Girls. Get your jewels On

The most useful gift of Christmas, then
helps make all of my other non-useful gifts sparkle
(ok. glasses are useful)

The illustrious She didn’t need to remind me that I’d not written a blog on exercise in two months. It’s self evident. The only exercise I’ve gotten in that time (since I’m she of the broken bones) is that I fell down the stairs today. Yes. You read that right. It was at about 8:30 pm, Rog was at a hockey game, I fed the girls, who were scampering off to bed whilst yelling at each other, I lumbered down our stairs on my crutches and lo, they caught on our bloody metal stoppers that are intended to…stop you from slipping.

Oh. the irony in my life. So it is that I now have a busted up bursa bag on my left leg (I’m so Daniel Day Lewis. Left ankle. Left foot. Left knee. Where’s my Oscar?), and then I thought of another type of blog I haven’t written, which is something fun and girly.

This blog is fun and girly, but it should be read by men as well, for this is the gift that will make both sexes happy. It is the Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner that LO, also cleans DVDs. So the entire family can use this thing.

A few things. It’s inexpensive. At sub-$50 US, it’s a steal. It’s also versatile. As you can see from the pic, it has a tray for rings, a ‘bridge’ that you can use for your watches and a stand for the DVDs.

What I love about this device.

It’s relatively compact. It’s also easy to use, with timers and settings for different types of items, such as rings or watches or DVDs. Press a button, go on your way, return in 1, 2 or 3 minutes. Love that. What I love the most is that it makes my rings and watches look brand spanking new. Obviously it doesn’t remove scratches from a watch band-that takes buffing, but the rings and necklaces–wow. I only wish this came in a model for stainless steel stuff or sterling. Now that would be fantastic.

I also love this gift because it’s amazing for year round. Mother’s Day. Valentines. He buys it for you. You buy it for him. Whatever. It’s gender neutral!

Tip #1: it uses water, but if your water includes heavy metal (like calcium, which is in a lot of wells or areas in Arizona-even filtered) then use bottled water, or filtered water from your fridge. Trust me, it makes a difference.

Tip #2. Use Dawn dish soap. I know this sounds a bit crazy, but I spoke with my jeweler about this. They have an ultrasonic at the jewelry store (most/all do) and you know what they include? DAWN!!! According to him, (and the Illustrious She, who used to work at one as well), the Dawn gets off the grime in no time.

My rating and review? 4.5 stars. I want my all-in-one version for sterling next. Oh, and I wouldn’t mind one in a flashy red, neon green or sea blue. that would be cool. Black for a man would also be optimal (Brookstone, are you listening??)

Reclaim an hour of your life each day: Get this robot. The Roomba 5-star Review

It doesn’t matter how many times me, my husband sweep the floors and vacuum,  we can’t keep up with the daily dirt and grime that comes with three kids, two adults and two animals going in and out of the house.

Offender #1. White cat + dark floors=
Roomba heaven

The day or reckoning occurred as most things do in our house; with a marital spat about how often we clean the floors and how often we need “reinforcements.” As a bit of context, our cleaning people (a lovely pair of 2) have come every other week for 5 years. For this, we have paid $245 per time, and it takes them 2.5-3 hour. Not bad. But let me be clear. We aren’t spoiled. No. We “clean” daily. We don’t have a lot of clutter. We vacuum daily and sweep after every meal (and many times in between).

But here’s the deal. My husband’s version of “clean,” equates to using a toothbrush on the sink faucets (I’m not kidding you either. You think this happens only in movies. Nope. It’s my life).  My version of clean stops at the disinfectant and the dishrag  after every use, and mopping once a week. But then, what do you expect from a “hobbiest” how takes apart his Porsche engine for fun and flies planes because it’s faster than driving. He’s slightly anal. I think I’m the normal American wife. I have a job. I cook. I clean. I do my own laundry (the notion of cleaning people seeing our underwear is likewise gross). But I digress.

Can you tell where the Roomba is hiding?

Thus it was, after 10 years of marriage, I drew the line. Or rather, I handed back the toothbrush and said “have at it.” The following day, he comes home from Costcowith a big box with green packaging. It was a Roomba by iRobot. The invention that has saved me hours of daily cleaning and nearly saved my marriage (ok, maybe saved a daily fight or two over the indoor animals).

“This is how much I value our marriage.” He shows me the Roomba product. I’m unimpressed. I’m not down with a Rover-like machine that looks more comfortable on Mars, and certainly and weirded-out and skeptical when he tells me it “learns the house,” thereby memorizing the furniture. Anything that learns better than I do is far too Matrix-meets-Terminator of artificial intelligence.
A different photo. Right behind the piano

Nonetheless, he’s believed the marketing and packaging hype enough to spend $300 on the thing. As a refresher, Rog spent years at Microsoft as a product manager before moving up and eventually running three businesses totaling $1.2B in revenue. I spent years as a product manager, before skipping to partnerships and business development (where I could do deals that allowed the products to be sold). We are marketing people by nature and background, thus, the truism is…true. We love to be marketed to. Just don’t market to us with a crappy product. Do it with a good product, and we are yours for life.

The review

First, the terrain.

Mixed flooring with multiple transitions and stairs. We have angled transitions from wood as well as a flat, but raised, transitions. Multiple oriental rugs with different materials (some with tassles, others not) as well as rugs in the kitchen that have intentionally frayed edges. Also have invisible stairs and couches of different heights. Main floor square footprint: 2,500. Top floor is all wood, multiple rugs, two transitions to marble, footprint is 1100. Bottom floor, all carpet, two step up/down transitions but only about 1 inch. Footprint: 1100.

What happened

The Roomba got plugged in. It charged. Roger programmed it for the time of the day for 9 am. It came out on the mark, and we watched as this foreign-looking thing whirled around and got familiar with its new home.

On the stairs. It stopped on the smooth edge, and didn’t go over. That was good. On the other edge (below our floating stairs), where we have a slight lip, it got confused (or so we thought). What we hypothesize occurred was it started to go over the lip and then knew it was going to suffer a sudden and immediate death by robotic suicide and changed its mind. However, when that happened, it couldn’t recover. We had to reset it.

In the kitchen. It worked as advertised. I give it a 4.5/5. It couldn’t get in the wee-corners because it’s round (not sure if longer whisks would help or not). On the upside, it proved itself superior to other devices we own, having no problem on the uneven slate, which is fantastic, because I’ve had 3 different electronic vacuums (Electrolux to name just one) that weren’t as good. By this, I mean that some items get flipped by the whisk and do no more than bounce across the surface. Not so with the Roomba. It comes. It whirls. It leaves a clean floor underneath.
Bar stools. We have four bar stools in the kitchen. It goes under, picks up and around, but unless the stools are pulled out, it misses the 2 inches between the front two legs and the wall. It can help itself. It does not, as yet, have the ability to fold space and time (Dune reference) and get between.

Rog didn’t say “merry Christmas.” No. He skipped right over
that and said “Look at this. You HAVE to blog about
this. Right now.” That’s a believer. (note: Roomba
product managers: you deserve a bonus in 2013). 
On the rugs. It loves rugs. It devours everything. And I do mean everything. Poor tassles. They are clean, but a little worse for the wear. If I were my mom, I’d have one of those Persian-rug tassle rakes to use after its been one-overed by the Roomba, but I’m not that crazy. (Besides, who sells those things anyway?). And we have another rug that is frayed at the edge, and one of us is too cheap to get it fixed. So the Roomba isn’t helping things by continuing the damage. That said, it’s not the Roomba’s fault. At least it’s clean.

In one hour, the Roomba picked up so much gunk (that would be the technical word for disgusting hair, dirt and filth), both rog and I were a little sick. We always thought we had clean floors (I really do take the Electrolux around the house once or twice a day no matter what). Further—this was the day AFTER we had the cleaning people. Goes to show what a house of 5 people and 2 animals will do to a floor.

“If it can do this for the main floor, think of upstairs!” Rog told me. The next day, he was back at Costco for another. My brother recently built a 6,000 square foot home in Vegas, and my sister told his wife all about what the Roomba could do with her floors , and all the time she could get back for herself (because all she was doing while we were there was running around behind everyone, sweeping). She too, was skeptical, but after hearing my sister rave about ours (she’d witnessed it’s magic first-hand), she went out and ordered 2. One for upstairs and another for downstairs. She also bought the infared device on my recommendation.

My biggest (and only) complaint is actually a product marketer’s dilemma. The height goes up and down, as it should, in order to get up and over objects. However, it constantly gets stuck under our bed, which is atop another Persian rug. So we suspect what happens is that it lifts itself up to get over the rug, but then can’t go down fast enough to make it under the bed. This doesn’t happen under our couches downstairs, nor even under a chaise lounge that’s in the bedroom. In both those scenarios, the edge of the rug is at least a foot away from the start of the couch/chaise lounge. On our bed, where it’s getting stuck, the edge is only 2-3 inches. (As you can see, we are giving the Roomba the benefit of the doubt, like a scorned lover who’s in denial, already making excuses).

Tip 1: Purchase the infa-red device. We put ours by the stairs. The invisible light is Roomba-suicide prevention.

Tip 2: Pick up underwear or strings before the Roomba starts. It has a taste for my iphone cord It ripped it to shreds (clearly, it’s an Android fan), but with a little ducktape and a blessing, it worked. Thankfully.

Tip 3: If you have 2 floors, save yourself the gas money. Buck it up and buy 2.

Overall product review: 5 stars. I have faith that the product managers (who are of course, brilliant), will fix the up and down issue, since I can’t be the only customer that suffers from the incessant getting-stuck-under-the-bed thing.

Need a relationship upper? Get rid of “the sportsman stench” : The Rocket Sport Dryer review

It’s big. It’s black. It inflates. Best of all, it’s a relationship upper.

For what am I referring? The Rocket Sport Dryer, strong enough for a man, but seriously, made for a woman. Know why?

Product DetailsSports equipment stinks, and I’m not talking just football. In my case, it’s hockey, but it could be lacrosse or baseball. Anything with equipment and clothes that don’t get washed every usage can be nasty. And “the stink” is equal opportunity, man or woman located here or there. Don’t matter.

In my case, it’s hockey. It’s a smelly, gross sport. When my fingertips touch the gloves or shoulder pads or my husband’s hockey gear, they are stained with a stench that can only be found in the bog of eternal stench. Even a fingertip on the inside of the helmet soils my hands, and I have been known to life the socks with a pencil and the hockey skates themselves don’t get raised without lifting blade-first.

This wasn’t the worst part. The worst was being misled and downright lied to about where said hockey tree was going to reside.

“In the garage of course,” was Rog’s first suggestion, lo, these long 8 years ago. Quickly, the lie was proven out. In the summer, it stunk up the three car garage worst than the dead varmint we found under the car after a long trip. It had got in (probably through the cat door), gotten stuck and died, rotting in the heat of the garage. That stink, as bad as it was, had nothing on the hockey stink.

“Outside is so much better,” Rog rephrased, migrating the metal stand to lawn. So attractive. I’m all about trailer-trashing our front yard. I’d come out, ready to mow, and find his gear strewn out, all across the lawn. It reeked. Worse? The grass died, the yellow outlines akin to the markings of a dead person on the ground. It should have read Crime Scene Here, Do Not Cross, for I wouldn’t get near it.

“You’re killing my grass,” was all I said, the grumpy, b***y tone not so subtle.

During the winter, the stand moved in downstairs, like a thief in the night, the pole of pain, along with its accoutrements, found itself in front of our pellet stove, blowing fetid air up to the right (practically killing our puppy), up the stairs, to the main floor, then another level above, to our bedroom.

It work me up. I stood, my nostrils flaring, stomach roiling. I lean over the banister, and saw the light of the flames glancing off a mystery outline. No, he couldn’t have. I walk downstairs. The smell grows worse, as though I’m walking up behind an elephant after a bad case of worms. Yes, he did. He put the damn thing in front of the pellet stove. I’ve had enough.

“If you ever, ever want to bed me again, you will get rid of that reek,” I threatened.

The solution to the stench

Fortunately, some man, some where, had heard this before. And that man, in his wisdom, determined that marriage could in fact, coexist with hockey. So he created this Rocket. Here’s how it works and why you should buy it (from me, the non-hockey player perspective. I’ll give you Rog’s opinion in a minute)

The upside
1. it’s small. it can fit nearly anywhere. in the shower, in the corner. wherever
2. it folds down (e.g. it’s portable) but when erected can actually handle all that gear
3. it’s quiet. Quieter than a dryer. like wind blowing.
4. it’s fast. In an hour (or sometimes longer, I don’t know all the settings), it’s over.

The downside? When it starts up, some “reek” is going to escape. For this reason, Rog fires it up when I’m not in the room (and he does it downstairs). I’m asleep, I don’t smell it nor do I hear it. But even when it’s on and I’m writing upstairs, I won’t hear it, but I will get a whiff of ICK for about a half hour.

Why does Rog like it? I don’t complain nor run away from the room.

That’s it women. Get this for your man, or yourself, if you too, are a stinky sports-playing woman. It’s the best gift you can give to your family.

Rating: 4.5 stars (why not a 5? I want it faster, quieter and less smell escaping. In other words, I want the ultimate machine. I can dream can’t I?)

Exercise without Pain- – Chi Running

It’s book review Tuesday, and appropriate time to talk about a recent read. My sis recommended this to me when I confided I was going to the dark side and starting to run on the treadmill vs walking. “What are the yogi’s going to say?” she asked, her sarcasm nice and thick, like Vermont maple syrup in February. She was, of course, referring to my martial arts instructors (or who knows, maybe even the yoga instructors, those these two classes of bend-it-backwards professionals are often at odds with one another).

“Who cares?” was my retort, my personal desperation clear as a Maria singing The Hills are Alive through a megaphone. When I want to think, concentrate and sweat like a racehorse and be englightened all at the time, I’ll do the martial arts practicing. When I want mindless, lateral movement where I can zone, running is where it’s at.

“Get Chi Running. Now,” said my younger, yet wiser sibling. To her great suprise, I did. Within two hours, I was running away on the indoor mat of pain, reading Chi running on my Kindle.

I’ll cut to the chase. It’s about how to run without injury, and I confess, I’ve never actually had a running injury. I ran distance all through middle and high school, stopping my 2nd year in college. Even then, I figured it was easier to meet guys at a gym while I was in some class wearing little nothings than on a solitary track that was oh-so-boring. My reasoning was flawed but it probably saved me serious knee, hip and angle injuries. 20 yrs later, as I take it up on an as-needed basis to preserve my sanity (and to the chagrin of my teachers who can always tell when I run since my joints lock up and I’m not as limber), I am ready to embrace a different way of running.

The skinny– running heal to toe is bad. Running along the side, middle first is good. The front matter of the book (e.g. the first 50 pages) are really boring. I don’t want theory. I have not time for that. Give me some pictures (the author says to skip to the pics if the text is boring–love an honest author!). I do. Great pics. Then I went back and read the text.

Chi Walking is also available, and I subsquently purchased this book, as I walk my dog several times a day. Liked them both. If you walk or run for exercise, I definitely recommend both. In one session of altering my running style (and the following week of testing it again) it was easy, more comfortable (I had doubts at first) and have absolutely no pain or joint aches at all. Amazing.

I love it when my sibs give me great advice. Now how about the career essentials I’ve been waiting for??

Book review: The enduring attraction of Zane Grey

About 2 weeks ago, I found myself in a dark room, sitting in a massively plush chair, a director to my left, a producer to my right, watching a big screen of a soon-to-be released movie as the two of them and a third digital technician color corrected the film. This time-consuming process is fasincating, clicking back and forth between stills to correct bad lighting. It’s set in the 1920’s and the props were old, authentic and specific to the time. In a corner of the screen, I noticed a familiar red and tan cover, and asked the director if it were a Zane Grey novel. She was impressed. She thought I was too young and frankly, her tone indicated her opinion of my level of literary sophistication. But yes, she acknowledged, it was a Zane Grey. Her attitude jolted me to the wonderful memories of the books. That night, I pulled one of my favorite’s off the shelf and began reading.

Before the era of the undead, non-fornicating human-mystical creature trend took hold, author Zane Grey pioneered the art of the build up between regular men and women. Grey wrote an anthology of westerns and 110 of his books have been adapted to films. Grey’s life was as interesting as his books, as he was a minor league baseball player, dentist and unrepentant ladies man before (and after) he decided to devote his attention to writing.

When his wife’s inheritence provided a cushion for Grey to write full time, he did, turning out dozens of western’s, starting a craze in the early 20th century. His most famous novel is Riders of the Purple Sage (1912), but I have my own favorites. I’ll share 2, and the reasons why they are timeless classics.

As a youth, my summers were spent on a relatively remote California lake. In between fishing, waterskiing and generally making noise w/my siblings, I’d sunbath, reading one of the forty Zane Grey books on my mother’s bookshelf. The books were were already faded and worn from her many read-throughs, and my Grandmother’s before her. The unique, red linen covers with their tan spines frayed, in some instances, the spine had separated.

I was not immediately captivated by the slow start–few have plotlines that jump from the first page–more like page 50, but the writing hooked me enough to keep me going. In West of the Pecos, one of my favorites, a young girl from the South goes West with her father after he loses his fortune (and his wife) in the war. Needing the help of a boy on his journey, and fearful for his daughter’s safety in the wild west, the father dresses the girl like a boy. This charade works for for a few years after her father’s death, about until the time she hits late teens, hires (and reforms) a handsome cowboy and gets herself kidnapped. (Robert Mitchum starred in the movie).

When I was thirteen, the story was all the adventure, excitement, pent-up romantic tension and fulfilling ending I could have wanted. When I finally succumbed to peer pressure and read a few of the recently popular series (Twilight, Hunger Games etc) along with my standard James Patterson and Ludlum reprises, I realized an odd thing: the Zane Grey was equally exciting, free of bad language (I may use bad language but honestly, I don’t want to read it. Swearing in general, brings me down, and on the page it somehow shouts at me which I find distracting) and as cool in its own way as anything modern.

Another simliarity is the absence of sex. The romantic build up is as much a part of the story as some of the aforementioned popular books, and let’s face it. Romantic plotlines are always more rewarding when the lead-up is long, interesting and fraught with the push and pull of ‘will they or won’t they get together.’ Zane acquired the technique of flowing dialogue and rich, well-written antagonists (bad guys and gals). Apparentlly much of the credit goes to his long-suffering wife Dolly, who traded a monogamous relationship for a huge mansion and lots of cash. But whatever. We all make choices in this life, and hers had a hugely positive effect on Grey’s writing.

Light of the Western Stars.

“She was tired of fashionable society. She was tired of polished, imperturbable men who sought only to please her. She was tired of being feted, admired, loved, followed, and importuned; tired of people; tired of houses, noise, ostentation, luxury. She was so tired of herself! &quote;

A rich girl goes west, gets a clue, falls in love, never goes back to the East. It’s awesome. The book is so old it’s also in the public domain, so it can be had for cheap on the Kindle. I could only spirit a couple of the books from the cabin, leaving the other 38 on the shelf for the next generation to read. In fact, my mother may flip when she realizes I have 2, but I couldn’t help it. Grey is a classic. If you have Austen, Tolkien or even dare I add contemporary authors to that list, you must have a few Zane Grey’s.

Stealing Rembrandt-Fast, interesting read

Since I’ve been asking others to review my books, I should return a universal favor and post a review or two myself. But let’s be clear. No one (author, agent or other self) has actually asked for my opinion. I’m giving it up for free, so that establishes the weight of my opinion in the world of literati. My only qualification is I read several books a week.

Great book-4.5 stars. Fast, interesting
read of art heists, solutions and lots of
factoids. Read this and sound interesting at
your next cocktail party.

For my 4 day vaca this summer (3 days of rain + 1 afternoon of sun) I chose Stealing Rembrandt. On the surface, a truly boring subject–art heists. Yet I like ‘heisty-type’ movies (that was a Sarah-don-king-ism), like The Italian Job, and for three days in a row, I was pelted with new reports, an interview on the radio and then a replay of same. The author gave great soundbites (the thieves weren’t brilliant, they were ballsy) and I liked the factoids (Rembrandt is the most stolen art) and a person in Sammamish Washington (a stones throw away on the ‘plateau’ for locals) actually owned one that got swiped. More fascinating to me were the stories of reclaiming the pieces, how the wealthy don’t report thefts, and how many museums actually pay the blood money to get the art back. What a racket! I had to read it.

I got the Kindle, download the book moments before we went a-trailering, and read by flashlight when the lights from the campfire dwindled. It took two days of soaking up most every word (I admit to skipping some of the boring details of art) but overall, I enjoyed learning about the art in a reporter-style writing. It was informative without being cumbersome. The best aspect of Stealing Rembrandt was the MI6-James Bond-meets Robert Ludlum approach in the narrative. This is due to the co-authors. The informative part was from the head of security for the Gardner Museum of Art and his co-author, an investigative reporter. The editor(s) did a nice job balancing the two. Only once or twice did I have to resort to skipping over art-professor sections. Now I can speak intelligently about wood carvings, originals, metal plates and plate making, the period pieces for portraits, how the Dutch led the world for a while in all things monetary and artistic and ultimately, how Rembrandt died pretty much broke. (And FTY, I had no idea his true love died quite young. Why is it so many artists have such tragic personal lives? What a curse. But then, I must not be a true artist. I have a pretty good life, my health, no deaths, but no fame or riches either).

The only complaint I had wasn’t something the authors or editors could do a darn thing about: the lack of more art resolutions. For instance, many of the museums (or private collectors) that had art returned wouldn’t acknowledge how or why. Those that did chose to announce the recovery months or years later (if at all). This is due to the desire to keep thefts (and return money) out of the press. I’m a girl that likes closure, but I understand the issues. The book includes enough resolutions to make it  worthwhile, the most interesting experiences coming from 2 thieves directly, after months of interviews from within (and outside) of jail. Kudos to the authors for the years of work on this thing. I’d definitely recommend it anyone who likes a fast, interesting read (the art is a bonus).

Johnny Rockets goes down

What happened to my favorite hamburger joint? Once upon a time, Johnny Rockets was the purist form of culinary fornication. The food at the “international hamburger chain” doesn’t even rate a heartbeat on a human. Yes. It’s that bad.
Check out these pictures. I ordered a bacon cheeseburger and I had about an inch and half of bacon, a half of a slice of tomato. All of this, for eight dollars US. The only glimmer of hope was going to be the chocolate shake, extra thick. Does the picture of this chocolate shake look either chocolate or thick? The toast was so toased, this is post-scraping to get the black off.
Date: August 12th, 2010
Location: Kent Station, Kent, Washington
Time: 2:45 PM, PST
Server: great
Food: beyond bad
Now, in the history of this blog, I’ve never trashed a food joint, music venue or rarely anything at all. I think bashing, trashing or otherwise dogging on someone or someplace is evil karma that goes back out to the universe and eventually, will come back to bite me. But I have never, to this day in my 43 yr old life, have I actually gotten so mad after being delivered a meal that I whipped out my phone, took pictures, and am now blogging about it.
For the record, I have been, and used to patron, Johnny Rockets all over the place. Wherever I can find them, and for years, the quality of the food has been declining. The staff are as great as ever, but what’s going on behind the counter? No wonder many connosoiuers of the big beef patty are going straight by, rolling on up to the In and Out Burger for a REAL hamburger, amazingly fresh (everything) and a real shake.
An epilogue to this blog: did I ask for my money back or a re-do. With 2 children under the age of 5 with me? No. Of course not. If they’d been gone, would I have done so? Not even then. When food is as absolutely bad as what I received, I didn’t have the patience or moral fortitude to wait for round 2, and go through the massive disappointment of getting more schlock.
As my friends in San Fran say when they are done, over and out with an item, Buh-Bye.
I’m now going to take a hot shower and stand on my head to cleanse the badness of this experience. Wash-off, wash-off

Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich

Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich
Isn’t that a great title for a book? I took a flyer on the purchase, glancing through the imagery and immediately liking whimsical pictures. Well, that and the sub-title “and other stores you’re sure to like, because they’re all about monsters and some of them are also about food.” What foodie can’t appreciate that?

Now readers of this blog know I never write reviews of other books but this defies my logic. Why bother, think I? So many already exist that my humble opinion isn’t going to sway a person’s purchasing choices. Furthermore, aside from the errant reporter who recently provided me his own book after an interview was over, I’m not solicited for a review or opinion. Frankenstien Makes a Sandwich is so good, I’m taking the time to tell all my readers– buy it. Buy it now. It’s awesomely funny.

Age group begone. This isn’t just for my six year old. As I’m reading about  my 41 yr old husband is piping up in the background “what’s that?” and “that’s crazy!” he continues, before busting up. Some stories mirror a contemporary story mixed with a rhyme, like Phantom of the Opera. Another makes fun of Dracula’s son that has a lame tooth. One of my favorites is “an open letter from Wolfman’s best friend,” about the saga of wolfman’s roommate who is sick and tired of cleaning up after him
“Please just konw, and I’ll happily open the door.
 And if I’m not home please don’t howl anymore.
‘Cause each time you do it, the neighbors complain.
And since we’re complaining, perhaps you’d explain
how you manage to leave
SO MUCH hair in the tub.
I constantly clean it. I scour, I scrub,
and I think I should mention it’s REALLY a pain.
Today I removed a big clog from the drain,
and I tell you, this hair-clog was of SUCH A SIZE,
it could go to a CAT SHOW
So…anyway, that’s all I wanted to write.
Please take out the garbage. It’s your turn tonight.

Another favorite is Godzilla Pooped on My Honda, The Phantom of the Opera Can’t Get “It’s a Small World” out of his Head and The Middlewich With-Watchers Club. In between each of the poems are the most amazing drawings of fun types of witches like the Frazzled Warthog and the Speckled Crone or the Long Beaked Harpy.

Every now and then, I come across a book that is so fun, so well written and engaging, I get depressed. “I wish I’d written that,” I say, a whistful sigh that instills in me an overpowering desire to get back to writing something a bit more meaningful. This is one of those books. Adam Rex, you are my idol.

Weed wackers for women make great Unbirthday Gifts

The San Juan’s. The sunnier part of the Northwest

Black & Decker ST1000 9-Inch 1.8 amp Electric Grass Trimmer
Option 1-electric. My
blackberry bushes at the
version alive.

Take my vision of Laura Croft in Tomb Raider, substitute the samurai for a weed wacker, the dark hair for blond and you have a taller, 42-yr old version of me on a Saturday morning. It’s glamorous, I know. As my friend runs a race in the hills, another is boating in the San Juan’s, I’m kicking it against a three foot size holy terror of a prickly bush, skirting the red ants that have turned a tree stump in to a ghostly-looking manor just to the left of my garage. (see those pics? Took them just for you).
I am woman. Hear me weed wack.

Now, I’m a loose woman when it comes to weed wackers. I go through them like the toilet paper in the men’s locker room. The first weed wacker was a Toro, and boy, was that lame. The metal blades kept popping off on little things like inch-thick blackberry bushes. The next gas powered wacker was a , and it was incredibly heavy. Who do they think works around here? The men? Not. “The Man” is out slaying virtual dragons with his latest Windows light saber than keeps fritzing. The latest wacker was a gift for–what else? my birthday, which technically speaking, hasn’t actually arrived yet. It’s later this month. But in anticipation, I suppose Rog figured I’d like to make the property nice for my non party I’m going to have (I’m like Alice, the unbirthday’s rule around here. It will come and go. I’ll cry. Then I’ll get some great “I’m sorry gift” as I’ve come to call them. I now have a box-full of unbirthday gifts, and one really good weed wacker.”

Which brings me to the point of this blog (yes, there is a point). When purchasing a weed wacker that YOU (man) intend to use, but you secretly know it will be your wife, consider the following:

1. Don’t get an electric. These are for wussies (I can say this. I used to be one). Powerless. Tethered to the chord. Don’t have great attachments. Walk straight by these imitation weed wackers. Scorns are allowed.

My spooky tree made by a our resident
red ant community. I am so pro-animal
I wack around the tree so as not to destroy
the colony. My mother says being in
the state of Washington has ruined
my mind.

2. Have your woman feel the weight of the wacker. This is important. Some are not balanced at all. I found this out the hard way, as I burned myself repeatedly on one wacker that sounds like Boro, but I don’t want to name names.
Leyland Cypress (The Best Screen) Lot of 10 One Gallons
Leland Cyprus tree:
I trim 12 of these for
a great hedge that hides a
retaining wall.
My bad boy gas-powered
weed wacker does the job.

3. Get one with attachments. You say you don’t need or want attachments, but you are kidding yourself. This latest version has a hedger which has literally saved me hours on my hedges. Mine has a 2 foot long metal, two-blade attachment. It’s great. It does get a little heavy when I’m lifting it above my head on a tall set of Leland Cyprus hedges, but it cuts through pine tree shrubs, the evergreen trees (that the deers keep eating in to a Burlesque-type shape, for you see, the deer up here are really of the Romanesque-Italian breed).

Husqvarna 323L 24.5cc E-Tech 2-Cycle Gas Powered Straight Shaft String Trimmer With Smart Start (CARB Compliant)
My option: Huskavarna

4. Huskavarna weed wacker is great. I’ll admit, I am slightly prejudiced for the Huskavarna brand, as I own a riding lawn mower (I had a push-mower for 9 yrs, until the fateful weekend I was gone, Rog had to mow and it took him four hrs. He came home with a riding lawn mower that evening). I seriously love Huskavarna hedge trimmer attachment. It has made my so much easier.
5. Go professional if you can afford it. About 2 weeks after my unbirthday present, my giver came back from the dealer and told me about a dual blade that saws in half, and vibrates, allowing the user to sheer off small trees. OOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH. Now that’s the ticket for me. Maybe, if I’m really, really good, I won’t have to wait for another unbirthday gift, and I’ll get it for, say, Christmas.

Paradox product review-awesome gift under $20 at Costco

“The time has come to make a change,” said She, referring to my addiction to blogging. It replaced me previous vices of working out and writing, the former, helping my body, the latter, my goals and checking account. “Cut it down to five paragraphs,” she insisted. “Anything that should be said, can be said in five paragraphs or less.” This will solve tight pants and negative balances at the same time.

What can be said in five paragraphs? This is the second, the lines are finite. How about the snippet for today, being workout Wednesday, on health products found at Costco.

I’m a lover of all things cozy, warm, light and inexpensive. The four are usually mutually exclusive. The breathable Lululemon jacket I’m wearing was not cheap ($145), but it’s rainproof, boasts flaps in the elbows to allow air, covers my toosh (sp?) and is white on the outside with pinkish-red on the inside, this facet, the ever elusive ‘cute factor,’ of the utmost important. Asic gels, critical for my high arches, were also over $100 (of course, I paid retail vs amazon, so hit the $140+ mark, the price of my need-to-have-it-now). The parts I got from Costco include the leggings and the undershirt tops.

Paradox is a new brand for me, but one of Rog’s favorite. He picked me up black pants and a white, long sleeve top, both $19.99, with the intent I’d wear them skiing. Let me say this–they are boring looking–but not dowdy. The fit is perfect, but the wear….incredible. I’m sorry to admit I’m such a snob when it comes to clothes…and am not always the best at trying new brands, especially when I have to pay for it first. The clothes breath (don’t ask me about the patented technology, Rog gave me a dissertation that went in one ear and out the other). All I know is the sweat dries, not clings, I’m kept warm, and again, the fit is perfect. For $29 at Costco, I’m in, and recommend others join me.The jacket was a bonus, and only $38 as well. Not as stylish as my Lululemon, but then, it’s a quarter of the price.

Turns out, I’m not the only one that caught on. Folks from Runner’s wrote started a dialogue on it with reviews from runners. It probably helped usher sales out the door. If you still have shopping to do, check it out for the athlete in your family/immediate circle. Great products at an affordable price (and again, no money to me to say this).

Grade on Paradox: A (my first ever given on this site!) (does this sentence count as a paragraph? How stressful! but I made it, I think).

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