Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Are You Ready For Some Football?

Despite their best efforts to minimize hard hits, the NFL is about to get concussed.

Stating safety reasons, NFL stadiums are employing new regulations this season.  I'm not hearing how men are being inconvenienced by these new regs.  They seem to be able to bring (a lot of) money for beer and food (have you seen the prices at the stadium these days?) and continue to enjoy the game.

But women, many of whom are actually football fans themselves, are being limited to a [clear] Ziploc bag and/or a "small clutch purse" (the size of their hand.  Generously the NFL allows them "with or without straps."  I guess they can't envision that anyone would be able to use straps as any kind of weapon.)

Separating women from their handbags is turning out to be more violent than any of the action seen on the field during pre-season and some are taking this very seriously (or at least very tongue-in-cheek:  My Purse.  My Choice.  Turns out they haven't registered the URL but if you'd like to support them you can tweet them at #mypursemychoice)

~later, looking for some gum, 3 compact mirrors and a couple of pairs of sunglasses, tw

Thursday, August 15, 2013

All Washed Up!

These days more and more restrooms are replacing those air hand dryers (even the spiffy ones that feel like you're standing next to a jet readying for take-off!) with good ol' paper towels.  And even more and more people are taking two, three and even FOUR paper towels each time to dry their hands (okay - I'll admit it.  I NEVER used a single towel...or at least I didn't before this weekend)!!!


  • Americans ALONE use 13 BILLION POUNDS of paper towels EVERY YEAR (Yeah, that's BILLION with a Capital "B"!)
  • If all of used only one paper towel fewer per day we could save 571 million pounds of paper each year!
Recently, because I knew we were going to be early to a Mariner game, I actually thought ahead and tossed in a magazine to read before the game.  [the August 2013 edition of Good Housekeeping - the one with Hugh Jackman on the cover]  

I don't know how you read a magazine but I approach it much like I do a newspaper - a tip I learned I read years ago [from Bill Cosby, I believe]:  cover to cover, reading all the headlines, the first and last paragraph of each article (and the balance of any article that truly captures my attention).

With magazines, it's slightly different and I actually enjoy reading what the editor-in-chief has to say.  It's rarely more than a page, often has a recipe or cool tip, basically doesn't take too long.

But sometimes...yes, sometimes... what's written there can be truly life-changing!  The focus of this month's issue turned out to be about creative recycling: reducing, reusing, little changes that can net big results.

She (Rosemary Ellis, Editor-in-Chief, Good Housekeeping magazine) tells of how she learned something new from her husband...incredibly enough it was how to properly wash her hands!  As it turns out he had seen is in a "TED" video presentation by Joe Smith (Don't you love those TED video lectures?  If you're not watching them, at least occasionally, you're missing out on a great *FREE* opportunity to learn something new!)

You should really watch the video (it takes only 4 1/2 minutes) but here are the highlights:

  1. Wash your hands as usual.
  2. SHAKE your hands...12 times (if you want to know why it's 12 times, watch the video)
  3. Get a SINGLE paper towel and FOLD it in half.  The folding is the important part because it creates something called "interstitial suspension" which is a fancy, scientific way of saying the water becomes trapped between the paper layers, so you require less paper surface to dry your hands.
It works.  No, it really, REALLY works!  I'll admit to being skeptical at first and  I figured the first time was a fluke ("It's a hot day - maybe my hands actually air dried faster because of the heat" which might have had something to do with it if it hadn't also been so darn humid.)  Time after time I was amazed that something so simple actually worked!

That's it.  SHAKE and FOLD and we're on our way to saving 571 million pounds of paper each and every year!

You're welcome!

~later, tw

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

If you can't get away to the mountain...

...move the mountains to you.

That's exactly what Zhang Biqing of Beijing did, spending six years and $130K transforming his 26th floor penthouse apartment into a mountain get-away.  (All using the service elevator to move rocks, wooden panels and shrubbery to the roof - good thing his apartment wasn't in Benidorm, Spain!)

Neighbors have naturally complained that there is a safety issue and the district government has said that if Zhang can't prove that the structure is "not unsafe," it will have to be torn down within 15 days.  Let's hope if that turns out to be the case he doesn't opt to by-pass the service elevator when taking it down!

~later, tw

Monday, August 12, 2013

Big Weekend at the Safe!

Since we've been missing so many M's games this year (apparently our "boys of summer" are also taking the summer off!), I promised Gerry we could go to every game of this past home stand (for those scoring at home that was SIX GAMES!)  We had quite a bit of "scrip" accumulated (they put the money back into our account when we exchange our tix for future - this season only - use) so I thought it would make it much more enjoyable if we upgraded our tix to the "All Star Club" - fabulous suite seats with a full-buffet and really great parking all included in the package!

And though we didn't get to see much in the way of play (c'mon Kyle - "bobblehead" is a promotional giveaway, not a level of play!) on Friday night we did have an awesome front row view to some spectacular fireworks:

Fireworks explode over Safeco Field following a Mariners versus Chicago Cubs game Friday, June 28, 2013, in Seattle. The ballpark's 15-minute show of dazzling pyrotechnics was the first of its kind in Safeco's 14-year existence. (Jordan Stead, seattlepi.com)

Saturday was pretty impressive (again not the game...we were shutout 10-0).  The pre-game festivities included (for the first time in a REALLY long time) a sell out crowd - all there to watch Ken Griffey, Jr. (in what is surely just a warm-up to Cooperstown) be inducted into the Mariner Hall of Fame.  It was quite the lovefest.

While we weren't the first to arrive...
...we weren't the last either.
We arrived by 3:30 pm (for a 6:10 supposed start) and the line for what will probably be the last Junior bobblehead until 2016 was already incredibly long!  Once the line started moving it was all incredibly efficient and orderly and we had plenty of time to collect our bobbleheads (for the grandsons), return them to the car, make our way back into the ballpark, find dinner and be in our seats for the the ceremonies began at 5:30 pm.

When finally introduced, Junior made his way, appropriately enough, in from centerfield - his number #24 painted on the grass.  Once last time he headed for home plate to be greeted by the entire Mariner Hall of Fame (Alvin Davis, Marilyn Niehaus - representing her husband, Dave Niehaus, Jay Buhner, Edgar Martinez, Randy Johnson and Dan Wilson) along with his wife, children and parents and Mariner management (Howard Lincoln, Chuck Armstrong and John Ellis).  All that was missing was Trey (Junior's oldest who was off playing football for the Arizona Wildcats but sent a video message) and Lou Piniella.

Watching the videos and listening to the tributes and Griffey's gracious and heart-felt thanks to everyone who contributed to his success - his parents, his family, his teammates, the front office, his agent and so many friends and fan - I was struck by a couple of thoughts:

  • The visual of the entire Mariner dugout - so many of these kids not much older than Griffey was when he started in 1989 (Brad Miller our current short-stop was actually BORN the year Griffey was a rookie!) - all of them with their caps worn backward in homage to the man who was not only responsible for the SEATTLE Mariners (not the Tampa Bay Mariners instead) but a true legend of the game.
  • How genuinely touched he was by the outpouring of affection from fans and teammates.  Tears came to his eyes when a video tribute from Ichiro was played.  They had become tremendous friends when given the chance to play together that last season in 2009.  And Griffey spoke eloquently and effusively when thanking absolutely everyone.
  • And I couldn't help but think of another young man who came up with this organization.  All he ever, ever wanted was what Griffey always had - family, friends, fans and how these two lives could not have taken more divergent paths.  These two youngsters seemed so similar at the time and one couldn't help but feel the greatness that was before each of them.  Now one is a certain Hall of Famer, headed not only for Cooperstown but destined for a happy, wonderful life post baseball...the other most likely looking towards the bitter end of a once-promising career with his "achievements" now pock-marked with asterisks indicating a "less than honest" performance. 
But while the pre-game was certainly moving and a joy to witness, the top of the third inning turned out to be the only highlight of the game itself:

August 10, 2013, we celebrated our 33 1/3 wedding anniversary and while I've never seen it listed on the Hallmark website of suggested traditional wedding anniversary gifts, apparently the "modern" equivalent for reaching the one-third century mark is a notice on the GINORMOUS Mariner Vision screen.

[He's pretty sneaky that husband of mine.  I don't know which impressed me more - he arranged for this early in the season, he kept the secret, he remembered to look up at the screen at the appropriate time so he could record the memory!]

~later, tw

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Not me.  At least not this time.  But finding (and more importantly USING) this tip has definitely moved my dial toward genius classification.

I recently shared this tip in email with my sisters and niece...basically those with whom I share not only DNA but also complete abhorrence of all things related to cleaning.  In my email I referenced this blog (which I know they almost never check) - telling them they really missed out on a fabulous tip.

When my sister asked for more details because she couldn't find it on my blog, I figured it really was because she couldn't find it on my blog.  As it turns out, I apparently had better things to blog about that day.

I will immediately remedy that oversight!  If you actually enjoy scrubbing bathrooms, STOP READING NOW!

So if you're still reading it's because you share my extreme distaste for cleaning bathrooms.  Basically I don't think I really enjoy cleaning anything (except vegetables) but I really think that scrubbing bathrooms is on the very bottom of my list.

So unless I can find someone else to do it, I'm always on the look out for a better/easier way to accomplish this dreaded chore.

Have I mentioned how much I love Pinterest?  I've got an entire board dedicated to "genius tips" (mostly so I can actually find them again!)  And thanks to Pinterest I've come across the greatest discovery since...I don't know...what came BEFORE sliced bread?

Are you familiar with Myth Busters?  Those crazy guys that go around testing even crazier ideas to see if they are really true (can you get better mileage if you "draft" your car behind a semi truck - yeah, don't try that one at home kids!)?

Steph is a "pin buster" - she tries out that seemingly too-good-to-be-true tricks on Pinterest and reports on which ones work and which ones don't.  The In-Shower Cleaning trick is a keeper!

IMG_7884So easy - you just get one of those fillable scrubbing wands from your local grocery store and fill it 2/3rds full (that's pretty important - any fuller and it will leak soapy residue which is not helpful) with a simple combination of 1 part Dawn dish soap (I used the apple green version too - what I can say?  It was on coupon at Costco that month) and 1 part basic distilled vinegar.  That's it - how much greener could you get?  Then, and this is double genius, you wipe down your shower WHILE YOU'RE IN THE SHOWER!  I mean how great is that????

Now my bathroom tile/grout is BLACK.  I so don't recommend that.  I figure some bachelor guy built it and figured nobody would ever notice how dirty it was getting.  The problem with black is exactly that.  You think it's getting clean when you spritz it down every day or so with TILEX but it turns out that it's not.  And you can't see that....

...until...you use this scrubbing wand.  I was afraid that the scrubby pad portion was going to damage tile and/or grout but it doesn't.  What it did do was clean out that black moldy stuff as well as the TILEX sludge that had worked its way to the floor of the shower.  Initially I was doing the scrubbing part for about five minutes every time I showered - sometimes I would only get one wall in that time.

But now, just a couple of weeks later, I can report that I just use the gadget to wipe down the wall every 2-3 days and takes only a minute or two (no scrubbing required - and yes, I do "spot check" the grout areas with the edge of the scrubber to see if I pick up anything that's not supposed to be there...I don't).  Be sure to rinse the walls thoroughly (I keep a small cup in the shower and just fill and toss at a wall).  My polished brass fixtures look like they were just installed.  My glass door is so clean one might accidentally walk into it and my black tile absolutely sparkles!

Save yourself a return trip to the store - buy some extra scrubby "heads" while you're there.  We pretty much tore through one the first week (okay that might have something to do with the fact that I went with the cheaper store brand of scrubby wand instead of the name brand one) but they are pretty cheap and will make scrubbing your shower a chore of the past!

You're welcome!

~later, tw

Saturday, August 10, 2013

But it looked good on paper...

Benidorm, Spain

Once a sleepy little fishing village in Spain, the city of Benidorm is now famous for it's high-rises.

But one particular high-rise (InTempo) is about to change that "famous" to "infamous."  The project began innocently enough in 2005 and inauguration was scheduled for mid-2009.  I guess no one was (or should have been) terribly surprised when this completion date "slipped" since the builder went bankrupt in that year instead.

Despite these omens, construction began and continued, albeit slowly and bogged down by strikes, additional funding issues and, as it turns out, some serious design flaws.

Rather than cut their losses (at ANY point during this faulty project), they pressed on...and on... and on.  The workers were only concerned with their wages as their health care benefits were doled out in the form of an innovative exercise program (until the building reached 23 FLOORS it didn't even occur to management to set up a freight elevator for the 41 workers who had to trek up and down stairs to do their job!)

But this is a tenacious developer who didn't understand the meaning of quit (apparently in either Spanish or English)  Twenty-three floors?  HA!  This luxury apartment will rival anything in Dubai and we'll just tack on another 27 floors!

And that, as Mattias would say, is when there was trouble.

By April 2011, the concrete finally reached the 46th floor, well ahead of the plans apparently for the 47th story.   And in July the finally-installed freight elevator collapsed sending 13 workers eventually to the hospital (to save money they had not created a vehicle entrance to the place and so ambulances were unable to access the site to get to the workers - some of them seriously injured).

But the icing on the cake?  In January 2012 - after creating this 47-story monstrosity - it was finally discovered that when they "grew" this project from 20 stories to 47, tthey neglected to allow for an additional elevator shaft!    Yep, that's right - if you purchase an apartment above floor 20, be prepared to haul your stuff up THE STAIRS!  (These are either going to be the healthiest apartment dwellers ever or they are truly going to redefine the term "minimalistic living"!)

I wonder what that got in Dubai that this rivals?

~later, tw

PS - I know you're wondering...who would buy a place like this?  Believe it or not, 35% of the apartments are already SOLD!  What, you say?  They must be offering huge discounts to get people to buy into this.  NO!  Developers have not reduced the prices at all!!!  A one-bedroom apartment will run you ~358,000 euros (that's ~$500,000 USD!) and I imagine that's on an "elevator-reachable" floor.  Prices go up incrementally every 10 floors (so basically if you get the place on the 47th floor you're out of air, out of gas and out of money!)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Roasted Anything!

I really like roasted vegetables.  Seriously, haven't found one that I've tried that I think hasn't been (dramatically) improved by oven roasting (as opposed to steaming, boiling, straight out of a can).

We've been pretty busy every night this week (a lot of Mariner games) so there hasn't been any need to even think about dinner.  But yesterday, all signs coincided to make baking something new and different not only possible but desirous.

My new oven (see remodel posts) is a thing of beauty and wonder.  I can easily prepare things on 3 large racks - at the same time!  And (since I've actually had a few moments this past week to actually read the owner's manuals that came with this fabulous new kitchen) it has something called "Convection Roast" which was beckoning me to try out this new feature.

Armed with this and a wonderful new recipe from Pinterest (Roasted Vegetable Chicken Pot Pie from Julie May's blog: Menu Musings of a Modern American Mom) I was anxious to try, I knew the time was right!  One rack roasted root veggies (She used potatoes, carrots, pearl onions - which I never have on hand - but I thought about other combinations as well.  I had just gotten a leek in my weekly produce box that I was tempted to toss in as well but my ramekins can only hold so much), one a chicken breast and (15 minutes into the cook time), the third rack held green beans (I'd never had those roasted before - OMG!  I may never eat them any other way again!!!!)

This recipe is incredibly easy - a total comfort food that would be perfect for guests as well (isn't comfort food the new haute cuisine?)  It does take about an hour start to finish (or longer if you think you've got some cooked chicken in the fridge but your husband decides he'd take that for lunch and so you've got to bake up a chicken breast as well) but you can just as easily prepare the filling and then refrigerate/freeze that part of it for a later quick meal.  (You'll want to bring the filling back to bubbling BEFORE putting the puff pastry on it.  Otherwise your pastry will be cooked while the pot pie filling will only be tepid.  Not a good thing!)

So easy, so presentatious!

~later, tw