Saturday, October 23, 2010

Becoming a Crazy Cat Lady: Phase One

snuggied up
I debating not starting this post. For fear of being one of "those" people. But, then I remembered this post from Mashable - The Million Dollar Question - Why Does the Web Love Cats? - and decided this is post is appropriate for all you fellow, geeky cat lovers out there.
cat nap

So anyway ...

Here are the reasons why my cat is awesome:
  1. She purrs. Loudly and often. Now, she is my first cat (my mom hates cats, so we never had one when I was growing up, which broke my little heart), but I've been around plenty of other cats, and none of them purr quite as much or as easily as my Olive. And to a cat-lover, that's a pretty satisfying sound. (It's truly the only way they express any emotion other than "I'm better than you.")
  2. She is super soft. Again, this is only in comparison to other people's cats, but seriously, my cat's fur is softer than your cat's fur. 
  3. OliveShe likes to cuddle. She's curled up right next to me right now. This makes me so happy. I've encountered plenty of cats that want nothing to do with humans. My cat loves humans, or at least her Human Overloads (as The Sailor and I refer to ourselves in relation to her - I think he coined the term). She often comes to whatever room in the house we are in, and will even come up on the couch/bed/chair with us. My favorite thing is when my cat curls up behind my butt when I'm in a desk chair (see photographic evidence of such action at right). Especially in the winter. She's warm!
  4. She still loves to cuddle me even though I like to torture her from time to time.
  5. As long as I barricade her from whatever room she's "tagged," she never does her business on the floor. (I should do a post on "How I got my cat to stop pooping and peeing on the floor." I bet it would get a lot of views, thanks to Google and the general jerkiness of cats.)
  6. She sheds far less than other cats I've encountered. Plus she has dark fur, and I wear a lot of dark clothing, so it works out well for me when she does shed. 
  7. She has won over The Sailor. (Who am I kidding? He's a big softie. This was not hard.) He denies it though. But then he's always petting her. I even once heard him whisper to the cat something about "I give you secret lovins."
Now to truly end this on a I am a Crazy Cat Lady note, enjoy this slideshow of all my Olive photos:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Another Mad Men Moment: Carolyn Jones, model

Once again, watching Mad Men, I was struck with a "hey I know that face ..." during the finale episode, Tomorrowland. This time the face was Carolyn Jones, the fired Topaz pantyhose model.

I know that tight face... those pursed lips. That "I'm a model!" attitude!

It's Cassie (or Cassandra Whitehead, now known as Cassandra Jean), who first became known when she left season 5 of America's Next Top Model because she refused to get her hair cut.   As Tyra said, repeatedly, she wanted Cassie to have Mia Farrow's hair cut from Rose-mary's Bay-bee (pronounced just like that). Despite the opportunity to get the cut done by a very expensive stylist, Cassie refused, wanting to return to pageants. 

Well I guess it's worked well for her. Seriously, 2 minutes on Mad Men? Far more successful than any past ANTM contestant. Right? Nothing else is coming to mind ...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Today's Race: Run for Her Life

This morning I got up early to run the Run for Her Life 5K to benefit the Family Shelter Service.  Going in to the race, I felt that I could pull off a sub-10 pace. I ran 6.24 miles last Friday after work, and I felt great afterward, so I felt good going into this morning's race. I finished in 30:17, which was a 9:46 pace. I was 87th out of 318, and 7th out of 23 for my age group. I wonder how well I could have done if I never slacked on my running ... oh well, at least I started up again.

It was a little chilly (but perfect weather once we got moving) and the course had a couple hills (especially for my Chicagoland legs). I'm debating doing a costume race on 10/30 ... but I'm not a morning person. These races are early. Especially since I'm up early all week. I know, boo hoo.

The race had a couple "celebrity" runners - Jerry and Estella Hayes, from Wheaton, IL, the oldest contestants in the history of The Biggest Loser. They are still skinny. The spoke a bit after the race about their experience.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Olive Garden: Still the Same After Seven Years

Kendra and I have something in common
I've spent a lot of time over the years at the Olive Garden. I worked at two of them during college (one near school and one near home), and I still like to eat there when the mood strikes. Sometimes you just want what is familiar.

Anyway, it's funny how much is still the same today as it was seven years ago when I worked there.
  • I don't think they've changed one thing about the uniform. Although for the most part, we had to buy our own uniforms. 
  • Even the name tags are exactly the same.
  • At least half, if not more, of the menu items are exactly the same. This is a good thing to me, since I go to these places for specific menu items (Zuppa Toscana soup) and not because I want to try something new. 
  • The interior decor is the same. 
  • Even the musak sounds like it's still playing some of the same tunes. 
I wonder if I wanted to get a second job, if I could go back to The Olive Garden without being re-trained. I'm guessing yes. 
    What's different?

    The host stand includes a computer! That's cheating. I wasn't a host at The Olive Garden, but I was at Bennigan's (the one across from the Art Institute of Chicago) and a computer would have been nice to keep organized, especially during The Taste of Chicago, Blues Fest and Venetian Night. 

    Also, some of the staff (hosts, managers, maybe also the bar staff ... didn't notice it on the servers or bussers) had ear pieces in. I assume just to walkie talkies, but man, that would have been nice.

    I could hear staff singing "happy birthday" to a table in another room. WHAT??? What happened to Buona Festa??

     So glad most cell phones didn't have cameras in 2002 - 2003.

    For the record, this is EXACTLY what it's like to be a server singing happy birthday to a table. Notice the "this sucks so much" attitude in the kitchen. I would make a whole post about what it's like working at a restaurant ... just watch the movie Waiting instead. Very accurate, and also hilarious. Maybe I'll do a Waiting vs. real life comparison post.

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    Debtie Downer: Learning Lessons While Managing 20-something Debt

    I should probably
    pick up a copy
    Like most people our age, The Sailor and I have "some" debt. OK, a lot of debt. The frustrating thing is, we don't have much to show for our debt - we don't drive flashy cars (unless you consider a 2003 Toyota Echo and 2007 Toyota Corolla flashy), we don't have a large flat screen TV mounted a top our fireplace, in fact, we don't even have a home of our own, and we don't even have a TV that either of us paid for with our own money, we don't wear designer clothing (unless it can be found at a resale store). What do we have? College degrees.

    The bulk of our debt is tied up in student loans, and those loans come with hefty monthly payments that don't leave much leftover to pay for things like rent and groceries. Save up for an emergency fund or a downpayment on a house? With what? Pay extra on our credit card bills? With what?

    As a result of so much of our money going to student loan bills, we relied on credit cards for awhile. Until those pretty much got maxed out. Then what? We're in a recession, finally they stopped automatically increasing our limits. I'm scared to think how far we would go if they kept increasing those limits.

    Yes, I realize spending on your credit cards until you reach your limit is not a good financial plan. 

    So what have I learned through this?

    Sunday, October 10, 2010

    Well that's it. I think I might have to run a marathon. Photos from Chicago Marathon 10.10.10

    My cousin, who is much much much more a dancer than a runner, ran the Chicago Marathon today. Why? Because of a presentation at her church (to support World Vision). I guess it swayed her enough to run the marathon on behalf of that charity. (She said it's the largest charity group at the marathon. Bonus for me because they had a post-race tent with burgers, brats and water - for the racers and their friends. At no extra cost. I was starving by the time she finished, I'm sure she was pretty famished too.)

    Today was her first road race EVER, and it was 26.2 miles and like 85 degrees during the last couple hours of her running. Amazing. I went downtown to watch her - I saw her around 13.1 miles, since that spot is right by Union Station and my train got downtown a few minutes before she was supposed to hit that spot. When I spotted her I ran onto the course and hugged her and told her I would see her in Chinatown.

    I did see some other interesting runners around 13.1:

    Chicago Marathon 10.10.10
    I would actually see these gals again in Chinatown

    Saturday, October 9, 2010

    Nature is Beautiful: Rainbows, Autumn Colors, Spiders

    A few of my favorite photos taken during the past week:

    Double Rainbow

    We saw an awesome double rainbow last Saturday as we were leaving the Long Grove Apple Festival.

    Saturday, October 2, 2010

    The Mom in the Waiting Room on Mad Men

    I can't believe it took me almost a week to place one of the guest characters on last Sunday's episode of Mad Men. The mother in the waiting room at the clinic looked so familiar. As if I had seen her in a movie over and over and over ...