Friday, March 30, 2007


Within the last five days, Spring appears to have sprung. Crocuses and snowdrops are everywhere, the the recognizable tops of daffodils are emerging from the slowly warming earth.

Canadian Bacon

I'm eating 98% fat free Canadian bacon with my breakfast. And I'm wondering, "What exactly is Canadian bacon?" It looks like a mini ham slice. But if it was just a mini ham slice, why don't they call it mini ham? Mini sells. Look at the Mini Cooper if you need proof.

So, I went to the web.

I found out that what we in America call "Canadian bacon" is, in fact, (essentially) processed mini ham slices. This is NOT Canadian bacon.

Canadian bacon is something called peameal or "back bacon." This is, and I quote, "Back bacon is made from the boneless pork loin, with the fat trimmed to 1/8" and cured in a sweet pickle brine. The special ingredients used in the cure create a product that is less salty than regular bacon with a touch of sweetness. The loin is then rolled in yellow cornmeal giving it the signature 'peameal' coating and par-baked to ensure uniformity."

There you have it. If you go to Canada and you want to try peameal or "back bacon" order like this: "Two over easy with peameal, please. Got it, eh?"

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


I thought Starbucks baristas were supposed to be these hip, caffeine-fueled youngsters? If so, why does it take SO LONG to make a cup of coffee? The company recently unveiled a new line of breakfast sandwiches that baristas have to warm up in the microwave. Rather than saving time, this is adding time to the Starbucks experience. Is Starbucks in such bad shape that they have to compete with Dunkin' Donuts?

Apparently, the answer is yes.

In addition to adding donuts and breakfast sandwiches to the menu, I recently read that Starbucks is trying to reduce the amount of time customers have to wait to below 3 minutes.


My trip this morning, for a triple shot, venti, non-fat, no-whip mocha took more like 10 minutes. This is not unusual. In fact, I think every morning about how much time I'm willing to give to a coffee run on my way to the office. Part of what makes it so slow is precisely what makes it so wonderful (and pretentious). I would never think to order a mocha at Dunkin' Donuts. They offer them, and I imagine they taste pretty bad. So, I go to Dunkin' Donuts when I want an ordinary cup of tea or decaf. This doesn't take long - regardless of where I order it.

But, I seek out Starbucks when I'm ordering something that takes more time. Okay, I get it. This is "my bad," as the kids would say.

So, if I have to wait 10 minutes, and I KNOW the company is working on the 3 minutes or under thing, I get annoyed. Even if I know it is an unrealistic goal on their part because almost everyone standing in line is waiting for some high maintenance drink like a "half-caf, quad grande, half-soy, half-skim, sugar free hazelnut hold the maltitol, extra hot, no foam latte."

So, I'm now going to clock my time in line and try not to be as bitter as the magical beans that go into my drink.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Trek 1200

Okay. I did it! I bought a bike. I was thinking about getting the Trek 1000, those of you faithful readers might remember. Well, at the International Bicycle Center in Boston I got a really great deal on the Trek 1200, so 200 more bicycliciousness than the one I was planning on investigating further. The cost? $600. Pedals come separately, and BMG tells me they'll run about $100. And new shoes? Another $100. So, for $800 bucks I get a new bike that is custom fit for my body. I'm nervous and excited - about having the right gear to really meet my goal to become more hard core about my biking.

BMG suggests we might want to buy a spare pair of shoes for me to have, and some more clothing - ideally an "outfit" or two that complements my bike colors (grey, red and black). My orange and black jersey may not cut it any longer. So, I'm excitedly looking at silly jerseys online. Think I may get this one. Fun!

Miss Conduct

I love the etiquette column in The Boston Globe. In fact, I love all etiquette columns. Knowing the rules of proper social engagement, and having standards to reply upon to structure my interactions with others - particularly uncomfortable ones - causes me great relief.

So, the first part of the Sunday Magazine section of The Globe I always read first is "Miss Conduct" by Robin Abrams. I was thrilled when I read this week's collection of social instructions (March 25, 2007) and discovered a question I had recently sent to Miss Conduct had been answered. It can be found here and is excerpted below.

“Did you get my e-mail?” was the way a friend recently started a phone conversation. Her e-mail, sent days before, was interesting but contained neither a query nor information begging for a response. I heard a clear “Why didn’t you respond to me?” in her tone. When correspondence comes with no obvious question, whether it’s sent electronically or by mail, how long do you have to respond?
G.K. in Somerville

There really aren’t any rules for this sort of thing, and if there were, people would ignore them. Factors like time pressure, writing style (are you a breezy-note person or a long-thoughtful-monograph person?), and psychological makeup (are you an intimacy person or a “give me my space” person?) are going to have a lot more sway over correspondence behavior than rules in a book ever could.

When you and a friend have different expectations, you have two choices on how to deal with it. One is to go along with your friend’s preferences and know that an e-mail or letter from Cozy Cara requires a response pronto. A brief note or e-mail saying, “Wow, how interesting! I can’t write much now but let’s talk soon. I’ve been thinking about you” should be enough. Or you can gradually accustom your correspondents to your own style. For example, you could have said, “Oh, I don’t always get around to responding to e-mails right away – but that was so interesting what you were saying about the connections between Buddhist philosophy and neuroscience.” Eventually C.C. will learn that a lack of immediate response does not mean a lack of sympathy or affection.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A little giggle

BMG made me laugh really hard today - milk coming out my nose hard - with this post on the lite version of HIS blog. I'm CF quoted in the brief dialogue dated March 14, 2007.


I've found myself using a word I believe was coined by comedian Stephen Colbert. The word you ask? Crumbalievable. I'm not even sure what it means. And, what it means isn't actually the point.

The point is that I would like to invent a word. And I thought I had until a few moments ago. Hecticity - an adjective (or is it a verb) characterizing something as unusually hectic. This led to hectivity, meaning a hectic and stressful moment/activity.

But, I didn't invent them. I googled both words and found them in Urban Dictionary.

If my life was not characterized by such hecticity lately, I might have been able to invent these words first.

There is a small passel of things I thought about inventing, only to realize someone else got to it first, like decorative, reusable match boxes that allow the user to store matches out in the open. I was so excited about this, and actually investigated the patent process. Then, while at a conference in Pittsburgh, I saw this exact same thing in the gift shop at the Andy Warhol Museum. Dammit! Other inventions I'll never get to include a butter dish that has a receptacle on the side for storing a butter knife. Brilliant! I also have a book idea that I've talked about for years. I mentioned it to BMG, a professional writer. He then mentioned it to a publisher friend. And now I am *supposed* to prepare some sort of brief (2 sentence) pitch. Is it the type of book that will allow me to pay off my student loans? Not likely.

But, I like to think of myself as creative Idea Man. Not a drone who works hard for 50-60 hours a week and doesn't have the energy to retrieve her mail each day, or wash the dishes, assemble new furniture, or call her mother. I need to do something about all this hecticity, so I can write a book, learn French, set up my iPod roadtrip, and call my mother.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The downside of electronic tax filing

I started working on my Turbo Tax e-filing this morning. Imagine my surprise when, as I was led lemming-like through the tax forms, I noted the running total on my tax refund in the upper left corner. My refund is going to be $100,000.

That's almost better than winning Mega Millions!

But, I'm not sure it is right. I think I'll abandon it for now, and try again later.

Friday, March 9, 2007

And...IT'S Here!

In addition to having Baby H join the family, my new futon arrived today! A special shout out to UPS for hauling it up the front steps, and to BMG, who was kind enough to put a hand written, "Freight delivery okay" note on the front door for me.

It is out of the boxes (2!) and I'm going to tackle assembly tonight. Hooray!

He's here!

My sister, NSBN, gave birth to her second child this afternoon! Baby H was born at 1:45 in the afternoon on Friday, March 9th. Little H is a healthy 7lbs. 2 oz., and a good nurser (so I'm told). He gets circumcised on Saturday, and mom and baby head home on Sunday.

He replaces his older sister, (M3) as the youngest kid in the family. His cousin (N), the only other little boy in our brood, has been asking his mom, "When does Baby H come?" because he is eager to have a little boy with whom he can play. N will be so sad when he realizes that Baby H won't be able to play with him for at least 12 months! So, N can look forward to another year of Barbie, Dora, and dress-up.

Monday, March 5, 2007

10 pieces of sushi... the amount I can comfortably eat. My favorites are caterpillar rolls, mackerel, and fish roe rolls. Need an introduction to the culture of sushi? I highly recommend First Book of Sushi, or any of the other child-friendly board books in the World Snack Series by author Amy Sanger Wilson. As the Japanese would say (if they used online translation tools and had no idea how sentence construction worked in their language), "enjoi goshujin bangohan!"

Saturday, March 3, 2007

I'm in! I'm in!

I ended up drinking last night with a group of eight people from work - most of whom I had never met before. We were in a little watering hole, known largely to locals. Items on the menu included "The Good Catholic," a plate of fish and chips (it is Lent) and cheese steak with fries. A large DJ section in one corner of the bar was set up, and a drunken locale did a karaoke rendition of some rock ballad while we looked on from across the room seated at a series of tables hastily thrown together, littered with the detritus of the free appetizers they gave us (fish sandwiches, cheese pizza and fried clam strips).

My job is one that puts me in contact with people who have significant formal power within the organization. This puts me in an interesting situation vis-a-vis the front line workers (in this case, teachers) in the system. I have to be especially sensitive to what I say to whom, and need to be certain that I'm building trust - regardless of who I'm working with. To be able to go out and drink, to joke about sex and talk about local politics, with front liners, - some of whom are true townies - feels like a victory of sorts. A victory of belonging.

On the victory of belonging front, my office was recently moved from the hinterlands to the bona fide central office - the belly of the beast as I've joked with some. I moved because a much loved senior staffer retired. A senior staffer who was also a townie. As a newbie and a yuppie, I was bracing myself for passive-aggressive hostility in the office. This has not happened. In just over a month, I feel as if I've been accepted into the office culture. How can I prove it? I was asked to contribute to the office Mega Millions ticket pool. Together we bought $110 worth of tickets. And, sadly, I left all of my numbers at the office - so I have no idea if we won. I'll need to wait until Monday to figure it out.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Futon Postscript

I cancelled the order on the new futon I so excitedly blogged about in February. Why? When scheduling the pick-up, the customer service representative was exceptionally rude to me, a peeve of mine. (An example of what he said? After a long and boring exchange about their odd delivery notification procedure, he said to me "I'm sorry, but you are the only person who has ever had a problem with this." I replied, "It would be nice if you could also say you are sorry that I'm disappointed with the procedure." "No, I can't say that. I'm not sorry. You are the first person to ever have a problem with this, so I can't be sorry." Huh? Where is the logic here, I ask?) Anyhow, after talking with BMG, I realized the the only power I had was to cancel the order, I did.


So, I'm still without a functional couch.

Do not despair, however! Another futon was ordered - this time online, and is en route via UPS. What can brown do for me? Apparently a lot more than Boston Sleep-a-rama!

PS: Oh! I do have one more tiny piece of power. I DID file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. If you've never done this, I highly recommend it as a satisfying process that can be done entirely online. And, the Business in question is supposed to respond to the complaint in writing, so there is a possibility of closure.