Getting My Scone Fix

Debbi’s actually the one who’s been all about scones these past few years, ever since Costco had some orange cranberry scones she really liked. Sadly, they only had them for a few months, and we’ve never seen them since.

However, she bought some scone mix from Iveta Gourmet (just down the freeway in Santa Cruz), and we both like their scones a lot. Debbi is actually quite amused at just how much I like them! (I especially like the chocolate chip scones!)

We just received a large order from them yesterday, and we’re going to try one each of their biscuit and muffin mixes. But right now (as in, “we’re baking some right now”) we’re all about the scones!


I don’t often make New Year’s resolutions, but it is a convenient time to try to think of things I can do to make my life better. It’s not so much that it’s a new year, but that I’ve just spent over a week on vacation and hopefully I have a little more energy to effect some changes.

My resolution this year can be summed up as “Eat less and write more.”

Or, as I put it to one fellow, my resolutions are means-based rather than ends-based.

Eat less: It’s not like my doctor didn’t tell me four years ago to eat less, and that trying to lose weight is through exercise is difficult because it’s very easy to stop exercising. My only success at losing weight through exercise is when I was working out a lot (4-5 times a week, for many months), and it comes back pretty easily when you stop. So, it’s time to try the other approach.

Write more: While it’s tempting to try to become a professional blogger like J.D., the fact is that I know I’m mainly writing for myself, and that my journal is just not compelling enough to bring in the sort of traffic that J.D. gets. So what I really mean here is to write more fiction. While I know I’m not at this point up to committing to the sort of regular writing that Deathless Pose [sic] demands, it would be nice to get to the point where I would be up to it.

And having finished writing this non-fictional (I hope) post, it’s time for lunch. How’s that for irony?

New Year’s Eve

We’ve had a fun but low-key transition to the new year here. We once again attended Mark and Yvette’s Drunken Scrabble New Year’s Party. There was actually less Scrabble than usual, but no one seemed to mind. Several of us played Kill Doctor Lucky a couple of times, and then we switched around for a bit.

I played Speed Scrabble with a couple of groups, doing well with one group and poorly with another. I also played a game of Scrabble with Mark and Subrata, which wasn’t a recipe for a great outcome since both of them are better Scrabble players than I am. We were actually pretty close for most of the game until Subrata made a triple word play with the Z and pulled ahead, but I did finish ahead of Mark, which was a pleasant surprise.

I drank a surprising amount of champagne (for me), but stopped well before midnight (and we didn’t leave ’til after 1).

Debbi and I rang in the new year with a smooch and with silly New Year’s hats. (I think there’s even photographic evidence of the hats somewhere!)

A good way to wrap up the calendar year and (almost) my week off.

Amazon Christmas “Fun”

I’ve been using for a long long time. My oldest orders on record there are from 1998, but I’m sure I was ordering from them before that. I’ve always been very impressed with their business: Availability of items, fringe benefits like the Associates program and the free super saver shipping option, and their customer service, which has always been very helpful when I’ve had to contact them, which fortunately hasn’t been very often.

This Christmas season has eroded my faith in Amazon somewhat. Now, I’ll say up front that things turned out well overall, but my Christmas experience with Amazon resulted in more glitches in one month than I think I’ve seen since I started using them.

Here’s a rundown of what happened:

  1. I received a box from them which I opened and noticed that the gift cards were from “Mom” but to “Rachel”. The box was indeed addressed to me, so I opened the itinery to see that someone else’s order had been placed in a box addressed to me. I contacted my family, and the UPS tracking number was one my Dad had received. He contacted Amazon by phone and was told I would have to send the items back and would received a gift certificate for the value of the items Dad ordered. Dad’s comment: “That’s not very much like Christmas.”

    Well, instead I contacted Amazon customer service through e-mail, and after I provided them all the information they needed, they instead packed up a new box with the items Dad ordered and sent it to me. So all turned out well, and I didn’t need to send anything back. (Ironically, my aversion to calling people on the phone worked in our favor here.)

  2. I received another box with a wrapped item from my Mom, and another wrapped item addressed to someone else. Apparently someone else’s order got placed in the same box by mistake. Since there was no indication the first time around that they’d fix the other person’s problem unless that other person contacted them, I didn’t contact Amazon about this. (The item in question was a CD which actually looks kind of interesting.)
  3. My Dad received some items I ordered for him, and they were wrapped, but had no gift cards. The order didn’t show any gift note when I reviewed it, so in all fairness I might have screwed this up myself rather than Amazon losing my note. On the other hand, Dad says he received some gifts from someone else which were not wrapped but should have been.
  4. Finally, I received one CD from my Dad which should have been wrapped but was not. That’s not the fun part though: When I unwrapped presents from Dad, one of them was another copy of the same CD. However, if this was part of the order they had to re-ship, this might have just been a little fallout from the first problem. (Anyone want a copy of Shadow Gallery‘s Tyranny?)

None of this is likely to make me stop using Amazon in the future (fat chance!), but it is an unfortunate set of events. The moral of the story is: Take a look at what you received, even if it’s wrapped, to make sure it looks like it’s correct, because the sooner you notice any problems the sooner you can work with Amazon to get them fixed.

And Amazon’s customer service still rocks, for getting things fixed in time.

Happy Holidays!

I hope everyone who had today off from work enjoyed it, and that everyone else didn’t have too hard a time of it.

We had a pleasant morning opening presents. I had to go upstairs and carry Roulette down from a rough morning of watching birds to frolic in the wrapping paper, but she got into the spirit in a hurry!

We spent the afternoon at Subrata and Susan’s, having brunch and doing a blind gift exchange. We saw Mark and Yvette there, and some friends of Susan’s. When we came home, I cooked up some dinner from a trial cooking magazine I received: Penne with asparagus and pistachios in a cream sauce. It came out quite tasty! (Last night I made meatloaf, which despite taking longer than I’d planned was also quite good. So now we have two days of leftovers.)

Everyone be well. I’ll leave you with a photo of our Christmas card collection this year:


Frozen Frisbee

My lesson from playing frisbee last night is that laying out when it’s about 40 degrees out is a good way to find out exactly how really goddamn cold the ground is. Gyaah!

Other than that it was a really good session. I accidentally stumbled into a way to improve the mechanics on my forehand throw, which led to much greater consistency, including being able to break the mark with it a couple of times. Very cool! We’ll see if my muscle memory can retain that improvement after the new year. Consistency in sports is mostly about mechanics: Being able to make the same motion in a repeatable manner. Ultimate throws in the wrench that you often need to repeat those mechanics while your body is in different positions, which really sucks for someone whose forehand mechanics are otherwise all screwed up, like mine are. (I have a very pretty follow-through, which is really just an indication of how unbalanced I am when I throw. But unless you know what to look for you probably wouldn’t notice. 🙂

This cold snap is amazing. It’s been below freezing each of the last three days when I come downstairs in the morning. I expect to see snow on the ground any day now, which might actually kill a few native Californians from simple horror-induced heart attacks.

Debbi seems to have caught the cold I had last week, and it’s taking longer for her to get over it. Unfortunately she hasn’t been able to take a day off from work, but she has been going home a little early. Hopefully another day or two and she’ll be over it. We’ve also got a bout of strep throat going around at work (or else it’s two independent events, since correlation doesn’t indicate causation and all that), but I think I’ve dodged it.

I’m just about ready for Christmas. And I’m definitely ready for a few extra days off.

It’s Beginning to Look a Little Like Christmas

Okay, presents are mostly bought and sent, cards are mostly sent, lights are up outside the house… what’s missing?

Well, a tree, for one thing. Due to our Disnyeland trip we didn’t go look for a tree until today, and what we found were mostly overpriced and a little skraggly. So we’re thinking we might not have a tree this year. I like having a tree, but with less time to enjoy it, it might not be worth it this year. On the plus side, no trying to keep the cats from drinking the water out of the tree stand!

Debbi asked where we would put the presents. I started giggling, and said, “Where else? Under the papasan!”

We had a little mishap with presents from Amazon: I opened up a box and found a couple of gifts addressed to “Rachel”. Turns out that gifts for someone else were put in a box sent to me, and checking with my family, the UPS tracking number matched one sent to my Dad. So we exchanged some communications with Amazon, and it sounds like they’re going to be sending the right items to me this week. If all goes as they said, then I can’t ask much fairer than that.

I’ll leave you with a link to this twisted Christmas classic: “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Fish-Men”.

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Sick Day

I’m home sick today. I’ve had a cold building for a couple of days, and this morning I decided it was better to stay home and take it easy.

It’s days like this that I really appreciate my house. It’s not big or elegant, but I can lie on the couch and watch TV and read. It’s a short walk to the kitchen or the downstairs bathroom, and I can look out the back door onto my patio, which may be a mess of leaves and branches right now, but it’s still a nice little outdoors. It’s a cozy way to rest up.

So I felt crummy this morning (when I called Debbi she said I sounded awful!), but a bowl of chicken soup and two mugs of tea (and four hours) later, I’m feeling better. Less congested. Getting tired of coughing, though.

I don’t take sick days very often. Mostly I’m pretty healthy, and it seems like when I do get sick it’s right when there’s a big deadline at work or something else interesting going on that I don’t want to miss. So yeah, I can be a contributor to “presenteeism”. I’m trying to get better about that. Usually I get sick in the spring or fall when the weather changes (either direction). I think it’s unusual that I get sick in December like this, but I could be wrong.

Anyway, here I sit!

I forgot to mention a couple of fun things that went on at work this week:

Monday, in addition to getting my car fixed (which was not so much fun, other than the outcome), my extended team went out for bowling as a fun activity. Honestly, it’s been probably 15 years – maybe more – since I last bowled. I think when I’ve bowled before it was either candlepin or duckpin bowling, with a smaller ball, but this time it was ten-pin bowling, with larger, heavier balls with the finger grips in the middle.

It was an odd experience, since I clearly know squat about bowling, and it’s strange to play a game or sport for which I have no expectations at all for myself. Of course, none of us were all that great, as our bowling scores ran anywhere from 50 to 150 during the day. I think I bowled between 100 and 110 all three games. I figured out how to be a little more consistent during the day, but didn’t show much improvement after the first half of the first game. But it was fun! In addition to enjoying my job, I like my cow-orkers, and even if I don’t hang out with many of them very often, I do enjoy it when I do.

Then yesterday there was a “family dinner night” for the software organization, so Debbi left work a little early and joined me for a Christmas-style dinner in the cafeteria. The food was good, the desserts were terrific, and we had a good time chatting with some other Apple people and their families.

It’s not all fun-n-games, though, and I have a bunch of stuff to do before the holiday break. I was getting pretty well focused yesterday so I was a bit bummed about staying home today rather than staying on that roll, but it’s important to get healthy, and hopefully I can pick up tomorrow where I left off.