Friday, August 31, 2007

Too much gas

Credit Card Fraud is a wide-ranging term for theft and fraud committed using a credit card or any similar payment mechanism as a fraudulent source of funds in a transaction. The purpose may be to obtain goods without paying, or to obtain unauthorized funds from an account. Credit card fraud is also an adjunct to identity theft.

The cost of credit card fraud reaches into billions of dollars annually. In 2006, fraud in the United Kingdom alone was estimated at £428.0 million (about $840 million).

Someone got one of our credit cards. Someone sure bought a lot of gasoline for their automobile. In fact, they got a whole lot of gas for a whole lot of other vehicles as well.

How could we have not seen this for three months you might ask. Why would one of us question the other on gas station charges? Well, the tip off might have started with the locations (Oroville, Dixon, San Leandro) but that's just a detail. We also haven't gotten a mailed statement in 3 or 4 months. We have to go online and find the statement since the bill gets paid automatically each month. When I go online, I've been less apt to check the detail.

So it seems that I must have dropped my card back in May somewhere here in Montclair, and a lucky person (the bad guy) got my card and decided to buy a whole lot of gas for as long as he could get away with it. I assume male even though the last time I was robbed in this way, it was a female bad guy/gal. She did a lot of shopping at BabiesRUs. And she bought Big-O-Tires.

My superman

When did Max get so big? He just looks so self-assured. Now that he is officially "potty-trained" it seems like he's a million times older. At least 4 1/2.

Yesterday, BZ went shopping and bought a pack of pull-ups for Max. I get to bring them back to the store. We really don't need them.

I know that most kids have been trained on this or learned by themselves by age 3 or 2 or in-utero, but this is still a great and proud moment. Last night, he slept in big boy Superman underwear ( and a superman cape and superman pajamas). Its a milestone. One less kid in diapers-WOW!!!

Its true what THEY say. When they are ready, they are ready and minor bribery is not so bad. Someone promised me that Max would not go to high school in diapers. Luckily, they were right.

Aiden is learning as well. He poops quietly in his diaper, then runs to sit on the potty fully clothed, and then, celebrates with hand clapping. Its a start, even if confusing.
Time to bring out the poop books again.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tagged again

OK. I'll play your game but I will fight it to the finish. I just got "tagged" for the second time and will now play this...chain letter type blog game. I don't mean to sound bitter, forgive me.

Here are the rules:
1) Post these rules before you give your facts
2) List 8 random facts about yourself
3) At the end of your post, choose (tag) 8 people and list their names, linking to them
4) Leave a comment on their blog, letting them know they've been tagged

Here we go:
1. I don't know 8 bloggers
2. My middle name is Ambrose, as in "Ambrose Bierce" or St. Ambrose. Here's a bit on St. Ambrose:
He was liberal to the poor; it was his custom to comment severely in his preaching on the public characters of his times; and he introduced popular reforms in the order and manner of public worship. It is alleged, too, that at a time when the influence of Ambrose required vigorous support, he was admonished in a dream to search for, and found under the pavement of the church, the remains of two martyrs, Gervasius and Protasius. The bodies, though they would have to have been hundreds of years old, looked as if they had just died. The applause of the people was mingled with the derision of the court party.
3. I am about to knit washcloth puppets. How great is that?
4. My new favorite color is burnt orange. This may change shortly but...for now, I love it.
5. After 5 + years of marriage, I still think we made a good decision. I mean that in the most romantic (and practical) way.

6. My brother just started driving a cab and has asked me for marketing assistance.
7. My feet are oddly shaped. Odd enough that Max asks me about them on a regular basis.
8. I worry too much. About everything. All the time.
I am tagging Kim, Linda, Gwen, Mati, Monica, uh....I don't know other bloggers. Well, not ones that won't scream at me for this...
I apologize in advance.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Monster home

They have just begun to break ground.

This used to be all trees on a steep hill.

We live in the beautiful Oakland hills. We are surrounded in trees. Soon we will be surrounded by less trees and a big fat cheesy house. A guy bought the land on the corner right next to us and is in the process of digging a major hole to build his house in. His monster home.

He tells me its Craftsman style, but who ever heard of a 3000 sq foot Craftsman style home? Shit. Oh, and, for some reason, they only seem to work at night and on Saturdays. Saving money I guess.

The two trees closest in this picture are going away. The house will be there. To the right, is our house. The good news is that he used to be a landscaper and is planning on planting for privacy. The bad news is that he will be right there. I am holding out hope that he is a liar and will not actually live in the house but will sell it as soon as he can to a family with kids. I can't imagine why a single guy in his mid-60s wants such a big home by himself. Waaah.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Repetitive Stress Syndrome

My hands hurt. I think I overdid it but look! All in one day, one work day, with kids, driving, eating, and so forth. I love the yarn, I love the ease of the narrow design. It looks like I have accomplished something. I think I am about a third of the way done...

I just took two Ibuprofens to ease the ache in my hands. We watched Pedro Almaldovar's Talk to Her, which we had seen a long time ago I I knit while watching. What a great movie. Completely wacky, of course, and really disturbing. Loads of nervous knitting.

Friday, August 24, 2007

New project

OK. I admit I am frustrated with my goofy red scarf project and the big blue wool that I can't bear to work with. so I am starting an EASY project that seems quick and doable. Its good to start with a win, don't you think?
I am making a "Skinny scarf." I may be knitting three hundred feet of scarf but at least the length will look like I am getting somewhere.

I am not allowing myself any more yarn purchases until I make at least one thing and decide to continue to do this new hobby of mine. But with a 40% discount at the local knit shop, its really hard not to rationalize the need to stock up for a hard and expensive winter.

I remain distracted. I just want to rest, sit in the sun, knit, read, eat, play. I need time to socialize. All the work and errands are just in the way. I want another vacation.

Monday, August 20, 2007

knitting more

OK. So I have already admitted to knitting. But now I must admit that it is taking over my brain. I am obsessed. I have already gone into my local knit shop three or four times, found a knitting store in San Mateo when I ran into a glitch while on the road for work, found at least ten knit websites and even more blogs and podcasts...where does it end?

This is my very first piece of knitting. Ever. Not hard to believe perhaps but there it is. It started as a scarf but then it started to "increase" as in double in width without my even noticing. This was pointed out by the woman at the shop in San Mateo. She said I should just start over. In addition to looking wonky in shape, there are quite a few holes as well. Max has claimed this little treasure as his new scarf-to-be. We've decided to forge ahead, "decreasing" down to the right width, adding little trinkets on top of the holes as decorations. It will be a "love scarf." HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH.

So, as I was creating this monster scarf, I fell in love with a beautiful wool at the Knitting Basket. The woman at that shop politely pointed out that it wasn't practical to get white if it was going to be around a child or children. Good point, so I bought this great teal color in bulk. She convinced me that it would make a great baby blanket and showed me a beginner pattern that seemed very straight forward.

The picture above is the beginning of the blanket. It looks a bit like your Aunt Matilda's afghan or pot holder, doesn't it? My first knitting lesson: Just 'cause the wool is beautiful, doesn't mean it will look good all knitted up. So this yarn is at a bit of a stand still. I still love the color and the IDEA of it kind of looks like the knitting that makes most people hate knitted things.

So I went back to the sale (30% off) at the Knitting Basket and bought some more yarn. I could be swimming but at least I'm not getting wet.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Old flour

Has it been that long? I used to bake all the time. I love to make cookies and the Lewis fellas love to eat them. So today, this morning, I made chocolate chip cookies for the preschool graduation party (don't ask).

They taste....dusty. I am suspicious so I look at the flour bag, "Use by February 2006." Gross. I look at the other two full bags of flour, and see that although they are 2007, they went bad in January. I am definitely off my game.

Max is not disappointed that the cookies are staying home. He likes bad cookies very much.
And, as you can plainly see, they match the kitchen countertop.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tom's show

Tonight, we went to Tom's photo show at the Writer's Grotto in Downtown SF. Going to an exhibit with two kids in the evening, on a school night, is probably not the best idea but...there you are, or rather, there we were. We wanted to be there and so we were and it was fun.

There were many of the usual suspects, including the soon to be newly-weds, Mati and Hugh. Aiden sat in Hugh's lap wearing his very stylish hat. He was very happy with Hugh and seemed to be willing to wear whatever hat was put on him. Not to be outdone, Max demanded a hat as well. And why not?

Monday, August 13, 2007


My parents spend 6 weeks each summer in Lompian, a tiny little hamlet in southern France. They tell me the weather this year is beautiful, flowers are blooming, the cheese and chocolate are plentiful.

Next year, we will join them for almost two weeks. I can't wait.

Until then, I will enjoy my summer in the Bay Area. I too can enjoy good food and great weather. In fact, just yesterday I got to hang out on the back patio of a biker bar, play scrabble (poorly) and eat a big fat burger with Linda, Georgia and Kim. No chocolate but a great bloody Mary.

Last night's dinner

Yummy. the recipe actually worked. Don't worry about the term "spicy" in the recipe as there was nothing super spicy at all. In fact, I might actually add a bit more of the pepper next time to give a bit more zing. I love the recipes in this magazine, they ALWAYS seem to work and look good too. I might also try this in vegetarian mode next time, I be that'll be great too. I can't believe I'm sharing a recipe in my blog, how girlie. First knitting, now cooking. Next blog, I'll be talking nail polish.

A super tasty recipe from the latest issue of Cook's Illustrated:

Chicken Tikka Masala

This dish is best when prepared with whole-milk yogurt, but low-fat yogurt can be substituted. For a spicier dish, do not remove the ribs and seeds from the chile. If you prefer, substitute 2 teaspoons ground coriander, 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper for the garam masala. The sauce can be made ahead, refrigerated for up to 4 days in an airtight container, and gently reheated before adding the hot chicken. Serve with basmati rice.


Chicken Tikka
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon table salt
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts , trimmed of fat
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (see note above)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

Masala Sauce
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion , diced fine (about 1 1/4 cups)
2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 fresh serrano chile , ribs and seeds removed, flesh minced (see note above)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon garam masala (see note above)
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

See Illustrations Below: Chicken Tikka Masala

1. FOR THE CHICKEN: Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres. Place chicken on plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger; set aside.

2. FOR THE SAUCE: Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.

3. While sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Using tongs, dip chicken into yogurt mixture (chicken should be coated with thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.

4. Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks and stir into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in sauce). Stir in cilantro, adjust seasoning with salt, and serve.

Serves 4-6

STEP BY STEP: Chicken Tikka Masala

1. RUB: Coat chicken in salt and spice mixture and refrigerate.

2. MAKE SAUCE: Prepare creamy tomato-masala sauce.

3. DIP: Dunk chicken in protective coating of yogurt and oil.

4. BROIL: Broil chicken, then allow to rest.

5. COMBINE: Cut chicken into chunks and add to sauce.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sort of camping

I remember camping at 8 years old with my Aunt Becky and Uncle Jim. We went on a canoe trip during a particularly dry summer (i.e. no water). Most of the trip involved walking the canoes through a foot or two of water, and my aunt and uncle saying lots of, "yes dear" in front of me. But the main memories are eating around a campfire, beans from a can, camp cooking. I guess we must have been in tents, its so long ago, I don't even remember. I loved it.

My family never camped. We rented houses on Fire Island or on the Cape. My aunt and uncle were campers, adventurers.

As an adult, I have camped various times (in a tent) with friends. Its been loads of fun. Planning the menu, deciding who brings what, where to camp. We've done boat-in only sites, Burning Man in the middle of nowhere...once I camped out in the Anza Borega desert with my sister and we witnessed a tarantula. Rochelle, a family friend, slept in her car. I got heat stroke on day two.

Jump forward to this past week. We went camping with the boys. We reserved a cabin at the Santa Cruz KOA. KOA stands for Kamping of America. We rented a Kabin, although we could have gotten a Kozy Lodge. So cheesy. This place was really Kid focused, maybe that explains the big K before everything. If you weren't with kids, this place would suck. All evening long, you hear motor homes pulling into their sites and kids biking by squealing.

We escaped one day to the beach at Manresa. It was perfect weather and although not quite warm enough to swim, it was great for burying Max in the sand, building sandcastles and eating sandwiches.

Another fun day was spent at the Santa Cruz boardwalk. We spent way too much on rides and games and food and had a blast. We played miniature golf, won prizes, and ate shaved ice. We all got a bit sun burnt in the process.

So maybe none of this sounds like real camping. We did not have to dig a hole for a toilet but we did have to run to the restrooms. And although they had showers, the blow dryers were broken.

We cooked a few meals, made delicious coffee with a coffee press and ate tons of S'mores. Next year, we'll be more adventurous perhaps. We'll stay at a less populated site and actually go hiking or something related to nature and the great outdoors.

Until then, I will savor the memories of my first family camping trip.

Sunday, August 5, 2007


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Look up Procrastination in
Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Procrastination is a type of avoidance behaviouranxiety associated with starting or completing any task or decision. [1] which is characterised by deferment of actions or tasks to a later time. It is often cited by psychologists as a mechanism for coping with the

For the person procrastinating this may result in stress, a sense of guilt, the loss of productivity, the creation of crisis, and the chagrin of others for not fulfilling one's responsibilities or commitments. While it is normal for individuals to procrastinate to some degree, it becomes a problem when it impedes normal functioning. Chronic procrastination may be a sign of an underlying psychological or physiological disorder.

The word itself comes from the Latin word procrastinatus: pro- (forward) and crastinus (of tomorrow). The term's first known appearance was in Edward Hall's Chronicle (The union of the two noble and illustre famelies of Lancestre and Yorke), first published sometime before 1548.[2] The sermon reflected procrastination's connection at the time to task avoidance or delay, volition or will, and sin.

I am a procrastinator. Yes I am. In fact, at this moment, I could be packing for my camping trip which is tomorrow morning, I could be finishing up my late reports for work, I could be watching a movie on cable, I could be doing the dishes, I could be going to bed really early to attempt catching up for the last 4 years...

I am currently writing a blog entry instead. I downloaded software called iprocrastinate last week. I looked at it and it did not seem helpful or unique in any way. More effective than project management would be a timed voice saying something like, " Hey! What are you doing now? Did you finish your report yet? Have you called your brother, he's waiting!"

I just end up feeling overwhelmed and exhausted and want to do anything else even if it takes longer and gets me in trouble.

Aiden went to bed at 6:45pm which is a record. I'm not sure he will last all night but, he was definitely ready to call it. Max and BZ went to the movies. I get to be home alone to procrastinate.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

The Wave

We just went to our first Oakland A's game. No one does the wave anymore I guess. Someone tried to start it. He tried again and again. He would raise his hands at the base of a section (trying not to spill his beer), and then would run along encouraging the movement of the wave but there were too many obstacles. First, the beer, secondly, as he ran, his shorts kept falling down so he would try to hold them while he ran and held his beer and, finally, he was wearing flip flops. He was joined by a guy with one of those #1 hands with the large finger, and a young boy. It was very entertaining.

There was also an incredibly drunk and even more incredibly loud fan about 10 seats away with his completely drunk friends. Awful. The guy kinda freaked Max out, and me. Everyone else found it funny, I hated it. Finally he went over the line (whatever that was) and the cops came and dragged him (and the staggering buddies) out. Applause from the fans.

The A's won the game. Max went home with a giant #1 finger and an A's hat, Aiden got to run around and play in the "fun" area and BZ got to see his first or second professional ball game.

Oh, and we were in the shade and freezing even though it was 80 degrees everywhere else.

I can't wait to go back.