INSECURITY

TODAY’S WORRY

This has happened to me quite frequently. It always makes me feel bad. John and I walk into a restaurant or a hotel or somewhere that you get waited on. They ask how they can help him and then they ask me, “Are you checking in?’ or “Table for how many?” “No, we’re together,” I say. Of course, I immediately feel like they are thinking, how can she be with him? John says I am just being paranoid and they are merely covering their bases by not ignoring the lone woman standing there. Maybe I am just being insecure but I’m not sure.

habituate

I once heard George Carlin talking about hats. To paraphrase what he said – Isn’t it interesting that when you put on a hat you are, at first, really aware that it’s on your head and then after awhile you don’t even realize you have it on. But when you take it off, it still feels like you are wearing it. It’s the same with smells. Everytime you first get into a relatively new car, it has that “new car” smell. Then after riding in it for a while you don’t smell it. But the next time you get in, there it is again! It’s a phenomenon called habituation.

habituate – To accustom by frequent repetition or prolonged exposure. (dictionary.com)

The Producers

Here’s another non-restaurant but food-related entry. When we are away from California, I often find the produce to be overpriced and of questionable quality. Too often it is wrapped in plastic, pre-selected for you. Seriously, I’d much rather rummage through a bin and find the best stuff for myself. Here in southwest Utah, the produce is often very sorry looking. You can drive to Utah from California in less than a day. How could the produce have gone so down hill in less than 24 hours? Perhaps it’s because fresh produce isn’t used as much here? One time we picked out an eggplant and at the checkout the woman said,”Is that an eggplant? I’ve been working here for 9 months and no one has ever bought one of those before!” But the point is we have found a great place for produce. It’s called Eisenhauer’s Country Produce and is located in Ivins, Utah. Their motto is,”Affordability for the Family!” Last Friday, we bought asparagus for $.99/lb. and onions were 3 lbs. for $1. There was great looking lettuces, $.79 avocados, red peppers for less than $1 each. We are so pleased to have found this gem.

BOOM

TODAY’S WORRY

There was recent economic news reporting that new home sales are booming. I wondered why that was. I know the economy has improved somewhat but it still seemed an unusually high number. Do you think it is because so many baby boomers are getting ready to retire and they are buying retirement and second homes? I’ve spent part of this week viewing the homes in the St. George Parade of Homes. St. George, Utah is a hot spot for the “active retiree.” There’s lots of hiking and outdoor sports plus gorgeous scenery. Lots of the houses on the Parade were in the $1 million+ range. My thought is this, who are the houses going to be resold to? If you have millions to spend on a retirement home, wouldn’t you want to have one custom built for you? There’s lots of land out here and no one seems to be putting the brakes on development.

Manifest Destiny

Happy Birthday, Buffalo Bill. Born February 26, 1846, he’d be 159 years old today. He has been an iconic figure of the expansion west in the United States. Politicians and historians needed a rationalization for the genocide of native Americans and the ecocide of the wildlife in which he took part. They called it Manifest Destiny.

Manifest Destiny – The 19th-century doctrine that the United States had the right and duty to expand throughout the North American continent.

Pick Up Sticks

The other day we had lunch at the Mongolian Barbecue in St. George, Utah. We don’t dine out much here due to the lack of quality restaurants but we like the Mongolian Barbecue because you can see that you are getting fresh ingredients, you choose the flavorings you want and watch the cooks cook your food. It’s kind of personal quality control. I got the smallest bowl and filled it with vegetables only and no noodles since I knew that they would be serving rice. John got the middle size bowl (this is starting to sound like Goldilocks). So the problem here is, I would get finished way faster than he would and then wish I had gotten the middle size bowl too. Solution? Chopsticks. If you want to slow down and you haven’t grown up eating with chopsticks, they are a great way to make you pause between bites.

I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP!

TODAY’S WORRY

Noah, call the lifeboats! Here in the southwestern part of Utah I think we have just surpassed the most rainfall ever. Because all the activities we were planning on doing have been washed out, we decided to go and become members of the local library, the Santa Clara branch of the Washington County (Utah) Library System. After having to prove we were not usurpers trying to take out books illegally, we were given our library cards, a brochure about the library and allowed to browse the shelves. The library goes for the minimalist look. No shelf is more than one third full and the bottom two shelves have nothing on them at all. Although there are several hefty shelves of Mormon doctrine, there is only one slim volume on the Catholic shelf called Catholic Thought. Apparently, Catholics don’t think too much in Utah.

It was, however, the brochure that really caught our attention. Here is an actual quote from it. “Because of the high demand for certain non-fiction books, only three (3) books on any one subject may be checked out at a time (i.e., flower arranging, abortion, holidays, etc.)” So, young Utahan, don’t be having an unintended pregnancy during the Christmas season, especially if you were planning on making the wreaths and centerpieces yourself.

pluviose

I found a new website the “worthless word of the day.” Of course, in my book there are no worthless words. Each is interesting in some way and a possible crossword puzzle clue or answer. Given the recent weather here in the West, I thought this was an apt word for the day.

pluviose – marked by or regularly receiving heavy rainfall. As in, “Since we have arrived in Utah, we have experienced a pluviose period.”

But the sun is shining today and all is good.

Louka, Danville, CA

Louka is a restaurant which is doing the new trendy thing, small plates. We went there with another couple and shared small plates. Now I have a problem with this concept. First of all, I don’t like to share food. Secondly, unless everybody likes all the same things, you or someone else at the table are stuck with a dish that you don’t eat or at least would never have ordered. Lastly, the amount of food on a small plate is about one third the amount you would get on a normal plate for half (or more ) of the price. The service at Louka was abysmal. It took a long time for our first small plate to arrive. There was enough for everyone to have one small bite and then we waited another long time for the next small plate. Thirty seconds of eating and ten minutes or so of waiting was the pace of the evening. We had orders of root vegetable fries, pork ribs, seared skate, roasted lamb, cheese-potato-yam gratine and braised veal. All the dishes were well-cooked and tasty. We complimented the owner on the quality of the food but raised questions concerning the service. He admitted that he was having trouble finding competent waitstaff.

Mary’s grade – C-
John’s grade – C-

SENIOR MOMENT

TODAY’S WORRY

Last week, on our way to Utah, we stopped at the Carl’s Jr. in Mojave, CA for lunch. Given the nature of part of this blog, we of course chose wisely and dietetically. Well, at least we didn’t have french fries ( I understand now that Chirac and Bush are pals again, they are no longer freedom fries.) Anyway, John did the ordering and, as the girl behind the counter rang it up, she automatically gave him the senior discount. This was not a discount he had asked for since he was not even aware that Carl’s Jr. had a senior discount. A friend of mine, Catherine, once told me she had been getting the senior discount at the movies since she was around 40 just by asking for it. She claimed that the teenagers at the ticket booth think everyone over 30 looks old. But the fact that John, whom I have always thought looks younger than he actually is, got the senior discount without asking for it, is quite sobering.

Antilogous Words

This was the theme of the August 9, 1987 NY Times Sunday Crossword by T. W. Underhill. No wonder people have trouble learning English!

antilogous – of the contrary name or character; the opposite of analogous

So antilogous words are ones that mean opposite things given their usage. Some examples-

oversight – an unintentional omission or a mistake as well as watchful care and supervision.
sanction – to allow or encourage as well as to punish so as to deter.

Can you think of others?

Tasty Products

I am certainly not above using any diet type product in my endless quest for weight loss. Here are a couple that I incorporate into my breakfast fare.

Land O’ Lakes light butter – This “butter product” has only 50 calories per tablespoon. Unlike most margarines, it has no trans fat.

Morning Star Farms veggie sausage patties – I would never have thought of trying these but the demonstration folks at Costco were handing out free samples and these turned out to be quite tasty. While they taste surprisingly like real sausages, they have 75% less fat, 2 grams of fiber, no trans fat and 80 calories each.

I really look forward to breakfast (as I do all meals.) I like to vary what I eat, sometimes an egg, sometimes a sausage pattie, sometimes peanut butter. I always have protein in the morning because otherwise by 10:30 AM, I am already looking for lunch. I like to keep the calories around 200.

So this morning for breakfast, I had a sausage muffin – 1 English muffin, a little light butter and a veggie sausage pattie. With a cup of tea and the NY Times Crossword puzzle, what could be better?

SEVENTH IN THE HEARTS OF HIS COUNTRYMEN

TODAY’S WORRY

From various surveys conducted by colleges, pollsters and even Dave Letterman, we’ve become fairly aware that we are a nation of history numbskulls. But this morning, I just couldn’t believe it. I was listening to Weekend Edition on NPR. In a survey conducted by a professor at Washington College, when people listed their top Presidents, George Washington came in seventh! This is the same man who is supposed to be, “First in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen.” The top seven Presidents, according to the poll, were Lincoln, Reagan, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Clinton, George W. Bush, and then Washington. Kennedy, Reagan, Clinton and Bush?!?!! Ahead of Washington? Is it that people only have short-term memories?

Separation of Powers

Since we have been discussing Presidents (and perhaps precedents?) today, how about a little history? We have recently been hearing a lot of talk about one branch of the government having too much or too little power. Wisely, the founding fathers tried to keep this all in balance by having a separation of powers; a system of checks and balances.

The doctrine of the separation of powers was described by Montesquieu in his L’esprit des Lois in 1748. He said that a nation’s liberty depended on the separation of the three types of power, legislative, judicial and executive with each having their own separate institution. Originally, President Madison, during the framing of the Bill of Rights, wanted to include an amendment spelling out the separation of powers. This amendment was rejected by the Congress, however, because the separation of powers is implied in the Constitution by the enumeration of each branch’s powers. So what we have today is a system not designed to maximize efficiency but to maximize freedom.

Popcorn

For most people trying to lose weight, the choice for snacking is either raw vegetables or popcorn. As a salt/starch eater, I’d pick popcorn every time. According to America’s Test Kitchen, the best microwave popcorn you can buy is Newman’s Own Butter. Of course, I never buy the full butter type. But I can’t stand the no-butter or natural types. I find that “light” is a good compromise.

Once while visiting Sarah at USC, we had to make the best of a poor hors d’oeuvres situation. All she had was popcorn and hummus. Well, desperation being the mother of invention in this case, we popped the kernels and carefully dipped one at a time in the hummus. (Spicy hummus worked the best.) Our new hors d’oeuvres accomplished three things: it made the popcorn more glamorous; it made for a filling and nutritious snack; and it really slowed us down what with all the individual dipping. Try it!

SPARE CHANGE

TODAY’S WORRY

In the vicinity of Las Vegas, there are billboards which read, “Bob Won $2 Million!” and “Koichi Won $1.2 Million!” Soon there should be a new one reading, “Mary Won 320 Quarters!” Yes, it’s true. On a slot machine named Prize Pig! (apt I thought), I played a quarter and got back 320. I am no gambler. The idea of losing money is just too horrible for me to imagine. I don’t play the lottery. But on our travels, if we are passing through Nevada, we will play a few slots with a limit of spending $20. So after losing about $10 on Haywire! and Let it Roll!, John wanted to try Haywire Deluxe! which was situated next to Prize Pig! So I stuck in a quarter or two, and two Prize Pigs and one wallowing in mud showed up and the machine went nuts. This is the most excitement I have ever had in a casino. Hopefully, I won’t become a compulsive gambler. But I won enough to pay for dinner! Ka-ching!

parlay

In keeping with our general theme of betting, today’s word is –

parlay -To bet (an original wager and its winnings) on a subsequent event or to maneuver (an asset) to great advantage. (dictionary.com)

So if I had taken my 320 quarters and put all of it on black on the roulette wheel I would have parlayed my bet.

Gold Strike Hotel & Gambling Hall, Jean, NV

For $19.95 a night, this was a surprisingly good experience. The rooms are good size and clean. The casino has low wager tables ($2) and also penny and nickel slots. The biggest downside was the fact that the beds are really, really hard and the showerhead is really low.

We ate at The Steakhouse which is their better restaurant. At The Steakhouse we were met by a supercilious maitre d’ in a tuxedo. This put us at an immediate disadvantage since I was wearing jeans and John had on his hiking pants. But we soldiered on and took a table. The menu had steaks, chops and seafood. One of the entrees was hockey pucks (scallops) in a wine, lemon butter sauce. I, of course, asked for them cooked medium rare so they wouldn’t resemble hockey pucks. The waiter actually told me that they cook all their seafood thoroughly so that the patrons wouldn’t get sick. So we were not off to a good start. But after checking in the kitchen, he discovered from the chef that it was possible not to have them overdone. Both John and I had our meal cooked exactly as we had asked. John had a medium rare veal chop and I had soft, lovely scallops. Except for the fact that everything was very glistening (covered in butter), it was a very good meal at a reasonable price. (My winnings covered it!)

VALENTINE’S DAY

TODAY’S NON-WORRY

In a couple of days, John and I are going to take a long road trip. We’ll be in the car for probably 12 hours. We’ve made this trip many times before so there really isn’t anything new to see. But, we don’t turn on the radio or play tunes or tapes. We sit and talk. There’s always some new aspect to the scenery, “oh, look, what do you think they’re growing over there?” or “Are the rusted hulks of school busses still sitting beside Route 58?” Sometimes we make dumb jokes and sometimes we talk about serious world issues. Sometimes we just sit quietly next to each other. What has this got to do with Valentine’s Day? I guess when you find your perfect someone, just being with him is never boring and makes for a perfect day.