Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Top Ten Personal Stories Of 2008

Today is my top personal stories of 2008.

Leading the way as my best story is my improving health, I am the healthiest that I have ever been.

Coming up next is my going way out of my comfort zone and taking a improv class that was meant to be eight weeks but turned into eleven weeks when I went on to the intermediate class. I not only learned about improv, I also learned several lessons that will help me in life. Don't fear failure. Don't be afraid to go out of my comfort zone. That I might have latent talents that I need to bring to the forefront. I gained confidence and reduced my shyness a little. The highlight of the class for me was going on stage by myself, not remembering a word I said, and receiving compliments from the instructor and students about how well I did. It was a life improvement class that if I take the lessons that I learned in the class and go forward with them it could be a life changing class.

Number three on my list is my Mom's declining health and my efforts to distance myself from her. The first was dramatic to watch and very emotional as it reminded me how traumatic it was to watch dad decline. The second was an effort that didn't succeed.

Number four on my list is the increase traffic on my blog and the wonderful people I met this year. When I first started the blog I'd get very few hits, now I've had visitors from forty-three states and twelve countries. I met people that I didn't know until I stated the blog, Dona, Kim, Snug, Janet, and Mary Z. What a treasure it was to meet each one of you. People I knew from different areas visited the blog and offered up nice comments Lisa (Dancing With The Stars Message Board) and Symply (From the AOL Gentlemen Over 40 Chat Room) complimented my writing and Kaye also from the Gentlemen Over 40 chat room surprised me by saying I had multiple layers to me. Those that knew me well from the old Issues Forum Days found out new things about me, Sian, Pat, Bev, Mary, Shirley, DanaRae, Ellen, learned that I counted my veggies. I have had a great time getting to know all of you, learning about your lives, and most of all treasure your support. Thank you all.

Number five on the list is my own economic decline. The retirement fund that I thought had me set declined thirty-seven percent forcing me to look for a job to recover my loss.

Number six on the list was finding that job easily.

Number seven on my own personal list was being remembered by my Aunt Ella in her will just at the time I needed a financial boost. God love her.

Number eight on my list was making a decision not to spend another winter here. My mom also came to the same conclusion so both of us are going to explore winter retreats in other areas this next year.

Number nine on the list was the visit of an old lover which resulted in the decision that it is best that we no longer contact each other and both move on with our lives.

Number ten on the list was actually going on a couple of dates!

What are your top personal stories of 2008? There doesn't have to be ten of them. I would love to know more about you!


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Portland, Oregon's Top Ten Stories of 2008 According to Moi.

Today is the top ten stories for 2008 in the city of Portland, Oregon in my estimation.

Number one on the list is the great snow and ice storm of 2008. Not prepared for snow most winters the city was ill prepared for a storm that lasted eleven days dropping in excess of twenty inches of snow and ice in areas from as far South as Salem, Oregon to as far North as Seattle, Washington. Cities blew their winter budget with overtime, extra electricity to keep the cities working twenty four hours a day cleaning up roads. Mail delivery and garbage pick up was stopped in many areas. Five deaths were attributed to either the storm or the road conditions caused by the worst storm in Portland, Oregon history. Devoid of the correct number of snow plows to fight the winter blizzard only the main roads were plowed leaving side streets and many neighborhoods impassable.

Number two on the list was the visit of Presidential Candidate Barrack Obama to Portland resulting in record crowds to attend a political rally in our fine city. There were estimates that the crowd was in excess of fifty thousand.

Coming in third was the defeat of long time Oregon senator Republican Gordon Smith by a basically unknown Democrat, Jeff Merkley. Smith was considered untouchable at the beginning of 2008 but was swept away in the nationwide sea of change.

Fourth is the Oregon economy with the highest unemployment rate in over twenty years at 8.1%. Retail stores had the worst holiday season in history caused not only by the economy but also by people being housebound by what is referred to by some news stations as our Artic Blast.

The bombing in Woodburn, Oregon that killed three law enforcement officers and injured a fourth comes in at number five. Woodburn a normally quiet community with a large Hispanic population became the focus of national news. A father and son were arrested for a multiple of crimes including extortion.

Sam Adams was elected Mayor of Portland. The first openly gay mayor elected in the history of the Portland metro area comes in at sixth on the list. He replaces Tom Potter an ex police chief that had worn out his welcome as mayor.

Number seven was the decline of the Oregon College Savings Plan dropping value by as much as 40% by some estimates causing some students to consider dropping out of college and work to make up the money necessary to afford college.

Oregon passed a nonsmoking law in 2008 and becomes completely smoke free on January 1, 2009. Smoke free Oregon is the my eighth ranked story.

Coming in at number 9 is the decline in Portland's real estate market. The market held up until September then began to drop as the inventory of houses for sale increased. I ranked this ninth because the drop wasn't as severe as other cities, with Portland having the fifth lowest decline in real estate values in the nation.

Number 10 is reality TV bliss. The Amazing Race ended this season in our great city. Portlander Leanne Marshall won the most recent Project Runway and promptly moved to New York City with her winnings and hope for design fame. Local woman, Monica Carlson, won American Gladiator.

I would love to hear what the big stories of 2008 were in your city and your state. This is a great opportunity for us all to learn about each other's locales.

Hope your big story for today is a lottery win!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Top Ten National Stories of 2009

What I tried to do with my top ten national stories is to pick stories from several different segments; sports, entertainment, politics, etc.

In a normal year easily the number one story would be the election of Barrack Obama as the first African American President. However, I think the economy going in the tank pushes the election of Obama to the number two story of the year as the economy will effect almost all of us. The economy tanked and it tanked fast. Early in September things were seemingly OK but by October banks were going out of business, bailout became one of the most common words seen in our daily paper. Economy the number one story, the election of Barrack Obama the number two story.

My third story is the declining violence in Iraq. The number of soldiers killed in Iraq were the fewest in several years. The surge seemed to work. During the election the improvement in Iraq took the discussion of the war off of the table and the discussions of the war were replaced with discussions about the economy.

My fourth ranked story comes from the world of sports. The Olympics. Michael Phelps setting a record and winning eight gold medals. His quest fascinated the nation. We yelled our support for him at our TV set during each one of his quest for a gold medal. He is now known as the best swimmer in the history of the Olympics.

Number five on my list is the choice of Sarah Palin as the Republican Vice Presidential candidate. The first woman named a Republican ticket. She gave an amazing speech at the Republican Convention improving John McCain’s chances for victory. Then her ratings begin to fall. Whether you think she helped or hurt McCain she is now on the national political scene for years to come. There is even some talk of her being a presidential candidate in 2012.

The sixth story are gas prices. Heading up to over four bucks a gallon. It changed our travel plans, raised prices for airline tickets, and had us changing our budgets. Then at just the time the economy tanked the gas prices began to decline, now they are near a buck sixty a gallon amid reports that they will eventually decline to less than a buck a gallon.

The seventh story is the recent bombing of the Gaza Strip by Israel and the return fire by The Hamas. Violence just never seems to stop in the Middle East.

Coming in at number eight is the death of several icons. Three that come quickly to mind are Heath Ledger, Paul Newman and William F. Bucley, Jr. Ledger overdosed on a combination of pills at the age of 28. Known for his role in Brokeback Mountain it is my guess that he will soon win another Oscar for his role in The Dark Knight. Paul Newman, faithful husband, lived for donating to charity, a great actor died of cancer at age 86. Conservative icon and author William F. Buckley, Jr died at age 82 from the effects of emphysema and diabetes.

The entertainment world gives me my ninth ranked story, the Writers’ Guild Strike that destroyed the Golden Globes but was settled just in time for the Oscars to go on as planned.

Politics brings us my tenth ranked story or rather that should be politicians devoid of morals. John Edwards admits to an affair. Elliot Spitzer is visiting prostitutes. Governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich not only stole Donald Trump’s hair but was selling the Senate seat left vacant by the election of Barrack Obama to the highest bidder.

What were you top ten national stories of the year? What story above would you replace and with what story would you replace it with? Inquiring minds want to know.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Quick Melt, GQ, and Your Update

What a difference a couple of days makes let alone a week. Last Sunday I was housebound amongst snow, ice, and Portland’s worse winter storm in history. This is my lawn a couple of days ago after shoveling the drive way and the sidewalk near my townhouse. I had to put the snow somewhere! Things will start getting even more back to normal tomorrow when we get our first mail delivery in a week. Then in the next few days we should get our first garbage and recycle pickup in two weeks.! I'm hoping we've seen the last of winter storms for a while.

Then we actually saw grass this morning, this is the picture of the same lawn today! Wow did the melt happen fast, the rain certainly helped. I never thought I would be so happy to see rain.

My sister likes to dress me. This is what she got me for Christmas. She referred to it as “GQ” and ordered me to wear it on a date. Now I just have to get a date!

Now it is update day. I want you to update me on what is going on in your life. I am going to be doing some care giving the next couple of days because the regular caregiver doesn’t want to work on the holidays, so this is my week. I’m going to try to make it as fun for Mom as I can. Then the New Year starts and I am going to work on my goals.

Here is the blog schedule for the next few days:

Monday - Top Ten National Stories of 2008.
Tuesday- Top Ten Locan Stories of 2008.
Wednesday - Top ten personal stories of 2008 and personal goals for 2009.

Today, however, is your day. Tell me whatever you want to tell me. Vent about whomever or whatever you want to vent about. Sing glorious praises for whomever or whatever you want to tell us their or its virtues. What are you doing New Year’s Eve? New Year’s? You can still ask me anything you want.

I now turn it over to you. New posters/visitors are absolutely welcome.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Melt Starts, The Digout Begins

I got home from Mom's about 1:30 yesterday afternoon to begin the cleanout process from the storm. I got the twenty some inches of snow and ice out of my driveway, my car started, and now today it is clearing the sidewalk, find and clear the storm drain on the street so that the water has a place to go when the snow melts. Today the warmup starts, 39 to 40 is the high, tomorrow it could get up to 50. The snow will melt fast and with the storm drain clogged the water won't have anywhere to go. The City of Sherwood is supposed to take care of it but they won't so I am making it my responsibility.

We had a great Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. With chains and front wheel drive brother-in-law as able to drive us out to lunch at my favorite deli, Rose's, and then we went to the new Will Smith movie, SEVEN POUNDS, I wasn't quite ready for that emotional of a movie.

Christmas Eve night we followed our family tradition of celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve. There was just four of us as due to the roads our guest list was downsized from fifteen because relatives just couldn't make it here from Eugene, etc. Sis cooked a nice ham dinner. Then we opened packages. I made out like a bandit. Mom gave me a good chunk of change. Sis gave me a nice GQ outfit. See why I don't worry about buying my own clothes? Sis loves to dress me. The outfit that I am ordered to where on a date? A very nice black leather jacket, a neat pair of slacks, a nice scarf. I left it at Mom's because there wasn't really room in the car for it when they brought me home with Mom's wheelchair, my suitcase, my laptop, sis, mom, a snow shovel in case we got stuck, brother-in-law. I will take a picture of my new outfit later in the week and upload it. This year the gift from heaven caused more emotion from Mom then ever before, maybe the storm, the family being together, all came together when she saw the gift and opened it. Sis thought something was wrong with her (I don't tell anyone in the family about what I do because I want to maintain the mystery). She will cherish that Chanel #5 perfume.

I want you guys to give some thoughts to a few questions that I am going to ask on the blog this final week of 2008. There will be a separate post each day about top ten lists. What do you think the top ten national stories of the year were? What were the top ten local stories in the locale where you live? Last my favorite, what were you top ten personal accomplishments/stories of 2008.

For today though, I just want to know how your Christmas was, what you had for dinner, who cooked, what did Santa bring you, what was your favorite gift. I always like to know what is going on with everyone. If you haven't posted before don't let that stop you, we would love to meet you and hear about your Christmases too!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Just a quick post to wish all of you and yours a very Merry Christmas. May Santa bring you everything you wanted and most of all may he bring you a 2009 filled with answered prayers, fulfilled dreams, much love, more happiness, and may it be your best year ever.

Things are going good here. Two days housbound with relatives and my sister and I haven't killed each other yet. We just have to make it two more days for the winter storm to turn to rain. We can do that.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hope But First Ice

That was the headlines in this morning's paper. Today will be the first day in ten days that we haven't had snow or ice. The temps are still below freezing which means the roads are still not really drivable, chains are required anywhere you go in the Portland area. Two more storms are expected, one Christmas Eve and one Christmas Day. Then on Friday the temps wil be in the hight forties and the melt starts.

Bless my brother-in-law's heart, he came and got me yesterday when there was about an hour window with the weather and brought me into Mom's. Had he not done that I would have been stuck at home alone for Christmas. So I am now at Mom'with my sis, my brother in law, and mom. We have decided to make a party of it, play games, share stories, and have fun until we can get out. By the way to drive the four miles from my house to Mom's took forty-five minutes.
I'm just grateful that I have relatives that care so much for me that they will brave the elements so I won't be alone for the holidays.

There are currently five hundred people stuck at the airport. Some will miss Christmas. Those are the ones that my heart goes out to. One neat story that tells the good side of Portland. A couple with a four wheel drive and chains drove to the airport even though they weren't going anywhere. They saw a couple with a couple of small children sleeping on chairs, went and took them home with them to spend a night with them until their flight went out the next day. Don't you think that is the true spirit of Christmas?

Well off to get my best game face one for the day so I can bring home a couple of victories against my very competitive family. May this be a great day for you!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

California Here I Come

Or Nevada or Arizona but I won't spend another winter here. My house has an enclave that is usually protected from the elements. Not this time. Here are junks of ice that I had to clear away from my enclave to get to the newspaper. The other picture is the enclave to my front door before the ice storm hit. They estimated that Sherwood got ten inches of snow before the ice storm hit.

Further out on my front lawn was about a three inch layer of ice which had nothing between it and the ground. If you crunched the ice with you foot you got to soft snow on the ground and were able to walk on it.

At least the leaves are not longer a problem. This is my backyard BEFORE the ice storm hit.

These are two of the four trees in my backyard that caused the leaf problem.

My car covered with ice, my car covered with snow.

Bigfoot was here last night.

It is not going to warm up enough today to thaw and it is only going to warm up enough tomorrow to have a partial thaw. Christmas Day will be the first time in over two weeks that both the low and the high will be above freezing. The predicted high is 39, the low 33. A heat wave.
My sister wants me to come in a stay with them tonight in case the power goes out and I might do that to keep her happy. However, I think I am fine here as long as my power stays on. If I do go in to Mom's house and fight the relatives as well as the snow I may not be posting for a couple of days.
Hope things are going well for all of you and my heart goes out the East Coasters that post here that are dealing with the same elements. May things warm up for them soon!

Update Day

It is my favorite day of the week on the blog. Update Day. Your day to tell me everything.

OK, I'll go first. First, Sister and her husband made it safely here from Utah. They got here at about six last night. The roads were terrible all the way but drivable. It took them about eight hours longer than the trip normally takes. Second, I want to thank you for how supportive you all were to me when I posted an in a funk message. I especially want to thank Kim as it couldn’t have been easy for her to tell us about her struggles. The thanks extend to all those that posted supportive messages to her. This is such a great group of women. I feel blessed to have you all in my world. Third, the weather still stinks and according to reports it isn’t going to get any better. Later this afternoon a major snow storm is coming in and it will turn into my worst nightmare, freezing rain Sunday morning. It doesn’t look like we are going to get half way decent weather until Christmas Eve Day. According to reports this is the worse weather stretch we have had since 1977, the year I moved here. Fourth, mom is convinced more than ever that she doesn’t want to deal with the winter elements any more and is absolutely ready to get out of here. In addition my sister mentioned her and her husband might want to get out of Utah for winters. We could all me down there next winter! We all have friends and relatives that live there so we wouldn’t be going there blind. My friend Ted that I have breakfast every Sunday leaves here after Thanksgiving and stays there until March. My friends from Seattle, Mark and Sandra, go there every winter. I also have some old friends still there from the eight years that I lived there. Not to mention Pat. I have been appointed head scout. My job is to take some trips down there and check out living options and areas. We want to find a self-contained community that doesn’t require a lot of driving, not to far from hospitals (Mom), check out doctors, stores, etc. I’m actually excited about the prospects. Last, I took the break from the weather to slice down my to do list. The to do list that increased to seventy-four items is down to twenty-eight. All my Christmas shopping is done. I repaired the laptop that crashed on my own saving me some big bucks. I now have two working laptops. That prepares me for tax season. There won’t be any additional crashes that I can’t handle during tax season so it should be a very smooth tax season. A great start to 2009!

OK, it is your turn. I spilled my guts. So now you get the same chance to spill yours! Let me know how you are doing and what is going on with you. Shopping done? When do you celebrate Christmas? Christmas Day or Christmas Eve? We always have celebrated Christmas Eve What is your traditional dinner? Ours is turkey, mashed potatoes, green been casserole, home made rolls, pie, a salad that changes every year, and snacks all around!

If you are new to the blog or have been reading the blog and haven't posted yet don't let that stop you, we would love to meet you and hear from you!

OK, off to do my laundry. I am at that stage where I either have to do my laundry or buy more clothes!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

All Over The Map

After reading this post that mass sitting on the ground next to you may be my guts as that is what I am doing with this post, spilling my guts.

My emotions have been all over the map this week. A lot of it has to do with being housebound for three days and feeling trapped. That lead to some soul searching about how I really do feel trapped with the care giving of Mom and being Mom’s main force in her life. I really don’t want to deal with the winter elements any more. If I didn’t have the responsibility of Mom I’d be in California. What is a little rain compared to sheets of ice, freezing cold, snow, and dreams of being somewhere else. I did talk to Mom about it and she said she would be willing to move to California as did the caregiver we like whom has a sister in the LA area. So I am going to start looking at the LA Times web page, make plans to go to LA after tax season to look at homes, apartments, etc. Next winter I really want to be out of here.

It is also very hard being single during the holidays. Probably the hardest time of the year not to have someone to share your life with. At the family get togethers you feel like a fifth wheel. It also doesn’t help when the relatives start asking when you are going to settle down. "Why can't a nice man like you find someone?" "Why are you single, a woman would be so lucky to have you." My standard answer is that I’ve settled down a long time ago and I do hope to settle down with someone when the higher ups see fit to put someone in my life.

It really has been a crummy ten days with computer crashes, flat tires, broken phone lines, my favorite pod cast calling it quits and a call from my sister saying they were snowed in, in Utah and just wouldn’t be able to make it for Christmas. She sounded so depressed and disappointed it depressed me.

However, things sometimes change. Got a call from Sis this morning and they were on the way here. There was a break in the winter weather and they hopped right in their car and took off towards here. They will go as far as Boise tonight and come the rest of the way tomorrow. Sis’s call brought me out of the doldrums and I am hopeful that it is the start of a turn around for me, for mom, for the pod casters, for everyone. After her call even the weather took a turn for the better, just rain and I can actually walk to my mailbox instead of skating there!

Do you ever feel trapped? How do you handle that feeling? Do you ever have weeks when you feel like things just aren't right with your world? What do you do to change that feeling?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Day 3 Of The 08 Freeze - THE SHINING

Heeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeee’s Johnnnnny, On Day 3 of being housebound it was either look for the axe and scare the neighborhood or attempt to go out and fight the elements. First, it was a walk to the Shell station not to far from here. I stopped at the parking lot because it was a sheet of ice and only a fool would have attempted to walk on it. Then I walked to Safeway. I turned around at the back entrance to their parking lot because again the parking lot was a sheet of ice and it would have been foolish to attempt going across the parking lot to the salted entrance to the store. I waited an hour and drove to Safeway. I had no trouble. Well except walking into the store. It was a little slippery but not near as bad as it was on the attempted walk over there. They courtesy clerk was salting the parking lot and when I finished shopping the parking lot was as safe as it has been in several days. While at the store I bought two big bags of deicer and two big bags of cat litter. Both are great in the snow, when I walked to the mail box I salted all the slippery spots. I also salted the road at the stop sign in front of my house. Since I am bored I might as well make it safer for others.

The latest on the Woodburn, Oregon bombing is there was a second arrest in the case. The father of the first suspect arrested was also arrested. I guess bomb making and murder are father-son activities. Seems like going to ball games together would have been a little better activity.

On a sad note, I heard my favorite pod cast suspended production due to not being able to find funding. I’m to bummed to write about it now. I will post about it tomorrow when I get my thoughts together. I hope the farewell for the Satellite Sisters will turn into a happy return. We need more women voices in both radio and television.

A dumb joke for the day. Know why Santa comes down the chimney? It soots him.

I hope none of you are housebound recreating scenes from The Shining!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Day Two Of The 08 Freeze

Day two of the 08 freeze, housebound for the second day in a row. The temperatures are predicted to go up to 25 today. The main roads are nice due to the sanding and the deicing. However, the roads that feed into the main roads are a sheet of ice. It is impossible to get to the main roads. This is the longest bad winter spell in Portland since about 1990. Today’s plans include getting ready to do my corporate and individual tax returns. I want to file early in January before the busy season starts. I can file the corporate return early but I will have to wait until March to file my individual return due to a K-1 I am expecting from my Aunt Ella’s estate. That doesn’t mean I can’t have my return completed except for the K-1 and that is what I plan on doing.

Just some miscellaneous items today:

They arrested a suspect in the Woodburn, Oregon bombing that killed two law enforcement officers. Apparently he was seen on a security video from a close by Wal-Mart Store. The suspect makes his first court appearance today.

In another bit of interesting if not surprising news, according to a Harris Poll fifty percent of the women polled in a survey said they would give up sex instead of the internet if given a choice between the two. It doesn’t surprise me that some women would choose the internet over sex but fifty percent? The mind boggles.

Being housebound I have been catching up on some reading. Here are the ones I just finished:

KILLER VIEW by Ridley Pearson, three of five stars, about the covering up of poisoned water and dead animals.

CRUEL INTENT by J. A. Jance, three of five stars, about internet dating, marital affairs, and computer sabotage.

BRASS VERDICT by Michael Connelly, five of five stars, about a lawyer that takes over the case of a murdered colleague, police procedures, and a friendship developing between a police detective and the lawyer.

DIVINE JUSTICE by David Baldacci, the Camel Club looking for member Oliver Stone being sought for the murder of two high government officials, life in a small town, and friendship.

Hope things are going well with all of you. How is the weather in your neck of the woods?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Let It Snow

We had an early winter storm with four inches of snow in Sherwood on Sunday turning into extreme cold weather Sunday night and this morning. The thing that is weird about the Portland metro area is some areas didn't get any snow and some areas got up to five inches. West Linn a city maybe ten miles from here got five inches, while close in East Side Portland got little or none, Vancouver, Washington which borders Portland and is considered my some to be part of the Portland metro area got none. This morning my temp gauge shows it to be 16 degrees.

I went to high school in the Southern Oregon town of Klamath Falls. K. Falls is a mile high, the same altitude as Denver, Colorado. When you got snow there you still went to school. If it snowed 18 inches it didn't matter, you went to school anyhow. I think the only time the schools closed in my years at K. Falls is the one time when it was 26 below and the boiler in the high school froze and they had to close the school. You learned at a very early age in K. Falls how to drive in the snow. In Portland they don't get the much snow so most people living here don't really know how to drive in it. The worst ones are the SUV drivers that can't figure out that four wheel drive may help them go but it doesn't help them stop. I get my jollies during winter storms here by having an SUV pass me at a to high of speed and then when I go around the next corner they are in the ditch. A man has to get his laughs somewhere.

This is my car. This is after cleaning it off three times. I went out in the snow yesterday a few times to test the roads to make sure I could get to Mom's in case of an emergency. I had no trouble. But if you picture three times as much snow on my car as this picture shows, you have an idea of how much snow we get.

This following is a picture of the road this morning that is right outside of my house. I don't know if you can tell but it is a sheet of ice. I don't drive on ice, snow yes, ice no. You can't get traction on ice. It is supposed to be better later this morning after they de-ice the road, put sand on it, and cars drive on it and beat it down. I won't be one of the first cars driving on it. I'll wait.

Seems like a good day for me to do some housecleanng!

I hope the snow doesn't rain on your parade today or this holiday season!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

It's Your Turn & What Are Special Gifts That You Have Given or Received?

This has become the favorite day of the week for me on the blog because I absolutely love hearing about you and what is going on in your lives. Not much to update you on that you don't already know about but here is my week in review, Monday was a work day. I did three weeks of work in five days, so I am done with all the work they had for me until January. Tuesday and Wednesday were tax update seminars. I did run into two old friends. One, Larry, was one of the speakers. Larry is fun to listen to because he does sound effects, when he asks a question the Jeopardy theme plays in the background. The other was an attendee, Arnie, he used to have his office next door to mine when I first started my business. Thursday & Friday were lunch with mom and errand days. Today is getting two houses ready for a predicted extreme cold spell and potential ice storm. Flashlights at mom's house and my house working. Mom's cell phone charged. The grocery shopping done for a week in case we get house bound due to the possibility of an ice storm. Cover up all the outside faucets at both houses so the pipes don't freeze. And so on.

The one thing I am going to do today after the phone repair guys leave (yes besides the computer crashing, the flat tire, one of my jacks quit working, a really good week it was) is going out and start and finish my Christmas shopping. I have a short list, Mom, Sis, Brother-in-law, and the gag gift for the family get together. All other family members have chosen not to exchange gifts this year and I'm going to following the rules. There is one gift I love to give because it requires three people working together to make someone happy. When I first started this blog before most of you were reading it I actually wrote about the gift. My parents were married for over sixty years. Every one of those years dad would buy mom a bottle of Chanel #5 perfume. Even when he didn't have a job or they had no money dad would find a way to get the perfurme, my Mom's favorite. My mom has given up so much lately. First she lost part of dad when he had dementia, then she lost all of dad when he died. She is losing movement in her legs. She has been declining from the day that dad died. After dad died I made a committment to myself that mom had given up so much that I wasn't going to let her give up the romance of receiving that Chanel #5 from my dad on Christmas Eve. Every year since dad has died, I enlist the help of a neighbor and a friend that writes like dad. I go to Macy's and I buy the nicest bottle of Chanel #5 that I can buy. I get a romantic card and have my freind sign it "From your angel in heaven, Johnny". On Christmas Eve, after all the gifts are given out, after dinner, depending on how mom is feeling I take her either out to see the Christmas decorations in a neighborhood near us or to the Christmas Eve church service. While we are gone the neighbor comes to our house and puts the gift with an angel on top of the wrapped package and the card next to it under the tree. When we return there it is. Mom does think it is me since I am the most romantic one in the family but then how could I be, I was with her when the package was delivered and it isn't my handwriting that signed the card. She crys and treasures the perfurme. I love doing it, my friend loves doing it so much that he calls every year asking when he can sign the card, and the neighbor calls and tells me her schedule. Three of us working together to create a special moment, could it be any better?

Ok it is your turn, tell me about your week, about your plans, tell what special Christmas gifts you have given or received. I'm really looking forward to hearing from you all and if you are new don't be afraid to post we would love to hear from you too!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Name That Ingredient & Your Recipe For Life.

Remember the game show Name That Tune? I can name that song in five notes? The Quickfire Challenge on Top Chef this week was a take off of that game show, with a game called Name That Ingredient. It was done in tournament style. The chefs were to say how many ingredients that they could name in a dish that they tasted. The first round was Daniel vs. Hosea, Arianne vs. Jeff, Jamie vs. Stefan, Eugene vs. Leah, Fabio vs. Radhika, Carla vs., Melissa; the second round match ups were Hosea vs. Ariane, Stefan vs. Leah, Radhika vs. Carla and the finals were Carla, Stefan, & Hosea. Hosea won immunity from the elimination challenge by lasting the longest in a name the ingredient until you miss finals.

The elimination challenge became personal because it involved two of the regular judges, Padma throwing a bridal shower for Gail Simmons of Food & Wine Magazine with an estimated forty women in attendance. The cooks were divided into four teams:

Something old, Stefan, Jeff, & Hosea. They actually did three dishes. Jeff made heirloom tomato carpaccio and sorbert, Stefan made a heirloom tomato eggplant & basil terrine, and Hosea made heirloom gazpaccio with mint, watermelon, and cucumber salsa.

Something new, Carla, Eugene, & Daniel. They made components that combined into one dish Tempura shrimp (Eugene) Beef Skewer with peach-miso bbq sauce (Daniel), frisee salad with wonton (Carla), and Yuzo sorbet.

Something borrowed - Ariane, Jamie, & Radhika also made several components into one dish. Indian Spiced Lamb (Ariane) on carrot puree (Jamie) with raita and wilted kale (Radhika). Ariane almost didn't get the lamb cooked in time and it looked pretty rare.

Something blue - Leah, Melissa, & Fabio all of whom had to struggle with there being no blue food so they went the blue ocean route and made blue corn encrusted Chilean sea bass (Fabio), with Swiss charo (Melissa), and corn puree (Leah) which some of the guests referred to as old people nursing home food.

The guest judge for this segment was Dana Cowin, editor and chief of Food & Wine Magazine. Her and the regular judges Tom, Padma, & Gail picked the two bottom teams as the New and Blue Teams. The New Team was picked last. Tom wanted to send all three of the new team packing but could only choose one. The one common theme throughout this season of Top Chef is that the chef that defends a bad dish is sent home. This week Daniel thought his dish was great, the judges thought his dish stunk. Daniel was sent home.

The two best teams were the Old and Borrowed Teams with the Borrowed team coming out on top. The Top Chef of the night. Ariane ended up making a perfectly cooked tasteful lamd and for the second week in the row my gal, Ariane, came out on top!

There really weren’t a lot of life lessons on Top Chef this except maybe that if you are a straight guy don’t put the moves on a lesbian. However, watching the cooking show the question occurred to me that I would like to ask the readers here, what is your recipe for a happy life?

Mine would be a lot of compassion, mixed with romance, a little selfishness, a lot of selflessness, some charity, a dose of reality, a lot of testing the waters, a lot of love, a side of patience, an ounce of caution, some humility, some helpfulness, some willing to be helped, a great deal of humor, the ability to laugh at yourself and a dish of entertainment. Yours?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

From The Bad To The Good To The Amazing.

Saturday and Sunday were just bad days. First, Saturday my computer started acting up and crashed in the late afternoon. Without the computer I couldn’t get to the blog or do any work requiring the computer. I walked over to the store Saturday night and bought the early version of the Sunday paper to check for ads on new computers. Office Max had a nice ad with a really reasonably priced computer for sale. They opened at 10 on Sunday morning.Sunday I made sure I was at the closest Office Max to my house exactly at 10. Of course the store was out of the sale model. The clerk did check all the stores in the Portland area and found out that the store in downtown Portland had one. The downtown store reserved the computer for me. It was about a half of an hour drive from the store where I was first at to the second store. On the trip from the one store to the other, I got maybe a mile and heard a clunking noise and pulled over. Flat tire city. It took an hour for AAA to get there. I finally did make it to the store in downtown Portlnad and bought the new computer. Not a great weekend.

Monday things started to turn around. When I got to work there was an email waiting for me from one of the partners about a project that I had done. The email started “nice job, Bill” I mean after the weekend from hell it was so nice to have a compliment. I know I did a good job but the partner didn’t have to say that. She kind of put me in a good mood for the rest of the day. Monday night was good too. A little background. I am in a football pool with ten other guys and one woman. At this point in the season four of the participants are knocked out of the pool and the other eight compete the rest of the season. At the start of the game Monday night I was one of the four to be eliminated. I needed something to happen for me to move into the top eight and it did Monday night. What happened would have normally eliminated my good friend Ted unless it was combined with something that probably had a thousand to one chance of happening. We beat the odds, Ted and I move on into the top eight and the guy nobody likes was eliminated. Then I found out that a link was provided to my blog on The Oregonian’s web page, For those of you that didn’t read my comment to Pat, here is the link where they mentioned my blog,
Monday was a great day!

Today was a good day too thanks to an amazing neighbor. I’ve written about my leaf problem. I was pretty much fifty per cent done with the project and planned on complete the leaf removal this weekend. Today I was in an accounting seminar updating us on the new tax laws that came with the Economic Stimulus Act. It is a two day seminar so I will be there tomorrow too. Accounting seminars are a good place to catch up on some sleep, read a book, do some writing, but listening to boring speakers all day can be very exhausting. I was pretty tied when I got home. I heard some noise in my backyard. I walk out there and there is my neighbor Jim mowing my lawn and the rest of the leaves were gone. Bless his heart, what a great neighbor. Said he was bored and needed something to do. Is that a good neighbor or what?

May all your days be good and may all your neighbors like my amazing neighbor, Jim.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Amazing Race Comes To Portland

The Amazing Race was interesting because almost all of it took place in the Portland area ending like I predicted on the grounds of The Pittock Mansion. Before talking about the winning and runner up teams here are the sights that the Amazing Race visited. Some of you that were here for the Portland Netstock will remember some of them. In Order of Appearance:

Newberg. Newberg is the city that borders Sherwood and is the city where the assisted living was that mom stayed in. The road the cars went on was 99-W which runs right by my house. I pass Bell Road, the road they had to turn on to get to their clue, every time I go to pick up Mom’s drugs. Newberg is in Yamhill County, a county defined by the number of vineyards it has.
From Newberg the teams went to the Bridge of The Gods in The Columbia Gorge. The Columbia Gorge is one of the most beautiful places on the face of the earth. Just stunning. When the crew was here for Netstock we took a Sternwheeler ride through the Gorge. We passed right under The Bridge of The Gods. It was where all the wind surfers were.

From the Bridge of The Gods they went to downtown Portland to The Portland Building but their real destination was The Standard Building. The Standard Building is where my brother started his law career, His first job was in it. It is two blocks down and one block over from Higgins where we all enjoyed the best crème brulee on the West Coast.

From the Standard Building they went to Adler Street. Alder Street isn’t all that far from where Saturday Market is held. They have a lot of food carts in one specific area on Alder street. They also have a lot of food carts in downtown Portland but usually not on weekends.

Even closer to where the Saturday Market was right near old town, Voodoo Donuts. An amazing and fun place. They make any kind of donut that you want in any shape you want. They have made wedding donuts, Elvis likenesses, donuts shaped like ships, or buildings like The Empire State Building, or any movie star etc. If you go there you may see a punk rocker having coffee and a donut with a guy in a three piece suit. It is true Portland!

From Voodoo Donuts they went to the pit stop at the Pittock Mansion. The Pittock Mansion sits on a hill and overlooks Portland. A beautiful place to take picture of our city. The building was originally owned by the founder of the local newspaper, Pittock, who sold it to the city when he was having financial troubles. They now have daily tours through the building. The architecture is absolutely amazing.

Coming in third in the race where the frat boys, Andrew and Dan. They got a cab driver that didn't know where Newberg. Couldn't overcome that. They should have called mem, I would have caught them up! Coming in second were the separated couple, Ken & Tina, who really were winners. At the end of the race Ken presented Tina with the rings they used to wear and they decided to give their relationship another go. It even had host Phil shedding a tear or two.
Winning a million books were the sibling team, Nick & Starr.

With the Amazing Race and Dancing With The Stars both over now my only two fun TV shows are Boston Legal and Top Chef. Guess I will have to find something else to do besides watch TV!

Hope you have such a great week this week that you feel like a million bucks!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My Week Preview/Your Update

I really haven't much to update you on so most of my update is going to be a preview of the coming week. The two things I do have to update you on are the caregiving situation with my mom and the job. The caregiver that has been working two days has agreed to work five days. She is the one that we like really well, that mom gets along with very well, and has been with us for over a year. The other two days will be filled by my nephew. He has a job near mom's house and doesn't want to move from Eugene to here so stays at mom's house on the four days a week that he works. I may have to fill in once in a while but I am fine with that. My main focus from now until April 1st is to make as much money as I can between now and then. I need to recover the money I lost in the stock market. I want to be financially set the rest of the year. That will allow me to do the things that I would like to do. Like maybe go to another city and take a standup class that Portland doesn't offer. Right now I am seriously considering taking the long form improv class to fill in the gap and as an outlet during tax season. Which brings me to the job that I started Wednesday. I have already finished all but two projects that they had scheduled for me. I work faster than they anticipated. So I may work myself out of a job! During tax season I will really have four jobs. This job. Doing tax returns for a small number of corporate clients and relatives. Working Sundays for the firm that bought my business. The final thing is some minimum work for Glowtrition, phone calls with my sister, etc. I will go from being bored to being stressed!

The week ahead is both exciting and boring. Sunday morning is brunch with Ted and the guys. Sunday night is the finals of The Amazing Race. Guess what city they end their race in? Good old Portland, Oregon. They didn't say where in Portland they were ending the race but from the picture in this morning's paper I am guessing they are ending the race on the grounds of the Pittock Mansion. Monday is the job. Tuesday and Wednesday is a tax seminar (BORING!), Thursday and Friday are the job. Saturday is Christmas Shopping and grocery shopping with and for mom.

Now I am turning the blog over to the readers and posters. Tell me anything you want about what is going on in your life. Tell me everything, inquiring minds want to know. Need support? Some wonderful posters here will offer you that. Need some ideas? The posters here will give you some. New to the blog and want to introduce yourself? We accept and welcome everyone here! If you just want to ask me someting I promise to answer any non x-rated questions, heck if I am in the right mood I might even answer some x-rated questions!

Your turn. I really want to know how and what all my friends here are doing!

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Job & Top Chef

The first day of the job had me wondering whether or not going to work there was the right idea. The second day was much better. I actually accomplished a lot the second day. One of the partners seemed pleased with how fast that I did a project she gave me. They thought it would take all day, I finished at 3, would have been 2 if I hadn't taken a lunch. I got to go home early because they hadn't planned on me finishing that fast. Just like me they are adjusting too, I am adjusting to them and they are adjusting to me. I am hopeful that it will work out.

The life lessons we learned on Top Chef this week? Sometimes it is better if you aren't spicey, personality often matters, following instructions is sometimes better than putting your own spin on things, it might be better once in a while if you had immunity, sometimes it is better to cut your own meat, and often presentation matters.

The guest judge the week was my man from Dancing With The Stars, Rocco Dispirito. The challenge was to create a breakfast amuse bouche (one bite). Daniel's cornflake crusted zucchinni flower stuffed with hash and Fabio's briuchs with brulee banana and expresso cream left Rocco very disappointed. Leah won immunity with a one bite bacon, quail egg, & cheese with grilled bread just barely edging out Jamie's b,l,t breakfast sandwich.

The elimination challenge this week was to create a two and one half minute dish for a live television presentation. Unknown to the cooks was that the winner was going to picked by the Today Show crew from the Judges' top three.

The bottom three were Alex, Jamie, and Melissa. Alex tried a creme brulee which just couldn't be done in the time they allotted the chef. Jamie blew it with a salad white fried duck egg bacon and caviar because she didn't cook the egg. Raw eggs really don't please the judges. Melissa blew the lid off the judges with a way to spicey blackened mabanero shrimp that made one side of Padma's mouth numb. Packing his knifes and heading home was Alex. I really don't think he was that disappointed considering that he was getting married in twenty days from when the show was taped.

The top three, Ariane, Jeff, and Fabio were awakened by Tom at 2 a.m. in the morning and at that time found out they were going to the studios of The Today Show to cook their dishes for the Today Show crew. Although Meridith doesn't really like watermelon Ariane wowed them with her beef steak tomato salad with watermelon and feta cheese. They also seemed to like Fabio's tuna with roasted carrots and asparagus salad. Jeff pleased everyone but Kathy Lee with is malfauf roll with shrimp and muhmammara sauce. Kathy Lee spit out Jeff's dish. After huddling the crew picked my gal Ariane as the winner! Wow, that woman has made a comeback. I'm glad I stuck with her. As the winner of the elimination challenge Ariane was given a cooking tool kit by Rocco and was on The Today show the day after this Top Chef aired presenting her dish to the millions watching.

I hope that whether there are millions or few watching you that you have a successful day!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

What A Day!

The day started out with making a to do list of things I need to get done before I start the job on January 19th. Fifty-five items on the to do list!

I was in my backyard thinking what an idiot I was when I received the first phone call. More about the call later but the reason that I thought I was an idiot is the timing of letting my landscaper go. If you remember a couple of months back I saw the economy tanking and did some cost cutting measures like letting the housekeeper and landscaper go. I should have waited until after the leafs fell before letting the landscaper go. I have four big trees in my backyard. This morning I took out five big garbage bags of leaves and that hasn't even cut a dent into my leaf removal job. There has to be at least ten to fifteen more bags of leavess before my lawn is leaf free. So a person who usually gets dirty doing household chores because the ink from the yellow pages rubs off is knee deep in yard work. Why didn't I foresee this and wait a couple of months before tubing the landscaper? What an idiot.

The call was from my future employer. They don't want me to start January 19th. They want me to start tomorrow. Of course I said yes but wow does that ever put the pressure on to get things done!

Shortly after that call I got a second call. This one from Mom. Remember we had a caregiver move into Mom's house that we didn't ask to move in? We rolled with the punches and decided to let her stay there. We did make a deal with her at the time that when my sister visited from Utah then she would have to find another place to stay as long as my sister was here. She agreed to that. My sister and her husband are visiting on December 20th and leaving on December 27th. We have told the caregiver this maybe seven times in the last week, that she would have to find a place to stay from the 20th to the 27th. I mean first this lady moves in without asking us. Now she has really taken over the house and taken all the options we have with the house away from us. You would think she would be willing to work with us. Mom asked where she was going the 20th and she responded "I'm not going anywhere, I am staying right here." Which upset Mom, she called me which upset me. I drove into Mom's house and had a heart to heart talk with the caregiver. Mom said I sounded firm but not angry. I learned a long time ago when you are mad if you yell people ignore you but if you firmly and calmly state your position they believe what you are telling them. I basically restated what mom said. The long and short of it is the caregivers' last day working for us is the 20th. She will move out by then. If she moves out by that date we will give her one week's pay and pay for a month storage. She actually reacted to that very well and almost seemed relieved. I know Mom and I are both relieved. It has just been to much stress for both of us having her living there. Mom wanted to wait until April to let her go because she thought that would be easier for me. However, the truth is that having to deal with Mom being upset every day and having to deal with an out of control caregiver that has taken Mom's house away from her is just more stress than having to do a few extra days of care giving myself is!

How was your day?

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Amazing Race/Sundays

Last night's Amazing Race was very entertaining but of course I jinxed the Mother/Son team by saying that I wanted them to win. The four teams remaining going into last night's episode were, first, mother-son Toni & Dallas, second separated couple Ken & Tina, third brother-sister Star & Nick and last the frat boys Andrew and Dan. This segment of the race took place in Moscow. This race included a lot of mistakes by the teams especially by Toni & Dallas. Dallas messed up by leaving his backpack with all their money and passports in a cab. They spent most of the night begging for money from Russian citizens, who were extremely generous to the team. Andrew and Dan ended up at the wrong park one time. Then Ken & Tina got to the pit stop but were not allowed to stay there because they didn't pickup one of the clues along the race. They had to go back and get the clue and get to the pit stop again. Star & Nick kind of glided through the segment and ended up first. Believe or not the frat boys, Andrew & Dan, overcame several obstacles to end up second, Ken & Tina were third. Toni and Dallas just couldn't overcome losing their money and passports and were eliminated. The finals are next week and one of the teams will win a million bucks. I am going to jinx Andrew and Dan by saying I am kind of rooting for them, they are just such nerds.

Now on to Sundays. Sundays really are my favorite day. It starts out reading the Sunday Paper and doing one of my favorite exercises, clipping coupons! Then it is out to a nice brunch with good men friends, Ted, Bill E, & Doug. Later in the day it is reading the NY Times or going to a movie! Sometimes a nice dinner out with Mom. Sometimes some shopping in the afternoon. Sometimes an experience at the Keller Auditorium. Then at night it is sitting down and relaxing in front of the TV and watching something mindless.

Now I was thinking if I am lucky enough to meet the woman of my dreams the Sundays may have to change a bit. We get up in the morning. I fix breakfast ( I like to cook breakfast) which we just kind of enjoy breakfast, coffee and chat. After breakfast we have two papers. One from the city that we live in, one from either New York or Chicago. We quietly sit there enjoy each other's company while she reads one paper and I read the other. After we finish we switch papers. When we are done with the reading we get dressed and head out to a movie or a play or just a walk. Then at night we quietly enjoy the mindless shows on TV together! Could work.

What is your favorite day of the week? What do you married folks do on Sundays?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

It's Your Blog Today

I don't really have a lot to update you on that I haven't already done in previous posts this week so on the Update Day I am turning the blog over to the readers and posters. Tell me anything you want about what is going on in your life. I don't even care if is just about a great deal you got on Black Friday, about your relatives in addition to the elderly parent you care for, tell us about a book you just read that you want share with us, a movie that you have seen that you want to tell us about, traveling anywhere fun for Christmas, what your goals are for 2009 if you have any, what your week has been like, if you have a joke you would like to share with us that would be great, if your new to the blog and want to introduce yourself that is great too, or if you just want to ask me someting I promise to answer any non x-rated questions.

The one thing I will tell you is I didn't get any good deals on Black Friday because I just never participate in it. I actually like to shop but I avoid Black Friday at all costs. Parking is never a problem for me because I have amazing parking karma and really every where I go a parking spot appears. The problem I have is with the crowds and waiting in line. No thank you.

The secondary caregiver is off this weekend so Friday and today is my cargiving days. Like the week I did earlier in the month, I am going to make it as fun for mom as I can.

Ok, time for me to hear from you!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving & Top Chef Rock

Thanksgiving was supposed to be quiet this year but it turned out to be anything but. It was supposed to be my Mom, four friends, and I. And that what it was for the FIRST dinner at 11:30. That was turkey with all the trimmings. My nephew called and he said he and his family would be bringing a complete ham dinner to Mom's and that they would be there at five to serve mom and I. Greg, his wife, Angela, daughters Megan, Chelsea, Katie and son Grayson arrived a little late, about six. It was a great dinner. We played charades until late. I didn't get home until after a ten. It was great fun.

Now on to Top Chef. The life lessons we learned on Top Chef this week were: Sometimes completely out of your control you will be dealt cards that make you have to quickly change directions, sometimes it will rain on your parade, sometimes no matter how good you do someone else will do just a little bit better, never undercook anything, and sometimes you have to clean up after others.

The guest judge this week was Grant Achatz of Chicago's Alinea Restaurant. I was kind of touched when Hosea mentioned that he could relate to Grant since Grant was a cancer survivor and right before he left for Top Chef, Hosea found out his dad had cancer.

In The Quickfire Challenge the chefs drew knifes with numbers on it. The numbers on the knifes were page numbers in the Top Chef Cookbook with recipes from previous seasons' contestants. The challenge began with the chefs being required to cook the recipe on the page number they were given. Ten minutes into the challenge they were thrown a curve and had to change directions. They had to quit working on the recipe they were given and had to use the ingredients they had to make soup. The three that did the best at changing direction:

Jamie with her chickpea soup with pickled chilies, yogurt and crispy shallots.

Daniel with his ham and egg soup with sauteed mushrooms with corn and cheese.

Winning immunity from elimination was Leah with her chilled white asparagus soup with brioche, tuna, and tapenade.

The elimination challenge was to cook a Thanksgiving Dinner with all its trimmings for the rock group the Foo Fighters and their entourage of sixty people, including eighteen vegetarians. The chefs were divided into two teams. Since Leah won the elimination challenge she got to choose her teammates. Team Sexypants was Leah, Jamie, Hosea, Melissa, Fabio, Stefan, and Radhika. Team Cougar (named to honor the "hot and sexy" Ariane) was Ariane, Jeff, Alex, Richard, Carla, Daniel, and Eugene. The winning team goes to the Foo Fighters concert that night, the losing team stays back and cleans up the mess.

The Team Cougar menu: Turkey, Stuffing, Roasted Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Pork Loin Roast, Macaroni & Cheese, Pumpkin Mousse, Peach Cobbler, & Banana S'mores.

The Team Sexypants menu: Butterball Turkey, Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Gravy, Side Salads, Pumpkin Tiramisu, and Fruit Crisp.

When the chefs got to the arena they found a kitchen with numerous toaster ovens and microwaves, one burner, no refrigerator, no freezer, and no oven. Eugene creatively made a burner from scratch. While they were cooking the higher ups threw the chefs another curve with a rain storm.

Team Cougar had the best turkey cooked by my gal Ariane. Finally I didn't have to hold my breath wondering if she was going home. Team Sexypants outclassed Team Couger with their desserts. The competition was extremely close but the winners were Team Sexypants. Which meant not only did Team Cougar have to clean up but one of the Cougar team members was going home.

Even though I really don't like Jeff I gained a lot of respect for him for the way he defended his team. Good for him. At the judges' table the ones from Team Cougar that were announced as safe were in order; Eugene, Alex, Carla, and Ariane. The bottom three:

Jeff with his spoonbread stuffing with figs, cranberries, walnuts, and onions, Daniel with his undercooked potatoes and sent packing with his poorly cooked banana S'mores, Richard.

Richard in a tearful exit mentioned that he has tried for three seasons to get on Top Chef and was sure his family was proud of him. I kind of respect him for not giving up and for keep trying to get on the show after failing a couple of times!

Hope your Thanksgiving rocked and that your weekend will too!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


The last two nights were the finals of Season 7 of Dancing With The Stars. The three finalist performed their last dance last night. What would win? Brook's elegant and beautiful waltz. Lance's energetic jitterbug. Warren's charming and fun hustle. I loved all three of the dances. I also love both in dancing and in life when a partner respects their partner. Brook complimenting Derek on his teaching skills. Lance saying that Lacey helped him gain confidence. Warren saying he was nothing without Kym. Good for all of them. The third place finisher: Lance. The second place finisher: Warren. The champion of season 7 of dancing with the stars the best from beginning to end, the second woman in a row to win the mirror ball trophy: Brook Burke. Can hardly wait for season 8 of Dancing With The Stars.

Now on to Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, sort of Christmas without the shopping. It will be a quiet one this year. Sis just can't afford to come up from Utah for both Christmas and Thanksgiving and chose Christmas. Bro is in his winter home in Las Vegas with his wife and one of his daughters and her family. So it is Mom and I and four friends. One of the family traditions for Thanksgiving is for us to tell what we are thankful for. Not it any order and I know I will miss a ton of things that I am thankful for but here is the short version:

I'm thankfrul for all of you that read and post on my blog. You have become an important part of my life. Every post and every visit is special to me.

I'm thankful for my Mom and the time that I have to spend with her. She has taught me by example how to age gracefully. She teaches me love everyday.

I'm thankful for the dad that I had. He taught me to live life honorably. I try everyday to live up to that and fail often but it is always my goal. He taught me to laugh. He taught me to love. He taught me to be kind. He is my life. I miss his hugs. May he rest in peace.

I'm thankful for my dad's five sisters, you are angels watching over me. Nola I wish I would have gotten to know you better. Augusta thank you and Uncle Bob for all the summers in Glendale and all the Dodger games. Thank you Aunt Emily and Uncle Bill for all the Thanksgiving holidays we spent at your house. Clara my car is named after you, you made me feel special when you were alive and honored me when you moved on to heaven. Aunt Ella thanks for all the dinners at your beautiful house in San Francisco and thank you for remembering me as you left the earth, you have no idea how much it means to me.

I'm thankful that my mom's brother is still alive. Uncle Frank thank you for your devilish and fun nature. All those poker games during the Christmases at our mountain cabin where you purposely tried to lose rather than taking all your nieces' and nephews' money. It doesn't matter that you couldn't even lose on purpose it was still a nice effort. I'm grateful for your wife, my aunt and second mother, Aunt Velma. I know as long as Aunt Velma is alive that even if my Mom passes I will still have a Mom to turn to.

I'm thankful for my English instructors and my writing mentors that taught me never to be anonymous. Thank you for teaching me to always stand behind anything I write no matter where I write it, be it on a blog, a letter to an editor, or a book. It leads to new friends when I'm not afraid to use my name in all my posts on various blogs. It makes me work hard to be accurate. Sure I screw up a lot but the goal is always there to be as accurate as possible. Sure sometimes someone will steal an idea or a thought from my blog without giving me credit for it but imitation is the highest form of flattery. Besides they know it and I know it. That is all that counts.

I'm thankful for Comedy Sportz 101, the improvements that I've made during the class, the friends that I've met there, and the two women that inspired me to go beyond my comfort zone.

I'm thankful that I only had to go on one job interview before being hired to do tax season support. I start January 19th. It will be a busy ten weeks (usually firms are done by April 1) and then the rest of the year I will have enough money to party and travel!

I know I will remember 4,937 more things that I am thankful for as soon as I post this but the above will do for now.

What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Boy In The Striped Pajamas

The kind of movie that makes me wonder why I go to artsy movies, the kind of movie that helps me to understand why I go to artsy movies. The kind of movie that makes me think that I should stay away from movies for a while, the kind of movie that makes want to go to another movie. Conflicting emotions? How did you ever guess?

The most dramatic, intense, troubling, emotionally nerve-wracking, conflicting, scene in any movie in years. Emotionally gut wrenching as it is thought provoking. If you walk away from this movie without shedding a tear you will be the exception. If you get up immediately and leave when the movie ends you will be the exception.

Shindler's List was in a class by itself. Not far behind was Life Is Beautiful joined now by the English film, The Boy In The Striped Pajamas. The Boy In The Striped Pajamas is based on the book by Irish author John Boyne. The movie was the winner of three British Independent Film awards; Best Actress Vera Farmiga, Best Director, Mark Herman, and Most Promising Newcomer, Asa Butterfield.

The Synopsis from Moviefone: "'The Boy in the Striped Pajamas' is a fictional story that offers a unique perspective on how prejudice, hatred and violence affect innocent people, particularly children, during wartime."

"The imagined story of Bruno (Asa Buttefield) and Shmuel (Zac Mattoon O'Brian) sheds light on the brutality, senselessness and devastating consequences of war from an unusual point of view. Together, their tragic journey helps recall the millions of innocent victims of the Holocaust."

Well acted but I think the British Independent Film Awards got it wrong. The actor that played the young Jewish friend should have won the award as best newcomer. Both he and Asa Butterfield deserved recognition as did the director and Vera Farmiga.

Five footballs. One football for a child should lead us. One for Asa Butterfield. One for Zac O'brian. One For Vera Farmiga. One for David Hayman as Jewish doctor Pavel.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Miscellaneous Sutff

Not much going on so thought I would just write about several things that are on my mind.

Somebody in Indiana won the Powerball, I've been praying that it is one of the favorites that posts here!

Amazing Race last night was interesting. One of the frat boys couldn't march in time with the music with the Russian Army so they ended up being last. They also spent most of their money on shoes because they forgot their shoes on the last segment of The Amazing Race. They lost time telling a cab driver they couldn't afford to pay him. They were saved from elimination as it turned out to be one of the two non-elimination segments on the show.

My favorites to win it all, mother and son team, Toni & Dallas came in first. Finishing second, were Ken & Tina. After a four week win streak coming in third was Nick & Star. And it looks like Dallas and Star have become an item. Star's brother and Dallas's Mom seem to be all for it. Can hardly wait for the next two weeks!

I am really looking forward to the finals of Dancing With The Stars tonight and tomorrow night. I think Brook is going to wow them but the free style may be all Lance's.

Another thing I am looking forward to is a movie that I am going to go to one day this week. It has got really good reviews and a lot of critical acclaim, THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS.

I'm also looking forward to my favorite holiday this week, Thanksgiving.

Hope this will be a great week for all of you!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Your Weekly Update

Wow, where has this week gone? Another update day is here. This is the day you get to update me on your life. If you have been reading the blog for a while and haven't posted this is a good day to introduce yourself. Tell me how you are doing with your elderly parents. Your concerns and joys. Have any enlightenments this week? If you aren't caring for elderly parents tell me about your life and what you are doing that pleases you. Or if you have any concerns would love to hear about those too. The posters here are very supportive and maybe they might have some helpful ideas for you. Don't worry about being first either because technically you will be second since I am first.

As you know this week started with the caregiver being ill and me making arrangements for her to go somewhere else until she got well. I was the main caregiver until yesterday. The good thing is that with me there all of Mom's vitals went lower. The bad thing is that with me there all of my vitals went higher. Not significantly higher but higher. I decided since this intense caregiving was temporary I would make it as fun as week as possible for Mom. Monday I cooked dinner. Tuesday I fixed lunch but we went out for dinner. Wednesday we went out to lunch then I cooked a dinner from scratch. Nobody died. Thursday it was lunch in and dinner out. Yesterday I came home and Mom is back to what we were doing before. Of course there were a lot of games of Yahtzee and Scrabble. Watching Dancing With The Stars together. The meals out were interesting because the waitresses really love Mom and I guess me too because I was hugged by two waitresses I had never met before. It is fun to see Mom interact with people, she is really social and she always has a good time when people pay attention to her. Maybe I learned that a wheelchair with a ninety year old woman in it is a babe magnet.

Tuesday I went on the job interview. Met two really nice accountants. A woman in her early forties. A man in his fifties that wants to get out of doing tax returns and do nothing but litigation support and business valuations. The interview went really well. They asked for references so I rattled off ten names and phone numbers from memory. They were kind of impressed that I could remember all those phone numbers. I've always been able to do that. If you tell me what your phone number is I'll never remember it but if you write it on a piece of paper and give it to me I will never forget it. I've probably got five hundred phone numbers stored in my brain somewhere. It is only phone numbers. Names and faces no way. Meet you once and then run into, I'd have no clue as to who you were. Just numbers. A couple of references called me and asked me what they should say. I told them to be honest tell them my good points as well as my bad. The firm will let me know after Thanksgiving if they want me to work tax season support with them.

That is my week. Boring and exciting all at the same time. OK, now the blog is yours for a day!

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Hot Dogs on Top Chef.

Rooting for Ariane on Top Chef is like rooting for your favorite basketball team that is always two points down and then makes a bucket with one second to go to throw the game into overtime. Arianne is not only in overtime she is living on borrowed time but I'm very faithful and I'm sticking with her.

There were a lot of life lessons on Top Chef this week. Sometimes simple is better. One week we can be on the top the next week towards the bottom. Sometimes when we got out of our comfort zone we can lay an egg. Often it isn't so much what you do but how well you defend it. And last but not least men will often think their performance is better than it actually is.

For those of you that don't watch Top Chef each week involves two segments. A Quickfire challenge which is usually a really quickly prepared meal where the regular judges and the guest judges choose the winner. The winner then gets immunity in the next segment, the elimination challenge. The elimination challenge usually involves cooking for a group of people.

The Quickfire challenge this week was hot dogs. Hot dogs are big in New York with over one hundred million hot dogs being sold every year in the Big Apple. This week the guest judge was Ms. Donatella Arpaia of the restaurants David Burke & Donatella, Anthos, Mia Doja, and Kefi. In addition the show brought in the hot dog cooking expert, Angelina DeAngelo, for the fifteen chefs to cook against. The contestants were given forty-five minutes to create a signature hot dog. The bottom two hot dogs:

The double winner from last week, Stefan, fell from grace with an Italian Sausage on French Bread with Wisconsin cheese & Irish tarter sausage.

Jill went with a store bought hot dog rather than to create her own casing. She went down the tube with a summer roll hot dog cooked in chili sauce & rice wine vinegar.

The top three hot dogs:

Hosea with a pork hot dog with roasted pablanos, jalapenos, smoked bacon, & red vinegar.

Fabio with andquille sausage with goat cheese, roast bell peppers, and sun dried tomatoes.

The best and winner of the immunity was Radhika with a kabob style sausage with caramelized onions, cucumber, and tomato.

What did the hot dog expert, Angelina cook? She went with simple, a hot dog, mustard, sauerkraut and relish. Sometimes simple is better.

The cooks then moved on to the elimination challenge where they cooked a three course meal in head judge Tom Colicchio's Craft Restaurant. Their diners? Fifty New York Chefs that tried out for Top Chef and didn't make it. That made it really challenging. I've gone up against firms that have beat me out for assignments and while it is stressful it is huge fun to win against them. The fifteen chefs divided into three groups: Appetizers - Fabio Hosea, Jamie, Melissa, and Leah; Entres - Stefan, Alex, Eugene, Jill, & Jeff; Desert, - Carla, Ariane, Daniel, Richard, & Radhika.

The judges were very disappointed in the quality of the food this week. They thought it took a huge dive from last week. Tom also said their cooking sent American style of cooking back twenty years. In one case Padma spit out Ariane's desert into her napkin. Not a good sign for my gal.

The best three of a bad lot:

Jamie with a simple appetizer - sweet corn soup with chili oil & mint.

Carla's desert, rustic apple tart with ginger peach tea, apple cider reduction, and cheddar cheese.

The top dish was Fabio's beef carpaccio with argula salad, parmesan and spherical olives sliced and diced in a special way.

The bottom three:

Ariane's way to sweet desert the lemon meringue martini with a vanilla cookie crunch & cherry surprise.

Hosea was convinced he won the competition but his can bought grilled crab with citrus vanilla dressing with mango and avocado left the judges less than pleased.

Jill went out of her comfort zone by buying an Ostrich egg and making an Ostrich egg quiche with rice-pecan crust, aspargus, and aged cheese that layed an egg and had one of the diners saying it tasted like dog food.

It came down to Jill or Ariane. Ariane admitted her dish was to sweet. Carla defended her dish that was in the word of one judge "the lamest defense in five years of Top Chef." Whew. Carla went packing.

Hope this weekend really cooks for all of you!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Amazing Race/Dancing With The Stars

Two of my favorite shows are down to crunch time. Amazing Race is down to the final four. Dancing With The Stars is down to the final three.

On the Amazing Race this week newly dating couple Terrance and Sarah were eliminated basically because Terrance, a vegetarian, couldn't eat meat. He tried and failed. Because they were on a fast forward and didn't complete it they basically had to start this segment of the race over. To big of an advantage to overcome. On the exit interview it did seem like they had taken their relationship to a new level and bonded during the race.

The final four in The Amazing Race are as follows:

Brother-sister team than now has finished three straight segments in a row in first place, Nick & Star.

Separated couple Ken & Tina. Separated due to his affairs, going on the race to see if they could repair the damage the affairs caused. Been interesting watching them because from the first week of the show to now they have tremenedously improved how they communicate with each other.

Mother-Son team and my pick to sneak in there and win it, Toni & Dallas. I never would have predicted them to go this far but they sort have flown under the radar except for Dallas's courtship of Star during the race.

Last up and my pick to be the next ones elimnated, frat boys, Andrew and Dan.


Loved this weeks' shows. The results show was very entertaining with Aretha Frankling, John Legand, Leona Lewis, and Julianne Hough all singing. Yes the same Julianne Hough that is Cody's partner has begun a Country & Western musical career and didn't do to bad.

Other highlights of the results show was last season's champs, Kristi & Mark, dancing while Aretha Franklin sang Respect. Then there were the young dancers, wow those not even teens yet can dance!

The performance show included a segment where Judge Len gave each of the four semi-finalists a private lesson. Very entertaining.

On the performance show I thought the judges were to hard on Brook and not hard enough on Warren. I thought both of Warren's dances were overscored because they were to slow to the music especially the jitterbug. I also thought Brook's Jive was underscored. Lacey and Lance stole the performance show. Their dances just couldn't be beat.

It was fun watching the now eliminated Cody dance both the Paso Doble and the Salsa. It was also interesting watching how mature the young man was when he was eliminated. He has really grown on the show.

The three finalist compete next week for the trophy:

Lance may sneak there and steal the win from Brook. He seems to be improving while Brook seems to be at a plateau.

Brook is next and I would really like to see her win so that a woman has won two seasons in a row. I'm just afraid the judges are grading her against herself and that works to her disadvantage.

The third finalist is Warren Sapp. I love the big man but don't want to see him win because I think he is the worse dancer of the three. He is the best performer of the three but his dancing doesn't measure up to the other two. This is a dance competition and I want the best dancer to win.

May you race through life with a smile on your face!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Lot Of Drama Dahn

In the first hour of the morning news I must have heard the phrase "no drama Obama" about ten times. Well, after yesterday the phrase in Portland is a "a lot of drama Dahn.

I am at Mom's this week until at Friday. When I visited Mom yesterday the regular caregiver was very ill. Of course my main concern is my Mom because if she catches a virus it could be fatal for her. Carolyn said she couldn't afford to go to the doctor. I can't really afford it right now but I can't really afford my Mom dying either so I told Carolyn to get dressed that I would take her to the Urgency Clinic and pay for it. At the urgency clinic we found out that Carolyn has a virus. She thought she was going to stay at Mom' and have Mom take care of her. Let's see a woman with a contagious virus is going to stay with a 92 to year-old woman with serious heart trouble who can barely walk and be taken care of by her? I don't think so. I was very blunt with Carolyn about her not staying at Mom's until she gets well. Heck she has a Mom five doors down from my Mom's place, a brother and two sisters within in a mile of Mom's house. I told her I would take to one of her relatives and when she got well she could come back to her job and mom's but there is no way in hell she would stay at Mom's while she was ill.

I waited until she made arrangements for where she was going to stay. Then took her there. Went to Mom's house and got her night stuff and makeup. Then went to the pharmacy to pickup her drugs. Back to mom to get her car and drive it to where she was staying and drop of the drugs and the keys. All told from the time I took her to the doctor and got her and all her stuff to her brother's it was six hours.

I'm not really a germaphobe but I am very germ aware. I completely cleaned out my car and sanitized it with Lysol. Then I completely cleaned Mom's house and also sanitized it with Lysol. The cleaning took a good three hours. That was my day yesterday.

The doctor said Carolyn would be down anywhere from two days to a week. The other caregiver comes Friday. That is why I am at Mom's until then.

OK, I need some support here but I also want you to be honest with me if you thought I was to harsh with the caregiver. Should I have let Carolyn stay with Mom while she was ill?

Monday, November 17, 2008

The People We Meet

A week or so ago I told the story of how I stood in line waiting to audition for the T.V. show, Who Wants to Be A Millionaire. I really didn't want anyone to know but my luck put me in the line right next to a reporter from The Oregonian sent by her editor to write about the experience of trying to get on Millionaire. The next day she wrote a column about the experience and mentioned yours truly and others that she shared the almost eight hours of standing in line with. The reporter was young and beautiful and still writes for The Oregonian. Her name was Inara Verzemnieks. You can read some of her current stuff by going to and search Inara. The ending paragraph of the Millonaire column was:

"And then I think, really, who wants to be a millionaire? Or at least on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire."Give me a few hours on the sidewalk, any day, talking to the Myras and the Marks and the Bills and the Norms listening to their stories, hearing about their lives, trying to make sense of the universe, and knowing that there is no right or wrong to the order of it all, there really is no final answer."

That paragraph got me thinking about the people we meet in our lives. Sometimes we see them once, like the people I met on that street that day, but we still remember them. With the Internet now there are people we have never met that have become important to us and impacted our lives. Like the Donas, the Kims, the Mary Zs, the Kayes, the Snugs, the Symplys. Those that we have met several times but haven't seen for a while like the Lisas, Drs, The Marys, the Ellens, The Pats, The Sians,, The Bevs, the England Diane, the Texas Diane, the Julias, Shirley, Tricia and so many more. But then there are those that we do see weekly but we will never socialize with but they become an important part of our lives and if they disappeared we would miss them. Four of the last mentioned people come quickly to mind.

First up is my Korean Dry Cleaner. I see him once a week. Just a very nice man. He says "You walk. You walk a lot." "You lose weight. You look Good." Then the day after election day he gives my a high five and hug because he knew we were both rooting for the same guy, If he disappeared out of my life I would miss him.

Next up is the older married couple that I run into many mornings on my morning walk. Always holding hands, always smiling, always showing a tremendous amount of love to each other. Always a kind word to say to me. I would miss them too

Then there is the young gas station attendant that pumps my gas. Some of you probably don't know it but in Oregon and New Jersey it is against the law to pump your own gas. The young man that pumps my gas is maybe twenty years old. If I'm wearing a suit he will shout "looking good, great suit." If I am wearing a sweater "great sweater, I want to dress like you." It always makes me feel good but if he is looking at me as a fashion guru he is barking up the wrong tree! I never wear designer clothes, heck I don't even know who the designers are. I just buy what I like and what feels good. Still I would miss the young man.

OK, tell me about the people you run into on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, that you would miss if they suddenly disappeared!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Update Day

This is update day or better yet we can refer to it as caring and sharing day because I do care about all of you and want to hear about what is going on in your lives. This is the day you tell me the joys you have experienced the last week or the tribulations that you have gone through. It can be about caring for elderly parents but it doesn't have to be. It can be just about anything that you want to talk about. The more I learn about you the happier I am so make me happy and let me know about your life! If you have been lurking and haven't posted yet this would be a good day to introduce yourself. I'm also going to add one thing to sharing and caring day, it is ask me anything. Ask me anything you want to know about me and I will answer all questions.

For me, this has been one of the best and most amazing weeks that I've had in ages. With the stock market decline I really have been in my own personal economic crisis. Monday I picked ten CPA firms at random that are close to where I live and sent out ten letters telling the firms I was available to work this tax seasons. Tuesday was a holiday so there was no mail. Wednesday morning I got a phone call from one of the firms. They are interested in me working fifty hours a week during tax season. The woman I talked to sounded so great. I have an interview with them this next Tuesday at 2:30. Wish me luck!

My dad had five sisters. Nola, Augusta, Emily, Clara, and Ella. I was close to all but Nola whom died when I was a very young man. Augusta lived in Glendale, California and when I visited them during my high school years she and Uncle Bob would take me to Dodger games. Emily lived in Longmont, Colorado which we visited every Thanksgiving during my childhood. I learned things like how to use a pogo stick. Clara and Ella both lived in the San Francisco area until their sixties when they moved to Sun City, California. Clara died in 2004. She was a lovely lady. Until March of 2007 Ella was my dad's last living sister. She passed away 3-04-07. I learned this week that her estate is settled, that the distributions are going to be mailed out next week, and that I am one of the heirs. I'm stunned. I am really pleased that Aunt Ella remembered me. The only asset Aunt Ella had was her home so what I get will be a very small amount. Any amount will be helpful right now, what is more important than money is the love my Aunt Ella showed when she was alive and in her passing on by remembering me.

The rest of the week was very enjoyable. Thursday, former clients, Mark and Sandra, drove down from Seattle to have lunch with me. They also know Mom from when Mom worked in my office. They wanted to know if she would join us for lunch and she did. It not only was an amazing lunch but it was an amazing conversation. Turns out that their relatives grew up in the Midwest in the same area Mom and Dad lived and at the time they lived there. This was maybe seventy years ago. Mom actually danced with some of Mark's relatives. Such a small world. It gets better too. My dad managed a hardware store in Great Falls, Montana. Above the store was what we will call a hotel. Turns out Mark's relatives ran that hotel, the only one in Great Falls at the time. The food was great and the conversation was extremely interesting. Mom had a great time. Can life be any better?

The other days of the week? Sunday was brunch with Ted, his wife Sandy, and friend Bill E. Ted and Sandy are well known in the Democratic party so were elated with the election. Bill E. is a really nice man and a McCain supporter. We had a really nice interesting conversation because nobody got upset about the other's views, it was sort of like a round table. Monday I took Mom shoe shopping. Wednesday took Mom to the library. Friday it was taking Mom grocery shopping.

OK, the blog is now yours. Catch me up.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Life Really Cooks

Let's See I predicted Warren Sapp would be the first one to be eliminated on Dancing With The Stars and he will probably finish in the top two. Then before Top Chef New York started I predicted Alex who finished in the bottom eight of the elimination challenge and Ariane who finished in the bottom two of the elimination challenge would be two to watch out for. As well as my predictions are going I'm predicting I'm not going to win the lottery. Being a bit on the stubborn side I am sticking with my two favorites although I kind of liked Hosea's attitude. Carla needs to drink less coffee but she may be fun to watch. Without a doubt my least favorite is Jeff. I've never liked men that would be happy living in a house of mirrors.

A couple of things struck me as I watched Top Chef this week. 1.) The number of parallels there were with the show and the comedy class that I just completed. How well you do under pressure. How creative you can be on short notice. 2.) How the ingredients in the show is sometimes how you should live life. Don't overcook, don't undercook, sometimes don't be a salty, sometimes you need to be a little salty, be properly inspired, sometimes going out of your comfort zone pays off and sometimes faking it works.

Before the chefs even made it to the Top Chef Kitchen there was a quickfire challenge where one of the seventeen contestants was eliminated. There are only sixteen slots in the kitchen so one had to go early. The quickfire challenge was three parts. Slice Apples. Dice Apples. Cook Apples. Stefan finished on top and won immunity in the elimination challenge. The bottom two were friends, Lauren and Richard. Lauren was sent packing before she had a chance to even see the kitchen. She was kind of cute so it would have been fun to see her stay on for more then one week.

The elimination challenge involved ethnic cooking. The remaining sixteen contestants were paired by drawing knifes with ethnics areas of New York imprinted on them. Each pair would compete with each other with the winner going to the top eight and the loser going to the bottom eight. The pairs and the winning dishes follow:

Richard and Jamie went to the Astoria section of New York known for Greek food. Jamie won with Eggplant puree, seared bass with arugula salad.

Hosea and Carla went to Brighton Beach to buy ingredients to cook Russian food. Hosea won with smoked fish with caviar, creme friche, & apple chutney.

Jeff and Fabio took their seventy-five dollar budget to Ozone Park to create a couple of Latin dishes. Tom's least favorite Jeff still came out on top with his Coffee seared Tenderloin, smoked plantain with black beans and rice.

Radhika & Jill shopped in Queens to build a couple of Jamaican dishes. Jill won even though her Plantain Friters & Jerk spiced scallops were overcooked.

Leah and Melissa were sent to Little Italy. Leah's Italian dish, Farrio Risotto with seared red snapper & mushrooms won.

Patrick,18, the youngest contestant ever on Top Chef and Daniel went to Chinatown. The judges didn't like either dish but Daniel barely won with his poached chicken with pok choy, shitake mushrooms, and fried wonton.

Alex and Eugene went to Little India. Eugene won with a dish he didn't describe properly but still in the judge's words "hit it out of the park" with Masala rubbed lamb with basmati rice and the erroneously described by Daniel, Tzatziki.

Stefan and Ariane went to Long Island to experience the buying of Middle Eastern food. Ariane undercooking gave the win to Stefan's lamb chops with tabouli salad, beef onion skewer with cinnamon spice.

The top three were Stefan, Eugene, and Leah. The guest judge, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, announced that Stefan got his second win of the night.

Patrick ended up in the bottom two for the second time of the night. This time with Ariane. Patrick was sent home. I breathed a sigh of relief.

How is life cooking for you? Win any challenges lately?