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RIP Rhonda Honda 1994-2017

I met my little red Honda in 1995. A bubble headed blonde girl in Knoxville was selling her because her husband had two cars and hers was an extra and had the largest payment. The Honda had about 20k miles on her, if I recall. I paid about $11k for her, which was below loan value. The girl was mad that she had to sell the car, so she sold it for literally what was left of her loan. It was a good deal. I got 22 years of service out of that car, so yeah, it was a VERY good deal.

That was back in the olden days before cameras in phones, so I don’t have any baby pix of Rhonda. The only ones I could dig up were these shots, taken right after her repairs and paint job about 10 years ago:

She was a beauty!

The last few years had been fraught with repairs. Last year I sunk about $2k into her with new parts and a new tranny/clutch. It seemed like a good idea at the time… I knew I should’ve sold her right after I got her repaired, but I let my laziness and attachment get the best of me. That, and I was distracted with the VSG surgery.

So, last week, we attended Heroes Con in Charlotte NC and took the Honda. I knew I should’ve taken her in for a once over and oil change, but decided to take her without that. Bad move.

After the con, we were checking out of the hotel and she was acting strangely. She’d start, then die. I called AAA and had her taken to the nearest Honda store: Hendrick Honda.

We sat there all day while they worked on her. They found some issues that I assume were left over from the big service I had done last year and fixed them. They replaced the master circuit and said she was good to go. It was 4:30pm, drive time, but we got in the car and took off for home. Less than 10 minutes later, in 70mph traffic, the car just turns off, which is what it had been doing originally. Fortunately, there was a hole in traffic and I got her to the end of the merge lane against the guard rail. Apparently, people in CLT drive in this lane.

A couple of minutes later, an Estes truck sideswipes my drivers side mirror. The wheels were literally about four inches from my face and the whole car was rocking. I’ve never been so scared! I’m screaming and freaking out and the truck just keeps going. Fucker. I try the car again and it starts, so I move up and over to the shoulder. Apparently people in CLT drive on the shoulder, too, as I was almost sideswiped again. The car was still running, so I pulled up and over into the grass. The Hendrick tow truck guy was busy, so I again called AAA. But this time they were total DICKS to me and I had to pay $45 for the goddam tow. We had to wait about an hour and a half for the truck to get to us, but the car was idling fine, so we had A/C at least.

We drop the car back at Hendrick and head back to the Hampton Inn. Shout out to Andrew at Hampton Inn for handling the room booking and cashing in my points to pay for it. He took care of everything and that helped us out immensely.

Next day (Tuesday) we get the Hendrick shuttle to come get us and we sit in the dealership all day. They tried several parts and worked heroically to save Rhonda. They could not. We thought we had it for a minute, but I knew that we couldn’t trust the car to get us back, so I had a rental lined up. We entertained the idea of shipping her back since it was only $250 for a running car, but then she refused to start up. Now the shipping was $450. I talked to my mechanics here and we went over some things it could be, and it boiled down to this: it would cost me about a grand to find out what’s wrong… IF the things we tried worked.

So. No. I had to let her go. It was just like a movie: pouring rain, me crying my eyes out, my poor little Honda sitting there w/out her stickers and tag. Tragic.

Last look. Sob.

The people at Hendrick Honda in CLT are the most amazing bunch I’ve ever seen. They worked for TWO DAYS on my car and would not let me pay for labour. They reimbursed me for the $45 tow. They even took all the parts back. My tab was something like $150. Since the car was 22 years old, the top dollar they could pay for the car was $500. But since she wouldn’t start, the actual offer was $250. BUT the used car buyer (Dorian!) gave me the $500 anyway. They didn’t have to do any of this stuff. But they did. THAT is what I call customer service. The used car buyer is also shopping the auctions for me, since what I want (a stick shift) is very VERY hard to find. He did not have to do that, either. I’m pretty sure I’ll be buying my car in CLT. Unless he just cannot find a thing, I plan to drive up there and buy from that store. They have earned a customer.

I hope my Rhonda gets bought by someone who will get her fixed and maybe make her a little street racer. She did start right up for me when I went to remove her stickers, which infuriated me and broke my heart at the same time. She’d not started up for anyone all day. I’m not sure if that was her flipping me off, or if it was her telling me that it was OK and she’d find a new home. I’m ok with either.

So for the first time since I’m 15 years old, I do not have a car. It’s strange. I do not look forward to being $12-14k in debt, but that’s what it’s going to take. Cars are too fucking pricey now. I am grateful for all the help I’m getting looking for a car and for Rob letting me borrow his Subaru while I’m carless.

It’ll all work out. But it’s been a very stressful and heartbreaking week. I hope my car fu will work for ME and I’ll find a good deal on an SI or Mazda 3. But right this minute, I’m exhausted and spent. I don’t even feel like car shopping, which I normally enjoy. The experience was just like losing a pet. I felt like I’d been sitting in hospital for two days while they tried to save her. Horrible. But it will all work out. The Universe is telling me to get the fuck over it and MOVE ON. So I am. Sigh.

Reading List 2017

I’m going to attempt to list every book I read this year. This includes cookbooks and graphic novels. I’ll give a rundown of each book as I finish it. No description means it’s in progress.

KINDLE! I don’t read much on Kindle but I am reading Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman and I just read Dead Trees Give No Shelter by Wil Wheaton. The Gaiman book is an entertaining collection of vignettes. The Wheaton novelette is a really great short read. Speaking of Wheaton, if you’ve not listened to Ready Player One read by him, DO SO. It is incredibly well done!

The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood – SLOW. OMG so slow. It’s very literary, you know, florid descriptions and language. But SO HARD to get through. And very long.

The Peach Keeper, Sarah Addison Allen – Short book, sort of a mystery/ghost story. Pretty good.

China Dolls, Lisa See – The 2nd book by her I’ve read. She’s kind of an Amy Tan knockoff (one of Tan’s proteges). I like her mix of history and fiction. I learned a lot about WWII treatment of Japanese from this book. The other book I read from her last year was Dreams of Joy, which was set in the late 50s when the New Society (Communism) took over China. This book had some VERY disturbing things in it about how the people of China suffered during this time. But again, historical fiction is a great way to learn history.

The Burgess Boys, Elizabeth Strout – This is a family history kind of story. It’s depressing and slow. Not very good.

The Language of Flowers, Vanessa Diffenbaugh – I didn’t think I was going to like this one, but I did. It weaves the story of an orphan girl’s life with the Victorian tradition of using flowers to convey messages. Every flower (and other plants) has a meaning and this book uses these meanings to tell the story. Clever and overall a good read.

Blackwood Farm, Anne Rice – This 2002 novel is more of the Vampire series but with a ghost story twist. It’s long and full of her usual verbose style. It’s written in first person as a story told to the reader, a style she’s used before. It’s long and just OK. Lestat makes an appearance, so there’s THAT.

The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook, Patricia Tanumihardja – Got this for Xmess, but read it in January. Awesome recipes of every kind of Asian comfort food. Tons of soups and noodle dishes.

Les Diners de Gala, Salvador Dalí – An art book that happens to have recipes. It’s a collection of the recipes that Dalí’s wife Gala used for various dinner parties. Some of the recipes are very weird. But I didn’t get it for the recipes, it’s a beautifully done large coffee table book. I love it!

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, Joshilyn Jackson – Eh, it was just OK. Kinda predictable, but it’s an ok beach read. I did like its Southern hillbilly roots and the insight into just how dysfunctional Southerners can be.
Carthage, Joyce Carol Oates – A twisted tale of family drama. I identified with one of the main characters, Cressida, in that we are both misunderstood by our families and we share a strong disdain for our families. Her escape and return resonated with me.

Hyperbole and a Half (hardback collection), Allie Brosh. A collection of her online blog/comics with commentary. LOL hilarious at times. A good read.

Haul from Half Price Books


Peony in Love, Lisa See
Wildflower, Drew Barrymore – Meh. It’s a collection of short essays from Drew’s life. She is a lunatic. Poor thing. Pisceans are always weird, but she is OUT THERE. She had no discernible upbringing, so I guess it’s the outcome of that. And her father was nuts, too. It’s a good summer read.

Magical Thinking, Augusten Burroughs – A funny memoir! I think I’ve read it before, but it’s still good the second time!

Dreaming in Chinese, Deborah Fallows – I found this book fascinating. This lady spent several years living in China and it’s her description of what it’s like to try to learn Chinese. Very insightful and a good read if you’re a language nerd like me.

What Comes Next and How to Like It, Abigail Thomas – This is a delightful little memoir that is written a lot like blog posts. I identify with Abby and her take on the world is much like mine.

Waiter Rant, The Waiter (from the website) – This is taken from a blog, but the writing is very good. The author’s insights into restaurant culture is spot on. Good read.

Thai & South-East Asian Cooking (cookbook, various authors) – I’ve already perused this one, but not read it through. Nicely illustrated and lots of soups, which are my current obsession.

Haul from Ollies!

Moar Books!



Hungry Heart, Jennifer Weiner
All Fall Down, Jennifer Weiner – UGH. This book is about some privileged white mom with a whiny brat of a kid. No wonder she’d addicted to Oxy. Had to abandon this one. Doesn’t bode well for the other Weiner book.
Woman of the Dead, Bernard Aichner
The Japanese Lover, Isabel Allende

Haul from Goodwill!


Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom, Julia Child
Out Stealing Horses, Per Peterson
A Cook’s Tour, Anthony Bourdain
Willful Creatures, Aimee Bender
Something Chinese that I got because it’s pretty.
Fugitive Pieces, Anne Michaels
Tweet Heart, Elizabeth Rudnick

Summertime and the Conning is Easy!

Not really, cons are HARD when you shlep arcade games! LOL

We’re in the middle of our 6 weeks of cons. MomoCon is in the can and it was AWESOME!! The fan base is excellent, the staff of Momo is nice and responsive – we were treated very well. Even the dock of the GWCC was great! They let us drive the truck right onto the floor to our area and unload! It took 15 minutes! SAHWEET!! Even with $900 of expenses (truck and hotel), we made a little money.

Speaking of trucks, if you use rentals as much as we do, I highly recommend setting up a business account with Penske. We get a great rate on the rental, plus uber cheap mileage and we can pick up the truck the night before. Very handy!! We use 16′ trucks with liftgate currently, it’ll probably go up next year when we have more games. We had an issue with a truck last weekend – nails in tire – but they got us fixed up and back on the road in about an hour and credited us for lost time. The Penske truck yard is next to Nick’s work, so that helped. If you use trucks often, get a business account. It will save you hundreds!

I’ve finally broken the 185 barrier. My current weight is 184.2, but we all know that it’s probably 188 today, since that’s the way my weight goes. I’m happy that it’s moving again. Cutting back on the vino and starting harder exercise is probably helping.

Speaking of exercise, I’ve got a weight routine going. Sadly, I blew out my left knee with squats yesterday, so those will be skipped for a week or so, but hopefully I can still do extensions and curls despite my knees being little bitches. Here is what I currently do 3x/week:

Treadmill: 1 mile walk/jog warm up (or a full 30 min routine depending on my mood)
Free Weights:
60# leg extensions 3×12 (sets/reps) [this one needs to go up to 65-70#]
35# leg curls 3×12 [might go to 40# for this]
50# squats 3×12 [if my knees will tolerate them; we shall see]
8# bicep curls 3×12 [need to get 10# weights]
8# tricep rows 3×12 [need to work on form for these]
10# medicine ball core side to sides 25 sets

That’s it currently. I’ve got to go back on turmeric for my crunchy knees and see if I can convince them to allow me to do squats. ::fingers crossed:: Squats are really very good for what I need: leg strength. They work the whole upper leg as well as glutes and core. I’m going to dial back the weight to 30-40# and see if that helps, but I’m not feeling confident. Stupid knees. Stupid marching band. Ugh.

Other than conventions and exercise, not much going on around here. The usual insomnia problems, etc. I’m trying to keep Nick on an even keel by providing good food and a calm space for him.

We’ve got Southern Fried Gameroom Expo next weekend, then Heroes right after that. SFGE is an unpaid con, so we’re taking whatever we feel like. Heroes is our vacay con, no worky! We are taking promo material to put out, but that’s it. We plan to take it easy and drink our way through the weekend! We’ve got dinner plans with some folks we rarely get to see but other than that, NO PLANS and NO SCHEDULE. Aaaaaahhh!

Once we’re back from vacay, we’ve got commissions to do and more games to prep for DragonCon (Labour Day weekend).

We have tickets to Heroes and Villains con in November. There was a special 2 for 1, so I picked up a pair. We’ll see what this con is all about!

So that’s our summer! If you’re at Heroes, HOLLAH! We’d love to hang out!

Southern Biscuits

Biscuits are something that every Southerner should be able to make. And YES you must use White Lily® self rising flour. JUST DO IT. I don’t make biscuits often, but sometimes, like today, I just gotta have a biscuit!! Sadly I did not get pix of making the dough, but I did get a shot of the finished product.

Southern Biscuit!

Here is a handy trick for you! I never have buttermilk on hand, so I make mine like this:

Instant Buttermilk: Put 1 tsp of white vinegar into 1/2 cup milk, half n half or heavy cream. In a couple of minutes, the milk will curdle and voilà! Buttermilk. Just use about 1 tsp of vinegar per every half cup or so.

White Lily® Flour Biscuits
2 cups WL Self Rising Flour
1/4 cup (half stick) butter or shortening, cubed
~1/2 to 2/3 cup buttermilk (more or less)
Yield: about 8 biscuits

Preheat oven to 425ºF

Put flour in a large bowl and cut in butter with dough cutter or two forks. Flour should have a grainy texture with some pea sized bits of butter. Add in 1/2 cup buttermilk and stir in. Keep adding buttermilk until the dough is just sticking together. Turn out on a floured counter and knead just a couple of times to make a ball. Pat out to about 1″ thick and cut out biscuits with a cutter or a glass. Place on ungreased shiny cookie sheet (a shiny sheet will give you a better biscuit crust). Bake for about 10-15 minutes, until biscuits are lightly golden. Serve warm and enjoy!

One Year VSG Anniversary

Sorry this is a day late, but I did get the VLOG posted yesterday over at youtube! Please subscribe! I think I’m going to do some cooking vlogging over there…

May 16 2016, right after surgery:

VSG Surgery 5/16/16



So, one year has passed since I made the best decision I’ve ever made – aside from marrying my best friend. :) And this is what I look like now:

5/16/17 One year!



I’ve not met my goal of 80# gone, but 65# ain’t too shabby. I am goal oriented, so I’m not giddy with the 65#, but I’m glad I’ve lost it. I’m hoping that the new exercise routine will help me get past this mid-180s plateau.

I’m still wearing a L top and 14 jeans, but the jeans are a little loose. I think my waist has gone done another inch or two. Even if I don’t lose weight, I know the weight lifting will change the way I look, so whatever. I guess we’ll see!! Muscle weighs more than fat, so the numbers may not move much.

I’m still taking the same supplements, still taking Nexium. I tried to get off Nexium again and failed, so I guess I’ll keep taking 20mg in the morning and 10 mg at night. I can’t even go down to just once daily. Ugh. I just hope they’ll come up with a better class of drugs than the -azole PPIs (esomeprazole, omeprazole). I kind of like my kidneys and want to keep them for a few more decades. Sigh.

VSG is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. The weight loss is great, but it did so much MORE for me than just that. The experience of having surgery got me over some of my worst phobias – particularly needles. I still don’t LIKE getting stuck, but I don’t pass out any more, which is a fucking MIRACLE. This has also helped with my dental phobia, too. And of course, getting tattoos, which I can do without any fuss now. The awesome nurses in Mexico were SO GOOD at their jobs. Even the multiple sticks for an IV line were not too bad. MIRACLE, I tell you.

VSG also “cured” me of ALL my inflammation issues. I quote cured because I don’t think it was VSG at all, I think it was changing my gut flora that did the trick. When you have any gut surgery, you disrupt the flora by the antibiotics and the fact that you don’t eat for a week. I think this is a very important part of why VSG ended my inflammation. There is SO much research regarding gut flora right now. I’m sure that it will be linked to all sorts of chronic conditions – especially the ones involving inflammation.

VSG also empowered me overall. I finally did something for myself and it paid off. This has given me a new feeling of being in control that I had not had for a very long time.

So when you hear me preach the gospel of VSG, what you’re really hearing me preach is the gospel of empowerment.

If you are tired of being sick, fat and tired, then DO SOMETHING about it. I sat around whining for about TEN years. FUCK THAT. I’ll never do that again! I let myself get fat and unhealthy because of my fear of medical procedures. I really can’t say it enough: FIND A WAY TO DO WHAT YOU NEED TO DO TO MAKE YOURSELF FEEL BETTER. If it’s the gym, a shrink, a doctor, or a medical procedure, make it happen. Don’t waste 10 years like I did!