "It’s not pointy enough to be fox poop."

Dad, with the rebuttal: "But it’s divided and rounded. Could easily be fox poop."
Mom comes back: "Coyote poop is a pretty good size."

PS: In case you didn't know, the scatologists have a theme song. Here's my pop with a rendition:

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Godspeed, sticky fingers - NaBloPoMo Day 14

photo credit:

Someone ripped off our credit card and had a fun day in Manhattan.

First, they picked up a terrific new pair of expensive sneakers. No sense slumming around in crappy treads when you have big plans the afternoon.

After that, it was off to Shake Shack for lunch. While enjoying a $50 mound of burgers and fries, it apparently seemed like a great idea to book an AirBnB out of town and hook the fambo up with some Amtrak tickets.

Godspeed, sticky fingers.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The time i was (briefly) ahead of Shalane Flanagan - NaBloPoMo Day 13

I was running on the Hudson River path. Turning in respectable sub-10s, jamming with my tunes, feeling pretty good. It was 2012,  right after they canceled the New York Marathon in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Suddenly, I felt a whoosh. Two ladies blew past my ass like I was standing still. And not only that, they were chatting, in normal voices, while they did so. I know one of them was Kara Goucher and I think the other one was Shalane Flanagan. I guess the two were out for a little jog. They had some time on their hands, being in town with no marathon and all.


My only point is that I ahead of Shalane Flanagan.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Thor in FiDi with Stacie and Andy - NaBloPoMo Day 12

On Friday, the temperature plummeted. And the movie theater was the whole way down by Battery Park, almost on the water. Meaning one cold-ass trek overland after we got out of the subway. During the frigid journey, I overcame potential frostbite with mittens, a scarf, my winter jacket and NSFW language.

Despite arctic conditions, it was pretty cool
to walk by One World Trade all lit up

I didn't bother to ask why Stacie and Andy wanted to see Thor all the way down in the hinterlands of Manhattan. It's not exactly like that sassy savage Chris Hemsworth cannot be found on the big screen in midtown.  I figured Stacie and Andy had a reason.

And sure enough, it was a good reason.

You should have seen these theater seats. Totally plush. They had buttons for varied reclining and a lot of square footage. Plus a tray with a cup holder. If this place ever needs a new business model, they could rent out for naps.

Plus the lobby of this joint looked like this:

Very fancy lobby in the theater which is
actually somehow connected to the Conrad Hotel.

I walked out feeling all first-world first-class, but then my reverie crumbled because I remembered the outdoor thermometer problem. It was not at all fancy to dash around a darkened frozen FiDi tundra. But, Andy with the save.

He knows how to get the whole way from the West Side Highway all the way to the subway stop indoors. I didn't even put my coat on it was so pleasant. We went through the Brookfield Mall and the Wintergarden and then into this passageway into the future:

....which put us into the Oculus, a powerful selfie-magnet, even at midnight. After a brief stop by a weird tubby looking contraption hawking some kind of glasses-related product I did not understand because clearly I'm not the right target market generation, we continued our journey.


In no time, we made it into the new Fulton Street Subway station. It would have been better if we'd all worn our sleekest white neoprene space outfits.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

My Listeria Summer, courtesy of Amrita Health Foods - NaBloPoMo Day 11

Apple, Cinnamon and Listeria Bar
from Amrita
Erin suggested I actually accomplish something useful with this NaBloPoMo timesuck. She pointed out that I could write a blog post documenting my queasy summer as a public service announcement:

For like two solid months, I had this flu that wouldn't quit. It was a real bitch of a flu featuring electrifyingly terrible headaches, dizziness, nausea, and super stiff muscles.

The worst part was, just when I'd start to shake it, there'd be a relapse. Over and over again.  Finally I went to the doctor. He said I did not have the flu. He said it looked to him like a food-borne illness. He scribbled me a prescription for antibiotics.

Maybe a week later, I get this email from Amazon:

Greetings from
We have learned of a potential safety issue that may impact product(s) you purchased through
HIGH PROTEIN Variety Pack - Pack of 12 bars by Amrita

I click through on the link:

Amrita Health Foods Voluntarily Recalls Protein Bars For Possible Health Risk

Amrita Health Foods is recalling … Amrita Bars because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections ... Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea.

No confirmed illnesses have been reported to public health authorities to date.

Seriously? I'd been eating these damn infected bars all summer, which is why I endlessly felt like shit. I kept re-poisoning myself every single time I got the munchies for a convenient protein snack.

Things about this whole listeria episode that really rubbed my bacteria-soaked brain cells the wrong way

  1. The email advisory came from Amazon (god bless 'em), not Amrita. And it came five days after Amrita notified the FDA of the problem. In that five days, I ate at least one Amrita bar, needlessly endangering my health.

    If I had not purchased these bars from Amazon, I might still be sick as a dog. But it would merely be a twelve-pack of "only" short-term side effects, clearly nothing much to worry about except if you're some kind of whiner who thinks high fevers, severe headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea are a bit of a concern.

    (Fifty big points for Amazon in this whole transaction.)

  2. I get emails all the blessed time from Amazon vendors desperately begging me to rate and review their products or offering tips or trying to get me to sign up for some mailing list or another.

    Random little purveyors of essential oils, shoe inserts and super balls can manage to figure out how to use their Amazon dashboard to communicate with their customers but Amrita doesn't bother when their products are contaminated with Listeria?

  3. The last line in the FDA notice -- "No confirmed illnesses have been reported" --  really got me. So I set about to file a report. First, I called the Amrita phone number listed on the notice. No answer after multiple attempts.

  4. So then I went on the Amrita website and filled out their "contact us" form, explaining that I had a 'confirmed illness' complete with a doctor's note and everything.

    No reply. Seriously. No. Reply.


    This Amrita company didn't even bother to send an email with a so-super-sorry grovel and a coupon or some kind of pluck-your-heartstrings attempt to get me to not write blog posts like this one.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Counting Problems - NaBloPoMo Day 10

We walk into the restaurant-- Kristina, Alex, Petrina and me. Probably, it's at least 10pm.

The hostess asks, "How many?"
I reply, "Three."

We get to the table and the hostess has three menus.

Four of us sit down.

The hostess looks confused. Like maybe our party picked up a stray on the way across the dining room. She says, "I thought there were three of you?"

I say, "Oh right. I took a visual headcount and so I forgot to count myself."

The hostess has the grace not to roll her eyes. She goes and gets another menu.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Does the 5 second rule apply on the subway? - NaBloPoMo Day 9

This is probably my favorite photo burst. Or maybe favorite would be a little strong. Maybe I should say the photo burst that most memorably starts out all smiles but ends in a an ewwwwww face. These three photos were taken within seconds of each other.

First, we have Ellie watching how Uncle Tom rides the Subway and imitating everything he does. She had been sitting on one of the seats, but bustled right up to the pole with big eyeballs.

Ellie sees me watching her. She turns quickly.

...and drops her pacifier on the subway floor.

What is not pictured, because it happened so damn fast, is Ellie picking up the pacifier and sticking it back in her mouth. Hopefully the five-second rule applies.

This all went down back in 2010, which was a long time ago at this point.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Grammy and the fried chicken hors devours - NaBloPoMo Day 8

Today I visited Grammy at her assisted living domicile. When I got there, she was in the dining room munching on a piece of fried chicken. Okaayyy-- I'd told her earlier on the phone I was coming to take her out to eat, and from the looks of it, she'd really dug into that chicken.

Grammy and Grampy 10 years ago.
Vaguely, while she introduced me to her friend Pearl (again) I wondered if she remembered I was coming and/or if she remembered the part of the conversation where I told her I'd take her out. It wouldn't have been the first time she'd forgot some key information.

Maybe last month, after about the ninth time she'd asked me if this was the first time I'd seen her new apartment at the assisted living place, I told her she should keep a notebook and write shit down. She became furious with me for suggesting she write things down WHEN SHE ONLY HAS ONE GOOD EYE.

At least she hasn't lost her ability to give you the what for.

Grammy told me they made her eat the chicken because she has diabetes. She was sitting up in her room waiting for me, and then WHAM, there were people who came in and told her that she must come down and she must eat dinner.

I asked her if the fried chicken was an hors-devours before an entree at the Superior Diner. She said yes. She got up, grabbed her walker, introduced me to everyone as her niece and we left the building.

In the car, Grammy asked me if I knew how to get to the Superior Diner. Or the SUPERIAH DINAH as she says. Ever since she started hanging out with Pearl, who's originally from Brooklyn, Grammy's Bronx accent has returned like a freight train. It's straight out of a Seinfeld episode and very loud. It'll take you by surprise.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

I voted today. Once. - NaBloPoMo Day 7

At the polling place, I moseyed up to the table for my district but someone with a last name beginning with N-Z was in front of me. So I talked to the volunteer doing F-M. I thanked her for volunteering and then asked if it had been busy so far this morning, like had lots of people voted?

She lifted up her little receipt book and poked her index finger at the page number. "39," she said. "39 people have voted this morning so far." I must have looked dismayed so she continued, "But it's early yet." She also kind of neglected to reinforce that her receipt book only included voters in my district with last names beginning with F-M.

When it was my turn, the N-Z guy handed me a piece of paper to "give to Jean." I turned around and Jean was right there, at the ready.

I said, "This is for you, Jean." I know for a fact Jean liked me after that because when I came out, she asked super chirpily, "Do you want a sticker that says you voted?"

Of course I wanted a sticker that says I voted! She stuck it on my jacket.

The N-Z guy called out, "Take two!"

I thought for a sec. "Nah," I answered, "Then they'll think I voted twice and that would be bad." I walked out and cracked myself up imaging a really stupid voter fraud person who got a sticker every time they voted. What would happen when they bellied up for another sticker and they already had like 3 on their jacket?

By that time I was at the pharmacy picking up a prescription. It was right on the way home and I'm very efficient. The pharmacist looked at the (one) sticker on my jacket and said, "Are there many people voting?"

I said, "39."

Monday, November 06, 2017

A Grassy Surprise - NaBloPoMo Day 6

I was outside, walking up a flight of stone stairs in New Jersey next to a patch of grass, wearing a pair of clogs, holding a glass of water, and trying to text with one hand. As it turns out, this was overly ambitious.

My toe clipped the next step up and I knew I was going to either fall on my face, break a glass, a wrist or smash my phone. In a split midair second, I became super depressed about the possible outcomes.

But next thing I recall,  there I was in the soft grass next to the stairs. I was just kind of peacefully staring up at the sky holding my unscathed phone, with the water glass safely nestled safely nearby.

I got up, looked around to see if anyone had seen my awkward romp (they had not) and walked back to my clogs which were still poised on the stairs where I'd flown right out of them.

All I can say is, thank you muscle memory. I haven't had anything to do with Jujitsu for like eight years, but in that short airborne moment, I found myself angling to land on my shoulder and rolling like a cartoon across the grass.

Wow. I guess that's what practicing falling like this about four thousand times on stinky gym mats at the YMCA will get you.

I put on my shoes and continued texting and walking up the stairs because I never learn. Or maybe I do. If I practice this move a few more times, hopefully I'll figure out how to end with the water still in the glass.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

The Finito Plant Holder Fresh from the Blacksmith Forge - NaBloPoMo Day 5

It all started when I got a whole bunch of angle iron from Bob the Welder that I never wound up using. I decided one afternoon to pound four three-foot lengths flat. Then I decided to check if I could draw down the ends into a nice taper. This proved to be about as taxing as I thought it might be. 

It took a solid six months of banging away in the garage... when the weather was nice and I felt like it. This is my hobby for chrissake, I'm not going out there in the rain or if the temperature is not what I consider pleasant.

Four pieces of 1/4" angle iron, hammered flat and tapered
It was about this time that I realized these were some pretty hefty slabs of steel, and would weigh a respectable lump sum if I welded them all together. Hmm, I mused. A nice base for something large and top-heavy...

Welding the flattened angle iron together

Burned the shit out of the iron
after so many heats in the forge.
But I think it looks super cool.
Welded up nice

Top heavy part, under construction.

Working on the middle bit. The leaf there on the left
I made up at Peter's Valley in my first blacksmithing class.
It's nice when you have something lying around the shop
you can just weld right on there.

Got a sweet new pair of welding gloves.
Added a second plant stand
that is almost level

Here we go
A solid effort.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Complete Guide to Spying NaBloPoMo Day 4

While writing the headline of this post, I sat for a second figuring out what day of NaBloPoMo this is. And then I realized there’s a formula. It’s the date. Welcome to Day 4, November 4th.

Last night I was talking to Jens about the roughly 11 words Tom knows in Swedish. Or knows in Sort-of Swedish. One of Tom's top words is “smyglistna” which means literally to sneak a listen. Eavesdropping, if you will. 

Except Tom could never remember smyglistna so I gave him a helpful tip, “Just think of Smegel from Lord of the Rings.” So now Tom says, “Smegel-listna.” I’ve stopped correcting him.

Jens was like, “Of all possible words, why smyglistna?” Excellent question with an even better answer. Tom and I spy on strangers. A lot. We sit in restaurants or walk down the sidewalk and Tom leans over and says very very quietly (even though no one else in the known universe including Scandinavia would have a shredded clue what he’s talking about) he whispers with quality pronunciation, “SMEGEL-LISTNA.”

And then we both go silent and strain our ears to catch a bead on whatever is going on over there. It could be a juicy lovers quarrel or someone talking about how his hair got stuck in the subway doors and he will never go out with man-bun ever again. 

Top 5 Things to Consider when Spying on Strangers

  1. Glass is reflective. You must take this into account when blatantly staring at someone with their back to you, who you think can’t see you, but maybe they can. There are a lot of windows in this city.
  2. People with tattoos, especially big tattoos, are always scanning their perimeter looking for people looking at their ink. This could get you nabbed even if you’re merely trying to listen in on their conversation.
  3. It's best to pretend to tinker around with your phone or look over the menu or theater program when deeply engaged in spying. You have to find something to do with your gaze other than stare weirdly at your water glass or the back of some old guy’s head or right into the eyes of your person of interest.
  4.  It’s very difficult to spy on people on the sidewalk who speed up and slow down a lot, or even worse those who pause to do a little face-to-face fingerwagging. If you keep speeding up and slowing down in pace with them, it's really utterly obvious you are spying.
  5. Spying on people walking toward you the opposite direction will usually only net about 5 words, but most often, that's enough. Usually you catch something like, "I just keep doing it until I bleed," or "And then I was like, is that what you're wearing to brunch?"

Do I ever worry about strangers spying on me? Nah. No one knows me and all words from people we don't know live on their own, like a hole full of eggs hatching in the sand and no one knows or cares who begat them.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Greenpoint Brooklyn: Contemplating Transportation - NaBloPoMo Day 3

I just rushed home from Greenpoint to write this post under the wire. It's only Day 3 of NaBloPoMo, I couldn't let things go south while still in the single digits. That would be embarrassing.

Photo credit:
Just now, when I said I "rushed home from Greenpoint," I meant that in an aspirational way. By no transportation means can one get from Greenpoint to Manhattan in a fashion that does not feel somewhat unnecessarily excruciating.

Earlier this week, I began thinking about how I might get over to Greenpoint. On Tuesday or Wednesday, I remembered the new water taxi that goes from 34th street right over the river and bam, drops you off on the shores of Greenpoint. And definitely, I decided, this would be the way to go. The water taxis are sort of new and I like a shiny penny. As another example to prove my point, I'm still not over the 2nd Avenue Q train. Sometimes I find reasons to go to the UES just to ride the damn train. The seats and poles and doors are not completely covered by decades of bacteria. It's practically thrilling.

Ultimately, I did not take the water taxi. When I actually was putting my shoes on to leave, it occurred to me it's a real pain in the ass to get to the East 34th dock. I decided to just take the L train to the G. I could have taken the bus, but that felt stressful. Every time I get on a bus in Brooklyn I wind up somewhere unexpected.

The way home was lovely, however. Alex escorted me back to the L. Then he returned to Greenpoint because Eddie wanted to stop by Tørst for Danish beer. He'll take a cab home later, he told me. Mainly because I asked him.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Spreadsheets of Stories - NaBloPoMo - Day 2

I almost ditched on National Blog Post Month (NaBlPoMo) this year, but last night, blinded by a flash in the inspiration pan, I decided to go for it. 30 blog posts in 30 days is a solid commitment.

It was a bold and risky move. This year, I don't have a theme (like I did in 2015) and I also don't have a little stockpile of saved up ideas (like I did in 2016). It also appears that the NaBloPoMo sponsor of years past is MIA. I'm flying by the seat of my soft pants here.

A while back, I listened to a podcast featuring the Moth Story Slam founder and he said that every day, he looks around for a story-- something that happened during the past 24 hours. Then he records his random story thoughts in a spreadsheet. One row per idea. He might have offered up some tips about how to spot a decent bit to throw in the story-starter Excel petri dish, but I can't remember. He said it's an art and skill to see the story nestled in between the detritus of day to day bullshit.

Grampy and Grammy on 5th Avenue back in the day
If I had such a story spreadsheet, I would have added a row today about my free-range conversation with Grammy. Conversations with Grammy go like this: You're talking about one thing, and then she either mishears or misunderstands and suddenly you're talking about cabbage soup or the bakery with the black and white cookies on 174th street or Cary Grant or something that happened back when the subway cost a nickel.

But eventually, when speaking with Grammy, all roads curl into flumes that spit you into the mouth of one of Grammy's famous stories. Stories that have been worn smooth by the number of tellings. She's got like five left at this point. Maybe she should have kept a spreadsheet. Maybe I should too.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Naked Streaker at the YMCA - NaBloMo Day 1

I sit in the sauna at the YMCA, staring out the steamy little window. Through the glass, I see the locker room in all its yellow tiled glory. And a naked lady runs by. And then she runs by in the other direction. I glance at the clock. Seven more minutes in this hotbox.

The naked lady slows a bit on maybe her forth or fifth pass by the sauna. Now she's looking fully exasperated.

I check the clock. Three more minutes. It's pretty late, almost closing time.

The door to the sauna flings open. It's the naked lady.

Her English isn't great, but I make out that she took a shower and somehow lost her locker key. Could I go up to the front desk and ask them if a member has found the key and turned it in; and if not, could someone come in with a lock cutter so she can get her stuff and get dressed and go home.

As it turns out, we're the only two people in the locker room, so I'm her last hope.

I go out to the front desk. I feel the steam coming off my Tshirt all the way down the corridor.  Nobody turned in a key, so I ask the front desk woman if she can help out with a lock cutter.

"Nope," she says. "I don't think we have one." She goes back to poking at her phone.

"I'm pretty sure you do," I reply. This is not my first day at the rodeo.

"Well I don't know where it is," she answers, very very not at all interested.

"Here's the thing," I say, "There's a naked lady running around your locker room. And she's going to continue to be in your locker room, did I mention naked, until someone helps her with her lock."

The woman gives me a look that will fry an egg. She gets up, opens up a drawer and pulls out a lock cutter. I follow her into the locker room. I go back into the sauna. Three more minutes.

The door to the sauna flings open. It's the no longer naked lady.

She thanks me profusely. With the door half open. And then she thanks me again. All the hot air leaks out of the sauna. She leaves and so do I.

All in all, it was not a refreshing experience.