Archive for the ‘life’ Category

King of the Food Jungle, sort of

July 22, 2013


My wife and I were returning home from our vacation and she wanted to stop at the store to pick up a few things for the scholastic camp she is running in the summer school session starting next week.

She normally did this at the Shoppers Food Warehouse or Safeway nearer to the school but she likes to support the local economy in our small community rather than the one in Fairfax.

So we pulled into the local Food Lion, she pulled out her list, and we trundled into the store.

Now, a word of warning, if you have a Food Lion store near you (and it may just be a regional East Coast franchise for all I know)… if you have one near you: DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS.

Otherwise you will come away scarred!!

(maybe that’s a little harsh, but…)

Anyway, when we got to the checkout stand, she handed over the documents from the school to prove “tax-exempt” status. Schools won’t reimburse for sales taxes paid as they don’t pay any.

The cashier looked at us as if we were aliens or something. The she took the page to the manager who stared at the page and gave us the once over like we had pulled a weapon on her.

“I’m sorry,” she said, handing back the authorization documents, “but you will have to submit these to our corporate offices for approval. After that they will send us the authorization codes to process this request.”

My wife glanced at me before asking, “And how long will that take?”

If she was hoping it was something that could have been handled this afternoon, she’d have better luck sighting Bigfoot.

“About three weeks,” came the response.

So we had to foot the $5.80 in taxes…

No big deal, you say, but if you knew how much teachers normally pay out for students during the normal school year – and it is always quite a bit more than the measly $200 the IRS allows in right-offs.

Next time, she will just go to Shoppers, or Safeway, or Giant, or Albertsons, or Piggly Wiggly, or any of the other eighty-five stores that don’t have a problem with tax-exempt customers.

Before we left the store, the cashier told us that they had also turned away the local Baptist Church just that afternoon.

Food Lion, a mouse that roared.

This Year’s Menu

June 22, 2013


The big storm – “derecho” I think they called it – never materialized in our area, thank goodness. The one that hit last year destroyed about half the garden.

Our garden this year has taken a different course. Last year we tried for a lot of variety and wound up losing a lot of that stuff.

This year we decided to curtail the number of varieties and concentrate more on the stuff we actually eat.

We had six different types of tomatoes last year and canned about fifty jars of sauce, diced and whole tomatoes, juice and salsa. We like tomatoes and it seems the usual basis for so many of the dishes we eat.

So this year we are still doing the six varieties but have two or three plants of each. It is something we are guaranteed to eat.

Last year we started potatoes a little late in the season and, though we got a lot of them, most were a little small.

This year, we have tripled the potato patch and started early enough to get some bigger prospects. And we added sweet potatoes as well.

Peppers! Last year we had tabasco, jalapeno and banana hot peppers as well as pimento, Hungarian, and the standard green bells.

This year we cut the banana peppers but added habanero and serranos. Peppers are useful in so many of the dishes we cook so we love having as many as possible.

Kale, spinach, and two varieties of chard as well as the green beans. Last year we had vining beans but they were a bit messy so we’re trying bush beans this year.

And I hope the chard turns out as tasty as last year’s crop. Most chard I’ve had in the past has a little bitter edge to the flavor but that chard was exquisitely smooth tasting. Definitely worth a repeat. And the dozen cans we got out of it are all gone.

Looking forward to expanding our canning this year so we can actually make it through until spring on the food we have harvested.

It’s an exciting time!

Early Harvest

June 15, 2013


For several weeks we have been picking strawberries. Usually just a few a day, enough for cutting up in cereal for breakfast or as a nice snack after dinner in the evening.

Last weekend, the berries flourished and we were able to pick enough to can a half dozen jars of strawberry preserves. Yummy! Something to look forward to later in winter.

Now production has dropped off markedly. Just enough for breakfast and snacks but they are supposed to flower again later in the season and give us another crop just before autumn sets in.

But the blueberries are getting ripe now. Just a few to start, of course, but it looks like there may be enough in a couple of weeks to can up some blueberry jelly.

I love the harvest!

Don’t Blame Me, It Wasn’t My Default

June 11, 2013

My boss came into my office this morning in a bit of a panic!!

A big meeting was coming up in fifteen minutes and the report she had finished at home in the wee hours needed to be printed.

Unfortunately, her computer had a meltdown and she had to sign onto her system from my computer.

It didn’t take long to switch users and she very quickly had the document opened and sent to the printer. Fifteen copies for the attendees of the meeting.

It wasn’t very long before we heard the scream.

She rushed in with the reports – a mere two minutes before the meeting – and showed them to me: misaligned, funky font, screwed up pagination…

In other words, a complete mess.

And, quite naturally, she assumed it was something I had done…

Well, of course…

While she freaked out, I opened the document to see a very nice array of “arial” words running amok on the page. Having worked with her for some time, I am familiar with the settings she normally uses and changed everything to her normal… Seeing the document return to some sense of reality calmed her down tremendously. Then she just had to re-format a couple of places in the document to make it look “right” again.

I guess she didn’t know that the word document had reverted to windows default when it was opened on any machine other than her own. Working quickly, I reformatted the thing.

The reports were printed and delivered to the meeting only a couple of minutes late.

And, of course, she still blamed me.

She didn’t understand that it was not my default, it was the system’s.

Yelp no Help

May 22, 2013


I had a comment for a company on Yelp (among other places) and recently found it had been removed by their “spam filter”.

So I read their fac on what the spam filter was and how it works. Apparently this brilliantly-engineered piece of work can determine which comments are real and which ones are phony. You know, those people (usually competitors) who post bad reviews to make the competition look bad or friends of the owner of the business who praise it to the skies, usually with five stars and gushing with adoration.

So their filter removes all those annoyingly misleading comments so you can get the “real” story on the business.

Only thing, my and the other four complaints were removed as spam and the newest post (posted yesterday) is credited with being the “First Review” of this business… ignoring the other four, two of which were posted three years ago.

And this current, “First Review” even states: “the company asked me to put something up here”.

Another poster commented that Yelp was not doing anyone any good by showing only the Five ***** Star rated comment and hiding all the negative comments (i.e. complaints).

So I looked around the site and noticed – sure enough – there is no place to register a complaint about Yelp!

That’s as bad as Angie’s list where they charge you to make a comment! Yes, not only do you have to buy a membership to find out the low-down on prospective services, you actually have to pay to even register a comment about a company or service.

Oh, well… I guess we’ll just all have to learn the hard way: through our own mistakes.

The big companies are all too busy looking out for each others’ interests.

Almost Born Again

April 1, 2013


Last Friday, I was just dead exhausted.

It may have been a “Good Friday” but mine was awful… though not quite as bad as the one had by Abe Lincoln in 1865.

Still, my laying around all weekend recuperating did me a lot more good than Abe’s laying in did for him.

Of course, I had something a little less lethal in my brain.

Anyway, by Sunday evening I felt rejuvenated and refreshed.

Funny how lying around for a couple of days seems to resurrect most of us.

Hm, it must just be that time of year, I guess.

Oh, My Aching Back!

March 12, 2013

I Love Spring!!

Spring has arrived in Virginia, when the birds get noisy, the youngsters get frisky, and the gardening begins getting serious.

And my back pays the price of sitting too many hours in front of the computer all winter long.

I usually try and remind myself that spring is coming and I had better start doing some form of exercise before the earth-moving begins but, like every other year I seem to forget until it is too late to “get ready”.

Now I spend a few evening with icy hot rubbed all over my back, as well as my wife’s, and we both struggle to find a “comfortable” position to sleep in.

And sleep is hard enough with the daylight savings time arriving simultaneously.

Sure, we have no control over the whole annual spring-timing issue but we do have control over that bit of nincompoopery. Ben Franklin may have thought it was a keen idea – he invented it, after all – but studies have shown that its implementation does NOT do what it was hoped… mainly save energy.

What it does spread around quite liberally is a bunch of cranky sleep-deprived people who tend to get into more accidents than normal. And this morning’s rush hour was no different. I-95, and 495, and 395 were clogged because of them and the metrorails were clogged for over two hours because of it.

When will the madness stop?!!

I mean, of course, the daylight savings, not the arrival of spring.

After a couple of weeks, though, the adjustments to the time-changed will have been made and people will not be at each others’ throats.

And my back will be adjusted to another season of crop-raising, harvesting, and canning.