Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Spoils of War

This is my blog. It's filled with my words and my thoughts. Sure, I hope you enjoy reading them. I love to see the comments that get left behind, and would very much love to see more. But I realize that so far, I haven't said much. Some of that is simple forgetfulness. I started this blog when I was busy using other methods of conveyance, such as LiveJournal and Facebook. Some of it is plain tiredness or lack of inspiration. Either I have nothing to say when I have the motivation to say something, or I have no motivation, energy or time to put down the thoughts pinging through my brain. And then there's simply this: I wasn't sure it was something you guys wanted to read. Well I refer you back to the first line. That's right, this is my blog and this post is filled with stuff I want to say. I hope you want to read it. I hope you enjoy it enough to comment on it. But if you don't, that's okay too.

Some of you reading this know a bit about me. You know that I am an unabashed novel reader, that I am an out-and-out geek with a love of baking, and a strange connection to the water. I've been blamed for random thunderstorms, and I'm not allowed to sit near campfires until they are well and truly lit because my mere presence puts them out. Many of you know that I harbor aspirations of world domination, one puff pastry, chocolate eclair, or creme brulee at a time. What few of you know is that I am also a US Naval Officer.

I went to college on a Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) Scholarship. For four years, I was trained in basic military bearing and leadership. 9/11 held a special place for me because that was the day I had my Military Training at school. We had been dismissed early, well before the first tower went down. I was at home in bed asleep, unaware that the world I knew had already changed forever--and in my opinion, for the worse. My mother called and woke me up with a message from my father asking me not to wear my uniform that day. I didn't understand what was happening and she told me to turn on the news. I flipped to CNN just seconds before the second tower went down. It was in that instant that my life was over. My life ended and a new life began.

The patriotic fervor that swept the nation was amazing. For once, the residents of my city weren't cursing the military or the noises the planes make when flying over head. They stood up and clapped, they shook our hands, and everyone put bumper stickers on their cars proclaiming their love of jet noise. The catch phrase "Never Forget" was coined. The trouble is, we did forget. And we remember all too well. We forget about little things like the Bill of Rights and the First Amendment. We forget about the lessons taught to us in school and by Orwell in 1984. The Patriot Act and its various and sundry additions and tack ons made it through the House and Senate. We cheered as we gave away our rights.

We remember that the perpetrators of the crime were Arabic, that they were Islamic and Muslim. We remember their generic cultural identity and their religion, and we proclaim loudly that any and all Arabs, Muslims, and Islams are terrorists as well! We remember the fear and the pain from those moments, watching 4 airplanes crash, and we forget everything else. To this day we live in a Nation of fear mongering and hatred. Americans who follow the Muslim faith are persecuted because of their choice in religion. This isn't new to the world, but come on guys. Can we not look back on our own history--short though it may be--and remember why our ancestors came here in the first place?

We're coming up on Thanksgiving, and while that holiday is nothing more than a celebration of gluttony and greed at its roots, let's look back at the settlers who started it. Remember why they boarded the Mayflower? Why they chanced a perilous ocean crossing? Because they wanted freedom from religious persecution and tyranny. Why do we forget that now? Why do we forget our First Amendment right to freely practice any religion, but we'll invoke it at the slightest question of objection or hint of censorship to our words? Words that are not protected under said amendment because they are incendiary, because they are "fight words" or designed to do nothing more than grab attention.

I am a US Navy Officer. I am proud of that designation, though there are a few out there who will tell you otherwise. They believe that my desire to be a pastry chef means I am not proud, that I dislike or even hate the military. That simply is NOT TRUE. I'm third generation Navy. Both of my parents were in. My father is a decorated war veteran a couple times over. My brother has served two tours in Iraq since 2003, and there is the potential for another tour in another war zone sometime in the future since he's still in and proudly serving as well. Have I been over to the sandbox? No. My tour in direct support of the war was to help the families left behind while their Sailors went over to play Army and fought in the sand and sun. They kept me safe in my bed at night. The least I could do was everything in my power to make sure their families were okay while they were gone.

Would I go over and play in the sand? If the Navy needs me to go, I will go. Do I want to? Um, no. Who WANTS to go into combat and risk life and limb? Especially today when there are a bunch of people back home who are cursing me for signing up in the first place? Who WANTS to spend their days in blistering heat with camel spiders and sand fleas, far far FAR from any family and close friends (That's not to say you won't have/make close friends over there, but many if not most of my close friends are civilians)? Seriously, if you're chomping at the bit to do it for any reason other than an overzealous desire to serve your country, see the psych ward.

Here's the bottom line. I signed up. I stood in that auditorium with my fellow midshipmen and raised my right hand. I repeated the oath and swore to defend my country from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. My Herby Hancock* is on the dotted line (it's actually not dotted, but whatever) and if my country has need, I will see it through. That doesn't mean I agree with it. That doesn't mean I like it or that I have to. Despite the misconception, I am allowed my own opinion. What I do with that opinion ... there are certain restrictions on it, but truth be told, they aren't unreasonable. I'm not allowed to protest or take part in any political rallies, fundraisers or other events IN UNIFORM. See, perfectly reasonable. And no, that's not the only one, but it's the only one I'm giving you.

I didn't agree with this war. Even before the discovery that *gasps* there were no WMDs, I believed we went in for the wrong reasons. But guess what? I don't have to agree with every policy my employer makes to do my job. Just like not every Microsoft Employee has to like or agree with every policy set down by Bill Gates, or whoever is acting CEO now. I whole heartedly agree that what happened in Ft. Hood was a travesty. The treatment of prisoners in Abu Ghraib and GITMO was appalling. Guess what? The US Government thought so too. Remember the trials the US SERVICE MEMBERS went through? The convictions that were handed down, along with sentences? Yeah, we didn't sit on our asses twiddling our thumbs while trying to distract the world with something else just to give those CRIMINALS medals later. I won't claim that every criminal was caught and punished, nor will I comment on whether or not justice was served in the sentences handed down. But I will say this: Stop blaming the entire US Military for the acts of a few. Stop stereotyping and making broad sweeping generalizations. They show your ignorance just as much as they offend me.

By now, those who know me are going, okay... what happened? Why is she going off like this? What did she hear/read/watch that started this word vomit? A Titter friend sent me a link to a blog. It was a well written article by @PaulCarr (Twitter) about "citizen journalists" and their affect on our decreasing humanity during events like the Ft. Hood shootings. I found it thought provoking. I do see some aspects to "citizen journalism" that could be positive, but by and large I get his point and agree with it. Many of the comments however... They left me cold, angry, rage-filled, and in the end, I had a head full that needed to be put down.

It's been an hour since I started this post, if that gives you any indication. My head feels lighter now and I think I might actually be able to sleep. If any of you are still with me, thanks for sticking it out to the end, and I'd love to hear your thoughts. Please be considerate of others, but be honest.

*I do know that it was actually John Hancock. Herby Hancock is a reference to Chris Farley's Character in Tommy Boy.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Recipe for a Groovy Morning

Start with sleeping until noon--even on a work day. Add a dash of warm kitty snuggles. Next throw in a heaping serving of Trader Joe's coffee, sweetened with hazelnut, and Brad Pitt as Achilles on the screen. Finish it off with a washer ACTUALLY working, and you've got yourself a pretty groovy morning.

Autumn is my favorite time of year. I love to see the brilliant changes in color all around. The contract between the ever greens and the vibrant hues of the changing leaves makes it that much more breathtaking. The smells and flavors of the season have a way of crawling into your soul and providing comfort in ways that only the arms of a loved one can. I whole heartedly believe that many of these scents and flavors (Pumpkin, for example) are meant to be all year round kinds of flavors. *nods* I do indeed believe that.

The only things missing from this morning were a snuggle buddy or a good friend and a fireplace in which to light a fire. Ah, well, it was still a pretty groovy morning over all.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

I Have Never Depended on the Kindness of Strangers

Nope. I've hoped. Prayed. Begged and dreamed that in dire situations there would be SOMEONE decent enough to at least ask if I needed help. Even if it was insincere, I craved this display of human decency. Rarely have I seen that much. Cynical, yes. Truthful? Not anymore. Those of you who know me or talk to me a lot know that what I'm about to say has happened before. Within the last 6 months. You're going to laugh. You're going to point, hold your stomach, rock back and laugh. You'll wipe your eyes and beg for a moment for breath. Okay, maybe not, but I bet you still point and laugh. It's that kind of story.

So last night, 1240 am, I'm heading home from a night of packing, wine and movies. I hear a familiar chugging sound and feel that stuttering that makes my heart race and my stomach stop in dread. I had been less then careful with my malfunctioning gas gauge and was no longer running on E. Fumes had long since blown out. My poor truck literally coasted to a stop at a red light. ALL forward momentum was lost, but I didn't have enough to get to an open gas station anyway.

Now, the last time this happened, I had to be rescued by the lovely and wonderful Baroness. Since then I've kept a 2 gallon gas can in my car "just in case." I know what you're thinking. Why don't I fill up before I get to this point, right? When I bought the truck a year ago, I knew it had electrical problems in the dash. The gauges don't always work right. My brake light is on when I've released the emergency brake. The gas light will come on when I've JUST filled the tank. The speedometer doesn't register speed most of the time (though it seems to be improving with winter; maybe the cold helps somehow), and the odometer will randomly flash at me and not register the miles I'm driving. I try to fill up when the gas gauge registers at 1/4 left. It's usually still accurate at that point. Last night, I didn't pay attention to the fact that it was less than 1/8 a tank when I got in to go home. Had I don't that, I may never have discovered that there are decent people in this world.

So I'm getting onto the interstate when all of this happens. I recognize it first when I'm trying to get up to speed and can't. I let off the gas and keep my foot off the brake for the slight downhill slope and curve hoping that the forward momentum will be enough to carry me to the first exit and nearest gas station. Well, I got half that. I got to the first exit but at the bottom was a light and it was red. My truck sputtered and died right there. I couldn't even get it started again. So I get my gas can and my purse, lock up the truck and start hoofing it down the street towards the BP station--the only gas station I can see. I'm not overly familiar with the area, but I know that there are gas stations around that exit. Just not AT the off ramp. And not open at (now) 1 am.

Cursing myself and turning around, I get even with my truck when an SUV of guys who are stopped at the light at that exit ask if I'm okay. Now, call me paranoid, cynical, mistrustful... whatever. My first thought was, "Oh dear God don't let them offer to give me a ride. I have to refuse cause I'm SO not getting into a car with three men I don't know at 1 am." They roll down the window and ask if I need a ride. I smile politely.

"No thanks, I'm just heading up the street to the gas station."

All three protest, and I'm thinking, "Oh no... no no no... " The driver leans over his passenger and waves for me to come closer. At first, I don't move. But then he starts talking again.

"Don't worry about a think, we'll take care of you. Give us the gas can and we'll go fill it up for you."

Shocked--not just surprised but outright shocked at this generosity--I take the three steps between our vehicles and hand over my gas can.

"Stay right there. Stand next to your car so that the people coming down can see you and you don't get hit. We'll be right back."

Before I can tell them I don't have cash, the SUV is gone. Now comes the part where I later really took stock in just how poor an opinion of humanity I have. They were gone for maybe three minutes when I thought, "I really hope they don't steal my gas can. I'll have to call Baroness and ask her to come help me. I don't want to do that; she's probably asleep by now." I was kind of sad at the thought that I really did think they might not come back and I was out an $8 gas can AND would have to inconvenience a friend. My next thoughts were even worse. "What if they come back and demand some "other" form of compensation for their troubles when they find out I don't have cash? Sure I can defend myself, but it's 3 large men against me... I'm not THAT good." That's when I hung my head in shame, pulled out my phone and started chatting with a friend via text. He was justifiably concerned and didn't call me stupid or silly for what happened, though he would have been within his rights to do so.

So what happened? About fifteen minutes passed and they come back. Turns out they had to go a bit further afield to find an open gas station. The guy even went so far as to put the gas in my truck then insisted on waiting to make sure my truck started before he was willing to cross the street back to his friends and his own car. He wanted no money at all. Nothing. Even more, he made sure I had money to actually get gas. This all blew me away. I got in my truck, drove to the gas station he directed me to, and as I put more gas in the tank, texted my friend to let him know that I had my gas can back and was now at a gas station filling up. I decide to peak in the bed of the truck where my gas can resides and what do I find? A five dollar bill. I'm not kidding. The guy put $5 in the bed of my truck under my gas can.

I went home with a smile on my face, a warm feeling in my heart, and more than a bit of shame at my reaction to the situation. I'm glad to have been proven wrong: there are decent people in the world willing to help when there's nothing in it for them. There really are gentlemen left in the world.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bake Your Cares Away

Yeah, I have the beginning of the Fraggle Rock theme stuck in my head. But... anyone who knows me, knows that the title is applicable whether I'm feeling a little Red and crew or not. My very short profile bio mentions my love and desire to bake the world's cares away, but my very sporadic posts have yet to do with anything baked. So guess what today's topic is? No, not pastries. Puppies. Haha, only kidding.

Baking has always been a relaxation tool for me. I can get lost in the scents of flour, butter, sugar and spices. Reading recipes for me is like reading sheet music for others. They can hear the notes in their heads; I can taste the results in my mouth. It just is. For a long time, I never paid attention to this part of me that desired standing in front of an oven, pulling out yummy, comforting foods and putting in a mix of raw ingredients that would some minutes later yield the yumminess. I ignored it, commited great acts of sacrilege with boxed mixes and Pilsbury slice and bakes.*

Then one day I was depressed. I'm talking skipping working, don't answer the phone, can't get out of bed even to pee let alone personal hygine, depressed. Except the option to skip work wasn't an option. It wasn't just a matter of paying the bills; I was in a job where calling in sick meant I had to go to a doctor--earlier than I had to actually be at work--then convince the doc that 24 hours in bed was warranted, before driving to work with the doc's missive that, Yes, 24 hours in bed was necessary, before finally driving home again. It was more depressing and just not worth it. So I donned my uniform and went. I answered the phones. I typed the emails. I did my job, low key though it was. And when I went home, I stood staring at my warm and comfy bed thinking that oblivion sounded nice. But once the pj's were on, I didn't want to crawl into bed. There was this fear in my gut that if I did, I wouldn't get out again. I wouldn't be able to face the alarm going off the next day--or worse, the repercussions of just not setting it. My living room held little in the way of appealing distractions. Sure, I had movies, cable, internet, but none of it held the promise of feeling better. Food, however, did.

I'm a stress eater. Always have been. No matter how hard I try to change my ways, I don't think I'll ever NOT eat when I get stressed or depressed. I eat to celebrate. Simply put, I love food. But I had nothing ready to eat. No chocolate, no ice cream, nothing baked--store bought or other. What I had was ingredients. And desperate need. So I baked. I didn't have an electric mixer. I had "Mixy." Anyone have the dark brown Tupperware from the 1970's? My mom did, and when I went to college and got my own apartment, I got a lot of her hand-me-downs. Apparently it was time for her to upgrade her kitchen stock and I got the cast offs. Fine by me.

"Mixy" was a brown piece of plastic labeled "spatula" but it didn't resemble any spatula I'd ever seen. His--I know definitively that "Mixy" was a boy, though how I'm not sure--handle fit in my hand and stuck out for another 4-6 inches beyond that. It wasn't shaped like the flat spatulas used to flip pancakes or scrape cookies off sheets. It was closer to the sleek, silicone spatulas seen today that are used to scrape the batters and mixes out of bowls, much to the dismay of kids who want to claim dibs on licking the bowl. That IS, after all, the best part. "Mixy" wasn't flexible, though, and in his head, on the scraping side, were holes.

I dug out an old cookbook that my mother helped write when I was a teenager and flipped through it until I found a chocolate chip cookie recipe. I had everything it required, and having made them a few months prior as I packed out of my college apartment to move to the first "welcome to the real world" apartment, I knew they were pretty simple and rather tasty. I got started. The actual process won't be discussed. Anyone who knows me knows that it's damn near impossible to get me to share a recipe. What I will say is that focusing on the recipe, mixing by hand and taking the time to do it right rather than slap dash just to have something, cleared my mind. All that existed was the dough. All that mattered was how great they were going to taste when I had a few warm from the oven. All that mattered was how that warm gooey cookie was going to spread inside my tummy and push away the depression, the pain, the hurt, the [fill in whatever ailed me at the moment here].

By the time I was scooping the cookies onto the cookie sheet, I was smiling. I had something wonderful to look forward to. The anticipation had me bouncing, the smell drove me nuts, and when I had that first bite... I burned my mouth. Yep, I didn't wait for them to cool. I did the three blows and bite thing, burning my mouth on hot chocolate and gooey cookie. It was wonderful. I baked the rest of the dough that night and took them with me to a friend's house the next night. They were a huge hit and made everyone else there smile as well. Soon I was asked to make them every week for our get togethers. People started buying the ingredients so that I could bake them there. Warm from the oven does have special powers.

The next time I got depressed, I tried a different recipe, and guess what? It worked again. I soon discovered that if I baked when I was feeling down, not depressed, I never got depressed. Eventually I was baking just to bake, because it was a great feeling and I loved how my home smelled. Friends commented that I should open my own bakery. I laughed it off and kept reminding people that I was going to fly for the Navy for the next 20 or 30 years. But then I left Active Duty and was faced with the inevitable, "What now?"

The answer: bake. Baking has led to so many wonderful things in my life--not the least of which is the amazing friendship with The Baroness. I finally realized what I wanted to do with the rest of my life and have since been working towards it. I have a number of professional cook books, culinary school texts and work books, and I read them like other people read novels. I have recipes for butter, and ideas that won't sleep. I try my hand at things and then rush to share them with everyone. The "When is your bakery going to open? I want an invite." comments continue to flow in, filling me with hope, elation and motivation. I love this, and I'll do it even if those comments stop. But it's nice to know that others want me to do it. That they're willing to pay me for it.

So, when does it open? As soon as I know, I'll let you know. I start culinary school in the fall, and I can't wait! Until then, I continue to experiment. What's the latest? Well I needed to bake the other night. NEEDED. Baking over the weekend with the Baroness wasn't enough. So I dug out a recipe and found that I didn't have any Vanilla. I'm ashamed, and dismayed because it is literally the first time in 4 years that I don't have a bottle of Vanilla at home. However I raided my closet for other flavorings and decided to try anise instead. Guess what? The cookies were good. They were a basic butter cookie, but the mild licorice flavor makes them seem more... exotic. Call it a win. I decided to go one step further two nights later. I had some of the dough left over and rolled a few cookies with lavender. The lavender was worked into the cookie, not just on the outside of it. Fail. The smell was FANTASTIC. The flavor was not. Oh well; not every experiment is a wild success.

More to come, so stay tuned. ;)

*Note on packed/box mixes and any slice and bakes, not just Pilsbury: There's absolutely nothing wrong with them. They work well and yield yummy, comforting foods. There are certain box mixes I will use from time to time, even now. Given my druthers, though, I do it all from scratch.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What's In a Name?

It's interesting how names, labels, even off handed remarks help us to define who and what we are. We're born and given names by our parents. For many of us, that's it. We might shorten the name, but otherwise it suits us fine. For others, the middle name is better. Or there are just too many in a family or a school class with the same first name and using a middle name becomes a necessity born of convenience or distinction from the crowd. And when this is not enough, when further distinction is needed, enter the Nick-name. A name that speaks of familiarity with the owner, a privilege of few yet often known by many. How they come about is as random and varied as the number of chocolate chips in a batch of cookies. (Well not really given that there's usually a specific amount you add to one batch, but go with me here.)

Here's an example: One of my nicknames is Sammi. It's evolution is rather simple. My name is Samantha, but growing up I was a tom boy and that was JUST too girly--unless it was coupled with the middle and last name, thus signalling that there would be worse than just being "too girly" to come if I didn't answer. However, my father very much disliked not having the prim and proper, ribbons and bows, kind of daughter. He just couldn't bring himself to call me Sam. So he started calling me Sammy. But I wanted to be an actress when I grew up, and my mom told me about an actress who spelled her name Sammi. Ever since that's how it's spelled. My father took this evolution one step further, though. He still had trouble with Sammi, so he started calling me "Kiddo." Both names have stuck, and even when I'm in a new setting where no one knows these names, I inevitably end up being called both.

Other names are not so easily evolved. And often they don't have the nice, pretty, non-embarrassing stories behind them. Take for example, the kid I saw walking down the street on my way home from work two days ago. I have dubbed him the "Wilting Rooster." Late teens, and clearly disgruntled with life and the world, likely in that order. He wore beat up sneakers, ragged jeans, and a black tee shirt with something on the front that I couldn't make out and don't remember well enough to describe. In fact, I'm surprised I remember that much about his look because I was so taken by his hair. Which is where his nick name comes from. It was shaved on the sides with a two to three inch thick swath from forehead to nape that was approximately four to six inches long. Not just tapering off at the end so that it all fell in one even line, but if you were to measure at various sections of the hair you would find it all to be within that length. Clearly this cut was meant to be a long mohawk. Only the long part was not styled to stand up, as it was on his friend's head. No, the long part was left unstyled with no product or stiffening agent of any kind to bounce around flacidly on his head.

So the "wilting" part you can clearly see, but you might be asking how he got the "rooster" part. Aside from the fact that roosters also have "mohawks," this kid's was the color of stop light red faded after years of sitting in the sun. That's right, it was a pink that only long term sun exposure--or repeated washings of cheap, trendy dye--can get you. Upon seeing his I described the scene to the Baroness, and finished with, "The kid looks like a wilting rooster." We both broke out into fits of laughter--giggles for my part--at which point I gasped and called out the obligatory bad dick joke, "Oh my god! He's got a flacid cock on his head!" Redouble the giggles and enter unknown embarrassment for the teen.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Injustice For All

Every now and then, something catches our eye and rankles us. It gets under our skin, and raises our hackles. Sometimes it's just avoiding a particular company because you disagree with the way they do business. Sometimes it's a product you love and have to share with the world. And sometimes it's a cause you need to support. Not only support, but you KNOW that the world needs to be made aware of it. You know this. You believe it, down to the very depths of your souls and watermelon-painted toenails. (No, my toenails aren't painted that way at the moment, but I recently encountered a set and they came to mind.)

We talk about belief, and everyone automatically assumes that belief must be in a god, a deity or divine being. But as Malcolm Reynolds learned, you don't have to believe in the divine to believe in something. To believe in it enough to give your life--though that's not the first choice! I believe in a great many things. I believe in a higher power. I believe that in order to feel whole, one has to have faith in SOMETHING. This doesn't mean that one needs to have faith in a deity or religious label of some sort. Many of my friends are Agnostic or Athiest, but they still have faith. This is America, where 31 flavors doesn't have to be just a Baskin Robins slogan. I believe in balance in all things: light must have dark, good must have evil, up must have down--though with chocolate, milk is the balance to dark; white is not only NOT chocolate, but it is an aberition that I cannot support. Unless I'm making flavored truffles. Then it serves its only purpose as a flavor carrier. And I believe that there are things happening in this world that we are kept in the dark about because those responsible for them are ashamed, or at the very least, fear the losses that would result should the truth of the situation be disclosed.

I am not Malcolm Reynolds. But I do believe the 'Verse needs to know.


(http://heather-harris.blogspot.com/2009/05/i-cheated.html is where I originally got the article)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

10 Minutes to Close...

... means you're still open for 10 minutes.

While technically true, here's a hint from this illustrious drive-thru girl with aspirations of culinary school: No it doesn't! More often than not, with 10 minutes left, the employees of any fast food chain are counting the seconds and debating if they can get away with turning off the lights, pulling the drawers, and throwing out the last of the food for the day. In total honesty, the last half hour or 45 minutes are probably spent in similar fashion.

Most of you are probably saying, "If you're open until Midnight, then I should be able to get whatever I want until Midnight." Yes, also technically true. But think about your job for a minute. Think about what you're doing the last half hour before "quittin' time"and how you feel when Johny Companyman comes in or Jane Clientcomesfirst calls with something else that'll "just take a few minutes" to do. Sure, it only takes a few minutes to do, but add in the fact that you already put away the notes for that case, closed the application that information is in, or shut down your computer? Now you're talking the prep time to even be able to do this tiny little task, plus the additional clean up that you have already gone through once. Why not just wait until the very last second you ask? Because 1. after working for 14 hours, I want to get home, and 2. there is an unwritten expectation that come Midnight I should be clocking out.

Also, speak up. Really this applies at any time of the day. We all think that scene in, "Dude, Where's My Car" where the two stoner morons are sitting in the drive thru and the Asian lady makes Ashton Kutcher rage against the speaker is hilarious. We all contemplate doing that--no really, I have contemplated it--but no one ACTUALLY does. However, the true reality of it is those microphones are incredibly retarded. I'll pick up a bird dropping a bomb on a leaf, but I can't hear you sitting next to it if you're not facing the box. So please, please, PLEASE! For the love of Mike, speak into the box. And if I say, "I'm sorry?" that means I didnt' hear you, please speak up. Especially if I say it more than once or it's followed by silence. I promise, I'm not trying to be cute, clever, funny, or anything else that you might get annoyed with. You really just didn't speak loud enough or clear enough for me to hear your answer.

Combo meals... if there isn't a number by which to order, simply state that you want a [fill in sandwich/pizza/wrap here] combo. Then give me the rest of the information OR if you don't know it, wait for me to ask my questions. I promise not to lead you astray. Along the same lines, if you don't know what comes on the sandwich, ask me. Ask me before I give you your total. Ask me before you tell me that's what you want. If you're trying to decide, I totally get it and am happy to help.

And really... really Really REALLY! DO NOT pull up to my speaker and have a 10 minute conversation on your cell phone after I've greeted you. Do not make me wait while you have said conversation before you acknowledge me--and most especially do not treat me like a brain dead moron for taking an extra 10 seconds to answer your beck and call because you took up 10 minutes of my life with your innane drivel about who Susie happens to be boinking behind her dopey boyfriend's back (actual conversation, though phrases and names were changed). Do not pull up to my speaker, ask for a minute to look at the menu, tell me you're ready and after ordering one sandwich/pizz/wrap/whatever make me wait another ten minutes while you decide on the NEXT thing to order. Get it all at once, or not at all. And really, if it's super complicated or your very first time there and you have no idea what we offer... Take the extra 5 minutes and come inside. We have pretty laminated menus which tell you what comes on each sandwich. I guarantee your and my day will be vastly improved by this decision.

Let's all show a little courtesy to the people who prep your food. You may think any blind, deaf, half retarded monkey could do that job--when in reality they need to actually be able to see and hear--but what I see on the other side of my tiny little retractable window... More than half retarded most days.

Thank you, and have a pleasant tomorrow!


Friday, April 24, 2009

When Characters Collide!

Not literally, of course. Rather, in my head. So I was having coffee the other night with the Baroness, and as our conversations tend to do this one wandered into the realm of writing. Currently I have three major projects in the works, and for a long while none of them were calling to me. Then one poked its head up and said, "Hey... I could use a little work, but I don't really know where you want me to go." Trouble was, I knew WHERE, just not HOW to get there. I was stuck on maneuvering the main character and a few secondary characters into the right place effectively and none to blatantly. That's me, bloody ineffective tank commander. Right, so I just kept saying, "Well... when you figure it out, let me know and I'll do the same for you." Just as I was starting to get the story moving... another character poked her head up and said, "Hey! You should come back to me! I still love you." And then the third main character said, "If you go back to her, you HAVE to come back to me! I'm infinitely more interesting! I'm in SPACE!"

I had to sigh. Really. Three characters in my head, all vying for my attention. One whose story really needs a COMPLETE rework because of the 10,000 (give or take) words I have written, I don't know how much of it will actually make it INTO her story. One whose story requires a bit more in-depth research on post WWI Berlin. And one whose story is in the forefront of my head. The one I'm most excited about, have the most notes about, and have actually scouted locations and contemplated road and camping trips. But sadly, the one who is speaking the softest. I'm not sure why that is, but it saddens me somewhat.

I don't know what to do, really. I don't want to silence the more vocal characters, even if they're only screaming for my attention with no real improvements or suggestions, nothing new to add or tell in their stories, but I can't divert my attention to them either. Especially if they don't have any improvements, suggestions, or new tidbits to add. And yet the softest one, the one that has been in the forefront of my mind for months, the one I know where it needs to go... I can't get her to turn up the volume.

Le sigh.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Creative Buzz

It figures... I'm feeling creative. And too damned tired to do anything about it. I've pulled up Poetry Assignment, and there are several easy topics for which I could come up with something. I'll leave it up and try tomorrow, what with it being a day off and all. Maybe I can alternate cleaning with writing?