Thursday, May 31, 2007

eHarmony Date #5

I met eH date #5 at a local Starbucks for coffee (well, a lemonade actually) and had a really nice time. We talked non-stop for 2 1/2 hours and at the end he asked if I'd be interested in going out for dinner and I said, "Yes." So, he asked me to write down my phone number and we'll see what happens!

He was cute and funny and asked lots of questions. Always a good sign! He also would check to be sure he wasn't boring me with a long-winded answer, which is a sign of awareness to a certain extent. The good sign from my end was that I was never thought, "Man, when is he going to shut-up?" Not one single time!

After recapping the date for my friend, I realized that one of the things I liked about him was that he is mindful of his finances. He doesn't have any credit card debt which is a huge plus! I don't have credit card debt either, so I definitely would prefer to date someone who also doesn't have any. I wonder how common it is to meet someone with zero credit card debt... He sounds like he's conscious about his spending without being impractical or too cheap about it, which I totally appreciate because I think I am too.

I theoretically have two more dates this weekend - the Saturday guy whom I haven't heard from and the Sunday guy called on Tuesday, I called him back Wednesday and haven't heard back from him yet. I'll have a better update Monday.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

New Swimsuits

I finally bought a couple new swimsuits! They should be here next week. I have a couple brands that tend to be my favorites based on how they feel and fit: Venus and Body Glove.

Venus swimsuits are made by Venus, a company in Jacksonville, FL, where I grew up. I remember my mom balking at the price of a swimsuit I picked out at a sporting goods store in Jacksonville because it was pretty pricy, about $50 for a bikini. She bought it for me, but here's what was great... I wore that suit every day that summer! I would go swimming in the morning at the pool, then wear it to the beach later that day to lay out and swim in the ocean and sometimes, do more swimming in the afternoon. (Yes, I was *very* tan that summer!) And that suit lasted. All summer long and for at least one less busy summer after that.

I'm curious to see if the quality of their swimsuits has stood the test of time. I hope so! I typically go for the string bikini, but this time I compromised: I bought a string bikini and one that has a regular bottom (not tied on the sides). All told I think I spent about $80 on two swimsuits including the shipping & handling. Not too shabby!

On the flip side, I paid $60 for a bikini from Body Glove 2-3 summers ago and the plastic piece on the top broke after I had worn it about 6 times! I was pissed, but never got around to writing them a letter. Actually, this might sound a bit contrary. I should clarify that I love how Body Glove swimsuits feel and fit! They use great materials and the suits feel great when I'm wearing them. I've had a couple Body Glove swimsuits and always liked them a lot too (with the broken plastic piece exception that's been noted!).

Meanwhile, the last couple years I bought some suits from Target and they are OK, but the elastic isn't that great and they feel OK, but it's never awesome. We'll see if these new ones are any better!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Gamex/Strategicon Report

Warning: This is really long and gaming-related, so most non-gamers will want to skip this post.

I left my apartment around 4:40 PM on Friday and arrived at the hotel before 6 PM, so I was pleased with that. I was worried it take like 2 hours to get down there. Once I checked in, I went downstairs to check everything out.

One of the first people I ran into was Jay Tummelson, owner of Rio Grande Games. I got to play the first copy of Notre Dame that was opened at the con! Jay wasn't going to open any til Saturday, but when I showed up and he offered to show me If Wishes were Fishes, I said, "I really want to play Notre Dame!" He went and found a copy, opened it up and taught myself, Devi Hughes, Brad Parker and a couple others how to play. It was fun!

On Friday night, I ran a game of Liar's Dice and then ended up playing a few games of Werewolf that evening. In all the WW games I played at the con, I was never any of the special role cards. See Ron? I'm not *always* a werewolf! I was chosen as one of the lovers during two of the games I played during the weekend.

The highlights for me were: meeting Jay - SUPER nice guy and every time I walked by he'd say, "Wanna play a game?" with a great smile! :-) I'm bummed that I missed his talk. I didn't realize there was a talk scheduled! I got the highlights from someone at the con and his story is cool!

Starting around 11 PM every night, there were constant games of Werewolf (I think I ended up playing 5-6 times and moderated once) and lots of Time's Up. There was a Rio Grande-a-thon on Saturday from 9 AM - 7 PM which Travis won by a landslide. He had 139 points(!) and Chris took second place with 96 points. Third place went to Mike with 91 points. Travis was a frenetic game playin' fool!! First price in the marathon was 70 dealer dollars, so not too shabby! I gave up about after a few hours and still managed to land in the middle of the pack with only 5 games played. I think next time I'll stick in there for the long haul. Just for fun if nothing else.

I won the Ingenious tournament (and now I wish I hadn't traded it away!) and placed 2nd with Roderick in the Tichu tournament. Overall I earned 15 dealer dollars, whoopee!

I did meet some cool people at the con. Some were local (I definitely have a new guy to add to my sporadic game nights at home), while a couple of the people were from out of town. They were here FROM DALLAS and had never even *heard* of BGG!! So I spread the love! They are going to sign up for the BGG.con and meet up with us there. We're going to get a driving tour from one of them who lives in that area by the custard shop we went to last year (remember how I loved those houses Dave?).

Here is their story: Apparently, they were here about 4 years ago for an NBA All-Stars game and work and were staying at the Westin while OrcCon was going on there. They were curious about the LARPers they saw walking around the hotel and found out about the con and have been flying out here for all the cons since. They're out here all the time anyway since they are computer consultants and are out here anyway to visit clients. They were fun!

On Sunday, Travis and Mike ran some playing of prototypes from about noon til 8 PM. I didn't participate in this, but I saw the more finished copy of Travis & Mike's game called A Day at the Races. I saw the cards and boards that Nikki did the art for and they are awesome!!!

Overall, it was fun, but I think I prefer the open gaming format to the scheduled gaming. It seems like the scheduled games never start when they're supposed to, they always last longer than they should and you just get randomized with people who (at least some of them), I'd rather not play with. There were some of the stereotypical stinky people there too. Is it *that* hard to, I don't know, TAKE A SHOWER? I think women have a better sense of smell than men do in general, but still! Not an excuse!

I saw the LARPers playing Vampire, but didn't get over there to really check it out. I didn't venture to the flea market or the RPG area either. I ran into a lot of regulars from SCGD and played some Guitar Hero in the computer room with the teens.

I think that hits most of the stuff I did. I am planning on going to the September one, unless I'm doing something else for some reason. There's talk of a Guitar Hero tournament and that would be cool. I think I'd have more fun though at the next one. I didn't realize what it would be like, so now I know, I'll adjust my expectations.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Memorial Day Weekend Plans

The plans start tonight! I'm going to Gamex/Strategicon which starts today and runs until Monday. This week has not been the best for me mentally, so I'm really looking forward to going swimming, playing games and hanging out with friends this weekend.

There's a Rio Grande-a-thon tomorrow and I've never participated in something like that, but my goal is to try to beat Travis. Probably won't happen, but it's good to have a goal!

Evan and Neal are in town this weekend too and I'm really hoping to see them on Sunday, preferably at Roscoe's!

My work day is more than halfway over and I'm pretty much packed and have snacks in hand! As soon as they turn me loose, I'm heading home, picking up my bags and driving down to the LAX-Westin and then, the games will begin.

I am looking forward to Monday. We're having lunch at Mozza and then I have my next eHarmony date!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Sprint Cell Phone Plan

When I saw this, I should've immediately posted it to my blog, but I didn't. I hope it's still available!!

Check out the details on this Sprint plan. It's $30 a month and it includes 500 minutes, nights start at 7 PM and you get free text messages and Sprint vision!! I think you can get another $50 off. Read his "Deals" section.

Jump on it though. It may run out soon!

eHarmony Update

I signed up for eHarmony in January for a six month membership. I was lagging for a while, but since I decided to get back on the eHarmony bandwagon, things have started ramping up a bit. I have four dates tentatively scheduled over the next couple weeks.

Let's put them in chronological order:
  • Monday - This one sounded good on the phone and pretty easy-going.
  • Thursday - Haven't talked to him, but he lives nearby and looks cute.
  • Next Saturday - We haven't really clicked on the phone, but I'm trying to be open-minded.
  • Next Sunday - I have a feeling he might be too immature, not unreasonable considering he is only 27.

So I might go from four dates over the last four months to four more in the next two weeks! I'll post updates on how the dates after they happen!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Kansas City Restaurant Reviews

Jack Stack BBQ
I realized that I never posted a recap of the restaurants I visited while in Kansas City earlier this month! Let's see... on Friday night, we went to Jack Stack BBQ and I ordered the burnt ends & baby back ribs. The first thing I was surprised about was that the place was so nice! When we walked in, I thought, "Wow, this place looks like a nice steakhouse!" and I was worried it would be priced accordingly. Even with the extra charge for the baby back ribs, I think my dinner was about $16.50, which is pretty reasonable. Barbecue in Los Angeles is expensive, so it was nice to pay less than $20 for two different kinds of meat.

Before dinner, I had a dinner salad that had fresh bacon bits on it. Before I go on... the salad was the best tasting part of my meal. Yep you heard me right. The salad was the best part. The BBQ was OK, but not really spectacular. And maybe KC BBQ isn't for me. I can accept that. It certainly won't stop me from trying a different restaurant the next time I go. Most likely Arthur Bryant's or Gates since those seem to be the "big two" around there.

However, if I'm just going for salad and munchies, I would, without hestitation, go to Jack Stack again. We were still talking about our salad when we ate dinner the next night at Stroud's. It was that good. I don't know if it was the blue cheese dressing or the bacon bits? I suspect a bit of both. It did make us joke that next time, we'd go to Jack Stack for a salad, then head over to Stroud's for some fried chicken!

The second best part were the sides. The cheesy corn bake was pretty yummy, but rich. The french fries, even though they look quite institutional, were cooked well and were yummy.

After a comment on this entry, I'm modifying it to include something I neglected to mention... One thing I really did enjoy about Jack Stack was the experience itself. Our wait time was less than expected, our food came quickly, the atmosphere is comfortable and decor were very nice. Our server was great! I used to wait tables for years and I can attest to the fact that it's hard to find good service (at least in California!). She was attentive and very helpful without being annoying.

Here's a picture of my dinner:

Jack Stack Dinner

And here's a close-up of the burnt ends:

Burnt Ends

Then on Saturday night, I went to Stroud's which is famous for its fried chicken. After waiting an hour for a table and then another thirty minutes for my food, I can say that it was worth the wait. The fried chicken was delicious. I still don't think it tops Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe in my book, but Stroud's will be a must-eat anytime I'm in KC.

The disappointing thing about both restaurants was that neither one had sweet tea. How far south of the Mason-Dixon line does a woman need to go to get some sweet tea?!

It looks like Stroud's was an old house on a pond that was converted to a restaurant. There are rooms that look like additions and they have a big screened in porch down by the pond where you can listen to the fans, get an awesome freshly made strawberry margarita and munch on some popcorn while you're waiting for your table. This is a picture of the yard between the house and the screened in porch. I think the building on the right is a little chapel.

Side yard

And then our dinner! The green beans were yummily peppery as was the gravy for the mashed potatos. (Not pictured, but for bread, you get these cinnamin buns that are delicious if you like that sort of thing...)


Close-up of our star - the Fried Chicken

Overall? I would recommend going to Stroud's, but I'd skip Jack Stack next time.

Road Rally in Burbank - June 16th

I'm active in a group in Los Angeles called My People Connection. They've been instrumental in me meeting some of my best friends!! I plan events for them all the time and I just love the group.

My next big event that's coming up is a Road Rally in Burbank on Saturday, June 16th! My friend Shane is the one hosting it, but I'm the one writing up all the clues! I've been really stressed about it because I want it to be fun, but not too difficult. Last night I made a list of all the places I want the road racers to stop and then Shane and I started making up the clues!! I'm really excited about it and I hope everyone who participates has a blast.

I'm hoping to finish writing/designing all the clues this week and then do a test run the first weekend in June. I would write more about the locations and clues, but I can't. Just in case anyone who's participating is reading this. But don't worry! I'm putting several minutes of thought into each clue!! :-)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Housing Swap Vacation

What is a housing swap?
You basically trade where you live with someone else in another city/country. It's a great way to save some money if you have faith in your fellow man that they will respect your space and not steal from you. Some people might think it's nuts, but I don't! Maybe that's the eternal optimist in me. I would be perfectly willing to swap housing with someone in order to save money on hotel costs.

The reason I'm considering this?
I have five more weeks of vacation time scheduled off between now and the end of the year. I won't have five weeks of vacation time accrued (maybe about three weeks), so I'm going to have to take a couple weeks of it off without pay. I, for one, am all about creative ways to save some money so I don't feel it in my savings account.

Here's what I did:
I posted a couple ads on Craigslist. One in the Chattanooga area because I'll be there for a week in July and one in the Paris area because I'll be there for a week in October. I'm hoping to get in touch with people who will be willing to trade housing for the same time periods. The Paris swap could be unequal because I'll also be going to Germany after Paris, so they could stay at my apartment for two weeks while I just stay at theirs for one.

The results so far?
I received an email from a woman in Chattanooga who might be interested in coming out this way. I replied with some points she may want to consider and hopefully I'll hear back from her soon!

If I can actually swap with her, I'd be able to save about $375 for the week I'm Chattanooga because I won't have to pay for a hotel room! That $375 is the cost of half of a hotel room since I'm planning on sharing while I'm there. That will certainly make it easier to take the time off without pay. I'm guessing that the savings for Paris could be even greater. I haven't started looking into the cost of hotels and such, but I'm guessing it's far more pricy than Chattanooga!

I hope to get more interest in the swap for Paris later in the year. We'll see!

Guitar Zeros

My friend Giles sent me a link to the Guitar Zeros. If you have three minutes while eating your lunch today, watch this video and see computer, music geeks at their finest. I am so amused. The lead guitarist guy is da bomb! Be amazed! :-)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

My boss has no shame!

He really doesn't. He's lucky he's married to a woman that helps him monitor his eating habits because if he wasn't, he'd weigh about 300 lbs!!

Today is Marilyn's birthday. And I know I said that I was done with the lunches, but I will most likely organize her lunch today because, as my assistant, she is my right hand woman here at work and I couldn't get along without her. So, I want to show her that I appreciate her. (BTW, the guy who didn't offer anything towards my lunch had already offered to buy her entire lunch by 8 AM) My caring started last night when I baked her triple chocolate fudge chip cupcakes! Mmmm... she loves chocolate. In fact, we all do in my office, but none so much as my boss!

When he came in this morning, he walked by saying "Good morning" to everyone as usual. When he saw the cupcakes sitting on her desk, he couldn't resist taking one. She told him, "You may have ONE."

Well, ten minutes later, he called me and said, "I want to meet with you and Marilyn in your office. Could you call her over and I'll meet you there in a minute." She works across the hall from me, so I called her and said, "[Bossman] wants to meet with us in my office, could you come over here please?" Meanwhile, I did a quick clean-up so it looks a little better before he gets here.

Then he comes walking up the hall and heads straight into her office. We were both thinking, "Hello! We're over here..." but then we realized he was going in there to snag a cupcake and we both starting cracking up!! More in disbelief than anything.

Seriously... he has no shame!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Bacon Caramel Ice Cream

Where might one find bacon caramel ice cream? At Scoops!! If you're a LA foodie or Yelper, you've no doubt heard of Scoops! Erin & I *finally* went last Saturday because we had heard that one of the flavors that day would be bacon caramel! Who can pass that up?! I didn't take a picture, plus I didn't feel particularly overly descriptive, but here is her account of our visit (with a picture!). Other flavors I tried were brown bread and Guinness-tiramisu.

Overall, the Scoops experience is pretty cool. If you buy an ice cream cake (24 hour notice required), Mr. Kim will make you whatever flavor you request for the cake! How cool is that?!

Pros: Awesome, original ice cream flavors that change every day; VEGAN ice cream for you non-animal product eating people out there
Cons: Not a lot of parking, just go up a block and park there. You might need quarters if you park at a meter.

712 N. Heliotrope Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90029
(323) 906-2649

Open Mon - Sat 12 noon - 10 PM
Closed on Sundays!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Can we just be friends?

Well, it's been a while since I've mentioned 23, the guy I was dating last year for a little while. I liked him for many reasons and then he broke up with me because he wasn't over his ex-girlfriend yet. Quite understandable. I was already concerned because I thought he was too young for me anyway, so it worked out quite nicely.

I was talking with my co-worker a couple days ago and she brought up the time that he had pulled my chair out for me when we were eating at the Great Steak and Potato Company one night. A memorable event indeed! That got me thinking... I wonder how he's doing? I know Erin ran into him at a Neko Case concert in February, but I haven't tried contacting him at all since we broke up. Initially, I was too sad about the whole thing and since I got over it, I've just been preoccupied with other stuff.

A couple nights ago, I was sorting through some pictures on my hard drive and ran across a picture of him. So I figured I'd just drop a line and say "hi!" We've exchanged a couple emails and looks like we'll be hanging out sometime, hopefully soon. I did truly like him and always thought that he was pretty cool to hang out with. I think we could actually be friends and not in a weird way, which is a great feeling to have about someone. He apparently feels the same way, so it looks like I will have a new friend.

This will be interesting for me. Over the last year, I've managed to stay "friends" with most of the guys I've dated, which is a totally new experience for me. I'd never really done that in the past. I'm looking forward to it. I have a good feeling about it!

Guitar Hero - Rocks the 80s Update

Thanks to Erin who sent me this link to an article that states that:

Guitar Hero: Rocks the 80s will feature visually stunning retro rock venues and hipster characters, unlockable guitars, intense game play modes, and most importantly 30 awesome new songs to experience the ultimate rock star fantasy. The initial list of finger-melting tracks includes:

  • I Wanna Rock (by Twisted Sister)
  • I Ran (by Flock of Seagulls)
  • Round and Round (as made famous by Ratt)
  • I Want Candy (as made famous by Bow Wow Wow)
  • Metal Health (as made famous by Quiet Riot)
  • Holy Diver (as made famous by Dio)
  • Heat Of The Moment (as made famous by Asia)

TOTALLY AWESOME DUDE!!! I just hope this comes out before I go to Gulf Games in July... We are going to rock!

RELEASE DATE is tentatively set for July 17, 2007!!!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Wawanesa - Awesome Auto Insurance

I haven't posted about anything money-related in quite a while and it's been kind of bugging me. Mainly because I know it means that I probably haven't been paying enough attention to money stuff. (A quick look at my checkbook register tells me nothing has even been written in it since 1/26/07! Whoops! Lunchtime project!) Which needs to change. Soon. Starting now...

My auto insurance renews today. I've been a customer of Wawanesa Insurance for almost 10 years. I know, you're thinking to yourself, Wawa-who? They are a direct writer of insurance and if you live in California or Oregon and have a clean driving record, listen up! Because this, I can *almost* guarantee you, will save you bucks. Lots of them.

The first time we purchased a joint auto insurance policy after I married my ex-husband, we went through a broker. I think this is probably pretty typical. I forget which company we ended up with, but after a couple years, my sister-in-law suggested we call her insurance company: Wawanesa. We had never heard of them, so we were reluctant to call them. But finally we did and got a quote that at the time was *significantly* less expensive than the renewal quote we had received from our broker. He asked us, "Are you sure it's for a year's coverage?" Which it was. In fact, it states that fact very clearly on it, because I assume it's a common question. He reviewed our quote from them and said, "Looks legit..." so we switched and have never looked back.

Some auto insurance basics: The minimum required by California is $15K of bodily injury liability for a single person, $30K bodily injury liability max per incident and $5K of property damage liability. The minimums are really quite paltry. Can you imagine having even a fender bender with some of these $50K cars out there on the road with only minimum coverage? Yikes! That $5K would barely cover a bumper!!

Back to the present: I had some changes that I started making last week to my policy (address, deleting a car/driver) so I had not received my quote yet. I called Wawanesa and went through a few voice mail menus and reached a real live person within a couple minutes. This, by the way, is pretty typical. You will often reach a live person within just a minute or two. Anyway, she looked up my account and gave me the quote over the phone. The total for a year of coverage? $763!!

Pretty damn good. And that's with much more than the minimum coverages in place. I am 32 years old, female and have a 1998 Honda Civic and for my $763, here's what I was getting:
  • $100K bodily injury liability for a single person
  • $300K bodily injury liability max per incident
  • $100K property damage liability
  • Comprehensive with $300 deductible - covers theft & other stuff that happens unrelated to accidents
  • Collision with $500 deductible - Accidents and such
  • Un/Under-insured Motorist coverage (& bodily injury) - Everyone should have this!
  • Rental Reimbursement ($25 per day/$750 max)
  • Towing & Labor ($50 per incident)
I heard a friend complaining about how much his car insurance was going up because he moved to Burbank in the past year and they finally had his correct information for the renewal. His policy with AAA was going to renew for about $1,200. I suggested he call Wawanesa to get a quote. He called, they emailed him a quote about 30 minutes later and his new rate? About $750 with better coverages than he had with AAA.

Service: You might be pretty doubtful, thinking to yourself, this is too good to be true! Well, it *is* true. And I've had excellent customer service from them. I've had someone hit one of our cars and it required body work. I've also had a car stolen while with them. Both experiences were painless. The person always called, they sent the checks, and they were more than fair with the amount paid out for the stolen car. Most importantly, it's always been pretty easy to get a live person on the phone.

Bottom line: If you don't have any tickets on your driving record, call them at (800) 640-2920. Or apply for a quote online. Either way, it will probably only take about five minutes. Do it!

I'm not 100% sure, but I'm pretty sure that you can cancel an auto policy at any time and receive a refund in any paid premiums. Don't wait another six months to start saving money. Call them or go online today.

If you do give it a shot, please post a comment and let me know what you thought.

Let the Swimming Begin

It has been unseasonably warm in Los Angeles the last couple days, like 20+ degrees higher than the average temperature for this time of year. The upside? Swimming!! I hopped in my pool yesterday for the first time in MONTHS. It was kind of chilly (it's unheated), but it was oh so glorious. I have missed my pool. Every time I haven't gone swimming in a while, I'm amazed by the power water has over me. I love it. I feel instantly happier and just free.

And I'm going swimming tonight before I go to games. Now, to just get the BBQ going this weekend...

Friday, May 04, 2007

I'm off to Missouri

I've never been to Missouri, but that will all change today! My friend Erin's mom has accused her of traveling on her stomach. I think that's why we get along so well. I've already planned out my restaurant of choice for Friday and Saturday.

What's on the menu? Well, I can't go to Kansas City without getting some barbecue! So it's straight to Jack Stack's BBQ we go as soon as I land. Then on Saturday, I'm going to Stroud's which has, according to, the "most delicious fried chicken in America." How could I say no? Anyone who knows me, knows about my great love of fried chicken.

So, we'll see how it goes!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

May Goal

My friend Erin had a goal last month to watch 30 movies in 30 days. A little too time intensive for me, but it really was an inspiration to me. I've been faltering a bit on my New Year's goals, but a month? I could do something for a month, right? So, today I got up and did my 15 minute arm workout. My goal? To do my 15 minute workouts before work everyday. So far, so good!