Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Don't Boycott Arizona

This is not a political rant. I don't do political rants because I firmly believe that most politicians do only what is best for themselves, not necessarily what is best for the people. So this is not a political rant, this is a rant on logic.

Unless you are living under a rock, you have probably heard about a new law passed in Arizona regarding illegal immigrants. Part of this legislation includes requiring law enforcement checking the identification of anyone they reasonably believe could be in the US illegally. And my god are people up in arms about this legislation. So much so that as of this writing, there are about a dozen Facebook pages dedicated to boycotting Arizona. And there are thousands of people signing up to these sites. And this is where the logic comes in to play.

Let's think about the tourism industry in general. The tourism industry includes such things as hotels, restaurants, shopping, golf and themed parks. Most of the jobs in the tourism industry are fairly low level. There are only so many management positions available and most jobs related to tourism are of the minimum to slightly above minimum wage variety. And who do you think fills those jobs? I'll give you a hint, it's not politicians. Let's assume that there is an even distribution of minorities to Caucasian working in the tourism industry (there isn't). We know that there are an estimated 200,000 people working in this industry. This means at least half of those, or 100,000, are minorities. The minorities that everyone is up in arms about "helping" by boycotting the state.

Let's think about that for a minute. You're pissed that Arizona passed a law that makes it okay for law enforcement to check the id of someone if they have reasonable suspicion that that person is here illegally. Your solution is to boycott the state. Less tourists mean less jobs for those people who do have a right to live and work here and who work in the tourism industry. Half of whom are the very same minorities that you are supposedly helping. I'm sure those people will be thrilled when they lose their job because the tourism industry went down the crapper from all the helpful activists out there.

That's the first issue. The second thing we need to worry about are the state and national parks. Here in Arizona there are a lot state and national parks, not the least of which is the Grand Canyon. We are also home to the Painted Desert, Monument Valley, Saguaro National Park and Kartchner Caverns to name a few. Due to the economy in Arizona, some of parks are already closing down. We can't afford to maintain them so the easiest thing to do is shut them down. If tourism goes down even more, we'll be shutting down even more. And that is an absolute crime. Places like Lost Dutchman state park where the wildflowers put on an incredible show every spring. This park is closing on June 1st of this year.

Lastly, there's the small businesses that survive only because of tourism. Mom and Pop restaurants in towns all around the state that squeak by every year because of the tourist season. Boutiques and specialty stores that cater to the tourist. The Native Americans that set up shop on the side of two lane highways rely almost exclusively on the tourists to buy their product to survive. Take away the tourists and most of these people will be completely financially ruined.

So at the end of the day what I'm saying is this: whether you agree with the law or not isn't really the issue. The real issue is whether you're going to encourage other people to help you destroy an industry that employs or allows to survive the very people you are purportedly "helping". I would argue that those who boycott Arizona are the bigger criminals than the politicians in this instance.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What were they thinking?

Real estate agents do some dumb things when they list a house for sale. Setting aside the insane amount of typos, misspellings and misused words, we are still left with a huge number of crappy pictures. Blurry pictures, crooked pictures and over or under exposed shots are not the exception. I often wonder why they can't take a few minutes to clear off a counter top or island to get a better shot. Or why they don't turn off the television or wait for someone to step out of a room before they shoot.

I guess this agent wanted us to know that everyone had been cleaned up...
(Please excuse the size of the photos, I couldn't figure out how to make them bigger without distorting them).

Pretending to dust the ceiling fan...

Sort of cleaning the oven...

Cleaning the toilet (was this necessary?)...

Standing with the vacuum cleaner (all the vacuuming in the world won't change that ugly carpet)...

The pool gets cleaned too!

And yes, these pictures are what a buyer sees when they look at this listing. Amazing (shaking head in wonder).

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Phoenix Art Museum

Master J had the day off from school yesterday and contrary to what he told his father, it was not for "Student Appreciation Day". He's such a goof sometimes. Anyway, we decided early in the week that we should try and go to the The Phoenix Art Museum. We'd never been before and I know how much he has enjoyed other museums we have visited so I thought it was a good choice. We also decided that afterward we would head to one of our favorite places to dine, MacAlpines Soda Fountain in Glendale. I also knew that at the end of all of this I would need to meet up with my client, Texas, to show her a house that her husband had submitted an offer on the day before. I figured that after hanging out at the museum and eating a good lunch, Master J would be fairly low key for the house tour. More on that later.

The museum opens up at ten a.m. and our plan was to be there right when it opened up. We left the house at nine thirty but then decided to stop at Fourbucks for a coffee and bagel. I left the decision up to Master J of whether he wanted to sit inside the store with our coffee or just go through the drive-thru lane and drink it on the way. After discussing the pros and cons, he decided that since we rarely sit down in the store that that was what we should do. We enjoyed our vanilla lattes with whip cream (mine a venti, his a tall) and shared a bagel. It was very nice to just relax and talk over coffee. It is a little odd that I'm enjoying a cup of coffee and conversation with my nine year old but it's pretty cool.

After we finished our coffees, we headed to the art museum. It was really easy to find and the parking was plentiful. It's also in a neat neighborhood of million dollar vintage homes so we got to "ooohhh" and "ahhhh" on the way in and out. Anyway, if you've never taken your child to an art museum, you definitely should. Master J had a fantastic time.

When we paid at the front desk, they handed Master J a sheet of paper that had eight pictures on it. Each picture was a part of an exhibit that he needed to find. It was an art scavenger hunt. How cool is that? Of the eight pictures, we found seven. One of them was behind an exhibit that weirded us both out and neither one of us wanted to get too close to. It was a life size statue of a woman with a huge, bald rat covering her face. Master J said he didn't think he'd be able to sleep with that piece of art in his room at night. I agreed wholeheartedly. But we still found the other seven and it made the whole experience even more fun.

Overall, the museum is very child friendly. Especially with a child like Master J. It's very peaceful in an art museum. There is a lot of open space, soaring ceilings and nooks and crannies hidden away on the edges where you can go sit quietly and look out at downtown and the mountains beyond. The walls and floors are white and the art work is spaced out so that every piece is able to be enjoyed without another infringing in your peripheral vision. And people are just naturally more subdued in a setting like this. It's a perfect place for Master J. We ended up spending a solid two hours there before deciding that we needed to go eat. We will be back.

We headed over to MacAlpines, which was about two minutes away. Master J had his usual: the big beef hotdog, lays chips and a chocolate milk shake. I had my usual: a quarter of my turkey club, potato salad and a chocolate milk shake. He also had a quarter of my sandwich. We got lucky in that both Miss Lee and Mamoo were working yesterday so we got to visit with them while we ate. Master J also chatted up one of the regulars who informed him that the worlds first and only musical instrument museum was opening up today in Phoenix. We decided to put that on our list of things to do this summer.

So okay, now we've spent several hours walking around a museum and had a good lunch. Now we should be able to go show a house for fifteen or twenty minutes right? Not so much. Evidently Master J had brought along a peppermint candy, the hard kind that every restaurant and barber passes out as you leave. Master J should not eat such things, but he did. About ten minutes before we got to the house I was showing. Which means that for the first five minutes or so, he was fine. But then it kicked in.

At first, it was just a little annoying that Master J was running from room to room talking loudly. But it got progressively louder. And more annoying. The house we were looking at has a lovely front patio with a pony wall and an old iron gate. While Texas and I were checking out the kitchen, Master J decided that he needed to "fix" the gate. I knew he was out there and I knew he was looking for a missing screw for the latch. No problem so far. But when Texas and I went out front to look at the landscaping (or "weed-scaping" as the case may be) we realized that he had completely taken the gate of it's hinges. And he couldn't get it back on. In order to not leave the property worse than when we arrived, we had to fix the gate. So my client holds one side, Master grabs the other side and I attempt to guide the gate back onto the hinges and put the bolts on to hold it in place. It took a bit but we got it done.

But remember how I said it was an "old, iron gate"? Yeah, we were all three covered in orange residue wherever we had touched the gate. And by this point Master J was talking a mile a minute and flitting about like a hummingbird. I went and got water from my car (note to self, replace water before it gets really hot). I used it first on Texas (she had the least amount of rust), then myself and then Master J. He was, of course, the worst and had the most rust on him. All over him in fact.

After he was mostly clean, I sent him to sit in the car so I could wrap up with Texas. He went, but it wasn't long before I could hear him starting in with trying to get my attention. I wasn't really sure what he was saying, just that it was getting louder. And then, Texas looked over my shoulder, started laughing and said "I think it's time for you to go, he's starting to undress!" I turned around and sure as shit, there's my son, hanging halfway out of the car window with no shirt on hollering about something or other. Truly, the child was one can of Budweiser away from being a redneck. I turned back to my client and said "You're right, he's his mother's child and once the clothes start coming off it's definitely time to go home!"

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Their beauty makes me smile

Fortieth Birthday

This was not my favorite birthday of all time. And not for any of the normal "I don't want to get old!" reasons either. Suffice it to say that the best part of my day was when it ended. Especially since it ended without anyone meeting up with law enforcement regarding the recent demise of their significant other. In the interest of keeping things simple, loving and kind, I will just say that my fortieth birthday was memorable.

(picture by Master J)

(picture by yours truly)

(picture by Mister C)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Desi and Lucy

Here they are at five months old.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Mamoo and Papa brought these gorgeous tulips over yesterday for me.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Today is not my birthday.

But I did have a party. My fortieth birthday is actually next Saturday but not everyone was going to be in town so Mister C decided to have a party for me today. It wasn't anything fancy, just my family coming over for grilled burgers and cake but it was lovely (mostly).

Mister C and Master J put together a my favorite kind of cake for me, yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Mister C even made a double batch of the frosting because I told him that's the way I always do it. How cool is that? The only problem is that I forgot to get a picture of the cake before we cut it into pieces. That made me kind of sad when I thought about it later.

Mamoo and Papa brought over home made potato salad to go with the burgers. I love my mom's potato salad, especially when I don't have to make it. They also brought over hotdogs and bbq chips which is always appreciated.

Miss Lee and Music Man showed up as well and brought along a lovely card espousing how much they respect me and think I'm the most wonderful sister slash sister in law in the world. Or at least that's what I'm telling myself. In reality, it might have been a crack about old age, but that just sounds bad and this is a happy blog.

Oh, and Master J lost his ever loving mind. Let's back up a bit and reiterate a few things about Master J that might indicate why he would lose his ever loving mind.

First, he has ADHD and groups of people (more than three) create too much stimuli and he tends to act out. Second, certain foods trigger certain behaviors. Third, certain foods help his behavior.

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time you know that we give Master J coffee on a daily basis. The caffeine helps with his ADHD in the same way that Ritalin does. Only without all the side effects and without making me feel like I'm drugging my kid to make my life easier. If you've been reading this blog for any length of time you also know that Master J requires protein on a regular schedule throughout the day to help keep him level. Additionally, he cannot have any large doses of sugar, especially without protein at the same time. And high fructose corn syrup is like meth to this kid, he literally cannot control his body when he has it. Got all that? Good.

This morning I got a text from a client wanting to see a few homes. My party isn't until four so I should have no problem taking care of them and finishing up before I need to be home. So before I get myself ready, I sit Master J down with some chicken, a few potato chips and a glass of milk. Lots of protein, a little bit of carbs and no hfcs. But I didn't give him coffee. I don't know why. I think I was in a hurry and he was pretty level at the time and it just got forgotten. I leave the house and he's in good shape. I'm gone for three hours.

When I return, Mister C and Master J are not home as they are evidently out shopping for the preparations for dinner. I take the time alone to submit an offer on behalf of my clients. The guys come home around two thirty with some groceries and a bit of chaos. Master J seems pretty hyped up but I figure it's because there's a party coming up and I don't think too much about it.

At about four, Master J informs me that he has not had lunch and in fact has not eaten anything since this morning when I fed him the chicken. I know we're eating in a few minutes so I tell him to go grab a banana, which he does. He also informs me at this point that he "helped" his dad with the frosting. He had several spoonfuls of chocolate frosting while "helping". And then Miss Lee and Music Man show up and Master J kicks it up a notch. About fifteen minutes later, my folks show up and Mister C starts cooking the burgers and hotdogs. Master J has still had no coffee.

By the time the food hits the table, Master J is in rare form. He is singing "grand entrance music" every time anyone walks into the room. It isn't long before he's singing "exit music" as well. This music is the exact opposite of the entrance music. It would be amusing and entertaining if it weren't happening every fifteen seconds.

We put a plate of food in front of Master J and the battle begins. He's too busy making noises and singing to really get the food in. Finally after what seems like forever, Mister C makes a cup of coffee for Master J, who fights and almost breaks down into tears at the thought of having to drink it. He finally gives in and drains the cup. Unfortunately it takes about twenty minutes to kick in. During which time he does manage to eat his food. He also manages to harass everyone that was still eating and to perseverate on when the cake was going to be consumed. It kills me to see him like this because while the one side of me just wants him to listen and follow directions, the other side of me realizes that he really can't control himself at this point.

Finally, the coffee kicks in and he calms down. It's like a switch gets flipped. One minute he's in hyper-drive, the next he's walking calmly through the room. It's weird that it works like this, but it does.

So, let's recap where we went wrong...we didn't give him coffee at breakfast and lunch like we normally do. We allowed him to go seven hours with no protein. Worse yet, we allowed him go seven hours with no food at all except for chocolate frosting. Then we added four extra people to his world and he went over the edge. It's unfortunate that I didn't take the time to plan out several meals for Master J as well as inform Mister C where those meals were and what time they should be served. And it's unfortunate that I didn't get coffee into his system before I left and when he returned from shopping as this would have most likely circumvented most of the behavior. It's mostly unfortunate that I spent a large part of my party getting after my son to try an get him to behave because that makes it not a very fun party for anyone.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Now that's better!

This is today's lasagna...

As you can see, it's a Smart Ones spinach lasagna. It looks tons better, no? It smelled tons better as well. But the taste test is what really matters now isn't it?

The lasagna noodles in the Smart Ones were cooked perfectly. No rubbery grossness here! There was a good (appropriate) amount of ricotta cheese laced with spinach in between each of the layers. There was probably a quarter of a cup of thick sauce with chunks of vegetables slathered over the serving. The cheese did not disappear on cooking. In fact, when I cut into the lasagna, I had strings of gooey cheese that I had to wrap up in my fork. The flavor was very good, with no spice being overly dominant.

Overall, it was 100% better than the Michelina's version of a non-meat lasagna. Price wise, the Smart ones are not that much more expensive. Calorie wise, the Smart Ones has ten more than the Michelina's. Hang on...okay, I just walked around my island a few times. I think I took care of the ten calories and it was totally worth it for the better product.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I think not.

This is my breakfast. Okay, let's get past that whole "OMG! You eat that for breakfast?!?!?" bs. Yes, I prefer to eat food for breakfast. Not to say I won't eat "normal" breakfast foods for breakfast because I will, but I eat what I'm hungry for, not what would be considered "normal". As far as I'm concerned my stomach has no way of knowing what time it is so it's not going to complain if I eat pasta at seven in the morning as opposed to seven at night. It's all good.

But this isn't. The picture on the box looks okay, but what came out of the box was decidedly not okay. I mean really. I paid $2 for this box of Michelina's Lean Gourmet lasagna. It says right on the box that Michelina's is made to "honor my mother, who only used the finest ingredients." I'm guessing there wasn't a whole lot of love lost between the two of them. Because this was just bad.

The smell of the cooked product wasn't bad. It looked awful. And the taste would be best described as "meh". It was four thin, but somehow rubbery pieces of lasagna noodles (I counted) with maybe a teaspoon of some sort of ricotta like substance in between. At best there was a total of two tablespoons of sauce spread over the whole mess. It was probably closer to one tablespoon. I think that prior to cooking I might have noticed five or six shreds of cheese on the top, but they disappeared with cooking.

To be fair, this is found in the diet section of the freezer. But so are a lot of other products and so far none of them looks or tastes like this one. I'll have to try another version of lasagna tomorrow and give a solid comparison. As for today, I ate the nasty mess and I didn't suffer any permanent damage. But I won't ever buy it again.