Would you like a free ham with that?

"That'll be $101.19." said the cashier at bigg's Hyde Park (which is really in Oakley).

Drat. That was more than I had gotten out of the ATM - I'd have to use my credit card.

As I swiped it, the cashier's voice grew serious. "All right, now, let me explain something to you. When you sign there, my drawer's gonna pop open. When I shut it - since you spent more than 50 dollars ..."

I listened, rapt.

"... a coupon is gonna come out."

Whew. I was thinking I was going to have to make a run for it for some reason.

"And this coupon, if you get six of 'em, you can bring 'em in for a free ham," she continued.

"Really?" I said, getting kind of excited. "I could get a free ham?"

"Well, not at the deli," she said. "They show, like, a honey-baked ham on the coupon, so I'm hopin' that's what they'll give out."

"Well, thank you!" I said. "I would certainly like a free ham."

I practically skipped out of the grocery store, y'all. Hams are expensive, and I am one-sixth of the way to getting myself a free one.


Belated Valentine's Day update

Last year was my first-ever Valentine's Day in a relationship, so I asked for a flower.

Dear Mr. W responded with a dozen roses, delivered to my office with two tiny bottles of champagne.

This year, I didn't ask for anything, so I was pretty surprised when I got a call from the lobby saying I had a package ...

I think he went for orchids this year because they're harder to preserve. (I dried the roses from last year and kept them in my apartment for months, still in the vase. I finally threw them out after he started calling me Miss Havisham.)

That night, he picked me up in his AWD-mobile (because his parking lot was a sheet of ice, and he didn't want me getting stuck), and we went to Baba for delicious Indian food. On the way, he gave me another surprise gift - beautiful earrings to match the beautiful necklace he got me for Christmas.

And all I got him was a card and a bottle of cheap champagne. Clearly, I don't deserve him.


Sunday school lesson

When I was in eighth grade, a man named Timothy McVeigh was arrested. It was my mom's birthday - she has one of those unfortunate birthdays where terrible things happen, and then other terrible things happen because the perpetrators want to commemorate the previous terrible things.

A few weeks later, our CCD teacher passed out sheets of paper. (CCD is the Catholic version of Sunday school; it was offered through eighth grade in my parish. Most of the people I liked had already dropped out of CCD by this time, and it was apparent that the people who were still there were not happy about it. Perhaps one day I'll tell you about the Great Not-Saying-the-Lord's-Prayer Rebellion of 1995.)

The teachers, a married couple who clearly didn't think much of us snotnosed kids, had decided to keep us busy for 15 minutes by having us write letters to Timothy McVeigh. They explained his reasons for doing what he did, then told us they wouldn't be sending the letters, and we could use profanity if we liked. Looking back, I can see that they thought they were giving us a healthy outlet to express our anger.

The only problem was: I wasn't angry. I was an eighth-grader who didn't really follow the news and didn't know anyone within a thousand miles of Oklahoma City. Of course, I knew a lot of people had died, and I was sad about that, but somehow that sadness didn't translate into anger at the person who had caused it all. I was glad he had been caught and was in jail ... and that was pretty much it.

So my letter to McVeigh was polite and respectful, saying that I knew he was angry at the government, but that killing people was not the answer. It's possible that I suggested alternate courses of action, such as writing his congressperson.

When our time was up, one of the teachers read our letters aloud, omitting names and profanities by saying "blank." The first letter went something like, "You blank. You are a blanking blank, and I hope they kill you and you burn in blank for all eternity, you blank. Signed, Blank."

The second letter was similar - filled with blanking blanks. And so on, times 10 or 15.

Since I had been the last to turn in my letter, it was read last. I had used no profanity, so the only blank was at the end: "Sincerely, Blank."

I knew everyone could tell that had been my letter, and I felt humiliated. It was clear I hadn't understood the assignment. And to this day, I don't know whether my classmates wrote what they did because they genuinely felt that way, or because they were eighth-graders who were being given the leeway to swear in Sunday school.

Sorry for the long, strange story. I was just reminded of it by the letters Amanda Marcotte has been getting.


Love is in the air ...

... according to my WeatherPixie.

Unfortunately, so is, like, hail.

Happy, icy Valentine's Day, everybody.


Podcasts and pedometers (or Runnin' to Rehm)

Paul's post on Nike+iPod has got me thinking about running with my iPod again. I love the idea of my MP3 player letting me know how much time is left in my workout, even encouraging me.

But I don't think I can do Nike+, for a few reasons. I own a regular iPod, not a nano. I prefer Adidas for running because I have wide feet and I feel like they give me a bit more room in that respect. And Nike+ doesn't do quite enough for me to pay the money it would require. (You can find plenty of reviews out there that'll mention the system's shortcomings; if they come out with a heart monitor and a way to distinguish running time from walking time in the same workout, I'll probably be sold - if only I weren't such a TIGHTWAD.)

But there's another problem I've had with running with my iPod: when I run, I need to concentrate on my breathing and match it to my steps. Unless I can find a song that matches my pace exactly (I've had luck with "Bombs Over Baghdad" but not much else), I find myself breathing in time to the music instead of my steps, and then everything gets all messed up.

But my search for other Nike+ info led me to Podophile, which led me to this two-part essay by a running purist who tries running with an MP3 player. He does not use music, but rather spoken-word podcasts.


I had recently learned that NPR's Fresh Air and Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me were available as podcasts. Well, that just opened the floodgates. I now have 50 untouched podcasts sitting in my iTunes, with 17 more downloading as I type this. I have the Car Guys' Call of the Week and Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. I have the Diane Rehm Show and Groove Salad. Perhaps I will unsubscribe to a few of these as time goes by. Perhaps I will decide that Brini Maxwell's Hints for Gracious Living works better on my work computer. We'll see.

All I know is, I can't wait to have Mo Rocca quipping into my headphones during a workout. Take the pain away, Mo baby!

The only reasonably priced item at the deli in my office building's lobby

89 cents. Seriously, it's the only thing. Milk is $1.35 there, for cry-yi.