Friday, February 26, 2010

Tuned In, Tuned Out

Today as the Center of the Universe (CoTU) and I sat down to lunch, I turned on the tv. This is part of our pattern. We eat lunch in front of some gem we’ve Tivo’ed, and bingo—two birds, one stone. You’d be surprised how a Modern Family episode we didn’t get to see on Wednesday night, for example, brightens up our little lunches, but I digress…

Anyhoo, before I could pull up the Tivo menu, we caught a glimpse of gorgeous blond womanhood in the guest chair on Ellen DeGeneres’ show.

“Wow—who is THAT?” the CoTU wanted to know. And of course he grabbed the remote so I couldn’t move on.

“Felicity Huffman,” I said. “You remember her—you drool all over yourself ask about her every time you see her. She’s in Desperate Housewives. She’s married to William H. Macy, remember?” Meanwhile, Ellen popped a huge photo of said Macy up on their screen. In said photo, said Macy was looking pretty ‘rode hard and put away wet’. I’m just saying…

CoTU was practically speechless.

“How did HE snag a woman like HER?” he demanded.

“Hm,” I offered. “He’s probably a good listener.”

He didn’t hear me.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Which Came First?

I know, the Superbowl is very old news, SO over with, but something is still on my mind.

My husband, the Center of the Universe, better known as CoTU, is not a big sports fan. This is fine with me. In fact I consider it a real asset on the balance sheet we all make mentally about the men we date. The fact that I would not have to cede him to the golf course eight months a year, or the ball fields six months a year, or the couch for hockey 11 ½ months a year was a big plus for him. I didn’t search the world over for the big lug just to fold my arms across my chest and tap my toe while he watched ESPN as its own marathon sport. But I digress…

So despite the fact that neither of us likes to watch football on t.v., we like to be a part of the American culture. We want the hometown team to win, but it’s the Rams, so that hasn’t happened in years. I root for my college alma mater (GO MIZZOU!) and my kids’ too.

But what really matters is staying informed, so of course we have to make sure to see the Superbowl. But only for the commercials.

Years ago this was impractical unless we went to a Superbowl party, where our attention was drawn to the television by the alternating din and hush of the crowd in the house. Now, thanks to the miracles of modern technology, we can just turn the t.v. on, and use Tivo to hold the game for 30 minutes at a time.

We come in, fast forward through the actual game till we see a commercial, watch the commercial, and repeat. When we’re all caught up, we put it on hold again, and scurry off to do whatever incredibly important tasks we’re all about here at the Casa Rubin and Friends. Like maybe sorting our socks.

Anyhoo, it’s all very disorienting, because the whole point of Tivo as we see it, is that it lets us watch t.v. without watching all the commercials, so this was like the photographic negative of regular viewing. Which just goes to prove that if God wanted us to watch football on t.v. He would have made it at least a borderline interesting game, which it is not. (IMHO, people, don’t yell at me.)

So here’s my point. Hey—settle down—it didn’t take THAT long to get here! There were some great ads—there always are. We got a huge charge out of some of them, like the Snickers ad with Betty White and Abe Vigoda, and the E-Trade talking babies ads. But CoTU got all worked up about the Denny’s ads. The ones with the chickens going nuts because Denny’s was giving everyone a free Grand Slam breakfast on February 9th, and the chickens were overworked. They were pretty creative and original, and I liked them, too.

But CoTU got off on a tangent about how amazing it is that a chicken will lay an egg every day, and all other birds only lay eggs on some sort of weird calendar schedule. As in, the biological clock goes off seasonally and prompts the robin to lay two or three or five eggs in the nest. “But CHICKENS—hey, that is just incredible! Have you ever thought of that?”

No. I’m happy as can be sorry to say that I never have. But at least he didn’t ask me which came first—the chicken or the ad.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Museum Theory

Let’s turn back a few days to the mall-walking adventures of Center of the Universe (CoTU) and yours truly. I told the true story of the minx who caught the CoTU’s eye as we were rounding the bend on the upper level. (No, don’t try to read anything into that—it really just refers to the structure of the shopping center, not the little tramp’s anatomy.)

There’s been some fallout.

As in, I could fallout of my chair from the feedback the Hubster gave me about my reaction to the event. (Or non-event, since nothing really happened.) Anyway, he felt it was necessary to defend his actions. Again. And again. Not only for himself, he explained, but for all of mankind, or manhood, or Mannheim Steamroller for all I know—it’s hard to keep listening after a certain point, but I digress…

So I know I’ve said in the past that if the CoTU wants to rebut my posts, he should get his own blog. I’m still sticking with that notion. And yet, because this particular argument, and make no mistake, it IS an argument—bears consideration, I choose to repeat it here.

Here it is. This is supposed to justify men staring at women, allowing their tongues to drag along the floor as their eyes glaze over, and their I.Q.s drop as precipitously as the value of tinsel in January.

“You know how you can spend your whole life looking for the one painting to make your home complete—the one that suits you perfectly, that has the size, the color, the composition that really speaks to you? You’ve looked for it over and over, and when you finally find it, you can’t wait to buy it and bring it home and hang it and have it to look at for the rest of your life? You know you’ll always enjoy it, and even though it was very expensive, you value it more and more as years go by.”

At this point I give him the “Uh-huh, uh-huh, yeah,” response that makes it sound as if I was paying attention. And then he concludes:

“But that doesn’t mean you stop going to the museum, does it? You can still appreciate art, even though the painting you bought is the only one you’d want to own.”

Hmph. So we’re still compared to property. This is just one step above the old adage about why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free… Now we’re paintings that cost a lot, but we’re here to be looked at.

Here’s my adage for CoTU: When you’re in a hole, stop digging.

Friday, February 19, 2010

New and Improved? Say It Ain't So

Dear Coffee-mate,

What were you thinking? Once upon a time I could pop open my trusty bottle of Fat-Free Hazelnut Coffee-mate, topple a blob into my coffee, and enjoy my favorite morning taste treat.

You had to go and change it, didn’t you? 

Back in the day—like, until a couple of months ago—it was all so simple. When we opened a new bottle of Coffee-mate there was a foil seal to remove, so we knew it was unadulterated.

Then you changed the design, so that there’s a spiffy little plastic ring to pull out, not unlike cartons of orange juice, for example. Yes, it looks very impressive. Bet you put a bundle into the new design, didn’t you?

Trouble is, now when we screw the top back on, and pop it open, we not only pour a little Coffee-mate into our coffee, we get a significant dribble of the precious liquid down the side of the bottle. It’s inescapable.

It seems to me that your parent company, Nestle’, would have been able to test-market this new design before approving it and inflicting it on us sending it out all over the country. It seems to me that Nestle’ would have made sure that if they were spending the money to re-tool and create a totally new bottle design for a product that brings in $483 gazillion dollars a year, they would want it to be an actual IMPROVEMENT over the old design.

But I would be wrong.

The old design never dripped.

This one drips. Every time. In every bottle I’ve had since they changed the spout, not once has it failed to send a little stream of fat-free hazelnut yummitude down the outside of the bottle. So every time I use it, I have to wipe it clean, and wipe any place it splashed onto, or dripped onto while I was finagling it like a baton twirler trying to outsmart the thing. At least half the time my fingers get sticky while this is happening. I’m pretty sure this qualifies me as a slow learner, but that’s not bothering me too much just yet.

Whenever my mom saw that some product she liked was being touted as ‘new and improved’, she used to say, “There goes that.” And she was usually right. They would take something she liked just fine and spoil it in some way.

I’m not saying that’s happened with my Fat-Free Hazelnut Coffee-mate, but they are teetering on the brink. Am I going to stop using the stuff? No way, Ness-lay. But this qualifies as ANNOYING with a capital A.

Aaaaand a deep cleansing breath—and thank you for letting me vent.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It's Us Against Them-- the Woodpeckers, That Is

We live in a house with cedar siding. It’s pretty, we like it, but it’s a lot of work to take care of. Actually, we have come to believe that we’re just tending it for the neighborhood woodpeckers.

Every year for as long as I can remember (granted, that’s not saying a whole lot any more) the Center of the Universe (CoTU) has had to cut a hole in some exterior wall, either from the inside or the outside, depending upon the scene of the crime, remove a bird’s nest, patch the hole, sand, paint, and repeat. Do I really need to say that this gets old?

One year it was in our bedroom, and the birds had pecked their way into the wall behind our bed. They were apparently doing most of the heavy labor work while we were at work. But early one morning it became apparent that there were birds subdividing and possibly going condo in the wall just east of our pillows. This is, I must say, an extremely creepy realization.

The next Saturday morning, CoTU pulled the bed away from the wall, put down a dropcloth, and began cutting into the drywall. (This could not be attacked from the outside, because it was the second story of a two-story house with a walk-out basement, and our ladders don’t come close to getting us there.) Before long, CoTU had removed the nest, patched the cedar, replaced the insulation, and was ready to patch the drywall. Patch, putty, sand, paint. Let dry. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Spend two days getting the grit from all that sanding out of the bedding, the drapes and the carpeting. But the birds were gone. We had a quiet wall once more. How did we ever take that for granted?

Another year it was in the wall of the family room, and CoTU was able to do the patching from the outside, so the interior mess didn’t exist. Still, it was a lot of work for him. My job was to stay out of the way. No problemo.

Now, we’re not entirely stupid. We realize that an ounce of prevention is worth a 2x4 of cure, so we researched any possible means of deterring the little devils. I mean, they’re cute, but they’re so destructive!

Over the years, we have tried multiple strategies for ridding us of the woodpecker problem. We read that a fake plastic owl mounted on the side of your house will scare the woodpeckers away. It worked like a charm. For about a year. Eventually the woodpeckers wised up and realized that the stupid thing was no threat. I imagine they found this out by sending some dorky and expendable member of the family to fly really, really close to the dummy owl, and when the plastic failed to swipe at the bird, they knew they were safe. They were probably all watching from the woods behind our house, and set up a big “Whoop, whoop” when the Arnold Stang of woodpeckers made it safely back to the tree.

They started pecking away at the siding again. Undaunted, --well, okay, slightly daunted—we got yet another plastic owl and CoTU mounted it on a post, Lord of the Flies-style, and affixed the post to our deck. It was a little creepy, but I couldn’t blame the hub for wanting to put an end to the problem. Again, we got about a year out of this solution before Woody Woodpecker and the Peckerheads (can I say that in a G-rated blog?) resumed their assaults.

At this point I drew the line at any more owls. “One more, and we’re outnumbered,” I observed. “Besides, we’re starting to look like Omar’s House of Owls.”

Other solutions we’ve read about on the web include wind socks and noise-maker devices, but these are designed to keep ALL birds away, and we don’t want that. We enjoy watching the birds, sometimes taking their pictures, getting their autographs… So we battle the woodpeckers, and only the woodpeckers.

Now we’ve noticed (on our walks) that a few of our neighbors have fake woodpeckers attached to the outsides of their houses. The theory is that a woodpecker will not encroach on another bird’s turf. Wish they could show us the same courtesy… Stay tuned…

Monday, February 15, 2010

Walking May Be Hazardous to His Health

The Center of the Universe (CoTU) and I have taken up walking. Again. We used to do this, but you know how it is, once we have the teeniest excuse to stop exercising for even a day or two, it takes an act of Congress to get us going again. And acts of Congress have been hard to come by. But let’s not go there—it’s too depressing.

So once I hit the three-week mark post-surgery, we started doing a 20-minute brisk walk every day. Okay, we missed once, but there were serious and unchangeable commitments that prevented us from getting it in. And I have a note from my mother. Who’s been dead twenty years… Anyway…

This morning we actually braved the elements and the piles of snow and walked in the neighborhood. Up until today we’ve been driving to the local mall and hauling our sorry asses in countless laps around the potted plants and the kiosks which specialize in unspeakably useless and tacky tchochkes. And these days, when I haul ass, I have to make two trips. Which is why I’m walking.

Oh sure, I can say I’m doing it for the energy, the cardio effect, the osteoporosis benefit, the make-it-up-today disease, or whatever, but let’s face it, I’ve gained weight and it needs to go away. So. We walk.

I know better than to ask CoTU whether these pants make my ass look big. Because the real answer is that my ass makes the pants look big, and anyone who says otherwise is just not dealing with reality. So. The fact that the hub has virtually no ass at all doesn’t help. But maybe he’s trying to whittle his waist down a bit. I really couldn’t say, because that would be wrong.

It’s good to be walking together. There’s time to talk, with no distractions of the phone, the t.v., the mail, the computer or the radio. There is one teeny little thing, though. People.

Yesterday at the mall, CoTU got just a little distracted by the appearance of a lissome, blonde-haired, anorexic young thing strutting ahead of us. Her jeans were so tight you could read the brand name on her underwear. She wore high-heeled boots, and an animal print sweater. Get the picture? So, of course CoTU was looking—he’s only human. I mean, it was no big deal, but he would have walked smack into a pillar if I hadn’t grabbed his sleeve and yanked him to safety.

She was headed for the line at the coffee cart. As we passed, CoTU craned his neck and twisted his head --in that Linda Blair move from the Exorcist-- to get a good look from the front. I’m guessing he wasn’t checking out her face. (Did you read ‘Doonesbury’ the past few days?) I said, “Hey, Babe, go ahead back there and talk to her.” I thought my sarcasm would highlight his folly. He topped me: “Talk??? I don’t wanna talk.”

But today’s walk was devoid of slutty attractive young women, and I am proud to say that we are up to 28 minutes. Walking, that is—get your mind out of the gutter.

Not exactly record-setting, but when we got home, I wanted someone to play the national anthem, and hang a medal around my neck. No, not for the walk. For letting the hubster live.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My Funny Valentine

I woke up this morning to find that my hub, the Center of the Universe, was already out of bed. I padded to his study, where I was confident that I would find him at the computer. He was there, and we shared a “Good-morning-Happy-Valentine’s-Day” hug to start the day.

I took his hand and led him back to bed for just a little G-rated spooning. We talked about how many years we’ve been together (almost 15!) and all the lovely Valentine’s Days that we’ve shared. I saw that he had left two big envelopes on the nightstand for me, and I dug out the two I’d secreted away for him inside my library book. (Nerd!)

We laughed, we talked, we shared some kisses. Then he said what I’d been waiting to hear: “This is sickening—we better start a fight soon.”

I laughed and asked him if we could have just ten more minutes of sweetness. He acquiesced, but made it clear that I’d have to make it up to him, somehow.

“So,” he asked, “what do you want to fight about?”

“Hey, it’s Valentine’s Day,” I said. “You pick.”

“Well,” he mused, “usually it falls into one of two categories: something I did, or something I didn’t do.”

“Wait a second,” I countered. “More of our fights are about you criticizing me, or finding fault with what I did.”

Hm… without even trying, we were on the cusp of a good fight. Topic: What do we fight about.

I swear, you just can’t make this stuff up.

Friday, February 12, 2010

You Don't Know How Good You've Got It!

Okay, I had something totally different in mind for today, but my pal Laura sent the following in an e-mail, and it strikes me as something y'all would enjoy.  So if you'll forgive the basic cut-and-paste, I am sharing the following with you.

If you are 30 or older, This should resonate with you.   If you're a generation beyond, we could come up with a whole other level of comparison-- perhaps we'll do that next week.

Meanwhile, here's Laura's message, with only a few edits:

When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were. When they were growing up; what with walking twenty-five miles to school every morning.... Uphill... Barefoot... BOTH ways… yadda, yadda, yadda…

And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way I was going to lay a bunch of hooey like that on my kids about how hard I had it and how easy they've got it!

But now that I'm over the ripe old age of thirty, I can't help but look around and notice the youth of today. You've got it so easy! I mean, compared to my childhood, you live in a damn Utopia!

And I hate to say it, but you kids today, you don't know how good you've got it!

I mean, when I was a kid we didn't have the Internet. If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the library and look it up ourselves, in the card catalog!

There was no email. We had to actually write somebody a letter - with a pen! Then you had to walk all the way across the street and put it in the mailbox, and it would take like a week to get there! Stamps were 10 cents!

Child Protective Services didn't care if our parents beat us. As a matter of fact, the parents of all my friends also had permission to kick our collective asses! Nowhere was safe!

There were no MP3's or Napsters or iTunes! If you wanted to steal music, you had to hitchhike to the record store and shoplift it yourself! (Kidding-- not if you wanted to stay out of 'juvey'.)

Or you had to wait around all day to tape it off the radio, and the DJ would usually talk over the beginning and @#*% it all up! There were no CD players! We had tape decks in our car. We'd play our favorite tape and "eject" it when finished, and then the tape would come undone rendering it useless. ‘Cause, hey, that's how we rolled, Baby! Dig?

We didn't have fancy stuff like Call Waiting! If you were on the phone and somebody else called, they got a busy signal, case closed!

There weren't any freakin' cell phones either. If you left the house, you just didn't make a call or receive one. You actually had to be out of touch with your "friends". OH MY GOSH!!! Think of the horror... not being in touch with someone 24/7!!! And then there's TEXTING. Yeah, right. Please! You kids have no idea how annoying you are.

And we didn't have fancy Caller ID either! When the phone rang, you had no idea who it was! It could be your school, your parents, your boss, your bookie, your drug dealer, the collection agent... you just didn't know! You had to pick it up and take your chances, mister!

We didn't have any fancy PlayStation or Xbox video games with high-resolution 3-D graphics! We had the Atari 2600! With games like 'Space Invaders' and 'Asteroids'. Your screen guy was a little square! You actually had to use your imagination! And there were no multiple levels or screens, it was just one screen... Forever! And you could never win. The game just kept getting harder and harder and faster and faster until you died! Just like LIFE!

You had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on! You were screwed when it came to channel surfing! You had to get off your ass and walk over to the TV to change the channel! NO REMOTES! Oh, no, what's the world coming to?

There was no Cartoon Network either! You could only get cartoons on Saturday Morning. Do you hear what I'm saying? We had to wait ALL WEEK for cartoons, you spoiled little rat-finks!

And we didn't have microwaves. If we wanted to heat something up, we had to use the stove! And a pot. That you washed. Imagine that!

And our parents told us to stay outside and play... all day long. Oh, no, no electronics to soothe and comfort. And if you came back inside... you were doing chores!

And car seats - oh, please! Mom threw you in the back seat and you hung on. If you were lucky, you got the "safety arm" across the chest at the last moment if she had to stop suddenly, and if your head hit the dashboard, well that was your fault for calling "shotgun" in the first place!

See! That's exactly what I'm talking about! You kids today have got it too easy. You're spoiled rotten! You guys wouldn't have lasted five minutes back in 1980 or any time before!


The Over 30 Crowd

Monday, February 8, 2010


Last week was Doppelganger Week on Facebook. Right and left people were changing their on-screen photos to display the celebrity they thought they resembled.

I watched my friend Ross morph gracefully into Bill Clinton. I witnessed the adorable Beth become Lesley Anne Warren. I noticed the inimitable Rob transform into Nicholas Cage. I saw the always entertaining Eric turn into Seth Rogen. All amusing and entertaining, but I sat this one out. I didn’t think I had a doppelganger.

And then. Unexpectedly. I came out of the shower this morning and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My hair was still wet, slightly towel-dried, and there it was: Lyle Lovett.

I have a celebrity look-alike after all! Now if only I could sing like he does, I’d have something to talk about.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Ketching Up With Ketchup

Hold the front page! In case you haven’t heard, Heinz is introducing new packaging for fast-food ketchup! Let’s be careful here and not call it a ‘packet’. According to the news, it’s a ‘ketchup delivery system’.

Wow. A KDS is born! I don’t recall ever thinking of the ubiquitous little nightmarishly tough to open packet as anything like a delivery system. We must truly have entered a new age.  "Dip and squeeze" is here (almost.)

Look at this design! If you open the top, you can squeeze the ketchup onto your burger. If you lift the seal you can dip your fries, chicken fingers, or clam strips into it. It’s so multi-faceted, it makes a grown person want to cry.

According to their reports, the old-style ketchup packets were introduced in 1968. Complaints began, they say, in 1969. Personally, unless the actual release date was near midnight on December 31st of 1968, I find it hard to believe that people waited till 1969 to complain about them. They’re portable, I’ll give them that, but notoriously hard to open. The other complaints are that they are too small and too messy.

Michael Stern, who co-writes the “Road Food” column and website, was heard on NPR yesterday expressing concern that if he were to dip a French fry into one of these new KDS things plunked on his dashboard, while driving, the KDS would likely end up on the floor. That’s what he’s worried about?

I think it’s more likely that if he’s eating behind the wheel, he’s going to end up plowing into that mini-van in front of him. Then he’s got the burger up his nose, and the ketchup in his lap, and he can kiss that ‘safe-driver’s discount’ goodbye.

Side note: We’re all so incensed about texting while driving (I agree) and being on the phone while driving (yes, yes), but there are dozens of other ways people are driving distracted, and eating in the car is just one of them. I’m just saying…

Anyway, now they are boasting about their responsiveness to the public’s dissatisfaction with packets. Right. We had a problem, and sure enough, FORTY-TWO YEARS LATER they are taking care of it! Let’s hear it for the Heinz solution! And it will be coming out in the fall!

Way to put your finger on the pulse of the people, Heinz! You heard our issues, and you put your best people on it, and nearly HALF A CENTURY LATER we see results. Thanks. We, as a culture, feel so validated.

I’m glad you’re not in charge of the cardiac pacemakers, the insulin pumps, the anti-lock brakes, the smoke-detectors, the child-proof cabinet locks, the drop-side cribs or the safety switches on power saws.

But new ketchup delivery system? That’s what you’re all about. I’m holding my breath till the fall. By the way, would you like fries with that?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Things I Want Thursday- It's All About Darfur

Since Groundhog Day was this week, let me start with world peace. (Surely you saw the movie? Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell… But I digress.)

And world peace leads me to Darfur. And how sometimes there’s a good reason to take a day off from ‘funny’.

A friend of mine created an amazing video to focus some attention on the ongoing crisis in Darfur. She set it to music called “I Pity You”. The message is not what you think. It’s not about pitying the people of Darfur and what they have endured. It’s about pitying the people who don’t see it, who don’t get it, and who don’t care. The music was written by a friend of hers by the name of Damien Maddison.

I urge you to watch it, and I challenge you to feel it. And of course, do something about it.

Here's the link:

And before you ask-- the friend who created this wants to remain anonymous, but I will forward any comments to her!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Namely Leah

New on Facebook (at least new in my circles)—look up your name at and post their definition as your status update.

So here’s mine:

A unique individual who is always there for her friends. She is sometimes shy, and doesn't have complete confidence in herself even though she should, she always seems to know the right thing to say. She worries just a little too much, but always about the important things she needs to just take things a little more in stride XD. Leah = pretty and thin even though she may not think so.

Actually, that’s definition #3. Their #1 is hilarious when applied to me:

To describe something of such superb standards it almost cannot be described by any word or sentence or onomatopoeia in the English language.

Oh man, look at that Leah!

She soooo sexy!!!!

Let me just add one word: Not. And for people who are writing a dictionary, do their entries even make any sense?

Definition #2 reminds me too much of what I found when we looked up our names in high school, and I found mine to be “Weary” or “Wild cow.” I never did understand how those two could be simultaneous definitions for the same word. Anyhoo, here it is:

Biblical name: Hebrew origin, meaning "Gazelle" which is "beauty and grace", "also worthy cow" as in biblical days cows were very valuable and treasured.

Thanks, but I’m thinking, ‘not so much’.

So what is the deal? This website goes on and on, and actually their #5 definition is my favorite:

Female. Not a teenager anymore.

stubborn, trustworthy, loyal, punctual, amazing...

quite dillusioned but at least she knows it.

Fantastically funny.

Speaks sarcasm as a second language.

Hates late people.

Will run for the bus if she needs to.

Watches many many movies and can often be seen dancing.

Always there with a shoulder to lean on.

Leah is always on time and hates it when people are late and keep her waiting.

Leah can always put a smile on your face.

My response: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and sorry, but sarcasm is my first language (my first “Ma-ma” doubtless came out with an eye-roll) and I’ve learned to speak English with virtually no accent at all.

Late people are clear up to and including 10 minutes. Beyond that, a phone call, please.

Then, yes, yes, and should probably dance more often.

Yes. And what’s up with that punctuality thing again?

And finally, hopefully, yes.

What’s YOUR definition?