Anyone Else Experience This at Work?

How about a work post? I can only speak in generalities, since I work in healthcare, but suffice to say the general subject matter is universal.

Let’s talk about stupid people. Stupid people who don’t do their job. Stupid people who don’t do their job and claim ignorance when you call them on it. Stupid people who don’t do their job and claim ignorance when you call them on it and STILL do things the wrong way or don’t do them at all out of spite.

We’ve all experienced that, right?
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Planning Our Retirement – Now

RV Trip - Nairn Falls Provincial Park Pemberton, BC, CanadaNo, this isn’t going to be a post about how we are planning for retirement with regard to finances, 401Ks, pensions and all that boring stuff. This post is going to be about the FUN we are planning on having when we retire.

About a month ago we were riffing about what we were excited to do once we retire. Traveling was near the top of our list. As we continued to talk, we joked about traveling the country in a Winnebago, exploring what this great country has to offer.

And that’s when Denis had a lightbulb moment and came up with a GREAT website domain name for a website we could do based around our travels. This weekend while we were wandering around the BBQ festival in Lexington I flashed back to that conversation and asked him what the name was of the domain he came up with. It took him a minute or two, but then he remembered. And once again we started talking about what retirement could be like if we put our idea into actual practice.

So when we got home from the festival, I bought the domain name.

And I know we’re not retiring for 23-25 years (*fingers crossed*), but there’s no reason we can’t start the site now and let OTHERS who have retired and are actively traveling the country to enjoy what our site has to offer.

I spent time over the weekend at least getting it started, and adding minimal content. But it’ll be quite a while before I actually feel comfortable promoting it in any way. I’m not sure if I like my initial thoughts on how to put it all together, so I’m on the hunt for methods to figure out how to accomplish my initial vision for the site.

If we get it going? It’s going to be AWESOME.

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Blogging – A Dying Breed?

I’ve been surfing through Cootiehog over the past few days – reading old posts, following categories, searching tags. Just a little bit of fun to remind myself of what Cootiehog used to be. Remember when I did movie reviews and then rated them based on something in the movie? Like for “The Godfather” I’d say something like “5 cannolis out of five.”

Anyway, the point of this post is to lament how many blogs have come to an end in the past year or two. I used to have lots of commenters, and now when I click on their handle to see their log, almost none of them exist anymore. That makes me a little sad. And when I took the time to click into the links in the blogroll in my right column, I ended up deleting more than half – many were shut down entirely, and some hadn’t been updated in a year. I don’t see Cootiehog ever truly ending – even if I end up becoming non-active on it. There are too many stories here. I started the blog in 2001 just after we moved into our first house in NJ. My children are younger than this blog. So the domain, at the very least, will always belong to me.

So I get a little melancholy when I realize that I can’t catch up and see what people are doing – or let those people who were once so talkative on here know that I’m back to blogging more faithfully.

I use Feedly and I’ll admit I only check it once a month, so I know my own readership has gone down. In fact, if someone’s post wasn’t being posted on Facebook (there’s that word again), I most likely didn’t read it. So there are a few people I read faithfully – Fluid Pudding and Amy Bennett, along with some others I can’t think of right now. But not nearly the number that I used to follow with regularity.

Have you noticed less blogging today? Do you still follow a lot of blogs or do you also think it’s a dying breed that has had its day? IF you still visit a lot of blogs, what blogs can you recommend I start reading?

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Festival Season – We Love It

Denis and I enjoy going to festivals. I don’t know why – we never really did it when we lived in NYC/NJ, but there’s something about the South – it’s what you do.

20140906_125029This year is no exception. Late in the summer we went to a small BBQ festival in nearby Clover, SC. It was so small we were done in about an hour. However, the BBQ was amazing. You paid a fee to go in, and then you could sample all the BBQ available. There were about 15-20 vendors selling the BBQ, and when we were done we were asked to vote on our favorite. The types of BBQ were varied – one was very peppery (I didn’t try that one), one was very garlicky (that’s the one Denis ended up voting for). There was a mustard-based BBQ (I didn’t try that one either) and more than a few vinegar and tomato based BBQs. In the end, the one I liked the most was not even a professional team. It was a guy who makes BBQ out of his backyard for fun. He signed up to participate in the festival on a whim. I told him needed to start a business and that I’ll be his first paying customer. As it was, I paid the festival promoter $10 for a container so I could bring home over three pounds of that guy’s BBQ. So. Yummy. I still have one precious container left in the freezer.

20140927_170108Then a couple weeks ago we hit up the Cleveland County Fair. I have fond memories of going to the CCF when I was in college and watching the pig races. My friend Danny would scream encouragement at the pigs like he was at NASCAR. This was a typical county fair – rides, games, vendors, pig races, cow shows, people with dubious tooth counts. It was glorious. While Denis and CootieGirl took a spin on the way-too-big ferris wheel, I took CootieBoy over to the Zipper. You know that ride. The whole ride spins but then the car you’re in spins too. It’s also known as the Vomit Comet. I hate that ride. I told CB I would not ride it. When Denis and CG finished on the ferris wheel we were still in line and I had CG ride with him. Obviously, he loved it and wanted to ride it again as soon as he got off. *hurl*

Then we took the kids to a balloon festival in Statesville, NC. Denis and the kids went to this last year (or was it two years ago?), but traffic was ridiculous so they didn’t really get to see anything. This time we left early with the plan to see them take off in the afternoon. Traffic was once again a bear, so we opted to use their shuttle parking lot. After a quick wait in line we were at the festival where we set up our chairs to watch the balloons. While waiting we took a lap around the festival looking at the booths – we ended up buying a really pretty handblown Christmas ornament, CootieBoy got to ride on a Gyroscope, and we enjoyed some good festival food. It ended up being too windy for the balloons to go airborne, but they did still blow up and do their glow spectacle. Here’s a brief video showing a balloon being blown up as well as an initial glow.

I was amazed by the fact that you could just go up and be only a couple yards away from the blowers as the filled the balloons. I don’t know that we’ll be going to the balloon festival again, but I’m glad I went at least once because it was a really fun day. The bands were all fantastic, the weather was gorgeous, and it was fun to see so many balloons on the field lighting up the night.

Yesterday, Denis and I hit up another BBQ festival – this time in Lexington, NC. My college roommate lives nearby and when talking to her and her husband about it a few weeks back, he expressed disdain and surprise that anyone would want to go to one of the largest BBQ festivals in the state. He griped about (among other things) the number of people with double strollers (*lol*) and the fact the BBQ just sits all day long. He volunteered to make some BBQ, let it sit out on his back deck for 10 hours and then give it to me as a simulation of the Lexington BBQ festival.

20141025_122059Denis and I decided to brave it and make an early day of it – we planned to arrive at the festival just as it was starting: 10:00 a.m. We ended up arriving around 10:30 a.m. and by 11:00 a.m. we realized we had wasted the hour drive. It was not a festival in which BBQ is celebrated and served. It was a festival that just happens to have a BBQ theme. We got to the BBQ tent and realized that there were no choices of BBQ vendor. You paid $12 and got two hamburger buns, some BBQ and some slaw. That’s it. That was the extent of the BBQ festival. It was NOTHING compared to the small festival in Clover which had multiple BBQ cookers offering their food. One fun thing was a performance by American Idol winner Caleb Johnson. I liked him and was happy he won.

Festivals all have the same typical food and crafts for sale. This time I saw a sign for a deep-fried something I had never seen before.


Yep. Deep fried BUTTER. Gotta love the South.

We’re done with festivals for the year. Now we move into holiday mode.

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It’s a Compulsion. It Really, Really Is.

I’m on Day 3 of being without Facebook and it’s amazing how often I’ve gone to open up the app on my phone, and how natural-feeling it is to want to be on Facebook. Very weird and disconcerting.

For example, I’ve been working on covering up our gas fireplace. I hate fireplaces and wish we didn’t have one at all (although I DO like wood-burning stoves and wish we had one of those). We haven’t used the fireplace since 2007, and while we have done maintenance on it (new chimney cap, fixing a crack, cleaning out the chimney), we have snuffed the pilot light and closed off the gas. We also keep the damper closed (but it still remains open at least 1″ all the time because it can’t be closed completely). But it’s just an eyesore and in winter our TV room is freezing because of that 1″ gap in the damper causing a major vacuum that sucks out the heating. So I decided to do something about it.

And there is where Facebook and blogging are different and will take me a while to recalibrate. With Facebook, I take a picture of the fireplace when I’m done, write something pithy, and hit “post.” But on blogs, pictures speak a thousand words, and so before/during/after pictures make a difference. Alas, I only have an after picture. ANd now that the project is done I’m sure as heck not going to take it out!

Anyway, rather than go to the expense of clearing out the fireplace and getting rid of the gas line completely, I decided to fake it. I bought some rigid foam and MDF board from the local big box, and had the MDF cut to the size of the opening of the fireplace. I got a can of black spray paint and painted one side of the MDF, and stapled the foam to the other side. I then put the painted black board in the fireplace opening. The result? Looks pretty good. Now instead of looking at cobwebs and dusty fireplace logs (yep, it is that bad), you don’t see anything. It’s just a black hole.

But rather than have just a black hole I decided to put something decorative in front of it. Now, I’m not one to put giant vases on either side of my fireplace, or cute old-timey suitcases. That’s not my style at all. I looked at a lot of pictures trying to figure out what I liked AND that would work with two kids, two dogs and cat who all get rambunctious (okay, so maybe the cat doesn’t get rambunctious, but she does like rubbing up against stuff (that sounds bad but that’s not how I meant it)). In the end, I opted for simplicity and ordered a summer firescreen that had fake candles on it. It came yesterday, and you know what? It looks pretty cool. What’s awesome is that the candles have a remote control and run for 4 hours before shutting off automatically. And once you turn it on, it remembers the next day and automatically comes on at the same time every day. How cool is that?

As I said, I have no “before” or “during” pictures because with Facebook I’m not typically in that mindset. But here are a couple afters for you:

Going forward, if I do projects I’ll be sure to remember to do before/after pictures. Although our next home project isn’t nearly as exciting. We’re having the pediment decoration over the front door replaced. We were originally thinking about having a fully-structural gable built, but the contractor we wanted to use never came back with an estimate for the work. After several ignored emails, we gave up and asked our handyman to schedule time to put up a new pediment. I guarantee now that we’ve scheduled the handyman for November 4 and paid a 50% deposit, the contractor will email me with some amazing quote for making our door go from this (ignore the junk laying around the front door – this was taken while our landscaping project was going on and the landscapers dumped everything on the front stoop):


to this:


But he’ll be too late. He had his chance to respond to the emails, and didn’t.

In other news, we’ve been invaded by wolf spiders now that the weather is cooling down. At least once a week for the past couple of months I’ve found a spider coming for me. The bug guy came today for his semi-annual termite inspection and I asked him to spray a little extra on the inside of the garage since that’s mostly where they come into the house. He obliged and I’m hoping those dang spiders stop coming in. A few weeks ago one started charging at me when I was in the laundry room – he was between me and the door into the TV room and I was screaming my fool head off to get someone to come kill it before it “got me.” *shudder*

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Let’s Talk About TV

Time for TV Talk!

Are you watching, “Black-ish?” Because if you aren’t, you should be. The most recent episode, “Crime and Punishment” addressed the issue of spanking children and was hilarious. I laughed throughout the whole episode, especially when the mom was trying to dodge her younger son’s cuteness overload. So. funny. If you have Tivo, record it! You won’t be sorry!

Another show I love is “New Girl.” This is my current watercooler show. Last week’s episode featured Nick acting as the loft secretary – and has provided me with a theme song as well. The show has had some bumps along the way, but I still love it.

I also love “The Mindy Project,” but mainly because I think Mindy Kaling is hilariously gifted. She’s someone I want to have over for dinner so we can be BFFs.

I’m still an avid “Doctor Who” fan and really like the new Doctor, as portrayed by Peter Capaldi. They’ve only had one dud episode so far this season (Robin Hood) and even that one had some funny bits in it. The kids watch the show with me every week, and CootieBoy and I hope the weather cooperates this year so that we can get to Gallifrey One in California next February.

I’m trying out other new shows, such as “Gotham” and “Jane the Virgin,” but am not sold quite yet on either one (although I like “Jane” more than “Gotham.” I’ve also cut out some shows I watched last year – such as “Reign” and “The Originals.”

I’m also glad that “About A Boy” came back – I was worried that it was cancelled because I never heard anything after I heard it was on the bubble last season. I’m also excited that “Community” will be making a comeback via Yahoo! since the network cancelled it.

What are you watching that you can’t miss? Anything you recommend that I should check out?

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