Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Whoa, it's been forever!

Shame on me!

Truth to be said, there was a lot going on that I did not feel like blogging - holidays that went smoothly but with horrible weather, dental troubles (3 wisdom teeth and an acre of Vicodin later I 'm ok, thanks for asking), and now my mother is visiting.

It is her first time EVER under my roof. And she's taken over already. I decided that fighting takes away too much precious energy, so I decided to let her do whatever she wants - after all, she'll be off before I know and I want to remember only the fun things we do. Like playing poker while watching WWE.

I couldn't take any time off work, but that was really a blessing in disguise as I am a quite private person (Hubby and I spend a lot of our time in separate rooms and we both like that) and having sometime just with the company of myself is vital. That is not expected to happen for the duration of her visit, and it's not right to make her bored anyway :)

Oh well. Bottom line - I'm doing well, just have been silent!

Monday, 2 July 2007

Why is it July already?

More precisely, where did June go? Wasn't it May last week or something?

Time flies when you're having a blast, I guess. I'm eying 4 weeks till my summer vacation and I am both excited and stressed (as my vacation requires some prep work on my behalf), and simply can't wait, I haven't had any time off (other than the 1 week between temp jobs) since I started working here. Boy it is needed.

On other matters: We watched the new Die Hard on Saturday. It was larger than life of course, and I was pleasantly surprised to see Timothy Olyphant in a villain role. They suit him like a glove - not that his Deadwood role was any worse, of course. He reeks of authoritah!

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Construction Blues

The first time I heard the jackhammer 2-3 days ago, I thought it was the paramedics chopper from UPMC Montefiore trying to land on the roof of our apartment building and take one of our many senior neighbors with them. Then I heard it the day after. The exact same time, too early o'clock. Can't be, I said in my semi-sleepy status. Two folks need the chopper, this is just not right.

Then hubby muttered next to me "Tis the jackhammer".

Appears there's some construction project going across the street. Splendid.

Rawr. Thanks for getting me up 30 minutes earlier than I need to get up. There goes my beauty sleep!

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Dentistry final update

Oof. The root canal is over, and I won't need a crown! Woot! This saves me pain, agony, desire and at least 200 bucks. Without even switching to Geico.

On the other hand, I got completely soaking wet on my way home today. Mm. Summer in da Burg is always on the moist side. Where is that umbrella again?

Thursday, 21 June 2007


and what they can do to your mood and schedule.

1. Medieval dance practice. I have absolutely no desire being in a small classroom over at CMU instead of dancing barefoot on the green. I might pass and vegetate in front of the computer for an unseen amount of time.
2. Driving range. Let's just not go there. Swinging a metal rod in a thunderstorm is just stupidity a la carte.
3. Headache. Please, go away. Or something.

At least I won't need to mop the balcony. Always look at the bright side of life (whistle, whistle)

Friday, 1 June 2007

Let's talk about the Spurs, baby :)

So, hubby is Texan. Not only that, but his alma mater is UTSA, which makes any sport event that contains a San Antonio team A Must To See. And, when the S.A. Spurs make it to the NBA quarter-finals, then it's just a special occasion! (no, actually not, they are a damn good team and they are placed high in the tree almost every year. But you know what I mean).

Hubby is also pretty benevolent. He has absolutely no problem in abandoning our home (and two high-def screen TV's) to yours trully and go to the neighborhood sports bar (which has a high-def screen TV, just to make this one certain) and watch it and drink rum and diet or Killian's and scream along with the rest of the testosterone-ridden crowd.

Because, don't get it wrong, I do enjoy watching most sports (with the exception of baseball which I am certainly doomed not to ever understand), but I don't have that level of dedication.

Unless of course it's some semi-quarter-final or quarter-final of Champion's League, which I will watch rather religiously.

Back to the Spurs now: They pulled together a great game, Utah Jazz was a noble opponent, but we beat the living crap out of them anyway :D

I guess we'll see Cleveland at the finals then!

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Greek Food Festival..

Every year since I have no idea when, St. Nicholas, the greek orthodox church of my neighborhood hosts a food festival. Since I don't cook much (I'm more like the kind of girl that like to use no more than one pan or pot for cooking), and hubby really really likes lamb and pitta, we go there, and every, but every time, I get annoyed for the same reasons.

The food is the same every year. A fish plaki, a chicken riganato, a beef stifado, soutzoukakia, tiropita, spanakopita, mousakas, pastitsio and pilafi. Along with dolmades, various desserts (including kourambiedes and melomakarona completely disregarding the fact that they are supposed to be eaten during Christmas), a salad that has more lettuce and small whole peppers than it should and absolutely no cucumber, and bread with butter (totally unheard of anywhere that sells traditional greek food).

But it's not just the menu that is completely uninspired. The flavours are watered down and boring, except for the desserts, and the prices are simply outrageous. Every year I am considering buying a piece of spanakopita, but I just cannot bring myself paying $3 for a 4"x4" piece, when in Greece I pay half for double the portion. I understand that it's supposed to be a novelty and a fundraiser, but I doubt that any of the ingredients (save for the feta maybe) are imported at all.

And, more than anything, it is annoying how the rest of the Pittsburghers think that THIS is what Greek cuisine is about. Oh well.

One could tell me that I should find a solution instead of complaining about the problem, but unfortunately I don't exactly get paid by the EOT, so...

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Speaking of golf..

I read in the news today (late, as it seems, according to hubby), that they want to rename the Schenley Park Golf Course after our late Mayor Bob O'Connor.

Why oh why.

Was Mayor Bob THAT bad? Schenley is easily the worst golf course in the Tri-State! But what do I know (other than the fact that their tee boxes are made of artificial turf that makes teeing off next to impossible, that their fairway grass length is as tall as everyone else's rough and they only have one set of tees)?


Sunday, 22 April 2007

There are certain reasons why I love this city.

One of them is the abundance of golf courses that one can play w'out paying with an arm, leg or firstborn. Both hubby and I are avid golfers (although not particularly good, just good enough not to be frustrated), since the weather finally decided to bear some resemblance of sping, we cleaned the clubs, arranged with a couple of hubbie's friends and hit Meadowink Public Golf Course.

Not resembling the PGA guys in any form or way, we had a great time being out and around, getting even a mild tan, and hitting the occasional miraculous shot that makes you come back to the game no matter how many bad shots you had before the good one. The golf course might not be nature per se, but in an urban setting, getting as much away from the noise of the motor cars etcetera and just spending some times among cliffs, trees, grass, ponds and bird chirping is not to be taken lightly.

Now I can't wait for the next round!

Monday, 19 March 2007

I thought i had seen (and heard) everything...

..till Tinsie (find her blog at my links on your right) guided me to the UK entry for the Eurovision Song Contest. I hadn't fell that sick in my stomach even when I had the flu.

Tinsie says that if you were a musician you should be start crocheting if this abomination wins first place. I find it a very sensible idea...

I won't even go into the perils of hosting the video of the song into this blog, but I can tell you that if Barbie had her own TV show, her titles would fall with this music...

Saturday, 10 March 2007

St Patrick's Day Is Upon Us!

I won't bother you with the origins of the celebration, after all Wikipedia is your friend, right? What I wanna say is that it's really funny that commercialism has crawled into every little opportunity that people might have to spend money on.

Go to the grocery store; it'll have at least one isle dedicated to Irish (or should I say Irish-American?) related parafernalia. Shamrock, leprechauns, top hats, pots of gold, green tinsel, name it. Along with the obligatory message on everything: "Kiss me, I'm Irish".

I think that the icing on the cake was that we went to the movie theater earlier today, and while we were waiting for our movie to start, the speakers played Irish folk music, just as like they'd play Xmas (sorry, I meant xmaskwanzaanuckah music) music around December.

Thursday, 1 March 2007

The Swedish Shoppe

I love Walnut Street. It had all the nice little shops with artisans selling unique items such as Native American jewelry and sculpture, Italian pottery, Latin American woven goods, the list is endless. Not to mention the couple of coffee shops and bars, boutiques and other oddities.

I used to live a couple of blocks away from Walnut, and at a part of the city that when I was snowed in, I could only go shop there (to the Rite Aid or the overpriced Shadyside Market), so, when we moved a bit further in July, I had no practical use for going there.

So, yesterday, hubby and me decided to go for dinner at Walnut Grill, a nice little restaurant with interesting entrees* and huge portions of desserts along with reasonable pricing. After we were done eating, happily stuffed, we decided to look around, since it had been some time since we had done so. And thus, I stumbled onto The Swedish Shoppe.

It's a nice little place run by a very friendly Swedish-American woman, she sells little wooden horses and wooden spoons and painted clogs along with sweets and jewelry and other stuff imported from her native land, all placed together in a way that the shop does not look really cluttered. I get all anxious in cluttered spaces.

I browsed around some, chit-chatted with the owner a lot, about Swedish and Greek men, holidays, how it is like going back home as a tourist. Having claimed so much of her time, I thought that it was only courteous to buy something, even though I had not though of initially doing so.

I picked up a deck of cards with blue wooden horses painted on the back side. I took it to the register and prepared to pay.

And she wrapped it up. With nice blue paper and a golden ribbon. Noone had done that w'out request since I left Greece. It just struck home.

I paid and left, certain that I will be back. After all, there was this gorgeous silver bracelet with amethysts....

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

More dentistry

So I had to go for a teeth cleaning today. I hadn't been for a while, and it is the right thing to do. And, as much as I totally detest going to the dentist, I have found that the people that do the cleaning at UPMC Dental are actually pretty decent.

So I get there, and I know that I have a co-pay of 5 bucks. A very trivial amount, that is, I have absolutely no problem paying for it, since that's what I paid for.

But paying it BEFORE I received treatment? Am I alone to believe that it should be the other way around?

I am confused!

Sunday, 25 February 2007

Photographic evidence to scare you away.

The Burgh is tricky. It has tricky winters. Some years it snows really hard for a couple of days, and it paralyzes everything - roads, school schedules, plumbing pipes, name it.

A couple of weeks ago, (if you remember my St. Valentine's post), a snow storm was forecasted. Lo and behold, it actually happened. I missed two half days at work, it was a bitch to ride a bus, and the a/c was cranking around the clock. But it made for really cool pictures, just like this.

Saturday, 24 February 2007

Girl Scout Cookies.

Anyone familiar with this crack-like addiction? Personally, I have never purchased one single package of those things, but my husband could possibly live off Thin Mint Cookies (hey, he could live off Oreos, but that is a matter for another discussion).

So I thought I was safe, but how wrong I was.

See, Edy's brand has introduced Girl Scout Cookies Ice Cream. And anything that contains both ice cream and cookies is by default a favourite, unless it contains some vile flavour such as fig, see weed or lentils.

So I am having a glorious bowl of caramel ice cream with Samoan bits and hope that my scale will not phone its attorney the moment I step on it... But short is life!

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Dentistry blues

So I need a root canal.

I broke an old teenage-era filling some weeks ago, and after some back and forthing related to the misprinting of my insurance card, I finally manage to schedule an appointment for an examination and maybe a filling, for today. Only to be told when I got there, that I will need to schedule another appointment (with a different doctor) for that (the root canal).

Dude. Aren't all dentists created equal? Back in Greece, my dentist would do fillings, cleansings, root canals, name it. And do it pretty well. And wouldn't cost me much, even w'out insurance. Not to mention that "dental insurance" was a first for me when I moved in da Burgh.

So, even with the aforementioned dental insurance, I still have to fork out something over 400 bucks. How cute. The actual price for the root canal is 700 something, and that's without the filling and the crown. When I heard the price I totally spaced out, took a copy of the expenses analysis and left.

Now I 'll have to call them back all over to ask them if they can arrange for montly payments.


Sunday, 18 February 2007

Music, dance and good food.

Most of my friends here in Blogger might know or not that I participate in a medieval reenactment group. I enjoy doing lots of things with the folks over there, but one of the most favourite ones are playing music and dancing. So it happened that yesterday an event was hosted that was all about music and dance. I spent my day in a very nice bunch of rooms in a Student Union, played the recorder and drum, ate nice quiches and breads with yummy cheese spreads and baklava and mince pies till I gave myself such a sugar rush that I could go all the way playing along behind the minstrel's parapet.

I don't call this blog "minstrelrin" without a reason. I have been playing music almost all my life, though rather classical and modern than medieval and early renaissance. Discovering these musics with a medium other than a CD recording is one of the most awesome things I had hoped to experience. And playing with other musicians that share that vision is priceless.

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

The whole package

If we forget about the teddy bear, but I am more a koala person rather than a teddy bear person.

Which means that I got home to find flowers, chocolates, and BBC's Pride and Prejudice 2DVD box set. And that's without the preliminary presents.

I have to say, I got him chocolates too. With a koala on the box.

Why today instead of tomorrow, you might wonder. Well, we are in a middle of a snow storm and tomorrow it's going to be even worse. So, the flowers had to be bought today, and you can't really hide flowers, can you?


Happy Valentine's Day. Show love to someone, even though that someone might whine that "this is for schoolkids", cause deep down noone really believes so!

Monday, 12 February 2007

Good, wholesome weekends

Those are something that needs some work, you know. Like, deciding how much to sleep in! Deciding if it's worth it to fight temperatures of -18oC just to avoid suffering from cabin fever around Sunday afternoon. And, most important, one has to make self ready to fight the Saturday evening/night crowds that invariably swarm any location that might provide entertainment.

Thankfully, both my husband and I like pretty much the same things. Drinks, dinner, shooting pool, hitting golf balls at the practice range. The golf ball part will have to wait for another couple of months because of the weather, so opting for the rest of the list was rather wise.

Let me tell you now, that I am a mediocre pool player, while hubby is a damn good one (TM). Still though, out of sheer luck, I managed to win, which was cathartic. Pool is a game that is supposed to obey the laws of physics, which is reassuring by itself. Playing it on a table that is well maintained and cared for, makes it even better. There's nothing worse than playing on poor tables that send the ball anywhere but where you aimed for. But thankfully, our local joint has a very good reputation, which is responsible sometimes for the waiting list that is often created.

What can I say, I like places that do not resemble dumps. For that matter, the evening was concluded at a middle tier restaurant, where I was served the biggest slice of cheesecake ever known to man because I am so special. Scratch that. I think they did that because it was 11:00 p.m. and they'd dispose the rest of it anyway!

Friday, 9 February 2007

There is a thing to be said..

..about cereal bars for breakfast. One is never enough, and more than one beats the principle of dieting.

I guess I will have to grow a pair of willpower and suck it, but it is Friday and I want this week to be over, not that it is horrible or anything, just went through too fast for my liking and relaxation will be much appreciated. Combined with a beer or a girly drink, preferably.

This weekend, I want to cook. Meaning, buying raw ingredients and cook something from scratch. I have all those really nifty cookbooks and I haven't used them since I was working part time. (There is a thing to be said about working full time, but that is material for another post).

If I manage to cook, I'll post pictures. That will give me some initiative!

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Hot cocoa fixes everything

Hunger attack, stomach cramps, cold weather, name it.

We expected some snow today, but it only dusted for a bit in the morning, then it was back being sunny and cold. I left my office today to send a birthday gift to a girlfriend - it was actually pleasant enough to go for that walk.

Then, I came back and I wanted to eat my stapler.

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Ok, so Superbowl was really blah.

The pre-game show was boring, short and uninspired. The game itself was bizzare, it was raining all the time and the players didn't know what to do with it for a good chunk of time, the commercials were mainly bland, with the exception of a couple of them (like the No Speak English Bud Light commercial, that one made me laugh a lot); however, the company was great, and the winter food (chili and potatoes) was eaten to the scrapes of the pot. I also had a pot of mulled cider on the stove which was a big hit.

At least the Sundays will be football-free now, which makes way for other potential pastimes.

Sunday, 4 February 2007


Stay tuned.

(which means, that there will be a bunch of people watching the game here, I will be slaving myself over making certain they are fed and drank, and at the same time get a glimpse of the pre-game show, by Cirque de Soleil. Which interests me way more than the game itself - after all, the local team here managed to screw itself out of a place in the play offs while being the "defending champions" at the same time. Sic transit gloria mundi, as the old pirate at the Asterix comics once said. Maybe next year...

Wednesday, 31 January 2007

George Carlin's Rules for 2007

New Rule: Stop giving me that pop-up ad for!There's a reason you don't talk to people for 25 years. Because you don't particularly like them! Besides, I already know what the captain of the football team is doing these days -- mowing my lawn.
New Rule: Don't eat anything that's served to you out a window unless you're a seagull.People are acting all shocked that a human finger was found in a bowl of Wendy's chili. Hey, it cost less than a dollar. What did you expect it to contain? Lobster?
New Rule: Stop saying that teenage boys who have sex with their hot, blonde teachers are permanently damaged.I have a better descrpition for these kids: "Lucky bastards."
New Rule: If you need to shave and you still collect baseball cards, you're a dope.If you're a kid, the cards are keepsakes of your idols. If you're a grown man, they're pictures of men.
New Rule: Ladies, leave your eyebrows alone.Here's how much men care about your eyebrows: Do you have two of them? Okay, we're done.
New Rule: There's no such thing as flavored water.There's a whole aisle of this crap at the supermarket, water, but without that watery taste. Sorry, but flavored water is called a soft drink. You want flavored water? Pour some scotch over ice and let it melt. That's your flavored water.
New Rule: Stop screwing with old people.Target is introducing a redesigned pill bottle that's square, with a bigger label. And the top is now the bottom. And by the time grandpa figures out how to open it, his ass will be in the morgue. Congratulations, Target, you just solved the Social Security crisis.
New Rule: The more complicated the Starbucks order, the bigger the asshole.If you walk into a Starbucks and order a "decaf grande, half-soy, half-low fat, iced vanilla, double-shot, gingerbread cappuccino, extra dry, light ice, with one Sweet-n'-Low, and one NutraSweet," ooh, you're a huge asshole.
New Rule: I'm not the cashier!By the time I look up from sliding my card, entering my PIN number, pressing "Enter," verifying the amount, deciding, no, I don't want cash back, and pressing "Enter" again, the kid who is supposed to be ringing me up is standing there eating my Almond Joy.
New Rule: Just because your tattoo has Chinese characters in it doesn't make you spiritual.It's right above the crack of your ass. And it translates to "beef with broccoli." The last time you did anything spiritual, you were praying to God you weren't pregnant. You're not spiritual. You're just high.
New Rule: Competitive eating isn't a sport. It's one of the seven deadly sins.ESPN recently televised the U.S. Open of Competitive Eating, because watching those athletes at the poker table was just too damned exciting. What's next, competitive farting? Oh wait. They're already doing that. It's called "The Howard Stern Show."
New Rule: I don't need a bigger mega M&Ms.If I'm extra hungry for M&Ms, I'll go nuts and eat two.
New Rule: If you're going to insist on making movies based on crappy, old television shows, then you have to give everyone in the Cineplex a remote so we can see what's playing on the other screens.
Let's remember the reason something was a television show in the first place is that the idea wasn't good enough to be a movie.
New Rule: No more gift registries.You know, it used to be just for weddings. Now it's for babies and new homes and graduations from rehab. Picking out the stuff you want and having other people buy it for you isn't gift giving, it's the white collar version of looting.
New Rule: And this one is long overdue: No more bathroom attendants.After I zip up, some guy is offering me a towel and a mint like I just had sex with George Michael. I can't even tell if he's supposed to be there, or just some freak with a fetish. I don't want to be on your web cam, dude. I just want to wash my hands.
New Rule: If you ever hope to be a credible adult and want a job that pays better than minimum wage, then for God's sake don't pierce or tattoo every available piece of flesh.If so, then plan your future around saying, "Do you want fries with that?"

Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Apparently, I need one of those..

It costs about 130 bucks, but it blends the Margarita, it pours it, and it even keeps it cool. What more could a girl ask for?
I wonder if it also makes Cosmos, or Sangria...

Monday, 29 January 2007


I was pretty much as surprised as anyone else who logged onto the main site, only to find that the service will stop, since Google Video will erase all its contest from their data bases, after a formal demand from the copyright owners.

That was quite expected, rather sooner than later. The copyright wars are upon us since some years now, and, seriously now, how could this be a happy exception?

The main question is, though: What do you give us back for what you take from us? Pretty much nothing. ABC Network (to name just one) has all its shows available online after the premier airing is over. The greek channels authorities have not even dreamed of providing anything like that. In addition, it seems that the ridiculous and obsolete law structure prevents Greeks living (or working, or studying) abroad sharing the same TV with their brethren in Greece - they get a watered down, obsolete, and "special interest" variety of programs from the satellite greek channels.

Even if the satellite tv programs were of a content agreeable to most greeks abroad, not everyone can have a dish. I know for myself that I can't. My apartment building offers cable tv only. And, guess what? My provider does not offer a greek channels package. None at all. I can subscribe to watch Russian TV, and BBC America is not bad at all (I just wish that they showed more Python, Faulty Towers and Blackadder), but there's not greek tv in the horizon. Not one crumble.

So, to ask again, what do you give us back? Nothing at all. The only thing you manage to do is to cut us off even more from today's greek reality. We complain how the Greeks of the Diaspora are completely unfamiliar with the Greece of 2007. And if this fact could have a list of legitimate reasons until let's say the mid 90's, there's no reason for this today whatsoever. The World Wide Web has made the whole world as small as a rooster's butthole. And the people that have the actual power, or at least most of them (the fact that I can read TODAY's Greek paper on pdf is a marvel to me, you know, and I am eternally grateful to whomever thought of that idea!), won't do anything about it, even though they could do it in a way that it would bring them profit. Yes. Profit. Shiny blue and tan euro bills for them to collect. Provide streaming videos of the programs you play, for a subscription, or add commercials. I don't care either way. But I will be ecstatic to know what's going on in my homeland. I will be ecstatic to be able to converse with my family and friends, and not feel like a weirdo that is kept in a dark room for all eternity.

Good bye, You will certainly be missed...

Sunday, 28 January 2007

The first post.

This is the first post. I had my arm severely twisted by a very good friend of mine, who will be mercilessly linked in a very short amount of time.

This will probably be a not-very-often-updated mind dumpster. I hope y'all don't mind!

Much cheers!