2013 July : Oh Fair New Mexico

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by Karen Fayeth

Met The King In Paris

The other morning I woke up a little fuzzy-tongued and slightly headachy. As I groaned and lifted myself up from the mattress I thought “now why in the heck is my head throbbing?” Then I blamed my pain squarely on the two glasses of wine I’d had with dinner the night before.

It was a brand I had heard some good reviews about. The grapes came from California’s central coast. I learned from a wine tasting class that the central coast’s warm foggy weather is better for whites and blah blah blah just give me some wine.

While this particular purchase wasn’t a cheap bottle it also wasn’t an expensive bottle. Nice enough to have with a homemade summer dinner, possibly nice enough to take to a friend’s house for dinner, but nothing to give to the boss for holiday cheer.

For me I judge wine not by its “nose” or its “legs” but by my head. If I feel a little like my brain was extracted and cotton stuffed in, then I know it’s not a good wine. If I have my usual one to two glasses and feel good enough to go into work without the assistance of copious amounts of coffee, then green light, that bottle is welcomed into my home.

So as I pondered fuzzy brain, I thought about what wines have given me the worst headaches in my life.

Well, of course, bar none was an evil bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 shared with my roommate in college. It was her idea and a fantastically bad idea. Cheap. Horrible. And I had the shakes the next day. Bad.

But….

I also got an awful headache the next day from sharing a top notch bottle of Dom Perignon with coworkers as we celebrated a huge success over dinner. I had, yes, two glasses of the stuff and it did quite a job on my head.

In the early days of my career, there was a C-level executive who invited a select group of employees to a holiday dinner. He took us to some very exclusive Bay Area restaurants and made it a point to order the most expensive bottles of wine on the list. On three occasions I was invited to these events and I drank wine massively out of my price range. Bottles I couldn’t even look at without the help of a wealthy Fortune 100 executive. Some of those bottles were the most amazing wine I’ve ever had. Some were rather rough around the edges.

I suppose it just is a matter of taste, not cost.

Oh, and while the Mad Dog is probably my worst ever experience, I wouldn’t actually call that wine. The worst bottle of actual (i.e. unfortified) wine I have ever consumed came into my life just over a year ago. I was in England on extended stay and I decided to buy a bottle to have with takeaway food in my hotel room. I went to the local Tesco and picked a bottle that came in around £15 (about $20). On that day I chose a South African sauvignon blanc. I’d never had an African wine so I thought that was cool.

Well, my love affair with South African wine was a brief one. That stuff was rough. I had a glass and a half and felt wobbly in the knees all the next day. The next evening I decided to try it again, got about two sips in and poured over half of a bottle down the drain. : shudder :

Life is too short.

So while all of this may sound like wine snobbery, it really isn’t. It’s just a matter of what tastes good and doesn’t cause physical pain.

I’ve been to the top of the wine list and suffered. I’ve been to the bottom shelf and suffered. I’ve been to the top of the wine list and enjoyed. I’ve been to the bottom shelf and enjoyed. It’s all a matter of personal taste I suppose.

So to wrap up my semi-wine snobby post, I’ll conclude by saying I’ve also met the King (of beers) in Paris (Texas) and had a nice time, too.








Image found here.




All The Many Ways I Told You So

Mmm, hmm. There are things I know and know with certainty. There are things I know that people deny. There are things I say that are fundamentally true but are denied time and again by those around me.

Know this, good readers of my blog: Squirrels are vermin. They are not cute, they are not cuddly, and they are not adorable. They are rodents and should be treated as such.

I say this to the squirrel huggers and they tell me that I’m being silly. I say plague and they scoff.

So here’s how we are going to play this today. I am going to repost something I wrote in 2007. And then at the end I’ll give you an update to show you just how exactly 100% right I am.

Then I will do a superior dance. You’ll have to just visualize that one but know I’m dancing hard like I’m counting coup.

I am a woman of the west. The real west. The range land, unpopulated and dirt covered west. I know things. Behold.


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People who are not like us…

First published June 12, 2007

So, where I live, we have a lot of squirrels. Now when I say “a lot of squirrels” I don’t mean “oh my, there’s quite a few out there”. I mean a whole horde, an army, a remuda, of squirrels.

They run around everywhere, up and down power lines, around trees, hither and yon. When I go for a walk at noontime from work, I walk down this one street and they scatter in all directions like a squirrely sea of doom.

People here think they are cute. Find them amusing. The fluffy tails make them laugh. People here FEED THEM. Yes, they put out food for the little b*stards.

They don’t understand my revulsion, my utter HORROR that these vermin are allowed to roam free in a civilized society.

They don’t understand this because I am a New Mexican. One of the bonus features of being raised in New Mexico is, da da dummmmmm, bubonic plague.

In fact, according to an article in today’s ABQjournal, there have already been four cases this year, including a boy who died.

To quote the article, “Plague, a bacterial disease, is generally transmitted to humans through the bites of infected fleas but can also be transmitted by direct contact with infected animals, such as rodents, wildlife and pets.”

Unh huh, no wonder every little rat with a fluffy tail gets the suspicious eye from me. Early on in life my mom would yell at all us kids to stay back from any wild creature, especially the small rodenty kind.

I will not draw one of those beady-eyed plague-carrying varmints closer to me or my home! I live in a duplex and for a while my next door neighbor put out bird seed with no cover or protection from the squirrels. I would stare horrified out my living room window to see a swarm of the things eating with reckless abandon in my back yard.

THE PLAGUE!!! THE PLAGUE!!!!

In my old place, a couple of squirrely warriors had an epic territory battle on the roof right over my apartment. Not only did I have to hear the squeals and the death call of the loser, I *freaked out* about the dead rodent right there over my doorway. As you know, fleas leave the dead rodent searching for a new home.

I shall print out the referenced article and keep copies handy for the next person who looks me and says “how can you not like squirrels, they are sooooo *cute*!!”

I’m keeping an eye on you, you plaugey b*stards!!!!


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And now, the update and my vindication:

Plague-Infected Squirrel Closes California Campground

A plague-infected squirrel has closed a California campground for at least a week, according to Los Angeles County health officials.

The squirrel, trapped July 16 in the Table Mountain Campgrounds of Angeles National Forest, tested positive for the infection Tuesday, prompting a health advisory and the closing of the campground while investigators tested other squirrels and dusted the area for plague-infected fleas.

…L.A. County health officials are urging Angeles National Forest campers to avoid contact with wild animals, steer clear of squirrel burrows and report any dead squirrels to the department of health. (emphasis added)

Oh! Oh! There it is. The I Told You So Dance.








You Can Take The Girl Out Of the Desert…

…but you can’t take the desert out of the girl.

So here’s something that is grinding my gears lately.

It is the summertime here in the Bay Area and that is a complicated thing. As many know, the marine layer and I have long had a tempestuous relationship.

July looks like this: overcast morning gives way to a very hot and sunny day which is then doused by fog by the afternoon.

This phenomenon is why you see tourists shivering in their shorts down on Fisherman’s Wharf. The Bay Area warms up quickly then is naturally cooled.

However….

Before the fog rolls in, it can get truly hot around here. Hot enough that a little air conditioning would be a nice thing.

Most of the Bay Area doesn’t believe in air conditioning. I recall when I first moved here and was shopping apartments. I asked one landlord “where are the air conditioning controls?” and he laughed and said, “No air conditioning.”

“Whaaat?!” Was my reply. That was when I lived in the South Bay and temps could climb into the high 90’s during the day.

“Just open the windows. We get a cross breeze,” he said.

I scoffed. And harrumphed. And muttered something like “I’ll give you a cross breeze you rattin’ smattin’ rootin’ tootin’ son of your mother….”

As it turns out, very few homes in the Bay Area have air conditioning. No place I have lived since I’ve been here has had the sweet miracle that is air conditioning. Only some windows and a hope for a cross breeze.

Compare that to New Mexico where every home has some form of AC. It’s only right. Just. Moral. Upstanding.

I’ve survived many a Bay Area summer season by working a few longer hours at work, sucking down their gentle corporate paid cool air, or riding in my car with the AC on max to cool off.

But what’s grinding my gears lately is all of the retail stores that either don’t have or don’t use air conditioning.

Look, I learned as a young child about moving quickly from the freon cooled car into the refrigerated air cooled grocery store that was so frosty it would raise goose flesh on arms and my legs clad only in shorts. Malls and clothing stores and other retail shops are a respite from the heat.

Not here. Stores have no windows and no AC and no moving air at all and they become this stale pit of muggy heat. Bleah! I saunter around the store wiping sweat off my fevered brow.

My desert hewn body was made to be a wonder of convection cooling. I sweat, breeze passes over it, water evaporates and I’m cooled.

This is how nature made me!

But deep inside a Walgreens or a Safeway there ain’t no breeze and only the sweat remains. Gross.

So then I take up residence somewhere near the freezer section where I crack open a door and it takes me a reeeeaaaalllly loooooong time to select which brand of frozen orange juice I would like.

It just ain’t right.










Image created by quickmeme.




The Many Faces of Starbucks

It’s both a blessing and a curse that immediately next door to the building where I work is a Starbucks. This means I visit the green mermaid several times a week, spending both precious dollars and time worshiping at her fins.

But I’m not sorry. It’s a nice break in the day to lay down arms in email form and go next door to grab a cup of something nice.

So in my recent near daily adventures to the ‘bucks as I stand in line and observe, I have started to get a bead on the various faces of the customers of Starbucks.

Here’s my thoughts, in no particular order (feel free to add your own in the comments)

The Stalker – This person places their order and immediately moves to the pickup area. The Stalker doesn’t care if there were ten people ahead who ordered first and are still waiting, nope. They will set up camp right there at the edge of the pickup spot, blocking everyone else from grabbing their order when ready. Often they will have also ordered a pastry and they will stand there mouth breathing and chewing their petit vanilla scone like a cud while staring dully at the barista. At their worst, The Stalker will pick up and check each cup that comes out to see if it is their order. They do this even if the barista has called a name that isn’t their own. It is as if by sheer force of their will, they can turn the beverage into theirs, because they are the center of the universe.


The Can’t Be Bothered – This person places their order, pays the tab and then disappears. Their drink is made in due time and the barista calls their name or their drink order. No response. So the drink sits there getting cold (or warm, depending). And it sits. And sits. If it has whip cream on top, this starts to wither and ooze. The barista calls out the name or drink over and over and everyone looks at everyone wondering who the heck ordered this drink and won’t pick it up. No one really knows where The Can’t Be Bothered has wandered off to.


The Planner – This person orders their drink and then moves to the sweetener station where they grab their sugar packets, stirrer, coffee jacket, straw, napkins, etc. They stand there waiting with sugar packets pre-shaken down and ready to pour (in some cases already torn open). They look like special teams ready to take delivery of the pigskin, hands open and ready to receive. The very second the cup hits the countertop, bam, they are on it, sugar, stir, jacket, lid, booyah! And out.


The Conspiracy Theorist – This person has ordered a special drink for a special snowflake in a special way and they are convinced the barista will make a mistake. The barista sets the drink down, The Conspiracy Theorist swipes it up off the counter and looks at it in askance as though it will betray them at any moment. “Does this have four pumps?” they will ask, “Is this no foam?” or “did you heat this to exactly 230 degrees?”. The barista will nod and give affirmative answers through clenched teeth that try to make a smile but can’t quite. God help the barista who gets it wrong, “Oh, gosh, no, I forgot and only put three pumps. Let me fix that.” This just encourages The Conspiracy Theorist.


The Indecider – This person stands patiently in line, gets to the front, and doesn’t know what they want to order. They take something like twenty minutes just to decide what they want and then of course they use a gift card that doesn’t have enough money so then they dig around in pockets or purse or backpack for the 72 cents to pay off the rest of their tab. I often want to throw a dollar bill at them so they will just finish the heck up. Argh! And as they dawdle the line starts queuing up out the door and onto the sidewalk. Boo!


Ok, that’s only the beginning of my log of personality types at the ‘bucks. Much like Jane Goodall, I am out there living among them. I will continue to take notes as new classifications arise.




Ah, a stalker family!

Yes, I blurred that person’s face




Image found here.




So This Is Evil. Right?

In my internet wanderings, I often find myself cruising beauty blogs for makeup advice tips. I am flat out terrible at applying makeup in any sort of especially appealing manner, so I’m always on the lookout for easy and fabulous looks. Or something like that.

While on one of these jaunts, I stumbled across this particular service called Anaface which is a facial beauty analysis. All the girls were piling in there to have their face analyzed and were reporting results. Some ladies were very happy. Some were sad.

And I thought to myself “what a crock of crap,” and yet, I bookmarked the page.

When I’d see that bookmark I’d ponder it, wanting to quickly upload my photo, then harrumph and go off again.

Today, the lure of my low self-esteem was just too great. I went in.

I began with this photo of myself in which my hair and makeup was professionally done and a master photographer took my image. In this photo I think, “Yeah, you know, I look all right.”





Then I uploaded that photo to the Anaface service. From there I helped the software by using my pointer to locate certain measurement spots on my face like the sides of my eyes and edges of my nose.

The software did its analysis and crunched the numbers and I arrived at this result:

“You are a 7.64 out of 10”.





I am ashamed to admit I was at once happy (almost an 8!!) and depressed (what, I’m not a 9?).

Then I read the laundry list of “Here’s why” and I began to feel like crap about myself.

Poor horizontal face symmetry. What? I thought the human eye found slightly asymmetrical faces to be more attractive anyway!

Your nose is too wide for your face width. What? I have a funny little thin nose actually.

Compared to your eye width, your innerocular distance is nearly ideal. Huh? I don’t even know what that means. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I mean, “ideal” sounds top notch, right?

So I harrumphed and my inner feminist got outraged and I Googled this facial beauty analysis thing to understand what the actual hell was up with this. I expected to see people out there as outraged as me. What I found was other analysis sites to try.

Then low self-esteem won out over self-righteousness and I uploaded my photo again, this time to a place called Pretty Scale.

Same sort of drill, I helped it find measurement points and it crunched the numbers and said: “77% You are pretty!”





And that sweet, sweet dopamine rush kicked in at the words “you are pretty” and I felt validated and superior and attractive for about 52 seconds and then thought to myself, “what, only 77%? I’m not more pretty than that?”

Only Pretty Scale doesn’t give me the rundown of things I can obsess about that are wrong with my physical appearance like my mouth being too wide for my nose. No, it just coldly arrives at a score and shoves it at you and runs away.

Then I realized how galldang evil these kind of websites are and how this is yet another way to make both men and women feel bad about themselves.

To their credit neither site was trying to sell me anything in order to capitalize on my poor self-image created by these bogus scores, which kind of surprises me.

Meanwhile, I honestly admit that reading “you are pretty” made me feel so good on a low, base, shallow level. And for that I’m the littlest bit ashamed of myself. And a little bit proud. And a little bit more ashamed and a little bit….

You get the picture. And when you get the picture, don’t upload it to a facial beauty analysis bullcrap site, okay?

Because to me you are beautiful just the way you are.





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By the way, Gollum clocks in at a respectable 6.9 out of 10. His innerocular doohickey is also nearly ideal.









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