Friday, March 31, 2006

Mission Impossible, Day 86

Since Spammy's finally been doing really well doing all of his business on top of the toilet, I thought it was time to move them on to the next step. So last night I removed the next ring from the CitiKitty. Now the hole in the center is a good 3-4 inches across. While Spammy likes to put his paws in the water and stick his whole head in there, he's still not sure about doing all his business up there anymore (which I expected). Hopefully it won't take so long for him to come around this time. ;)

From the Martyzone

This week's favorite link in Marty Plotnick's newsletter is "Laser makes solid 'disappear'":

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Girls Night Out

Back in January, I joined a Yahoo group called New Jersey Young Professionals. It's a group that was started a couple of years ago for the purpose of helping folks in New Jersey network and/or make new friends. The founder of the group as well as various members will organize both "official" and "unofficial" events or activities in an effort to get people out meeting each other. And with a 5,000+ membership, there are plenty of opportunities for NJYP members to get together.

Last night I went to my first "Girls Night Out" NJYP event, held at a nice martini bar called 381 Main in the town of Little Falls. I went with one of the other NJYP girls, Gretchen, whom I met at the swing dance I went to the previous Friday (I had posted an announcement on NJYP inviting others to come out to the dance). So it was nice to arrive at the event already knowing someone else. But it didn't take long before I met a whole bunch of other fun people... it's only too bad I can't remember many of their names! When I used to host Global Pau Hana gatherings in Honolulu, my friend Dave would always bring name tags for me to make for people - so maybe in the future I should take his lead and bring name tags for everyone so I can learn their names. ;)

What I was most pleasantly surprised about this Girls Night Out was meeting other silly people, um, like above. At the end of the evening, we all locked arms and skipped to our cars! (No, we weren't drunk!)

Monday, March 27, 2006

The Real First Day of Spring

I hereby declare March 27th to be the real first day of spring in the State of New Jersey. Why? Because this is the first day I've heard the ice cream truck drive by since last fall!

Update: Sorry, apparently the real first day of spring was on March 26th. Kenji heard the ice cream truck while I was away at work!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Mission Impossible, Day 81

Just thought I'd mention that Spammy has been doing very well with going #2 on the potty for the last three days. A few days ago, I bought him some freeze-dried whitefish as a treat to reward him with every time he makes unko on the potty instead of the floor. That, plus putting extra litter on the CitiKitty, seems to be doing the trick. Maybe by next weekend we can go to the next step and remove the second ring from the CitiKitty. :)

A "Godsend"

Today was a Crate & Barrel day, a normally busy Sunday. While working is not on the top of my list of things to be doing on a Sunday, it's pretty good, since I generally like their products and most of the customers are very nice. And although it's not my favorite job I've ever had, I do try to do my best at it.

What made today special was after the store closed, and all the staff was working on getting the shelves re-stocked and looking perfect for tomorrow, one of the managers, Chanceline, said, "Marsha, you're a godsend!" She went on to say that she/they really appreciate all the stuff I do for them and also that I'm always so pleasant to work with. I'm not sure what specifically brought that on, but I'm not going to complain. ;)

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Who Let This Genie Out of the Bottle?

This evening, Kenji and I were on our way home from the Scotch Plains area, where we took our car to get looked at by a mechanic, because as of last night, the clutch feels funny. We'll be getting it fixed next week. After talking to the mechanic, we went to lunch and then to see a movie - Inside Man - which was pretty good.

After the movie was over, we were on the Garden State Parkway driving home. There was quite a line at the exact change lanes, and since we don't have an EZ-Pass, we got into the queue.

Several cars ahead of us, I noticed a pickup truck, bearing the Window Genie logo and contact information, very rudely changing from our lane to the one to our right. He never used his signal, but what ticked me off was that he didn't even wait for a space to merge into. He simply moved his vehicle over as if no car was beside him, which there was!

The driver in the sedan just to Mr. Window Genie's right was no wussie though. He was not about to give into Mr. Window Genie and simply let him have his space in line. But Mr. Window Genie was persistent - he kept moving his truck over into what would have been the side of the sedan if the sedan hadn't kept moving over himself. So for a good twenty or thirty feet, there were two vehicles side by side in this toll booth lane. Along with this, Mr. Window Genie took a moment to flip the bird to the sedan driver. Then, suddenly it looked like Mr. Window Genie would give up and return to his original lane. However, this maneuver was a trick! In the next instant he successfully bullied his way into the other lane in front of the sedan.

What I don't understand is why someone like Mr. Window Genie, a BUSINESS OWNER, would behave in such a rude, irresponsible manner on the roads while driving a vehicle displaying the name of his BUSINESS. This is a poor reflection not only on his own franchise, but also on the entire Window Genie establishment. By the way, the license plate on his vehicle reads "WGENIE" and is a New Jersey license plate. I should have made note of the phone number on the truck, but if I had to guess which franchise owner it belongs to, I'd have to guess that it was the one you'll find located nearest to Hillside, New Jersey on Window Genie's web site. By the way, the zip code for Hillside is 07205.

Friday, March 24, 2006

From the Martyzone... Yawn...

This week's favorite from Marty Plotnick's newsletter:

Passing on the Yawn

Why do we yawn when we are tired? And why does it seem to be contagious?

Tiny URL substitution by me. Not exactly a new article, but still I never thought to look up why yawns seem contagious.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Mission Impossible, Day 77

Ok, I hope I'm not jinxing anything, but I think Spammy may finally be getting the hang of the CityKitty thing. We've gone nearly 48 hours with no #2 on the floor beside the kitties' toilet in the cellar. So either Spammy is doing it in the toilet, or he's doing it somewhere else where we can't see it. We can't smell it either, so that's why we think he's doing it where he's supposed to. Cross fingers...

Monday, March 20, 2006

And I Complained About Rain in New Jersey...

Hawaii has been getting hammered with rain for a while now. Kauai has certainly suffered the worst of it though, with a dam break last Tuesday at Kaloko Reservoir.

My friend, Rick, sent me a bunch of photos of the destruction at the Kauai Marriott (photo source unknown):

According to today's headlines, there are still four more victims that remain missing. The other three unfortunately were found dead. Hopefully the rain will let up soon.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Australian Blood...


Tonight Kenji and I made our bi-weekly pilgrimage to Wegman's to refresh our stockpile of food. This week, I decided I'm going to try out a different kind of olive from the olive bar each time we go. So as you might have guessed, this trip's olive selection was the Australian Blood Olive:

"Wonderfully fruity, Australian Blood Olives are a deep purple olive similar to Alfonso olives from Chile and Peru. The gorgeous color, delicious flavor and perfect texture of these olives have made them the best-selling olive in Australia."
I'm not much for making eloquent descriptions, so I borrowed the above from the 34 Degrees web site. I just think Australian Blood Olives are yummy.

From the Martyzone

Again, Marty's weekly compilation of interesting stuff can be found here. My favorite from this week's edition:

Pupils write with both hands simultaneously

A school in India is reportedly teaching its students to use both their hands to write on different subjects simultaneously All 72 pupils of the Veena Vadini School at Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh use both their hands "with equal ease", reports Asian News International.

I always thought I'd be a lot smarter than I am if I could only read more quickly than I do. (I read very slowly.) (No, I do not wish for solicitations from any speed-reading programs!) Think of how smart I could be if could write with both hands about two different subjects simultaneously??!!

Mission Impossible, Day 72

It's been a while since my last Mission Impossible update. Just in case there are any new readers, in our house, "mission impossible" refers to toilet-training our cats. That's right, teaching kitties to do their business on the toilet instead of in the litter box.

To quickly recap: In January, we bought kitties a CitiKitty to assist in the potty-training process. Kitties took well to this until we punched out the first hole in the center. Musubi was fine with it, but Spammy had a problem using it for #2 (he's ok with #1 on the CitiKitty). But then we had to cover up the hole and start using shredded newspaper for litter because Spammy got his nuts done. That's pretty much where we left off in our Mission Impossible saga.

When we were finished using the newspaper litter, we went back to using flushable litter in the CitiKitty, but we kept the hole plugged up to help Spammy get used to doing #2 on top of the toilet again. After getting him to do that, we went back to having the small hole in the center of the CitiKitty.

Well, we're still having the same problem with Spammy. For some reason, he just doesn't want to do #2 on the potty with that little hole there. Maybe it's some kind of Fruedian thing, where psychologically he's not ready to let his unko get flushed down the drain, like little children are sometimes when they are in the process of weaning off their diapers. So Spammy just leaves it in a nice little pile on the floor next to the potty (thank goodness this is in the cellar, and in a place that is easy to clean up!).

If it were only Musubi, I think we'd be finished with the whole process already - she has no problems doing all her business on top of the toilet.

So right now I am undecided as to whether I should take them a step backward again and cover up the hole to see if Spammy will get comfortable again with doing his business on top of the toilet, or rather just stay at the same step, and see if he comes around eventually. What to do...

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Watchung Reservation Hike

Blog posts are much easier if I just show pictures. ;)

After a nice late night out at the Whippany swing dance, followed by some food at the Brookside Diner, I got up (sort of) early this morning to meet some people for a hike in Watchung Reservation. It was myself with my hiking buddy, Jason, along with his friend Kylie, and her two friends Andy and Amy. So it was nice to spend some time with some new folks.

We hiked maybe five or six miles. Along the way, we spotted...

... a turtle (actually saw three, but the other two slipped back into the water before I could get a picture)...

... some water falling over a dam ...

... a pre-revolutionary grave yard (this was the only stone that appeared to be original from way back when) ...

... a little pond covered in algae ...

... more algae piled up just beyond the tiny little dam ...

... and some glacial erratics! (Note the sign is right next to some cinder blocks...very glacially erratic I think.)

Friday, March 10, 2006

Two Bowls for Stew

Today was the first wonderful day in New Jersey in ages... Sunny and warm enough to go outside without a jacket. Hooray for spring being on its way! So after I got out of work, I decided to take a nice long walk in my neighborhood and neighboring neighborhoods.

I was more than half way finished with my walk when I found myself thinking about this woman who also lives in my town who I met at work yesterday. I'm guessing she's in her sixties, and she has some kind of European accent that I can't identify because I'm no good at that sort of thing. I remember her because when she asked me to help her, all she wanted was to buy two bowls for her and her husband to have stew in.

I showed her all the dinnerware sets that Crate and Barrel is selling right now. To make a very long story short, she was incredibly indecisive, and I must have made five trips up and down the stairs to the stock room to get her different plates to look at (even though she had samples of all the plates to look at right there). She ended up purchasing the same ones she first decided buy before she began changing her mind. She even solicited the opinions of other customers and our assistant store designer before making a final decision. It didn't matter to me whether I trekked up and down the stairs one time or five times for this customer - I still provided her with cheerful service, and after she left, one of the managers commented to me that I have too much patience. ;)

So anyway, I don't know what made me think about this woman while I was walking today. I suppose it was because she lives in my town. When I rang up her order yesterday, I asked for her zip code, which we are required to do for each customer, so I commented to her that I live in that zip code too. She asked me which street I live on, and told me which one she lives on. During my walk, I passed down a street I'd never been on before, and noticed the street name. For some reason, noticing the street name made me try to remember which street she said she lives on, but I'd forgotten it already.

Well, probably less than two more songs on my iPod later, I turned the corner of a busy intersection, and suddenly I hear the honk of a horn, coming from the car next to me, waiting for the light to turn green. I could see someone inside waving to me but couldn't make out who it was. I bent down to look in the window, and turns out it was none other than two bowls for stew lady! She said she remembered meeting me at the Short Hills Mall yesterday, and that she was very happy with the bowls, and that she would come back to see me again. Hehe.

Enter the Cyberzone

Some of the five or six readers of my blog may notice I've added Marty Plotnick's Cyberzone to my list of links. Every Friday morning I receive Marty's newsletter which is a compliation of links to some really interesting technology news stories, not just from Hawaii where Marty lives, but from around the world.

I just thought I would mention it, since I always find his newsletter a fun read. Maybe some of you would too. ;)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Joys of Home-Ownership, Part IV

Today was the day we had our two danger-trees removed. :) I was all uptight about getting them removed, thinking of all kinds of things that could go wrong. Like the tree service guys hit the house driving the crane into the backyard, or they drop a big branch onto our neighbor's house, or the crane gets stuck in our backyard because the ground is too soft, the crane breaks our sidewalk, blah blah blah. I thank my mom for me thinking that way. ;)

I'll let the pictures do most of the talking. Before the guys came out this morning, Kenji went outside and took some before photos of our two trees. This the tree that was next to our garage - it's standing straight and tall, but one side of it is mostly hollow.

Here's our leaning tree, the one I noticed on snow storm morning that started this whole quest for tree removal.

The next three photos are of the tree next to the garage again. It's high branches are kind of scraggly, and they sort of overhang our neighbor's house.

This is the space between our house and the neighbor's fence. It's the only way the tree service could get the crane into our backyard. It was very nerve-wracking to watch them drive it into the yard, but they managed it without hitting anything.

And here's the crane, sitting in our backyard, and already doing work:

This guy would attach the crane pull to a tree branch, cut it, and then the crane would lower the piece to the ground, where some other guys would run the parts through the chipper, which was squished into our very narrow driveway.

Before I left for work at 10:30am, they already had most of the tree by the garage down:

And by the time Russ got hom at 3:30pm, the tree guys were already gone! This is the leftover stump from the tree by the garage. You can see how much of it was hollowed out!

And this is the stump from the leaning tree. Too bad neither of us could be here to take pictures of them bringing this one down.

I really thought the tree guys would still be here after I got home from work at about 4:30pm, but they had already been gone for about an hour at least. As I mentioned in a previous post, the tree service we selected was Tree Tech Inc. I thought they did a great job, and for a much better price (by at least $500) than any of the other services that came out to make estimates. And yay, no more worrying about danger-trees!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Spammy's Favorite Toy

The other day I was doing some vacuuming, and came across the fluffy little Gateway cow that we got at some trade show. It's a floppy snuggly little black and white stuffed cow, and Spammy named him Cowie.

I took Cowie out of the magazine rack that he had been sitting in for the last several months, and threw him across the floor for the kitties to play with. Musubi didn't show too much interest, but Spammy went crazy. He picked up Cowie, flipped him in the air, pinned him on the floor, took him out back behind my brother's broken TV set for a good pummeling. I took a little movie with my camera of Spammy carrying Cowie around.

All the rest of the day, Spammy carried Cowie around the house with him... up the stairs, down the stairs, into the cellar, over to the food bowls. At night, Spammy even brought Cowie to bed with him to snuggle up to and sleep! I took Cowie from Spammy a couple of times and put him next to me instead. But Spammy just got up, came over, and took Cowie back to sleep next to him. How cute is that??