Friday, May 30, 2008

Cookies and a Contest

But not a cookie contest, unfortunately.

I am making my very very favorite cookies to celebrate Tyson's last day of school, which he is celebrating by playing poker.  It is a combination of two recipes:

Kitchen Sink Cookies (with commentary)

2 sticks butter, softened but still cool (not margarine, not canola sticks, not shortening; real, honest-to-god butter)
1 cup brown sugar (the darkest you can find--better for brown sugar cookies later!)
1 cup white sugar (I used washed raw sugar last time because that's all I had, and it was good, too.)
2 eggs
1 T vanilla extract (don't be cheap; use the real stuff)
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t cinnamon
dash ginger or whatever else I'm in the mood for
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 c flour
3 c whole (not quick) oats
1/2 bag good-quality dark chocolate chips (like Ghirardelli)
1/2 bag butterscotch chips
1/2 c dried cherries (or Sunkist makes a really good mix of blueberries, cherries, cranberries, and raspberries, except I don't like the texture of the raspberries so I pick them out first)
1/4 c raisins
1/2 c walnuts or pecans (or a combination of both)

Beat butter until creamy; add sugars and beat until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla.
With the mixer or by hand, add the baking powder and spices, then gradually add flour until combined.
With a wooden spoon, mix in oats, chips, dried fruit, and nuts.  Shape into 2-inch blobs on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes, rotate the tray, and bake 10-12 more minutes or until done.  (For super-easy clean-up, line your baking sheet with parchment.  I think this is supposed to help even out the heat distribution, but the jury's still out on that one.) Remove to a wire rack and allow to cool.  
Really, wait for a good 20 minutes or so: this is one cookie that isn't as good straight from the oven.  If you need something to tide you over, sneak a little of the dough.

So those are the cookies.  The very best thing about them is that it takes half a bag of the chips and dried fruits, so there's a built-in reason to make more before too long.  And if you staggered the chips and the fruit, you'd become trapped in a delicious cycle of cookie making.

The contest is the link Tyson posted yesterday.  First person to explain how it works wins.  Maybe if you are Tyson, or Juan or Karen who live in our back house but probably don't read my blog, you win some cookies!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

MY sister is better than YOUR sister

She's performing with her wind ensemble at Carnegie Hall on Monday.

Suck on THAT, beeyotches!

UPDATE: She and her ensemble won their contest.  Hooray $2500!  Head over there and give her hair a muss, won't you?

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Dilemma of Ethics

My car has been afflicted with the automotive equivalent of gout.

But it still goes.

No warning lights appear on the instrument panel that would make anyone suspect anything is wrong.

It still runs reasonably smoothly--not so rough that one would suspect a problem.  (The occasional cloud of white smoke on startup is a bit alarming, though.)

My dad planted the bug in my ear yesterday that I might just trade it in for something newer.

How much trouble (if any) can I get into for trading it to a dealer and not saying anything?  Despite the title of my post today, the real quandary is not "is this right?" (it isn't, not really, not in the way we teach little kids about right and wrong--although I can find lots and lots of justification for pulling one over on a used-car dealership) but "can I be punished for this?"  Because I'm ethically opposed to being sued, or fined, or whatever may happen.  After all, there is proof out there that I knew the car needed a new engine in it.  All it would take is a phone call to the Toyota dealership to find that out.

On the other hand, I do have a mechanic who is interested in working on it, and can probably get a new engine, or all the necessary parts, at least, dropped in for half what the dealership wants, and then there are only about 10 payments left to make on it.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Fuck fuck fuckity fuckfuckfuck

So my car had been running a little chuggy lately, like I had suddenly forgotten how to drive a stickshift, and I dropped it off at Toyota on Monday night.  It was pulling into the driveway afterwards that Tyson got the call from his stepmom about his dad.  So, fuck.  I took the day off today to get Tyson to the airport, and the car people were supposed to call me, not him, about the repairs, but they didn't pay attention and called him instead.  

Anyway, apparently all the motor oil in my car has turned to thick rubbery goo, and now I need a new engine, say the Toyota people.  There was a class action lawsuit recently regarding this very problem in the 1999-2002 model years, and mine's an '04, but the engine is essentially the same.  But the people Tyson talked to today insist that because I've only had about 10 oil changes in the last 4 years, it's totally my fault, like that's just what happens if you don't change the oil every 3000 miles and I hope I learned my lesson this time.


Today sucks, needless to say.  Today's events have reduced me to a pathetic, snivelling little ball of helplessness.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Hold Me!

So I've been on hold with the IRS for 27 minutes now, and I figured, what better way to get someone to pick up on the other end than to start some kind of project or something? (If this doesn't work, I'll get in the shower. Surely the instant I step into the water someone will get around to taking my call.) Turns out--surprise, surprise--you have to fill out forms (well, one, but it's so complicated it felt like more) when you sell stock or quit a job that gives you stock. I had a ton of stock options when I left Starbucks, and they "short-sold" them for me, meaning they lent me the money to buy them and then promptly sold them, giving me the profit. Well, when they told the IRS about this, it looked like I'd make almost TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS in stock sales. So I had to call them to see what to do, then call Fidelity and get them to send all my relevant paperwork, then I could not for the life of me figure out what in hell was going on, so I had a tax-preparer friend of mine fill out a Schedule D. After some massive confusion regarding "gross" and "taxable" income got cleared up, it was fairly simple, but now I am stuck waiting to get a real, live person on the phone at a government office to tell them I'm still in the wrong, but to the tune of like TWO thousand, not TWENTY.

Besides the barrel of fun this is turning out to be, I have my New Teacher Training Cadre interview tomorrow, where I am going to wow them with my impressive evaluation from my administrator and a 1920s slang activity that meets components of "classroom environment" and "instruction" professional domains. It'll be the bee's knees.

Some time later:

It worked! They just picked up the phone, gave me an address for where to send my paperwork, and informed me that they had already applied my stimulus check to my outstanding balance (we were going to do that anyway 'cause screw irresponsible fiscal policy!), and I now owe the government (besides student loans--arrg!) less than $200. That is super news!

Monday, May 05, 2008

In other news....

We are about to have our first rainstorm of the year!  It is cloudy and windy and ominous-looking outside and I violently miss West Texas thunderstorms, but if this is as close as I get, I'll still take it.  After new filters, a new pump, and a new motor (not to mention a new electrical hookup to replace the exposed, ungrounded death-trap of a socket on the roof) our swamp cooler is finally working, and it is deliciously cool and damp inside, with pulled pork cooking for dinner and a cat asleep on my lap.  It's little things that get me through Mondays.

In Which I Call My First Meeting

I sent out an email today to the rest of the company team saying we'd have a meeting on Thursday.  This is my first act as a Person In Charge, except posting on the email server that I needed a computer program called Exam View to play around with, and so here we go!

I am nervous that no one will show up and I'll look like an idiot.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

A Retraction

My freshmen are about ready to kill me for making them read the unabridged version of Great Expectations, and I can understand, seeing as I'm only about four chapters ahead of them myself, and only because I have to teach the damn thing.

So I cut a deal: we'd strike some of the chapters, because I just couldn't deal with the bell-to-bell reading we were having to do to get everything done in the next four weeks.  That's right, we had 300 pages to do and 19 class days to to do it in.

So today I read all the chapter summaries over at Spark Notes, and I have to say, that book gets pretty good!  People are all drowning and catching on fire and sneaking up on each other with sledgehammers, and we haven't even gotten to all the crazy "you're-actually-her-long-lost-father" soap-opera drama yet.  I so should have done this about ten months ago; then I wouldn't have been stressing out since Christmas about this damn book.  

Maybe I'll take on A Tale of Two Cities or something after that magical day, June 4th.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Mark your calendars! (a guest-post by Tyson)

According to the internets, May 4th is International Respect for Chickens Day! So everyone get out the party favors, cue up this song and dance and drink to your feathered compatriot's glory!
For my part, I thought I'd post a few pics of our local fowl celebrity from across the street. When I cam home today I saw him strutting around and snapped a few fine photos. According to Nick, this cock was pimpin' as he literally crossed the street:
So there you have it. We're going to enjoy International Respect for Chickens Day by eating some porkchops and southern-cooked collard greens. I suggest you do the same, for National Pig Day is not as far off as you'd think.