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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Dry as the Sahara

This year I did most of the cooking for Thanksgiving. The gravy was from a package, but turned out awesome without any lumps. That was a win. My turkey was another story.

Last year, I did a turkey breast in the slow cooker and it was dry. I blamed the recipe I used because it said to put the bone side down and the meat/breast side up. I decided that was my problem and that if I put the meat down into the soup, there'd be no problem. I've made chicken breast in the slow cooker many times and it's always submerged and it's always moist and yummy.

So this year, I got up early and got the breast ready for the slow cooker. I added four cans of soup to make sure as much of the turkey as possible was covered, added a little seasoning, and waited for deliciousness.

That's not what came out. My turkey was dry. Possibly as dry as last year.

My theory now is that I overcooked it. The guideline I saw on the internet for turkey temperature was 165 degrees. Mine came out of the slow cooker at over 210 degrees. The mystery here is that the turkey breast weighed more than the chicken breasts I've cooked and I've done the exact same length of time with both. The chicken? Perfection. The turkey? Fail.

The only consolation I have is that dry turkey continues a family tradition. My mom always ended up with desert-dry birds, too. :-) Next year, I'll try less time in the slow cooker. ::sigh::

Sunday, November 27, 2016

8 Reasons Advertising Doesn't Work Anymore

This video doesn't give a nice, straightforward list of reasons why advertising isn't working. It's more like a hodgepodge where the person watching it needs to identify the point, but as a former advertising major, I found some of it interesting.

There's one line about how ads "can't disguise their crassness" that really caught my attention.

I've maintained for quite some time that advertising today makes zero attempts to hide their manipulations. It would be like going fishing with a bare hook. There are few ads with any finesse today. True, there have always been hard sell ads and ads that were just boring, but watching the Clio Awards used to be hugely entertaining. I don't find that to be the case any longer. (The Clio Awards are advertising's Oscars.)

Anyway, I find advertising today--in all venues--to be lame and poorly executed. JMO.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

 Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends! May your turkey be moist and your time with family joyous!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Step By Step

The biggest lesson I've learned in writing that I can bring over to the rest of my life is to take a big goal and break it into chunks. Thinking about writing a 100,000 word book is daunting. Terror-inducing, even. That's a lot of writing and I'm not a plotter.

What kept me from hyperventilating as I signed a contract was remembering that I only had to write one chapter at a time. Heck, one scene at a time! Ten pages isn't scary.

I started doing the same thing with projects that weren't writing related. Have a huge project for work that needs to be done? Break it into chunks. Since I work at an airline and the manufacturers break the documents my department uses into Structures, Systems and Zones, I do the same thing. I don't have to get through this huge document, I just have to make it through Structures. And on some airplanes that's too huge, so I break it up again by chapters (just like Boeing and Airbus do). All I have to do is finish chapter 54.

It's a mind game because the project isn't any smaller by breaking it up like this, but it works for me and that's what counts. I've even started breaking things down in my planner so that I can check items off the list. That's another mind game, but it feels so good to check the box and it encourages me to keep working on whatever the project is, say updating the A320 fleet's database.

I'm a little slower on taking this into household projects, but I'm going to try it. My office still isn't put away from when I moved to Georgia...more than 3 years ago! But it's an overwhelming task. So I'm going to try smaller steps like take care of everything on the desktop and unpack one box, etc. And if I write it down in my planner and can cross things off, it should propel me to do more. That's the theory anyway. :-)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Etsy Addiction

Somewhere along the way, I seem to have developed an Etsy problem. As in I can't stop shopping on there. It came as a shock to me since I never shopped there at all until one of my planner groups kept sharing pictures of awesome stickers from there.

Yes, my planner addiction seems to have spawned my Etsy addiction.

Mostly I buy stickers. I like to use them to highlight items like doctor, dentist, hair appointments; grocery shopping, cleaning day, garbage day, etc.

I started out small. Just the appointment stickers. They're so bright and eye catching that it would be a good way to mark them. And since shipping for a few pages of stickers is no more expensive than it is for one page, I picked up a few I thought might be useful.

Somehow, it exploded from there. Now I have more stickers than I know what to do with and I still have two more purchases headed my way. I tried to add a frowny face there, but I had to delete it. I don't feel frowny. I like my stickers, but oh, boy are they more expensive than I feel they should be for a tiny (and I do mean TINY) sheet.

The other part that makes me not like this addiction is that I own the machine that can cut out these stickers. I bought it years ago for scrapbooking, but I'm too busy (and maybe a little lazy) to figure out how to use the dang thing for this purpose.

And on Saturday, I received a shipment of washi tape. That's right. I've expanded to new items. Gah!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Death of a Coffee Maker

After more than 8 years of faithful service, my coffee maker died. I loved my coffee maker. Loved! But alas, all appliances have a life span. The only good thing is that it died over a weekend. Can you imagine a Monday morning without coffee waiting? Gah!

After brewing a cup in my mini pot and lugging the backup coffee maker out of the garage and cleaning it, I started shopping for a replacement. I was hoping to find my same exact coffee maker, but none of the online stores I looked at had it. I decided it must have been discontinued.

It wasn't as quick or as easy as I'd hoped. So many coffee makers are plain ugly. I don't expect stop-me-in-my-tracks beautiful, but I did want something attractive. I also insisted my coffee maker have a timer on it. That's my one, can't live without it feature. During the work week, I want to wake up to fresh-brewed, piping hot coffee. These two things bundled together increased my difficulty level greatly.

I finally found one coffee maker I liked. I didn't love it, but you can't have everything. It had lots of good reviews. I scanned a few of those and discovered I'd have to set my timer every night if I wanted coffee when I woke up in the morning. Every night! And the review said it took five clicks.

Back to searching.

After combing through multiple online shopping sites for hours, I finally thought, I wonder if the Mr. Coffee website has something similar to my dearly departed, faithful coffee maker? I decided to go look.

There was a coffee maker similar to mine. Ooh! I tried to order it, but my browser wouldn't cooperate. I pulled up a different browser and this time I paged a little farther. And there it was. A replica of my deceased coffee maker! I swooned in bliss and pressed the button to put it in my shopping cart. This was what I wanted. They did still make my exact coffee maker. ::bliss::

Replacement arrived last week. It wobbles slightly even though the bottom appears to be even. :-/ But when I brewed my first pot of coffee Saturday morning, everything tasted just right.

Welcome to the family new coffee maker. May you brew as long as old faithful did.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Four Tendencies

In one of my groups, someone posted a link to The Four Tendencies Quiz. I love taking personality quizzes, so I clicked over there ASAP. My result surprised me and I took the test again. And again. Four times and I got the same result every time. I still don't think it fits me.

The four tendencies are:

Upholder - this person meets inner and outer expectations
Obliger - this person meets outer expectations, but resists inner expectations
Questioner - meets inner expectations, but resists outer expectations
Rebel - resists inner and outer expectations

I scored as a rebel. Four times. For real.

Where I see myself is as an obliger. I take care of whatever I'm assigned at work and almost never resist. The one exception was when one of my co-workers wanted me to be a stenographer. I don't have the skills to be an admin or the temperament for it. But in general, tell me you need something done and I do it. I'm very good at meeting expectations.

However, when it comes to my inner expectations, I often fail to meet them. Not all the time. I make To Do lists every weekend and I always finish the critical items like groceries and laundry.

I am contrary, though. I like to do things my way, and as long as it gets done correctly, why can't I do it the way I want? I'm also notorious for asking for someone's opinion and choosing the opposite. Like there are two pairs of shoes I want to purchase, but can only get one. If I ask someone which one I should buy and they say pair A, I will end up buying pair B.

So I'm not sure where this leaves me. A rebel in denial? A mis-characterized Obliger? Hmm.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Cubs Win!

Last week my beloved Chicago Cubs ended 108 years of futility and won the World Series! For those of you who don't know, I'm a huge baseball fan and hardly a day goes by during the season when I'm not watching a game. Even though I grew up in Minnesota, I got hooked on the Cubs because both my parents are originally from Chicago and WGN used to broadcast all the games and that channel is a staple on cable systems.

I have hung through the Cubs through bad seasons, through good seasons where they fell short, and everything in between. This year, though, had to be THE YEAR. This team is good. They won 103 games during the season, the most in Major League Baseball. Nothing in the post season was easy for them (or for me) though.

As tough as the two early rounds were, the World Series was the most stressful of them all. So stressful for me that I pretty much couldn't watch. It just meant too much to me. And the Cubs did their best to keep my blood pressure high.

In a best-of-7 series, they fell behind 3-1. That meant if Cleveland won one more game, they were world champions. Every game became a must-win.

The odds of winning three games in a row, including two in Cleveland? Including a game against one of the best pitchers (Kluber) in the American League? The chances were slim and it left me sad. 108 years without a title and to get this close and fail? Devastating.

But the Cubs were more resilient than I gave them credit for. They won those three games. Game 7 was sloppy--with errors and leads switching--but it ended up being a good game because the Cubs won. The CUBS won!

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Review: Limitless

***I received no compensation for this review. I saw the show as part of my paid Netflix subscription.***

Limitless is my new favorite TV show. I wish I'd known before I started watching it that it had been cancelled, but I didn't and (of course) I loved it. I always love the shows that no one else does. They get cancelled and then I swear off television.

Anyway, Limitless is about this 28-year-old man who's something of a slacker. When his father becomes ill and the doctors can't figure it out, Brian Finch (our hero) takes a drug called NZT. It allows the user to access all his memories and use all of his brain. Brian discovers what's wrong with his father and the doctors are able to save him, but his dad needs a transplant and Brian kind of sells his soul.

NZT also has side effects and they can kill. There's a special enzyme that can prevent these negative reactions, but the only man who has it uses it as leverage over Brian. You see, it wears off and he needs booster shots. There's other stuff going on too that paints him into the corner and he ends up working with the FBI, but answerable to the mysterious Senator Morra.

There are no words for how much I loved this show. It's so much more than it's description. It's lighthearted and fun, not only crime drama. They did one episode that starts and ends like the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I loved that so hard!

I also loved that Brian isn't a static character. In the one season it was on, he changed and grew. There were so many cool directions to take him and what's up with Senator Morra dropping off the radar? I also loved the finale where they set up the next season. Brian is less a lackey and more of an agent, but with his usual offbeat sense of humor. Someone please air Limitless for me! It can't end this soon.

Not that the show is perfect. It's not, of course. There are definitely things I didn't like. For example, there's an episode with a serial killer, and because Brian can't handle it, he changes the word "kill" to "hug" and a few other word substitutions were made. I felt like I spent that entire episode translating what they were saying into what they should have been saying.

I also don't know how I feel about Rebecca or Naz, the two female leads on the show. I sort of like them and yet sort of don't. I'm not sure if it's because I like Brian so well (even though he starts out like a man-child) and they're harsh with him at times or if it's something more than that.

There's also Brian's family. I'm glad we get to see his family, but he ties himself up trying to meet expectations. On the one hand, yes, he needs to grow up and do something with his life. On the other hand, it is his life to mess up as he sees fit. (And he does see fit.) It would be nice if there was a little more acceptance to go along with the expectations. Again, this could be my sense because of how much I liked the character of Brian. It kind of colors the entire show for me.

To sum up, I'd love to see more Limitless. There's so many different ways it can go, almost all of which are interesting. Some network somewhere needs to pick this show up.

Two enthusiastic thumbs up.

***I received no compensation for this review. I saw the show as part of my paid Netflix subscription.***

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Bedtime Shock

With this latest iOS upgrade from Apple, my iPhone has a new feature called Bedtime. You tell it when you want to wake up in the morning and how many hours of sleep you'd like to have and it will tell you when to go to bed. Cool, I thought. Sign me up for this.

So it chimes like 15 minutes before the time I should go to bed and in the morning, it plays an alarm that when you're awake in the middle of the day sounds soothing and as if you'd sleep right through it. Early in the morning when it wakes me, it is not soothing. In fact, I find the chime in the music annoying. But I didn't know that to begin with and so I didn't trust it. I kept my regular alarm turned on.

And even though I sleep with an air cleaner on and even though I have my radio alarm set super loud, I still heard the Apple wake-up chime over it all. After using it for a couple of weeks, I gave up my regular alarm clock all together and only use the app. It's so much more pleasant than being jerked awake by blaring music.

But I found something that shocked me. As I was changing the setting to wake me up at a different time on Saturday, I decided to touch the little graph at the bottom of the screen. It took me into the Health app and I clicked deeper yet. Guess what I discovered?

Bedtime is monitoring my sleep and it knows exactly when I wake up to use the bathroom. Say what??? I'm trying to figure out how it can be that accurate. It's not as if I take the phone with me in the middle of the night. I'm going to have to do an online search to figure out how it knows what it knows because this is a little disconcerting. I never would have known that it had that kind of monitoring capability if I hadn't found it by accident.

I'm not sure this is a good shock, but I like the Bedtime app too much to give it up. I just wonder what Apple is doing with my sleep patterns.

***I received no compensation for this post of any sort.***