Saturday, December 29, 2007

House of Nanking

Hanging with the tourists in a line 20 people deep at 2:15 pm! (but we
found a parking spot 1 block away, and put 10 quarters into the meter
(for 1 hour!) and I refuse to leave!!)

update

Since I've had so many people ask, I should explain why we were at the House of Nanking.

It's a great, whole-in-the-wall Chinese Restaurant on Kearny Street - on the edge of Chinatown and Little Italy. It's a different kind of Chinese Food - not as traditional (to me) as my other favorite Chinese Restaurant, U-Lee.

Dick introduced me to this place years ago. We both love it, but we don't go very often. It's pretty far away, and in an area that's fairly difficult to park. It has also become very popular amongst the tourists, as it's featured in many guide books. Because of this popularity, there's usually a line wrapping outside. (and that's even AFTER the remodel that they did a few years back that more than doubled their space!)

If you go, I highly recommend the House of Nanking Chicken (served with yams), and the Baby Pea Shoots. (something that wasn't on actually on the menu until we went this time - when I'd been before, it was what the owner recommended to us). I'm sure everything on the menu is very good, but honestly, these two dishes are SO good, that it's the only things we've tried!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Buying don tot in Chinatown

Andy & Dick wait in line at Golden Gate Bakery

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Noe's new favorite spot

Underneath the sink, on top of the heated floor, in the new bathroom.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It's Official: I'm having one of "those" days.

..and the only thing that's helping me keep my cool right now is that I have to get ready to go out for a client meeting in 10 minutes.

In a nutshell (and because I have to leave):

sometime this morning: some ass let his big dog poop right in front of our stairs, so I had to spray it down so people wouldn't track it into our house by accident (getting grumpy)

1:00: find out Mykail isn't coming home for Christmas. :( (sad)

1:45: painter comes to finish touch ups (yay!)
He asks if I want him to bring the cans of paint back into the basement. I offer to do it instead.

While I'm down there, I drop two containers of paint (that I was using for quick touch ups). Both containers break, and spread paint all over the basement floor, and on my clothes. (over-the-top grumpy!)

This is not the end of the world by any means, but really, I want to scream.

Update:
I've made it to my meeting in time but realized while I was on MUNI that I didn't get all the paint off my hands, and my black sweater has cat hair all over it. OY.

Update to my update:
Client meeting went really well. Nice people, and we hit it off.
I stopped at "Hot Cookie" on Castro Street and got a chocolate cookie on the way home. :) I'm fairly convinced that a chocolate chip cookie can make almost any day a little better.

D'oh!

Oh man, I hate it when I do things like this.

Like most people, when it starts to get cold each winter, Dick and I will turn on the heaters on both floors (2 condos, 2 furnaces). Both furnaces are pretty old, but the one for upstairs is really old. For the last couple of years, when I tried to turn on the upstairs heat, it wouldn't work, and we'd have to go down to the basement to light the pilot light, and that would get it up and running. While we're down there, we also remember to change filters. :)

About 3 weeks ago, it started to get really cold, so we turned on the heat, but nothing happened. We went to the basement, lit the pilot light, tried to turn it on again, but still... nada.

When we moved the switch on the thermostat, we could hear the little "click" that you hear when you know it's turning on, but nothing was happening. We fiddled with it for quite some time, then figured that a) the thermostat was broken and needed to be replaced, b) the furnace was kerbusted and needed to be replaced, or c) all of the above.

I asked my contractor for a recommendation for a heating company, and got an immediate referral. (always nice) When I called the company, they were booked solid (because it's the beginning of winter, and everyone is calling them now!) and I had to wait more than a week for an appointment. Which is fine.

So, the repair guy came out this morning. I told him the situation. He came upstairs to check out the thermostat first. He turned it up all the way. (I had tested it by turning it up to 75 or 80 degrees, but not all the way up to 90)

Before we headed down to the basement, he asked to use our bathroom. While he was in there, I started to smell that familiar smell that the heater makes when it's blowing warm air up the ducts for the first time in a year....

What, really?

So yeah. The heat was working again. And all he did was turn up the thermostat.
...and we've been freezing our tushes off for the past 3 weeks.

Duh.

He was super nice. Since he really didn't do anything, he offered not to charge me, even though I knew that the company had a minimum 1 hour charge. He also offered to take a peek at our furnace to check it out. He said it was at least 30 years old, and that we should plan to replace it soon.

Anyhow, it was a funny story, and I really appreciate that he was so nice and didn't charge us. You know they'll get our business when we decide to replace the furnace!

Cozy Kitty

This is where I found Noe yesterday as I was heading out: on the bed,
between the pillows, and underneath the comforter. It's a good life.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

More than meets the eye...

robots in disguise

Last night, Dick and I watched the movie Transformers

I had heard it was a pretty good movie, but we were both surprised how much we both really loved it! Okay, not the best movie ever made, but some good entertainment!

I remember hearing about the movie before it came out thinking, "Seriously? A movie about a toy line from the '80s?".

Actually, what really cracked me up was realizing that I although I never had the toys, and never watched the cartoon, I learned enough from watching TV ads for the toys in the 80s to remember that Megatron was the leader of the Decepticons. That's some pretty serious toy commercial brainwashing!

Anyhow, GREAT special effects, a fun action-fill story, a decent cast, and some surprisingly funny dialog. What a fun film!

Monday, December 17, 2007

taking a break

After a busy last several weeks, I decided to take a mental health day today. (one of the big perks of working from home!)

Here I am, sitting in an empty theater, with popcorn and a coke in hand. I'm waiting to see The Golden Compass, which I've been looking forward to seeking for awhile.

I've never been to see a movie by myself before! No real reason, except that I don't often go out to see movies in theaters. It's pretty cool, though - I'm really glad I'm doing this. What a nice treat.

Bonus: before I left the house, I remembered that I had an AMC giftcard! Woo Hoo! ;)

Friday, December 14, 2007

You swooped me? I'll swoop you right back!

Some of you may know that I'm a fan of ebay. According to my ebay stats, I've been a member since January 14. 1998. Wow - that's a long time. Being a collector of a few different things, I often follow auctions to see what things are going for, and I will occasionally participate in one as either a buyer or a seller.

When I'm serious about trying to "win" an auction, I do my best to "swoop" in during the last minute or few seconds of the auction. You know the drill: you wait until the last few minutes, constantly refresh the browser, watching the minutes/seconds count down, then, during the final 60 seconds or so, you put in your bid, hoping that once you've completed all of the steps, you will have come out victorious! It's all very exciting - just as they intend it to be. :)

Last weekend, I was trying to swoop on a particular item. My theory: bid as high as your comfortable paying, and if you get it great, but if you don't, you can't feel bad, because you already decided what your limitations are. So anyway, here I was, swooping at the last second with my high bid, my bid is accepted, and I'm the high bidder. But wait: there are a few mere seconds left. Refresh one more time, and damn, someone named "iluvebay" swoops in and wins the auction. (okay, that wasn't really their ebay name, but you get the idea.) And then you curse out loud: "Damn you, (insert ebay name here)".

This happens more often than not, which is okay, because I still follow my rule of knowing how high I'm willing to bid, and not to be to upset that it goes higher.

So there were two more auctions that I was following ending this afternoon. These were both similar items to the item that I "lost" last weekend. (I always try to remember that these things do have a habit of coming back up for auction if you're patient, and wait it out.) I did the swoop again, with about 45 seconds to go. Again, i was the high bidder with a few scant seconds left, then...... "Sorry, you've been outbid".... by the same person as last weekend! "Damn you, (insert ebay name here)".

8 minutes later, the second auction was ending. "Okay, (insert ebay name here)I'm on to you now!" This time, I waited even longer - perhaps 25 seconds before the end. Hit my submission, and....."Congratulations, YOU are the high bidder." Refresh once more, and it is verified that I had WON, and yes, the bidder-who-shall-not-be-named tried to swoop me once again, but I managed to be one up on them this time.

And now you know the crazy antics that I will go through to win an auction on ebay. It's quite hilarious, actually. Dick has watched me in the process a few times, and he gets all into it, too.

Just another day-in-the-life.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Thanks, I needed that!

With Dick up in Seattle for the night, and Richard down in Milpitas for his new job, Pete and I decided to get together tonight to hang out and relax.

The plan: Pizza (Chicago-style, even!) and "Elf".

First things first: the pizza was outstanding! One of the best I've had. It was indeed Chicago-style, but without as much cheese as I've had before. The sauce was really well seasoned, and it was chalk-full of goodies!

Secondly: "Elf". Pete has been telling me about this movie for years now - well, at least 4 years, since it only came out in 2004. I just never got around to seeing it.

I really enjoyed the movie - I think it was exactly what I needed. It was hilarious - I laughed so often! Plus, I didn't know it was directed b Jon Favreau. I love that guy.

If you haven't seen it yet, I recommend it. It's a very charming and funny holiday movie. Plus, Pete found it at Best Buy for only $10! You can't beat that!

Thanks, Pete! It was a great evening.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Giving Thanks, Moving Forward, and Finding Humor

First of all, I want to thank all of you who have sent emails, comments, and cards to me and my family in regards to my Grandpa's passing. I can't express how much your notes of love and support have meant to us.

In my 37 years, this is the first time that I've lost a close family member. That fact still amazes me, and I do not take it for granted. With this in mind, I've always been one of the people writing cards of sympathy to friends, offering them my condolences, wanting to do whatever I could to help in any small way. It never felt like enough.

Now I know that these emails and cards that I've received, phone calls, and hugs that I've received are SO much. I want you all to know how much strength and support you've given to me. I've always known how fortunate I am to have so many wonderful friends and family members: the best support system I could imagine.

I haven't had a chance yet to respond to any of your emails - I hope to start doing that tomorrow. Please know that I've received them, and loved reading every single one of them. They warm my heart.

Yesterday, my Mom, my Grandma and I went shopping for an urn in which to keep my Grandpa's ashes. None of us had ever been through this before, so we didn't really know what to expect. My sister had called my Mom earlier that day to remind her that Costco.com sells funeral items: coffins, urns, etc., (I'm sure I've blogged about that before!) So my Mom and I checked out Costco.com, printed out the urn selection, and brought it with us for comparison.

We went to a place in Downtown San Jose which (apparently) has a large selection of urns in stock. This gave us a chance to get a feel for what's available, what the sizes are, shapes, colors, etc.,

To make a long story short, we all agreed to go with one of the urns on costco.com. Now I realize that this may sound odd, but really, it's perfect.

My Grandpa would have gotten a kick out of knowing that we could buy this from Costco. I can hear him chuckling now. :)

Friday, December 07, 2007

In Loving Memory of Choo Chan

January 22, 1917 - December 7, 2007

I realized fairly early on that blogging was a therapeutic resource for me. There were times when it really helped me to be able to put my thoughts "out there" to share with others (whom ever that may be). I'm counting on this to be one of those times.

My Grandfather, Choo Chan, passed away this morning.

Although I am extraordinarily sad about this, I'm finding great comfort in thinking about all of the great memories I have of him.

Simply put, he was one of the best people I've ever known: he was kind, generous, loving and had a great sense of humor. He had an even temper, and always had a smile on his face.

He lived for over 90 years. He was married to his wife for 60 years. He loved his wife, he loved his daughter, and he loved his family.

He loved hot dogs and custard donuts.
He made the world's best Egg Foo Young.

He owned and operated his own Shoe Repair Shop in Downtown Stockton. He ran it for 50 years.

He was kind and generous: he would give money to the local "hobos", but only after he had figured out a way that they could work it off somehow so that they could retain their dignity. These same hobos referred to my Mom as "the shoe repairman's Daughter" and would watch after her as she walked to and from elementary school.

My Grandpa had a great sense of humor. He was always laughing, and always teasing. When I was young, he used to tease me by saying he was going to take some of my Raggedy Ann dolls. I believed him, and bought him a Raggedy Andy of his very own.

He used to call me "Chili Bean"
He used to carve the turkey for Thanksgiving, and would always sneak a few pieces to me.
He would give my sister and me $1 for every "A" that we showed him on our report cards.

He used to pick up these little plastic banks from McDonalds that were shaped like garbage cans (a McDonaldland character, at the time). He would save all of the pennies that he could save from his store, and he would present these banks to us, full of pennies when he saw us.

He loved animals, and all things small and cute.
He and my Grandma have a small brown teddy bear named "Half Pint". Grandpa would bring him to sit on their bedside table every night when they went to bed.
He would call anyone or anything small "Big Shot".

He used to walk me to the 7-11 by his house to buy me a Slurpee.

He couldn't pass up a deal. If he found a really good sale, not only would be buy one or two - he would usually buy something like 10!

He enjoyed shopping at Costco.

He liked gadgets.

One of my most recent favorite memories was when I showed him my iPhone. He was very impressed with everything it could do. He asked me how much it cost. I was embarrassed to tell him, because he was so frugal, and I was afraid he would think that I spent too much money. After I told him it was $600, he turned to my Mom and said, "That's not bad. I thought it would be $1,000! Barbara! You should get one, too!"

My Grandpa was one of the best men I've ever known. Everyone who knew him loved him.

I can't express how lucky I feel to have had 37 years with him.
He had a great life, and he knew how to be happy.

Goodbye, Grandpa. I will miss you, always.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Everyone looks great in this jacket!

I just got an email from my friend Barry, who had just finished reading my blog post from yesterday.

It turns out that Barry has a Chinese jacket very similar to the one that Dick wore to the Holiday Party Saturday night. Barry's was custom made for him in Beijing! (just a little further away than San Francisco Chinatown, where Dick bought his jacket.)



Here's a photo of Barry looking dashing in his jacket. Note that Barry is holding a doll - that's Hitty. Hitty belongs to Andrew, Barry's partner. Hitty travels all around the world with Barry & Andew. In this photo, she's wearing a custom made Chinese Silk Dress! (Hitty's wardrobe would make Barbie jealous.) You can view all of Hitty's Travel Photos Here.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Holiday Party at the Asian Art Museum

Dick's company's Holiday Party was this past Saturday Night. It was held at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. What an amazing venue that is. It's the second time in the last 5 years that the party has been here, and both times, the parties were really top notch and amazing! Really great food, open bar, and live entertainment (acrobats and musicians). Plus, the building itself is just gorgeous. The museum exhibits were actually open to us during the party, but unfortunately, Dick and I ran out of time, and didn't have a chance to see any!

While Dick's family was in town over Thanksgiving week, we brought them to Chinatown for shopping, and dim sum. I took them to Dragon Seed, the store where I had my cheongsam made for our wedding a couple of years ago. It's a really neat store, with all kinds of beautiful fabrics and clothing.

While we were there, Dick eyed a really beautiful men's silk Chinese-Style jacket. He tried it on, and it was a perfect fit - so much so, that his family and I all agreed that he had to buy it! That's when we remembered that the company Holiday Party was going to be held at the Asian Art Museum this year, and it would be the perfect event to wear it to.



Dick's jacket was a hit - he had many people compliment him on it during the evening. I wore a little black dress, along with one my my Chinese-Style jackets that actually complimented Dick's jacket quite well. :)

Friday, November 30, 2007

Graham playing @ The Red Devil Lounge, SF

Dick and I went out tonight (on a Friday Night?? Shocking!) to see Graham play at The Red Devil Lounge on Polk Street. Graham is the Bass Player for Jonathan Douglas.

The band sounded great! We both really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my regular camera, which would have enabled me to take a quick little video to post. But luckily, I at least had my iPhone with me, which always comes in handy for a quick shot.

Congrats on the great performance, Graham! We're looking forward to seeing the next show!

The Boot Dance, circa 1992

About a month ago, I set up a private social networking site for all of the Alumni of the State Street Review - a color guard from Madison, WI which I was a member of in 1992-1993. (They were around from 1978-1989, then again from 1992-1993)

The site has been a tremendous success so far: we already have 100 members!

People have been posting photos and video footage from our shows, rehearsals, trips, and miscellaneous adventures.

Two of my friends posted this great clip from our 1992 show, which was Country Western themed. We referred to this part of the show as "The Boot Dance". It was a really fun part of the show. And yes, I'm in there somewhere. Just look for the girl with the big hair!


Find more videos like this on The State Street Review Alumni Site

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

We now return to our regular scheduled programming

I just returned from bringing my father-in-law, and one of my sister-in-laws to the airport.

This concludes the 3-week visit with my father-in-law, Richard. My two sister-in-laws also came last week (Meg from Thursday through Sunday, and Kathy from Friday 'til this morning) and our niece, Adrianne, who came from (last) Monday through Sunday.

It was certainly a busy few weeks. Richard and I really had a nice time doing day-to-day things together: finding new places for breakfast and lunch (usually soup & salad, running errands together (my personal favorite was the day we went to Costco!) and taking nice walks around the neighborhood.

The last three weeks were not without their fair share of unplanned surprises: both Kathy and Meg were sick before coming out and had to reschedule their flights out. The bathroom remodel still had some work to be completed (really, it's almost done now). We ended up getting a room for everyone at the Palace Hotel for a few nights to ease the congestion of the craziness over at our house.

Adrianne and Dick managed to get out to play a few rounds of golf at Golden Gate Park last week. Meg made it in just in time to join all of us, along with the whole Chow Clan for Thanksgiving at my parent's house. Kathy came in on Friday morning, and we all spent the day in Chinatown and Union Square, and I even had the chance to take them all to my favorite Chinese Restaurant, U-Lee!

There was a lot of walking around the City, great food, and lots of cocktails! (my new joke is that the bathroom remodel has driven me to drink!)

I really enjoyed the visit with Dick's (and now my!) family. We've been really fortunate to have had a chance to spend so much time with each of them this year.

As I write this, I realize that my house is very quiet, and it is one of the first times in the last 3 months that I've been in the house alone - no contractors, and no house guests. It's a bit surreal.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Taking a moment...

I'm winding down from a really amazing evening - one of those times in life that you stop, and take a moment to appreciate what just happened.

We had a couple of guests over to the house for cocktails tonight. One of them was someone from my father-in-law's past - a former student whom he had not seen in 50 years!

It's times like this that I'm reminded of how the universe works sometimes - how an event can occur that you never dreamed would have been possible, but you always secretly hope that it might.

Life is really pretty amazing, and I'm so happy to be a part of it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Gotta Go, Gotta Go!

Poor Noe. The bathroom remodel continues to disrupt her little cat life.

This morning, the painters returned to finish up some final touch-ups and last-minute additions. They came at 8:00, which I'm now realizing is before Miss Noe woke up.

When there's activity in the house, Noe will usually stay in our bedroom where it's nice and safe. Throughout the morning, I kept noticing her coming out of the bedroom, and peeking down the hallway where the work was going on. As soon as she saw one of the painters, she would jolt back into the bedroom. This continued for a about an hour.

That's when it occurred to me: Noe hadn't been out and about before the painters came, and she probably really needed to use her little box!

The kitty litter boxes live in the upstairs kitchen, which is just past where the bathroom hub-bub is going on. I brought Noe's litter box into the bedroom, and she hopped in immediately.

Noe's day should be a lot easier now. :)

Monday, November 19, 2007

The iPhone doesn't lie.

never question the iPhone

Yesterday afternoon, as we were out and about, I was using my iPhone to check the weather for the week. I was surprised that it had forecasted rain for today (Monday). So Dick and I made plans for me to drive him to the CalTrain station this morning. (I always drives him when it rains, so he won't have to drive his scooter.)

We left the house this morning at 7:30. It was sunny, with clear, blue skies!

I told Dick that perhaps the iPhone had lied to us.

"liePhone", he said.

(editor's note: that's funny!)

Well, here it is, two hours later, and lo and behold: it's raining out.

The iPhone doesn't lie.

I owe my iPhone a public apology.

Listen to your iPhone.
The iPhone is your friend.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Follow up - we're fine, and thank you!

"Uh, everything's under control. Situation normal. Uh, we had a slight malfunction, but uh.... everything's perfectly all right now. We're fine. We're all fine here now, thank you. How are you?"

I just wanted to let everyone know that we're all okay here. I received numerous emails and phone calls today after my last post about our accident in the cab last night.

I realized that since I wrote it minutes after it happened, and I was still a bit shaken up, it probably came across more melodramatic that I had intended.

We're all fine. Richard had a slight scrape on his leg, which fixed right up with a band-aid. Dick is fine, and my head just has a bit of an indentation on it. Go figure.

But we're totally fine. We were more shaken up than anything.

Thanks for all the comments, emails and phone calls.
We really appreciate it.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

car accidents and the importance of seat belts

First of all, we all seem to be fine.

With that said, Dick, his father and I were just in a minor car accident.

We went out to dinner at Zuni this evening to celebrate Richard's birthday (which happens to be today).

We took a cab to and from the restaurant we wouldn't have to worry about parking or drinking.

We picked up a cab to the restaurant on Castro seat. I remember thinking that I should put on my seatbelt (because I always do) but that it was a little cramped in the backseat of the cab with the three of us, and the restaurant was only about 2 miles away.

With this in mind, we did the same thing on the way home. We caught a cab outside of the restaurant, and none of us (stupidly) put on our seat belts. Well, within a mile after leaving we were involved in a rear-end accident (our cab rear-ended the car in front of us). It took us all by surprise - none of us really knew what happened.

Luckily, we weren't going too fast (I'd guess around 25MPH) so it nearly as bad as it could have been. We all got a little banged up. Dick hit is head squarely on the passenger side headrest, Richard hit his knees and shins on the middle armrest, and I think I hit my head on the side of the headrest in front of me.

I'm developing a bit of a bump on my noggin' right now, and I'm feeling very stupid.

I always make a habit of wearing a seatbelt, and the fact that I thought about it tonight, chose not to wear one is going to bother me until the bump on my head goes away.

It strikes me at how bad car accidents can be - we weren't going very fast, and were on city streets, and the three of us were in the backseat. Had one of us been in the front seat without a seatbelt would've been much, much worse.

So, lesson learned. Always wear a seatbelt, matter how short the distance, and no matter what the inconvenience.

I'm going to go to bed now, and I hope I'll feel better in the morning.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I have friends?

I just noticed that I now have 50 friends on Facebook. I know that's not very many at all compared to a lot of people, but it surprises me.

I first joined Facebook in late July, I think. Dick had to pull my arm just a little bit. He kept telling me how much I'd like it. I resisted a little bit, figuring I wouldn't use it much, and that I wouldn't know many people using it anyway. Early on, I figured that the only "Friends" I would have on Facebook would be my cousins ("Hi" to my cousins!) and some of Dick's friends from work.

It didn't take me long to figure out that it was actually pretty cool. Since then, I've reconnected with some friends over-seas (including a long-lost friend from art school who I've been trying to find for years), some of my old color guard friends, and I even got a note from my favorite Science teacher from high school! Pretty cool!

So, now I have 50 friends on Facebook. And, I have to admit: I actually really like Facebook, and I'm on it more than I'd like to admit. (like I needed another internet addiction!)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Practically Done!

*whew*

The Great Bathroom Remodel of 2007 is (just about) Done!

Friday was a busy day here. The glass guys came in to install the mirror and shower doors. The electricians also came to install the sconces, the ceiling lights, and to connect all of the outlets, switches, and the thermostat for the floor heater.

By the time they left (around 3:00pm) the bathroom was functional and usable for the first time!

Woo Hoo!

We still have a few more things that need to be installed (glass shelves in the niches inside the shower, one long glass shelf under the mirror, and the mirror for the medicine cabinet) and a few adjustments and minor finishes to be done, but for all intents and purposes, the bathroom project is complete!

I cleaned it as best as I could on Friday afternoon, but had to wait until Sunday before I could really clean the shower for use. (had to let the epoxy on the shower door dry fully.) We used the shower for the first time yesterday, and let's just say: the experience was amazing! Best showering-experience ever!

here are the latest (and almost final) photos!
(it's kind of hard to capture a 5' x 10' bathroom with a camera.)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Dear Restoration Hardware, WTF?!

Okay, this one's a doozy.

Yesterday, we had the plumbers come in to install all of the fixtures into the bathroom: The new Toto Toilet, the sink and the shower fixtures.

Should be no problem, right? I mean, we had ordered all of these products months ago, and had specked out the the entire remodel based off of the dimensions for everything that we had ordered. The fixtures were all delivered and were sitting in the basement for several weeks before being installed.

You can see where this is going, right?

I *knew* that we'd hit a snaffu or two during the process of the remodel. I even figured we'd have *something* go wrong once we installed the fixtures. When we were putting in the electrical, the plumbing and the framing, we kept double-checking to make sure that our measurements were correct for all of the fixtures.

The toilet was installed with no issues - the center of the toilet was exactly 15" from the shower wall, and 15" from where the edge of the sink will be. Great. That's exactly the minimum amount of space that we must have to meet code.

Next: the sink. It's a porcelain sink with two chrome legs, which a towel bar between the legs. (Restoration Hardware stopped selling this product slightly after we bought it, so I can't link to it.) The sink dimensions, according to the website (which I had printed out when we placed our order) is:

Small Console Sink: 23-3/4"W x 17-3/4"D x 33-3/4"H

The sink was shipped in two boxes, but one shipment. One was the sink itself, from Restoration Hardware, the second was the chrome legs, with another companies name on it. Mildly curious, but okay.

So, the plumbers are working on putting everything together. Their building the legs, and installing the faucets, etc., I went into the room just as they were putting the sink on top of the legs, and immediately saw that it was too tall: the back of the sink was covering the electrical outlets that we had planned to be about 2 inches above the sink.

I asked them to stop immediately, told them it was too tall, and asked if the legs were adjustable. It should be noted here that the two plumbers who were here don't speak English, only Chinese. Unfortunately, much to my Grandparent's dismay, I still don't speak Chinese. (D'oh!) Dick was working from home yesterday, so he came in to check out the problem. It turns out that the legs aren't adjustable at all, and that they are full-on 4" too tall! I asked the plumbers who were here if we could call the head plumber, who has been working on the project throughout, and does speak English. We got a hold of him over the phone, I explained the problem to him, and he came right over.

He and Dick thought over the situation for a long time, trying to figure out a solution. The only thing they could come up with was cutting the bottom of each of the chrome legs by 4". This was risky because there was the cutting of the chrome, there was drilling of holes, and also creating a hole with thread so that a tiny screw could be properly screwed into the newly created hole.

Assuming that this all worked, we also had the issue of the sink legs being out of proportion now. There's a towel bar, which would now be 4" too low, which, I'm sorry, is fairly significant.

Anyhow, the cutting and drilling worked: our plumber was a complete rock star.
The sink looks good, the towel bar is low, but manageable.

This is all fine and good, but, come on! You order something based on it's dimensions, and it comes in 4" taller than it should be?! WebTrina was not going to let this one go.

So I called Restoration Hardware, explained my situation, and was immediately passed along to a Supervisor. She was very understanding of my frustration. It was late afternoon, and she and the vendor of the chrome legs were on East Coast time, so she promised to place some calls first thing Friday morning, and for me to call her when I woke up.

I got up and called her at 7:30.

The first thing she said was that she would refund us our $195 in shipping fees. Okay, that's very nice (really) but I still have a bogus sink. She said she hadn't gotten a hold of the vendor yet, but she was still working on it. cool.

Then, she said that she did talk with a Restoration Hardware Product Specialist, and that woman had said that the product legs could be cut 3" without any damage to the product. WTF? That's the solution? I was very careful to make sure that I didn't yell or get upset with the woman who was helping me, because frankly, she was doing a great job, and was only being the messenger at this point. But I did tell her that that sounded outrageous to me: "Yes, we know that the measurements of the product aren't the same as what we had advertised, but all you need to do is cut the legs by 3", and it will be fine." No, no, no!

My representative was very understanding that this was an unacceptable answer (I mean, really...) and promised to get a hold of the vendor to see what they could do.

10 minutes later, she called back. She'd gotten a hold of the vendor and they offered to ship us another set of legs - hopefully with the correct size. This part gets complicated, as it involves the shipping of new legs, old legs, checking to see if the new legs are the right size, and if they aren't sending them back with the corrected specifications, etc., After a lot of negotiating, I get to keep my (cut) legs on my sink, wait until the new legs arrive, see whether or not they are the right size, if they're not, send back the new legs with written specifications, and wait to get yet another set of new legs. If the new set that I get is right, then I just need to install them and send back my old legs. I expect this will be a little complicated, and go around in circles for a bit, but I'll do what I need to do to make this right.

I am utterly impressed with my Restoration Hardware representative who is helping me out. She's really doing a fantastic job of follow-up and problem solving. Once this is all over, I'll be sure to write her a glowing letter. I'm really unimpressed and disappointed in Restoration Hardware that they would actually sell (or used to sell) a product with the incorrect dimension, and expect the customer to fix it on their end. (Cutting the legs could've easily gone wrong, and cost us more time and money.)

Anyhow, I just needed to vent. I knew something was probably going to be wrong with the fixture installation, but I just didn't think that the sink would come in 4" taller than advertised.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Time Machine Rocks

I've been using it to back up my system since Saturday. Today was the first time that I needed to restore a file.

it totally rocks.

this app was worth the price of admission alone.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Dick picking his Dad up at the airport

So Close!

Hey, remember that bathroom remodel? I haven't blogged about it for a while, but it's still going on, and nearly complete!

Here are a bunch of pictures and descriptions to get you up to date.



The painter (yes, singular, because the room is too small for two people at once) has been here since Monday. He's planning to finish today.

The plumber will come tomorrow morning to install the shower fixtures, the sink, and the toilet. The electrician comes in after him to install the sconces, and to hook up all of the outlets and switches, then the glass people come to install mirror and the shower door.

I've arranged for my cleaners to come tomorrow afternoon to help me clean the back of the house. It's all kinds of dusty back there!

This is all great timing. Dick's dad comes this evening to stay with us for 3 weeks. (yay!) We've decided to get a hotel room for him for the first couple of nights, so we'll have time to finish the project before he comes to stay.

Almost there!

One Foggy Morning

This morning we woke up around 7:00, and when I looked outside, saw that it is the foggiest morning that I can remember seeing in our neighborhood in a long time. I drove Dick to the CalTrain station, and we went in and out of fog banks along the way.

It's One Foggy Morning, all right.

which is not to be confused with One Froggy Evening!


"hello, my baby, hello, my darling....

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Installing Leopard

that was easy...

I woke up this morning at 5:00 for no apparent reason, so I thought I'd get up and install the new Apple OS that I just picked up yesterday afternoon.

I backed up all of my important files to my external drive first (did that on Thursday, actually), just in case any problems occurred during the transition.

The installation took about an hour or so, and went very smoothly. Everything seems to be back up and running just fine.

One of the features that I was most interested in is Time Machine - a utility that will automatically back up your files. I had been using Retrospect for a while, but was very unsatisfied with it. I actually stopped using it all-together a few months ago, and have been looking for a better solution ever since.

Time Machine claims to keep:
-hourly backups for the past 24 hours
-daily backups for the past month
-weekly backups until your backup disk is full

cool. I started running it about 30 minutes ago, and it's chugging along now.

Another feature that I'm interested in is Boot Camp. This utility will allow me to run Windows on my Mac. This will come in very handy - I've had a separate PC set up for years so that I can test my web sites on dual platforms and browsers. I've also been running Quickbooks off of that, but I suppose I should upgrade to a Mac version of that,anyway.

Anyhow, so far, so good. I'm always happy when the upgrade to a new OS goes smoothly. It just seems like so many things could go wrong!

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Muppet Matrix

Pete just sent this to me, and I couldn't stop laughing.

This is all kinds of funny.

We have a parking spot in a garage!!!


After living in San Francisco for 12 years, I'm thrilled to report that I am able to park my car in a garage for the first time!

Dick and I have always not-so-secretly hoped that we would someday be able to find a garage in the neighborhood to rent. We've looked into adding a garage to our own house, but that would require physically raising and moving the house, building a new foundation, in addition to lots of time and a ton of money.

Parking on the street for our two cars has been surprisingly not too problematic: we can usually always park somewhere on the block, and even usually even in front of our house (because our two cars fit so perfectly in a spot that most people would use for one car). But nonetheless, we'd always thought it would be really nice to actually have a spot in a garage that we knew we could come home to when the neighborhood is busy, and let's not forget the recent time that both of our cars got keyed in the middle of the night.

We'd been checking craigslist on occasion to see if any spots were available. Honestly, I'd given up at least a couple of years ago. Over the last 6 months, we've received postcards in the mail from new neighbors who had recently moved into the neighborhood, looking for available parking spots. They literally made post cards, sent them out to the neighborhood, and basically said they were willing to pay almost anything. That's when the reality set in that we'd probably never find a spot. Unbeknownst to me, Dick continued to check in craigslist every once-in-a-while for the slight chance that something would open up.

Two weeks ago, it happened: Dick found a garage space that was available just down the block - about 5 houses down. How ideal, and amazing! We'd both left messages over the next couple of days, but figured it must have been taken already.

I received a voice mail message a few days later saying the spot was still available! They had several people who had come by who were interested, but that it's such a tight spot that no one was able to actually get their car in comfortably. (this is starting to sound like Cinderella now) The woman literally said that the spot is very small, and would be ideal for a car like a MINI Cooper!

Imagine her surprise when I called her back and told her that I actually DO have a MINI Cooper. She totally thought I was pulling her leg. Dick and I met with her that evening, and practiced driving my car in, and out, then also tried the same with his car. They both fit!

Now, I realize that this may sound ludicrous to those of you who have never lived in a city before. I've lived in San Francisco for 12 years, and I've never had a spot for my car, let alone a garage to keep it in. I'm thrilled knowing that we'll always have a spot, we can take our car out of busy weekends that we used to stay in for (Castro Street Fair, Gay Pride, Halloween) and our car(s) may even stay more clean now that they won't be exposed to the elements all of the time!

Yesterday was the first day (first of the month) that we started to officially rent the space. I was in Milpitas during the afternoon and evening visiting my Grandparents and my parents. When I came home late last night, I didn't have to worry about finding an open spot, or which side of the street I should park on (Friday morning street cleaning). I was able to drive right into to my newly-rented garage space! My little MINI practically danced a little jig as we drove in (and so did I).

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

For only the second time in the past ten years, Dick and I decided not to throw a Halloween Party this year. We just had too much going on, plus we needed to be up in Seattle on the weekend that we would normally have the party.

So, no new Halloween pictures to show for this year. :(

Instead, I dug into the vast vault of Halloween Photos from years past, and I present to you my favorite "Dick and Trina Halloween Photo" to date: John Lennon and Yoko Ono. classic.


Dick and Trina as John and Yoko, circa 2001

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Well, Shake it Up, Baby!

That was a pretty strong Earthquake!

According to this site, it was a 5.6, and centered in Alum Rock, which is only 7 miles from Milpitas, where my parents live. We're about 40 miles away, and it was still pretty strong.

My parents called us immediately after it happened. They had stuff falling off shelves, etc., It wasn't nearly as strong here in SF.

Hope everyone is okay!

update
After I spoke with my Mom on the phone, I checked out sfgate, and saw the article saying how close it was to Milpitas. I tried calling my parent's house for the next 20 minutes, but I kept getting that message that "All circuits are busy, please try again later." I was really happy that my Mom thought to call me as soon as she did, and that she was able to before the phone lines went down. (She did the same after the 1989 earthquake, when my sister and I were living in Ohio.) While I was still trying to get through to her tonight, I got a call from a mutual friend who had been trying to reach my Mom but was unsuccessful. She called me instead, so I was able to tell her that everyone was okay. That was very nice of her.

Friday, October 26, 2007

I have arrived

Just landed. They had us board another plane - and just in the nick of time! A few more minutes and the pilots would have been on overtime, and not have been able to fly. Flight left at 4:30. In baggage claim now. Going to hop iin a cab to go meet up with Dick, Martin & Celeste for sushi.

Delayed Flight

My 1:00 flight to Seattle has been delayed (at least) 2.5 hours due to
aircraft servicing. They claim to have the part, are installing in,
then need to test it before we board. At least we didn't have to board
THEN wait.

I'm patiently waiting with my iPhone charging, and a slice of carrot
cake from "Just Desserts".

We hope to board (and depart!) soon.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tile - Day 12

Looks like we're just about done with the tile! All the tile has been
installed, grouted and cleaned. Tomorrow they will apply the sealer.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

My day just got better

I just love how the universe works sometimes...

Not that I'm having a bad day, I'm just a bit frazzled.

I was working upstairs in the office, when the doorbell rang. UPS delivery!

I wasn't expecting anything, so I wasn't sure what was being delivered. As I was signing on the UPS machine, I saw that there were two packages, and I asked my UPS guy (whom I'm on friendly terms with), "What have we got today?"

He read the delivery tag from the first box, and said, "Looks like we've got some wine." NICE! Wine from our wine club. I always forget when it's coming.

The other box? I figured it out before he read the tag. It had the Karen Neuburger logo on it.

That's when I told my UPS guy, "Oh! And pajamas!"
He said, "Wine and Pajamas? Sounds like a great night to me!" I couldn't have said it better myself!

I hadn't ordered anything from Karen Neuburger, so I didn't know what was in the box. To my delight, it was another freebie gift (again!)! (I LOVE that!) Inside the box (wrapped in tissue, and tied together with a bow) was a cute little cotton polo-style t-shirt, and a pair of cute socks! (Sweet!)

The was a letter enclosed that stated:

"As one of our valued Shop KN customers, we wanted you to be one of the first to enjoy KN Karen Neuburger's new sportswear and sock collections!..."

It's the little things that make me happy!

Keeping things in perspective

It's been a heck of a day already, and it's only Noon.

I woke up at 6:30 this morning because someone called, and apparently had the wrong number. Dick woke up after that so he could go play golf. I was planning on sleeping in for another hour or so. It was not to happen: right as Dick was getting ready to leave to came up to tell me that one of the cats had pee-ed on our (good) sofa (again!) downstairs. Oy.

So, I spent the next hour trying my best to clean the sofa. This is the second time it's happened, so it's taking more of a toll on it this time. I walked the accent pillows (the target of the cat pee) to the dry cleaners.

By the time I came back, the main tile guy (not the installer) was here. He seemed anxious and upset that this job has taken longer than he anticipated. While I understand his frustration, I wasn't happy that it was taken out on me, because frankly, I didn't do anything wrong. Grrr.....

I made myself a quick breakfast, then prepared to meet with my contractor at 9:00. He had to give the final measurements for the mirror and the shower glass door. We're getting to the point with the remodel that every detail is important and noticeable, and I'm trying to make sure that everything is done right the first time. That puts me in micro-manage mode. I don't like to be in micro-manage mode, but sometimes, it has to kick in.

By the end of the morning, I had to change my plans to work at the Foundation office today because there's simply too much going on with the bathroom today, and I need to be here to make sure that it all goes right. A little frustrating, but luckily, not a problem.

So, while I'm not having the best day ever, I'm really trying to pause and gain some perspective. There's a lot of bad things going on right now in the world. If the the worst thing I have to worry about are pee-ing cats, and a delayed bathroom remodel, so be it.

We should all be so lucky.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Tile - Day 10!

Almost there!



Day 10 of tile installation, and we're nearly done! They finished the actual installation today, and will begin the grouting process tomorrow.

Apparently, the tile we chose is not meant for quick installation! :) We've had a team of two guys work full 8 hour days, 6 days a week. They've been working really hard, and have done a bang-up job. The tile is absolutely gorgeous - we're so happy with our choices!

Tomorrow, the glass guy comes to measure for the shower door, and the mirror. After those are installed, the tile guys will be back to put the tile around the mirror.


Here's a photo of what the floor looks like (taken about a week ago - it's been covered with protective paper/cardboard ever since). The floor has a heating mechanism underneath. SO cool! Um, I mean SO HOT!

The target completion date was this Friday, October 26th (which would be 8 weeks), but that's clearly not going to happen. I'm crossing my fingers that we'll be able to have it done (or most of it done) by next Friday, November 2nd. Dick's father is coming to visit us for 3 weeks in November starting on the 7th, and we'd really like to have the construction done and the house back to normal before he arrives.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Greetings from San Francisco!

The days just don't get much nicer than this. Today was sunny, clear, and around 70 degrees. We decided to take advantage of our (late) Indian Summer and took a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge! It was just gorgeous. We walked the length of the bridge, to Marin and back, which is about 3 miles total.

It was the perfect way to get outside and get a little bit of exercise again.
I love this City.

The 2007 San Francisco Mayoral Elections

While eating our pancake breakfast this morning, Dick decided to entertain me by reading passages from the bios of the Candidates for Mayor for the upcoming election.

Some highlights:

H. Brown
Occupation: Publisher, SF Bulldog
bio highlight:
"I Believe in God, judgment and the SF 49'ers"

George Davis

Occupation: Writer/Nudist Activist
(Dick first read this as Writer/Nudist Architect, which was much funnier)
bio highlights:
"This is a One Issue campaign which is to make Golden Gate Park Clothing Optional..."
"You are free to be nude!!"
"Nude is not lewd"

Harold M. Hoogasian

Occupation: Florist/Coffee Farmer
Trina's notes: I've received flowers from his store before. I can attest that they were very beautiful. That means he'll make a good mayor, right?

Grasshopper Alec Kaplan
Occupation: Vegan Taxicab Driver (I can't make this stuff up)
bio highlights:
"Restore festival, carnival atmosphere; musicians, Artists, fun, love. Remember to smile, laugh, celebrate our wonderful existence, our fabulous planet..."

Michael Powers
Occupation: Nightclub Owner of the Power Exchange

John Rinaldi
Occupation: Showman
bio highlights:
"Hi, my name is Chicken John and I'm running for Mayor because I have a vision for the future of this city..."
"What are my qualifications? ... I converted my truck to run on coffee grounds with zero emissions..."

Gavin Newsom
Occupation: Mayor of San Francisco
bio highlights: We are the first American city to launch universal health care. We are taking bold action on climate change. We helped lead the fight for civil rights such as marriage equality. We won the stem cell center because the nation knows we are the capitol of innovation..."

So..... who would you vote for?

And seriously, does any other city have candidates like these?

It's a good thing that I'm still such a fan of Gavin. I know, he's made a few mistakes over the years, but let's face it: he's still the man for the job. He's' done some great things for the city in the past four years, and believe he's still got more to do.

Plus, the man has great hair.

What more could you want from a Mayor?

Here's an article on all of the candidates from sfgate.com.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

How on Earth....

....did a snail get in the house? That's SO odd! Good thing I didn't
step on it with my bare feet! ew...

Rest assured, I brought the snail back outside. It reminded me of
"Homer" - the snail I had to raise in the fourth grade!

Dumbledore is Gay?

am I completely clueless?
Did anyone else get this?
It all makes sense now, but.....

I’ve GOT to go get my Gaydar fixed.

(read the story here)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Whose Wish List is this?

I was just buying a birthday gift for a friend of mine off of her amazon.com wish list.

I really dig the idea of the Wish List.

As a gift-buyer, it's nice to know that the gift that you are giving is something that the receiver actually wants and/or can really use. All too often, it's difficult to think of something to give the "person who has everything" and you really don't want to spend money on something that they don't actually use. This is not to say that one should not give gifts that aren't on a wish list - it's just a nice alternative means for options.

As a gift receiver, I really appreciate the idea of a wish list. Truly, I'm not in need of anything. I appreciate the thought of gifts, and certainly hope that no one would ever feel obligated to buy a gift for me, either. With that being said, it's nice to have a list "out there" with some small things that would make me happy to receive.

After I bought my friend's gift off of her wish list, I added an item to my amazon.com wish list. When I looked through the contents of what I've put up there over the last few months, it made me laugh.

Looking at it, you'd like I'm a young adolescent with a thing for 80s music. Here's a sample of what I have up there: Season 1 and 2 of the Muppet Show on DVD, Sesame Street Old School on DVD, Animaniacs Vol. 3, Complete Peanuts boxed sets, and a few "Best Of" CDs from bands from the 80s and early 90s. Drop in an Xbox game, and I'm a thirteen year old boy. Funny, huh? You'd never know I'm a 37-year old married woman.

I'm also a big fan of giving gift cards as gifts for friends and family. I know it sounds impersonal, but again, this way you know that the recipient will use it on something that they will enjoy.

I noticed that Safeway sells Ebay gift cards now. Now, please understand that I am not trying to solicit gifts by any means. I'm still not in need or want of anything. However, if you are trying to figure out a good gift, I'd be really happy to receive an ebay gift card. Why? Well, that's the place where I really find the things that I want that I know no one else will know about. Yes, I'm talking about antique Raggedy things, animation stuff, etc., I feel weird telling you all what a good gift idea for me would be, but I figure someone out there might appreciate it.

Now I feel weird and kind of greedy.
Hmmmm... not the effect I was going after.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Look who I ran into!

(not literally, of course!)

It's Andrew & Lola!
Miss Lola has grown so much since the last time I saw her. She (and
Andrew) were excited to demonstate all of new tricks she's learned.
What a good (and cute!) doggie!!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Welcome, baby Ella!

Sharon, Dick (with Ella), and Rob.

Congratulations to Rob, Sharon, and big brother Skyler! Congratulations on the beautiful addition to your family!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Pizza & Poker with da Boys

Playing Texas Hold 'em & "Follow the Bitch". (um, there's a joke in there somewhere...)

Tile - day 3

Lots of progress! We're really happy with how it's all coming together
so far!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tile is being installed!

(that's my camera being crooked. Not the wall or tile!)

Lots of progress being made! I'll try to post more photos soon.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Happy Anniversary!

It's Happy Anniversary Day!

Today, Dick and I celebrate our 2nd Wedding Anniversary.
Amazing, isn't it? Those two years went by so quickly.
Happy Anniversary, Dick! I love you!

Now, as happy as I am to say that Dick and I have been married for two years, that seems to pale in comparison to the fact that today is also my parent's 40th Anniversary!

That's right, we share our anniversary date with my Mom and Dad!
Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad! Thanks for being such a wonderful inspiration!



disclaimer: I'm kind of cheating here. My parents were married on October 9th, but they had their Chinese Banquet a few days/weeks later. The photo is from their banquet, and not taken on their actual wedding day.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Happy 60th Anniversary!


May and Choo Chan, 1947

Today is my maternal Grandparent's 60th Wedding Anniversary!

60 years! That's so incredible to me.

This year also marked the 60th Wedding Anniversary of my other Grandparents, as well as my parent's 40th (next week).

It's a big year for anniversaries in my family.
(Dick and I will be celebrating our 2nd next week :) )

Happy Anniversary, Grandma & Grandpa!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

"Who are YOU?"

said the Caterpillar.



I've been wondering about this for a while now: Who are YOU?.

According to my web hosting company's usage statistics report, my site gets an average of over 5,000 hits per day (sometimes higher). The average amount of daily visits (which I assume means individual users) is 800-1000.

This seems astronomically high to me.
Who are all these people?

Some of these hits are for my regular web site, which has my business portfolio, resume, art projects, etc., There's also still a fair amount of hits for my Raggedy Ann Collection page as well (800/month). But, by and large, the most hits have been for my blog.

I used to assume that the only people reading my blog were friends and family. I mean, who else would read it, right? I've since received numerous comments or emails from people who found me through my blog. These are people I don't know who either found my blog through search engines, or perhaps through other blogs that I am now linked to. I recently had a comment come from a reader in Japan!

I find this most fascinating.

I'd really like to know WHO is reading this?

So, here comes the audience participatory part of this blog post:
If you're reading this, please send me an email, or leave a comment to this post. I'd love to know who you are! Even if you've never left a message before, please do so now. Even if you've never met me, or even if you have, please let me know who you are, where you're from, and (if you'd like) how you came to read my blog.

This should be interesting!
Thanks for playing!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Grandma Chow's How Gow

Insulation Installed

The contractors came in at 8:00 this morning, quickly installed the insulation, and will be putting up the sheet rock during the rest of the day!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Another reason why I love my hubby...

because there are so many...

I was having one of those "ugly days" today.

You know the kind: every time I saw my reflection in a mirror today, all I saw was "bleh". My hair was all wonky from sleeping on it semi-wet last night, so I pulled it back in a barrette today. I spent the day with my Grandparents in the hospital today, so I was just wearing an over-sized t-shirt, jeans, and no make up. I just felt so frumpy, mousie and dowdy all day.

When Dick came home this evening, the first thing he told me was how pretty I looked!
It simply astounded me that he saw me in a completely different way from how I saw myself.

I have the best husband ever.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Thank Goodness for good Health Insurance

...any why our health care system is so screwy....

I just got the "Explanation of Benefits" from our health care provider today for the coverage of my Appendicitis episode. The first sentence of reads: It's not a bill.

In other words, it breaks down the billed charges, and the amount that our health care plan covered, as well as any balance that we owe.

I've said it before: one of the great benefits of marrying Dick (and there are so many!) is, well, great benefits. Before we married, I had my insurance through Kaiser. I can't complain, as I had my fair share of emergency room visits, test, etc., with them, and I always received top notch care. It wasn't cheap, by any means, but well worth the monthly premiums to know that I was covered.

Dick's health care benefits through work are outstanding. We're very grateful for that. It is one of the things that crossed my mind when I was staying in the hospital earlier this month.

So, how much does an Emergency Room visit, an Appendectomy and one night in the hospital cost?

$33,500.00.
Holy crap.

Now, here's the thing. Everything is broken down in this "Explanation of Benefits".
The cost that I just listed is the "Charges billed by provider".

The next column in the form is called "Provider's fee adjustment" which is: Difference between "charges bill by provider" and the amount providers have agreed to accept as full payment.

The difference? Anywhere between 10% and 50%. (the big ticket items were generally around 10%)

Then, there's the "Total amount eligible for benefits", "Total benefit paid by your plan" and "Amount you're responsible for".

Happily, the amount listed for us in the last column was "$0".
But, that didn't stop me from gawking at the rest of the statement.

This is why our health care system is so messed up: someone without health insurance would've been billed $33,500.00. If someone has (certain types of) insurance, the insurance company is only billed 10-50% of that amount.

There's something seriously wrong with this system.
As someone who has had many friends without medical insurance, it makes me sick to think that the people who can't afford medical insurance would be the ones who are gouged beyond reason. I've taken friends to the emergency room a couple of times who held off until the bitter end because they knew they wouldn't be able to afford it. In the end, the bill would come, and they'd be in debt for months or years trying to pay it off.

I know I'm really lucky to have married someone with great medical benefits, but that's just it, isnt' it?

I'm just lucky.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Shout Out to my new friend, Kelly!

Over the years that I've been blogging, I often wondered, "Who's reading this?" I mean, I know certain friends and family read it regularly, but other than that.... who knows? The internet is one big, wide open door.

Yesterday, I received one of my most favorite blog-related emails ever. It made me laugh, and smile the entire day!

It was from a woman named Kelly, who apparently went to school with Dick (she was one grade younger than him).

Anyhow, her email opened with: I have never written an email like this, so bear with me. I went to school with Dick and Kathy Craddock.

This, of course, had my curiosity peaked.

But, it was the next couple of sentences that really got me:

Recently, our high school had a class of the 80's reunion. One of my classmates wrote me an email and said, " check out Dick Craddock's wife's blog; they sound like a fun couple!"

I LOVE that: "Dick Craddock's Wife's Blog". This completely cracked me up!

She told me that she started to read my blog after that endorsement, and found herself continuing to come back because she loved my "tips".

As a blog writer, it makes me very happy to think that someone who doesn't even know me finds my blog interesting and entertaining enough to return to. You just never know! I mean, sure, I find certain things worth mentioning, but I have no idea whether or not anyone else would.

Here's another thing that she wrote that just made me smile and laugh out loud:

So, what does all of this mean? Other than feeling like a weird stalker by returning to your blog........it has had the funniest effect on me. For example my husband and I were walking through an antique show a couple of weekends ago and I saw the oldest raggedy I had ever seen. I kept thinking "oh, I have got to tell Trina!" then I am like," OMG, you don't even know her!" It was funny and weird. I decided you just had to know about me! So finally I decided to write and tell you that I read your blog and I have thoroughly enjoyed it.

I love this. I love that she feels like she knows me, even though she's never met me. (and not in that stalker-kind-of-way!) I believe that I'm actually very careful about what I "put out there" into the world of the internet. I try to be careful not to put in anything too personal. But, I do like to share various musings and tidbits that interest or amuse me, and I know that my personality probably comes across pretty easily in my writing style.

I'm so glad that Kelly decided to email me to let me know that she's one of my blog readers. I love the connection to Dick's past, and the fact that I met a new friend in cyberspace.

The web is an amazing place.

"Hi Kelly!"

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The nice man fixed my cat!

Several years ago, I bought this iron (I think) bronze cat statue for Dick for Christmas. It's an odd gift, but he loved it.

The cat stands on a small landing in the middle of our stairway. It gets bumped every-once-in-awhile by accident. Several weeks ago, I bumped it with the vacuum cleaner, and noticed that the binding between the cat's front paws, and the dish that it was holding was becoming loose. The next week, our contractor came over to start the bathroom remodel upstairs. He barely bumped the cat, and the dish toppled over. He was terribly embarrassed, probably thinking that that's not the sort of thing you want to have happen on your first day. I assured him that it was weakening already, and that he hadn't really done anything at all.

But, now I had a broken cat, and I wasn't quite sure how to fix it. Where does one bring a broken bronze cat statue? I didn't even know where to start.

Our plumber was here today, making some adjustments to the plumbing before the inspector comes. I noticed that he was working with a blow-torch for the copper pipes. Now, he's been here a few times to work on our bathroom, and we're on a friendly, first-name basis, so I thought I'd just put it out there....

I asked, "Do you think you could fix my cat with your blow-torch?" (What a funny question) He looked at it, saw how it broke, and said he wasn't sure if the copper would fuse together with the other materials, but he would give it a try.

Needless to say, he was able to fix my cat!

Thank you Mr. Plumber! My cat and I are much happier now.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Don't mess with webTrina.

Today I was on a quest.

We have pretty much everything bought for our Bathroom Remodel. Just a couple of little odds and ends left.

One thing we've been looking for is a nice, small soap basket which can also double as a towel bar for my little scrubby towel.

We've been looking for a while, but everything we've found so far have been too large.

This afternoon, I decided to go to a designer bath store here in the city. Our architects had sent us there a few months ago to look for sinks. They have a huge selection - probably one of the best in town...... and I think they know it. I was immediately turned off by the horty-torty attitudes that I experienced with their sales people last time. Basically, the drill is that you can look around the show room, take note of pieces you're interested in, write down the number by the display, make an appointment with one of the sales people, and then they will tell you the price. You aren't allowed to take photos anywhere in the store. I found the whole process rather annoying, and their arrogant sales people even more so.

As it turns out we didn't end up buying our sink from them. We're very limited for space in our bathroom, and were very specific in what we were looking for. It turns out that in their vast inventory, they simply didn't have what we were looking for. Ironically, we ended up finding exactly what we were looking for at Restoration Hardware. Admittedly, that wasn't cheap either, but it was less expensive than the sinks we saw at the store. Plus, we were able to place our order online, and didn't have to deal with any snobby sales associates.

Anyhow, I figured this crazy place would probably have a little soap basket that I was looking for. My previous neighbor who used to live in the downstairs condo had renovated the downstairs bathroom 15 years ago. He left me a file with all of his documentation, and I saw that he had bought most of his accessories from this store-which-shall-not-be-named. He had a long wire basket put in the shower/tub downstairs that we really like. We figured the same company must have made one in a smaller size as well.

So, I went this afternoon. I decided to wipe away all of my preconceived notions of this place, and try it out again. Good news: I did indeed find exactly what I was looking for! I took note of it, went to the receptionist, put in my name, then waited a few minutes for the next available sales person. She was nice enough - nicer than the last woman who helped us there, but there was still some of that "we're better than you" attitude. I actually apologized to her, because I knew this would be such a small purchase. Her response: "Well, yes, we do usually deal with much larger orders than this. After I showed her the product I was interested in, she walked me back to her desk, and she rummaged through some catalogs, found what she needed, (without showing me) took a photocopy of the page, and presented it to me. The photocopy was quite good, because it showed all of the dimensions, then she wrote down the price: $99.00. Yep, $99.00 for a small, 7" long chrome basket.

Okay, whatever. We're putting enough dough into this bathroom remodel. What's another $100? There were actually two styles that I was interested in. I wanted to get Dick's opinion first. I asked the sales associate what their return policy was (I thought perhaps I could buy one today, take it home, see what he thought, and if he didn't like it, I'd just return it.). Their return policy: 50% stocking fee. Ummmm... exsqueeze me?

Needless to say, I didn't buy it. I was planning to come home with my little photocopied paper of measurements, show them to Dick, the two of us could decide tonight, then I could call the dreadful company tomorrow to place my order.

I thanked her again for her time, and acknowledged again that I knew this was a very small order for her. Her reply, "Well, yes, but that's not your fault."

I called Dick when I got home, and he asked if we could just buy it online. This place doesn't have a web site, so I said "no"and that I'd have to call it in tomorrow. What he meant was could we find it online through another company. What a novel thought! I looked at my photocopied sheet of paper, and realized that the oh-so-clever sales associate had copied the catalog just so so that the brand of the product wasn't actually shown.

After calling my Mom, and telling her about my shopping experience, she also suggested that I just look online to find the same one. That's when I realized that the not-so-clever sales associate had included the product reference numbers on my photocopy.

goto: Google.

enter: Wire Basket Small (with the reference number)
Up comes: lots and lots of sites offering the same product for discount prices! (imagine that)

Bonus: no annoyingly snobby sales associates!

So, what did I find?
How about this place, which has it at 40% off, no sales tax, and free shipping?

They have the corner style, too!

I'll show both styles to Dick tonight. We'll decide which one to get, then place the order online.

I imagine that will be very satisfying.

Don't mess with webTrina.
She'll blog about you, and tell the world how mean and snobby you are.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Halo 3 at Costco

Dick picked up our copies at work today.

Guess what we'll be doing tonight?!