Charlottes Web Blog




February 2007



February 1, 2007

Last night was the finale for Top Chef season 2. What a disappointment! I posted a comment to their blog; because it was my first time posting, they have to "review" it. Tsk. I'll post it here then.

To the judges and producers of Top Chef last night's finale was not only a disappointment, but has influenced my decision to not watch Season 3, and in fact, convince enough people that they too should not waste their time.

I followed the show with interest, watching some interesting chefs practice their craft in hopes of being named the Top Chef.

What is a Top Chef? I haven't yet been able to determine exactly what you, the judges and producers, consider such to be. I have my own feeling on such an esteemed position. One key factor is that a Top Chef would be someone others can look up to and admire, not only his or her skill, but his or her character as well; in a word: PROFESSIONALISM. Other elements would include the desire and motivation to learn new ideas and attempt to implement them. While chefs generally have their particular specialty, cooking exactly the same things exactly the same way leads to a very bored customer. When I find a place whose chef is fabulous, I don't want to always to have the same taste sensations; I like to be happily surprised.

Most of the contending chefs I predicted would be knocked off in fact were, though at times not as soon as I thought they should have been, and at times sooner than I thought they should.

As the final group was formed, I saw a clique that started out relatively small, grow larger, with a central theme: "Hate Marcel." Now came the departure from the focus of cooking and enter college frat pranks.

It was not surprising that night, when Elia showed her true colors and made the decision that she needed to be a focal part of "The Cool Group" and abandon any friendliness toward Marcel. I could see her considering the options often, and it was obvious that she didn't want to be another outcast like Marcel, and her companionship with him would have resulted in exactly that. Bye Marcel. Hello Cool Group. Hey, let's shave our heads. Now let's shave Marcel's head.

I no longer saw responsible adults. Somewhere they disappeared and entered a group of malicious children, instigated by Ilan, urged on by Elia, and easily-manipulated Cliff with the brawn to pull it off. Certainly, Cliff deserved to be booted by his conduct there; Marcel could have easily been injured. But truly, Elia and Ilan should have also been asked to leave. Rather than attempt to stop Cliff, they incited him to keep going. Sam? Granted he did nothing to help, but he kept himself distant at the same time.

Needless to say, when Ilan was chosen over Sam for the finale, to go head-to-head with Marcel, I felt a great injustice done to Sam. While I agreed that he went so safe that he actually didn't cook anything, a chef is not always "cooking" but rather, creating culinary delights. While you judges were quick to admonish Marcel and his use of foams almost all of the time, Ilan got away with cooking everything the same, the use of saffron in everything.

Not to mention Ilan's bulliness. That night he was ripping into Marcel while they were all cooking preparing for whatever meal it was, bringing up Marcel's sexuality was in one word: WRONG. Talk about a good sexual harassment suit! Kudos to Marcel for keeping his cool.

I was happily surprised at Sam's choosing to help Marcel; he showed his professionalism all of the time in the kitchen, putting aside his personal feelings to ensure that the dishes made were at their best. However, when Marcel chose Michael as well, I knew he was doomed.

Michael has historically been the one to be the least motivated to succeed, every criticism taken with a shrug of his shoulders. The only exception was that one time he was sucking vicodin after his tooth extraction. The fact that too, he and Ilan were pretty tight, should have alerted Marcel, but I also know that Marcel has this vision that every chef only wants to do what's good and right. Truthfully, I believe Michael set up Marcel to take the fall, purposely not packing items he knew were needed.

While as the Top Chef, Marcel's job was to bring everything together, I thought he did a great job. He sat down with his two Sous Chefs, detailed his menu plan. Did Michael forget this? Intentionally so. Did Michael sleepwalk his way through that four-hour preparation, only to say, "Marcel didn't tell us anything" bullcrap and expect that to be believed?

Marcel, as the head chef, has to bring it all together. It's a large job for one person. Thus the reason for Sous Chefs. Their responsibility is to ensure they know what they need and have what they need, and to make sure their chef is going to shine.

Michael failed miserably.

Sam did well and really worked to make sure Marcel did shine. I know that had to be difficult for him; he should have been in the competition — in Ilan's place.

And OH MY GOD, all the "I love you" garbage that was spewed between Ilan, Elia and Betty was nauseating! Okay, so I do think Ilan and Elia had an affair going hot and steamy toward the end of the show; except, how can Elia be a Christian and be engaged, and sleep with Ilan? Wait, there's a new show for Bravo: "Heat in the Kitchen". It was obvious Ilan picked those that would be eager to be on their knees to kiss the ass of the kitchen bully.

The meals were served and for me, Ilan's dishes, not only ripped from the menu of Casa Mono where he works, looked unimpressive and uninteresting. Marcel's dishes on the other hand, were vibrant and beautiful to look at. They made me want to reach through the television to try them myself. True, he missed the mark with the salad, but at least he dared to take a risk. Ilan was same ol' same ol' ho-hum.

I was reading all of the comments made by all of you judges, and compared them to what was said on the television by all of you and -- wow. You all said, in that dish in which Marcel had been missing the fish that was "accidentally" not packed, "This is great! It didn't need the fish! It's the best dish overall!" then turn around and say, "Well, Marcel failed the dish because it didn't have the fish…" HUH?

So, Ilan won. I'm glad I had no children with me watching the show. You taught a lesson that is incredulous: Being a bully makes you a winner.

Good job.

I believe, had you chosen Sam rather than Ilan for the finale, we would have seen two real chefs battling for that number one title.

Marcel, you can cook for me anyday. Ilan, I have no desire now to be a patron of any restaurant you work at.

Marcel, you're the real winner. You'll be a chef many will admire in the years that follow. Ilan will still be making Spanish food; perhaps Taco Bell will hire him.



February 2, 2007

Punxsutawney PhilWell, Punxsutawney Phil announced today that Spring will arrive early.

Which means, basically, this year, we had about a month of "real" winter -- and even that is debatable.

We were due for a "major" storm yesterday. The other "major" storms we have had either didn't happen or we had a flurry or two. Or rain. Wait. I apologize. We did have two mornings in which I had a whopping accumulation of maybe an inch. Which lasted all of my drive to work only to be gone by lunch time. This latest "major" storm? I had two snowflakes land on my windshield on the way to work.

It is supposed to be pretty cold though. Brutally cold. I hope so! I'd like to have winter a bit longer; I like the brisk cold. Not to mention, it keeps dead things like, mosquitos, pollen…

My blog comment is still not showing up on the Top Chef site. *chuckling* I guess I didn't pass their scrutiny.

Tomorrow I'll return to working on my site. For now, I'm going to sign off and play the newest game I'm hooked on: Okami.



February 5, 2007

I spent most of the weekend updating my webpages. I re-vamped my professional pages — again — but this time, I'm happy with the outcome. I've gotten a lot of compliments; whew.

Then I started tackling my personal pages. I'm not really going to re-vamp them, but they need to be updated. Additionally, I'm getting rid of the "Email Me" and replacing them with "Contact Me" with a PHP form script. I got the Rattt pages done, only to discover one of the links needs to be changed, but that'll be quick and painless. Then I have to do the same with my sci-fi/fantasy section. Once I'm done with that, I'm going to work on my "Back Fence" newsletter and make it live online again.

Oy. So much to do!

The PHP contact form script is EXCELLENT. Not only is it simple and easy, it's customizable and makes the pages look nicer. But the biggest reason is to counterattack the amount of spam coming in. No more having spammers scour source code; it's hidden!!

Once I finish the project of making only contact pages throughout my site, next comes the chore of managing my email accounts on my server, and make those which spammers already have into bounce-backs. Yep. Spam the spammer.

I'm doing very little-next to nothing as far as work for my regular job from home. Once in awhile I'll bring home PDF documents that need to be fixed up a bit, pages deleted, etc., in order to create master forms. However, that's mindless. Once in awhile I'll bring applications home to complete, but even then, I've cut back on. I spend enough hours at work, generally 9 hours and no real lunch break, that my time at home is just that.

So, how about this year's Super Bowl?! I like both the Bears and the Colts, so I was happy with the outcome. Grossman was playing pretty rotten last night, and Peyton was working his behind off, he deserved that ring. I didn't participate in this year's pool at work; I couldn't afford the $20 per square. My boss bought one for Marian. She won $1,000. Nice for her. That would have paid off my attorney and I could relax, but oh well. C'est la vie.

I've gone from spending $10-13 a day between breakfast and lunch to $1.50 to $5.00. Partially because I have to count my pennies and give most of them to the attorney before my court day coming up on the 22nd. $549 more to go; I just mailed off $450 to him this morning. Then after he's paid off, I have to pay Tony back for what he loaned me. I'm okay with that; he helped me when I needed and the money is technically going back into the household anyway.

On the plus side, I've lost almost 20 pounds since I started this diet!



February 9, 2007

The work week was a busy one — and my boss was gone for the better part of it! It was good, because at least I was able to get the work done. When he's around in the office too much, things get backed up. It drives me nuts and takes me out of rhythm. He's — scattered. And neither can I afford to be that way nor do I like to be — or feel — that way.

Now he's wanting Kim and I to do these marketing calls; 5 per week. Ugh. We both hate the idea. I don't mind being on the phone, making calls in order to get my work done. But telemarketing? That's just not my thing. Partially I think because I hate getting any sort of telemarketing calls. I don't like being pushed, and so, in effect, I'm not pushy on the telephone either if it has to do with making a sell. That's why I'm not the salesperson.

Not to mention, that when I started, there were two people doing the general office administration; me and Jason. Less than a year after I started, Jason quit and we've been going through a succession of trying to get replacements. It's been a nightmare. Despite all of his faults, Jason was the best assistant I've had. And with each new person that comes and goes, less and less is then administered to the next new person, and the work that Jason was doing has shifted to me. Basically, I'm doing the job that two people were doing; even then, Jason was part-time, working 30 hours a week and that at times wasn't enough. We're down to a 3-hour-a-week guy — when school allows.

Try to shove in those telemarketing calls somewhere in all that mix?


As each day passes, I feel my skills wasting away. To go from an office manager to a telephone marketing lackey leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

I think it's time to move onward and find something that will better allow me to use my skills before I lose them altogether. I come home after a long day at work, tired as heck, but will sit here at my computer and create bogus work utilizing programs that I don't use at work.

We have a thing called "e-relationships" which is an email system to send mass mailings to clients. My boss agreed to do one in January, an annual review checklist sort of thing. OMG. It was a garish nightmare! Discounting the loud obnoxious colors, it looked very juvenile. If I were a client, I definitely would not be impressed!

I heard a rumor too that MetLife is possibly sending some of its operations to India. Oh great!! Another American company taking food out of the mouths of its own people, and pay people in a 3rd world country 95% less in salary because they are hungry enough that $1.00 a day earnings was something to boast about. I wonder how our clients will feel about that.

Anyway, it's the weekend, and I'm back at work on my page renovations. I want to get my e-zine up and running first; I have some interesting design ideas for it. Once it's up and running, I'll do a mass-mailer to announce it's return.



February 14, 2007

Happy Snowy-Icy Valentine's Day!

I'm not a particular fan of this holiday. It should be every day that you show your loved ones that you love them, even in small ways. Gifts are not needed.

Two ChildrenI didn't get Tony anything, and I feel bad. I can't really afford it right now, and the weather complicated things. I'll get him something to surprise him with when he's not expecting it. For mine, he had me order what I wanted/needed from Victoria's Secret.

I didn't go into work today. It was a literal skating rink on the sidewalks this morning and getting out my back way was a ticket to sure death, between the sheet of ice covering the walkway and the (barely) 4-inch wide stairs to climb, also coated in ice …


Then out the front door, it's a (normal city) block-long steep hill downward, turn the corner and then climb an even steeper hill upward about half a (looooooooong city) block (maybe a bit more) up to even get to my car. Slipping, sliding, falling, breaking hips …

That's my fear these days. Breaking my hips. It's about one of my only real fears.

I still sweat bullets when I'm waiting to turn left and see traffic behind me, waiting until the last minute to change lanes because they aren't turning left. It's been 11-12 years since I got rear-ended but it's still one of my driving angsts.

It snowed last night — just a little — then changed to sleet during the night. We could hear the pellets bouncing on the A/C and windows. I got up, saw the mess, watched the news and — nope. I do not have a death wish. Bad vibes. Very bad vibes this morning and so I stayed home and worked. I made calls, typed up letters and such that I never have the chance to do at work because I'm always so busy.

After I got off "work" I went to work on my site. I'm almost done with my newsletter, The Back Fence. I'm pretty psyched about getting it up and running again. Then I was working on new ideas and decided to overhaul (again) my Gorean pages. They've got a clean look now, but … the new look is even cleaner I think.

Then I had to get some Okami in before I settled in for the night for some TV. Tony went to work and I thought some nice homemade tacos sounded good, but he wanted a light meal. Tomorrow night I'll make them. Or Friday.

Well, they're down to the 12 girls/12 boys for American Idol. I think the choices were right on. Except I feel bad for that one pretty girl, Baylie. She got a raw deal with those two bozo girls and had she gone with a different team, things may have worked out for her. But then again, there was nothing stopping her, when she went off to bed in her room, to spend time by herself learning the song. But having a team not work together and her having to listen to them bicker before they even started rehearsing, is enough to put anyone in the "what the hell" sort of mood.


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