Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Another blow to the dignity of my gender

Seen on the back window of a Hummer H3:

"Silly boys - Jeeps are for girls!"

God help us all.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Happy Birthday, sweet little girl.

You're 8 years old today, and you're changing so quickly I can hardly keep up.

You are smart... top of your class. You are so beautiful, although it is clear you don't realize it. Your giggle is infectious, as is that devilish gleam in your eyes. You're independent most times; clingy at others. Sweet as can be, with the wry power of observation of one with many more years and experiences under their belt.

You have all the best qualities of your mother and your father: Her bs-detector; his loyalty and generosity. Her powers of persuasion; his rational reasoning skills. Both of their smarts, and both of their arguing skills; God help anyone on the wrong side of an argument with you.

You've opened up doors in my heart I never knew existed. The years tick by in my head: Holding you at age one as you fell asleep on my chest. Watching you as a toddler dance the Soul Bossa Nova along with Austin Powers in the opening scene of Goldmember and recite half of the lines as they were spoken... laughing so hard I cried. Sitting out on the tailgate of the truck in the driveway, watching you and your best friend tool around the cul-de-sac in your badass little Jeep. Mending scraped knees... and scraped feelings. Being the recipient of your homemade cards with the sweetest sentiments written by you; first in huge, blocky print, then neat big-girl print, and finally cursive. Heartbreak as I see you compare yourself to others and find yourself wanting. How could you? You're perfect.

You're exactly what I'd want if I had a little girl of my own, and I'm honored to have you on loaner and to be part of your extended family.

Happy Birthday, sweet little girl. Love you.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Let's get one thing straight here.

Your dog could be AKC registered, arrive at my house delivered by the Publisher's Clearing House people, bearing a check for 10 meeeeellion dollars in its mouth, could poop gold bouillion, clean my house for me, and take its own bath and clip its own toenails once a week.

It could do all that and more, but I still wouldn't buy a dog from you, because someone who claims to be a dog breeder should be able to spell puppIES.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dogs are better than people.

Lemme tell you why:

1) I'm at the mall getting my entire face threaded. The lady was nice enough (grrrr) to point out that I had "sideburn" - what I would refer to as cheek fuzz, actually, but whatever ... I let her talk me into doing my whole face. I came prepared this time: Motrin beforehand and iPod to drown out that rrrrrrriiiip sound as a whole lines of hair follicles were forcibly emptied of their bounty in a singular tug. Prepared or not, it still hurt like hell, as evidenced by the copious tears which sprang involuntarily to my eyes and my eyes themselves becoming so light-sensitive that I couldn't hold them open, even if my very life depended on it. I'd like to mention for the record that I'd hobbled around for several hours on a broken leg my parents insisted "was probably just sprained"... just to give you an idea of my pain tolerance. Anyway, as I was finishing up and dabbing those tears away with the tissue the nice hair-ripping lady had provided, a curious face appeared blurrily over mine. "Does it hurt?", asked the disembodied voice. I snorted that snort that I tend to snort when something is FUCKING OBVIOUS, and replied, "Uh, yeah! But I keep coming back, so that means the results must be worth it." At that point I was able to open my eyes and keep them reasonably slitted open... just in time to see a tweenager double-timing it away from the threading booth and her mother, owner of the nosy disembodied voice, screaming at her to "GET BACK OVER HERE, NOW!" She took a second to glare back at my reddened, hairless face and spat, "You were supposed to say it doesn't hurt." Having said her piece, she turned on her heel and forcibly dragged her tweenager back to have her unibrow ripped out against her will.

Lesson: No dog would ever see the obvious in front of them, but still question it.
Case-in-point: I missed a step once while carrying the dogs' 52lb bag of food down to the kitchen. I went ass over teakettle, landing half a flight below on the kitchen floor, mercifully onto the bag of kibble - which split open like a ... well ... like a 52 bag of kibble that broke a fat chick's fall down the steps. Did the dogs stand over me and ask, "Did it hurt?" Heyyyulll no! They were, however, nice enough to step over - and not on - my broken body, as they scrambled to clean up the manna that apparently fell from the skies of doggy heaven.

2) I'm shopping for Father's Day cards and schwag for my sweetheart in the card/flowers section of my local grocery. I'm not usually reduced to the grocery store for such occasions, but I was on duty and had limited choices in the area. There's a lady behind us arguing with the employee who is apparently in charge of that department. She wants a $15 plant for $7.99, because, she argues, it was sitting right beside the other $7.99 plants. After 10 minutes of being relentlessly badgered, the employee told the lady fine, she'd give her that plant for $7.99. The lady then whips out another $15 plant, identical to the one in question: "Well, how about this one? This one was with the $7.99 plants, too." When the employee stood her ground and told her, "No, I will give you the one plant for $7.99. That is all I can do.", myself and another lady at the card display exchanged glances and smirks, silently cheering her on. To my utter surprise and disgust, this grown adult with her child in tow literally stomped her foot on the floor, scowled at the lady, then pooched out her lower lip like a baby who's about to full-out bawl. "Please please PLEASE, can I have this one for $7.99, too? Pleeeeease?"
At that point the other card-shopper shot me another wide-eyed "Oh hell no!" look, and I had to leave. I was sure either that woman was going to go straight to the "I'm not getting my way so I'm going to hold my breath" tactic, or the other card-browser and I were going to crack up and really cause her to suffer a psychotic break.

Lesson: Dogs only beg for good stuff. Like food and beer.
Most times, they won't beg, either. They'll just step over your broken ass and eat the spilled kibble off the floor.

3) We get dispatched to a car accident that sounds like it could be anything from serious to fatal. It takes us no more than 2 minutes to get there, yet when we arrive, the bystanders already have the guy covered in a tarp. One particularly excited bystander waved her arms in the classic "don't bother" crisscross as we approached. She announced to us no less than 5 times that she was a Nurse (with a capital N, because that's how she said it: "I'm a Nurse") and that she'd already checked the guy, and that he was definitely dead, and here was his wallet (because that's all we medics really want, is to paw through one's wallet, apparently). She seemed put off when I smiled and said, "Thank you", and started to pull the tarp back to check the patient. She reiterated her Nursehood and her assessment of the guy's obvious deadness to me and grew increasingly agitated when I wouldn't take the wallet from her outstretched hand. I smiled again and said, "I'm sure you understand, I have to assess him regardless, and I really don't need his wallet right this moment." (Picturing my patient care report on a fatality: "No assessment performed as a bystander I don't know from a can of paint repeatedly telling me she is a nurse said patient is good and dead.") She shoved the wallet at my partner and stomped off. "We're leaving." Well, thank God for small favors.
Yes, he was indeed dead. I had no doubts of that, but now I had concrete confirmation of it.

Lesson: Dogs know their place in the pack.
When I show up to a hospital, doctor's office, or nursing facility, I don't tell you how to do your job - no matter how badly I feel like doing so. Don't step out into my realm and try to tell me mine. I've worked many calls with bystanders who happened to be nurses and when everyone knows their place, it's a beautiful thing. If my patient codes in your hospital room, I'll ask what I can do to help and I'll do what I'm asked ... and if I can't help, I'll step out of the way. I expect the same deference when you're out in my world. It's been my experience that the people who are most vocal and adamant about their qualifications are the least qualified to help. The oral surgeon who claimed he was his father's primary care physician comes to mind.

Now, go home and hug your dog. They deserve it for putting up with all of our crap.

Monday, June 22, 2009

There's hope for every one of us.

I saw evidence of it yesterday evening. Amid a weekend of some really bad calls, a miracle of sorts.

Backstory: Jake* is an infamous drunk in his 70s who resides in our area. Just the mention of his address over the air is enough to send medics spiraling into a cuss-fit of which any Touretter would be proud. It would be one thing if ol' Jake were just a drunk. We see enough of those every day that it's not a big deal. But Jake would, in a sense, hold the crews hostage in his smoke-filled living room, while he drank his vodka and smoked and ranted and raved and repeated himself 8,000 times. There was cat food strewn everywhere. Cigarettes left burning in every room. Empty bottles of vodka as far as the eye could see. It got to the point where we wouldn't even engage Jake in conversation when we arrived... just tried to get him moving toward the door. Sounds like poor patient care and - truth be told - maybe it was. But to stand there, feeling your lungs and clothing alike absorbing the acrid cigarette smoke, watching Jake as I did one day chug almost a full fifth of cheap rotgut before he'd leave with us ... that wasn't helping him either. You'd think you were making progress and Jake would sit back down, pull another fifth out from under the chair cushion, and slur "Jushhh waita minishh there guyssshh..."

Anyway, the tones go off, and I hear Jake's familiar address. Before they're even halfway through dispatching us, I've muttered "Rrrrrgh, I hate that guy" at least 4 times. I thought we were in the clear. We hadn't heard from ol' Jake for so long I assumed that maybe he'd gone to the great Liquor Store In The Sky. My partner had never had the pleasure of transporting Jake, so I briefed her on the way. Don't ask him what's wrong. Don't let him start a conversation. Just start moving him. Toward. The door. Sure it sounds hard-assed and a little silly, but anyone who's dealt with someone who is hammered know that you have to deal with them much the way you do an ornery toddler: Do not reason with them. Do not give them an opportunity to flip out. Just redirect them toward what's best and safest for them and even better if they think it's their idea.

Imagine my surprise when we walk in the door and find Jake sitting in that same damn chair - think Archie Bunker's chair - stone cold sober. No cigarette smoke. No empty vodka bottles. No full ones, for that matter. Not even an ashtray in sight. You could understand him when he spoke, and dare I say - he was quite a pleasure to talk to, sober. "Jake, you quit drinking?", I exclaimed, unable to contain my grin.

"Yep. Six weeks now."

"You know, Jake, I like you a lot better sober."
"Amen, honey. Amen.", said Jake, a grin of his own on his face. Something I'd never seen.

Well, I'll be damned, I thought. If Jake can quit drinking then I don't see how I can have any excuse to be powerless over food.

So we promptly walked out the door with Jake and took him to the ER for his cat bite that happened 2 days ago - Oh yeah ... he's still an ambulance abuser. But at least he's not an obnoxious drunk ambulance abuser.

God bless us, every one.

*not his real name... Duh!!! (HIPAA)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

If you're superstitious, or if you're a medic...

... then you know there's Still One Out There.

(sort of like the old X-Files tagline "The Truth Is Out There", except medic-specific). Yes. Bad things really do come in threes. Just like, inexplicably, with each full moon, psych calls increase exponentially. It's just one of those facts of life written indelibly in SharpieTM in the Old Testament of the Bible of Public Safety and Healthcare.

Saturday morning: Motor vehicle crash with entrapment. I don't usually think much of it when they say "with entrapment" around here because, frankly, they say that every time someone can't open their damn car door. However, this one was truly entrapped.. and partially ejected out of the passenger side door of the little sedan that was lying on (one guess?) yep.. on its passenger side. I fly a patient to the hospital maybe once a year. This was that once, though I was a little regretful when they finally extricated him and I saw that his airway probably would not have presented problems if I had ground-transported him. I'm old-skool like that, yo. I don't like to fly patients I could ground. He's still unconscious from that closed head injury, though, so the helicoptor was justified.

Today: just how to you get up enough speed on short uphill on-ramp, for Chrissakes, to flip your vehicle end-over-end? Quite a trick to have it land back on its wheels, too, but it would have been an even cooler trick if the guy could have lived to tell his grandkids about it. Ejected again... probably out the back window.

That's two. There's Still One Out There. (Hopefully that third one will be smart enough to wear his/her/its seatbelt)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I guess this means ...

... it's making its way into my subconscious - my lack of cable.

Until the BIG DIGITAL SWITCH, even after having the Comcastards shut off my cable and haul away my beloved DVR, I could still get a fuzzy version of CBS.

Which is good, because for the most part I hate CBS. In my neck of the woods, it's KDKA, and any time I watch KDKA, I can feel wiry white hairs start to poke out of my scalp, and I have this irresistible urge to yell at kids to "get off my lawn!!"

Yep. The only reception I got was the station that has probably won the Gomer's Choice Award since its inception. Which, in a way, was good. It gave me a gradual step-down from having everything at my fingertips, tv-wise, to having almost nothing I cared to watch. Like nicotine patches for the couch and tv addict, at first I'd watch the news for hours on end, hearing the same story easily 6 times before, mercifully, Katie Couric would arrive with the Evening News and repeat it all only once more. Then, I'd grow increasingly bored with it, until I got to the point where I'd listen to 1/2 hour of local news while doing dishes in the next room.

THE BIG DIGITAL SWITCH then took place, and what seemed like 20 hours of the same news stories every day was replaced with 24 hours of a public service infomercial on THE BIG DIGITAL SWITCH. I read somewhere that cable companies tried an experiment with delinquent accounts, in which they would broadcast only C-SPAN, instead of shutting off service completely. Apparently it was very successful in resolving late and delinquent payment issues. This infomercial sort of reminded me of that.

My reaction, however, was a dream - a dream in which I found my 25 year old console tv suddenly digital-ready, with a hundred channels at my disposal - and still couldn't find one damn thing I wanted to watch.

Apparently my brain has finally accepted that we can survive quite well without tv... At least until winter.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Funny the way it is

Lyrics: Funny the Way it Is
Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King
Dave Matthews Band

So simple in its irony. It's the song I would write if I had any talent for that sort of thing. I see these occasionally funny - but oftentimes cruel - twists of fate in others' lives daily. I'm there on the worst day - the worst moments - of many people's lives. A front row seat to your misery in your living room, bathroom or back bedroom, but just another day to me, most times. I'm not being intentionally callous, really I'm not. Other peoples' pain does affect me, but if I let it consume my every thought I'd be a shuddering mess of jello in the corner most days.

Lying in the park on a beautiful day, sunshine in the grass, and the children play. Sirens passing, fire engine red, someone’s house is burning down on a day like this

To me it's a simple pronouncement of a d.o.a.; less physical work and paperwork than working a futile cardiac arrest. A relief at the end of a shift, to tell the truth, to know that instead of coding some 88 year-old who has a medical history as long as a banger's rap sheet and has been dead anywhere from 20 minutes to a few hours, I'll be making phone calls and consoling family members. To the wife who woke up on just another day and found her husband cool and stiff in his bed, it's the end of normal life as she knew it, and oftentimes, the beginning of the end of her life. Funny the way it is... I do everything I can to ease your pain and help you accept that we can't help, except with funeral arrangements, but what's really on my mind is breakfast.

someone’s house is burning down on a day like this

Funny the way it is, if only that guy had left 5 minutes earlier or later, that tractor trailer wheel that came spinning off on the highway would have hit someone else's car, ripping off part of the hood, the roof, and their head... not that guy. Or maybe if he hadn't been there nobody'd be in that lane and it would have spun off harmlessly into the median.

someone’s house is burning down on a day like this

A disgusted mother calls 911 and tells them to send the police remove her son from the house. A dispatcher fails to relay the fact that the suspect has weapons. Three police officers die in an ambush. Funny the way one sentence spoken over the air that day might have changed everything.

Someone is screaming and crying in the apartment upstairs

Sitting here wondering what other turns in the road my life would have taken... if my mother lived past my 13th year... if I'd have finished my degree ... if we'd have moved to Florida in my teenage years like my father wanted to or if he'd never married that gold-digging whore who changed his will as he lay dying of heart failure. Would I have still lived the painful lesson of living with an alcoholic who gave me my first and only experience on the other side of a domestic abuse call? Would I still be engaged to my soul-mate right now?
Funny the way it is, not right or wrong
Somebody’s heart is broken and it becomes your favorite song

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Today's theme - Where????

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


... in the ER.

Two daughters stare down at their mother in a hospital bed. The mother is in severe, chronic pain. Arthritis with chronic pain, morbid obesity and - most recently, a fall - have all taken their toll and the mother is begging to be allowed to die. When a Fentanyl patch and 15mg Oxycodone don't even touch the pain, and I ask to die, you'd better let me. No, strike that. You'd better help me.

Staring down at the mother they loved, an obvious prisoner of her own body, one fiercely muttered, "They'll found out what's wrong with you mom. We'll make them."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Flattery will get you everywhere

Lizz at One Nerve Left has bestowed upon me! - (not so) little ol' me - this fabulous award.
With such great prestige and recognition, however, comes great obligation. Upon my acceptance of this award, I have been tasked with monumentous responsibilities. By the end of the week I must:

  • Cure cancer.

  • Reduce the national debt by 50% (Eliminate it, you say? Are you nuts? I'm not a miracle worker. Godssakes.)

  • Lose 100lbs

  • Clean my house

Yeah, I know. That last one is impossible. But, seriously... what I am really obligated to do upon acceptance of this honor is to list 5 of my addictions. Only 5? This is where the hard part comes in. Do I go all vague and general or do I get specific and list my quirky and sometimes embarrassing predilections singly and specifically? Wait, no. She only asked for 5.

(In no particular order:)

German Shepherds. As things are now, I have at my home, my mouthy and domineering, nearly deaf with and bowel-incontinent 14 year old female. I love her more than life itself. She fought like, well... cats and dogs, with my ol' boy Gunner for the 6 years they spent together with me. I have scars on my arms from separating them. Killed my cat - on a Christmas Day, no less. Her medications alone are good for an OT shift a month, and if it weren't for a kindly vet practice owner, I'm not sure she'd be doddering around on 2 repaired hind cruciates. Still, I love the old bitchy one and I know the day will come when I have to live without her. That is a void I am not yet willing to wrap my mind around. Despite her age and her ever-declining sphincter tone, she's still quite happy - those cloudy brown eyes light up still, every time she sees me ... and that's all that matters. The young'un resides at Dan's house and, just like the old crusty one who could be her grandmother, she is the light of my life. She locks eyes with me across the room and I melt. I am convinced she reads my mind (which is a scary place to be - she gets major brownie points for putting herself in such danger.) Any time she is near me, she leans her entire body against mine and looks back over her shoulder, her deliquescent brown eyes half-closed. This gesture of such complete trust never fails to set off a cascade of calm and contented vibes inside my jittery mind, opening the tension valve of my brain and letting the toxic steam cloud of bad juju out. Taking her to the lake and watching her plunge into the water, doing her belabored dog-paddle, is better than Prozac. As long as there is life in me, there will be a German Shepherd in my life.

My Blackberry Curve. If you'd have asked me a year ago, I'd have just said "my phone". I had a perfectly respectable LGVX8100 that I absolutely loved. After it survived a drop and submersion into a (clean, I swear) toilet, I went straight from love to cultish worship. But I've joined a new cult, and I gotta say, it's true: Once you go Black, you never go back. Email, Facebook, news, Google, IM, even blogging - all at my fingertips! One thing I do miss about the old LG is having my keypad committed to memory so that I could text without looking. It's just not possible with my Berry. There's just not enough room in my brain for all that information. However, it's a tradeoff I'm willing to live with, for the privilege of being able instantaneously upload any ridiculous or incriminating photo I may snap to Facebook.

The water. I am a person who is meant to live by water. I feel an almost gravitational pull toward any body of water. Streams. Lakes. The ocean. Even the filthy rivers on which we jetski... I love them all. Something about being near the water, hearing it gurgling over rocks or lapping against the shore ... it simply makes me happy; you know you're happy when you can't feel your blood pressure throbbing in your ears any more. You go fast enough on the Mon River, you can't see the turds or dead bodies anyway. I'm a Pisces in Aries clothing.

Coffee and the Queez from which it spews forth. How do I love thee, coffee? Let me count the ways: You wake me up. You make me nearly human. Suddenly the world makes sense again. You keep me safe from that horrible throb of caffeine withdrawal, and the headache that feels like a poisonous octopus on steroids has snuck up on the back of my head and wrapped its pulsing tentacles all the way around. You make me poop! Oh, do you make me poop. We poop so much together, you and me. You help soar to heights of accomplishment that I would never even glimpse without your hot, black, steamy goodness. Without you, I'd have to swim through piles of laundry to get upstairs. Goats and sheep, hearing of wondrous green pastures 20 minutes south of Pittsburgh (conveniently located off of I-79) would come from afar to graze the lush, high grasses of my yard. My toenails would grow unchecked, curling over themselves in sharp curlicue daggers. Never leave me, coffee. Never. Queez, oh Queez ... how do I describe your importance in my life? Before you came into my life, I knew only bitterness. Coldness. Coffee that tasted like it had been brought forth from an incinerated carafe found in the rubble of a house fire. Now, those days are over. If I want incineration, all I have to do is take a big gulp of coffee as it flows like molten lava fresh from your vast reservoir, and I'm guaranteed to have 3rd degree esophageal burns. But oh, it burns sooooo good. So good. Each cup as fresh and hot as the first. You're like the Groundhog Day of coffee makers. It's you and me forever, Queez. Forever, baby.

Food. /obvious. Yeah, I'm addicted to food, and if you've been reading my blog and haven't figured that out, perhaps it's time to go back to school and ask for a re-do on those reading comprehension skills. I don't know how or when it started. I haven't had some traumatic event that set into motion my compulsion to eat when I am not hungry and medicate myself with delicious yummies. Nobody ever forced food on me with the starving-kids-in-China scam, nor was I ever deprived. I just know that if I were left to my own devices, I'd probably be one of those people on a TLC show about eating 33,000 calories in one sitting... and then wondering what was going to be for dessert. With a little help, I am figuring out the triggers to this addiction - which, by the way happen to be just about goddamned everything. Happy? Eat! Sad? Definitely eat. Eat a LOT. A lot of bad stuff. For Godssakes, don't waste a binge on healthy food! Sad? Eat ice cream out of the carton like every stereotypical sad girl ever while you piss and moan and cry. Pissed off? Eat like a motherfucker! Don't forget to mutter some well-placed cusswords in between bites. Finding the triggers is the easy part. Riding out the irrational cravings, not so easy... but I'm learning. Every time I talk myself through and out of it, I'm stronger for it.

The runners-up that I wish I were addicted to:

  • compulsive exercise

  • calorie counting

  • running marathons

  • drinking water

  • cleaning

  • squat-thrusts

  • excessive money-making/saving

Monday, June 8, 2009

And this is why...

... you should always patronize the mom-and-pop businesses in your area.

Had another of the world's dumbest deer strike my fender and headlight - the brand new fender and headlight from the first dumb deer that ran smack into my car.

Of course you can't just replace the cracked headlight cover. The whole assembly has to be replaced. $$$$. Not to mention the thingey that holds it in place. (I believe when you look that up in the Pontiac parts catalog that's what it says - "thingey that holds headlight in place that also costs way too much").

Stopped in at the garage down the street where I've been taking my cars forever. The guy popped the hood, looked at it, and told me to bring it down next week and he'd have it fixed in an hour. Some sort of clear glue for the crack in the headlight cover and a brace and epoxy for the expensive thingey behind the headlight. He grabbed the fender, leaned back, and muscled it back to where it was before Bambi II and my car so fatefully met. Bodywork = free.

No deductible. No appointment. No b.s.

I hope these guys never retire.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Crisis averted.

All it took was seeing my future husband in traffic, on his way home.

Had I not seen him, instead of taking the left turn lane toward home, I'd have taken the right turn lane toward McD's and had myself an unneeded Big Mac meal (with Diet Coke, of course), and some sort of dessert, maybe even two.

I didn't want to face the innocently posed question: "Where ya headed?" Of course, I could lie and say Shop N' Save... but who am I really lying to if I do that? He doesn't judge or care if I eat fast food. Hell, it's one of his favorite things. I thought to myself, "If you don't want anyone seeing you do this, especially the guy you love, then maybe you shouldn't."

Usually, when I'm planning a binge, I intentionally shut off thinking. This was new. I was thinking out loud and asking myself questions: "What is really going on here? Is it because I'm tired and craving a good night's sleep?" I concluded that this narrowly averted binge would not nearly have been as much "fun" because I had gotten rid of cable, and things like this, I always did in front of the tv. They went hand in hand. Always. It just wouldn't be the same sitting at the kitchen table.

Had I not seen him in traffic, I probably still would have made that turn, choked down that extra couple thousand calories hurriedly at the kitchen table, and went to bed feeling like hammered crap. However, as it went, what I ended up doing - going home, hugging the old dog, taking a hot bath while listening on the radio to the Pens getting totally eviscerated - and putting myself to bed ... was just what I needed.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Things that make me happy

gold bracelet ... $200
replacement deck boards ... $25
a guy who will take apart the back deck to find said bracelet
that you dropped between the slats,
because it's the first Valentine's gift he ever got you...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Ahhh... Pittsburgh in June

Clouds obliterate the sun or any thought in your mind that the sun could even be up there. It's jeans - and for lots of people - jacket weather, too. No need to remember the sunglasses for driving, but if you don't have a hoodie or jacket you'll be sorry.

This, more often than not, is Pittsburgh in June.

I sit here, on cup of coffee #5, wondering why it has no effect. Almost fell asleep at the wheel yesterday after a full night's sleep and caffeine quota fulfilled; then when I got to where I was going, I did fall asleep. It was like I had no control over it. Like someone had slipped me some Benadryl. Even when I was awake, there was a fog that enveloped and addled my brain and slowed my every move.

So, here I sit this morning - staring at the whitish-gray sky and willing the sun to COME OUT, ALREADY - please!


Better put on another pot of coffee.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


In case you haven't tried it, this is heaven in your mouth.. without all those pesky angels flying around. If you like dark chocolate, and you like chili pepper, you will - like I did - fall foolishly, hopelessly, giddily in lust.

Like love (or lust), it can be elusive. After I tried it, it immediately set my dopamine and serotonin receptors throbbing and pulsing like I'd mainlined Ice. Then, cruelly, the high was snatched away as the last of the squares disappeared, and I couldn't find more. Dope sick, I'd trudge into the Rite Aid and the big fancy grocery store where I'd found them before. But the supply had dried up. Apparently the secret was out that this was good shit, and all the junkies were on the prowl.

For 2 weeks my every craving was consumed by thoughts of smooth dark chocolate with that characteristic afterburn. Every Lindt display was painstakingly scrutinized, my eyes, brain and very soul tunneling in on the display looking for my fix. White chocolate with coconut? Who fucking eats that?? Then my eyes settled on another Lindt display all off on its own. FULL of chili dark chocolate. The entire thing. I rubbed my eyes, thinking I was suffering a fatigue-induced hallucination (the last time this happened, I swore I saw a blue flowered wing chair sitting in the middle of a snowy highway).

This, however, was no blue flowered wing chair. This was real, and it was as if the heavens opened up and shone a sunbeam through the clouds onto the display. Like one of those velvet Jesus paintings, only with chocolate instead of Jesus. Almost chortling at my good fortune, I grabbed a handful and placed them reverently in my cart. Then my addict's paranoia overtook me again and I looked around furtively, to see if anyone else noted my good fortune.

Nope. All mine. Let's just say I won't be running out for a year or so.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Monday Recipe Review

Another one from Cooking Light. It looks delicious; and in these times of stretching a buck til' it squeaks, skinless boneless chicken thighs are just what my wallet ordered. For under $20, I can get a Costco multi-pack of 6, each containing about 5 thighs.

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs

Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Jan Gautro
Photo from Cooking Light

4 servings (serving size: 2 chicken thighs)

2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Cooking spray
6 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons cider vinegar

Preheat broiler.
Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken to bowl; toss to coat. Place chicken on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil chicken 5 minutes on each side.
Combine honey and vinegar in a small bowl, stirring well. Remove chicken from oven; brush 1/4 cup honey mixture on chicken. Broil 1 minute. Remove chicken from oven and turn over. Brush chicken with remaining honey mixture. Broil 1 additional minute or until chicken is done.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 321 (31% from fat)
Fat: 11g (sat 3g,mono 4.1g,poly 2.5g)
Protein: 28g
Carbohydrate: 27.9g
Fiber: 0.6g
Cholesterol: 99mg
Iron: 2.1mg
Sodium: 676mg
Calcium: 21mg


I liked this ok... just ok. The spice combination, when I whisked it together in a bowl, was so potent I hacked and sneezed for a good few minutes - and I'm not a person susceptible to allergies or sneezing fits. I found the flavor rub slightly overpowering. Ok - not slightly. Extremely. Maybe they're using old, cheap spices at Cooking Light and theirs didn't turn out quite so... obnoxious. I like spicy food, but I think it could easily have done with half the paprika, cumin and especially chili powder. Too much. The finish of the honey glaze tempers it a little, but not enough. For someone who likes their food extremely smoky/spicy... the spice combination listed above might be good. I would choose to halve some of the spices or sprinkle it more lightly on the chicken, rather than dredge it in the mixture as the recipe suggested. On the bright side, the chicken thighs turned out perfectly juicy.

My suggestion would be to modify the spice mixture a little. If you're not willing to do that, serve this with a glass of milk and a side of plain white rice. And the blandest vegetable you can muster.