Wednesday, December 19, 2007

BEEP....bEEp....bEep...beep...----------------------------

My iPod is terminal. It's not gonna make it.

I've been having issues with it for some time now. Somehow while trying to update the software on my iPod, I managed to screw up my entire iTunes, then not be able to sync the iPod once iTunes was fixed.

Last night I tried to sync it 5 times. The first time, it started beeping (I didn't know it could make noise without headphones -- never a good sign). It beeped it's little SOS about 10 times, then the error popped up on my screen, then the iPod disappeared from my devices. I tried again, this time the iPod was super hot, beeped for help/oxygen/morphine about 5 times, error message, disappears. 3 more times with the same result, each time with fewer pleas for help.

After leaving it all night, I have 9 songs and about 15 empty play lists on my iPod. (In no particular order and for your enjoyment, my songs are "Freak Like Me," "Natural Woman" (Kelly Clarkson version, thanks Allen), "Let Me Fall" (Josh Groban), "Where are you Christmas?" (Faith Hill - how the CRAP did that get on here???) "Philosophy" (Ben Folds - thank GOD there's one good song on here), and Lake Woebegone Updates, including advertisements for the Sleep Number Bed and Pillsbury's new Website.)

If by some stroke of luck the genius bar people at Apple can fix it tonight (2 months past my warranty, of course) I might start believing in Christmas Miracles all over again.

If not...it might be time to cash in some of my winnings for a new one...but then the dilemma...do I get a Nano in my favorite color, a classic to hold all 18,000 of my songs, or a touch iPod because, c'mon, it's TOUCH iPOD!!!!!

Feel free to vote in the comments. I'm looking for any and all feedback before ordering one.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

See Kate. See Kate be busy. Busy, Kate, Busy.

I've been busy. So incredibly busy. See how busy I am? So busy I'm blogging at work.

Yeah, right.

I've been working on material for my other blog, which I'm guessing all 4 of my readers will be given the super secret access to, but in the meantime, I'll just tease you with - wait, just wait -- it will be worth it.

Anywho, I've been busy. Lots of important things to do. Like buy a Christmas tree. And make wreaths by hand. And plan a party. And go to work at unGodly hours to flex my powerpoint muscles.

Monday I was to report to work at 7:00 am. Which means I have to leave my apartment by 6:00 am*, which means I have to set my alarm for 5:30 am, even though I really should get up at 5:15 am, which means all night I play the game "if I fall asleep right now I can get 5 hours, ok 4 hours, ok 3 hours....ok screw it I'm just getting up." (*in Kate-world, leaving by 6:00 am means at 6:10 am I'm hopping around on one foot trying to put on my socks while not so silently cussing about this ridiculous time to go in to work to be
bolding text and changing fonts and can you make the moons blue I really like when moons are blue and all sorts of other v v important things.)

This may not come to a surprise to you, but I am not a morning person. I worked one summer where a few days a week I had to be at work before 6 am and if not for the endless free coffee supplied there, I would not have come back for a second day.


All this said, yesterday was a long day. The final deadline to have all the slides done, printed, and sent was 3:00 pm. At 4:15 pm, I was told I could go home. But by then I was v v busy on actual important things. And then I got this email:

Subject: Caps Tickets
Body:
I know it's late notice but I have two tickets for the game tonight if you are interested.

.....

Free??? Hockey Tickets??? For Tonight???

Within 3.5 seconds, I responded back that yes I want them. Right now. And I will be there. And no I'm not tired. And holy crap me like hockey.

15 phone calls, texts, and gchats later, I headed to the game by myself with an extra ticket unclaimed. Oh well, I thought, considering who is giving me the tickets, they should be pretty good seats and when all those hot russians hit the ice to break the Devils in half, I would be ignoring whomever I brought anyway. And I won't have to share my snacks.


I headed to will call, picked up my tickets, glanced briefly at the section and took off. I never remember how the arena is set up. What is ground level: the 100's or is there less than a 100 section?

I found the right spot, was pointed to my seat by a very knowledgeable usher, and headed down. Here's my view:




I'm not tired. Not one bit.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Card Shark

The holidays are an interesting time of year for families. For some, it means multiple celebrations, hours and hours of driving over the river and through the woods to random relatives' houses to see extended family, and eating a holiday meal two, three, maybe even four different times. For other families, it's a time to eat-sleep-shop-eat-sleep-shop-eat-decorate-sleep-shop. For my family, Thanksgiving has always been very low key. Other than a couple times of celebrating with my uncle's family down state, it is usually just our small nucleus, in our own home, with our stretchy pants, our own strange takes on traditional food and one final key ingredient - cards.

While some families stretch out on couches to watch hours of football, TV, and bad ABC Family holiday movies ("Borrowed Hearts" anyone?), my family breaks out the card table and prepares for a marathon day of Phase10, Cribbage, Pinochle, Kings in the Corner, Sequence...snack, bathroom break, and shuffle.

We are a game playing family. Grandpa Lueck was all about Phase 10 and Uno, Grandpa Carder (when he'd actually let us play with him) was all about Spit and Hand & Foot. We've been having family game night well before Milton Bradley made it cool. It started out innocent enough, with Candy Land and Memory, then moved up to MixMax and Yahtzee, and eventually progressed to the marathon games of 10,000 Rummy and Killer Uno. But my favorite games of all are speed games.

8th grade was the year I learned the game Speed. It's like two-person solitaire on crack. It's fast. It's furious. It's full of competition, scratched hands, and paper cuts from flying cards. But only playing with two people leaves everyone else out, no matter how fun I might think it is for everyone else in the room to watch me win. In high school, I was introduced to the world of Spoons.

Spoons is everything a card game should be. It requires strategy, timing, attention to detail, speed, and the willingness to fight to the death for a spoon. It's musical chairs, go fish, memory, and WWF all rolled in to one. I introduced this game to some friends earlier this year, while waiting for movies to begin at outdoor festivals. Our games attracted attention and admiration from fellow movie watchers. In Strathmoore we even made a new friend and added her to our game. And so at Thanksgiving this year, to interject a bit of Lueck Tradition to the Wilson Family Holiday, I suggested we play a friendly game of spoons.

Spoons is similar to the basketball game of Horse - after each hand has been played, who ever doesn't have a spoon receives a letter: S-P-O-O-N-S. Usually the game would end up with scores something like this:
Player 1: S-P-O
Player 2: S-P-O-O
Player 3: S-P-O-O-N-S
As seen here, usually it is fairly close. There isn't always a clear winner, someone has to lose, someone has to win, but everything stays fun and competitive.

Unfortunately, this was not the case this year in Battle:Spoons. Jen, Allen, and I decided to play, while Jen's mom and sister, armed with cameras, decided to watch the game. What started out as friendly competition ended up being more of a massacre. Here was the score after 5 rounds:
Kate:
Allen:
Jen: S-P-O-O-N

We decided to try to help increase Jen's chances of winning the next hand by moving the spoons very very close to her, basically under her elbows so she a) would notice when we went for them and b) would absolutely be able to grab one. The video below shows just how that worked out for her.

video

Yup. So much for our help.
Final Score:
Kate:
Allen:
Jen: S-P-O-O-N-S.

Thus endeth the card playing. But oh what a way to go.

Monday, November 12, 2007

How to Make Kate Happy - Tip # 2,309

In case you are just joining us, I still have buckets and buckets of hate for the temps who are still. here. (side bar - doesn't the term "temp" imply a short term hire? As in a couple weeks, at tops a month? These thorns in my side have been here for at least 3 or 4 months. This is no longer temporary in my book.)

I have been contemplating lately asking a coworker - who previously I was very very scared of but now realize although he can be very mean and scary when he wants to be, he is actually quite harmless under most circumstances - to come out and yell at the temps to shut it when they get super chatty, as they do become nearly every day. Today they have been driving me more nuts than usual. Like shave my head and feed babies mountain dew crazy. For reals y'all.

An example for your consideration: Whenever the girl temp gets up to go to the kitchen, she always a) announces where she's going and then b) asks the other two temps if they need anything, and then makes a big scene about how she's "like totally like willing to bring back like extra M&Ms because like I know you like them." It's obnoxious. Seriously, we sit 25 feet from the kitchen - they are all capable of getting things from the kitchen on their own.

And then, without even having to ask him, said scary coworker just threw a very hilarious insult at the temps...
As said coworker (will work on good code name for him...but not now) was walking by my cube, he stops, and says quite loudly "KATE - I AM GOING TO THE KITCHEN. DO YOU NEED ANYTHING? I CAN BRING YOU ANYTHING FROM THE KITCHEN YOU MIGHT WANT!"

...and I started cracking up. And now the temps are very very quiet.

He totally made my day.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Memories from Richmond

10 things from my weekend in Richmond:

1. Jen makes 20-whatever look fun. Why am I so freaked out by birthdays? Clearly for no reason, as she rocked hers out.


2. Life in a convertible is better than life in any other car. Unless of course your convertible has no top and its raining. Then I imagine life in a convertible is like life aquatic. Thankfully, we did not experience that this weekend. I even ended up with a little sun burn.

3. I have a new found...tolerance...for zombies. I hate zombie movies. I am bothered by people who like Zombie movies. But I thought I would open my mind to new experiences and went on a Zombie walk. It was hilarious. SO hilarious. And then we walked by a guy who's comment, while watching a couple hundred Zombies walk by was "boy am I glad I just finished reading the Zombie Survival Guide - otherwise this would make me really nervous." Seriously. ZOMBIES AREN'T REAL. Dosh.

4. I like bacon. A lot. Especially when other people make it for me and get the thick sliced kind. It was almost like it was my birthday it was so good. YUM.

5. We attempted to scare the crap out of Jen by banging on windows, ringing door bells, and generally being hooligans. Steve was a little worried the neighbors across the street might by NRA folks with loaded shotguns pointed out the windows on their 'neighborhood watch' of Scarsborough Dr. Thankfully their neighborhood watch is very very ineffective and our scare tactics went off without a hitch, until Jen caught sight of Steve frolicking around the side of her house. Next time we'll be in better stealth mode. With wigs and everything.

6. Jen and I discovered the best hang over cure: soft leather couches + blankets + the best movie ever. Worked like a charm... well, at least for me.

7. Sometimes your friends know you so well, you are overwhelmed with how similar presents are from them. Case in Point: Jen's shirt from Steve - 'Morally Corrupt' Jen's gift from Kate - 'The Book of Vices: Very Naughty Things and How to Do Them'

8. I got bit/stung/attacked by a spider while taking this photo with Jen. And almost died from a bug bite. Again. But I survived to see another day. I guess having my arm cut off would be a better end to this story. Maybe next time...


9. My camera almost didn't make it through the weekend. Less than 12 hours into the time in Richmond, the camera went AWOL. I think it knew pictures like this were about to be captured and it was afraid of breaking under the pressure.
10. And last, but certainly not least, Jen and I met Wally Shawn. AMAZING. Although I wouldn't categorize him as 'charming' or 'polite' or 'touched and amazed that two hot (if not slightly hung over - we couldn't have even bought brandy) women knew who he was and would fawn over him all day even if he was out for brunch in sweat pants' -- it was still a brush with fame I won't soon forget. Inconceivable!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Hello, my name is Jess's Friend


I am one Proud friend today.

I have an *amazing* friend from good 'ole PHS named Jess. We've been friends since 7th grade, competed in MathCOUNTS together, went through 4 years of High School debate together, band, calculus, and the ever exciting world of PVW's Science III class, or more accurately, the Adventures of Moo and Oink. Although deemed a bad influence on me (and my liver) early on, Jess has been in my life for a long time and is now forever stuck with me in hers.

Today I ventured down to may favorite theatre in town to see Ang Lee's new movie, "Lust, Caution." Although I went to the wrong theatre and ended up watching the end twice, I can say without a hesitation it is an amazing movie. It might make you blush at some parts, but is worth seeing. I don't think I've seen better acting in a loooooong time...if not ever.

And then the best part of the movie started -- the credits. I watched the names, checking to see if there are any famous Luecks out there I need to network with. Then the post production credits started. There she was, scrolling along in an award winning movie -- Jessica Parks. Live and in living color, my friend from Northern Michigan is officially in the movie credits. While other theatre goers were drying their tears and attempting to digest the ending they just witnessed, I, in the back of the theatre was screaming and clapping, bursting with pride for my friend, the future Oscar winning sound designer/engineer/mixer/etc.

Congratulations, Jess -- you are a STAR.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Don't want no Captain Crunch, don't want no Raisin Bran

Once upon a time, on a sick day, I watched an entire 30 minute show of Mario Batali on the best network ever. Generally, I avoid his show, Molto Mario, because he is so aggravatingly snotty, makes things that require you to make your own specific broths with a 3 day cure and must be used within 12 hours of completion or they self destruct, etc. Don't get me started on the price of the olive oil he strongly advises to use to keep your food from tasting too common. Also, he wears bright orange crocks. Who does that, honestly. Even with all my issues of his character, taste in fashion, and general disgust for him, I found one reason that day to watch: his entire show was about cooking with the eatable innards of the chicken - namely the gizzard, heart and liver. I decided to give Mario Batali a chance to prove that he does have a place in this world and is not a total waste of space, as has been my assumption all along.

I am a huge gizzard and heart fan. Growing up, it was a fight between my dad and I who would eat them after unpacking the chicken/turkey/etc and throwing them in the frying pan. Granted, anything fried in enough grease or butter and properly seasoned is tasty, but the gizzard and heart are especially yummy. A little tough, but in a good way. Tons of flavor. Fun shape. Offers a chance to quote Magua ("When the white meat is dead, Magua will eat his heart" ). Limited competition (dad usually was distracted by the neck, giving me a chance to swoop in with my fork for the good stuff). Imagine my delight when I learned of an entire dish that could be made from chicken gizzards and hearts. A-mazing. This was months ago. I have searched Harris Teeter every time I shop for gizzards to make this dish. I asked the butcher at the most amazing grocery store ever and was shot down when I asked for a half pound of gizzards. I had all but given up hope (last resort: start buying chickens and save each and every gizzard and heart until I had collected the appropriate amount).

It was with an open heart and an empty stomach that I wandered into Giant after work on Friday to pick up some rice to attempt to redo the previous disaster (side note: the pan, after some excellent advice, has come back for more faithful service!). After watching Howie make oodles and oodles of risottos on TC this season, I also threw in the appropriate rice to attempt my own some time if the mood struck. And then there is the habitual stroll down the meat aisle, hoping fillet mignon has been marked down to $.75/pound.

And then, buried in the poultry section, were two packages of gizzard and hearts. $1.70 for the entire package.

At home, I went about the task of finding the recipe. I had printed it off at one time, but alas, it was not to be found. No problem, I thought, I'll just find it online. None of the Batali gizzard recipes were right. None sounded remotely as appetizing as the one I had burned in my memory. I was stuck in Pit of Gizzard despair.

Epicurious to the rescue! A quick search found a Gizzard Risotto recipe that not only was Kosher (how timely, considering the next day was Yom Kippur) but I also happened to have risotto rice on hand! And everything else (other than the carrots and celery, but no matter...)! I went to task (its a 2 hour recipe, but well worth the effort) and started my dinner. Well into the cooking, during a lull when the gizzards were happily simmering away in their wine and chicken broth, I started to put away my groceries from earlier. As I reached up above my fridge to collect my rice container, a piece of paper slid down, formerly stuck in just the right place so it couldn't be seen between the cookbooks and dry ingredient jars.

It was, of course, Mario's recipe.

If, by an act of God or kind butchers, I find gizzards again in the store, Mario will be challenged once again. Until then, keep your crocks outta my kitchen.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Story of the Phantom Roommate and the Dinner that Almost Wasn't

Welcome to my world all. This is my first attempt at blogging, which is bound to be pretty much amazing. As I am a structure queen, I thought about trying to pick a theme or topic my blog should be about. Cooking? Pedicures? My life that is "Devil(s) Wears Golf Shirts on Fridays" perhaps? More likely than not, a main feature will be what I'm eating. And drinking. Most likely wine will be involved. Often.

I live in a huge apartment. Huge. Seriously. And up until last weekend, I had the perfect arrangement. I moved into my apartment last November but my roommate has never actually lived here - she's been living with her boyfriend the whole time. Until last Friday when they broke up.

Oy vey.

Cooking for me is a bit of a therapy session and I've been super stressed out the last few days between work and her moving back in, so I decided to make myself a nice dinner and wind down a bit. What's the saying about good intentions? Something about hell? Well if hell is the smoke alarm going off and the death of my sauce pan, well yeah, that's about right.

Generally I am quite good about multitasking while cooking - whisk in one hand, submersion blender in the other while 2 other pots are happily bubbling away. Tonight it was too much to take. I started my broth and lemon zest infused rice on the back burner and turned my attention to the almond slivers toasting and the mushrooms that needed a quick cleaning and slicing. I thought it smelled like the almonds were cooking too fast, so a quick toss and I went back to the fungi. I smelled the smell again and, thinking that slight burned smell was the nuts, gave them another quick toss and went about the task of finding something to put them in so I could start on the chicken. Almonds out, chicken in, and the smell was still there. I assumed a sliver of almond was still stuck in the pan.

And then I smelled smoke.

And then I saw smoke.

And then I pulled the lid on my rice pot.

I'm pretty sure when I put the rice into the pot, it wasn't the color of charcoal. Let's all take a moment to remember the short life but loyal service of my sauce pan. < > Ok, thanks.

The chicken, on the other hand, was quite tasty, if I do say so myself.