Category Archives: Life in general

Making Bread


I’ve been making bread with the breadmaker my mother sent me.
Parents…they work through you like a spoonful of yeast…
Until you’re shaped as the pan they put you in.




Wandering into the living room…



“Were you reading the New York Times online?”

“No. I was surfing other sites.”


“Oh, I have to show you this really cool art blog I found on New York Times.”

“I thought you said you weren’t looking at New York Times.”

“Well, not right before you asked me the question.”

“In that case, I did not eat five burritos and watch back-to-back CSI.”

“You ate all the burritos!”

“No. Not right before you came in.”

The Car Dealers Are Worse Than HMOs


Two months ago my car had shifting issues while I was on my way to work. Not knowing what it was, other than that the check engine light was on, the gear indicator was blinking, and it seemed like I was stuck on low speed (though I couldn’t really test that out since I was in a stop and go traffic), I took it to a shop near work. The shop owner was very nice, and he called me the next day and told me the problem they found and advised me to take it to the dealership since my car was very new and had very low mileage, and therefore I shouldn’t have to pay them for the repair, but could get warranty. (I like him! An honest car shop owner.) So, I took the car to the dealer. (By this time the problem had mysteriously disappeared – outwardly anyway.)

First of all, I couldn’t just drop the car off and they only had an available slot the following Wednesday afternoon. Okay – glad my car was still drivable, just needed to take it in as soon as possible to prevent further damage. (Actually, I had consulted, and the advisor there told me that, “Looks like your gear shifted when it shouldn’t. I think you should take it in, even though there doesn’t seem to be a problem now. It’s already happened once, so who knows when it’ll do it again. If you’re driving 60 miles an hour and it suddenly shifted to 40 miles an hour, then you’ve got a problem.” (Yes, especially if I had one of those 16-wheelers tailgating me.)) And then the ever so friendly (not!) service person asked me whether the check engine light was still on. It was not. It went off by itself even before I took it to the shop near work.

“Then we can’t check it. They turned the light off.”

“What do you mean? Wouldn’t it still be in the computer memory.”

“No. They checked the computer already. The memory would be cleared.”

“But they had kindly provided me the diagnosis code and the text description they found from the computer. Surely you can use this to check the car.”

“No. We don’t go by what Mike’s Service said. This is Honda’s policy. We can’t do anything about it.”

“But you know from me that something happened and here is a lead for you to check the car out.”

“You have warranty up to XXXX miles. And the repair would be free.” (Yup! And I would probably be treated the same way every time I had to come back!)

“But wouldn’t it cause more damage not to repair it as soon as you know there is a probelm?” (Of course it would, and it would give them more business later on. More PAID business.)

“If you had come to us first, then we would’ve been able to check it. But now we can’t do anything unless the check engine light is on again. Come back here when the check engine light is on.” (Whatever happened to just opening the hood to look inside? A lost art: checking a car without a computer.)

“But surely there should be some way around it. I was 20 miles from here, and I had to have it checked out right away because I didn’t know whether the problem was life-threatening to keep driving!” (Even health insurances allow you to get out-of-network care if you need to go to the emergency room. And isn’t car accidents caused by malfunctioning car an even higher hazard? There should be a law about this. Heck, this should be a ballot question in the next election.)

Of course, I lost. I drove my car home, which fortunately was behaving normally.

Oh, and by the way I asked Mike’s Service the next day about the computer memory, and he said that they didn’t clear the memory and so the diagnose code should still be there.

Well, I didn’t feel like fighting with the dealership again (yes, I know, shouldn’t avoid conflict on an important issue), and continued to drive the car. Though, once in a while, I’d have this nagging thought of what-ifs such as the car failing me in a bad place and time, landing me in a bad accident and then later on I’d bring a class action law suit against Honda. Anyway the car had been behaving normally, though lately it didn’t seem as responsive when changing the speed. Then tonight as I was taking my daughter home from the daycare it happened again…just as I was merging into the highway after exiting a rotary. It couldn’t accelerate. In fact, it was barely moving like it was on Neutral. Fortunately, I was able to move over to the shoulder without much issue. After I turned the car off and then on again, it was drivable, even though I had the blinker lights on and was driving at 20 miles per hour on the slow lane.

Well, at least I’m closer to the dealer’s location than Mike’s Service this time. We’ll see how they try to wiggle out of doing the warranty work again. Somehow I don’t feel like becoming a martyr with a childseat in the back of my car.

Dirt, Germs, and Everything Gross


“I was watching a PBS series on Yellow Fever,” said my husband. “I’m sorry I forgot to tell you, since you’re interested in infectious diseases and all.”

I took a semester-year long of a biology class on “Infectious Diseases” many many years ago, and for a while the conversations between my then boyfriend and I were peppered with “Heptitus B” and “blood feeding bacteria”, etc. Ever since then I was proclaimed the “expert” of infectious diseases in our family and with our circle of friends.

It’s true that I won’t kiss my husband (or anyone for that matter) after his face has been slobbered by his parents’ dog, and I insist on handwashing after petting any animals, house cleaning, diaper changing, using the toilet, riding the subway, coming home from work, and before meals.

But all our hygienic practices started to fall apart as soon as my daughter started to crawl. Every speck of dropped crumb, dust bunny, utensil, she’d pick up and thrust into her mouth without the learned hesitation grownups have. Anything except food.

After she witnessed us cleaning with static wipes and brooms, she started helping us on that front. Picking up a piece of tissue paper, she’d first wipe her own face, then hands, then floor, then baseboard, then desks and all the remaining surfaces. Then, she would bring out the broom and hand it to one of us, and then sit in the dust pan.

Lately though she’d point at a piece of lint or hair on the floor and yell excitedly. At first I couldn’t figure out where she picked up the “new learning”, until one day I thought she picked up a dead bug, and while I jerked it off her hand, I shrieked involuntarily for fear she’d put that into her mouth. Then I thought, “Oh.”

The pediatrician told us this is a good time to start fostering good habits, like brushing her teeth and washing behind the ears. So far we’ve been able to coax her to open her mouth as long as we use the Grins and Giggles toothpaste and not the other kind that she didn’t like. And after she allowed us to brush her teeth, she demanded to hold the tooth brush to practice on her own, which then led to my husband and I falling over each other trying to keep her from also brushing the toilet seat, diaper pail, floor, and the radiator.

From the trend of things, it really wasn’t terribly surprising yesterday when, during laundry sorting, we turned around to find her wearing a big boxer on her head. I think she’s building her immunity.

Jingle Bells! You know…Ho Ho Ho and Presents for Pretty Girls!


My husband’s birthday is coming up. And since my own birthday is in the same month and following his, I have to make his extra special so he has a proper model to follow in preparing for MY birthday. He already told me that it’s very cheesy to give him the 4 DVDs that we have to buy by the end of this month in order to fullfill our DVD club obligations. And for the cake, dare I repeat the once a year tradition of making THE JOY of COOKING German chocolate cake with a 1 1/2 -year-old who’s ready to dip her hands into the incredibly gooey mix that Mommy is stirring? Oh, yes, she’d want to hold the mixer, too. And to get a better view of it all, climbing onto a chair and standing up with hands in the air like a trapeze artist is a must. What’s more she’ll add some colorful seasonings to it, such as a tiny piece of paper torn from the glossy Bed And Bath catalog that she pulled from the recycling bin, Cheerios, block toys, bib…she’s great at improvising.

And since December follows right after November, it’s also time to organize a list of all the people worthy of receiving our greeting cards, and all the people worthy of presents in addition to greeting cards. And if I want to re-gift something from the past years, I have to make sure:

(1) The gift in question wasn’t given by that person; and

(2) The gift wouldn’t be seen by the original giver either during or after giving; and

(3) The original giver won’t expect to see it when he/she visits our house.

But first…a trip to the Cheesecake Factory is in order. The re-gift list will have to wait.

A Slice of My Life


Knock, knock.

Who’s there?


Anita who?

Anita Vacation. (I need a vacation.)

Had only a couple of gulps of coffee before I left for work this morning because of course I was pressing for time again and my travel mug was still in the garage. The after-Labor-Day traffic has been quite ugly. Normally on the way to work I’d be content with being surrounded by serene classical music in the car, but today I needed something different, something to swallow me up and make me feel like I was driving to Malibu rather than work.

The drive home was just as horrendous. Parents were all hurrying home so they could take their kids out for trick-or-treating. It was still daylight when I left the office, but during half-way I turned on the headlights. By the time M and I arrived home it was already dark out.

As with the past two years, we didn’t get any trick-or-treaters. Our street is too dark after nightfall. Every tiny bit of light seems to be swallowed by the shadow of the trees. It also didn’t help that our yard light was broken and had not been replaced (there were about 4 wasps flying in there in the summer when my husband tried to change the light bulb.) I was fine with not having to travel between the front door and the kitchen counter – it was challenging enough for me to try to come up with a nutritious meal that I could feed my daughter without feeling like an inadequate mother.  Correction…I do feel like an inadequate mother.  Anyway, an 18-month-old toddler who constantly wants to climb onto chairs and put anything except real food in her mouth provides plenty of distractions.

That 6-lbs. bag of candy bars sitting in the pantry is going to be my downfall.

Same Bat Time…Same Bat Channel…Yours…


Heard on the radio that the Cambridge based Internet TV company Brightcove announced a new service today: anyone with the right computer and software can now launch and distribute his/her own Internet TV channel for free. Oh, execuse me, channelS.

Wow! Not only we can bypass the traditional publishers and share our…er…thoughts… by blogging, or share our family photo albums and homemade videos (some better than others) with families and friends and complete strangers across the states or oceans, we can also create our very own quality TV programming. I knew this day will come ever since I watched the Jetsons as a kid!

I feel like I’m reading about the “Gold Rush” period in the early American history. Or maybe I should call the current phenomenon the “Silicon Rush”. I wonder what Anthropologists in the future would say about our generation and our time. We are a people who would walk by the same human beings day after day without making any attempt at reaching out (see this other blog about “familiar strangers“), and yet we feel so free to publish our thoughts, our multimedia creations. Never before was there such a wealth of documentation of people’s lives, ideas, opinions, interests and tastes.  It’s as if we’re starved to share about ourselves and yet do not have the courage to be in other people’s lives or to open up and allow others in our own lives.

Nevertheless, I’m happy about our technological advances. Personally speaking, I’d love to create some quality children’s programs if I have the time and talent.