Monday, December 31, 2007

Sole Resolution

My friend Mike has made a list of truly noteworthy resolutions to strive for. They approach pomposity, but at least they are more worthy than resolutions to lose weight or to act more assertive.

I almost never make resolutions, nor do I set goals if I can possibly avoid it. If you don't set out to do something in the first place, then you can never actually fail at it. Mike probably will succeed quite well with his resolutions. He is goal-oriented.

I am making only one resolution for 2008. I am giving up Diet Coke.

*respectful, but inwardly aghast pause*

For those that know me well, you understand the magnitude of this resolve. I typically drink 2-3 32 oz. fountain Diet Cokes daily. I am a die-hard addict. This will require an all or nothing approach if I am to succeed. I cannot even allow myself a small amount - it is cold turkey, or not at all.

*pause to sip at Diet Coke from Sonic*

I console myself that the benefits are multiple - sodas are expensive, diet drinks make me crave more food, and aspartame is killing my brain cells. I find I am forgetting many, many things these days, and for a know-it-all, that is well-nigh fatal. And the hundreds I will save over the course of a year can go towards a trip to the UK!

Friday, December 28, 2007

My New Fave

I have recently discovered the British comedy duo of Mitchell and Webb; Americans may recognize them from YouTube videos of their British Apple commercials (they duplicate the ones currently airing with John Hodgman and Justin Long). They've done a few different series, and even radio sketch comedy as well. Here's a radio bit that made me fall out laughing:


And here's one that beautifully spoofs the sort of reality programming you get on Home & Garden, Animal Planet, etc.

You can even get downloads of their radio programmes on iTunes!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Going to Hell in a Handbasket

So this morning I read through an amazingly biased AP report that the 2 judges on the Appellate Court who overturned Eric Volz's conviction last week are going to be investigated by the Supreme Court for corruption. Which makes sense, because in a country full of criminality, the ones who behave morally are obviously corrupt.

And Benazir Bhutto's been assassinated. God only knows where that will end.

Are we in 1968 all over again?

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Best Christmas Ever, Take 2

Thank God, Eric Volz is at last truly freed from Nicaraguan prison, after a week of almost absolute despair. It seems unimaginable that a judge could convict him of murder in the first place, considering that 10 witnesses place him 2 hours away in another city at the time of the murder. But then, after the Appellate Court overturned the conviction after 7 long months in prison, that same judge made every effort under the sun to delay his release - disappearing from the court before her appointment with his attorney to sign the release papers, claiming illness, a flat tire, improperly numbered pages, improperly collated and stapled papers, etc.

In the end, he was let go - I won't talk about how it was done because my information is patchy, and because I suspect there are things the family would rather keep silent for now. Eric will be writing a book about his experiences, and I think it will be mind-blowing!

It has been one of the hardest weeks of my life. We were all so happy on Monday, so that when roadblocks started being thrown up by evil people (there is no other word for them) to keep him imprisoned, despite breaking Nicaraguan law by doing so, some of us on Team Free Eric V really lost hope. I didn't lose faith that God was able to take care of it; but rather, that we were going to have to wait a lot longer, and through even more harrowing dangers for Eric before he might be free. God doesn't always answer prayers the way we wish.

It was just so incredibly cruel - it was almost as if he had been set free, and then killed in a car accident on the way to the airport. I don't like to think that such evil intent (radio stations suggesting Nicaraguans "take care" of Eric themselves) could be so unreasoning, so hateful. It's not like I don't know that this world is pretty horrific at times; the Holocaust, the Sudan, the Spanish Inquisition... but that's easier for our mind to gloss over subconsciously because it's faceless numbers of people. But to focus so much hatred on one person, despite all the evidence of innocence... such deliberate malice is only something you see in a movie, right? Not in the real world... not in the safe world I know.

Eric is still in danger. His health is in shambles, and the hatred may well have followed him home. He has gone into hiding to recuperate, and it may be a while before we see him. Here's hoping that the hatred dies down in Nicaragua, that the true guilty party is found and punished, and that Eric can return to a normal life. Meanwhile, I am celebrating with champagne. And pizza. I can honestly say I have never had something so worthy of celebration and champagne in my life, and I am so grateful, despite the emotional rollercoaster and grief, that I was allowed to help out.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Letter 2007

Christmas 2007
Dear Friends and Family,

As I head into December, totally unprepared for Christmas, I blame the brutally hot summer that lingered so long that I was still wearing sandals in mid-October. Yes, I know we’ve already had Thanksgiving and consequently I should be thinking about putting up the tree… but it just seems so premature. My ingrained indolence is putting up a fight this year to keep me from the usual Christmas activities and traditions I’ve collected over the years. I haven’t bought any presents yet, have no ideas of what to give anyone, and this makes me cranky and seasonally discouraged far sooner than I usually am! I have no Martha Stewart illusions of decorating and food preparation, but I do usually love getting out the ornaments and tchotchkes. This year? Well, maybe a good night’s sleep, lots of caffeine, and a continual cycle of the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack will get me through the process.

Motifs
I learned a new stitching concept this year called "motifs." You will see them most often in Quaker and Dutch samplers; a motif is usually a small but elaborate pattern, all in one color. Here is an example of one:

Motifs have become my favorite style of needlework for several reasons; they're visually striking (like toile fabric... ummmmm, toile...), they are finished quickly, and they are beautiful on their own or as part of a larger group. But they are also analogous to the way I tend to look at life sometimes. As my life rolls on and I make new friends and have new experiences and activities, those parts of my life are like separate motifs on a larger piece of linen. Each one has a different color and quality.

The Christmas letters I send each year used to be primarily about my nieces and nephews and the various activities in my life. But as I continue on with my hobbies and interests, it becomes harder to speak of them without being repetitive. And there are only so many ways I can talk about the different personalities of 7 children between the ages of 4 and 14! So I find it easier to separate them into motifs.

Work
Business is booming; rather, it WAS booming until October when it started a very gradual decline. I can't seem to figure out exactly WHEN my busy season is so I can take a proper vacation! It's been a very productive and enjoyable year of taking care of people's computers and home networks, and it gets easier each month. Now, two+ years into having my own business, I've adapted to the regular uncertainty of waiting for the phone to ring. One of the best things about it is the new clients I meet each month. There are a lot of really nice people out there!

Niblings
The nieces and nephews (niblings) are all well and happy, and growing up faster than I care to think about. I wish for another baby in the family since the youngest is now 4, but I am assured by Elder Sister and Younger Sister that disappointment is a part of life, and I should learn to accept it. Fortunately, I am in a group of friends who gather weekly on Sundays and are beginning to pop out babies at a fairly steady rate, so between them and running the Baby Room in my church nursery once a month, I am able to get an adequate supply of squishy little babies to hold. I am most grateful to the friends who indulge me in this, as well as Babies MacKenna, Hattie May, Laura, Lucy, and Rithika (even though I can only hold her metaphorically).

Hobbies
I sang a few times with a rock band this year. Really! A friend of mine from church choir asked if I'd sing backup for her with a cover band, and it was a BLAST. I sang songs by bands that I never had the least interest in listening to‑Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Lynyrd Skynyrd, etc.‑and thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm hoping to do this again many times in the future. I'm still singing in my church choir, and like it better each year.

I started taking English Country Dancing this fall. (Yes, that sounds a lot more like me.) It's not country line dancing, but old dances from the 16th-18th centuries. You often see it in Jane Austen movies. It looks rather simple and lazy, but it can actually get quite speedy and is an excellent cardiovascular workout‑quite a few of us come in gym clothes! I've been wanting to do this for years, and then a friend told me about the classes at the Cohn Adult Learning center on Monday nights. And they have balls, and entire weekends of dance, with live fiddlers. I think I'll be doing this one for a while!

I'm still stitching‑I've been working on a huge reproduction Tennessee sampler for almost 2 years now, and really must get the thing finished! But I have gotten myself seriously overcommitted‑I need to make prayer shawls for church, finish quilting a baby blanket for a friend, and get this huge sampler finished in time for an exhibition next year. If it weren't for the fact that I can watch TV while I stitch, I would never get anything completed.

Justice Campaign
As many of my friends and family are aware, I have been working for the last year trying to help out with the campaign to free Eric Volz from Nicaraguan prison. His mom is an old friend of mine. Eric's ex-girlfriend was murdered last November, and he was tried and convicted of the crime in a kangaroo court, despite no evidence and 10 witnesses who place him 2 hours away at the time of the murder. It is probably one of the messiest, most appalling travesties of justice I have ever heard of. He has been in jail for a full year at the time of this letter, and his appeal has stretched out well beyond legal limits. I know it is something of a downer to bring this up in a Christmas letter, but this has been probably the most important thing I have been involved with this year. If you would like to know more, you can visit the website that I have been honored to help update for the family –
http://www.friendsofericvolz.com/.

This Year's Media Favorites
TV: "Pushing Daisies" I have rarely fallen so hard for a new TV show. But the pilot and following episodes have caught me like love at first sight. It's a sweet, funny, clever series reminiscent of Amelie and Harry Potter. Rich colors and retro styling throughout, it's a modern fairy tale and I find it deeply romantic in a way that I haven't seen accomplished in a TV show in years.
"Burn Notice" and "Psych" on the USA Network. I mention these two in the same breath, because I think this is the future of TV programming. These "lesser" series on channels like Bravo, SciFi and USA are apparently following the British model for hour-long dramas‑only 12-13 episodes in a season. And as a result, the quality of writing and plot is more concentrated than most other American series. They are funny, very watchable, and I look forward to their next seasons.

Books: Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart. A really sweet, simple memoir about 2 girls who go to New York to work for the summer, and luck into a job at Tiffany's during WWII. Great for nostalgia fans, and a home front view of the war.
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling. Wow. Just amazing. Not that I expected her to stumble at the end of the series, but she really made the whole story tie up beautifully. And for fans of Christian symbolism, the book is positively riddled with it.

Audiobooks: "Areas of my Expertise" by John Hodgman, "I Am America, and So Can You" by Stephen Colbert. Both of these books are hilarious, but are made even richer when read aloud by their authors. Both comedians are able to amplify the Funny beautifully, and I can listen to these books over and over again.

Websites:
bookmooch.com has become a continual source to refine my current library. You list books you are willing to give away online, and people request them. You mail them out at book rate, and get a point for each book, which you can then use to mooch books from other Bookmoochers. I have gotten rid of many books I never even read, or had no further interest in, and have gotten dozens of books I've had on my wish list for ages! I haven't exactly read all of the ones I've received yet, but it is rather nice to thin out my shelves.
cuteoverload.com. As you might imagine, as a computer geek I do spend a great deal of time online, and cuteoverload.com is most definitely one of the high points of my day. Photos of bunnies, puppies, kitties and other adorable animals in glorious profusion. A lousy day is always improved, at least marginally, by a visit to this site.

Podcasts: “Agatha Christie Radio Dramas”/BBC. Someone has begun posting podcasts of many BBC Agatha Christie serialized radio plays, and they're just wonderful. I had listened to several of them as audiobooks from the library, so I was delighted to find that there were so many more of them. So far, it's just Hercule Poirot stories.
“Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me”/NPR. I save this one for special occasions. It's funny and clever, and is a great pick-me-up when I'm having a bad day. For those unaware, it's a weekly quiz show with pundits, comedians and call-ins answering questions on current events.

Music: Jonathan Coulton. In the grand tradition of not being able to categorize exactly WHAT I like to listen to, I stumbled over Jonathan Coulton's music this year and was entirely enamored. He writes some of the funniest and most clever songs I have come across in a long while.
Polyjesters, "Ka-Chunk!" Love these guys too. Like Coulton, they steal lavishly from a variety of genres, write clever and often hilarious songs, and are irresistibly catchy. Their website, polyjesters.com has streaming audio if you want to hear samples of their music.

I am running out of space, so farewell to 2007. May you have a Christmas that is far better than you hoped for, and a peaceful 2008!

Post #200

Let me just express my admiration for this site:

http://icanhascheezburger.com/

Monday, December 17, 2007

Eric's Conviction overturned by Appeals Court, but NOT YET FREE...

From the family:

Here’s what we know.

Today, the Nicaraguan Appellate Court ruled 2-1 in favor of Innocence for Eric Volz and demanded his immediate release. In fulfillment of Nicaraguan law, Judge Ivette Toruno, the convicting judge who is required by law to sign the release papers, arranged for Eric’s attorney to pick-up the release papers at 2pm this afternoon. However, Toruno left the court at 1:30 and will not come back for the rest of the day. It is unclear as to whether or not she will be in the office tomorrow, as well.

Judge Toruno is currently in contempt of court by refusing to make her appointment and sign the release papers. Eric has been freed, but is still being detained illegally, against the orders of the Appellate Court.

Nicaraguan radio broadcasts have been announcing that the people need to take justice into their own hands, since word of the court’s decision. We are more concerned than ever before, for Eric’s safety.

It appears as if no one in the judicial, penal and/or immigration systems in Nicaragua is responding to requests by Eric’s attorney or by the US Embassy to process Eric’s release immediately as ordered by the court.

Maggie will appear on CNN AC360 TONIGHT and The Today Show tomorrow morning in the first hour.

PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY. That is all we can do now.

The Best Christmas Ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ERIC VOLZ IS FREE!!!!!!!

http://www.ticotimes.net/dailyarchive/2007_12/1217074.htm

Eric Volz to be Freed from Jail in Nicaragua
Tim Rogers Nica Times

Updated at 10:45 a.m.-- U.S. citizen Eric Volz is expected to walk out of jail today after a Granada court overturned his 30-year prison sentence for killing his Nicaraguan ex-girlfriend, according to Armando Mejia, secretary of the penal chamber of the Granada Appeals Court.
Mejia told The Nica Times today that the court ordered that 28-year-old Volz be released from jail and that he is now free to leave the country. The plaintiff will now have 10 days to appeal the ruling.

The same court ruled to uphold the sentence against Nicaraguan Julio Martín Chamorro, better known as “Rosita.”

See tomorrow's online Daily News for an update and catch the full story in this Friday's print edition of The Nica Times.

Do Not...

...send me an email of yourself, your family, or your pets with their faces pasted on dancing elves. Do not Elf Yourself, and then inflict it on me.

I smiled for 5 seconds on the first one of these I received. On the half-dozen I have received since then, I have not smiled, nor have I come close to chuckling.

When everyone does something, it ceases to be funny. Like saying "Where's the beef?"

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

How I Miss Them...

The Daily Show and The Colbert Report... victims of the writers strike. But then, I was reminded that the entire backlog of Jon Stewart's tenure at The Daily Show was now online, so I went and dug up some of the "Even Stephen" bits with Colbert and Steve Carell.

*sigh.* I miss them so...



"Winterval?" *snort* PLEASE.

Thank goodness for good sense. A number of other religious groups in Britain have told the politically correct to lighten up about Christmas:

Hands off Christmas, say religious leaders

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Writers' Strike

Hate it. Intrigued by what it might mean for popular culture to have an enforced vacation; but not enough to forgive the loss of Daily Show and Colbert Report episodes. And I shudder to think that Pushing Daisies might not have any new episodes after next week!

For regular blog readers, or "bleaders", you are well aware of my fondness for videos of adorable/funny animals. Well, apparently they are on strike in support of the writers too:

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Middle-Aged

My birthday was yesterday. I cannot speed away from it fast enough, frankly. It was a cliche-ridden day, with every single predictable emotional response to turning 39 that you could imagine:
  • I don't FEEL old.
  • My biological clock is running down.
  • I don't think I look old.
  • I haven't done anything worthwhile with my life.
  • I'm going to die alone and be found a week later, half-eaten by an alsatian.

Lordy, are those boring or what?!

I have never understood or sympathized with women who hide their age or birthdays. But in the last few years, I am finally hating birthdays too. When I was younger, it was Happy Cake & Presents Time, but now, I don't like cake as much as pie or cookies, and the presents, although nice and thoughtful, are rarely things I really want or need. I know, that sounds dreadfully ungrateful. But I live in a 745 SF apartment, and it is FULL.

I still feel that there's no point in concealing my age; the truth is the truth, and I'm very bad at pretending about myself... but I no longer enjoy the anniversary. December 3rd of 2008 will be a very, very bad day, and I am preparing to go into therapy and amplified medication. Let the cliches begin!

Monday, November 19, 2007

What the hell...?

Bananarama, "Robert DeNiro's Waiting"

Never heard of this song. Is this some kind of joke?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Stupid Internet!

OK, I guess I should take comfort in the fact that not EVERYTHING is available to be found on the internet... but it's proving to be extremely annoying when I am trying to find certain things. For example... right now I am trying to find greeting cards made by the company Punch Studio. Their stuff is everywhere in the retail market, especially TJ Maxx and bookstores and places that sell knicknacks and tchotchkes... but I can't find a complete listing of their product line, nor can I find any online retailers that have more than 2 or 3 of their products.And their stuff is GORGEOUS. Their paper products have that lovely, silky matte finish that you only started seeing in the last decade. And their designs are in that profusion style with tons of embellishment - Victorian, Baroque, Asian, etc. They made one of the prettiest (and funniest) Christmas cards a few years back that I would love to send out... but I can't find it ANYWHERE! Very frustrating. Found their website, but it only serves retailers.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Just Seen on CuteOverload:


(which prompted this comment in the Comments section:)

This humbly handmade invitation to heaven,

Scrawled on an eight-and-a-half-by-eleven,

With it's charming, sincere, and unvarnished sentiment,

And simple mackerel tabby embellishment,

Might win a girl's heart over jewels or treasure,

And bring them a lifetime of joy without measure.

Here's hoping Jess

Says yes.


Posted by: Michelle

Saturday, November 03, 2007

So damn cute, it hurts

I'm sorry I keep posting these videos, but OMG, this will almost make you cry, it's so adorable and sad at the same time...

Friday, November 02, 2007

Two favorites

These are two of my all-favorite Bugs Bunny cartoons (besides the obvious ones like What's Opera, Doc? and Duck Season). I was reminded of them yesterday when my friend Annie giggled; her machine-gun rapid giggle is exactly like the little rabbit in this first one:




and then in the process of trying to find it on YouTube, I remembered the CAYUTEST baby penguin BB short; when he cried silently at the end, ice cubes fell on the snow. Simultaneously hilarious AND adorable; an irresistable combination.


Bunnies Rule the Internet

So now everyone else has realized that bunnies are irresistable, even MSNBC!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Music-Shmusic

When you're a native of Music City and of a Certain Demographic, it is assumed—nay, expected—that you are fond of music, preferably live music. Well, I have fought my inner nature for years, and I can no longer maintain the pretense...

I'm incredibly bored by live music. Doesn't matter what genre - classical, pop, contemporary, gospel, rock, punk, bluegrass, country (especially country), I get bored within 5 minutes. There are exceptions, of course - Nickel Creek, really good Latin beats, Indian - but even with those, I am DONE with sitting and listening in about 30 minutes. I should explain, this does NOT mean I don't like music; I will be glad to offer up my iTunes playlist as proof. But Go-Somewhere-and-Sit-and-Listen (or Stand-and-Listen) Music has absolutely no appeal to me.

I do like performing live music, though. When I'm actually involved in the process. As noted several months back, I did some backup vocalist gigs with a rock band this summer, and I've been singing with my church choir for years now, occasionally as one of 3 miked lead singers at least one Sunday a month. I love doing this. But apparently the Sit-and-Listen gene didn't make it into my DNA.

It took time to figure this out, of course - I mean, when you're considered "artistic" and and you take lessons in violin and piano and sing in Show Choir, you naturally think you like going to concerts like everyone else... even moreso. But I was never any good with the instruments, and merely adequate as a vocalist, truth be told. My musical tastes never fell into any tidy categorizations. My likes are so scattered... I have CDs for Latin church music, Renaissance dance tunes, Gilbert & Sullivan, Sting, Indian/Bollywood, Celtic, movie soundtracks, Japanese anime soundtracks, and a smattering of pop artists... and I'd be hard pressed to tell you WHAT I listen to. I just feel sloppy, since I can never clearly explain what I like to listen to.

3 of my old Youth Group leaders are playing at a Koinoinia reunion concert tomorrow night - I grew up at Belmont Church, and live music was simply HUGE there. I owe so much to these men, and would love to go just to see them again, see how they're doing, just to touch base... but I don't want to have to sit through the concert. I change my mind about going every 5 minutes. If it was a cocktail party or a book-signing, I'd be there, no problem. But my genuine dislike of sitting and listening to music with nothing else to do is making me really hesitant about going.

If I could legitimately take along some needlework project and be allowed to sit in the back with plenty of light and space and listen in peace without having to jump up and applaud or whistle every 2 minutes, or basically STAND to listen for 3 hours (what's THAT all about?!) I would really, really like it. An interesting activity for my hands and eyes, while my ears absorb the sound. But the modern requirement that live music be aerobic; that the audience must continually be on their feet, roaring with approval, makes that impossible.

I guess a full awareness of this disinterest is useful; it means I don't bother considering concerts as an activity anymore. But I feel rather lonely in my dislike; I mean, have you EVER known anyone to say aloud, "nah, I don't really like concerts..."? So I step out into the world, ill-prepared to face the amazement of a society that almost WORSHIPS the concert-going experience.

And don't get me started on my current dislike for live theatre!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Useful Information

Tyvek envelopes - made of that shiny-smooth, plastic fibrous material that will NOT tear - do not work well in printers. They melt. In spectacular fashion.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

My Latest TV Infatuation

Pushing Daisies. LOVE it. It's got this sweetness to it, this genuine romance, fairy-tale quality (in the way that Perrault & Bros. Grimm told fairy tales, NOT Disney) with humor and whimsy... it's delightful. It's one of those series with a sense of hightened reality, where the colors are hyper-saturated, and although the setting is modern day, there's a thread of retro nostalgia delicately folded in.

The cast is superb. Lee Pace plays Ned (a character whose babies I would happily bear), and Anna Friel is Chuck, the love of his life. The writing just crackles - it goes by so fast that having a TiVo is very helpful because there are these delightful bits of dialogue that you simply can't catch in one viewing. I love shows that are as good 24 hours later as the first time you watched them.

And Jim Dale narrates, which (for Harry Potter audiobook listeners) is an absolute treat.

ABC, Wednesday nights. Start watching NOW.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Top Chef

Don't know if you've been watching it, but this is a scene I envision taking place about 2/3rds of the way through the competition with the winning cheftestant, Hung:

(please excuse the profanity; reality programming isn't pretty, folks)
Producer 1: Dude. You are acting like a douchebag. Makes for great drama...
Producer 2: ... yeah, the delusional thing makes for awesome TV!
Producer 1: ...but now you've got to pretend to have a heart and soul.
Producer 2: Do you have anything we can cry about? Any childhood traumas? A dying relative?
Producer 1: Because - and I mean this - you're pretty much the obvious choice since Tre got booted.
Producer 2: Stupid man. He was golden, and he threw it all away with one crappy dish.
Producer 1: Can you pretend to find the competitions "fun"? Because people like that shit.
Producer 2. Oh yeah. You can be an absolute prick but if you're funny...
Producer 1: ...like Dale...
Producer 2: ...and you dance around occasionally and punch your fists in the air when you win something...
Producer 1: ...cause, obviously, the humility thing is out of the question at this point!
Producer 2: ...oh yeah. Insulting the cowboys made that an impossibility...
Producer 1: ...then we MIGHT be able to spin this so that people don't burn down the studio when you win.
Producer 2: You wanna win, right?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A New Amusement

I have been wondering for rather a long while what new hobby I might find to get involved with; those who have known me for many years are aware of my various seasons immersed in ballroom dance, Japanese culture, Bollywood movies, and needlework. Well, I may have found a new favorite activity.

It's English Country Dancing.

You've seen it before in every single Jane Austen movie; rows of men and women walking in figures, occasionally skipping, etc. It goes back to the 1600s, and until individual pairs dancing came on the scene with the waltz around 1800, it was the socially accepted form of dance. Many of the steps and figures are reminiscent in square dancing and even line dancing (to a lesser extent).


I went to an adult continuing education class for it last night, and it was enormous fun. I can deal with exercise as long as it involves learning dance sequences! It was quite a workout, since you're almost continually moving, and you really have to focus to remember the exact sequence. The class is predominently women, so you have to take turns switching gender, but since the steps are almost uniformly the same for both men and women, it's fairly easy.

I was relieved that for a regular class like this, people wear t-shirts and regular clothes; few women actually wore skirts. I really worked up a sweat, so I'm going to start wearing workout clothes, I think!

The class meets every Monday night from 7 to 9 at Cohn Adult Learning Center off of Charlotte Pike. It's very easy to jump in, and I highly recommend it, for a workout that won't bore you to death!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Backup, please, I beg you!

I deal with various and sundry computer disasters/inconveniences every day, and there's nothing more tragic than a crashed, truly irretrievable hard drive with no backup. I have had a client who lost years of family photos - all digital, none printed out! - when her hard drive crashed. That's going to be a 3 year gap in pictures of her children, barring the kindness of friend and family who have copies of their own. 3 years of financial data in Microsoft Money, gone. (to her credit, she THOUGHT it was backing up daily, but she was mistaken)

So I've been telling people to get backup drives, and some do, but even then it can be inconsistent. That's why I was really happy to hear about online backup services from my all-knowing Brother-In-Law Cy, The One True Computer Guru Who Knows More Than I Could Hope To Learn In My Lifetime. He recommended Carbonite and Mozy, two online services that backup your computer with a minimum of trouble for a nominal fee. I generally go with Carbonite because it's just SIMPLER, and only costs $50/year.

Carbonite is really gorgeous - ridiculously easy to set up, backs up any changes or additions on your computer any time there's a lull, and the most wonderful part of it is the fact that it doesn't require any hardware or effort on your part, after the initial setup - it just runs in the background on it's own. Plus, it's stored in absolute security on a remote server, which means if there's a fire or theft or act of God, the backup will be safely ELSEWHERE, until you have a new system on which to restore all of your precious files, settings, and emails.

Use this link to download a free 15-day trial subscription to Carbonite, and get an extra free month of service when you buy. I haven't been this enthusiastic about a product in many a day!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Picture du jour

This is from a year or so back, but now that I have the Google Desktop running, it keeps coming up in the picture rotation so I thought I would share it. Kids' costumes are dirt-cheap nowadays, so Elder Sister has a stash of them for the kids to play with.

This is Henry (now 6) feeling somewhat ennuye. Or cynical, not sure which.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Paint: The Future of Graphic Design

If you still think the Simpsons font in All Caps is a fantastic design concept... do not watch this film.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Baby Bump

When I was in my 20s, people often thought I was pregnant. Not really sure why, unless it was my tendency to wear tops and dresses that looked like maternity clothing, my weight, or that I have a perpetual glow. I suspect the first 2. Really, though - it's happened several times. Once from an old schoolmate's parent, once at a "greet your neighbor" handshake at church, and a few other times I don't remember so well. And to this day, of course, several times from small children who think a big tummy means an imminent baby. Hell, I thought the same when I was small - I'd see big beer bellies on men and think THEY were pregnant. Took a while for me to realize it was gender-specific.

But it's never offended me when someone has said with cheerful inquiry, "So, when's the baby due?" or when a kid has asked me if I have a baby in my tummy. It's a reasonable suspicion to have, with my gut! And in the instant it happens, I actually feel sorry for them, because the minute I say "But I'm not pregnant," they are going to feel absolutely dreadful.

But it's an honest mistake, made based on biology and what pregnant women look like. It's not their fault, it's mine. And my long history of putting MY foot in my mouth before I turned 30 (I still do sometimes) has made me compassionate, because I know that I always meant well, and so do they, probably. So I laugh and shake my head, and say "oh, no, it's ok! It's this blouse/dress I'm wearing!" with great amusement, and have to spend a few minutes consoling their horror at what they have said.

With kids, I can be as blunt as I want, because I feel it's my duty to teach them a small measure of discretion in their dealings with society (it takes a village...!) I usually say something like "No, I'm not going to have a baby... I'm just fat. But you should be careful about saying that to ladies, because you might hurt their feelings." And they go off with their mommy, who is murmuring apologies with a scarlet face.

But this is how I regard my appearance all the time. I honestly think that a calm, dispassionate appraisal of my weight and appearance would be a relief. I may say (as delicately as I can, because I know honesty about my weight makes people intensely uncomfortable) something about my ineligibility with a particular handsome young man because of my weight, and the usual response is one of embarrased refusal and "oh no! that's not true!" when we both know it is. People refuse to acknowledge my reality, because it makes them feel awkward and/or they fear hurting my feelings.

But the truth is the truth! I'm not saying I want people to be harsh or contemptuous of my appearance, but I adore honesty; sometimes, I think I love it more than anything.

I have no interest in taking it to the other extreme. You know what I mean - the Mo'nique-style aggressive plus-size woman, who is cleaving her way through society with a low-cut blouse, fashionable but tight pants, and an attitude of "I'm a sexy, sassy, big, beautiful woman," which they will stuff down the throat of anyone who looks at them sideways. Because I'm NOT happy looking like this, I don't find obesity attractive, so why would I expect anyone else to? I would LOOOOOOVE to be as thin as a supermodel, or even Renee Zellweger at her "outrageous" 140 pounds in Bridget Jones' Diary. (you think that was an amazing feat, putting on 30 pounds for a movie? Shuh!)

I have my own divine spark that I think is appealing, funny and honest, and it will have to be sufficient. Because I doubt at this stage of my life that I could ever turn into a Thin Woman and actually stay that way. And you know what? It makes my life so much easier. I never was considered very attractive (by worldly standards) so I have no delusions about recapturing or maintaining a beauty I never possessed. But I know so many women in their 30s and up, desperately working to try and keep their Prom Queen looks, and feeling so very very awful that they can't. The ones that were Pretty... were the cheerleaders... were prized for their looks... they know what they're missing as they age. But I have nothing to miss!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Microsoft Office 2007

Seen the new Microsoft Office 2007 yet?

Be prepared to be frustrated by it's bloated-ness. This guy puts it perfectly:

Fake Steve Jobs

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Bru-tal

It was 100 today in middle Tennessee. It was yesterday, and will be tomorrow too. Mid to upper 90s through Monday, low in the upper 60s. Thick and muggy and so hazy it looks like smog.

Was it ever this hot when I was a child? I don't even remember knowing or caring much. I know I hated doing yard work when it was hot, but that was the only negativity I ever applied to the weather during the summer. It's funny how you start adapting your day to the weather - when you come home from work, parking next to the tree that will cast shade on your car in the morning... picking a restaurant for lunch based on whether or not they have covered parking... putting off shopping until after dark. Not that it's much better in weather like this; the Mugginess is so thick and pervasive, you debate whether or not you really NEED toilet paper.

But maybe this is part and parcel of my Discovering Life series... in a previous post I mentioned that I was noticing things in my thirties I had been oblivious to in my childhood and twenties, like green trees and bluebirds. [Note to zoologists... I have seen an average of 3-5 beavers a WEEK this summer. After 30+ years of never seeing any. What is the deal with all of the beavers this summer? Does it have anything to do with the drop in bee population?] Well, this year I finally noticed what a drought was like. First time I ever really cared, really. Now I find myself praying for each raincloud I spot to give us a good gully-washer.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Tired

I'm very tired this evening... tired of work, tired of websites, tired of trying to juggle so many different issues in so many different places, and make sure they're all done on time, tired of making just enough and no more.

It's my Seasonal Vacation Deficiency, rearing up again as it does every year. Each summer, I get very busy, and then when it all dies down in September/October, I can't afford to go anywhere. I haven't been on a proper, week-long vacation to the beach or some other sybaritic location in 2 years. My chiropractor, trying to fix a stiff neck problem I've been having ever since I fell down some stairs 2 months back, rather solemnly told me that I was suffering from a Fun Deficiency.

Sorry, I'm in the midst of a pity-party today... I've spent the last 3 months helping maintain an online campaign for a young man falsely imprisoned in Nicaragua, 10-15 hours a week, and although there have been significant strides forward, none of our work has yet led to his actual release. As tired and broke and burned out as I am, I still know it's nothing compared to what his parents are dealing with, so I don't feel I can complain. But it's pro bono work on top of my regular workload, and it's just frustrating.

I'm managing the bills and rent and my client list is enough to keep me busy, but I can't afford to just STOP and go away for a week. And this is the same lament I've been making for 2 years now. My close family and friends think I should increase my rates, but I just find that so incredibly hard to do because I know how difficult it would be for me to pay someone $50/hr to work on my computer! So I automatically assume it's a financial burden for everyone else.

Every time a client pulls out their checkbook and says, "so, how much?" I feel guilty for asking for anything over $40, even when I might have spent 3 hours on a job. Part of it is because I feel like if I was smarter/more experienced/did more research/took some classes, I would do the same task in half the time, and therefore I'm not deserving of more than $40/hr. This, despite the fact that my knowledge base has doubled and tripled since I started my business. I just feel like they are writing out my check, thinking, "boy, is she not worth this much!"

Yeah, yeah, I know. I'm a bargain.

Friday, July 27, 2007

How I Read Books

This is a topic I can discuss endlessly.

When I was growing up, reading books was the center of my universe. It was my primary source of entertainment, anodyne for boredom, solace in the midst of peer rejection, refuge from yard work. It was so primary in my life that my dad actually thought I read too much and wanted to limit my time with books. Fortunately the almost religious degree of respect society has for books made it impossible for him to restrict my reading, but he certainly tried to replace it with yard work and tennis lessons. I don't think he had any pleasure in reading, or he perceived it as a waste of time.

I can list my favorite series and authors ad infinitum, but that is only of interest to myself and other bibliophiles. What interests me at present is HOW people read. I am a skimmer; I read through fiction really quickly although I slow down somewhat for nonfiction since I am reading for detail. My favorite way to read fiction is to quickly get the gist - the basic outline - and then read my favorite portions a second and/or third time. This only applies to really enjoyable fiction, of course. If I'm not really interested, I won't read it again.

If you think about it, it's actually a very time-efficient method. If a book is boring, I have invested very little time in it. But if it's good - like a Harry Potter, or Anne McCaffrey, or Robin McKinley, a Colleen McCullough Rome book, or Stephen R. Lawhead's Avalon - then I can re-read it many times over the years and get to enjoy the experience all over again.

This is NOT a good thing when reading non-fiction. I am rather disinterested in fiction at present, having found nothing as good as the stuff I read when I was younger. (Harry Potter, again, is the exception.) So I've been on a history/biography/cultural history kick for several years now. Skimming is pointless when you're reading for content, so I've had to learn how to slow down and read almost every word.

So I read HP & The Deathly Hallows in about 5+ hours, which averages out to about 140 pages an hour. And yes, I brag about it as if it's a talent or skill! Which is ridiculous, because it's simply the way my brain processes text. I think it's how my subconscious seeks to stretch out its enjoyment of a story; if I really like the story, I want to re-experience it over and over again. Like eating fried chicken - you go over it once, get most of the meat, then go back for any bits left behind. Although I don't like fried chicken.

I miss the reading. Once my TV-watching was no longer restricted, I've spent much less time in books, and now I have fallen out of the habit. I have stacks of books around my apartment that I've been collecting and planning to read; enough to keep me occupied around the clock for a few years if I had no distractions or TV. I've gone from 5-7 books a week as a child to 1 or 2 a month. But thank goodness for iPods and audiobooks! I've gone through so many books on my long commutes that I would never have gotten to read, and it has forced me to learn to process at a slower speed, since you cannot "skim" an audiobook!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Criminal

OK, once again, I have TRIED the mish-mash that is Last Comic Standing, hoping that it might recapture some of the formula of the first 2 seasons.

It hasn't.

They picked their final 10, and the best comedienne on the stage didn't make it. Typical.

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present Fiona O'Laughlin, of Alice Springs, Australia:



Sunday, July 22, 2007

Completion

I finished the 7th and last Harry Potter book at 4:34 Saturday afternoon.

Next?

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Next Tom Hanks

Can I just say how much I enjoy seeing John Krasinski from The Office in interviews? I have rarely seen any actor so engaged and so entertaining in a one-on-one media setting. I have quite the crush on his TV character Jim Halpert, but in person he is actually funnier and seems to be having such a good time. Maybe because he hasn't done enough press junkets to be jaded and blase yet... ahhh, may that day be far off.

Here's one of his best interviews, from Conan:

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Grandma's Cures

One of those Frequent Forwards, but I find these irresistable. I keep hoping they'll ultimately come up with a "to lose 100 pounds in 1 year, eat 4 ounces of Toblerone daily with a diet coke."

GRANDMA'S CURES
Keep This Handy On The Fridge

  • Did You Know that drinking two glasses of Gatorade can relieve headache pain almost immediately -- without the unpleasant side effects caused by traditional "pain relievers."
  • Did you know that Colgate toothpaste makes an excellent salve for burns.
  • Before you head to the drugstore for a high-priced inhaler filled with mysterious chemicals, try chewing on a couple of curiously strong Altoids peppermints. They'll clear up your stuffed nose.
  • Achy muscles from a bout of the flu? Mix 1 Tablespoon of horseradish in 1 cup of olive oil. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes, then apply it as a massage oil, for instant relief for aching muscles.
  • Sore throat? Just mix 1/4 cup of vinegar with 1/4 cup of honey and take 1 tablespoon six times a day. The vinegar kills the bacteria.
  • Cure urinary tract infections with Alka-Seltzer. Just dissolve two tablets in a glass of water and drink it at the onset of the symptoms. Alka-Seltzer begins eliminating urinary tract infections almost instantly-- even though the product was never been advertised for this use.
  • Honey remedy for skin blemishes... Cover the blemish with a dab of honey and place a Band-Aid over it. Honey kills the bacteria, keeps the skin sterile, and speeds healing. Works overnight.
  • Listerine therapy for toenail fungus. Get rid of unsightly toenail fungus by soaking your toes in Listerine mouthwash. The powerful antiseptic leaves your toenails looking healthy again.
  • Easy eyeglass protection... To prevent the screws in eyeglasses from loosening, apply a small drop of Maybelline Crystal Clear nail polish to the threads of the screws before tightening them.
  • Cleaning liquid that doubles as bug killer .. If menacing bees, wasps, hornets, or yellow jackets get in your home and you can't find the insecticide, try a spray of Formula 409. Insects drop to the ground instantly.
  • Smart splinter remover. just pour a drop of Elmer's Glue-All over the splinter, let dry, and peel the dried glue off the skin. The splinter sticks to the dried glue.
  • Hunt's tomato paste boil cure... cover the boil with Hunt's tomato paste as a compress. The acids from the tomatoes soothe the pain and bring the boil to a head.
  • Balm for broken blisters... To disinfect a broken blister, dab on a few drops of Listerine... a powerful antiseptic.
  • Vinegar to heal bruises... Soak a cotton ball in white vinegar and apply it to the bruise for 1 hour. The vinegar reduces the blueness and speeds up the healing process.
  • Kill fleas instantly... Dawn dish washing liquid does the trick. Add a few drops to your dog's bath and shampoo the animal thoroughly. Rinse well to avoid skin irritations. Good-bye fleas.
  • Rainy day cure for dog odor. Next time your dog comes in from the rain, simply wipe down the animal with Bounce or any dryer sheet, instantly making your dog smell springtime fresh.
  • Eliminate ear mites... All it takes is a few drops of Wesson corn oil in your cat's ear... Massage it in, then clean with a cotton ball. Repeat daily for 3 days. The oil soothes the cat's skin, smothers the mites, and accelerates healing.
  • Quaker Oats for fast pain relief... It's not for breakfast any more! Mix 2 cups of Quaker Oats and 1 cup of water in a bowl and warm in the microwave for 1 minute, cool slightly, and apply the mixture to your hands for soothing relief from arthritis pain.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Recurring Dream, part 2

So last night I had my new nightmare - two times is a coincidence, three times is a pattern.

I loathe horror films. Don't ever, ever want to see one. Don't understand how anyone can get any enjoyment from them AT ALL. Don't understand how there can even be a market. And don't even get me started on the latest trend of Torture Porn that passes for horror nowadays.

But on occasion, if the trailer looks interesting, I will sometimes go on
TheMovieSpoiler.com and read the storyline just to see how it ends. I made the mistake of reading the breakdown for Dawn of the Dead a few years ago when it came out, and have been haunted ever since. Now, my nightmares consist of zombies and people trying to escape from them, and my family is involved. It's exhausting, because there's no safety to be found anywhere. It's my old fear of societal breakdown/Armegeddon, kicked up a notch. Endless running, trying to rescue family members, trying to find a safe place...

I woke up with this in my mind at 4 am, and could not banish it, even with prayer, or trying to focus on more pleasant things. I finally took some GABA Complex [side note: amazing little amino acid that will let you go back to sleep when your mind won't stop spinning! no side effects] and dropped back off to sleep, but this morning a residual anxiety and melacholy still lingers. My daily
Kitties and Bunnies aren't doing the trick either, so I thought I'd write this out.

So, if your dreams are a reflection of your inner conflicts, then what does this say about me?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I Dreamed...

...last night that I was re-hired to my old IT job at William Morris... and it was dreadful. It was in a new building, but we were packed into one long row of cubicles with an aisle down the center... and I couldn't get anyone to really look at me or talk to me. It was crowded with very little space, and there was this air of unhappiness and anxiety.

I remember thinking, "I am SO much better equipped for this job now; I know so much more, they'll be impressed..." but I kept thinking of my little part-time job at the AEA, where I was given so much freedom, and thinking "I don't want to give that job up!" and dreading having to go in and quit.

Amazing how the Dream Job can become the Dreaded Job!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Swamped

I am swamped with work at present, which should make me happy since it usually means an increase in income... but for some reason, it just frustrates and stresses me.

And yes, I do realize that I'm not really helping myself by taking time to blog about it... but I'm hoping that by journaling this out it will give me some sense of control over the chaos.

Most of my web-design clients want me to work on something for them this week. But I don't know how best to put them in order of importance/significance. Part of the problem is that I spent the entire weekend working on stuff; babysitting overnight for Elder Sister, then spending and afternoon and evening at a music gig with the band, then getting up early to run the baby room for both services at church, then making a birthday cake and celebrating a friend's birthday. All of them, good things I generally enjoy... but when every hour has some demand upon it, even enjoyable things become an ordeal to be "gotten through".

My apartment continues its slow decline into entropy - now, besides the lock being hopelessly jammed on my front door (and 4 phone calls to get it fixed - we'll just see when I go home if they finally did something!), the tub faucet won't turn all the way off - the knob just keeps twisting around and around, resulting in a perpetual trickle. The paint is peeling off of everything outside, the carpet is spotted and stretched so there are speed bumps every few feet, and the medicine cabinet door is sagging. Oh, and my car door on the passenger side is making a rattling sound, and the lock for it seems unnaturally recessed, which makes me suspect that the body work last fall was poorly done.

I need a week where I can just get things fixed. I'm tired, I'm ill-tempered and impatient, and I don't know how it'll all get done. I don't like telling people that I can't do something they've requested; although get me worked up into a panic attack and I'll quit in seconds! Not panicking at present... just not happy.

I wish someone would just give me a lot of money and a plane ticket to London. But it never happens.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Quick Realization

In dealing with some minor personal frustrations with the cover band I'm singing with, I have finally realized something about myself; it's not that I am truly obnoxious or excessive in my attempts to fix small problems, polish a song, or make a suggestion... it's that I am usually the only one doing it. I'm a squeaky wheel, and instead of getting the grease, I will probably... be traded out for a less squeaky wheel.

People who don't feel compelled to "make a noise," (so to speak) aren't at fault in this; they're in the majority. But I wish sometimes that other people could take some of the negative focus off of me, and be the one to say "that's not working," or "can we do this instead" so that I don't feel like such a spoil-sport all the time.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Dire Necessity

We need a new series of hand signals for car drivers. Now that we no longer indicate direction by sticking our left hand out the window, we need to come up with some universally recognized signals that indicate:
  • Thank you for letting me merge in front of you
  • I am so stupid for cutting you off! I'm so sorry!

I am partial to the idea of punching myself in the head when I make a mistake in driving; it exhibits penitence, frustration with my error as well as an obvious understanding that I am the one responsible.

But when it comes to the thank-you gesture, I can't think of anything good. The fairly common "wave in the rear view mirror" feels too casual, too insufficiently grateful.

As to expressing frustation, I would also like a gesture that exhibits a feeling of "You were very stupid there, I am very mad, but I acknowledge that you might not have meant to be so careless." Honking or flipping someone off is too mean if it is a genuine oversight on their part; they drive on feeling very hurt and offended.

Ideas? Followed by, How on earth do you make a signal universally recognized?

Moving On

Here's how you know that you've moved on from a tragedy - you forget the anniversary.

I was fired from my job at William Morris 2 years ago on June 17th, and I completely forgot until today. This is in stark contrast to last year, when I was keenly aware of of the date.

So I've been working on my own for 2 years now, and it's another mark of my moving on that I am no longer in constant anxiety of not making enough to live on. Every month is still different, I never know how I'll manage, but month after month, the bills get paid, even when the numbers don't seem to add up. God provides, sparrow, lily of the field, etc.

Sorry, that sounds flippant - God really has provided all my needs. I give him all the credit for this.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Brian Bacon, Where Are You?

Brian is an old college friend who disappeared into the wilds of Ohio after graduation, and I can't find his current address.

I have the COOLEST political yard sign I've been holding onto for over 7 years for him... it says

BACON FOR ALDERMAN

How awesome is that?! So Brian, if you're out there, please get in touch!

My Brian story - I was the secretary for the Lit & Lang Department at Belmont in the odd 2 years after I finished my coursework (I hadn't finished my Honors Thesis. My years are all off-kilter) and one day Brian walked into my office wearing a 70s beige & brown double-knit polyester leisure suit and thick horn-rimmed glasses. This, from a guy who generally dressed in a fairly nondescript, Guy way. I didn't know him very well yet, and the whole 70s retro look hadn't come in yet (not even the 60s fashion revival was in play at this point), and I just stared at him with a "wha?" expression. I couldn't tell if he was doing it as a joke, or as a deliberate fashion statement. He acted as though there was nothing untoward about his wardrobe.

Now, of course, I think it was all a joke. A really awesome joke.

Thanks to
Hakomike for giving me the idea for this blog entry.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Wierd Dream

Ok, from formerly regular dreams of "I-dreamt-I-was-pregnant-with-no-memory-of-the-father-and-had-to-give-the-baby-up-for-adoption," I have now moved on to bizarre wedding dreams.

I dreamt that I was getting married; but I had been so busy running my business and unrelated errands, that it's now 24 hours til the wedding and I haven't made any arrangements or plans - no dress, no reception space, the church has double-booked and now we're not sure where we'll have the ceremony, no reception or cake. Nor, apparently, am I in any way acquainted with the groom... he's nowhere around at this point, I don't know his name, but apparently I've decided to marry this unknown man.

I do have bridesmaids, though - I come upon them on the day of the wedding, frantic, because I have no dress, and one of them (Rachel, dressed in a purple satin dress which I would NEVER select for her or any other woman!) laughs and says "It's ok, it's over there - that red thing!" Apparently I asked her to get my dress for me, and she chose red. Which isn't entirely bad, since it IS a flattering color for me.

But I never get to see it because I am just rushing frantically everywhere; not accomplishing anything, but in each place and situation, discovering there is yet another thing that I haven't done. "How did I not do any of this stuff?" I keep thinking. And no sign of the groom. For a moment my dream goes lucid and I think "why don't I cancel the whole thing?" but the Dream Me keeps going about, panicking, fixing nothing. It's just a big old disaster.

I think I am always alone like this in these dream scenarios... I am at these big life-events like marriage or childbirth, and I am sans mate. Not that I am ever bothered by this in the dreams - it seems perfectly normal. But what is that saying about me?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sorry For the Lag-time!

But I've been vewy busy.

This will have to tide you over at present. Got stuff ta do!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Operation Baby Bunny

After a day spent recovering from a spectacular case of food poisoning the night before, I went out for a couple of hours to try and perk up - an entire day in bed makes me feel even worse when I've been sick. So when I come home, I'm stopped in my tracks by the sight of a ball of fur stuffed in the corner where the doorframe and wall meet. Mouse? Baby Rabbit? Not sure which, nor whether or not it was even alive.

I went inside, got a yardstick, and went back out prepared to try and wedge it out. It was soft and yet would not budge; I managed to see a little ear - it was a bunny. Went back inside, got a pair of old garden gloves on, prayed for strength, and went out to try and pull him out. I assumed he'd just gotten stuck while playing... rabbits are often grazing in the yard behind my apartment when I come home at night. This year, they've been joined by a beaver.

So I went and tried to scoop him out, which he resisted and started crying. But he did shift somewhat so his head was now visible. His little eye closed and he took a mini-nap. I took a breather, and looked back out towards the yard, and there was mother rabbit in rather close proximity (they usually run off when I get too close). So I darted inside, hoping that mommy would go fetch baby and take him to safety.

I went back outside in a few minutes, and mommy was nibbling grass down the hill! Appalling maternal instincts. (But, I did read somewhere that rabbits let their young go off on their own and don't keep them in the nest once they're mobile.)

So I decided that I knew what was best for this bunny (soon to be proved wrong), and managed to catch a leg and pull him out, squealing pitifully and squirming like crazy. I managed to get him out to the yard and put him down (mommy had gone to hide in the woods) and the baby looked like he was going to make a run back towards his hidey-hole, but I shooed him down the hill and he made it into the thicket at the bottom... at which point a big-ass bird of prey (I suspect raven; very smooth and black) swooped to a tree overhead. I started clapping and yelling and he flew back off.

But that finally explained why the bunny was hiding under my apartment; he'd run to cover to escape becoming dinner! I looked back down the hill, and noticed a loose wad of fluff and dead grass; when I went closer, I could see that it was rabbit fur. The burrow had obviously been in the incline of the hill, and I found it a yard away, in a drainage pipe.

So much conjecture... had the rabbits simply grown up and scampered out and taken their nest with them? Or that that damn bird been pulling out the nest to find some tender baby rabbits? I didn't see any others. I can only hope that baby and mommy found each other in the thicket.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Bears in our Midst

I wanted to post something about bears on the ColbertNation forum, and came across this absolutely hysterical post:

http://www.colboard.com/viewtopic.php?t=24347

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

News You Need to Know

OK, my little pharmacy saga...

I've been shopping at CVS for prescriptions for a couple of years now, because 1) they have one reasonably close that is NEVER crowded, and 2) they have a preferred members card thingy that gets me some super coupons every time I shop.

Despite these benefits, when I saw that a new Walgreens was being built 1 block from my complex, I could not WAIT til it was open; it would save lots of time. Well it opened a few weeks ago, and I went in to scope it out. I discovered that they didn't have one of those card dealies, but I thought, "oh well, it's still convenient..."

Yesterday I FINALLY took steps to switch a prescription over to the Walgreens, and went back later in the afternoon to pick it up. Imagine my dismay when they told me the generic that I was used to paying $15+ for at CVS would cost me over $29! I was livid. I didn't buy it, walked out, and called CVS to switch it back.

That evening when I went to pick it up, I talked with the pharmacist about how Walgreens' price was almost double, and he said he'd recently read a Consumer Reports article which had pretty much come to the same conclusion. And then he handed me my receipt with a $1 coupon off feminine products.

Monday, May 14, 2007

A Quote

A bore is someone who deprives you of solitude without providing you with company.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Staying and Leaving

I have noticed as the years pass by and I have remained in my hometown, that eventually, everyone leaves. We've become such a mobile society that for people to grow up and actually stay in the city of their birth is unusual. Especially here - I am constantly saying (in an effort to appear witty and well-informed) that in any public gathering in Nashville, you will be unlikely to find more than 5 natives. "Try it!" I suggest. Fortunately they are more than willing to take my word because who's gonna canvass an entire cocktail party or art show to find out where everyone is from?!

As a Perpetual Homebody, I am therefore required to suffer the constant disappointment of Those Who Leave. On the average of 2-4 a year, good friends will move on to different pastures. Paul, Teresa, Mike, Sarah, Renu, Shellee, Kara, Chandelle, Robyn, Brian, Heather, DJ, Frances, Matt, Joe, Ken. Tons more I've now forgotten. All of these people I considered to be close friends, and they left. A FEW have come back, but it's rarely as it was before.

It's been interesting to see how the Stayers and the Leavers deal with the break. Some are able to sustain a lasting friendship long-distance because both parties are determined to stay in contact, to write, to call, to work on projects together. But if even one of the parties has decided to move on, or repair the gap in their wall of friends, then all the efforts of the other person are to no avail. The neglect is never really meant in malice or disinterest, but it's so very, very hard to sustain a friendship long distance!

I used to try to stay in touch; back in the beginning, I would cling to addresses and phone numbers and send Christmas cards & letters. But as the years went by and people continued to leave, I grew resigned. Initially I might be hurt at their neglect or lack of response. But I eventually grew tired of trying to maintain one-sided relationships, and now I let go almost before they leave town!

There are exceptions. But I finally invented my own little zen saying: "If they're gonna leave, then they're gonna leave." Mind-blowing insight, no? I do my best to be the best possible friend up til the moment they leave - I do good-bye tokens, cards, parties, help pack, or at the least get their new address. And then they go, and depending on whether or not they contact me first, I usually let it drop. Barring the yearly Christmas Card.

I realized recently that this has been the story of my life. In kindergarten I had Missy as a best friend. We were inseperable, and at the end of the school year her family moved away. First grade was Betsy, and at the end of the school year her family moved away too. After that I had no best friends, and I don't even to this day. I've tried to "invent" them upon occasion, but inevitably I've realized that I was far more invested in the friendship than they were, or would ever be, and that you simply cannot make someone be best friends.

At this point one might think that I might look to my Mom and sisters as friends, but unfortunately that hasn't materialized. We talk comfortably together and we enjoy visiting each other... but it doesn't go much beyond that. They all left town too. Amy came back, but she's a mom and therefore in the class of The Busiest People on Earth. Mom came back, and has always had her own full life, so beyond phone calls, occasional lunches, computer tutorials from me, etc., we don't harass each other :) It's actually a very healthy arrangement!

I'm a Stayer. What are you?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Coolest Thing Ever

Or at least, the coolest thing this week...

I have just been led to
BookMooch, which for a bibliophile is an absolute GODSEND. I have dozens of books on my shelves that have either been listed on Half.com for years, or I have never read/will never read again. But on BookMooch, I can get rid of them, and earn points to get copies of books I do want!

For example, one of the most important books of my childhood was Celia Garth by Gwen Bristow - out of print, expensive even when available. It's a historical novel set in Charleston during the Revolutionary War, and I practically memorized portions of it. I have just obtained a copy through BookMooch from Canada. I'm able to track down favorite novels I've been meaning to pick up for years for my library, but never wanted to spend the money to actually purchase them.

You earn 1/10th of a point for each book you list in your give-away inventory, and a full point for each book that is requested from you and that you send out. I'm about to send out my 6th book, have listed almost 100 books in my inventory of give-aways, and have a long wishlist of books that I could go ahead and get now, or I'm waiting for someone else to offer - like, Darlene O'Steen's The Proper Stitch, which is wildly expensive but very, very desireable for stitchers such as myself.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Expanding Boundaries

I was asked to sing backup for a cover band called "Steamboat" in the next 2 weeks - just 5 songs, nothing very complicated. But I've only ever sung backup (or sung with a band, for that matter) 2 or 3 times in my life, but this is literally the easiest gig I could ever have - 4:30 on a Friday afternoon, as opposed to the usual hole-in-the-wall venue, on a weeknight at 9:30 pm-but-it-really-starts-at-10:45-because-everyone's-running-behind gig I am often invited to. I rarely go, as I am Exceedingly Lazy and also don't enjoy concerts unless I'm getting to sing. I get bored just sitting (or standing, which is worse) and listening to music. If they would let me sit and do cross-stitch during a concert, I'd be more willing to attend. Although the light is practically non-existent, so it's not really good for fine embroidery.

We're singing Proud Mary, Think (Aretha), Oh! Darling (Paul McCartney, I think), Chain of Fools... and they just added a Pink Floyd song. Me. Singing Pink Floyd. I don't even know any of their songs. Never heard The Wall. Don't really care to.

But this is a great expansion of my boundaries - I am singing backup in a rock band, and one of the songs is from Pink Floyd. Imagine!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Logic

OK, I came across a website debating (rather feebly) the possibility of Eric Volz's guilt in the murder of Doris Ivania in Nicaragua. I realized that we've been trying to prove his innocence the wrong way; rather, we should try and do a "What If", looking through the massive amount of exculpatory evidence as though he was guilty:

Eric would have needed to make a great deal of preparation to cover his tracks in this murder:

1) He would have needed to persuade 10 people to say that they had seen him during the time of the murder in Managua, and sign affidavits to that effect. Think about it - TEN people: Nicaraguan employees, a woman from a non-profit organization, a hair stylist, a respected Nicaraguan journalist, etc. Do you think YOU could get 10 un-related people to agree to provide a false alibi for you?

2) He would have needed someone to make numerous phone calls from his office to business associates throughout the day so that he would have a phone record proving he was in Managua, and they would have to be written to reflect a legitimate, business dialogue.

3) He would have had to have someone have an IM chat with his associate in Atlanta, time-stamped for the hours he claims he was in Managua.

That's a LOT of preparation and bribery/persuasion to cover up a so-called "jealous" murder. I mean, honestly, if he was the jealous type, do you think he would have amicably parted with her and moved over 2 hours away to the capital city for business?

It's just too improbable.

One forum writer's assertion that "I have no idea of his Internet habits but I find it hard to believe he spent all that time chatting with one person for four plus hours non-stop. It seems to be awfully convenient to be chatting online for many hours on end at the time of the murder." That's a matter of opinion; I have worked with agents who will have long, complex ongoing IM chats with their assistants for an entire workday while they are on the phone with buyers.

Have you ever carried a heavy wooden box for several minutes on your shoulder? Are you an expert in that sort of forensic evidence? It has been proven by photographs from the funeral that the marks are on the very shoulder with which he carried the coffin. They were the only wounds on his body, whereas one of the other accused had multiple scratches on his torso and penis.

Please fully investigate the facts, see the evidence, before deciding whether or not you think he is guilty - the sheer mass of exculpatory evidence must make his conviction HIGHLY suspect, at the very least!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The most annoying phrase in the world is...

Follow your dreams.

How am I supposed to follow my dreams if I have no idea what they are?

Really - I'm not kidding. My dreams all tend to be rather vaccuous things, like
  • losing weight
  • getting married
  • having a country house
  • being a celebrity in some unknown field with a minimum of effort
Nothing I can really get worked up about. Nothing I want so bad that I'm actually willing to do the work to achieve them.

This is why I love lost comedian Mitch Hedburg: "I'm sick of following my dreams... I'm just gonna ask where they're going and hook up with them later."

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Stupid Stereotype...

WHY WHY Whywhywhywhywhy must every heroine in a book or TV show be a shoe freak? And own dozens of pairs?

I like shoes, but I only ever have a few pairs in use at any one time. 4-5 pairs of sandals from March to October, and, like, 2 in the winter. Does this make me any less feminine? I think not. No, my insistence on picking up heavy computer equipment unaided as though it's no big deal, "I'm fine, I do this all the time!" -- THAT'S what makes me unfeminine.

One of my goals is finally realized...

... I have finally gotten something cute posted on CuteOverload!

Plus, it has engendered a flurry of comments, since Meg Frost, the site proprietress, said it was a consolation to watch bunnies hop around in the aftermath of Virginia Tech.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Taxes

So yesterday I went over to my Mom's to deal with finalizing my tax return; as you may remember, I hadn't taken into account that I should be saving money for my taxes now as a business owner, and I needed to come up with $XX2.00. I've been praying for a miracle.

Well, Mom had decided that instead of getting an installment plan, she'd pay and I could pay her back on a monthly schedule, so we finished it all out, printed it up, and then I said, (as I had said to her weeks before!) "Now, didn't I pay AHEAD for last year? You said I had to pay on a quarterly basis, and so we used my refund to pre-pay an estimated amount for 2005?" Apparently Mom FINALLY heard me, and her jaw dropped, and she said "yes, that's RIGHT!" and retrieved my 2005 return from the computer.

Wanna know how much I had paid ahead? $XX4.00.

I'm getting a $2 return from the IRS. I shall treat myself to a Diet Coke at Sonic.

Praise God!