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.

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.

Literally, the most misused word

Literally, the most misused word – The Boston Globe.

I literally want to hug this author for writing this piece.

This.

This.

This.

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

Dear Wendy’s, I love ya but you’re not a bistro.

On a recent excursion to the sole Wendy’s in my fair town, I had the opportunity to try their new line of French fries. These new fries are supposed to call forth healthier images of a fried treat (more like a staple) that is consumed daily around the world as if the next potato famine will start any second now.

Made from Russet potatoes, left with some critical minimal amount of skin on for a more natural effect, and seasoned only with sea salt, Wendy’s portends that this is the new standard of fry that is going to beat out McDonald’s’. <~~~~I swear that that is the correct way to properly put McDonald’s in the plural possessive. Those two apostrophes are annoying, however.

Before I cite some other articles on this topic, I’m just going to give my totally subjective, casual opinion on them. Which is….they’re really not all that good. Honestly, what peeves me more than anything else is that these new fries completely took over the old ones, and I happened to like their classic yellow, thicker cut fries. We had no choice whatsoever in this matter. The old ones tasted great with ranch (quelle surprise) and Kevin liked to dip them into Frosties. I’m a big fan of Frosties. Big time. Chocolate, not vanilla. Their coffee chocolate dessert thingy is good, too, where they mix in candy and stuff with it. But in a pinch, you can’t go wrong with a bit of Frosty. Mmm.

Okay, back to the fries. We were mourning the old ones. Quite frankly, if we just had the option of choosing between classic and these new “bistro” fries, I’d be okay with that! I’d just never order the bistro fries. I mean, even Arby’s and Jack in the Box have multiple fry options. Curly vs. classic. Why can’t they get on board with this? Yeah, it’s one more thing to fry up but it’s just potatoes and chicken nuggets in the fryers over there. BFD, ya know?

These new fries are skinnier, the ends burn more easily, and I don’t know if it’s the 1% skin on them or what, but the flavor just isn’t….”Hurry up and eat me!” like I do with other places’ fries.

I love me some sea salt. But there’s no way that these fast food fries are potatoes + salt and that’s it. And I surmised correctly! Check out this article on all the crap that the fries are processed with – I’m telling you, it’s nasty. And if you have some extra time and wanna see what an actual food blog wrote up about the fries, check out what Serious Eats had to say about them.

I disagree that the old ones had no merit but I do agree that they were inconsistently cooked.

In summation, I’m sorry to say it, Wendy’s. The new fries are more a fail than a success. Please stick to what you do best, which is make above average fast food. And your new salads are bomb, too. But your thinly veiled marketing campaign to disguise your fries as anything but regular, same-old processed ones is lame. Bring back the old fries that never pretended to be anything than what they were – mediocre and bad for you!

May: the month of a gazillion birthdays

Compleanno
Well, we’re officially in one of my two favorite months of the year and so far, the first three days have been a doozy. Am I right or am I right or am I right?

I am getting close to knowing someone with a birthday on each and every day of this wonderful month. I don’t have children but if I ever get to that phase of my life, I’m going to wonder what is so special about the 9 months prior to May because it is baby and birthday explosion come May 1. I got my Facebook notification on Sunday night that told me I know six people on Facebook alone with birthdays in the first week.

My special day is 5-5, a very symmetrical birthday. I’m all about symmetry. Heck, this blog began on 8-8-08, incidentally. I have a cousin with my same birthday and I have met probably ten others who also share the May 5 birthday. Today is my dear friend Meg’s birthday and I know at least twelve more people with birthdays this month. I even know people with birthdays on the 6th, 7th, and 8th. It’s crazy!

Have I said the word  birthday enough?

May is the month of Taurus and Gemini. That’s right, I went there. I also am completely discounting the “new” astrology system because the 13th sign sounds ridiculous. I know it doesn’t change my sign because of the year but I still find it lame (as at least half the population does about astrology in general). I have a soft spot for astrology. I like figuring out which signs are supposed to be compatible with which and I have this book called The Secret Language of Birthdays which is a really cool personality profile based on everyone’s actual birth-day. Just saying, if you’re into this, this is a must-have book.

Aside from May being Birthday Month Extravaganza, it is also the month with Memorial Day and kicks off travel season. I am visiting a dear friend in Seattle for over five days at the end of the month and I am completely through and through stoked about it. I’ve only been to the Pacific Northwest once for vacation when I was a teenager and I was in Vancouver ten years ago but I have never explored the fine metropolis of Seattle. So Original Starbucks here I come!

I may not have mentioned my passion for coffee mugs, though I know I’ve talked about my being a coffee snob. I have an array of Starbucks mugs from various cities I’ve visited and I’m actually kind of excited to add to the collection. I had a fabulous mug from Paris from 2004 when I was there and it survived the trip back, and even many moves within New York City, but it was no match for Kevin, who accidentally broke it in my last New York apartment. I went to find a replacement and they were selling on eBay for like, $90 or something. C’est ridicule, ca! So yeah, that’s long gone. I’ll have to stick with Stateside mugs.* C’est la vie.

Any travel plans (or anything particularly exciting) this month? How many people do you know celebrating a May b-day?

*Edit: I received a replacement Paris mug that was, in fact, purchased for an obscene amount of money, and it happily sits in my kitchen cabinet with all of the other mugs I have amassed.

Sorry I’m A Safe Driver, and: I Hate Minivans

I have a bone to pick with minivan drivers. What is the deal? You either drive way too fast or way too slow. Can’t you just drive normally? I can’t help but feel like some of the rude driving I’ve seen happen with these vehicles is because there is pent up rage from owning one of these ugly things. I’m in the minority in that I am a woman who has no desire whatsoever to have one. My male counterpart couldn’t want one more, inexplicably.

I can’t even count how many times I’ve been on road trips and the cars that are going 85 and being obnoxious are minivans (usually male drivers). I smiled the other day when I was coming to an intersection and saw that a minivan had been pulled over, presumably for speeding or having just run the light. I couldn’t help but feel vindicated for what had transpired earlier that same day. Shall I relay the story?

So that same morning, as I was sitting in the left turn lane at a busy intersection – and I was the first car in the turn lane, mind you – there was no chance for me to turn left against the regular green light, so I knew I was going to have to sit through another cycle before I got the arrow. Right as the light was about to turn, a minivan drives around me from being in the turn lane and proceeded to go out into the middle of the intersection, turning left against the red light. Thank God s/he had the turn signal on or it would have been REALLY obnoxious.

You can bet your sweet bippy I honked at this foul offender, whilst also spewing some choice epithets after him/her. (I’m assuming it was a man but who’s really to say.) Pretty much, this was my face:

When I told my boyfriend the same story in a really appalled tone, he took the opportunity (after agreeing that it had been a dick move) to say, “But you know, if you’d been pulled out into the intersection, he wouldn’t have done that.”

What ensued after this statement was a huge debate about whether or not it’s illegal and/or courteous to pull out mid-intersection to turn left. This must be a “Champaign thing.” Where I grew up in St. Louis, there are very few lights which do not have green arrows, so we know exactly when we can turn. Having to sit at a busy intersection with no green arrow is not only infuriating, but basically encourages this crappy driver etiquette. And this was a light where we had a green arrow! It only lights every other cycle for some odd reason, though. Being rush hour traffic, I really had no opportunity to turn.

Anyway, although we are both good drivers, the boyfriend and I disagree on several driving habits, this being the main one. Apparently I’m the jerk for not pulling all the way out and waiting for the light to turn, even if it’s when the light has turned red and I just have to get out of the way; whereas I can’t help but feel like an a-hole if I pull that stunt. It happens so often here and yet, I still hate doing it. I feel like I’m basically running a red light when I do this. Kevin insists it is perfectly legal. I have not been swayed. Our debate escalated to the point where, in a very frustrated moment I blurted out, “Sorry I’m a safe driver!”

You just never know who is going to do what when crossing an intersection and I don’t like sitting in the middle of the action when I can sit behind my safe little white line that was designated for this purpose. Am I right or am I right or am I right?

Okay, back to my original diatribe about minivans. I find them ugly, bulbous, and too similar looking. They’re everywhere. Plus, I don’t want to turn into Shitty Minivan Driver. I understand that if one has lots of children, these are probably Dream Modes of Transportation. Since I have zero children, this definitely accounts for the strong bias. I just don’t understand what a minivan has that say, a nice-looking SUV or crossover doesn’t have. I’d really like to know. Being the aesthetic person that I am, it’s more of a looks thing than it is a stereotype thing, but the stereotype does play into my dislike. I also know that there are folks out there who SWEAR by minivans and would never drive anything else. I’d like to hear from you!

For whatever reasons that Kevin adores minivans – all of them practical, I assure you – we have actually gotten into a heated debate about why we may or may not purchase one in our future solidified life together. I am adamantly opposed (has that been made clear?) and he is insistent on changing my mind. He finds them to be the pinnacle purchase in adulthood, I think. Strangely enough, Kevin’s best friend is also the one in his relationship who prefers to have a minivan and his wife is the one that has the same knee-jerk reaction I do: Yick! So they have that to bond over, which is cute and funny.

If anyone out there can shed some light on the intersection debate or tell me all the merits of owning a minivan, I’d love the feedback! I can’t fathom changing my mind about ever wanting to own a minivan but never say never, right? I think Justin Bieber never says never. Or he just says, “Never Say Never.” One of those.

In the meantime, I will bask in the glory of sedan ownership.

**Edit March 2017** — a couple of weeks ago, I was at an extremely busy intersection during the 5 o’clock rush home. I needed to turn left across two oncoming lanes of traffic, and the intersection is quite wide. It’s easy to underestimate how much time it takes to cross those lanes with two lanes of traffic barreling down on you. Because of the heavy traffic, I stayed behind my little white line at the light. A woman raced up behind me and, when she realized I wasn’t going to move out into traffic, shook her head at me. She was older, perhaps in her 50s or 60s. I saw her grimace and shake her head in my rearview mirror. I decided to fight her crankiness with silliness and I happily waved at her. She saw me waving and lightened up (slightly) and half-heartedly waved back at me. (I like to think that she felt a little embarrassed, perhaps thinking I knew her, and she is only comfortable doing that to strangers instead of people she knows.) The light went red and we sat through another cycle until I was able to safely cross with a green arrow. My husband still asserts that he sided with the lady behind me but I like to think that being cautious saved myself and possibly the woman behind me from making a poor driving decision and getting into an accident. The “Sliding Doors” theory, if you will.