Monthly Archives: March 2014

Deli Meat Hockey Pucks

It is a Sunday and I was taking my mother to her new favorite store. I noticed this place had opened a few weeks ago and checked it out with my husband.  It is called The Fresh Market and it is something of a specialty store with lots of fresh veggies and meats as well as bulk produce.

The first picture I took was of double chocolate bacon pretzels. They sounded nauseating and fascinating at the same time. I didn’t get any but I was amused enough to take a picture.

The first two visits went well. My mother has a new favorite place. This was a third visit and 95% of it went well. However, the 5% went poorly enough for me to wonder what strange world I fell into.

For some unknown reason we were craving sandwiches. My mother wants to go to the deli counter and get meat sliced. She wants it extra thin. I hate extra thin meat. I like mine sliced thicker than normal. I figured that I’d do this deli meat thing and get some salami. I like salami.

Well, the store is rather new. It is maybe six months old if that. The little lady that is cutting my mother’s food looks like a stiff wind or a sneeze will tilt her over. It takes her ten minutes to slice the two meats and one cheese my mother selects. I’m running on a time table and I’m getting fidgety. However, I really, really want the salami. Maybe she has warmed up with the cutting and it won’t take another ten minutes.

“How would you like that cut?” she asks me. I beam at her and say, “a thicker cut please” she says okay and cuts the salami. When she weighs it I stare in horror at what her interpretation of a thick cut it.  I had asked for a quarter of a pound of meat and that quarter of a pound was cut into two hockey pucks of meat. I choked a bit and just accepted it. I didn’t know what to say and frankly, I was a bit horrified. If this was thick cut what was normal?

My second try was up. I said, “Normal?” and she looked at me as if I had sixteen heads and shrugged. All of my beliefs about deli counters died. I never wanted to do this again. Was I speaking some strange language? Thick cut means hockey bucks and regular is an unknown word? My mother tries to join in with, “Thicker than mine,” but I do not believe that she remembered what she had cut for my mother.

The end result is exactly what I wanted for my hockey pucks. It also takes an incredible amount of time. I’ve given up at this point and I ask for the Italian roast beef because really, there is no recovering from how long this has taken. Are not deli counters supposed to be grand?

Twenty minutes and six items later I escaped.

This is the cut.

And this is my finger showing how ridiculous it is.

It is really, really good salami as well. I’m going to have a sandwich for dinner. But still. Why did this happen?

Well Defined Calves – April in Seattle

I know I have not  written my last post about St Thomas yet. I’ll get to it still. Three months late but what is time anyway?

Two weeks ago my husband was asked at the last minute to head to Seattle for one of the site builds for his company (he is a DNS guy and they build their datacenter sites). He asked me if I could come for a few days. We looked at the thing that is my schedule and I frowned a bit. I didn’t want to go for a weekend. The flight was about six hours. Mix that with pre airport time and it was a solid 9-10 hour day just to move around. I’d not want to leave Friday morning and come back Sunday to rush to work on Monday. However, I said I’d see if I could have the time off and when I went into work the next day, to my surprise, I could.

That was unexpected. Gleefully I applied for them and texted my husband to buy the plane tickets. Two weeks later I sent him off to Seattle and followed three days later.

Of course, that is a day that it decided to snow ten inches at home. Thankfully, it did it the night before and the roads where clear. I went grocery shopping with my mom, made sure she could get out of the driveway, and headed off to the airport for a late afternoon flight from Dulles to Seattle.

Everything was smooth sailing until I got on the plane. My husband has booked me in the front row that has no seats in front of it. I had a drink and some stuff I had planned to shove into my seat back. Now I had to hold them in my lap while people stepped on me and beat me with their luggage as they boarded. And the Luggage! How I rage as people roll on enormous bags and I have to defend my singular messenger bag from being crushed and my laptop destroyed by someones massive roller they refuse to check in and the airlines refuse to force them to check. Mix that in with the guy beside me (I am in the isle seat) having elbow issues and it was not the best flight ever.

I did watch Frozen on the flight. It was very cute. I like magic a lot and the love story wasn’t overly gooey. I like animated flicks but so often they are just ridiculous. This one had a story. The Last Unicorn and the Secret of Nimh are the measure that I gauge animated movies. Just because it is animated does not mean it shouldn’t have a story and depth.

Surprised that I watched a movie I went back to reading the Wheel of Time. I’m on Book five right now, about a quarter of the way through. Once we landed (it was a smooth flight) and I straightened my spine I had to stop myself from snarling at people around me as they pushed me away from my bags. I am not a pushy, loud, or aggressive person by habit. It does not mean I cannot be. I have it inside of me. No one ever expects it and I tend to keep a reign on my temper. But the new sideways bend in my back from avoiding Mr Elbows next door had me grumpy. I retrieved my bag, stalked off the plane and threw myself on my husband and told him that I was hungry when I found him at baggage claim.

We decided to drive and get anything that looked good. I’m used to seeing a chain restaurant near the highway but we saw little to nothing. Seattle as I have seen it so far is an area of smaller, private places. This is normally good. Today, it was frustrating. We decided to just order pizza when we got back to the hotel.

Maybe Pizza will be the new tradition when we travel. It was good Pizza. They didn’t have the desert we wantd. It was a rasberry mouse or something. They also didn’t have the almond desert. We just accepted chococlate cake when they called to explain. And then we got four pieces of chocolate cake. Why? I have no idea. A “sorry” thing I guess? What I found interesting was that they were allowed to bring it up to the room. This is so not the east coast. Full, I zonked out to wait for the morning.

Morning came a bit earlier than expected because of my husband had to call into a meeting at 0700 local time. Then a helicopter crashed in front of the space needle. We are a few blocks away from it and the air shattered with the sirens are emergency vehicles raced to respond. At the time we didn’t know what happened. We figured it out at breakfast.

We are staying at the Renaissance in downtime Seattle, WA. The breakfast was quite nice. The buffet is small but nice. I’m going to try one of the actual meals. They have weird things like crabcakes and eggs. It sounds to interesting not to try. I tend to eat a heavy breakfast when I can. It keeps me fed until the evening most of the time. The other members of my husband’s work group are all tired and groggy and picking at their food while I plow through oatmeal, fruit, an egg and some bacon. Their bacon is very good but their sausage is only meh. The fruit is quite nice so it balances out and I wind up feeling full and ready to face the day.

I almost forgot that the wait staff at the restaurant are incredibly nice. Mind boggling nice. They are so sweet I worry that I might break them. They chat with people and give them advice about areas and sites. Its very nice.

Only, I don’t know what I’m going to do. Back up in my room I break out my laptop and look around. I decided to go walking down to the market. With a general idea of what direction to go into I head out and start to see and explore Seattle.

Seattle is a mixture of new and old architecture. While I love glass buildings I also love the intricate scroll work and detailing that we used to put on buildings. Seattle is a mix of the two. Mix that in with wide streets made for vehicles and plenty of one way roads I found myself bobbling along quite happily and without that uncomfortable, stressed feeling I get in NY and DC. However, Seattle is hilly and that makes the architecture fascinating and everyone have nice calves.

So, I wandered down to this market which was about five blocks over and four blocks down. My husband had warned me about the awful hills and I listened to him and chose streets that took the downward grade gracefully. I actually like the feel of the city. There are lots of small restaurants and shops tucked into places. I found a ‘City’ which is Target but in the City. I was thankful because that meant I could buy a new hairbrush.

Pike’s market is full of tiny shops all cluttered together. There are indeed men who throw fish and sing like pirates. It was fascinating but it is a tourist thing and they stand for pictures and stuff. I wound up buying a neck wrap hand knitted scarf made from incredibly soft yarn in a lovely blue and green and yellow mix. Scarves are not something I normally wear but this was so nice and hand made and I got it anyway.

I wound up wandering around. I went to a chocolate shop and got a candy apple and some fancy covered marshmallows. I went into a bookstore and purchased some random, interesting fiction titled outside of my normal reading habits. I then decided to go back to the hotel because I was tired and I suck at shopping. On the way there I stopped for some Pho at a random place.

That was where I noticed the pregnancy stickers. Now, the Pho was very good. I went into the bathroom after finishing my food and to my puzzlement there was a warning about pregnant woman consuming alcohol attached to the paper towel dispenser. I thought it was weird but it becomes odd later.

Also, no plastic bags are used. I had to hand carry everything because I have no tote or purse. My normal reusable, space saving bags are at home because I forgot to bring one. That made me eight block uphill walk somewhat irritating with full hands. Also, my jacket was a bit to warm. Woe is me.

Anyway, back at the ranch my husband came in from working and I told him I wanted to go to a steakhouse. I spent about an hour on yelp deciding on steak houses and finally chose Sullivans Steakhouse. They had creamed spinach and horseradish mashed potatoes. No lie, this is what got us into the door. Plus it was about three blocks from the hotel.

It is a nice place but I wasn’t hungry enough for an enormous steak. We wound up getting one of their combos that comes with appetizer, salad, and meal. The food was tasty. There was live music. I’m not used to live music and it is loud. Not ear drum bursting loud just louder than piped in music. It is supposed to be ambiance but I’m uncultured and while nice it was louder than I’d like it to be.

Super nice place. The husband is going to convince everyone to go back next week when I’m gone. We walked back to the hotel and dropped off into bed like dead things.

Books: Wheel of Time – On to Book Two

I finished book one the other day. It was as good as I remember it being. The story is somewhat less expansive than it becomes later on. As I read it, I remembered what Wheel of Time taught me; the appreciation of a great Saga. I’m a Game of Thrones reader. I’ve reread the first four books and now I am holding off for the next few to come out. For those watching the TV series, each book is not a full season. The series is slowing down as it handles the weight of the world.

But the Wheel of Time is quite the epic. Hundreds of characters, some seen once, some seen many times. The story travels across multiple perspectives of primary and secondary characters. The various players all have things to do. It is a story with multiple things that need to be accomplished. Reading the first book and starting into the second I can see where Brandon Sanderson’s storytelling skills will compliment this series nicely. In Sanderson’s Mistborn Trilogy, what one things would be the main story is only the first book. The second and third have to deal with them solving the deeper problem as well as dealing with what they created.

The Wheel of Time shows this. It is not just Hero is Found and Hero defeats the bad guys. It is battles and adventures and all of the trouble that all of that causes. It is not a shallow story but one of detail and that is something I absolutely love about it. I read for the story not the ending.

However(!) I have to stop myself from checking Wikipedia to see what is going on. We will see how long I can hold out. I’ve read up to the 7th or 8th book. I remember some things and not others. I do remember skipping ahead to read the adventures of my more favored characters when I was younger. This means that I forgot parts of the story that did not interest me then. They interest me now and it helps a good deal. I also had a habit when younger of not reading the bad guys side in stories that had the evil people doing things.  I also remember not liking Rand very much. But, I was a teenager and moody about my main characters.

Onward to book two!

Books – The Wheel of Time

Heaven help me I’ve decided to try to work through the Wheel of Time series.

I started to read this series as a teenager. With my first money from my first job I purchased the first 5 books of the series. I didn’t know that it would take fifteen years or so and the Author’s death to finish the series. The Wheel of Time did have one interesting impact on me. It made me cautious of series. I read them as they came out up to college and then, frustrated, I put the entire thing aside and said that I’d start reading it when it was done. That became my mantra for many series in the future. I have a few that I’m suffering through the yearly release cycle but for the most part I wait. I have a voracious reading appetite and reaching the end of a book to find out that it will be continued bothers me. With some authors taking years between each book I just wait.

I do love an epic story. Books such as the Honor Harrington series are easier to consume individual. It is one long arcing story but the books are not “to be continued” style cliff hangers.

The other reason I stopped reading the Wheel of Time series was because the female characters pissed me off. They where behaving like a bunch of thirteen year old girls and absolutely disgusted my then teenage self. I’m hoping that a bit of age and perspective will help out when I reach this point. I also remember being absolutely, eye rolling, disgusted at everyone being in love with the main male character. All of these strong, powerful, female characters and they all wanted a chunk of him and where ready to share with each other to have it.

I’m reading with an open mind and a better understanding of being an adult. I’ve been reading a lot of stuff I read as a teenager and I get it a lot better then I used to. There are subtle layers of human interaction that I simply did not have the life experience to appreciate before. Even as I write this and read a bit I am able to remind myself that the characters are inexperienced young teenagers when they do ridiculously stupid things and make great leaps of innocent excitement. I wasn’t that way as a child but then I didn’t grow up on a farm dreaming fantastic stories as well.

Or so I tell myself.

I’m 36% through the first book today. We’ll see how far I get before I throw it down ranting or if twenty years has changed things a bit.

Minecraft: Projects

The server has been quiet. Everyone is playing a lot more Eve than Minecraft. Still, projects are still going on. My own Minecraft time has decreased in a desire to be fair to my husband. He’s applying for a job and has had an enormous amount of study materials. I cut back on my playtime because he would look over at my screen and sigh.

I also, am somewhat stuck in my project.

I wanted to build a tower because everyone else was building towers. Of course, I wanted to be a ridiculously complex tower combining multiple materials in random patterns. But, as I’ve worked on my tower I’ve become a bit lost with what I should do with it. Tower’s it turns out, are hard to make interesting.

This one will not be reaching the sky. In fact, I may just make something in the sky instead of starting from the ground up. Minecraft gives you that type of flexibility.

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I may head back west and work on my Sphinx some more until I get hit by inspiration. Or spend some time exploring and actually mining. Minecraft is a two part game in that way. Sometimes, just going out, finding a great cavern full of goodies and hunting for diamonds can be a great way to unwind and Minecraft is my goto unwind game. However, having a big, stalled project like my tower doesn’t help with the unwinding part.

I’m also tired of being knocked off it. So, towers are tall and falling kills you. Of course, you’re building it and you find out that you didn’t put enough light on your levels only after a ‘plunk’ and you are plummeting down into a wave of zombies and creepers. Let’s not discount the creepers that appear and chase you down floor after floor as you scream and try not to fall off the ledge that you haven’t build a decorative, but utility safety fence on.

But sometimes you get yours back. Below is a picture of two skeleton archers that spawned atop my entry pillars. I just watched them with a little malicious smile on my face as the sun rose.

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