B-Y-O-L: A Peccadillo Story

I’m about to share both a quirk of mine and an awesome way to enhance what will hopefully be your already-kickass Thanksgiving dinner.

Ready?

Set.

Lemon!

No but seriously, that’s it. I don’t even remember how many years ago now I discovered that lemon on top of my Thanksgiving dinner was delicious but it is a tradition I will not forgo.

If I have Thanksgiving dinner without freshly squeezed lemon juice on top of my turkey, stuffing, and [insert green here – usually broccoli], the meal is kind of ruined. I know, it sounds drastic. But have you ever squeezed lemon onto turkey or stuffing?

Broccoli and greens are kind of a given (unless it’s something like green been casserole, which I wouldn’t eat, and then I can’t say for sure) but lemon juice on the dressing/stuffing is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD.

I repeat: soooooooooooooo goooooooooooooooooooooood!

People like my  mother and aunt think I’m a freak show and that the lemon is “ruining” the flavors of Thanksgiving. Nay! It just brings out all the delicious flavors and textures in my mind. But I have such a penchant for tart and sour flavors, which is why I love anything vinegary, as well.

My brother is also a big fan of adding lemon to his dinner. We have to chop up at least three because there’s a lot of lemon squeezing happening at the table.  (Oh, and if anyone is wondering, “What about the cranberry sauce?” it’s a moot point for me because I don’t eat cranberry sauce.)

I have one or two friends who have begrudgingly admitted that it’s pretty dang tasty, which it is. But it’s not a Must Have for their dinners, whereas it’s do or die time when it comes to lemon and my holiday meal.

To recap:

I'm so crafty.

And, when I’m not having Thanksgiving dinner at my family’s house, as is the case this year, it’s all about BYOL: bring-your-own-lemon. (I’m not even exaggerating. I will be bringing my own Special Thanksgiving Dinner Lemon. I will not risk there not being any for the table.)

What are your mealtime traditions? Any oddball ones like mine?

Last but not least: Happy Thanksgiving!!

Driver’s Ed 101

Now that I’ve been back in the driving world for over a year, I have started to add up some observations on common driving mistakes. I don’t believe that these are inherent to just the drivers in my city but there is one in particular which I’ve noticed that really shouldn’t be a problem if you are an experienced driver.

Let’s talk about backing out of parking spaces, shall we? Take this woman, for instance:


I can’t believe that the person waiting for the woman to figure out how to park waited as long as he did. I do admire him for finally asking if he could park the woman’s car for her. I DON’T believe this woman should be a licensed driver.

What I don’t appreciate is that there seems to be this misapprehension that women are terrible drivers. There are plenty of horrible male drivers in this world, as well. For some people, driving is instinctual – you just GET it. I am one of those people. My best friend has never learned how to drive and isn’t interested at all. She placed herself in a city where she has reliable public transportation. Kudos to her!

I yearned to learn how to drive at a very early age and by the time I turned nine, I started counting the years until I turned sixteen and I would finally get my license. I’m not even kidding. The day I got my driver’s license was one of the happiest in my entire life. I remember it fondly. My mom was nervous about me “tooling around” on my own but quickly realized what a boon it was to have a daughter more than willing to run errands, just so she could drive the car all by herself.

Now that I have been a licensed driver for over half of my existence, I can safely say that it is one of the best gifts a person can have. I thought about how fortunate I am to be able to own and drive my own car the other day as I was on my way to work. I still get a kick out of driving each and every day. And I think road trips are as fun as they are therapeutic.

While there were plenty of times I liked riding the subway when I lived in New York, I have an even fuller appreciation for being able to drive to work now. It doesn’t hurt that my commute isn’t a one-hour, clogged traffic jam everyday, either. Still, until you’ve sacrificed your personal space on a crowded rush-hour train in New York City, you can’t know how freeing it feels to be able to throw your things in the passenger seat, blast heat or air conditioning as you see fit, be able to sit the whole time, and listen to music as loudly as you want (or not). It’s a serious sigh of relief.

However, I do believe that having a license is something that most people take for granted; there might be many fewer accidents otherwise. I still maintain my position on minivans, by the way, as just this morning the light turned green but we all waited for the minivan flying at 50mph to plow through the intersection on a red light. (And it was a man driving.) Driving is as much about courtesy to others as it is a convenience for us to get ourselves around.

Backing into and out of parking spaces is a necessity of a driver’s life and yet, so many people can not seem to figure this out. There is a very simple rule that has served me well since I was 15 years of age and in Driver’s Ed. The coach told us it’s a 75/25 rule: back out straight three-quarters of the way before you begin turning your wheels. You will not scrape the cars on either side of you if you stick to this rule of thumb. And it really works! I frequently see people in my office parking lot turn their wheels the moment they’ve hit reverse and I’m amazed more cars aren’t stripped lengthwise of their paint. I cringe every single time.

I could probably go on for longer than most people would prefer with driving safety tips so I’m going to leave you with the one tip for today and hope it changes your life or someone else’s you may know.

Because if you are anything like this other woman below (who requires the help of yet another woman guiding her), you need to re-evaluate whether you should be driving, stat:

#189 (via Bear Lawyer, LLC)

If you don’t know Bear Lawyer, you’re missing out. I don’t make a habit of reblogging much here on WordPress, but this guy earned a coveted reblog spot.

#189

via Bear Lawyer, LLC

Magical sleep powers

Does this happen to anyone else? I won’t be able to solve a problem or find the answer to something, I’ll go to sleep and bam – I’ll have a dream about it or wake up with the knowing answer.

This happened to me just recently over a weekend when I had to go in to the office to do some work. I was reconciling a credit card statement and didn’t have a receipt for one of the transactions. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what on earth it was and why I hadn’t saved the receipt or note of it along with everything else. I ravaged my emails and nary a note was to be found regarding this one receipt. My shoulders hunched in failure and I was dreading having to tell someone that I couldn’t explain the charge (though it seemed familiar and was bugging the hell out of me).

I finished up my work and went home, trying not to think about it. That night, I dreamt about the situation and the answer came to me while I slept: the same person to whom I owed an explanation about the charge had told me verbally a few weeks before that she was putting something on the card and there was no receipt for it. The reason I didn’t remember was because I had never done it in the first place! The relief that flooded through me was immense.

And then I was like, what the hell, brain, how come you couldn’t have figured that out twelve hours ago?

I find the power of the subconscious incredible. When it’s completely relaxed without the stressors of daily life, it becomes my own personal superhero.

I can’t tell you how often this happens to me, though. It could be that I misplace something valuable, that I’m anxiously waiting for something to happen (like a check clearing), and then for whatever reason, I will dream how I want it to get resolved and usually it comes to fruition. Am I psychic? I’m not a god and I didn’t even need twelve years of Catholic school to know that. (Please tell me a few of you get that reference.)

I will say that I only use my powers for good and that for whatever reason that this does happen to me, I like it a lot. It’s not as cool as an invisibility cape, but it’ll do.

Lastly, for your entertainment, I am linking to a particular scene in one of my all-time favorite films. Because you can never have enough Groundhog Day. Amen.

Lists for an Anniversary

balloon love

Photo courtesy of raspberrytart on Flickr

Come Monday, Zoe Says turns three! Wheee! August 8, 2008 was the inception of my storytelling via weblog and it’s been a heck of a ride. I began with the intention of seeing if I could blog for a year and the fact that it’s been three and I’m still going strong gives me such a feeling of accomplishment. Thanks to all who have been with me and enjoy reading what comes from my head and heart.

I don’t know if I have spoken very much about my love for lists and stats but I have a secret passion for them. For a creative person, I am “right-brained” enough to have a hard love for numbers. (Or is it left-brained? Anybody know?) I’m not saying I like to solve mathematical equations or anything à la Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting, but I enjoy working with numbers/figures as they pertain to money, and statistics as they pertain to blog/website hits.

I don’t have any stats for you today but for those readers who have just recently (and very kindly) subscribed to this petite blog, I decided to put together two “Top Ten” lists. One is very simple and lays out the top blog posts that have gotten the most reads. The second is a batch of my personal favorites. This way, you can catch up if you want over the weekend or just marvel along. It’s kind of cool to note what the public prefers over what my favorites are. Here we go!

Top Ten Twelve Zoe Says posts of all time based on pure stats:

  1. The Obligatory Courtesy Smile (by far – not even a competition)
  2. May: the month of a gazillion birthdays
  3. Let’s focus on what’s important: Britney’s comeback (This one has stayed strong and steady since 2009! The power of Britney.)
  4. Baker’s Dozen: We Know It’s the Holiday Season Because… (My very first Freshly Pressed post!)
  5. Sebastian Maniscalco: stand-up comedian, funny, Italian, metrosexual  (I have no idea what’s going on but this dude is POPULAR. People search for this guy DAILY and find this post.)
  6. The Acceptable Man-Purse: a.k.a. The Messenger Bag  (I get so many searches that end up hitting this post.)
  7. Literally, the most misused word
  8. My one-time experience at the Bloomingdale’s makeup floor
  9. Bottom line, these are awesome  (One of my personal favorites so I love that it has gotten all the way up to the top!)
  10. My Very Personal Relationship with HGTV (This one is in the top merely because another article has a link back to this and people flooded my page once reading about my thing for House Hunters and Mike Holmes.)
  11. Minty the Candy Cane – Obsessed! (Warning: the theme song will get stuck in your head!)
  12. Total Rant: to the people at Xerox who make my copier/printer/scanner/fax machine (People love reading a good old-fashioned rant and this one is no exception. I think it has to do mostly with the photo I put up from Office Space.)

Zoe Says a few of her favorite posts from the past three years in no particular order because she loves them equally:

  1. The Psychology of Tuesday
  2. Those Three Little Words
  3. VERBOTEN! Day 2
  4. Kringley, Jingley, Cookies and Trees, Gluttony, Family Gatherings and Obligatory Gifts: sounds like Christmas!
  5. Onions? Or…B.O.?
  6. If you don’t know what Tremors is, you’re insulting Kevin Bacon
  7. Please Reheat Responsibly
  8. My Stereotypically Midwestern Yet All-American, Comprehensive & Inappropriate Relationship with Ranch Dressing
  9. Signs I’m Over 30
  10. Sick Pen Obsession
  11. My primal, Sunday baking urge
  12. No. You didn’t SEEN anything.

The Netflix “Crisis”

Until I saw this video from Funny or Die this morning, I hadn’t really put into perspective just how tragic people find the recent Netflix price hike to be, nor how shallow it is in comparison to actual problems. And it’s not like I haven’t been dealing with my own share of issues. The Netflix price increase was, for me at least, kind of the icing on the cake to what I have dubbed the “Summer Blues.”

In any case, to paraphrase, the video makes a great point about an issue that is affecting millions of white people across America, deadpanned by the great Jason Alexander.

What’s interesting, however, is that my boyfriend and I have discussed this issue at length, with the most recent stint occurring last night before dinner; in this way, we definitely lived up to the stereotype that it’s all “anybody” can talk about – for days at a time. I sat at my computer, reading Netflix’s Facebook Page Wall (that’s a mouthful) and combing through the thousands of messages people have been leaving for them, while Kevin looked through various news articles on his laptop. We sat there comparing notes and tsking and figuratively shaking our fists in the air at this nonsense.

The bottom line is, people are outraged that Netflix is jacking up the price by 60% without discussing it with their millions of loyal customers first. I’m a little torn because I can see both the company’s perspective and the one of being the huffy consumer. (Aside: one woman wrote a scathing comment on the Netflix FB Page and several people proceeded to jump on her, making her out to be a screeching, mindless woman who had no right to be upset. It was pretty brutal.) Quite frankly, I just don’t want to have to choose between the discs or streaming. I want to have both! But I am unwilling to pay $15.99 a month for the privilege. It used to be that that price would get you three movies at a time, something which I never had the luxury of affording. I’m a one-at-a-time gal.

I do think it would have been nice to have some kind of survey or something sent out, or even a price hike in the range of say, $3.00, to continue enjoying new movies on DVD and streaming older (sometimes crappy) movies and lots of television shows. We don’t stream on more than one device at a time but many have left since Netflix has begun enforcing its streaming policy. Apparently Netflix only wants to allow you to stream on the same basis of how many discs you take out at a time, which really negates “Unlimited” streaming but also, what happens when you go to the all streaming plan?

I was thinking about how electronic subscriptions differ from say, magazine subscriptions. Netflix caught on to the fact that people were sharing their log-on information with family/friends and so to keep people from “stealing,” they are cracking down on multiple device streaming. Granted, I don’t own or run a billion dollar company, but if I have a subscription to Vogue and I give all my copies to a friend to read when I’m done, how is this different? Is that person “stealing,” too? Is this really a problem for Netflix when they have ousted a lot of its competition (namely, physical DVD rental places) and they are highly profitable?

The only other troublesome thing is that I think many people would have stayed on if Netflix had newer releases available to stream, at least, instead of the B movies of yesteryear. Granted, I have loved catching up on some older television shows, but when I want to watch something new that came out that I was unable to see in the movie theater, I believe I should be able to do that if I am paying a monthly subscription fee.

RedBox has gone through the roof with new customers. Blockbuster immediately set up a plan to soothe the wounded from Netflix. They offer hard disc rentals, streaming, games, and even Blu-Ray discs at no extra charge and are offering a 30-day free trial to the scorned. Check out all the details here. I don’t want to like Blockbuster. They used to charge $4.99 to rent a DVD for two nights. I can’t even say how much money my parents and myself spent in the 90s and early 2000s renting movies and games from them. Netflix was the solution! But this latest blow does give me cause to reconsider my options. While I believe I will probably try out the streaming-only plan come September, I can’t guarantee I won’t jump ship.

It’s hard not to think that Netflix only cares about the bottom dollar and now that they have eleven years in to this business, no longer care about Joe American Movie Watcher.

I’m on the fence. What will you do?

The obligatory courtesy smile

Humans are such funny creatures. We have all these social niceties and some of the “rules” in place are rather odd.

Something I wish didn’t need to exist is that weird smile – sometimes an accompanying nod – that you give to people (namely, acquaintances or office mates) where you flatten your lips and smile tightly as you pass each other by. It looks like this:

Thanks to Kevin for his gracious demonstration.

Humorous to look at it, especially out of context, but also awkward and kind of annoying. It’s like the only way you can acknowledge someone’s presence and also let that person know, “I don’t want to stop and chat so I’ll make this weird face.” It doesn’t matter how well you know someone, if you are passing by that person and you don’t want or have time to talk, you will make one of these grimaces. I suppose it’s better than in olden times when ladies and gents would bow, curtsy or tip hats to each other, no matter the time, no matter how hurried they were. Kind of quaint, if you think about it.

Some anti-socials are really adept at avoiding eye contact and stampeding right by you, social niceties and familiarity be damned. I have worked with several of these types and it’s always kind of fun to take the initiative to chirp out, “Good morning!” or some other common greeting, forcing that person to either be a dick and not reply, or gruffly respond. It’s the little things. I feel like if I have to participate in this ritual, everyone else should, too.

There really isn’t much more to this fluff piece than that. Just an observation, something I thought I could share with you fine readers. If you can think of other social rituals we participate in, by all means, please share! Enjoy your day/evening – hopefully socially awkward free.

A prayer to the movie gods

A humble request to the lords who control those who enter the same movie theater as me when I am dying to see a movie like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II:

I beg of you to grant my wish that my movie karma kicks in this time around and I get to watch this movie in peace.

Please allow only those into the theater who are interested in WATCHING the movie and are not there to analyze the movie for film class, narrate along to tell the rest of us what’s going on, or worse yet, have every single reaction to the film out loud. Those who can not be separated from their cell phones for 2.5 hours need not come at all. What’s the point?

I ask that those who can not sit still without fidgeting constantly (i.e., kicking the back of my seat) sit in the front row or wait for the movie to come out on Blu-Ray.

If everyone could be in their seats waiting for the movie to begin on time, that would also immensely help. I’d love to not have to stand up to let someone through because they don’t know how to show up even twenty minutes prior to the start of a blockbuster movie on opening weekend.

Lastly, if you could put all those with weak bladders in one theater or maybe dissuade them from coming on opening weekend, that would also help me enjoy my movie-going experience.

Remember Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I?  Yeah. That was not cool when four people decided to walk in for the last ten minutes and begin talking loudly and telling everyone else to shutup when they were shushed. Pretty much the last scene with Lord Voldemort went unheard and my boyfriend was cursed out for having the cojones to tell these guys how rude their behavior was.

Usually I stay away from the theaters until I am sure the coast is clear from the chatty Cathys, people who insist on bringing their infants and toddlers to adult movies, and other inconsiderate freaks (see above). Please, please, please, let me enjoy tonight’s movie.

Your faithful, considerate, quiet, timely movie watcher,
Zoe