Tuesday, September 30, 2008

One More Thing We Love

The music on "Meteo" on TV5 Monde!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Things We Love and Things We Don't

Vanity Fair Magazine. I was first a subscriber when I was in Middle School (during the Tina Brown years). It's true. It wasn't my parent's subscription it was mine (I was a geek, what can I say-- I also subscribed to House & Garden during this same time period (and as proof, each HG was saved and thanks to my parents fostering my magpie-ism, now reside, decoratively, in baskets and on shelves, in my foyer and living room). When I was in art class in middle school we did a batiking project. Most people did neat batik patterns, I batiked a charicature of Prince Charles (copied from the pages of VF). Again, geek, I know. Anyhoo, not too long ago I resubscribed to VF after a long absence. What can I say? I love it. Sometimes the month's issue isn't that great, but everyonce in a while you'll get a sears-cataloge-thick tome full of good stuff to read. Take the latest issue (with Marilyn Monroe on the cover). I've gotten two full nights of reading out of this so far and I still have more pages to turn! I read the Marilyn cover story, the story on Brooke Astor (which wasn't bad, but wasn't as informative and detailed as NY Mag's article on the same topic from earlier this year or thereabouts...), an excerpt from Annie Liebovitz' new book and the article on Rafaello Follieri. AND, not to mention that I loved finding out that Raffaello's lawyer is a particular NY firm bigwig. In another life I was a summer associate at the firm which was then Mr. Bigwig's firm. Ah, what a small world the NY legal community can be. Say, Mr. Big, can you get Anne Hathaway to autograph my Devil Wears Prada CD??

Anyway, on to things we don't love as much: Spain, On the Road Again with Gwyneth and Mario. Ugh. We had such high hopes. I love Gwyneth and I love Mario's lasagna recipe unfortunately that's not enough for a winning tv series on PBS. Gwynnie (as she's affectionately referred to) and Mario should have taken a page from the Long Way Down/Long Way Round guys. They engaged with the viewers-- watching that series you actually feel a part of the journey. With On the Road Again you kind of feel like you're sitting a table near by trying to listen in. This is amplified by the fact that throughout the *entire* show muzak versions of "On the Road Again" by Willie Nelson are piped in over the dialogue. I was watching one episode where Gwyneth, Mario, Mark Bittman and Claudia (who's last name I never caught) were eating breakfast at a bed and breakfast inn at two separate tables and they're kind of talking amongst themselves and never once did any of them look at the camera. In an article about Bataliin NY Mag Mario said that "My worry is, how many times can you watch me eating something and saying, "Boy, that's good," before you say, 'Fuck you! I'm not tasing the shit!'" Well, Mario, I'll tell you-- if you actually looked at the audience while saying "Boy, that's good" I would be able to last a bit longer! Some of the downfall here may lay with Mario (after all, he's been on tv doing this before-- and for that matter so has Mark Bittman) but I think it's mostly the production/direction where the show fell flat. Watching the gang tool around Spain in two Mercedes convertibles while checking out sights and eating interesting looking food is great-- but you don't want to feel like you're some sort of interloper, you'd like to feel like you're a part of the crowd too.

Other things we don't like? Rain.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

copyright 2008

Windows Vista

Apparently, mathmeticians at UCLA using "underused computing power" (more specifically "a network of 75 computers running Windows XP") discovered the world's largest Prime Number. That's great. What I want to know is why am I using Windows Vista and how do I get one of those "underused" 75 computers running XP!?!

Friday, September 26, 2008

People with Way Too Much Time On Their Hands...

Some guy in Ohio created a

Sarah Palin corn maze.

And to think I felt bad that I've watched "There Will Be Blood", "The Way We Were", "Casablanca", the Code, portions of "Bus Stop" and "Animal House" over the past two days...

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Today was definitely a first taste of fall. It was gray, a bit cold and a bit windy.

Now I'm watching Casablanca (most of the day was spent watching television.... including renting "There Will be Blood...") I appreciated the line:

Captain Renault: Come to my office tomorrow morning. We'll do everything businesslike.

Jan Brandel: We'll be there at six!

Captain Renault: I'll be there at ten.

This reminds me of our cabinet installer, Tony. Tony offered to be at the house at seven. I said, not earlier than 8! And, as an update for the kitchen progress, more cabinets were delivered today so Tony will be back tomorrow to finish up installation... of course our new double oven set up won't be in until next week so he can't finish everything but at least we'll be one step closer.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Martha and Alexis...

NY Mag has a great article this week about Alexis Stewart. I don't have Sirius Satellite Radio but I will be tuning in to "Whatever, Martha!" and I have to have respect for the fact that she ended her Bridgehampton Motel enterprise because she couldn't deal with the guests!

Dancing with the Stars...

Kim Kardashian mamboing to Sir Mix-A-Lot.

Rocco. (That's all we need to say, really)

and of course, Susan Lucci. It was this or HSN.

Otherwise, the night was spent watching more strange French television.

Specifically, a film called "Les Seins de Glace" from 1974. It was wacky and had an amazing amount of product placement by Lacoste. Months and months ago the Husband and I watched a variety show that had Mireille Darc on it talking about a book she had written about her father. The show went into a bit of history about Mireille and I spent the entire time watching the movie trying to figure out if the lead actress was her. It was. I wouldn't have needed to watch it for as long as I did if our internet connection was working in the Family Room. Thanks, Verizon.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Just One of Those Things.

It would seem that when you have a child, especially a small child, you're often making up songs to sing in conjunction with everyday activities. For instance: Our bathime song is "Bathtime for Sophie" sung to the tune of "Springtime for Hitler" from The Producers. It goes something like: "It's bathtime for Sophie and Germany. Winter for Poland and France!" Not terribly creative, I know, but at least we're getting some geography in there.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday Night Football!

Check it out!

I'm going to add another frog closure at the neck and I have to sew on snaps in the inside... but not bad without a real pattern, huh?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Hot Pockets!

Aol's news headline today claims that a man's brother stabbed him over a disputed Hot Pocket sandwich and I thought we were desparate for some good food.

Tonight's dinner was again from Sunny Garden. Fortune cookie? It said: "No time for vacation, finish project first." Yeah. Tell me about it. Today's kitchen update is that the cabinets we were missing are supposed to ship from Allegheny, Maryland (wherever that may be) on Monday. Then, Marilyn the HD designer had to visit the house today to take measurements in order to figure out how to fix our double oven cabinet since as it stands the double oven is eight inches higher than what is standard (and considering that a) the ceiling is twelve inches shorter than average and b) I'm at least six inches shorter than average, making the double oven about 26 inches off. ;) Of course, that means that the stuff Marilyn just ordered will also have to "come in" which will take at least a week. So much for scheduling that whole countertop template thing.


On the bright side of things, yesterday I made a cheongsam for Miss B! Pictures to follow!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Size Does Matter

This evening I had the following exchange at a local drive-thru:

"I'd like a medium number 6 meal."

"Medium or Large?"


Clearly I provided too much information in the first instance.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It's Not Broken, It's Italian.

That's what my old landlord in NYC said to us after we told her that we had to replace the kitchen faucet because the on/off lever didn't function.

This is one of my favorite lines, together with the old adage from What Not To Wear: "Just because it's made in Italy doesn't mean its good."

(A nod to bad leather bags.... which reminds me of the exchange from You've Got Mail between Meg Ryan and Greg Kinnear about Spain:

"It happened in Spain. People do really stupid things in foreign countries."

"Absolutely. They buy leather jackets for much more than they're worth.")

But enough random connections. The Italian faucet line keeps coming to mind as we deal with this whole kitchen thing. Today the folks from HD and their subconntractor were out at the house and it looks like theoretically we have a resolution at least as between us and the sub. (We'll see what happens next between us and HD.)

But this leaves open picking out the fun stuff: i) faucet, ii) tv, iii) deciding whether we want a pot-filler faucet over the rangetop, iv) chairs/stools for the island, v) switchplate covers, vi) tile backsplash and vii) island lighting (did I tell you I ordered these neat looking mini-pendant lights by George Kovacs (called "Droplets") which unfortunately are backordered through November 24th!?!.... needless to say we'll be looking for replacements for those babies...) We're currently waiting for some additional cabinets to come in (ones that didn't seem to make it to our house in the first or second deliveries...) we've been told they're shipping from the manufacturer on the 22nd... after they're installed then we can template for our granite.

The latest news, too, just to keep you all filled in, is how the designer from the HD apparently failed to update her CAD program so after the subcontractor realized that the initial estimator mismeasured our kitchen by seven inches, it was never fixed at the HD. Thus, we're seven inches short cabinet wise and then for some reason cabinets didn't arrive so they've rearranged where cabinets are going so the final layout isn't what we had ordered! At this point it's mostly a "whatever" situation, but one thing we weren't going to just pass on was our Double Oven cabinet. They are going to be rebuilding it since right now the double oven is sitting eight inches higher than what is customary. When your ceiling is only 83 inches high, and the chief cook and bottle washer is only 60 inches tall, 8 inches makes a big difference.

Will post more pictures when we have some new developments, in the mean time any faucet/chair/tv suggestions are more than welcome!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Some Pictures...

(We love breakfast...)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Why I Love The Internet... and What a Small World It Can Be...

We were in DC and Baltimore this weekend. Today, as we were leaving the hotel I recognized a man crossing the street-- I said to the Husband: "I think I just saw Dan from the Real World Miami!" Indeed,
Dan's website confirms on the September 11th posting that he was planning to be in DC this weekend with his mom (and I did see him crossing the street with a mom-age woman, so it all fits!) This would be at least the third Real World sighting... I once saw Eric from NY down in SoHo and then I saw one of the girls (Maybe Montana??) also in NYC, but that I only vaguely recall... Then, while we were driving around (attempting, in vain to get to the Jefferson Memorial) I saw a man and two women by Lafayette park. The man was dressed in a t-shirt and shorts and had on a race tag (turns out today was the triathalon)... I do believe the man I saw was Shawn Kuntz, former high school classmate. How random is that? As a nod to Thisbe's karma post, I'm not trying to complain-- it's always interesting when you see people you recognize, but come on here, can we do better than Shawn? I'll take Dan from the Real World, but can we try for either a) a classmate from high school/college/law school that I don't just recognize, but was actually friends with, or perhaps someone famous and fun? Now's the time for another Keno Brother sighting, or perhaps George Clooney? The Obama cut-out in front of the Lincoln Memorial just doesn't count.

Friday, September 12, 2008

This was yesterday....

And now, today...

Here's the latest from the township inspector...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

English as a Second Language

Today, clear as day Sophie said "Ektorp" right after bathtime. Finally, I figured it out-- she's been speaking "IKEA" all these months!

More Updates...

Here are some updated photos of the kitchen!

The cabinet with the large hole in it is the double oven cabinet, next to it is a utility cabinet (doors need to be installed...) notice the crown moulding!

Here are some of the cabinets on the window wall...

(note the cabinet in the foreground isn't an island cabinet-- it's one that's being returned and is just sitting in the middle of the room now-- because, what better place is there, right??)

Here's the sink!

Monday, September 08, 2008


Someone loves her new tent!

Congrats, Minnie!

Minnie Driver gave birth to an (gasp!) almost 10 pound son! She still won't reveal who the dad is, only saying he is British. You've heard it here first-- I think Eddie Izzard is the dad via some sort of reproductive assistance, and if so, good for them. I've always liked Minnie, especially after that whole Matt Damon/OPRAH incident (Matt, shame on you).

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Ikea and other Stuff...

Today Miss B and I hit up IKEA where we got a play tent, play tunnel and sundry other goodies!! Who knew, it really is a great place for toys!

For tonight's dinner we tried something a bit better than last night-- I made pecan crusted tilapia with yellow rice. I actually "baked" the tilapia on the grill in a big tin foil pan. It reminded me of the time I watched Jamie Oliver make lasagne over an open fire in Italy. Makes those contestants on Top Chef who were freaked out about having to make breakfast over a fire pit at a beach for a challenge a few seasons ago look like real culinary wusses!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

We Hit a New Low.

Microwaved hot dogs and tater tots in the toaster oven for dinner. That's what happens when a tropical storm makes grilling a practical impossibility. Okay, can somebody get that damn kitchen up and running already?!?

Friday, September 05, 2008

One More Thing...

It was another feel good Friday Night French Flick on TV5 Monde: ALLER-RETOUR DANS LA JOURNEE!

Random Thoughts.

Kashi. "Seven Whole Grains On a Mission". I totally hate those commercials. It always seems like the Kashi line of products would taste like cardboard. But, that being said, the pictures on the boxes of their line of frozen food just look good. And, they have neat names like "lemongrass coconut chicken, lime cilantro shrimp". So I was at WF and I picked up a box. I tried it last night as dinner for Miss B. Can I just say? It was so surprisingly good that while at Wegman's today we got two more. For dinner tonight was a whole wheat pasta in a tomato sauce with yellow squash and broccoli. Last night's coconut chicken was in quinoa (which I have to honestly say I never expected to eat), with carrots and broccoli. Miss B. enjoyed both-- tonight's pasta dish especially. Kudos to Kashi for making tasty, healthy, toddler tested mom-approved frozen goodies!

The Code. Has been on Starz! continuously this evening. I feel like it's the selection on a transatlantic flight.


(or more accurately, handles...)

These are our hardware choices. Thoughts?

Below are pictures of our lighting. The first picture was taken without a flash so you can get an idea of the amount of light actually in the room. We'll be adding three pendant lights over the island (you can see the three receptacles up in the ceiling)...

These are our low-voltage lights-- pretty nifty. We plan to have pictures hung on the wall where the light is shining.

Cabinets? Yeah, they're now partly in the garage and partly sitting in the kitchen. Istalled? Not so much. Tony our installer (who looks just like Rick Rossovich, only aged) expressed concern about the height of the sink drain vis-a-vis our farm sink, so Anthony, our plumber, has to come back out tomorrow to deal with that. Then, of course, other "issues" arose which prevented him from beginning installation. But, he'll be back on Monday. We'll see how that goes.


Devi, our Ukrainian electrician, and his Ziskind-Esque helper installed the bulk of our lighting today! "Let there be light" has never sounded so good. Sadly, I can never look at a Lutron light-switch dimmer without thinking of Bob Moskowitz, but that's a story for another time. Of course, Devi was supposed to hard-wire our double oven today as well (which would have meant a dinner baked in a real, as opposed to toaster, oven) but that would have required the cabinet installer to actually come in and do the installation of the double oven cabinet. Yes, our installer was scheduled to come today and indeed he sat out in our driveway between about 7:15 and 8:21 before driving away. He claims that he did see our two cars in the driveway but since no lights were on, he thought maybe there was an emergency that called us away (the fact that it was daytime and thus lights might not be needed didn't seem to cross his mind). He also said that he thought about ringing the doorbell but he looked at it and thought it might be broken. As for knocking? He claims he did so, but apparently, not loud enough so we could hear him, even though we were listening.

He's coming back tomorrow. He advised that he's an early riser so he could be here as early as seven am! I told him he could start at 8. You see, when you've hired someone to do work and they've already wasted 6 weeks of your life not installing cabinets, that extra hour really no longer makes a difference. I'd rather sleep in. Of course, Devi won't be back now until after our tile backsplash is in, which can't happen until our countertops are in (which can't happen until our cabinets are in, and even then it takes 2-3 weeks for the stone people to do their thing) therefore, our lack of a double oven has just become HD's problem. They're sending a regional manager out to the house tomorrow between 10:30 and 11 to discuss the "job". I'll let you know how it goes!

BTW, thanks to the Mom, without whom we would not have gotten the attention of the district manager!

And, our Wolf Rangetop and our vent hood arrived too! Woo-hoo!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

"I'm asking you to believe" says the Barack Obama Official Website. That's great, but what exactly am I supposed to be believing? Can I actually find a statement of policies that isn't dumbed down but is detailed and fleshed out?

Today's question? The Payroll Tax. What's the Plan?

This AP report says that "[Obama] would raise payroll taxes on taxpayers with incomes above $250,000,"

Just as an FYI, the "payroll tax" is Social Security. It is the money that is taken out of your paycheck for your contribution to that mystical entity known as "Social Security". Currently, the cut off is $97,500. That means if you make more than $97,500 in any given calendar year, the SSI deductions stop once your gross income hits $97,500. (Unless you switch jobs, in which case you are treated differently, with SSI withholdings continuing beyond the cutoff, resulting in a refund after you file that year's tax return). Now, if Obama's "plan" is to raise the payroll tax on taxpayers with income above $250,000 that would mean that folks earning between $97,500 and $250,000 would still have a break and have a portion of their gross income exempt from the payroll tax [i.e. there would be an unexplained GAP], while alternatively, people earning above $250,000 would continue to contribute, even though EVERYONE'S SSI benefits are capped (i.e. Warren Buffet isn't paying more in social security so that you'll get a higher benefit paid out when you're 62). I haven't seen a plan from Obama to *increase* people's social security benefits, so exactly what will happen to all of that extra money? That seems like a blank check to continue to empty out the Social Security Coffers. Not to say that George Bush has been any better, since he's been writing the checks out of Social Security for the past 8 years but, really, "Change"? It seems to me just like more big government, looking for more ways to finance exactly who-knows-what.

So, I searched for an explanation of the Payroll Tax Gap and clarification on the mysterious $250,000 number thrown out by the AP as "fact".

On Obama's website under the tab "issues" "Taxes" is not listed. I thought, okay, I'll go to Fiscal-- that leads to a discussion of "fiscal discipline". Where can I actually find a written description of his Tax plan? How can I find out about this Payroll Tax gap?

I went to the "Economy" tab and got this:

"Obama will cut income taxes by $1,000 for working families to offset the payroll tax they pay.

Provide a Tax Cut for Working Families: Obama will restore fairness to the tax code and provide 150 million workers the tax relief they need. Obama will create a new "Making Work Pay" tax credit of up to $500 per person, or $1,000 per working family. The "Making Work Pay" tax credit will completely eliminate income taxes for 10 million Americans.

Eliminate Income Taxes for Seniors Making Less than $50,000: Barack Obama will eliminate all income taxation of seniors making less than $50,000 per year. This proposal will eliminate income taxes for 7 million seniors and provide these seniors with an average savings of $1,400 each year. Under the Obama plan, 27 million American seniors will also not need to file an income tax return."

Okay. That answers part of the question, but what if you're not middle income? What if you're above-middle income, or (gasp!) below middle income? (BTW, Instead of eliminating income taxes for seniors making $50,000 or less, why not also eliminate all income tax on social security? Isn't it enough that the government deducts FICA from your pay throughout your adult life only to give it back to you at 62, 65 or 70, let alone wanting to take tax out of it then??)

Also, as an FYI, the AP report says that: "McCain's plan, which cuts taxes across all income levels, would raise after tax-income for middle-income taxpayers by 3 percent, the [Tax Policy] center concluded." (Apparently, Obama's plan cuts taxes for middle income earners by 5%, because god forbid we should share a tax cut across all income levels!)

But, back to the Payroll Tax search... Barack Obama's Economic Agenda (as found on his website) only reiterates the "Make Work Pay" $1000 tax credit against the payroll tax for certain middle-income Americans.

Obama's Plan for Fiscal Discipline a search of the pdf from the website revealed no mention of "payroll tax".

Ah, finally: Page 11 of the "Blueprint for Change" states:

"Obama believes that the first place to look for ways to strengthen Social Security is the payroll tax system. Currently, the Social Security payroll tax applies to only the first $97,500 a worker makes. Obama supports increasing the maximum amount of earnings covered by Social Security and he will work with Congress and the American people to choose a payroll tax reform package that will keep Social Security solvent for at least the next half century."

Great. Now we're getting somewhere. Let's break this down, sentence by sentence.

First: "Obama believes that the first place to look for ways to strengthen Social Security is the payroll tax system". Well, that seems to be a fancy way of saying not much at all since the payroll tax system is exactly the mechanism for collecting the funds which make up Social Security.

The next sentence, regarding the $97,500 is factually accurate.

Finally, the third sentence: "Obama supports increasing the maximum amount of earnings covered by Social Security and he will work with Congress and the American people to choose a payroll tax reform package that will keep Social Security Solvent for at least the next half century." Terrific! But what does it mean to support increasing the maximum amount of earnings covered? Can you give us some idea of just what it is you might support there? Can we have a ballpark? Is it raising the cut off from $97,500 to $300,000? Will there be no cut off? Can you throw us a bone? Should I pick a number and you can tell me (or text message me) whether I'm hot or cold? Oh, and by the way, thanks for saying you'd work with Congress. If my Constitutional Law courses serve me correctly, I think, as President, you're obligated to do that. One more thing-- when you say you're going to "work with the American people to choose a payroll tax reform package" will we be doing conference calls on that, or should I clear my schedule for a lunch meeting?

Now, for all of you crazy Manchurian-Candidate brainwashed Uber-democrats out there, hold the nasty comments and blog-votes. The Republican convention this week has certainly looked like a bunch of zombies got together in (of all places, St. Paul! Not even Minneapolis!) I'm not jumping on the McCain/Palin bandwagon and waving their flag like it's the second coming, but really, the zealotry with which many Obama supporters seem to lap up the "Change" message without really going behind it to ask detailed questions amazes me. And. CNN? I guess somebody at CNN felt that they needed to be the counterpoint to Fox. When was the last time any American media news outlet was actually *not* biased? I've taken to watching the BBC. At least they call the rhetoric as they see it.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

On the Roof with Jeff Koons!

Today we visited the Met's Roof Garden and checked out the Jeff Koons exhibit! Not only does Miss B. like sculpture but she also loves dogs and balloons, so needless to say "Balloon Dog" was a hit! Afterwards we had a lovely lunch at Serafina with Mel, and then we wandered around with Mel for the rest of the afternoon. We actually ended up walking like forty blocks(!) It was a lovely day!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Politics Schmolitics

So this afternoon
Thisbe and I had a brief discussion of the current political climate. As most readers of this blog know, Obama scares me (tax hike guarantee-- egads!) and McCain is very, very old. So, I have a new plan. With just a few tweaks to that dusty old Constitution of ours, I would like to present the *perfect* ticket: Miss B. for President and her running mate, the Honorable Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger! What could be better? Experience? Of course she's got experience. She's been running this household like a champ for the past 15 months and now she's gotten really good at taking all of her MegaBloks out of their bag and then putting them back in. She's already made a few cabinet picks-- why none other than Miss Kitty for Secretary of Defense (and Chief Mouser) and I hear that Elmo may be a shoe in for that coveted post of Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago. And as for Arnold, need we say more? He's been single-handedly keeping California from falling off into the Pacific Ocean for years now. A toddler and an Austrian, I think we could just win this!

Man Hands!

Yesterday Miss B. and I visited the Statute of Liberty.

Sophie seemed quite impressed.

Though not quite impressed enough to want to wear her commemorative crown.


Okay so they're on The View and a) they're too old for synchronized dancing and b) sometimes lip synching should be mandatory.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Kitchen Pictures!

The Mom and Dad asked for a photo-update... here goes!

(wall where cabinets, double oven and sink will be...) knee wall to cover drain line still needs to be put in. Unstained floorboards show where cabinets will be.

Sub-Z. Both base and wall cabinets will be next to Sub-Z. Wine rack on the bottom, upper cabinet will hold glasses.

New Wolf Rangetop will be next to door... scary snake wire in the middle of the room is electrical to go into Island. (Note: lighting courtesy of Dad...)

Ceiling, with cutouts for island lights and other recessed lighting. We wanted to use smaller cans for the recessed lighting, but alas the space between the ceiling and the floor above was too short... what else is new??

Close up of floorboards. Can I just say... thank god I came down and checked out the stain before the guys finished. They had laid on the Gunstock *thick* and hadn't wiped any of it off. I looked into the kitchen and the WHOLE FLOOR looked like one continous patch of MAROON. Scary! Thankfully, the guys quickly got out rags and began furiously wiping off the stain... to reveal great coloring and nice variation in the boards.