Category Archives: pet peeves

Future Past, Tense

I’ve been Way Too Hella Busy To Blog for a while. Still am, really. But I feel bad for neglecting Shoes & Pie, and you, my dear readers! Rather than catch you up with one painfully long post covering an unrelated variety of subjects, I’m going to try to break it into bite-sized chunks that I’ll post as the week progresses. In no particular order (as I’m writing this as much as a reminder/outline for myself as I’m writing a Table of Contents for you), I’ll try to cover:

  • WABAC Wednesday vintage recipe: Applesauce Meatballs and Easy Rice Ring (1949)
  • Kitchen Pr0n: Yes, it’s possible that I added more stuff to the Shoes & Pie Test Kitchen
  • Vintage Food Propaganda/Ephemera (scans)
  • How To: Shop An Estate Sale (subtitle: Myths, Truths, and Don’t Be That Person)
  • Crafts ’n’ shizz. Oh man, do I have so many crafts (sewing, painting, drawing, assembling) lined up, and not enough time!

So until next time (this afternoon? tomorrow?), see ya!

EDITED TO ADD: Oh right, I should write a post about what has now been dubbed Holy Shit Pie, as in, “Holy shit, this pie is good!” Which was the actual text I received when I packed a slice in the boyfriend’s lunch one day.

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Filed under advertising, collections, day job, food, Is it safe to remove the gas masks?, kitchen, life-threatening clutter, packaging, pet peeves, sewing, shopping, vintage

Facebook Fiasco: An Update

As many of you know, a buncha weeks ago I’d been involuntarily logged out of my Facebook account, and no longer had any access to my personal profile or my shop’s fan page. The page was still public and visible, I simply couldn’t administer it.

The other day while helping a friend work on her own business page, I asked her to surf over to mine to see a particular app I wanted to show her. Curiously, she was redirected back to her page. I tried viewing it from my own device, and was redirected to the default Facebook login page.

Today I tried from my desktop, and was again redirected to the login page. I figured I had nothing to lose, and tried to log in. I was greeted with this:

DISABLED. And in red, so you know they’re serious.

I certainly do have questions or concerns, so I clicked on the hyperlink. That brought me to:

Impersonation? Nope. Misrepresentation? Nope. Spamming? Nope. Hmmm.

When I click on the “contact us” hyperlink shown above, I’m instructed to upload a JPG of a government-issued ID such as my passport or drivers liscense [sic]. Which there is no way I’m doing. Jeepers, they can’t even spell “license” and I’m supposed to trust them to safely store or delete a scan of my passport? PLEASE. But there’s this little caveat lower down on the page anyway:

No warning? SEVERE VIOLATION. No soup for you.

So I guess Facebook doesn’t want me, or my shop’s fan page, on their site. At all. Access to my government-issued IDs notwithstanding. So, to all of the human admins behind the many pages with which I enjoyed interacting: It’s not you, it’s me. Well, really, it’s Facebook. But the point is, it’s not you.

You can visit tiddleywink.com for easy links to some of the social media sites that haven’t kicked me off.

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Filed under for doing the right thing., pet peeves

Baklava Ice Cream and Fruit Flies

You’ll be happy to know those aren’t related. Well, outside of their both occurring in the Shoes And Pie Test Kitchen. And my not being particularly pleased with either.

Baklava Ice Cream

The thought process went like this: Hmm, what to do with this leftover baklava? (I usually work from home, so bringing it to the office for the cubicle gophers isn’t an option.) I know, I’ll make ice cream! A vanilla base, with the baklava chopped into chunks. And instead of white sugar, I’ll sweeten the vanilla base with honey. No, the baklava has enough honey in it. It’s already incredibly sweet, for that matter. I’ll cut the sugar in the ice cream way down.

I’ve learned from years of ice cream experiments that a combination of heavy cream and whole milk is the way to go. Every time I try to “lighten” the fat content, the resulting ice cream is too icy and not enough creamy. For this recipe, I bought the required heavy cream, but decided to go with the 1% milk I already had in my refrigerator. I can add rennet to balance the lower fat content. But nooOOOoo, I decide to skip that step.

I reach for my sugar canister and…it’s empty. Empty. The Test Kitchen manager* is so fired. I don’t want to use much sugar anyway, but I need something. I glance at the brown sugar. No, too rich in combination with the baklava. Okay then, confectioners’ sugar, it is. ¼ cup.

Okay, time to add the vanilla, at which point I decide that rose water would be a better compliment to the pistachio/honey mix that is baklava. I don’t even have sugar, you can believe I don’t have rose water. Vanilla it is. And my secret ingredient: a shot of whiskey to keep the ripened ice cream from being rock hard.

Not terrible, but not a winner.

Stir stir stir. Pour into Cuisinart** ice cream freezer. Churn churn churn churn. Add the chopped baklava. Churn churn. Pour into a freezer-safe container, ripen for two hours. Open it back up, scoop (I’m already not liking the texture), take a bite…blargh. Too icy, too sweet, too much baklava. Back to the drawing board. Or not. The recipe came about as a way to use up leftovers, not because I really wanted baklava ice cream. Now, honey-butter ice cream with pistachios, there’s something I may try to work out!

Fruit Flies

All spring and summer long, I’ve been tending to a relatively healthy heirloom yellow pear tomato plant. I’ve been leaving the ripe tomatoes on the vine, because one pear tomato at a time isn’t very satisfying. But I am ready to take in the full harvest and chow down. As soon as I get home from the race in Kearney.

When I get home, there are 3 pear tomatoes greeting me on my front stoop. It seems that the tomato vines could only hold on for so long, and the time has come. I grab a bowl, pick all of the tomatoes, and see that there are what look like tiny, short hairs on some of them. Pollen from something? I blow. Nothing. When I take them inside and rinse them, I see that some of the “hairs” are still attached. I decide they must be a pest of some sort, and soak the tomatoes in water overnight to drown whatever the remaining little things are. The next morning I drain the now-clean tomatoes, and leave the colander on counter (because you should never refrigerate tomatoes. Sucks the flavor right out of ’em.). Evening approaches, and I’m so excited to have pear tomatoes and fresh mozzarella for dinner! With some fresh basil, a splash of aged balsamic, some cracked pepper…go away, little fly…and some sea salt…shoo, fly! And your friend! And…hey, what’s going on here? My kitchen is swarming*** with fruit flies! I check the tomatoes, and see that some have split open and are looking rather spent. Into the compost bin they go, my dreams of fresh tomatoey dinner dashed.

Too many flies OUTSIDE, not enough INSIDE.

I run to Teh Intarwubs for advice. I set out a bowl of apple cider vinegar spiked with a couple of drops of dish soap. I check the trap a couple of hours later to find the flies congregating near the bowl, but not touching the vinegar. I try home remedy #2 which involves a deeper receptacle, and adding a paper cone that the flies can’t fly back out of. I go to bed. In the morning, I’m greeted by a fruit fly party on the cone, but only 4 inside the contraption. I hear that patience is a virtue, so I’m not getting rid of the vertical trap, but I’m adding home remedy #3: a shallow bowl of vinegar with the addition of a plastic-wrap “lid” to trap the suckers who don’t drown of their own volition. They will not win.

__________________

*me

**I went through 4 or 5 ice cream makers, manual and electric, before I settled on the Cuisinart. I’ve been using it for years now, and don’t have a single complaint. Well, I wish it had come in red back when I bought mine. :)

***If 30 or so make a swarm, and it sure feels like it

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Filed under food, gardening, kitchen, pet peeves

TUESDAY Rounderp

(Due to the long Labor Day weekend, Monday’s Rounderp has been rescheduled to today.)

Hey there, kats and kittens! Did you notice that I skipped out on Thursday’s and Friday’s posts last week? You see, Thursday was supposed to be a progress report on how far I’d come with the race team’s hero card, and I simply hadn’t gotten very far. Trying to determine the appropriate size turned out to take far longer than I’d expected, as it turns out there isn’t really a “standard” holder available for these things. Well, Pit Pal makes a telescoping hero card stand, but at a price that will make you choke. An image search for other team’s stands turned up a whole lot of custom-built jobbies. That’s the problem with racers: they can’t stop hot-rodding stuff. :) Anyway, I’d wanted to finish the web site before working on the hero cards, but that’s been held up because trying to get content from these guys is like pulling teeth. However, I discovered over the weekend that one of the drivers has been giving out the web address (which once pointed to a half-built site filled with misinformation and FPO photos, posted only for my own testing purposes and since taken down). I’ve asked repeatedly for content, so aside from physically standing over a team member while watching him gather files and info for me, I’m at a loss as to how to move forward with that project. All I can do for now is put up some lame home page, which roughly outlines what should be there, someday. Heck, I was putting the site together as a favor to them, so if they let the domain registry expire without ever posting a thing, it’s not really my problem.

Does it look hot? Because it’s about 104° out. Give or take 1,000 degrees.

Speaking of the weekend, and the race team: it was another race weekend, this time in Kearney, Nebraska. It appeared to be a charming and fairly vibrant town, but the race track is never in town. Surrounded by corn and soybean fields, sizzling under oppressive heat during the days, and our nights punctuated by the continual passing of freight trains. The guys got in a few good passes and impressed the crowd. While I do love watching them make a pass, I am so tired of the long drives, the heat, the bugs, and the stench of Portalets. I’ll go to the last race this season, but I think that may be it for me. The bloom is well off the rose.

After years of glowing reviews from friends and family members, I made an impulse purchase and bought myself a (refurbished, therefore half price) Dyson vacuum to replace the Phantom which has been sitting in a non-functioning state* since mid July. Now, while I realize that’s a whole lot of weeks to be collecting dust and cat fur, I am certain that the first pass with the Dyson pulled up stuff from the last decade. I am both impressed, and grossed out.

Here’s where I’ll try to take us this week:

WEDNESDAY – Summer is quickly fleeting, and I’ve made exactly 0 batches of ice cream. I’ll remedy that with…baklava ice cream! That sounds good, right? I sure think so!

THURSDAY – I got a new (to me) bike last week! Woo! Read all about it, and my related glee!

FRIDAY – Fiiiine, we’ll take a look at how much I can cobble together for this race team web site that I was once so excited about, before I realized that I was the only one who cared.

_______________________

*The Phantom ingested its belt. I have a replacement belt, but the boyfriend, who promised that he’d help me remove the pieces of the old one and replace it, has been slacking in his extramural helping-out duties. Note: the dishwasher that has been sitting in my back yard for over a year. Could I have politely left out this footnote? Yes, but while I’m tickled by the favors being offered in the first place, my disappointment and frustration at the lack of follow through is growing exponentially. It is a surface sign of deeper problems that are no longer going ignored. I know I don’t usually blog about this stuff, please pardon my inappropriate venting.

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Filed under camping, day job, design, food, life-threatening clutter, pet peeves

Un. Buh. Lievable.

Perhaps you read my post a few weeks back wherein my health insurance provider intended to DOUBLE my monthly premium because of a serious and chronic condition…which I don’t have. And the only way that I could get my premium adjusted back down was to have my medical records, and a letter from my doctor, sent to the underwriters for their review. No promises, of course. But they’d review it. Again. Of course, it was their initial review that had determined that I have a serious and chronic condition in the first place.

Because they are, apparently, morons.

Hopefully, you’ve never had to get a copy of your medical records. They’re yours, and yours for the asking, but in this day and age of HMOs and PPOs and feedlot-style health care providers, you have to find just the right department and pay a small processing fee in order to get them. To obtain a letter written by your doctor should be easier, if he or she has the time, but in my case the doctor in question is a colleague of my usual GP, who was on vacation the day of my visit, and so I was bounced around from office to office until someone figured out who needed to write exactly what on my behalf and then where to send it.

By the time I made all of the phone calls and got all of the paperwork, I’d also applied and been approved for health insurance from a different company. Yay!

Today, I called my “old” provider and requested that my insurance be cancelled, effective immediately. When asked why, I explained that I didn’t like having to jump through all of these hoops to prove that I didn’t have the chronic condition they were accusing me of. The rep apologized, and then informed me that I can’t cancel over the phone. I have to fill out a form. A-ha! More hoops! To speed things up, he can email me the form. Well, that’s a relief! Also, I confirmed that I can return the form via email as well, although the rep seemed astonished that not only do I not personally have a fax machine, but I also haven’t worked in any office with a fax machine in a number of years. Because this isn’t 2001.

A couple of hours later, I received the email. It contained not the form in question, but an attached HTML document which I was instructed to download and open. I did, and was directed to a secure Web page that required me to create a password- and secret-phrase-protected account which I then had to sign in to in order to get to the page where I could finally download the Disenrollment Form. The Disenrollment (is that even a word?) Form which contains precisely zero personal information. Not an address, not a member number. Not even my name. And therefore, requires precisely zero security.

It’s as though they’re BEGGING me to leave.

 

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Filed under doctors and dentists, pet peeves

Why am I up?

Why am I up?

Because I’m sick with a cold, and occasionally awaken because my nose is running or my breathing is labored or I’m coughing. Or any combination/all three.

Because one of my smoke detectors has a sporadic low battery chirp, but I can’t tell which one without getting out of bed and standing in the stairwell, by which point I may as well get the spare batteries and a ladder and change the damn things, but then I’d be AWAKE. The chirp inexplicably stops during daylight hours. This has been going on for three nights.*

Because I’ve never been able to find the switch that turns off my brain, and its chatter is deafening.

Because the ghrey kitteh thinks that my sole purpose is to provide a lumpy surface upon which she may sleep. And she is kind of heavy.

*Since I’m fully awake anyway, I finally did this. Turns out the batteries in the chirping smoke detector test at full strength, so I put them back in. The chirping has stopped, for now.

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Filed under pet peeves, pets

Venting: Fun with Health Insurance

Illustration from iStockPhoto

I’m self-employed. Therefore, I’m self-insured.

I’m pretty healthy, thankfully. I visit a GP once a year for a “wellness” exam, and while I should see a dermatologist every 6 months, I go less frequently than that. I’m pretty adept at avoiding colds, but landed a nasty bronchial bug last winter that included a trip to the doctor’s office for some super-strength cough medicine. My blood pressure is fine, as are my cholesterol levels and whatnot. I carry insurance as, well, insurance. Against the possibility of an Unusual and Drastic Scenario.*

When I started buying my own insurance, back in 2008, my monthly premium was $144, with a rather ridiculous $2000 deductible. Each year, the premium and deductible crept higher. The price of doing business. I wasn’t happy about it, but it was understandable. In November of this year, I noticed that my premium had skyrocketed to $246, so I called to find out what was going on. Surely, I thought, this was some clerical error.

“Ah yes, I see here that we sent you the paperwork regarding new plans, but it was returned. We must have an incorrect address for you.” Well that’s funny, seeing as how my address hasn’t changed the entire time I’ve been doing business with you. I find out that the plan I’m on is no longer “current” and my high premium is a result of being “grandfathered” in to an outdated plan. The rep will transfer me to a Plan Expert who can help me choose a new plan. The helpful Expert and I discuss a few plans, a few prices quotes, and I decide on the $157/month plan for a $4000 deductible. He emails the appropriate Plan Change Request Form, with the instruction to check one particular box, sign, date, and return. And I do, that very afternoon.

A few days later, I receive a voicemail that some information is missing from the Plan Change Request Form. I am to refer to the mailed paperwork (that I never received, if you recall) and call back with the information. I call back, only to get their own voicemail system, telling me that all Experts are in a staff meeting. I leave a message with two phone numbers at which I can be reached, and wait for a return call.

More days go by, and now I receive a letter in the mail (oh look! my address is correct!) that they “have been unable to” reach me, and the missing information is still missing. I call again, speaking this time with a very nice woman who, it turns out, is in a different department. She attempts to connect me through but…all Experts are in a staff meeting. She promises to make a personal plea on my behalf, and I leave another voicemail.

In the meantime, another billing cycle has gone by, and another $246 premium is billed.

Woo, I get a call back! Actually, three in one day. Apparently, their log system doesn’t indicate that anyone has already spoken to me. Or the helpful woman I last spoke with left personal notes on a few desks. Anyway, I explain my story to a new Expert, she explains the missing information, quotes me a slightly higher premium than the previous Expert, and sends me to a web page for more information. The web page spits back at me the same $157 quote as the first Expert, so I fill out the confounded missing information, and return the form. Again. All is well, right?

Today, I received an email with the official “offer” for my new plan. This time, for an outrageous $315.50 per month. There’s something on the documentation about a claim processed for cervicalgia, which seems to be the culprit behind the price hike. Once again, I call.

I explain that I’ve been trying to change my plan since late November. I have lost all patience. I explain that I don’t have cervicalgia, I don’t know what cervicalgia is, and will they please re-review the documents and get. this. straightened. out. Well, they tell me, cervicalgia is quite serious, and it’s right there on my medical records that I was seen for it back in July. July? Why yes, I did see a doctor in July. I pulled a muscle and Advil wasn’t doing the trick. The folks in the office where I was working were very concerned, and had me in a panic with their horror stories of spinal injuries. I saw a doctor, who told me it was nothing serious; to apply heat, rest, and to take a prescribed muscle relaxer for a few days. I don’t think I took it for more than a night or two. “It sounds like it’s probably a coding error,” the insurance people say. I’ll need to request a copy of my medical records from my doctor, and send them in along with my own statement of what took place, and wait for re-evaluation.

Jiminy Christmas!

I call the Records department at my doctor’s office. I get a recording. It suggests I try another phone number, which I do. I get a recording. I look up “cervicalgia” and find out it’s medicalese for “neck pain.” Nothing drastic or serious about it. WebMD doesn’t even bother with a listing for it, and Wikipedia says that 2/3 of adults have it. My insurance company, however, is deeming it serious enough to warrant doubling my insurance premium, so I know that I’m going to need to speak with my doctor one-on-one.

I call the main desk at the doctor’s office, and get a recording. This time, I eventually am transferred to a human being. She tells me that the staff is at lunch, and doesn’t accept messages. I have to call back after 2pm.

::head desk:: ::head desk:: ::head desk::

_____________________________

*Back  in 2003, I was on the receiving end of a nasty car accident. My medical bills were in the thousands, and while the other person’s insurance eventually covered it, they legally have three years to pay out. If my own employer-subsidized health insurance hadn’t covered me in the interim, I’d have been financially destroyed in no time at all.

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Filed under citizens, doctors and dentists, pet peeves