August 30, 2007

Opa! is Definitely Worth Checking Out

Another blogger outing to a local Tacoma restaurant resulted in full and satisfied stomaches I'm happy to report.

Jen noticed Opa! opened their doors August 24th and organized a blogger meetup last night for dinner. Never one to pass up good Greek food I happily agreed and sat down with Jen, Kevin, Sarah, and Joe for an excellent meal.

Service was extremely quick from our appetizers to our meal. Drinks came immediately (Kevin - a Fanta? Seriously?) and we settled in to eat. We ordered a selection of four dipping sauces and were impressed by most except the hummus, which I noticed sat untouched by most after the initial dip. The Tzatziki was excellent, as was the Skordalia (potato-garlic dip) and we all enjoyed the Tirokafteri (Feta cheese, olive oil, lemon and herbs) as well. The pita was served hot and delicious.

When our meals arrived we dug in with gusto. Sara and I both ordered Myzithra spaghetti which was fantastic. I had never tasted myzithra cheese before and absolutely loved it. I highly recommend it, but plan on taking a box home with you - my stomach was full long before my plate was empty. Jen and Kevin ordered lamb dishes - Jen a stew and Kevin chops - both of which were gorgeously plated and came with rice and potatoes tasting deliciously of lemon.

Joe was the only one to clean his plate, having ordered a chicken dish. You can see Kevin's shots of him digging in here, and the aftermath here. Well done Joe!

I ordered the strawberry cheesecake for dessert and Sarah and Kevin split the white chocolate baklava. The menu states that the desserts are all fresh and homemade, but they taste like they come straight out of a freezer box at a mass produced warehouse. The only disappointment of the night.

The was a bit of a surprise when the check came. I thought the total was a bit high so I looked over the check closely and noticed that there was a gratuity already added. It seemed odd to add a gratuity for serving just 5 people, so that's something they may want to reconsider. Either make your customers aware that this is the practice in your restaurant or do away with it since it's not customary.

For a place that's only been open for 5 days, Opa! was bustling with customers and has a good feeling. The owner came out and bussed our table and said hello, which was nice. The menu has a lot of choose from, if you don't want Greek food you can have lots of other "fusion" options. Our waitress was funny and friendly, the atmosphere was nice, and I will definitely be making a return to Opa! in the future.

Posted by Ensie at 09:57 AM | Comments (150) | TrackBack

August 22, 2007

Mmm...mmm...Mary's Burger Bistro

We've officially reached the point where blogs are controlling people's mealtime habits in Tacoma. Kevin will point us in a direction and say, "EAT" and people will show up and eat they will!

Today the designated hot spot was Mary's Burger Bistro on Pacific. They opened their doors bright and early for breakfast, but Frinklin and joined in for the noon rush hour, and holy crap, was it busy!

We met up with so many well known Tacoma bloggers I hardly need to name them. Head over to feed tacoma and pick anyone you want and they were likely there. Reviews are up all over the place. I sat with Frinklin and Jen, Kevin, Sarah, and met Todd for the first time. I also spotted Joe (with a fancy new blog) and Michael of Red Hot Tideflats fame. And I had the luck to meet Tacoma Chickadee in person finally. It appears that even Ed of Ed's Diner made an appearance today.

The atmosphere was festive when we arrived at noon, and the line was out the door. The folks behind the counter were jumpin'. It took about a half hour to order, but we entertained ourselves by meeting new people and munching on the free cookies that were handed out (great cookies, BTW!). Once our food was ordered came the long wait. And long wait it was. Our food took about an hour to come, but we chalked it up to working out the kinks and there was very little grumbling. Free cookies continued to keep the troops happy.

Frinklin proclaimed his BBQ onion burger "great" and happily inhaled it. Unfortunately mine resembled more of a burnt hockey puck. When I pointed out my disappointing burger to Mr. Mary, he immediately swept away the hockey puck and moments later an enormous MIGHTY BURGER was thrust into my mits. Piping hot and deliciously adorned, the MIGHTY BURGER was perfection in burger form. The fries were fantastic and I left mighty satisfied.

The general consensus is that the food is good, operations are still working the kinks out, but overall everyone left feeling full and happy.

Posted by Ensie at 04:11 PM | Comments (29) | TrackBack

August 21, 2007

Free Book Challenge Winners!

The Free Book Challenge Winners have been chosen!

The winner of Advice to Writers: A Compendium of Quotes, Anecdotes, and Writerly Wisdom From a Dazzling Array of Literary Lights Compiled and Edited by Jon Winokur is Eden of so anyway.... Eden wrote an amazing start to a memoir that I hope she'll continue at some point. That is one memoir I'm already dying (hee) to read. Eden, please email me your address and the book will be in your hands in just a few days.

Heather at Hamster Boy won the Slummy/Yummy Mummy Challenge. She's a slummy AND a yummy mummy. Kick ass! Heather, send me an e-mail at and the book Slummy Mummy by Fiona Neill is on it's way to you!

No one e-mailed me about Mister Pip, so he'll recirculate into the pile to be given away later, or maybe he'll go our into the world of bookcrossing.

Keep your eyes peeled for a new Free Book Challenge in the near future!

Posted by Ensie at 02:16 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 20, 2007

Wii Have Been Converted

I totally blame Kevin and Sarah.

But now that the blaming is over, we're having a blast. You can read the sumarized version of how we came to own a Wii this weekend. The slightly expanded version is that we played around with Sarah and Kevin's on Saturday night and by Sunday afternoon we were playing around with our own.

The gaming console is tiny and takes up almost no room. It's shockingly simple to set up and even more easy to use. There are no complicated manuals and walkthroughs to play the Wii Sports game that come with the system (yes, you heard that right Playstation and XBox fans - FREE GAME). There is the simple wireless remote ("wiimote") that is super cool and minimalist. And there is the idea that anyone can use this gaming system from the very young to the very old and have a good time doing it.

Frinklin and I are having much fun beating the crap out of each other at various games and sports. We picked up a few other games including the Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess and Wii Play. Wii Play may go back to the store as a trade in, but Zelda has proven to be pretty cool.

In addition to the games, Wii also includes a news channel with the latest in national and international headlines, global weather, and photos. It's like a web browser within in your gaming console. I've found myself using the Wii in the morning instead of the computer to read the latest news and check the weather.

If you're thinking about getting a Wii I highly recommend it. I'm hoping the next positive thing to come from this will be weight loss. I was on my feet for a good three hours today playing tennis, bowling, and boxing and I'm exhausted!

Posted by Ensie at 07:39 PM | Comments (35) | TrackBack

August 17, 2007

I Am a Hot Dog Wuss

Joining up with several other bloggers on Wednesday at the brand new Tacoma eatery The Red Hot turned into an excellent evening of great food and good company. Frinklin was, of course, in attendance. Kevin and Sarah were both there. Mr. In-Tacoma himself. And a representative of This Shirt Is Pants. Frequent commenter (start a blog already!) Erik was there, as was Sparkrobot (buy his house!).

Special message to Angela and Steve - get a website...everyone's doing it.

There was definitely a festive feeling in the air upon our arrival at six, and the place was already busy. The bartender recommended the Woodchuck Pear Cider which went down well on such a warm day (not recommended if you're looking for something strong - it's more like a soft drink). I started a tab and ordered a couple of appetizers for the table.

Consensus on the apps is that they were OK - not recommended for large groups, but we hardly paid anything for them, so no great loss. Everyone ordered something different. Michael ordered the Tideflats which has absolutely everything on it. He wins the award for bravery 'cause I know my stomach would have put up a serious fight over that thing.

I had the Chicago dog minus the onions, peppers, and tomato. I KNOW OK! I KNOW. What kind of Chicago dog is that? But I wanted the poppyseed bun. Essentially I had a dog with mustard and relish and it was delish! Whatever neon green relish is used - it's the best I've ever tasted. Absolutely amazing.

Kevin's dog had cream cheese on it which sounds weird, but tasty. I'm branching out in that direction next time. Frinklin said the sour kraut was great, as was the slaw.

After three dogs, the cider, water, a root bear, and the two appetizers our grand total was $20.25. Practically nothing!

This could become a regular thing. Thanks Chris!

Posted by Ensie at 02:57 PM | Comments (223) | TrackBack

August 14, 2007

Free Book Challenge!

It's that time again! That time when I go through my ever-cluttered office and find loads of free books that I will never read and offer them to you, my small band of loyal readers and the slightly larger group of random people who will possibly stumble across this site through pure accident.

I have the following available for give aways this week:

Advice to Writers: A Compendium of Quotes, Anecdotes, and Writerly Wisdom From a Dazzling Array of Literary Lights Compiled and Edited by Jon Winokur (in hardcover). To win this item, please post on your own blog the first paragraph of your own autobiography and link that entry to this one. E-mail me the link to your blog at so I can pick a winner, who will receive this item free, all postage paid!

First entry is up!

Eden at so anyway... is off to a strong start. Think you can do better? E-mail me your linked entry and I'll check it out!

The next free item is Slummy Mummy by Fiona Neill. To receive this title, please compose a blog entry and link back to this post about why you are a slummy mummy or a yummy mummy. No preference will be given to either slummies or yummies, however, the vehemence with which one chooses to defend one's position will be taken into account. Again, the book will be sent, free of charge, all postage paid.

And Hamster Boy's Heather is takin' on the Slummy/Yummy Mummy Challenge. Think you can take her? Bring it.

And lastly, I have one copy of Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones. Be the first one to e-mail me with the subject "Mister Pip" and your name and address in the e-mail and I'll send it right out to you. No work needed.

I will link to everyone who enters to share the link love. I love giving away free books, and will giving free books away regularly on bothhands going forward.

You may enter as many times as you wish, although e-mailing multiple times may irritate the judge.

Posted by Ensie at 02:01 PM | Comments (57) | TrackBack

August 12, 2007

The Red Hot August 15th

Kevin Freitas and his lovely wife Sarah, along with a couple of friends will be joining Frinklin and myself for dinner at The Red Hot on Sixth Avenue for dinner on Wednesday, August 15th at 6PM. According the the blog of the owner of The Red Hot, Beer and Hot Dogs, they will opening their doors on that lovely day.

Who can resist beer and hot dogs?

Every time I pass The Red Hot my mouth waters with antici.......pation (3:33). Hope to see you there!

Posted by Ensie at 10:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 11, 2007

Everyone's Favorite Game! Hot Search Topics!

My hits have been up lately. I used to get all my hits from three things. Jude Law, Harry Potter, and garbage disposal knock out plugs. However, things have expanded as of late. Lets see what's been going on.

· What looks good on a fat bridesmaid will take you to this post about my nightmarish (yet funny) experience looking for a matron of honor dress for my sister’s wedding. Luckily enough, I describe what I think looks pretty good on a fat bridesmaid. Hope it helped.

· Freakish boobs shoots you off to what is the my number on comment generating post. I have 22 comments on this post, most of which are long narratives about people's various boob situations. I described what it's like to have breasts on the larger side, other women let me know what it's like to have breasts of the smaller or larger side. I always wonder what exactly the person searching for "freakish boobs" is looking for. Do they think their boobs are freakish and they want someplace they can share and be understood, or are they wanting some kinky wack-a-doo porn?

· For the person who is searching for propane leak stove, I sincerely hope that they were doing so from the safety from a computer outside of their own home, unlike I did when I wrote this post. I know I could smell propane, and better safe than sorry, the gas was turned off for two days. And we were charged for having The Boonies Propane Company come out to check! Asshats!

· Someone decided to search for adulteress and came across the story of my lunch with another man while our waitress kept an eye on me for Frinklin.

· I commiserate with anyone who needs to search for strained chest muscles, because they suck. It took forever to recover from them, and I wrote about them more than once.

Posted by Ensie at 05:29 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

August 10, 2007

International Ensie Day!

Happy Birthday to Meeee!
Happy Birthday to Meeee!
Happy Birthday to Ensie!
Happy Birthday to Meeeeee!

I'll be celebrating by going out to Joeseppi's (did someone say birthday tiramisu?!) tonight with Frinklin and the In-laws. Thanks so much to Kevin and Sarah for doing drinks and dinner last night. It was tons of fun, even as we discovered they are just better looking, younger versions of Frinklin and myself.

Posted by Ensie at 09:37 AM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

August 09, 2007

Boss Hating 101

I've always been really lucky with bosses. It's true that I haven't worked at that many jobs, and most of them have been rather…different. My resume starts off a little bumpy before settling into one job for the last ten years, something that most Gen Xers aren’t supposed to do. No one ever had to tell me to get a job, I begged my parents to allow me to get my first job, created my second, and searched out my third.

1993 – 1994 Tutor
· Assist middle school students with English assignments
1993 – 1996 Horse Clipper Extraordinaire
· Shave horses as needed in winter and late spring
· Sounds like a crazy job but I made $25/horse plus tips or $15 an hour and I was good at it
1994 – 1994 Stable Hand
· Feed and look after 20+ horses on small farm
· I shocked myself by asking for $17 dollars an hour when I was negotiating for the job, and getting it! I only worked a couple of hours a day.
1994 – 1997 Unit CounselorCamp Winacka Girl Scout Camp
· Look after kids, lifeguard, crafts, riding instructor, hike, etc.
· Became a lesbian in spare time
· This job was pivotal in changing my thinking about everything in life. If there is one period in my life I could relive just to experience it, this is it.
· Unit Leader in 1997, left early due to mononucleosis
1995 – 1996 Super Pets (bought out by Pet Co shortly after I left) Sales Associate
· Care, feed, clean, sell, and train domestic and exotic birds (we even had toucans!) at large pet store
1997 – current Bob’s Hogs and Weiner Pigs
· Many different jobs including the one I do now

Anywhoo – throughout this time, I’ve either been my own boss, or I’ve had really great bosses. I could go on and on about Osa, the Camp Director at Winacka, who taught me so much by saying so little. I was at one of the most confusing times of my life (lesbian? good Christian girl?) and she dealt with it so well. She had to deal with half of the counselors pretty much having that issue. In retrospect, taking us all down to Tijuana and getting us drunk probably wasn’t the best way to deal with it, but it certainly allowed us to let our true feelings show.

Or Ginny, my manager at one Bob’s Hogs location who helped woo me to another location with her and then when I left again for other reasons was smart enough to see that I wasn’t happy and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse (not that way you dirty birds). She pushed me gently in the direction I needed to go to move forward on my career path, forcing me to advance without my even knowing it. Growing my skills and abilities and allowing me to challenge myself when I became bored with what I was doing. And I loved her kindness and friendliness and the fact that she let me do my own job while she did hers.

And then for a time I was terrified when I was offered a new position with all new territory and answered to the High Powered Boss of All Things I Do and I fell apart a bit. One has an outline of a position and a goal, and it’s my place to make up the points in between. Once I nailed that part down, the High Powered Boss of All Things I Do became more of a partner and I really got to like her.

And now there is Beet. To the best of my reckoning, all Beet does is sit around all day sending out crappy memos every so often telling us what great ideas other people are having. Sometimes he’ll ride a plane somewhere and then send us emails from that location. He’ll even title the e-mails “Thoughts from Phoenix” or some other such crap. You can see why the bullshit detecting antennae are immediately waving about.

Every Monday there is a conference call with Beet where we must start by unveiling some layer of ourselves that is personal and painful, such as what our childhood nickname was. I’ll be damned if I’m going to tell my work colleagues my true childhood nickname. Junior high school was a traumatic time for the best of us and I will not be known as space cow (internets, I am trusting you!) for the rest of my working life. So I throw out the name a roommate used for me in my early twenties, but I can feel the old nickname there, heavy on me for the rest of the call. When I met with another rep at work that had been on the call he confided that he had a terrible childhood and does not want to discuss that time at all, ever again. I can see tears in his eyes. This is bad, I think. Bad.

Next Monday I am asked to share what celebrity I most resemble. I panic. There is no celebrity that I most resemble. I am round. I am not angular and hollow like those women. No one has ever said to me that I look like a thin, starving woman that appears on stage, screen, and in tabloids. What do I say? I am quiet as others answer reluctantly or eagerly. I nod silently as the people I have met give their answers. One says, “The creature from the black lagoon” and everyone laughs. Beet says my name.

“No one.” I say. “I don’t look like anyone famous. I look like me.”

“Oh, you don’t want to play along that’s fine! That’s fine, Ensie!” yells Beet into the phone in front of 12 other people. “You’re just spoiling the game! It’s just an icebreaker!”

I’ve always had a hard time letting things go, especially criticism. I am unusually silent on this conference call and Beet calls me on it, stating that there are points given for participation, and inflecting a smarmy voice, “points taken for being silent!” The stew inside continues to boil and I say nothing except to argue with him occasionally.

I have tried and tried to find the good points of this man’s personality, but am having a difficult time. I thought maybe I was just jealous, he having gotten the job that might have been mine, had I a little more confidence or experience in management. But every day that he send another idiotic e-mail, or calls to ask for yet another update on a big sale that is confirmed but will not happen until late next month (“Still confirmed, still not happening until late next month, Beet.”), I wonder what this man is doing within the outline of his job description to make his goal.

And the haranguing just continues, “Justify your expenses!” Beet shrieks, “What is this $12.99 charge at Red Robin? Weren’t you in your OWN territory? Were you entertaining a client?” I explain that I was in a series of meeting hours from home and that I had taken a break for lunch, something I do once or twice month, something his boss had no problem with when she was my boss for several years. Beet pauses for a nanosecond, “Well, I spoke with the DIRECTOR and he specifically stated that you can no longer lunch ALONE on the company’s dime. Also, please look into you postage expenses and make sure that you are using your funds most EFFECTIVELY.”

The man speaks in capital letters.

I’ve spent hours on the phone with my Dad detailing the daily idiocy of Beet and how to deal with it. My Dad’s guidance has been great, except that he seems a little too anxious to guide me to quit my job (Well, if you don’t like it, you can always leave), which I know is always an option, but it’s not an option, if you know what I mean. He told me today that I could just start sending Beet a daily e-mail correcting his screw-ups. Because a) Beet requires a daily e-mail to correct his fuck ups (like “Hey Beet, today you stated that the book Loving Frank is an exclusive to Bob’s Hogs, but it’s so totally not, also, it is not an architecture book, it’s a novel”) and b) Beet would totally love it if I started correcting all his errors. Bosses love that kind of shit.

The problem really is, I love my job and I hate my boss.

I keep hoping that Beet secretly hates his job and all of us who work for him too. He certainly acts like it. Maybe he’s looking for another job. I hope so.

Posted by Ensie at 05:04 PM | Comments (38) | TrackBack

August 06, 2007

Sicko and the Health Insurance Industry Evil

Frinklin and went to a showing of Sicko at The Grand Cinema last night. Initially Frinklin wanted to see The Simpsons Movie tonight, but I wasn't in the mood for the ginormous multiplex, so I talked him into the health insurance documentary instead...what?

Little did I know I'd end up in hysterical tears on the way home, sitting in front of the house yelling, "And they're all evil! Evil!!" While my husband grasped at what the appropriate response would be to this statement.

This is your typical Michael Moore movie. In turns dramatic and funny, over the top and obvious. Hillary Clinton is the "sexy, sassy" bombshell wife of President Bill Clinton who brings the idea of Universal Health Care to the uneducated masses and when the idea fails is never allowed to mention it again. George W. Bush is seen as a bufoon and the Republican Congress is easily bought by the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

Canada, England, France, and Cuba have Socialized medicine and therefore have superior health care than the U.S. Which, after watching not just this movie, but other documentaries and reading pieces on medicine in other countries, I am inclined to agree with. As someone who is seriously wanting to start a family soon it kills me to hear the expectant mother in the UK state that all new moms get six months paid maternity leave and another six months optional unpaid leave. And in France you get a nanny to assist with laundry and meals twice a week, it's mandatory to take at LEAST five weeks vacation each year, and doctors make house calls. Did I mention it's all free? Those crazy French.

The harder parts of the film are the insurance denial horror stories. The woman with the haunted eyes that tells the story of her husband who died of liver cancer while the insurance company denied treatment over and over again. "Experimental treatment" they claimed, month after month as his doctor tried valiantly to find something that would fall under the banner of "conventional" treatment. When the doctor found a bone marrow donor that matched perfectly and declared it his last chance, the insurance company denied that too. The woman pled her case in person in front of the insurance board who condemned her husband to die for no good reason. Whoops - there was one good reason - money.

Or the story of the baby with a deadly feaver insured by Kaiser Permanente who was brought to the wrong hospital - MLK in Los Angles - a place infamous to those in Southern California (I used to listen to LA radio and hear about how many people they would kill every month). Kaiser insisted that the baby needed to be taken by car to the nearest Kaiser hospital for treatment while the mother begged that the baby be admitted and receive treatment immediately. While the hospital, the insurance company, and the understandably hysterical mother argued, the baby was eventually moved, and died.

The movie ends with the much-talked-about trip to Cuba with 9-11 rescue workers and a number of other people. Initially they plan to go to Guantanamo Bay to get the same health care as the "evildoers", but abort that plan when alarms go off as they get close. They end up at the Cuban hospital instead where everyone appears to receive the treatment they need, free of charge.

What really got to me about this movie are the people who sit on high in the insurance companies denying claims for no good reason other than to keep the money in the hands of their company. There is a woman who testifies before Congress that in order to move up in the health insurance industry, she had to deny claims, and it is further discussed that saving the company the most money would win you a bonus within the company.

This is a seriously fucked up system. A very evil system.

It is truly evil to allow people to pay you, to allow them to think that they are paying you to protect them when they are at their most vulnerable - potentially dying from a terrible disease, or that their loved ones are dying from a horrible disease, when all the time you are looking for ways to undermine and destroy them. There is an entire system in place to ensure that your benefits are not paid, or if they are paid, that they are returned to the insurance company at a later date, and that you will be retroactively billed. Or that you will be dropped from the insurance company for making a claim.

I can't help but think what would I do if Frinklin were hurt or dying, and the insurance company that we have, that he works for, were to screw us in such a horrible way. Oh, the pain I would rain down upon them...

Universal Health Care Now!

Posted by Ensie at 08:26 AM | Comments (27) | TrackBack

August 05, 2007

KOMO TV Blogger Meetup Happens

Because Kevin eats, sleeps, and breathes computers, he blogged about this event hours after it actually happened, however, I'm just now getting to it a few days later. I had some important, uh, weekending to catch up on in the meantime.

Last Thursday evening, myself, Frinklin, Jen,and Kevin traveled to the KOMO televison studios to attend a blogger meetup for the Seattle area. After scaring the bejesus out of everyone in the car a couple of times and taking a few wrong turns we managed to arrive safe and sound.

There were a good 75 bloggers present and the mingling was excellent. I met several new folks who I may never have run across in the blogosphere otherwise, and I hope to share a cup of coffee with in real life in the future. We also ran into Derek, and had a lovely time chatting it up Tacoma-style.

I know you're going to be jealous of this - but we go to take our picture in the Northwest Afternoon studio, and then we go to play a bit at the KOMO Anchor Desk and the green screen for weather. Somewhere there are shots of Jen and I doing the green screen weather thing. I even made it into the shot on the Seattle PI Big Blog (along with 20 other people, but still!). Since I'm anonymous, you'll just have to take my word for it. Although if you look at all of Kevin's pix, you'll eventually work it out. Although you'd have to be a really obsessed fan (or really pissed off supervisor of mine) to care that much.

After the meetup, the Tacoma bloggers sans Derek had a yummy dinner at the Cheesecake Factory downtown. We had a great time getting to know one another and I'm looking forward to spending time with them again!

Posted by Ensie at 03:15 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack