Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The slow march to Friday

Honestly, this week may never end. I'm exhausted, for no real reason except I can see the end in sight. A bit of brain clearing here may help.

MasterChef Junior - Eleven year old Logan won last night. These kids are cooking like professionals, and they still have a lot of fun doing it. It was really close - Samuel missed by only a bit. What has impressed me about the show from the beginning, however, has been the demeanor of the judges. You don't automatically think of Gordon Ramsey as nurturing. Yet he and the other judges strike a perfect balance between encouragement and (constructive & honest) criticism. The kids are aware it is a competition - no medals for participation here - and know up front what the expectations are. Bravo for a great season.

Switching things up - I switched phone services last night. The coverage area for my previous carrier changed about eighteen months ago, putting my home in the center of a pocket of their worst possible service (their own website warned you probably couldn't get a signal while inside a building). Tired as I was, I schlepped to the cell phone store last night. Poor clerk. I knew what I wanted, knew the prices, knew the deals on offer and knew that he could tell me how to get rid of some the annoying bloatware Samsung and Google put on their phones (that last bit they aren't really supposed to tell customers, and he actually tried to skip it when it came time to do it, but I caught him). New phone works very, very well on calls from home - yay, now I can call 911 if necessary, and not have the call drop!

I need my eyes checked - That was a craisin/white chocolate chip cookie, not a regular chocolate chip cookie. There was a gift bag on my desk this morning, with three of the cookies, some chex mix and a bottle of seasonal hand soap. I'm assuming it's from the bosses, since there is no card nor any indication of who left it (and everyone got one).

Making merry - The gifts are generally dropped on our desks the day of the departmental holiday party. Because the university is trying to be better stewards of our finances (not that we are in any way NOT good stewards, but trying to be even better), and because the Finance department needs to set the example, we've had potluck lunches for our holidays for the last couple of years, rather than catered things over in the annex. I made a big dish of pulled pork - easy to do, since most of the work is waiting a couple of days for the meat to marinate. Hopefully, we will have enough food for the seventy-odd (and seventy odd) people coming. There are always a few willing to eat, but not willing to contribute.

Speaking of contributing -

This is the box I've put together for the silent auction today. The spoon and fork set were made by a friend. The dark blob in the back is an apron, at the left are potholders and to the right are two dishtowels. All the embroidery/applique was done by me. In retrospect, I should have used blue dish towels, or at least a blue and white check, to make the snowmen stand out a bit more. This is a bit of a learning curve - I've been trying out new techniques or features of the sewing machine each time I make something. The potholders here are completely home made. The batting is a special heat resistant type, with one side coated with a heat resistant film. I think I put it in with the right side facing the business side of the potholders...

A desired streetcar - For the last several years the mayor has been aggressively lobbying for a streetcar line for downtown Milwaukee. There is something like $43 million in federal transportation money available, and it is burning a hole in his pockets. Unfortunately, the subsidies needed to run the thing would clean out the taxpayers' pockets. In the meantime, a developer who is planning a large mixed retail, office and residential tower near the lakefront (who is already getting a substantial break on the price of the land, along with additional tax breaks) is insisting that if the streetcar isn't built, he will not build the development. Blackmail, I tell you.

The Common Council postponed the final vote, scheduled for this Tuesday, to January. The project won't stink any less when it is a month older. We need reliable, flexible transportation that can move people from home to work, not a pretty boondoggle designed for tourists and a small flock of greener-than-thou hipsters.

Better get to it, try to get a few things done before the enforced merriment begins.

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