Friday, February 24, 2006

Four for Friday

Q1 - Birthdays: How many different birthdays do you have committed to memory, and aside from using your own noggin, how do you keep track of all the others?

I have a strange propensity for remembering birthdays. I know probably fifty or sixty off the top of my head. Some of those belong to people I haven't seen or heard from in a number of years. Just in case I would forget, I write them down in an old weekly calendar I never used that's bound like a hardback book and has pictures of kittens in it. I picked it because it had a lot of space and because it wasn't super-obvious that the calendar was for a certain year -- it isn't laid out in a grid.

Q2 - Seaport Security: A government-owned company in the United Arab Emirates volunteered late yesterday afternoon to delay its $6.8 Billion takeover of most operations at six U.S. seaports. The delay allows President George W. Bush time to convince skeptical members of the U.S. Congress that the deal poses no security risks. What's your feeling on this... should the United States government allow a company based in Dubai to manage seaports in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Miami, New Orleans, New York, and Newark?

Admittedly I'm not very informed about it, but my feeling is no.

Q3 - Telephones: Regardless of whether you use just a cell phone or a cell phone and a land line at home, does 'Voice over IP' (VoIP) technology have you thinking about switching or adding a land line at home? (In case you've never heard of VoIP, it allows for the routing of voice conversations over the Internet or any other IP-based network, and it's supposed to be a lot cheaper than paying the old-school phone companies for telephone service.)

I would think about it, but it doesn't seem to be cheaper so far and it doesn't work when your cable Internet is out. I'm not ready to switch yet.

Q4 - 2006 Winter Olympics: Have you been watching the 2006 Winter Olympics on television? If so, which events have you enjoyed the most? If not, why?

Skating, of course. I also enjoyed snowboardcross, speed skating, and some of the skiing events. And the sports people sliding down icy tracks in various manners going really, really fast. The sport I keep missing and want to watch: curling.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Dinner plans

Steph and I are going to go to either Maggiano's or Macaroni Grill soon with a gift certificate I earned at MyPoints. I've been a MyPoints member since 1997 -- it was my first rewards program and one of the few I still belong to. I get most of my points by clicking on e-mail offers, but you can also get them by shopping through the site, which I've done on occasion. They offer a lot of rewards, such as gift certificates to Maggiano's/Macaroni Grill, Target, and many other places I like. You can also earn points by referring people, so leave a comment if you'd like me to refer you. :-)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Make your own soap

Via Lifehacker, a site that tells you how to make your own soap: Soap recipes by Elaine C. White. It should not be a surprise to anyone that I totally want to try it. I don't have time today, though -- I'm doing stuff around the house, reading my book for book club, and going to Costco.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

BPAL: Snow Moon 2005

I recently picked up (via eBay) a bottle of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab's Snow Moon, a limited-edition A Little Lunacy oil. They offer a new limited-edition fragrance on each full moon that's available for only one day, and this was December's.

One thing to know about BPAL: The oils are all natural, not synthetic, so they smell different on everyone, and the scent often changes -- it will smell different in the bottle, when it's wet, and after it's dry.

The description: In December, the skeletal, ice-rimmed fingers of winter take hold, and the nights are long, chill and dark. The first flurries of snow touch the land, and the earth itself becomes quiet. A scent of purity and silence, soft with falling snow, as dark as Midwinter: an icy flurry over the winter blooms of narcissus, pansy crocus, dahlia, tulip, chrysanthemum and white rose, with a hint of fir and birch.

In the bottle, I like it. It's very fresh and piney. I smell a lot of pine when I first put it on, but as it dries, it changes to something that doesn't work on me. From reading reviews at the BPAL forums, I think it's a sweet floral combination that I don't like. I tried a little on my hand just now and it's better than it was the other day, but I'm afraid that note I don't like will show up again. I'm not having much luck with "cold" scents, which is a shame, because they all sound so great.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Tony Ha rocks. We love Tony Ha.

I used to have one of the oldest working cell phones. Okay, it wasn't an antique or anything, but it was four and a half years old and it was starting to show its age. Steph and I wanted to get a family plan together (when Steph's plan ran out) that would make service cheaper for both of us and would give us the ability to call each other for free. In addition, we would be able to get new phones, and Steph would be able to use her phone at her house, where she previously had pretty bad reception. We had a plan picked out and were deciding what phones we would get when I noticed that Cingular raised their prices. We decided to wait, as I wasn't about to pay more for my half of the bill than my old plan had cost.

In December, we walked by a kiosk at Castleton Square Mall that was advertising a family plan that cost less than the original family plan we were looking at. We stopped to look, and the guy working at the kiosk greeted us. His name was Tony. I started asking Tony questions about the plan, the phones, and even the length of the promotion. He answered all of them without being condescending or impatient. When we told him we weren't going to sign up that night, he wrote a lot of information down for us and gave us his card.

The next time we were in the mall, we stopped by the kiosk again, but a different guy was working. He wasn't nearly as knowledgeable or professional, and we elected to wait until Tony was working.

Later in the month, we were in the mall again (we don't always spend that much time at the mall -- it was Christmastime), we walked by and there was Tony. He remembered us and we decided to get our new phones and plan. In addition to helping us get our phones up and running and calling Cingular to get us a discount on the activation fees, Tony gave us a coupon for free car chargers (they were out of stock). He said we could call to see whether the chargers were in.

I was at the mall again (exchanging a Christmas present that didn't fit) and stopped to see if the chargers were in. The guy that wasn't Tony was working. The chargers weren't in yet, but he took my phone number and promised to call when they came in; he said they expected them the next day. I asked him about a problem that I was having with my phone (the pictures, backgrounds, and camera would stop working and I would see only broken-picture icons when I would try to select a picture) and he made the excuse that things like that would happen because the new phones were so complicated that they were more like a PDA or a computer.

No phone call came, so I called a couple of weeks ago and left a message with my work phone number asking about the chargers. About a week later, I got a voice mail at work from Tony. He said he wasn't sure that anyone had called me back, so he wanted to call just in case, and our chargers were both in. I mentioned to Steph that he'd called, and she happened to go to the mall last Friday to go to a different store. She stopped by the kiosk and Tony was there. He remembered Steph, remembered which chargers we needed, and gave them to her even though she didn't have the coupon for the chargers (I had it in my purse).

Tony Ha rocks.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Olympic opening ceremonies

Last night we watched the opening ceremonies with Team Indiana, the team I'm on for the Gay Games. It was fun to meet a lot of the other athletes, and I even won a door prize, an orange Gay Games messenger bag. So far I am the only figure skater on the team. They have a variety of sports represented: men's and women's softball teams, track and field, tennis, road race, basketball, swimming, and raquetball, among others.

We enjoyed the opening ceremonies. I think the strangest part may have been the dancing couples dressed in cow-print fabric among people pulling large cow statues around on leashes in formation. (Moo.) I always like the parade of athletes, too.

I just finished watching the end of the pairs short program and the men's 5000m speed skating. They reported that Michelle Kwan had a bad practice this morning; Steph commented earlier that it must be difficult to practice with everyone watching, and I didn't realize until tonight that they were taping TV coverage of it. They said that the ice on the speed skating oval was soft; I wonder how the ice is for the figure skaters.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

You can't get there from here

Anyone want to tell me how I can get home from the Coliseum?

I can't turn out of the fairgrounds onto Fall Creek because you can't turn left on 38th St.

They herded me out the other side of the fairgrounds onto 42nd St. -- apparently they weren't letting people out on 38th St. I turned left.

I turned left on Broadway to go back toward 38th St. so I could turn left. However, it was closed after 40th St.

I turned right on 40th St. to try to get around the construction. I figured I'd go to College and get on 38th St. from there. No dice -- you can only turn right when you get to College. I turned right on College.

I continued to 42nd St., where I turned left to try to get turned back around. I turned left on Broadway and left on 40th. When I got back to College, I could only turn right, which (conveniently) was the direction I actually wanted to go.

I turned right on College and headed toward 38th St. However, you can't turn left on 38th St. from College either, so I turned in to the Walgreens parking lot just after 38th. The parking lot had an exit on 38th, so I turned right there, finally accomplishing my original goal.

I arrived home nearly an hour after stepping off the ice (and I only spent about twenty minutes of that hour taking my skates off, chatting, and petting Ellie's dog).

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Weekend update from last weekend

I'm a little behind on my blog, but I thought I'd post last weekend's update anyway.

Last Friday night, I went over to Steph's and helped while she got her new TV (no, I did not lift the TV; I did other things like corraling the dog, holding the door, and moving the smaller components).

Last Saturday morning, I had a lesson and then went over to Steph's for lunch and TV watching. I came home in the afternoon to get stuff done around the house and went back to Steph's for more TV watching at night.

My dad came to visit on Sunday. We had a great day -- we cut up a pile of branches in the driveway; cut down some small trees; went to Sears, Target, and Olive Garden; and worked on a template for some holes I need to drill so I can finish a present I'm making for a friend. My dad is really good at that kind of thing, and he had lots of helpful ideas that will make the template more useful.

My dad also brings me interesting combinations of stuff. Last week he brought me a stepstool, some mashed potatoes and sauerkraut, a Burger King toy from a kid's meal (I had asked for it), and a pamphlet from the dentist about how to floss your teeth. I learned that you're supposed to floss behind your last tooth on each side -- I've been flossing incompletely for years now.

Friday, February 03, 2006

New radiator

My Honda has been losing coolant for a couple of weeks now, so I made it an appointment at Tune Tech for today. (Steph suggested the other day that I drive Phoebe until I could take the Honda in, but that wasn't practical because she too is having a coolant leak. This is the first time I can remember that the cars have had the same symptom at the same time.) The Honda needed a new radiator, which it now has, and I discovered a notation in the gas book that the old radiator had a lifetime warranty. Now I have to figure out what to do with the old radiator (which is now in my trunk) to get the company to pay for the new one.