1-27-13 Sunday (Heavy Duty Condiments)

Miscellaneous crap:

Work/training is going well.  It’s a cyclone of information and trust me, my head is already spinning.  The trainers all assure us that even after class we’ll most likely feel lost.  I know that might seem discouraging but I like the honestly in them saying “this is some tough material to learn and it will take some time.” 


There I was, sittin’ on the toilet, flipping through Reader’s Digest when I came upon one of those Reader’s Digest reader information cards for… Alaska.  See, it was written in the stars; it’s destiny.  Or perhaps just coincidence.  Instead of filling out the card, I signed up online. (Sorry Craig, I know you always ask us to save the postal system by using them).  I ordered “Alaska for Dummies” for $15 and plan to research other resources such as cruisecritic.com.  Cruisecritic is an awesome site.  It’s editor’s reviews of ships, ports, etc as well as member reviews about ports, ships, entertainment, food, cabins, etc. 


Back in July I bought a BladeBuddy via halfoffdepot.com.  It allows you to keep disposable razor blades sharpened.  Before using my razor I simply run the blade over a pad about 25 times and then shave.  I recently realized I’ve have been using the same Mach3 razor blade since August.  Impressive. I may just change it out for the hell of it.


Recently, Jim’s job provided a laptop for him to be able to work from home.  The rule of thumb is that it is used for overtime or weekends, not to never come into the office.  Even with the restriction, it’s a nice perk.  He used it Saturday for a few hours. 


Saturday night, Ruby (friend and travel agent) came over and we discussed cruises.  We put a deposit down on 3 cruises.  Our first and second choice cruises take place during part of a holiday.  I’m not sure if I can take time off yet.  I can’t put in a time off request until March.  It was best to secure a cabin at what seems like low prices right now.  The deposits are fully refundable at least 90 days before sail date.  Here’s what we have:

First choice and second choice (different dates/prices) – Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas:


Second choice – Celebrity Solstice:


Celebrity is the higher end line of Royal Caribbean.  They accept bonus points that Jim has been earning for extra production from his job.  Each one of the three we booked has pros and cons.

Ruby, Jamie, Jim and I went out for dinner at a hibachi place called Ishi’s.  I went to the restroom and spotted this in the corner:


Relax, it was empty and being used as a wonderfully tacky trashcan.  Perhaps that’s considering recycling?  Anyway, what amused me was the “heavy duty mayonnaise”.  Heavy duty?  That’s just weird.  It would almost make sense if we were throwing “light mayo” into the loop although in that case light means in the calorie sense.  So does anyone know what heavy duty mayo is? 


Friday we had an ice storm.  We closed our facility at 3pm.  My car was entombed in ice; freezing rain was not our friend. 

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I was able to get home safely and luckily it didn’t take much longer than usual. 

1-23-13 Wednesday (4 Is Better Than 1)

Saturday night was another Restaurant Week event.  7 of us went to Alton’s Kitchen for dinner.  We picked this place because we’ve been there for brunch and they pulled that off really well.  Here’s the Restaurant Week menu: 


Jim and I shared both of our meals.  We had the mushrooms and nachos. The nachos were good; the mushrooms were amazing.  Jim ordered the filet and I had the NY Strip.  The strip was so flavorful.  The filet was good but Ruth’s Chris does a better job.

On Sunday it was off to Chima.  We love Chima.  Last year we went twice!  It was 6 of us and that seems like the perfect number.  When we’ve had 8 in the past, the table was a huge round table and it was hard to have conversation with opposing sides.  Anyway, for 2 of us, it was our first time.  Beth and her brother David seemed to have loved it as much as we do! 

Monday, Jim went to work while I went grocery shopping and such.  It was a holiday for me. 

Tuesday started my new position as Underwriter.  It was day 1, week 1 of a long 6 week training process.  The class was mixed with mostly existing employees of my bank with a few people who had come from other banks.  Most of the day was spent getting employee numbers, access, security badges and all that stuff.  Pretty uneventful.  Oddly, the class has 4 trainers.  They teach different aspects of the curriculum although at least 3 of the 4 have actually done this job in the past.  I’ve been told by Beth, our friend who is also an underwriter at Big Bank that there’s a lot of trainers because as we get more into it, they’ll be helping us while we do sample underwriting.

An interesting thing, or maybe not, but we moved to Charlotte because Jim was offered a job here as an underwriter at Big Bank.  He started January 11th 2010 in the same building and classroom as I did.  Beth was in Jim’s class which is how they met.  Jim doesn’t work there anymore but we’re still friends with Beth and now I see her at work.  Crazy, I know.

On Friday it will be 10 years since our first cruise.  We’re planning one for a summer cruise to Alaska. It will be a first for us.  I’ve been doing a lot of research.  I’ve been “interviewing” friends (Thanks Amy Francis!) who have been on Alaskan cruises previously and of course consulting with our AAA travel agent extraordinaire, Ruby. We’re not deadset on this but the ship will probably be the Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas

  • We like Royal Caribbean AND it would make our 5th cruise with them which will give us future perks. 
  • They also offer specialty dining.  The kind where you pay $25 “cover” to dine at the awesome onboard restaurants.  We’ve done a few of those on previous cruises and have found them to be exceptional. On this ship they offer a $75 a person dining package that gives us 4 specialty restaurants for a discount.
  • It was built in 2001 but remodeled in 2011.  We’re kind of spoiled with our last 5 cruises because the ships we sailed were less than a year old.


If you noticed, it doesn’t take us round trip.  It was one of the few combinations that allowed us to visit the ports we want plus the Hubbard Glacier.  We were thinking of going from Seward to Fairbanks in hopes of catching the Northern Lights however the add-on is very expensive.  Speaking of price, an Ocean View category cabin is only $1000 a person.  Airfare is only $650 or so each.  There will be other expenses but they’re marginal in comparison.  Any thoughts?

1-19-13 Saturday (Excuses)

Several months ago we had a contest at work.  Not to brag, well, OK, I’ll brag, I nearly single-handedly won the contest.  It wasn’t a difficult contest either.  We were to send electronic Thank You cards to people we partner with in other departments.  Easy Peezy.  The prize was free lunch for our 2 teams.  I had pretty much forgotten about it until the other team’s supervisor said, “well, I guess before we leave we should have that free lunch since you pretty much won it for us.”  She suggested Salsarita’s and I agreed.  Friday was the big lunch day.  On Thursday someone brought up lunch and I replied mentioning Salsarita’s.  My supervisor said “no, we changed it to Chick-Fil-A.”  Apparently he asked some of the team in the evening when I was off for their preference.  Huh?  I told him if it was to be Chick-Fil-A, it would be without me.  He didn’t seem to remember their marriage stance and the contributions they make to anti-gay causes.  I politely reminded him and then said, “it’s OK, it’s no big deal, I’ll just eat downstairs (cafeteria).”  I went to my desk and overheard 2 of my coworkers tell my boss that the venue needed changed.  So nice of them two but I popped back up after overhearing and made a sincere statement that it was OK.  I mean, it was my last day there so I wasn’t gonna make a fuss.  I had been making many a fuss in the last couple of weeks anyway.  My cubicle neighbor is also gay but was off on the day of the drama.

Friday came and it was changed back to Salsarita’s.  I was thankful. 

I did manage to stay off the phones Thursday and Friday.  I really didn’t do very much; I was even somewhat bored. 

I’ll miss so many of my coworkers but onto a new endeavor!


Friday night was dinner at Ruth’s Chris for Restaurant Week with Doug and Dave.  Unfortunately this was the first time we’ve socialized with them in several months.  We had an awesome time.  The food was out of this world, as usual.  They really know how to prepare a filet.  Delish. 

Saturday was my driving class.  8 hours at the Safety and Health Council of North Carolina. There were 26 people in the class.  The most common reason was for a speeding ticket.  I was absolutely amazed by some of the characters in this class.  We were to explain what happened, how much it has all cost (missed work, court costs, etc) and how many traffic violations we’ve had in the past.  Here’s some of the characters:

LibyaThe woman was from Libya.  She was disappointed that she couldn’t get out of this speeding ticket.  In the past she was able to babble in African and the officer would just let her go.  This time it didn’t work.  She was speeding because it was a new car.  The instructor asked her what model and she didn’t know.  He asked if the car was in the parking lot.  She said she was out at the club last night and it was towed so she had to take a bus here and after the class she was going to get it back.  She also mentioned something about child endangerment but it wasn’t her child so it shouldn’t have been an issue.

marijuana-leafA man said he was caught speeding and was driving without a license which has been taken from him for so many other priors.  He was driving 80 in a 50.  He was driving shelled.  What?  The rest of the class explained “shelled” was when you drive stoned from marijuana.  He was a burnt out mess, I assure you.  This man doesn’t think it’s a big deal to drive while being stoned.  Mr. Instructor asked if he would have done that with family in the car.    He said his brother was in the car and he was shelled too but he had a license.  His mom wasn’t in the car and she’d be upset if she knew he was driving shelled.

FastA woman was angry that she was pulled over for speeding although she was following the person in front of her.  Because the person was in front of her “naturally they were going faster”.  Yeah, naturally that logic doesn’t make sense but OK.  She was so mad that she was the only person who got pulled over that she gave the cop the license plate number of the person in front of her.  It didn’t help and they didn’t want it.

firepoliceems_logosAnother was an older man who was a fireman in the NY 9/11 incident.  He was only going 6 miles over the speed limit and knows so because his cruise was set.  2 people going 25 mph faster than him blew by but the cop said it was him.  Now, I believe the guy about his story but still don’t understand how you can say “only going 6 miles over the speed limit”.  “I only stabbed the guy once”.  “I only pushed them down a flight of 2 steps.”  I have a problem with people who can’t just admit that they broke the law.  Perhaps argue the severity of the punishment but never argue that you only broke the law a little.  Anyway, he said that he showed the cop his fireman badge but the cop said he didn’t care.  He pleaded his case but the cop was an ass and didn’t extended a professional courtesy to him.  Uhhhhh, they both save lives so that should give him a free pass.  Whatever dude.  He said that he hopes he will never run into that cop when his house is on fire.  The rest of the class seemed to egg him on and applaud him.  What a fine outstanding citizen we have.  911, fire, saving life, professional courtesy, blah blah.

Our last character was a man who said he was pulled over for reckless driving.  He hit a curb at the McDonald’s drive through.  He was treated badly and really had to pee.  He was asked to blow but he said he’d want to go to a hospital.  There was a 2 hour stand off and they took him to the police station.  He was there for hours. He ended his story with just that info.  Mr. Instructor pressed for details.  Each time he uncovered new details.  The offender had just left a bar and only had 3 beers.  He went through the drive through and saw that cops were watching him to he tried to drive away but they followed.  He parked in the lot near the McDonalds and the cop came up behind him and asked him about hitting the curb.  Mr. Offender said he wasn’t driving.  Really, he said that.  Naturally because he lied this set the tone for the rest of the incident. He had an DWI when he was 18 so maybe that’s why the cops picked on him.

Other stories were pretty mild but many seemed to have this self entitlement issue.  I was only going 15 over.  I asked for a break but he wouldn’t do anything, he was an ass.  I was embarrassed to listen to some of these people talk.  It made me mad and sad. 

We were able to leave the class 1.5 hours early.  Most of the day was spent going one person at a time and answering questions, watching videos and having discussions.  Other than just being there, it wasn’t so bad.

1-11-13 Friday (Courthouse Prayers)

Back in September, I was cruising the interstate with my Mom at 9pm on my way home from taking my Aunt Donna to the airport.  The speed limit dropped, my new Mazda is much quieter and smoother than my 2000 Jeep AND I was chatting with mom.  All of that led to a 20 over the speed limit ticket.  I was allegedly doing 80 in a 60.  It was dark so I’m not sure how the Trooper calculated all of this and I didn’t argue.

Court was Wednesday.  I was called up pretty fast to the District Attorney’s desk.  There he immediately negotiated with everyone.  I can give you X instead of X or you can do Y.  I’ve never been to court before and was surprised at all of the negotiating going around everywhere.  Even in the hallway leading to the courtroom was a line where you can plea something different.  All of the bargaining was clearly heard throughout this echoing building.  What a joke.  Why not just make tickets more “affordable” to begin with and not offer up this crap.  What a system, what a joke.  I was happy to get what I got.  So what did I get?  Well, the DA immediately says, “Would you like a PJC?”  What’s that?

What is a “prayer for judgment continued?”

A prayer for judgment continued, or what is often referred to as a PJC, means that although a person pleads guilty, or is found guilty, the court does not enter the conviction. This spares the defendant of paying fines and from receiving driver’s license points and insurance points. For car insurance purposes, one PJC is available per household every three years for avoiding insurance points.

I said, “I have a cleaning driving record, is there anything else?”  Apparently 20mph over the limit prevents him from allowing me to take an “Improper Equipment” plea.

I was sentenced to court costs ($188) plus an 8 hour class ($100) = $288.  I wonder what the ticket would have cost if I didn’t get that?  Next Saturday I’ll be taking a delightful 8 hour class. 

In other news I have one more week of work till I become and Underwriter.  This week has been terrible.  Typically once you “post out” of my department they take you off the phones to help out in coaching or other areas.  A couple of my coworkers who were also able to post out were off the phones.  When I had heard about my position, it had happened on the 3rd of the month which is a very busy time for banks.  I asked if I could come off the phones and was told it was “all hands on deck” and we need to be there for our clients.  They made the other 2 guys get back on the phones (well one couldn’t because his access didn’t work anymore). This week, 1 started his new job and the other starts the same date as me so it’s just the 2 of us who are waiting for our new jobs to start.  Well, we’ll just call him Guy.  Through various reports that tell me number of calls taken and off the phone exceptions his manager entered for him, I found that Guy was off the phone while I was I was not.  Guy was even picked to do something that I asked to do back on the 3rd.  I found this to be pretty unfair.  Nothing against Guy.  I was pretty pissed.  My sales numbers have been great, I’m always a helper, I’ve been asked to be on special committees, etc.  Maybe I complained about it too much because one day he took 6 calls and I took 19 while “servicing our clients was so important”.  Then the next 2 days Guy was off the phone.  Now I was pretty livid.  I FINALLY realized, it wasn’t favoritism from the company it was that his supervisor (different team than me) has always hooked up her employees.  In the past, her people were off the phone while my supervisor’s wasn’t.  I got into it with my supervisor and called him out on it.  There’s a lot of other little things about this that’s “interesting” but there’s only so many details that I’d feel comfortable posting and that you’d even care to read.  Friday, Guy was back on the phones and didn’t say anything to me.  Undoubtedly he’s mad.  It wasn’t against him, I just wanted to be treated fairly and equal. 

I am so overly stressed about all of this I can’t let it go.  My supervisor pissed me off even more by reminding me not to burn bridges.  This upcoming week I have another 5 days and I can’t believe that a major change in my life for the good is coming with so much anger and resentment.  Next week?  I’m going to try and be happy, back to my usual outgoing self and hope that things level out.  For those who think “what’s the big deal”?  It is a big deal when you’re treated much differently than a peer.  I’ll just keep telling myself, “Only x more days.”

Last weekend we got the Christmas stuff put away.  Jim only managed to break 2 ornaments and 2 outdoor bulbs.  I told him I was going to mention that in the blog.  He’s clumsy. 

2013-01-05 002Above: Looking for Anne Frank.

We took a drive through the neighborhood and checked out a house under construction.

2013-01-06 006Above: The house is on the edge of a drainage culvert.  From straight out the door there’s the ditch.  Careful!

Let’s go upstairs…

2013-01-06 003Above: Click on it to enlarge, a nifty new window will open so you don’t lose your place.  Please close the window when done, it get’s drafty.  The is the backside of the Asian’s house across the street from us.  The one that had a child strapped onto their back while they cultivated the drainage ditch garden.  Look at the contrived back deck they made.  Surely not up to code and an eyesore for the purchaser of this house.

2013-01-06 004Above: Our house!

1-6-13 Sunday (Tomatoes And Bacon For All)

Jim’s mom is so “gift considerate”.  She always seems to pick out things we’ve mentioned, hinted on, or she knows for a fact that we like.  For example, we LOVE her oatmeal raisin cookies and peanut butter cookies.  She gave us each a Christmas pail filled with the recipe, and dry ingredients premeasured.  We made these shortly after Christmas…

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She also gave us a bird seed wreath.  She knows we love the wildlife but we didn’t even have a feeder.  Just while she was here, we counted 8 beautiful male Cardinals in the backyard at one time.  We hung up the wreath, the birds never found it before it melted in the rain a week later.  The seed was on the ground though so they’ve been enjoying it that way.  We decided to buy a cheap feeder and bird seed while grocery shopping Saturday.  We’re gonna give this a try.

Restaurant Week is approaching and we have made reservations for 3 restaurants.  Stay tuned at the end of the month while Jim and I eat like royalty for 3 days.

Speaking of food, on Saturday, Jim and I went to Five Guys Burgers and Fries for dinner.  We love their burgers and never have issues there until now.  Nothing major, just stupidity I guess.  I order then Jim orders.  2 different orders.  One with tomatoes and bacon, one with mushrooms and onions.  We end up with 2 of my burgers.  It’s 9pm and we are the only ones there.  How hard can it be? Jim brings it up to the counter with the receipt.  They tell him that I have his burger.  He assures them that I have bacon, tomato and mayo as ordered.  They say they’ll fix it and we sit down.  It takes forever.  I guess they decided to make the whole thing over.  He would have been happy with them removing the tomato and bacon and adding the onions and mushrooms.  I finished my burger and she comes out with his.  It’s the same exact combination AGAIN.  I wanted to ask her in a wonderfully condescending tone, “what’s wrong with you?” but she was a sweet girl, apparently just a space cadet.  Jim calls her back and she apologizes and is ready to take the burger.  Jim says, can I just get the grilled mushrooms and onions and I’ll add it to my burger?  Wowsers.

I found a few photos I had taken the other day but forgot to post (I posted them on Facebook):

2012-12-30 02Above: At a Staples.  What’s with her hair?

2012-12-30 03Above: At a Chinese restaurant.  They left the assembly tags (the 2) on their tree and decorated around them.  Did they think it was supposed to stay on there?

1-3-13 Thursday (Cajun Cramps)

CookieAt Thanksgiving I found a recipe for chocolate chip mint cookies that used a Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix with the addition of mint extract and such.  I made them.  Easy.  They were a hit.  Over the weekend we were in Target and naturally had to check out their clearance section.  75% off of Christmas.  I spotted an actual Betty Crocker Mint Chocolate Chip cookie mix that didn’t need tweaking.  Everything was included.  It was 60something cents so I picked up a few bags.  The back of the back has a lot of writing but my eye went right to a spelling error (see blue arrow in photo below).  I get some strange sense of achievement when I find some major whoops on a nationally known product.  I then wonder did the person who gave the final “OK to print” lose their job over this?  Was the spell checking program in “ignore words in caps” mode?  I’m not sure if there are other errors or not.


For New Year’s Eve, Jim had made reservations for the Cajun Queen for 8.  They feature, duh, Cajun food and a live Jazz Band.  We went with Beth and her mom and several siblings which made it 7 of us.  We knew it would only be 7 but we’ve learned in the past that if you say “party of 5” you’ll get a booth or other 4-top table and they’ll drag a chair over making for cramped arrangements.  This happens with any type of odd number so it’s better to say the even number, get to the table and then tell the server the xth person cancelled.  So, we arrived.  We were seated and my back was 1 foot away from the band’s drums.  Oy.  Oddly, it wasn’t over bearing loud at all.  Phew!  We were seated at a 6 top with only 6 chairs.  Jim had to find a 7th chair.  What if our “8th” had shown up?  We were cramped.

As we looked over the menu bread was dropped off.  No silverware - so we had to ask for that.  All in all, service was great though. 

Jim and I have been here several times.  Last week, we brought Jim’s Mom and Morgan here and they enjoyed it.  You know that situation where you recommend some place and the food or service or both is horrible?  So when you bring people to a place you recommend, I’m on edge as if I’m the restaurant manager with a known food critic sitting in my dining room.  The good news?  Our 5 friends loved all of it.  Beth had a bad “Hurricane” but everything else was delicious.  Score!

Several weeks ago I interviewed for an Underwriter position with my current employer.  Someone emailed my supervisor for information such as: would they rehire me?  My start date?  My performance score?  I knew at that moment that I had the job and anxiously awaited my offer letter.  Because of the holidays (I guess), it was taking a long time and I started to question myself if perhaps I didn’t get it.  Maybe my current supervisor said something bad?  But if he was going to do that then surely he wouldn’t even have told me that he got the email?  My head was spinning.

Thursday (1-3-13) I got a phone call from the recruiter but missed it because I was on the phone.  An hour later I was able to connect with her and was offered the position!  I gladly accepted.  I start a 6 week training program on Tuesday 1-22.