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.

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.

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!

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).

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 –

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: 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. As you might imagine, as a computer geek I do spend a great deal of time online, and 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, 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:

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 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


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!