Monday, August 31, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

Yes, Master

When I moved to Tuscaloosa in 2006 I took up swimming laps for a brief period at the University of Alabama Aquatic Center. I really enjoyed swimming but, times being what they were, I didn't stick with it (let's face it, it's difficult to fathom swimming at night during winter, even though it's all inside and heated and comfortable-like).

As part of this endeavor I acquired a few necessary items: silicon ear plugs, goggles, and a Master Lock to keep in my "swim bag." These days I often go to my gym to do 45 minutes of treadmill during my lunch hour, and discovered the Master Lock in my bag and thought, "Why not lock your valuables up as opposed to risking theft?" So I began dialing away at the lock and, of course, that recurring dream of being at my locker in high school and not recalling the unlock combination became a reality. I was disappointed, and nearing the point of tossing the lock to buy a new one. But I had a hard time doing that when I had a perfectly good lock, so I went on the Master Lock website and learned I could, indeed, request the combination since my lock had a serial number on the backside.

Of course, I had to take photographs, complete an affidavit and, no kidding, have it notarized, but they did comply and 4 weeks later, my combination arrived in the mail. The second I saw it I was like "Oh, of course! How could I forget ye oh combination of just 2 even numbers strung together in nearly a palindrome?" To avoid a repeat of this mentally taxing episode, I delegated retention of the combination to Mary Alice. Long live Mary Alice!

Disclaimer: If you're reading this as a Note on Facebook, it's because my blog - located at - feeds directly into my Facebook account. Majikal, right? Point being, if I link a YouTube video or other graphics it may not show up. For your fully-integrated Robby Johnson user experience, visit Let the beat hit 'em, y'all!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cool Dishes

I love me a bargain. Even though I didn't need new dishes, I happened upon these during a recent jaunt through Bed Bath & Beyond. I went in for Brita water pitcher filters and new brushes for my Oral B Professional Care toothbrush and happened by a clearance rack in the middle of an aisle, where they'd apparently busted up these "sets," into singly-priced items. Long story short, I got a set (4 each) for $28. Pretty good considering it's listed at $89.99 here, right?

Disclaimer: If you're reading this as a Note on Facebook, it's because my blog - located at - feeds directly into my Facebook account. Majikal, right? Point being, if I link a YouTube video or other graphics it may not show up. For your fully-integrated Robby Johnson user experience, visit Let the beat hit 'em, y'all!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


This is the pic I was searching for yesterday. Now that I have
conquered blogging by email, I can share (I have it on my phone for
some reason but can't find it elsewhere.) This is Maddie at 8 weeks
old. And scene ... I promise no more dog pictures.

Cholesterol Screening

Right, so, I'm off to have my cholesterol panel pulled first thing this morning. I have to drive to Hoover, which takes me about 45 minutes, as that's where my doctor is based. Despite common lore passed down from generation to generation, my blood is not nectar drawn from Hawaain hibiscus jungles and I do, indeed, struggle with maintaining my numbers. Typically my HDL ("good" protein) is low, my LDL ("bad" protein) is borderline to high, and my triglycerides ("blood fat") is almost always high. 
     Occassionally they'll be within a more normal range, but never are they stellar. I am not keen on the idea of being medicated so really work at diet and exercise, but considering I had french vanilla cake batter at 11:30 last night, am not optimistic today's numbers will be fantastic. I do, however, accept responsibility for that and let me just say, for the record, I would do it again. Oh I would. I will. 
     Visit the American Heart Association to learn more about cholesterol screening and guidelines.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mobile Maddie Blog

Now let's see if the mobile blog works!

Ramping Up, Y'all

I am now posting using a newer editor and am excited because apparently it let's you drag your pics to places where you want them - not where they decide they want to be. Here's another picture of Maddie. In just a sec I'm also going to send a post via my iPhone to test the Mobile Blogging feature. I am going to send blogs next week when I'm in England, with quite a few from Burghley.


August 25, 1999

Happy birthday Maddie! I can't believe you're 10 years old. I can't believe I'm geeky enough to celebrate your birthday but honestly, you're like a child to me. I remember the day I bought you - compulsively of course and not planning at all to have a dog - and you were just a little 8 week old terrier-lette. You have probably been more places than most people and you only make me happier and happier as time passes. What a lucky person I was to inherit such a great dog.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pimp My Burghley

In case I've not said it 100 times already, I'm going to Burghley y'all! Yeehaw! And instead of my typical Robby Packing Method (tm) which involves taking everything I own or, when being strategic, everything that I think is cute, I'm attempting to streamline so as not to have 6 bags.

Here's the current 10-day forecast in London. It might be cooler in Stamford. It might be warmer. Who knows? But it does appear it will be essentially the same around the clock.

Because the Burghley in my head includes hanging out with Madonna and lesser royalty, we've purchased Membership passes, which suggests "smart dress." And since I'm more Remy Ma tryin'a match my thong to my Pumas, I'm at a loss for how to comply. My friend Rob is English and will be attending with me and he has all of these code words for "morning jackets" and "day shirts."

I have no idea what that means but if you think I'm wearing a suit to a horse show, you're thinking different than me. I have a khaki cotton blazer and, of course, several options where khaki trousers are concerned. As long as I can wear my Blundstone's or Dubarry boots, I think I'll be fine. But if there are suggestions, please proffer. I don't want to look like a big blingy American or, worse, a commoner!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


My little conchita is having a Big Day today ... Laura Catherine is turning 26! When a person walks into your life on a cold winter night and the first thing you think is "coconut rum in St. Thomas, where I bought a platinum bracelet" because their very presence makes you feel warm, happy, and ultimately content, you know they're a keeper and your life is better because they've appeared.

I love you LCS! I hope every day of year Y Two Six is a journey where you're afforded the opportunity to warm hearts and inspire just by being you. Thank you for making my life so much better.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Habanero II

It has taken me 3 years to muster up the courage to deal with a habanero pepper again. My first experience was harrowing, what with pepper oil on my fingertips burning my skin everywhere I unknowingly touched, and by the time I figured it out it was entirely too late. Thankfully I have surgical gloves and a really keen sense of self-preservation so I've avoided scalding the corners of my eyes and underneath my nose but the day is young ... let's hope I didn't leave a habanero trail on cabinetry, utensils, etc. It's the gift that keeps on giving.

My co-worker who grew them the last time just planted one bush this year, and shared a cadre of produce yesterday: bell pepper, jalapeno, chile, banana pepper, and butternut squash. I had half a red onion in the fridge so I diced it with some of the peppers and am making a big pot of navy beans.

I always saute the onion in a little EVOO, then add the pre-soaked beans to the pot, bring to a boil, simmer an hour or so, then place in the crockpot on low for the rest of the day. I also added some GOYA tomato base to this pot so we'll see how they turn out. If I steam a little brown rice I can pretend like I'm in Puerto Vallarta while I watch Miami Social tonight!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Family Affair

I had always hoped one of my nieces or my nephew would express an interest in riding. I was thrilled when it was the youngest.

I took this picture over a month ago when I'd gone to the barn in Mobile to visit WF. My niece wanted to go and I had no idea we'd a.) luck into a sweet little horse in need of attention and b.) she'd actually want to sit on him (hence the fact she's in shorts and not breeches!).

Her nature is somewhat reluctant, and I didn't think she'd be so eager, yet I'd barely gotten little Ben lined up at the mounting block before she climbed on him, all by herself, and off we went! His owner has a daughter who had ridden at one point, so my niece has benefitted from a lot of loaner apparel and equipment. What a blessing, as anyone who rides can attest: horses are expensive and nothing is more difficult to stomach than the excess left behind when a passion for horses plays out as more of a passing fancy.

Not just because she's my niece, but from an objective perspective, she really has an amazing gift. Her body is built to ride, with long legs and a short waist (like her mother's), and she's a master tactician, like her father. To be 9 years old, she's not only capable of accepting instruction and challenging herself with the concept of properly holding the reins, but what little bit we've done with her has been practiced and retained at a very impressive level.

If she pursues it, I'll be more than elated. But if she doesn't, that's OK too. We've been able to share something that will not soon be forgotten, and that has mattered more to me than the actual time in the barn.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Problem Solver

There are certain aspects of my life which, when compromised, threaten to shake the very foundation upon which I exist. Think earthquake, followed immediately by tsunami. Examples include: the introduction of massage music to any scenario - it should be taken out back and shot; running out of coffee (put simply, the deal's off the table); and losing access to my phone contacts.

I got an iPhone 3GS this week and activated it Tuesday night at, oh, 12:30 a.m. It's been fun getting to know it, but I'd been syncing my contacts on my other phone with my Groupwise at work. Or so I thought. Long story short - most of them where still in GW but it hadn't updated in nearly a year, so I spent a few hours Wednesday morning manually updating from the old phone to ensure I didn't lose anyone's number. Put it simply, if you're on "my list," you're important. All 348 of you. And I haven't memorized a phone number in probably 10 years (Clive Owen's personal assistant's laundry service not included).

Normally this syncing thing wouldn't be a big issue, I would just work it out with our IT guys but the iPhone has presented some unique challenges to our network and a recent upgrade of the syncing software went astray, leaving my new iPhone with no contacts. I've been wandering the desert. Fortunately I had an address book and was able to export in VCard Format, and while pondering scenarios aloud with my network admin, he (also an iPhone user) mentioned bringing the address book into Google and thought I could access my contacts that way.

So I did. And it was good. And I merged contacts and got it all cleaned up nice and proper-like, then got Gmail (not my primary mail but thinking I will be migrating) on the iPhone, then started trying to figure out "how to." Not surprisingly, I did a search and stumbled upon an app. "Sync In A Blink," will sync iPhone and Gmail contacts and let me just say, it was the best $4.99 I have spent. Within 2 minutes I went from having a really fancy horse tacked up in the barn aisle but foggy on how to ride to galloping down to the Huntsman's Close.

Prepare for total iPhone domination, y'all!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Well Hello There!

Things I have learned in life: 1.) When given the opportunity, girls will claim the creature comforts for themselves, so if you really want the shower cap in a hotel, you'd better say so 2.) there are always 5 pounds to lose and 3.) Australians possess a mutated drunk gene which gives them legendary superhero drunk powers. Witnesseth:

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - An extremely drunk, naked man lost his way at a New Zealand hotel and ended up sleeping in the wrong room, forcing its female occupant to hide in the bathroom, local media reported.

The 29 year-old Australian man had gone back the hotel in the resort town of Queenstown with a woman, but got up in the night and wandered into a bedroom where a couple were sleeping.

"He was a bit surprised that there were two people in his room and he was butt naked," Sergeant Steve Watt of Queenstown police told the Southland Times.

As the intruder slept, the startled woman took refuge in the bathroom as her husband summoned hotel staff.

The man, who could not remember whom he had been with nor what room he had been in, and had no clothes or wallet.

Police gave him a ride home clad in a hotel bathrobe, but let him off after the guests and hotel decided not to press charges.

"It was far too funny," said Watt.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bridge Over River Black

This morning I took an action on something I've wanted to do for awhile - ride my Pee Wee Herman bike over the river bridge to the farmer's market REALLY early (it opens at 6 a.m.). And after watching "Food, Inc." the other night - get ready folks, I've found some purpose and this is going to be big for me - I decided to stop thinking and start doing.

Nothing says humid like August in Alabama, so I was glad I had on my new Prana climbing knickers, even though they were soaked by the time I got there. I am fairly sure I will have a raging case of poison ivy since I opted to get onto the pedestrian/bike lane via the stair access below the bridge as opposed to riding up the levee and, surprise of all surprises, that stairwell is covered in vines and weeds. Seriously, I was looking for a troll.

All things considered, it was a 40-minute outing. My friend Johnny had his booth set up and I bought 3 golden zucchini, 3 Japanese eggplant, and a pound of fresh okra which I'm going to grill tonight. I cruised around the other booths and the produce looked really good. I am going again Thursday morning.

Who needs spin class when you've got your manual bike, hills, and fresh produce to score?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Food, Inc.

I am very thankful my friend Carli (read her blog linked here) invited me to attend the screening of "Food, Inc.," with her last night. Words I can think of to describe my reaction to the film include stunned, repulsed, angry, duped, and disgusted. I highly recommend visiting the official site and, if possible, finding a way to see the documentary. It will change the way you look at food.

Official Food, Inc. Movie Site - Hungry For Change? - Trailer and Photos

Fortunately there are good people making a difference at the local level and I am anxious to learn more about their efforts and determining how I might assist. I am also going to write letters to my senators today. I have never been so moved to insist upon radical policy change as I am about the machine that is food production in the United States.

I actually haven't pulled up my tomato plants yet (new blooms so let's ride them out and see where they go) but I am definitely determining what I can plant for fall/winter and am not sure I can visit a grocery store again.

Friday, August 07, 2009

The Hours

As mentioned yesterday, I've been floating around this summer in a sea of static. It's been my interpretation of relaxation and fun, much needed of course, but in the process I've suspended reading for pleasure and today that shall be remedied via a visit to the Tuscaloosa Library.

I like using GoodReads to maintain a queue of books I hope to read, as well as connect with friends to share suggestions, critiques, etc. Search for me there if you're so inclined.

My friend Patricia, whom I love, respect and admire greatly, once mentioned "The Hours" was a book she couldn't live without reading and admittedly, I was very taken with the film adaptation. It, along with "Les Miserables" has been on my 2009 list of reads, so I think I'm going to tackle it and see where it leads me.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Fading Away

(Standard disclaimer: read my blog at

Where my blog is concerned, I feel like that song by Will To Power, ca. 1988, called "Fading Away." OK, honestly, I just wrote that sentence then headed over to YouTube because I still think "Maybe YouTube will have it," when, in fact, YouTube has everything ever captured on audio, video, or somewhere in between. It's like the duct tape of recorded memory. And now I'm happy because nothing says "Oh God, the 80's," like this video.

I don't even know where to begin. There's her hair. There's his hair. There's that boat which I think is supposed to lend a really luxury feel to the treatment but, as anyone raised on the Gulf Coast should realize, appears to be a fishing vessel. And that's what they look like to me. People who go fishing.

You should know I am not hating on people who go fishing because some of my most favorite memories include tying off to an oil rig and catching king mackerel with my sister and brother-in-law while we irresponsibly drank beer and then belted out Tears for Fears "Shout," as we sped the boat in before dark. Good times indeed.

"What does this have to do with Pandacam?" I hear you asking. Nothing. I actually was going to share a story about the fifth giant panda cub being born at the San Diego Zoo. I love me some San Diego Zoo, and I love me some wildlife preservation and conservation, so I thought I would help spread a little good news for a change.

And that brought me to the crux of my fading away feeling. I tend to share all of this stuff over on Facebook and maybe am not as invested in original thought as I'd like (and need) to be. I will work on that.