2008 Year in Review

I reviewed 2006, but failed to review 2007.

I'm not sure why, but I'll review 2008 and try to remember to review 2009 next year.

January: We started the year with the coldest winter in recent memory in our area of Kurdistan. Luckily, we got to spend the worst of it house sitting in a luxury apartment. I also started teaching English at a local school, but I didn't mention it.

February: I won an ipod nano to start the month, but the internet went out in our neighborhood, so we spent even more time at our local cafe. I shared my feelings and was a little rude to everyone at the same time. I taught Kurds about "the Golf" and watched Atonement. About 12 times.

March: This month was really tough to be honest. I think that explains why there are so few posts. The month ended with an easter weekend baseball camp which went really well. Spring also came to Kurdistan which was very welcome.

April: Iran invaded, but it was an April Fool's joke! I got you, Mo! I turned 30 and it got hot. I'm not one to toot my own horn, but I wrote some pretty good stuff in April. I recommend my story about airline tickets.

May: May held our last ten days in Iraq, almost three days in Dubai and two days in Virginia to visit Angie's grandfather. We came back to Columbus and settled back in with Sis.

June: June was a full month... I started a blog game. It failed. I celebrated my first Father's Day. It was great. I was reminded that Jesse is a sitter. Perhaps even the sitter. I ended the month with a super-duper cold/ear infection.

July: July continued June's sickness. At the end of the month, Nila pulled a table down on her face and needed 5 stitches. I struggled with reverse culture shock and intense boredom.

August: We moved to Grandview and I interviewed at Kroger. I did not get that job. Mom turned 51. I don't remember how we partied.

September: Nila turned 1! I commented on the Glade Lady and readership soared. We were subjected to Hurricane Ike's winds (aka Windpocalypse 2008) and those winds left us without electricity for five full days. We never went that long without electricity in Iraq!

October: I buckled under the weight of the 2008 election media hoopla and the bailout plan pushed me over the edge. I wasn't hired for a job I really wanted and I went to lame career fair.

November: Wow, I just reread November's posts. I'm lucky anybody still reads this nonsense. Angie was on the news and I became obsessed with gas prices. Angie also got an outside-of-the-house job.

December: Angie turned 30! Yay, Angie. We had weird pizza and I didn't get the insurance job. Angie stepped it up to full-time and we celebrated Christmas.


9Q to KYDM: Q2

As you may remember (from yesterday), Angie's asking a bunch of questions. Number 2 is below.

What do people say that you’re naturally good at? That is, what do people tend to give you compliments on without you even expecting it?
This question is hard to answer...

I'm good at getting things done. I've been complimented for this before.

I'm good at knowing where I am and how to get where I'm going.

I'm good at learning new things.

I'm a good writer - ironically, I first typed writier...

I'm good at Kurdish grammar.

Oooh, I can write in Kurdish and Arabic better than Kurdish fifth graders.
That's all I have.


9 Questions to Kindle Your Defining Moment: Q1

Angie is asking 9 questions to kindle your defining moment.

If you're like me, you have no idea what that really means. How does one kindle one's defining moment? Who knows, but she defines it as "finding your passion."

Easy enough, right?

Here's question #1 and my answer. Feel free to answer this question on your own blog or comment here.

Or at Angie's blog. The options are limitless.

Okay, question 1:
What are the 50 things in life you most enjoy doing? (Don’t stop until you have at least 50 things listed).
listening to music
discovering new music
learning languages
learning about new cultures
experiencing cultures different than my own
spending money
board games
learning about personalities
home decoration
trying new things
being right
talking about other people's problems (not mine)
reality tv and soaps
knowing things other people do not
reading and making maps
making up stories
telling people something they don't know
riding subways
walking to new places
going to festivals
making lists
being organized
going to the library
critiquing things - anything
defending a position
having or leading group discussions
taking formal classes
finding a more efficient way
finding good deals
looking at Nila
eating outside
having freedom to act
looking at art
reviewing products
finding flaws
having true church experiences
learning about peoples backgrounds (motivation)
thinking through things before discussing
OR discussing all aspects of the thing
getting a haircut
driving Mini Coopers
being witty and funny

I look forward to question 2 and your answers.

New Year's Warning

I am looking for meaningful activities for New Year's. I don't know exactly what I mean, but I figure I'll know it when I see it. Something along the lines of making a list of next year's goals, but fun.

If you can think of anything, please leave a comment.

In my Internet searching, I came across a list of New Year's superstitions at Snopes.com. Here's the most important part:
Other "lucky" foods are lentil soup (because lentils supposedly look like coins), pork (because poultry scratches backwards, a cow stands still, but a pig roots forward, ergo those who dine upon pork will be moving forward in the new year), and sauerkraut (probably because it goes so well with pork).

Another oft-repeated belief holds that one must not eat chicken or turkey on the first day of the year lest, like the birds in question, diners fate themselves to scratch in the dirt all year for their dinner (that is, bring poverty upon themselves)

I eat chicken EVERY New Year's Day. That certainly explains a lot.

I'm not superstitious, but you won't find me eating any birds on Thursday.

**Programming Note: Christmas pictures can be found at everybodylovesnila.blogspot.com**


Angie is 30 Now (+ 2 Days)

Sunday was Angie's birthday.

Her thirtieth birthday.

We had a small catered affair here at the house with friends and family.

By that I mean we got more free food from the BBQ guy and had some people over to eat it and eat cake. All-in-all, it was a good time, although it may have been a bit dull. Sorry, Angie.

We played a game called "What's Yours Like?" You can click the name for a fuller description, but the basic premise is this:

One person is the guesser. Everyone else reads a card with a word or phrase on it. The guesser does not see the word.

The guesser proceeds to ask each player, "What's yours like?"

The others answer with clues, "Mine is small." "Mine is under the couch." "Mine is a pot-bellied pig."

The clues depend on the card, of course.

The first word was birthday and Angie was the guesser. Here's how that went.

Angie: "Bob, what's your's like?"

Me: "Mine is festive."

Angie: "Tammy, what's yours like?"

Tammy: "Mine is fun."

Angie: "Grandma Kay, what's yours like?"

Grandma Kay: "Scream"

Angie: ...

Me: "It has to be a sentence. Say the whole thing."

Grandma Kay: "Scream"

Sis: "No, no. It has to be a full sentence. Mine is ..."

Grandma Kay: "Mine is scream."

All together: "That's not a sentence."

That was really nothing compared to the second round when Grandma said "Mine is I came out of" for the word closet. Those of us who knew the word almost died.

For two reasons: It's still not a sentence and Grandma just told us she had come out of the closet. It was alarming.

All that and she still won the game.


A Recipe to Share

Today, Angie and I went to the grocery. We found packages of about five small pork cutlets on sale - buy one get one free. We picked them up and i had to find something to make with it.

I found this recipe and modified it. As it turns out, it's modified from this recipe.

Here's what I made.

Wilted Spinach Salad with Sauteed Pork, Apples and Feta Cheese
Serves: Me and Angie, but could feed more.

3 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. mustard
1/2 cup plus 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 of a yellow onion, finely diced
salt and black pepper
6 oz. spinach, washed and dried
1 Gala apple
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 pieces of pork
1 Tbs. butter (I used margarine because I had it)
1 cup of feta cheese

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar and mustard. Slowly whisk in 1/2 cup of the oil. Stir in the onion and season with salt and pepper to taste. Put the spinach aside in a large bowl.
  2. Core the apple and cut it into matchsticks.
  3. Season the pork liberally with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour. Set a heavy 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 3 Tbs. oil and the butter. When the butter melts and begins to lightly brown, cook the pork, flipping after 2 min., until it’s just cooked through, about 3 min. total. Transfer to a large plate.
  4. Discard any fat in the skillet and set over low heat.
  5. Add the balsamic-Dijon vinaigrette and cook, stirring to pick up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan, until the sauce is warm, about 1 min. Pour the vinaigrette back into its bowl and whisk to recombine.
  6. Put spinach into warm pan to wilt; pour 3/4 of the vinaigrette on top and gently combine with spinach. Add apple slices at the last minute and toss with spinach to coat.
  7. Arrange the spinach and apples on four plates. Top with the pork and feta cheese, and drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette.
It was easy and very good.

It's not as good as Leslie's famous dancing salad, but it's probably healthier - no sugar and less oil.


Officially Rejected

I got the following e-mail this morning.

Good morning,

We want to sincerely thank you for your interest in the [position] at [the company]. I was pleased to have the opportunity to become familiar with your background and credentials. I do regret to inform you that after thorough review of all the applicants that were reviewed, you have not been selected to move forward with this position. While you have an impressive background, the selected candidate brought the experience that we were searching for in addition to strong technical skills.

Best regards,

The Bearer of Bad News

I took a civil service exam this morning too. It was pretty easy, so we'll see what turns up.


Don't Trust Your Sister

Mine told me a bogus story!

In her defense, she was fooled by someone else.

The Le-a story is a fraud. I said it seemed like an urban legend and it is.

Click here to read the account on Snopes.com.

It's too bad, though. I really liked that story.

An Evening of Pizza and Weird

This evening was strange.

Our sink is clogged. A couple of weeks ago our garbage disposal began leaking pretty bad. I disconnected it and cleaned it out. It's been leaking since we moved in and I found that food was collecting inside the casing because of a hole. It was disgusting. Who knows how long the food had been in there. Today, water was pouring out of the disposal when I ran water in the other sink. It seems that there's a clog in the pipes which causes water to back up and, if the disposal wasn't there with it's hole to allow leaking, would back up into the sink.

I had already started making dinner - black-eyed peas, Kurdish style - but I couldn't finish because I couldn't wash the dishes I needed to use in the sink.

Sis came over to go to the library. Angie and Nila came along so we could get some dinner out.

The library trip was fine.

We decided on Pizza Hut for dinner because it's easy and I thought it'd be kid friendly.

We got there and the sign told us to please wait to be seated. But then no one came. No one. Ever.

Another guest suggested that we just seat ourselves, but we left instead. I mean, if they can't be bothered to greet and seat, they can't be trusted to serve us.

We crossed the street to Tommy's Pizza.

It's an old-school pizza joint. It worked out just fine and Sis told the following story:

First, she wrote the following name and asked us to pronounce it.


Angie and I both said Leah. Easy.

Sis laughed and said, "Nope. LaDASHa."

She claims that she works with a woman who knows a woman who teaches the child Le-A. Apparently, the teacher called her Leah and got a message from the mother telling her "It's Ladasha. The dash isn't silent."

Isn't the dash ALWAYS silent.Given that it isn't a letter and all.

It has all of the makings of an urban legend, but Sis claims that the woman she works with swears to have heard the message herself, and I have no reason to think the woman is a liar.

I decided to have another daughter and name her P@y.

Then things got weirder.

As we were eating, I notice the people at the table across from me get up to leave. It's an older couple and their daughter. The mother stands up and sort of trips on her chair. She stumbles and almost falls down, but she doesn't and I stop paying attention.

They proceed to leave the restaurant. I kind of notice that the father goes the right way and the mother heads behind the counter for some reason. I'm not really watching but it's close and I notice.

Then I just see her feet as she goes down. It didn't look like she tripped. It seemed like she passed out, but now that she's down, I can't see her at all.

Her husband notices that she's fallen and, alarmed, goes to tend to her. I can't see anything now. There's a wall between me and the action, but Sis can see everything.

She says that the husband seems to be laying on top of her. Angie gets out her phone to call 911, but someone at the restaurant does it before her.

Nila claps and laughs.

Then the staff comes out of the back and gathers around. One woman keeps saying "Why is she even behind the counter? Customers shouldn't be back there." She doesn't add "If a person wants to pass out, they should do it in an area reserved for customers," but it's implied.

Maybe ten minutes later, paramedics show up. The husband is still laying on the wife and the daughter is suggesting that the mother tripped on something. Which gets another "Customers shouldn't be back there."

Sis and I get interviewed for the company incident report as the woman gets strapped to gurney and out she and her family go.

I bundle Nila and carry her out as Angie pays the bill.

As we get in the car I say how I wished we would have gotten free food for helping with the incident report.

Angie says, "They were too busy trying to figure out who was going to pay for the falling family's food to worry about us."