Monday, June 27, 2011

Music snobbery

Whenever I'm cooking or otherwise puttering around the house alone, I'll open Windows media player and click "play favorites from songs." Today it pulled an unusually high number of Death Cab for Cutie songs, which I don't exactly object to. But it reminded me of something that happened several years ago, when I was single-ish. (Hard to be single when someone is stringing you along, jerking your chain. "Can I say that to a woman? Jerking your chain?") Anyway, the person I was kind of dating was something of a music aficionado, but tended to prefer the more obscure or indie artists. I suggested to him that he might like Death Cab (not particularly obscure or indie, but kind of in the same vein) and he told me, "No, I don't really like them." Okay, whatever.

Well, months later, he says, "Hey, you know who I just discovered? Death Cab for Cutie." Dude, I told you about them months ago. "No you didn't." Right, sure I didn't. I dreamed the whole conversation. No, not really. He just had to "discover" them himself, because surely my plebeian opinions could never be useful to him.

I guess what really bothered me was to be dismissed with "I don't really like them" when he actually hadn't even listened to much of their music. He couldn't just say, "Oh, I'll have to check them out." But my opinion mattered so little that it was dismissed out of hand? No wonder why it didn't work out.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The serenity prayer

You know the serenity prayer? "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." You know what that means? Don't drive yourself crazy with things you have no control over. I've got a job where they finally are making me permanent, we're in a lease until the end of April, our renters have a lease through February. These are things I cannot change.

You know what I can change? The amount of stuff I have. I'm about ready to get rid of my dining room table. We've eaten at it exactly once since we moved in here the end of April, and that was because the missionaries had dinner with us. And it would be one less thing to deal with when we move again. FH wants to shed the coffee table and side tables as well, although I'm a little more hesitant. I think living rooms tend to look weird without a coffee table. But we're even considering getting rid of our bookcases (they're the discontinued Ikea Agerum, so we'd have to mix them if we needed another) and getting new ones wherever we end up moving. I'd really like to go through every last thing we own and decide if it's actually worth keeping.

I'm not sure why I'm suddenly so taken with the idea of getting rid of things. Is it because I want the flexibility to move (without having to rent a 26 foot moving truck)? Is it because I recently discovered Stuff Project about a girl trying to clear out her family's house of the stuff they've hoarded. The pictures are...distressing. I know we're not even near that point, but it still makes me want to streamline. So much of it is just dead weight. Like the Ann Taylor dress (originally $200!) that I bought at clearance, then gained enough weight that I've yet to remove the tags. We have no need for two sets of husband-sized crutches. It would be one thing if there was one my size and one his, but no. And he can never use more than one at time. Even keeping one seems unnecessary; what are the odds he'll need crutches again?

But yeah. As we look around, we're seeing more and more stuff that we just don't need.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Who makes the best town car? Cadillac!

Sorry, you really have to have seen High School High. But yes, we just bought a Lincoln LS.

We originally were going to buy a 2004 Chevy Malibu. The dealership it was at was a good ways away, so we called and negotiated a price, because we weren't going to drive to north Scottsdale to look at a car if they weren't going to come down on the price. But we settled on a price and said we were going to leave right away and be there in 40 minutes or so.

We got there, went in and asked for the salesman, and he came out and told us that unfortunately, it had just been sold by their dealership next door. But did we want to look at something else? Um, no. It takes more than 40 minutes to sell a car, and even if they did do it that fast, why didn't he call to tell us it was sold so we could turn around and go home? This is why I hate car salesman. He totally lost our trust with that move.

So we went and looked at another car Adam had liked, but I had several objections to. Then we grabbed some dinner, then stopped on our way home at another dealership, just to see what they had. The salesman pointed out a car right by the door. A 2004 Lincoln LS, roughly the same miles as the Malibu. But more than we were willing to spend, we told him, but we liked it enough that we'd buy it if they could bring it down.  We managed to get it down to just a little more than we would have paid for the Malibu--and this car has way more features. Everything I've ever wanted in a car--telescoping steering wheel, moving pedals, heated and air conditioned! seats, sun roof, power seats with memory settings, etc. You name it, this car probably has it.

It is more car than I was expecting to get. It's not as big as a Town Car, but it has a V8 (!), so the gas mileage will end up being about what we get with our minivan. I'm a very conservative driver, though, so I'm likely to get a little more than my husband would. (Or my dad. We've been carpooling lately, and good heavens, how that man drives. Bless his heart.) Insurance isn't horrible, though a little bit more than my Altima. Hopefully we won't need too many repairs, but as part of the Ford family, it shouldn't be too terrible, right?

Anyway, we're happy. Not to have another car payment (sigh) but to have another car,and one that we like so much. I did really love my little blue car, so I'm glad to have found another one that I like so much. Between that and FH's new job, we're pretty happy with life. Now if we could just get rid of our condo in Utah and I could get pregnant, all my biggest complaints would be solved!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

car psychology

What is it about shopping for cars that makes us so paranoid? We're convinced that everyone is out to stick it to us. Granted, it's a lot of money, but buying a house is ten or twenty times what you would pay for a car, and do we suspect that our realtor is trying to pull one over on us?

Maybe it's because as a home buyer, you pick your realtor. You don't get as much power over deciding who will sell you a car. And yet it's just as much in a realtor's financial interest to put you in something too expensive, isn't it?

Most of us buy used cars, so there's the added layer that we're afraid they're trying to sell us a lemon. Buying used golf clubs isn't nearly as anxiety-producing. A second-hand handbag isn't likely to have been damaged in an accident--or be as expensive to fix if a part should fail.

I get that. A lot can go bad quickly if you end up with a crappy car. But I think there is a very real belief that car dealers are slimeballs out to screw us over. Yes, they're in sales, but do we fear the guys at Best Buy half as much as the guy at the Chevy dealership? Do we let a few jerks, a few stories, a few bad experiences affect our feelings towards an entire industry?

Well, yes, basically. And every I have a bad experience, or someone I know does, it just reinforces that antagonistic feeling. I've had great experiences buying cars, but they're always overshadowed by the bad ones. It's too bad, because it's hard enough to part with so much money, it's even worse to give it to someone  that you don't like or trust.

This has been what's on my mind lately, as we've been car shopping. Fortunately, we bought one last night! Not at all what I had been expecting, but we really like it. I'll tell you the story later of how we ended up with this one. But as a teaser, I'll leave you with a quote from the funny but forgettable Jon Lovitz movie, High School High. "What's the capital of Nebraska?...Who freed the slaves?...Charles Keating cooked the books of what S&L?...Who makes the best town car?"

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It's the pick of the week!

The award for best six dollars I've spent all week goes to the sweater stone!
Sweater Stone

It seems like all my cardigans and most of my sweaters have moderate to severe pilling. I've tried cutting them off with scissors, but that's super time-intensive, and dangerous, since I've been known to accidentally cut things, including myself. (Only once, and just a little.)

Last week a friend mentioned in passing something about having a sweater stone in her laundry kit. I had heard about them before, but totally forgotten. Fortunately our free year of Amazon Prime has not yet expired, so a couple days later, I had a sweater stone of my very own. I've spent the last couple nights making a terrible mess of my living room (you might want to take some quality Outside Time if you try one) but I'm quite satisfied with the results. It's not perfect, but my cardigans look far more presentable than they used to. And I suppose if I didn't wait three years before I use it again, it might look quite good.

So yes. Two thumbs up for the sweater stone. If you want one, I think I get a kickback if you do it through my link. Not that I've ever made anything off Amazon Affiliates, or care either way. I just want to share about a cool new product I've found.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Little fishies

We are renting a condo, which has several pools for the use of residents and their guests. And yet the other day, my husband saw our landlord and her children in the pool. Now, you could argue that as the owner of several units, she has the right to use the pool, but I would say that she has transferred her pool privileges (so to speak) to the renters.

What really irks me, though, is that when we moved in and asked about keys to the mailbox and pool, she said she didn't have them, but she was sure the front office could get us one for like, five dollars. Actually, it cost us forty dollars to get those keys, which she had no intention of reimbursing us for. She also only provided one house key. She said she'd drop off additional keys, but when we asked about it, she told us, "Can't you just have a key made?" Well, yes. But the point is that you have keys. You said you would bring us keys. And frankly, it's a reasonable assumption that a landlord will provide at least two keys, especially when there are two residents. I provided three, so they could have a spare somewhere.

Add in that she won't repair the washer and dryer should something happen (although Arizona state law says the landlord has to maintain the appliances, so I'm not sure if she can even have that provision in the lease) and you've got a lazy, cheap, lousy landlord. I'm pretty sure I've complained about her before, but honestly. This is ridiculous. Maybe I just got spoiled with my sweet landladies who gave me candy at Christmas and left a welcome fruit bowl when I moved in. Or maybe I just expect too much of people. But in this case, I don't think I do.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

I'm such a nerd

So I was humming "Ice, Ice Baby" to myself while I put away laundry (judge not, lest ye be judged, people. I know some of you like the Jonas Brothers) and I realized that I think punctuation. I always sing "To the extreme; I rock a mic like a vandal," but I realized that Rob Van Winkle has likely never used a semicolon, and certainly not while writing so-so rap music.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

I'm what I like to call "medically delicate"

"Your cholesterol is over 300! You're basically a solid!" Name that movie.

So my cholesterol isn't really that bad. Maybe 5 points high, overall. My triglycerides are sufficiently low, my HDL is sufficiently high--both good things. But my LDL is also a pinch high. My ratios are good, but my doctor suggests I take care of it now, lest it gets to the point that I need to medicate.

"Just lose five or ten pounds," she said. Yes, I'd like to do that anyway. Exercise may help some, although it's really more for raising HDL, which I don't need, strictly speaking. She suggested more fish, which is absolutely not an option. I'd rather take cholesterol-lowering drugs my whole life. I can't really reduce the amount of red meat I eat, unless I went to zero. I really don't eat that terribly, except that I don't get enough fruits and vegetables. But lots of whole grains, beans, etc. Sooo...I guess I'll just focus on more produce.

Except wait, that's not all. My calcium level is the lowest extreme of the acceptable range, meaning it probably  dips below it. So I have to focus on dietary sources of calcium. But I'm supposed to avoid saturated fat, so it's not like I can start hitting the ice cream. Plus I'm occasionally lactose intolerant, and sometimes significantly so. You know what the best source of non-dairy is? Kale. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Low calcium levels often go with low vitamin D levels. So I have to go back to get that checked. It would make sense, since I generally avoid the sun as much as possible. According to the never-wrong internet, low vitamin D can cause muscle twitching. Muscle twitching! I have near-constant muscle twitches! Not consistently in one spot. It'll be like five twitches in my quad, three in my back, eight in my calf, and on and on, most of the day. I would love for that to stop. LOVE.

Um, yeah. So that's what happened at the doctor's today. At least they didn't just say "Everything is okay. You're fine!" I'm obviously not fine, or I wouldn't have gone in. Of course, I only went in because my husband made me. Husbands can be handy sometimes.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I envy you

Chances are you don't live in a citrus-producing state, like I do. You know what that means? It means that you can buy a tiny indoor orange tree from the interwebs, and I can't. Stupid agriculture laws prevent me from buying citrus plants online, which is unfortunate because it would clearly solve all my life's problems. And I don't really shop in stores, because I'm a mean old lady who hates people.

So Google Reader wisely suggested that I might be interested in this article. Look at this! How cute are these? They're so tiny!

Patio/Container Calamondin Orange Tree Full Size Fruit

There are few finer smells in the world than orange blossoms. I'm not currently in a position to plant an orange tree, alas, and I doubt I can find this type of plant in a nursery (also, I'm not sure I can force myself to go to a nursery, unless they also sell sour cream and microwave popcorn). But if you live anywhere but Arizona, Florida, Texas (and possibly California) you can have an indoor orange tree of your very own!

Now if only I could get an indoor avocado plants that bears fruit. Supposedly they do sometimes, but they don't taste the same, so what's the point?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Aw, you guys, my friend had her baby! This officially kicks off Baby Summer! Or, All My Friends are Having Babies. I am very happy for each and every one of them. Would like my own, of course, but good for them!

Fabulous Husband has a part time job that pays almost as much per hour as I'm making now. And he has another interview this week. Supposedly he was to start tomorrow, but never heard back from the lady, so...sometime this week probably. They were so desirous to get him in to interview, and now it's kind of radio silence. Odd. But hey. Job!

Of course, now we need another car. Sigh. I hate car shopping. I can't shake the feeling that everyone is trying to rip me off. And I'm not too excited about a new car loan. But it just isn't convenient to rely on my parents, nor do we have any desire to. Self sufficiency--even just in transportation--is a beautiful thing.