Today is so fired.

First, I had a doctor's appointment at 9AM (New doctor, a neurologist, to try and figure out what I think is sciatica). By 10AM it's quite apparent that the previous appointment isn't NEARLY done. Fed up, I ask to reschedule 'cause I'm not waiting any longer. This doctor has ONE more chance to show that he knows the meaning of the word "appointment", and then I'll ask for a new referral.

Dead day at the shop... NO customers. Oh, and my assistant isn't feeling well. I ask if she can stick around for a while because I'm waiting for a check that should arrive in today's mail. I'd planned to take it straight to the bank when it arrived.

We wait. And wait. And wait some more. Finally I tell her she can go home, I'll manage.

FINALLY the mail arrives at nearly 3PM.

No check. AARRGH!!!

Oh, and I feel like I'm coming down with something... right before Arisia. Why wait for the con crud?

Tam calls and tells me we have roof leakage on our porch.

Only good thing is I manage to get a few frames built, only one of which really fought me.

Other than that, where's the returns desk?

Grmpf.
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I was about 7 when I started noticing inconsistencies and impossibilities in the Santa story. Now that I look back on it the amount of retconning that my parents did to plug the holes was amusing (e.g. "What if the house has no chimney?" "He has a magic key to get in the front door")

The final nail in the coffin, of course, was when my parents dragooned me into wrapping the presents for my siblings, and they likewise :)
Am I doing something "wrong"? I'm not seeing any of the LJ UI changes that people seem to be bitching about. Are they rolling it out in stages, or have they rolled them back, or what? Right now my experience is as it always was...
Today we got a visit at the shop from a guy selling security systems. He said he was calling on all local businesses in the neighborhood. We talked for a while, I took his card. If I do get a new security system I want to get some competitive quotes.

A short time later we get another visitor: a reporter from the local paper looking for comments on the methadone clinic that opened just a few doors down. This was the first I'd heard of this, but it might explain why the alarm salesman thought there was a ready market...

While it's true that the first image that pops into mind when you say "methadone clinic" is a zombie apocalypse of strung-out junkies wandering the streets leaving a trail of needles in their wake, I'd like to keep an open mind about this. Does anyone have any first-hand experience with a methadone clinic in the neighborhood? Does it pretty much keep to itself, or is it a menace that destroys property values?
[Error: unknown template qotd] Not much different. I'd keep running the frame shop till the money was all gone :-/

(seriously; I'd pay off debts, put a chunk aside for retirement/emergency, and invest a healthy chunk in the business to bring it to the next level...)
Please join us this weekend for Natick Artists Open Studios!. There will be over 60 artists in all parts of town showing off a wide variety of styles: paintings, photography, sculpture, jewelry, and glass art just to name a few. I invite you to begin in the center of town at my shop. Come down, say hi, look at Tamu's wonderful creations, pick up a map, and see the rest of the artists!

Official open studio hours are Saturday and Sunday, 12-5 PM. My shop will be open till 6 on Saturday

Hope to see you there! Tell your friends!
jim_p: (conductor)
I had an interesting surprise revelation the other day, and I'm still turning it over in my head.

I really love my big sister to bits, and I don't talk to her nearly as often as I should. I phoned her up a couple of days ago in response to an email query: she and her husband are looking to move back to Massachusetts, and she wanted more information on a church organist gig she had found out about.

We got to talking about this and that, about paths our lives have taken, about roads not taken, and a whole lot about music. I was asking her about the kinds of gigs she's looking for. She's a kickass piano player, a wonderful accompanist, and in the last ten years or so she's taken up the organ as well. I mentioned perhaps she'd like a choir director gig. "No, that's not what I'm looking for. I can't conduct".

Those last three words caused a miniature head explosion.

See, I've always envied my sister her musical abilities. We all took piano lessons as kids, but she seriously outshone all of us. I had a promising start, but it wasn't long until I hit a wall; it stopped being fun and started being lots of work. While she was flying over the keyboard, I was plodding along, having to think about every note before playing it. Everyone told me that I wasn't doing well because I wasn't practicing enough... which was true to an extent. Practice was work, not fun. What didn't occur to me until my conversation with my sister was that it wasn't just a matter of how much we practiced: piano playing was a very different *experience* for her than for me.

I didn't even realize this until she uttered those three words, but apparently I'm a natural born conductor. I don't get to do it very much, but when I do I eat it up. I've had no formal training in conducting, all I've learned has been by observation. Still, I'm not too bad at it. After one rehearsal where I had pinch-hit for our choral director, someone came up to me and asked "Where did you study conducting"? Uh... study? I Just Do It. If you know the music it can't be hard, can it?

Apparently, her experience of conducting is pretty much my experience of piano playing. And vice versa.

Gotta think about this...

Meanwhile, anybody looking for an amateur conductor? I'll work cheap :)
For those of you that I have not caught up with in other media: my picture framing shop has an offer up at buywithme.com: $50 for $125 worth of custom framing. Today is the last day to take advantage of this offer!
I remember when I was a kid, one consequence of my actions that I was often threatened with was the entry of any misdeed into my "Permanent Record". You know, that dastardly dossier of doom which determines one's destiny. Presumably kept by the school system, it would forever be available to colleges, universities, employers, and anyone else who needs to judge my fitness as a human being.

No joke, I *actually* had fantasies of being at a job interview in the far-off future and being told, "Well your grades are top-notch and you really seem to know your stuff, but... (pause)... we hire only the best here and we just can't overlook that detention you got back in fourth grade. Next!"

Okay, so fast-forward to today: in these days of facebook and twitter and of kids routinely oversharing... does the threat of a "Permanent Record" scare the kids straight like they used to? "This is going on your permanent record, young man!" "Big deal, I already tweeted it!"
Lately I've been running flat-out. Between running my business, working the day job, chores around the house, and downtime because I'm so exhausted, I have very little time for my friends. This bothers me, especially when my friends could use some help. Whenever I see someone post that they could use help moving, or building something, or painting, I find myself saying "I'd LOVE to, but I just can't fit it in my schedule". This makes me feel really bad... I'd LOVE to be there for my friends, but life just doesn't seem to let me...
Reminder: Natick Center Art Walk is TODAY, 5-8:30PM. Come by my shop and see Tam's creations, then stroll around the rest of Natick Center!
So I heard on NPR Marketplace last night that we recently celebrated the second anniversary of the beginning of the recent "economic recovery". Indeed, the economy is doing remarkably well... if you're a major corporate executive or financier. For the rest of us mere mortals, it's been a different story. The "official" unemployment rate is hovering in the range of 9% or so, but the actual rate is much higher. The official statistics don't count discouraged workers who have stopped looking for work, and "underemployed" individuals (part-time workers who would like to be full-time, or workers whose jobs do not match their skill level).

So, what will it take to make jobs happen? The captains of industry say, "Cut taxes! Let us keep more so we can use it to put people to work!"

Bullshit.

I own a small business. So far, I have created one job (not counting me). If my taxes were slashed to zero, I would not create any more jobs. Heck, if I were to receive a billion-dollar bailout on top of my zero tax rate I would STILL not create any more jobs.

There is only one thing that will cause me to create more jobs: DEMAND. When I reach the point where I have more work than my current staff can handle, THEN and only then will I think about hiring.

This holds true in the rest of the economy. Tax cuts don't create jobs. Bailouts don't create jobs. Deregulation does not create jobs. The only thing that creates jobs is DEMAND. And demand by and large does not come from the top 1% who have hoarded all the cookies for themselves; it comes from the masses spending their hard-earned dollars.

Ever since Reagan, politicians, economists, and corporate executives have been preaching the gospel of "Supply-side" economics, also called "trickle-down". Infuse capital at the top of the economic food chain, they say, and the benefits will trickle down to the masses.

Again, bullshit. Experience has shown that capital does NOT trickle down, it bubbles up. It's estimated that thanks to the economic recovery, corporations are sitting on upwards of $2 TRILLION in cash. Just sitting on it, or in some cases playing financial games with it (stock buybacks and the like). It's not trickling ANYWHERE, least of all down to the masses.

So this is the landscape. Anybody have any answers? (I have my own ideas, but I'd like to hear what others have to say...)
I have more than a few friends who, shall we say, see the political landscape differently than I do. Several of them have been posting the following to their Facebook status:

If you cross the North Korean border illegally, you get 12 years of hard labor. If you cross the Afghanistan border illegally, you get shot. If you cross the U.S. border illegally, you get: a job, a driver's license, a house, health care, education, child benefits, tax free business for 7 yrs, if you don't wanna work you get SSI for 7 yrs no questions asked. Let's see who has the guts to stand up and repost

Thing is, none of them can tell me exactly how this works. Suppose I shred all my ID, change my name to Juan Hernandez, and pretend I just stole my way into this country. I think I know how I can get a job and a driver's license, but how do I get the other bennies? Where do I sign up for my free house, education, child benefits, etc?
For those of you who may have been procrastinating getting something framed, my shop is offering $50 for $125 worth of custom framing through Eversave. Vouchers are good for six months, so you can also buy now for your Christmas framing projects. Feel free to pass this on!
i just realized
april is national
poetry month
i guess anything can
be a poem if
you break up the
lines funny and
eschew punctuation i
think i'll write a
few
more of these or
maybe i'll feed my
journal entries
to a perl script
jim_p: (chef)
I don't know if I've just made a discovery, or if this is already old hat, but I have to share an observation I made today.

I was in the supermarket walking through the Passover aisle, and I walked by the Kosher-For-Passover Coca-Cola. This stuff is said to be much-sought-after by non-Jewish Coke fans because it's made with real sugar rather than high-fructose corn syrup. Curious, I grabbed a bottle, along with a bottle of regular non-diet Coke.

I got home and did a little taste test. First, when I poured them out, the kosher Coke seemed to hold its "head" much longer.

Then the taste. First the regular Coke. Okay, it's just like every Coke I've had for the past several years. Now the Kosher Coke. Hmmm... the overall flavor components are the same, but the main difference I felt was a more "syrupy" mouth-feel, like the sucrose version had more "body" than the HFCS version.

"You know", I said to myself, "I'd probably feel satiated sooner with the real-sugar Coke".

Penny. Drop.

In the long-running debate over sugar versus HFCS, have any researchers pursued THIS angle? I've heard much debate about how HFCS may or may not be treated differently by the body than sugar, but has anyone done any research as to whether it affects how MUCH we eat? THIS might explain a possible link between HFCS and obesity rates, especially given that you pretty much can't swing your arms in the supermarket without hitting something made with HFCS...
Giving this dreamwidth thang a try... same username over there as over here. Anyone who wants to friend me can be my guest!
Jeff Jacoby is the token conservative columnist for the Boston Globe. Normally I find his columns pretty infuriating to read. While he seems to be an intelligent man, his ideology often has him championing some pretty specious arguments. Still, he's not stupid, and I don't always disagree with him. I've taken to calling him a "broken calendar" in that I tend to agree with him about twice a year. So it came as a shock to realize that I've wholeheartedly agreed with his last three columns.

I wonder how long this streak of common sense will last :)

Poof!

Mar. 23rd, 2011 06:54 pm
Apparently, my super-power is Making Deliveries Appear. If I'm waiting and waiting for a delivery, the day that I call to inquire about it is the day it appears.

I had ordered some moulding back at the beginning of March. Normally I get stuff from this vendor within a week. It's been more like 3 weeks, so today I called for an update. The nice lady said that the moulding had been shipped back on 3/3, then she went to check on the tracking info. After a long pause and a couple of this-can't-be-rights she tells me what happened. Apparently my package disappeared into a wormhole and ended up in *Maine* of all places! Then the tracking info picks up again... it's in the Maine warehouse, then it's in Chelmsford, then it's in Norwood. Out for delivery. Today.

Sure enough, a couple hours later it shows up.

How can I profit from this?
jim_p: (chef)
I have had the devil of a time lately trying to cook dried beans... seems no matter what I did they ended up crunchy and unappealing. Even when I dumped in enough baking soda to cure every case of heartburn at Taco Bell I had no success.

A couple days ago I was watching "How It's Made", and one segment dealt with making hummus. They start with dried chickpeas, wash them, soak them, then pressure-steam them before grinding them into hummus.

A great big lightbulb went off in my head. The reason I have such trouble is not a matter of pH, but rather we have very hard water here in Natick. Turns out that hard water is as bad as acidity when it comes to cooking beans. If I *steam* them, though, I eliminate the hardness problem since steam is pure water vapor... no minerals, no pH oddities, nothing. It's basically distilled water minus the condensation step.

Last night I soaked some dried chickpeas overnight. After soaking, they were swelled up but still plenty crunchy. I then put them in a raised basket in the pressure cooker with just a little water (about 3/4" in the bottom of the pot). Brought it to pressure and steamed for 45 mins.

Success! The beans were nice and soft and not at all gritty or crunchy. They made a WONDERFUL homemade hummus!

Now I'll see how well this works with other types of beans...
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