Thursday, November 30, 2006

Deck the friggin' halls

Today was supposed to be a happy, cheery kind of day. I planned to spend the morning cleaning and the afternoon putting up all the Christmas decorations.

Instead, I spent the morning on the phone with the bank and the rental car company, because the rental car company charged us $200 for upgrading us to the Explorer on our trip, even though MB specifically asked if it would cost more and was told it would not. After I got off the conference call with the rental car guy and the really hilarious bank lady, I saw that the upgrade was listed on the contract that MB signed, so I don't know if we'll be able to get our money back or not. If not, it's a lesson to us to be more careful next time, but MB will be really piss-ay about it.

It rained all day, so the last thing I wanted to do was go out on errands, but I had to go out at 11:00 to sign up for this six-week kickboxing program that is probably going to be the death of me. (If I disappear in January, you'll know why.) While I was out, I stopped at a bank branch to fax the rental contract to the hilarious bank lady at the downtown office. Then I went home to continue cleaning up the apartment in preparation for all the decorating I wanted to do.

I finished vacuuming around 2:30 and realized that I'd left the table that the tree sits on at my parents' house. D'oh! I put up a string of lights across the top of the sliding door and hung ornaments from it and set up the manger scene. Then it was back out into the rain to fetch the tree table, which wouldn't fit into my car until Mom and I took all four legs off. I was still hanging in there with the holly jolly Christmas spirit, though.

I got home and put the tree together while MB constructed a new and improved version of the cat fence he designed last year. Once that was done, I started putting the lights on the tree...and ran out halfway up. I decided to brave the rain one more time, and went to the store to get another box of lights. The box said I was getting white lights on a green cord. Groovy. Except when I got home half an hour later and opened the box, the cord was white. And then, when I decided to use them anyway and pulled them out of the box, it turned out they were icicle lights, NOT the mini tree lights the box promised. At this point I was ready to deck something, and it wasn't the flippin' halls, let me tell you.

MB convinced me to take down the sliding door ornaments and pirate that string of lights, so I did, because I sure as hell wasn't going back out in the rain a fourth time. By this point, I was so grouchy I wasn't really enjoying myself all that much. It all turned out okay in the end, the time I got the stupid lights on and the garland and started hanging the ornaments, I was feeling a lot less Grinchy. I'm sure tomorrow the whole thing will be amusing, but for now I'm just ready for a nap. Here are some freakin' pictures:

The Christmas tree gets meta.

The new and improved cat fence, with interlocking tabs and pockets.

MB always complains that his stocking is the smallest. I tell him that the relative size of his stocking adequately reflects his status in the household.

My favorite Christmas ornament of all time.

Edited for Content

So I could add some kickass stuff. Looks like some of my favorite bloggers are especially enjoyable today. For some much better reading than you slogged through above, go here:

Sundry Mourning

Purple is a Fruit

Nothing But Bonfires

The Naked Ovary

Also, this is the coolest Christmas video EVER EVER EVER, totally swiped from Sundry Mourning:

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Six Weird Things

"According to the rules...
Each player of this game starts with the
"6 Weird Things about You".
People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave a comment that says 'you are tagged' in their comments and tell them to read your blog!"

I was tagged by SSFB at Starting Fresh.

1. I have really long hair, but I never wear it down. It's in a bun or a braid or a doubled-up ponytail every single day. I have a weird aversion to cutting my hair, but there's no reason to keep 25 inches of hair if you're just going to wrap it up in a bun, you know? I think it honestly goes back to two things. First, a horrible haircut in 7th grade that was supposed to be "no shorter than shoulder-length" and ended up in a "pageboy." I couldn't make a ponytail for almost a year. I was mortified to go to school the next day because I was already so self-conscious. Second, habit. I'm a very habit-forming kind of person. I didn't get my hair cut from 7th grade until two weeks after my wedding, so that's about 11 years with nothing more than a few inches trimmed off once or twice a year. That's a LOT of habit to try to overcome. I also think if I stopped combing my hair, I would definitely end up with dreads, even though I'm whiter than white.

After I got married, my sister and I went to get our hair cut for Locks of Love. We both got 10 inches cut off. Her hair was still almost to her waist, and mine was (to me) SO short. I didn't hate it as much as I feared I would. I actually liked it a lot. Two years later, my hair has regenerated, and I'm right back to being afraid to chop it off.

2. I have had thirteen jobs since I turned sixteen, if you count both positions I had at the nonprofit I worked for during my last 2 years of college (first as an intern and then as regular part-time staff while my supervisor was on maternity leave) and both positions at my current place of employment (current position and previous, extremely part-time position. If you count the once-a-week math tutor gig I had for a year in high school, that's fourteen. So, that's fourteen jobs in nine years. I've never been fired, and I almost always have had at least two jobs concurrently. Sometimes three. Or four. Bills gotta get paid, right? I have loved almost all of my jobs. I kept my very first job for 4 1/2 years. I could probably still walk into that place and run the drive-thru register and fill all the orders with no trouble. I'm also still addicted to ice cream because I worked there so long.

3. My sister and I were both adopted from different biological mothers, but my mom, my sister, and I all have almost-identical birthmarks on the back of one thigh, in approximately the same place. Mine is on my left leg and theirs are on the right. I also have my dad's dimples (except obviously I didn't get them from him) and my pictures as a kid looked very much like pictures of a cousin on my dad's side, who is not biologically related to me at all.

4. My ring and middle fingers on both hands are crooked. The middle curves toward the ring and the ring curves toward the middle.

5. I am barefoot as much as possible. As soon as I walk in the door, I take off my shoes and usually my socks. The first few days I have to wear shoes after wearing flip flops all summer, I get really antsy and irritated and my feet feel like they're burning up.

6. I have a second-degree blackbelt in Taekwondo, though you wouldn't be able to tell if you met me. I'm pretty non-badass and rather out of shape, and I haven't been in regular training since I was about 19. So looking at me, you'd never know that I used to break two boards at once with my hand or my foot or do a roundhouse kick higher than my own head. I really, REALLY miss Taekwondo.

Now I get to tag people! I choose...



Ween (Her URL is That is too awesome for words.)

The Incredible Edible Megs (She has the best About Me ever, I think:  "I'm sorry to say that you've been led here under false pretenses. I am not, in fact, edible. Please don't attempt it.")


Mrs. Squirrel

Don't hate me, guys!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Well, Pete...

It's a fool who looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart.

MB is watching O Brother, Where Art Thou? and I'm remembering all over again how much it rocks. When I first heard the concept--a semi-musical retelling of the Odyssey, set during the Great Depression and starring George Clooney--I was immensely skeptical. But I finally watched it one day, and oh, it is awesome. If you haven't seen it, give it a shot. I don't really like musicals and I love it. LOVE IT. And if you watch it and hate it, you're dead to me I'll eventually be able to forgive you.

I've decided that O Brother has to be on my list of the top five most quotable movies of all time.

So now I've got to figure out what the other four would be. The next two are cake:  Gross Pointe Blank and The Princess Bride.

After that, it's hard to choose...I've come up with Pirates of the Caribbean and The 13th Warrior, which are certainly quoted a lot in my household.

I'll probably change my mind tomorrow, but these can stand for now.

Dammit, I wasn't hit by no train!

Here are some NaBloPoMo posts that have rocked my world and / or almost made me laugh my ass right off over the last few days:

The pop culture librarian braved the mall on Thanksgiving weekend, then wished she'd brought some ninja stars.

Sasha at Hypermetamorphic was blamed and then un-blamed for leaving a pair of granny-panties at a friend's house.

Doppelganger at 50 Books posted some deliciously lovely book porn.

A Spot of T is going through the NaBlo participant list and marking down who's in and who's out, and she keeps the "in" links active. She's only about halfway through the C-list right now, but I'm loving the Cliff's Notes version of the master list so far.

Chirky posted a list of cold weather demands that I found entirely reasonable, especially considering the big-ass cold front that's set to wallop the hell out of the Midwest on Friday.

And I'm a little bit in love with Lane at Pink Elephants for creating the insanely cool Randomizer, which I really, really hope is still operational once November ends.

Do not seek the treasure!

I finished Preludes & Nocturnes tonight and got collection 2, The Doll's House, from the library on my way home from work. Once I got through the first section of the first book and the Sandman got free, it got a whole lot easier to follow, or maybe I just got used to it. Either way, I'm really getting into it. And overusing "get" and "got."

Monday, November 27, 2006

Does a body good?

I've always heard that it's a good idea to avoid dairy when suffering from a cold. That's a pretty big problem for me, since my diet pretty much breaks down like this:

On average, I drink about a gallon of milk in three days, and that's with little to no help from MB. As you can imagine, it's nearly impossible to put aside an addiction of that magnitude even if Web MD and my parents tell me that dairy will thicken the mucus that is making me feel so crappy. Then again, the Dairy Council of California claims that nothing bad will happen to me, no matter how much cow juice* I chug:  "There is no scientific research showing that milk produces mucus in the airways or the throat. It will not worsen cold or asthma symptoms."

Interesting. I think I'll enjoy another cool glass of 2% and let the academics battle it out.

Now that I've ruined your appetite by discussing mucus and cow juice*, let's do another Green Challenge summary!

Week Six:  The Holidays

Congratulations—you have taken the Week Six Action Quiz. Your score is 154, which means you've promised to take the annual equivalent of 0.02 cars off the road.

"On average, the amount of garbage Americans produce between Thanksgiving and New Year's increases by 25 percent, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That comes to a total of more than 25 million tons.

>>Joining OurEnergy saves about 139 pounds of CO2 per person per year.

>>Donating a tree [in lieu of a physical, purchased gift] saves about 50 pounds of CO2 in a year.

>>Switching out three strings of regular holiday minilights for LED lights saves 17 pounds of CO2 per person per year."

I pledged to buy gifts with less packaging and to recycle as much holiday-related waste as possible. I also said I'd join OurEnergy , which claims:

"We offer the best opportunity to support clean domestic renewable energy, hands down. While most of the available renewable energy options ask you to do more, we work with you. Integrated easily into your daily life, OurEnergy offers an uncomplicated and easy way to support American renewable energy at no cost to you.

Join free, we will generate 100 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of wind energy when you do and you will help reduce global warming immediately. For every additional $2.50 that is contributed by our retail partners, we will generate another 100kWh of clean wind energy. You will make a real difference for free with every purchase!"

If I see any LED holiday lights, I wouldn't mind trying them on our little Christmas tree, but I didn't agree to it on the quiz since I'm not sure I'll be able to find any in stores. I did buy one of the funny-looking CFL bulbs today, so I'm interested to see how it holds up in the wonky kitchen light fixture. According to the packaging, it's absolutely guaranteed to last for five years, so I guess I can get my money back if our bad kitchen light luck takes it out in just a few months.

*Cow Juice:  not as gross as it sounds

Here's the story of cow juice. When my sister was little, she never wanted to drink milk. She only ever wanted fruit juice, no matter what. On a camping trip when I was 8 and she was 2, our mom was trying to get her to drink a cup of milk. My sister protested that she wanted juice. Repeatedly. Finally, in exasperation, my mother said, "It's cow juice! Drink it!"

Reading: I finished books 2 through 5 of Y, the Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra today. I usually don't get into graphic novels, since I typically have a hard time picking up on the flow of the pages and get lost trying to read the panels chronologically, but this series is pretty easy to digest. Each collected book only took about an hour to get through.

After finishing book 5, I picked up Preludes & Nocturnes, the first collected volume of Neil Gaiman's Sandman, but I'm having my typical trouble following along, as well as having no luck recognizing characters and being able to remember their names. Obviously this is no fault of the writer or the artist, just a weird tic in my brain. I hope to soldier on tomorrow on my lunch break, so I guess I'll just have to see how it goes.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

A somewhat out-of-place book review

Normally, I'd post anything book-related on badgerbooks, but I need a post for today, so it's going to go here first.

I finally finished Sunshine by Robin McKinley this afternoon. The quick and dirty version is that I absolutely loved it.

The review it deserves is a bit longer than that. I'd never read any of McKinley's work and actually don't recall ever hearing of her until Sunshine was recommended to me. Would I sound too much like a nerdy squeeing fangirl if I revealed that it was recommended to me personally by Nancy Pearl after she asked me what I'd been reading lately and I said Neil Gaiman and she said, "Oh, if you like Neil Gaiman, you'll love this book."? If so, don't look, because I'm about to show you the actual note she wrote so I would remember to look for the book:


Since this conversation took place in a library, I hunted up and checked out the book on my way out the door that night. It's taken me nearly a month to get through it, not due to the text itself, but because between NaNo and NaBlo and watching some TV on DVD, I only really dedicated lunch breaks at work to reading it. Right from the first page, I loved the tone, the voice of the narrator (Sunshine), the style, and the pacing. You can read the first few pages of the book here.

I loved the way McKinley wove details of the otherness of Sunshine's world in slowly. Rather than spending several pages on exposition and scene-setting, she opens with Sunshine describing somewhat commonplace things from her life, such as the coffeehouse where she works and the people she sees often. Then, on page 9, an innocuous comment:  "Kenny wanted to get into Other law" with no further explanation forthcoming until the bottom of the next page:  "When I was ten the Voodoo Wars started. They were of course nothing about voodoo, but they were about a lot of bad stuff, and some of the worst of them in our area happened around the lake." I remember at this point noticing how she was drawing me in with subtlety, but not minding even though I was aware of it. Then, a page later:  "I never heard them coming. Of course you don't, when they're vampires."

She continued this slow weaving-in of details throughout the rest of the story, and it never felt drawn-out or gimmicky. It seemed instead to fit what a narrator would say if she was telling you a story from her everyday world, which seems very much like a somewhat-supernaturally-infused version of our own. The narrator, Sunshine, was believable and likeable. Many heroes / heroines of sci-fi stories have somewhat fantastic life stories. They're witches or wizards or noble or are exceptionally smart or insanely brave. In contrast, Sunshine is a pretty normal girl. She scraped through high school and is perfectly content in her job as a baker in a local coffeehouse. She has no big ideas, no grand plans, until she is caught up in a war between two vampires, and her life is changed forever. I don't want to reveal too much, but there is some elemental magic, some interesting interactions with one of the vampires in question, and a whole lot of enveloping world-making detail.

Reading Sunshine was a lot of fun. The book is somewhat creepy, somewhat funny, and really entertaining. I liked it so much that I put it on my Christmas list before I'd even finished it. While I was still reading, I was dying to get to the end, but once I did I wished that I was still embroiled in it. It did leave me with a few questions, though none are really nagging enough to be considered plot-holes or loose ends, and I don't want to give anything away by mentioning them, so I won't. Let me close by saying that I usually don't go for vampire stories, but I enjoyed this one immensely and would recommend it to anyone. It's got enough magic and undead for the sci-fi / fantasy fan and more than enough down-to-earth, believable characterization for those who tend to prefer non-fantasy fiction.

A Thanksgiving Leftover PSA

If someone whom you happen to share a bed with sits down to eat a big bowl of leftover-from-Thanksgiving white beans late in the evening and counters your protests by saying, "Don't worry, I won't digest them that fast. Nothing will happen until tomorrow while you're at work," even if that person is genuinely nice and generally honest, DO NOT BELIEVE HIM. Trust me on this.

And finally, a gratuitous cat photo:

Reading: book 2 of Y, the Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan

Playing: Plans by Death Cab for Cutie, Black Holes and Revelations and Showbiz by Muse (warning:  both sites have sound)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Greetings from a faraway land

MB and I are visiting his homeland for his family's belated Thanksgiving festivities, and luckily enough, BoMB has a wireless router and a laptop. Sweet!

It's been quite a pleasant visit so far, with lots of card-playing and stuffing our faces with the leftovers from Thursday's dinner.

And because I didn't do it on Thursday when I should've, or yesterday when I could've, here are some things I am thankful for this year (and always, really):

>>MB and what we have together

>>my family

>>MB's family

>>the fact that we both like each other's family

>>my friends, some of whom are more like sisters of the heart

>>MB's friends, even though we don't get to see them as often as we'd like

>>our health

>>our jobs

>>the opportunities we've had in life

>>the cat, who makes our apartment feel like a real home

I'm sure I'll think of a lot more stuff to say as soon as I post this, but this'll do for now.

Also, I must add that I'm NOT thankful for my developing cough and scratchy sore throat. Colds should not be allowed to manifest during the holidays :P

Friday, November 24, 2006

The cleanest carpet in the Midwest

I think our upstairs neighbor has OCD. He vacuums his living room at least every other day, often at 10 or 11 PM. He vacuumed it yesterday, and now he's vacuuming it again. To my knowledge, he doesn't have pets, or kids. I'm all for a clean rug, but seriously? Every other day? Does he have a sandbox up there? An enthusiastic pet gerbil? Is he cutting cocaine on the coffee table and spilling some? (OK, better not think about that.)

He also seems to move furniture around a lot more than seems absolutely necessary, but hey...who am I to judge? After all, I only vacuum our carpet about once a month. Maybe he's tormented by our lack of housekeeping noises and is trying to give us a hint?

Some fug for your Friday

...courtesy of my dear friend Evilducky:

You Knit What??

The blog is no longer updated, but all the archives are still functional. It's definitely worth a browse if you were at all alarmed during the Trendy Knitting Craze of 2004 / 2005.

Here are some highlights, picked out by Evilducky and me:

Mmm, tripey goodness!

"Because every girl needs a purse
that looks like the lining of a stomach."

Oh, fuckety-fuck.

"Pantaloons. PANTALOONS, people!!! Eeeuw.
You know how we feel about knitted skirts. Knitted Pantaloons???
So very very very VERY wrong. Ick. I need a shower."


"Maybe if you need leg warmers, arm warmers, and a hat,
you should just be wearing a damn sweater."

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Turkey (or Tofurkey) Day, Everybody

I am stuffed, and exhausted.

Tonight, there was family and way too much food and The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. on DVD.

Tomorrow, there will be cooking and Christmas decorating and driving to MB's homeland.

Right now, there is BED.

And I am very thankful.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Alpha and Omega

Our computer has started whining about low hard drive space again, so I've been uploading photos to the internet and backing them up to CD so that I can delete them. Here are a few cool ones I've come across:

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Week Five:  Electricity

Congratulations—you have taken the Week Five Action Quiz. Your score is 456, which means you've promised to take the annual equivalent of 0.05 cars off the road.

"The electricity we generate is responsible for 38 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, making it the largest single source overall. As demand for electricity has risen, so have greenhouse-gas emissions, increasing by 25 percent over the last two decades, according to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. That's because most of our electrical-power supply comes from burning fossil fuels—natural gas, oil, and, especially, coal, a huge CO2 culprit.

>>The typical incandescent light bulb turns only about 10 percent of its electricity into light. The rest is wasted heat. Compact fluorescent lamps—energy-efficient bulbs—use two-thirds less energy and produce 70 percent less heat. If every American household replaced just one incandescent light bulb with a CFL, we'd prevent 800,000 cars' worth of greenhouse-gas emissions. Click here for CFL-shopping tips. Exchanging three frequently used incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs saves about 150 pounds of CO2 a year per person.

>>Unplugging your electronics when they’re not in use or using a power strip to shut them down saves about 500 pounds of CO2 a year per person.

>>Unplugging external battery chargers for MP3 players, cell phones, and the like saves 213 pounds of CO2 a year per person."

I pledged to replace three light bulbs with CFLs. I have additional motivation to do this because we've replaced the light bulbs in our kitchen at least 5 times this year alone. I don't know if it's a wiring issue or a bad luck issue or what, but we had bulbs in our old apartment that we only changed once or twice during the entire two-year span that we lived there. I also promised to buy an Energy Star cordless phone, television, and / or refrigerator if we buy any of those items in the next year, and to unplug phone and battery chargers when they're not in use (we do that already).

Just now, I tried to do the math and figure out if I'm going to reach the goal set by the challenge. I was mistakenly thinking from week to week that it was 20 pounds or 20 cars' worth or something, so I was convinced I wasn't going to "win." I checked, though, and the goal is to reduce your carbon usage by 20%. Now, I'm not very good at math, but here's what I've got:

The initial quiz told me that I use 11,411.32 pounds of carbon per year, which is equivalent to the emissions from 1.12 cars.

If I add up the equivalent-to-cars numbers from each week so far, I get 0.09 + 0.08 + 0.05 + 0.06 + 0.05 = 0.33 cars' worth of emissions. Unless I'm screwing this up, 20% of 1.12 cars is 0.224 I've already succeeded! Woohoo!

I also noticed that the opening page states that they're only sending free T-shirts to the first 500 people to complete the challenge. Does that mean the first 500 to complete the quiz on the last day? Or are they awarding T-shirts as people reach 20%? I'm just curious, since I exceeded 20% last week without realizing it, and even though I don't actually need a free T-shirt, it would be kind of cool to actually win something (I never, ever win drawings or arbitrary contests. Or BINGO, come to think of it. Hmmm...)

Speaking of climate and CO2, An Inconvenient Truth came out on DVD today, so go rent it if you haven't seen it. The bibliophile and I saw it when it was in theaters, and it's definitely thought-provoking.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Sometimes, I truly love working retail...

...because I get to have conversations like this:

VBG: *answers phone* Hello, this is The Record Store, how can I help you?

Guy: Uh...I don't know if you can help me. *silence*

VBG: *waits*

Guy: *silence*

VBG: What do you need?

Guy: I'm wondering if you can help me find this song I heard. It's a guy, and he plays, like, a guitar through the whole song. Like an instrument? Instrumental? But you can understand every word.

VBG: *waits for elaboration*

Guy: *offers nothing else*

VBG: Do you know anything else about it?

Guy: you have any idea what song it is?

VBG: Um, no.

Guy: So there's no way you could find out what it is?

VBG: It sounds like it could be pretty much anything.

Guy: Do you have any idea how I could find out?

VBG: *Does NOT say, "Start at the very beginning of the entire guitar-playing-and-singing tradition and work your way up."*

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Letting my geek flag fly.

As a geology major, every once in a while I'd have moments where I really and truly understood how big the Earth really is, where I'd just get it all of a sudden. It usually came in a flash and only lasted for a few seconds, as if it was too big of an idea to wrap my head around for long.

It happened a few months ago at work, while I was idly reading a poster we have about black holes and for a split second comprehended how vast the universe truly must be, and just kind of went "Whaaaa...?" for a moment, and then it was gone.

A week or two ago, I was doing some research for a geology workshop for kids, and I came across a cool website that documents earthquake history in the U.S. Since I live in the Midwest, I grew up hearing about the New Madrid fault and the nearly-mythic tales of the New Madrid quakes of 1811 / 1812. We heard so much about them as kids that I just sort of figured that everyone knew about them, that they were in history books and stuff. I mentioned something about them to KWJ that day while we were talking, and she'd never heard of them before. Since she lives in California, I told her that I guess when you've got the San Andreas on your doorstep, the New Madrid fault system doesn't really rank very high on the list of things you worry about.

Speaking of the San Andreas, I find it fascinating and mind-boggling that it's actually visible at the surface:

San Andreas fault in the Carrizo Plain, central California
(Photo by Robert E. Wallace)

Anyway, I found some of the historical accounts on the earthquake site, and while I knew about the most famous stuff, like the Mississippi allegedly running backwards (which was actually an illusion created by waves caused by the quake) and church bells ringing in Boston, some of this stuff I'd never heard before. It was definitely of the scope to make my brain go *boinnnng*. Here are some highlights:

"On the basis of the large area of damage (600,000 square kilometers), the widespread area of perceptibility (5,000,000 square kilometers), and the complex physiographic changes that occurred, the Mississippi River valley earthquakes of 1811-1812 rank as some of the largest in the United States since its settlement by Europeans. The area of strong shaking associated with these shocks is two to three times larger than that of the 1964 Alaska earthquake and 10 times larger than that of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake."

I watched a special about the 1906 San Francisco quake on the History Channel back in April when the did they did a big 100-year-anniversary thing. It's crazy to think back on what that show talked about and then try to magnify that by ten.

"At the onset of the earthquake the ground rose and fell - bending the trees until their branches intertwined and opening deep cracks in the ground. Landslides swept down the steeper bluffs and hillslides; large areas of land were uplifted; and still larger areas sank and were covered with water that emerged through fissures or craterlets. Huge waves on the Mississippi River overwhelmed many boats and washed others high on the shore. High banks caved and collapsed into the river; sand bars and points of islands gave way; whole islands disappeared."

Okay, that would be freaky as hell to see today, and we understand what earthquakes are. I can't imagine what it would be like to see that if you didn't really know what an earthquake was all about. I'd probably think the world was ending or something.

"Other areas subsided by as much as 5 meters, although 1.5 to 2.5 meters was more common. Lake St. Francis, in eastern Arkansas, which was formed by subsidence, is 64 kilometers long by 1 kilometer wide. Coal and sand were ejected from fissures in the swamp land adjacent to the St. Francis River, and the water level is reported to have risen there by 8 to 9 meters."

Holy. Crap. As scary as it would be, I think I would actually be excited to see a sand blow, let alone freaking COAL blowing out of the earth. That is INSANE. My little geology nerd heart is totally pitter-pattering.

If you're a big geek, too, and want to read more about the quake, you can go here. It's not too scientific mumbo-jumbo-y. Here's a PDF that talks about earthquake hazards in the Midwest.

Reading: still working on the fabulous Sunshine, which I'm officially adding to my Christmas list

Playing: Maybe This Christmas Too?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Go, NaNo, go!

I haven't talked much about NaNoWriMo, because I figure no one really cares. But tonight was a good NaNo night, for the first time since I had the damn fool idea to sign up for it.

My plotless little story went from 8,734 words to 12,073 words. Woot!

So I'm halfway through the month and about a quarter of the way through the required number of words. Tonight was probably too little, too late, but it sure feels good to make it past 10,000 words at long last. :D

Friday, November 17, 2006

Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

Seriously, ya'll. What is wrong with people?

All I can think of is Charlie Brown lamenting how everyone, including Snoopy, has gone commercial in the Peanuts Christmas movie.

Is it really worth that much to have something before everyone else? Something that will be widely available in 6 or 9 or 12 months? So you can play videogames? I wouldn't be comfortable paying $600 for that system, let alone $2000 plus.

I guess I'm just not cool enough to get it, or something. Or maybe it's got something to do with two facts:  1. I don't make what these people are paying in a month. 2. I have some freakin' sense.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

This one time? At craft camp?

On Monday, my friend KWJ--the fabulous and newly-married--had a somewhat traumatic experience involving her very large dog innocently leaping up to follow some children and their mother out of a coffee shop. The mother was very understanding, thank goodness. Her story reminded me of something that happened to me last year, when I was still working at the craft store. It was one of those situations that could've been absolutely horrendous, but turned out blissfully okay thanks to someone else's common decency (and in this case, sense of humor).

The craft store had Saturday morning activities for kids, which I usually got to lead. One Saturday, this little boy, about 7, and his little sister came with their mom and grandmother. I didn't really know the kids...I think they'd only been in once before. Let's call the boy Max.

Max's glue bottle was clogged, so he asked me to fix it. I took it and was fiddling with it, and it just seemed slightly blocked. Usually, if given a good squeeze, that kind of glue bottle would just pop out the dried knot of glue and then work as normal. So I squeezed.

Can you see where this is going? Good, because I didn't.

I squeezed. Nothing happened. I squeezed a little more.

With no warning, the entire top of the glue bottle shot off and flew across the room. There was a smear of glue across the wall. There was glue on the floor. There was glue on the cabinet at the far end of the room.

There was also a long rope of glue ACROSS THE TOP OF MAX'S HEAD.

I'm going to steal one of my favorite MSN icons to illustrate the look on my face at that moment:

I burst out, "I am SO SORRY!"

Max, Max's mom, and Max's grandma sat there and sat there and sat there.

Time sort of stopped. I sort of died a little...

And then?


Max's mom started laughing her ass off.

I can only think of a few times in my life when I've ever been more relieved than I was in that moment. We had some really prissy ass people bring their kids to the Saturday activities over the year I worked there, people who would get absolutely nasty with me over stuff that was in no way my fault. There were also a lot of really cool parents. I'm grateful to this day that I squirted a cool mom's kid instead of a priss's kid. Because it was actually really not good, what I did...and even though it was a total accident, she would've been within her rights to be totally pissed off at me.

As he was leaving, Max said, "I can't believe I got squirted with glue!" but it was in one of those, "What a crazy story this will be!" kind of ways, not in an upset kind of way. I still think I adore Max a little for being such a good sport.

Also, I pledge to do my best to keep this story in mind when I have kids of my own, so I can be a cool mom and not freak out if something awkward but ultimately harmless and sort of hilarious happens to my kid. Pinkie swear.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

From cable TV to castles in 300 words or less

I thought that Wednesday TV watching would be sad and empty for me after the end of Project Runway, but I have found a new obsession interest:  Ghost Hunters on Sci Fi. Dude. LOVE this show. I watched it once or twice last year and thought it was kind of lame, but lately it's been really good. I totally dig all of the crew, except Brian, and he's not as obnoxious as he used to be, I don't think.

I don't even know why I'm into shows like this, because I get creeped out so easily and then my imagination goes into overdrive for hours afterward. MB and I also watch the "A Haunting" specials on the Travel Channel, which are creepy but just reenactments, when in theory Ghost Hunters is somewhat real.

There are still semi-lame episodes where nothing happens, but there have been a few highly decent ones lately. The 6+ hour live Stanley Hotel piece they did on Halloween would've been a giant time suck to watch all the way through, but the one-hour recap of the best stuff they got that night was really excellently creepy.

There was also a fabulous one done at the Birdcage Hotel in Tombstone, AZ, a few weeks ago, so either of those would be totally worth it to catch in reruns if you're even remotely into ghost stuff.

Tonight's episode was pretty cool. There wasn't as much paranormal sightings as I hoped there would be, but there was definitely stuff going on there. It also rocked extra since they were investigating Leap Castle in Ireland.

The castle bonus points alone elevated the episode to better than average, because castles RULE. I actually got to visit one, once--Dover Castle in England. I even have some semi-crappy, severely pre-digital photos!

This is me (at 18), sitting in a window alcove in the gatehouse thingie

We were told that this was a Roman lighthouse dating to
1 AD, but according to several articles I read tonight, the Romans
didn't invade until 43 AD. This article puts the lighthouse's construction at about 50 AD.

Speaking of castles and creepy, I'm still working on Robin McKinley's Sunshine, and it is SO GOOD. I enthusiastically recommend it for anyone looking for an extremely well-written and non-cheesy vampire story.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

In which I destroy all hope of ever being able to deny that I am a sap and a bleeding-heart...

As I was leaving for work this morning, I saw something that made me want to cry. I saw The Nemesis, Mr. Kitters's mortal enemy, foraging for food in a garbage bag that someone had left beside the Dumpster. It made me feel like such an asshole, because last weekend I threw away half of a giant bag of Whiskas dry cat food that had been sitting in our front closet for over a year. I thought about Mr. Kitters, who eats specially formulated all-natural, nothing-artificial, no-preservatives, little-to-no-grain canned food and dry food designed to mimic his "evolutionary diet," made of raw ingredients and containing "viable, naturally occurring microorganisms." We buy his food (and litter) from a special pet store (I call it the Happy Pet Store or the Crunchy Hippie Pet Store) all the way the heck out in Sprawlville on the far east side of the city, which always requires a special trip, since it's on the way to nowhere. He seriously eats more healthfully (is that even a word?) than we do. I figure that if we eat crappy food, it's by choice...he relies on us for everything, so it's our responsibility to make sure he's getting the best nutrition and the least chance of getting cancer from the preservatives in his food.

He has a huge basket of toys and a big jar of treats and the run of a decent-sized apartment and people to take him to the vet and buy him all-natural flea spray and treat him for eye infections and snuggle with him at night and trim his mats and love him even when he bites us. Poor Nemesis has nothing and no one. Sure, he's free to do as he wishes and be wild--and I do think there's probably a lot of wild in every cat's heart. After all, I think officially they're only considered to be mostly- or semi-domesticated when compared to dogs. Nemesis has to sleep in the cold and eat garbage. It sucks so bad, and there's not much we can do for him. We can't adopt him, since he and Kitters hate each other with the fiery hatred of a thousand suns. I don't know if it would work to trap him and take him to a shelter. Besides, our local Humane Society euthanizes if animals stay too long with no hope of being adopted, and I'm not sure what the restrictions are for getting an animal accepted to the area no-kill organization. Besides, could he even be made into a pet after living his whole life outside? He's definitely more than a year old. I could lay out food behind the Dumpster, but that wouldn't really help him live longer, and I worry about making him an easy target for dogs or cruel people by enticing him to always come to one place. I'd have to feed him down by the Dumpster so he wouldn't get into it with Kitters, and what if the dump truck dropped the Dumpster on him one day? I always worry that I'll come outside one day and find the poor thing dead, run over or frozen in the parking lot.

And because I can't stop with the absurd, pathetic cry-baby shit, I always think, what if it was Kitters? What if Kitters got out and couldn't find his way home and ended up living in a parking lot and eating garbage...and then I REALLY want to bawl like a big baby.I know it's probably ridiculous to get this spun up over a homeless cat, but hardly anything hurts my heart quite as much as seeing a sad, stray dog or cat, cold and alone and hungry. Gah. Now I really will start crying if I don't shut up.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Week Four:  Clothing

Congratulations—you have taken the Week Four Action Quiz. Your score is 622, which means you've promised to take the annual equivalent of 0.06 cars off the road.

"Chances are that a good portion of what's hanging in your closet is made from cotton. The fiber is tough to grow, so cotton farmers use enormous amounts of energy-intensive, CO2-emitting chemicals and fertilizers. To produce one pair of regular cotton jeans takes three-quarters of a pound of fertilizers and pesticides. Each T-shirt takes one-third of a pound.

>>The average American disposes of about 66 pounds of clothing and shoes each year, according to the Gaia Movement Trust. Donating instead of tossing saves about 165 pounds of CO2 emissions per person per year.

>>Using only cold or warm water to wash your clothes saves energy and about 150 pounds of CO2 per person per year.

>>Swapping the dryer for the clothes line saves 350 pounds of CO2 per person per year.

>>Purchasing an Energy Star washing machine saves an average of 257 pounds of CO2 emissions per person per year."

I pledged to donate unwanted clothing instead of throwing it away (already do this), wash my laundry in cold water instead of hot (check), run the washer only when full (check), and buy Energy Star appliances next time I shop for a washer or dryer. I would've been awarded "extra credit" if I'd agreed to line-dry my clothes, but I feel that was a little unfair. I live in an apartment, and it's nearly winter. Where exactly am I supposed to line-dry my clothes? Also, I buy nearly half (maybe more than that) of my clothes at thrift stores and consignment shops, yet I got credit only for donating to secondhand shops, not for patronizing them. That just doesn't seem right. Oh, well.

Reading: Sunshine by Robin McKinley

Playing: Black Holes and Revelations by Muse

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I'm in ur blogosphere, boring u silly

velocibadgergirl:  what should I blog about?

bibliophile:  pocket lint

velocibadgergirl:  um, no

bibliophile:  toe jam?

velocibadgergirl:  dude, I'm so not talking to you anymore

Seriously, though...I'm feeling all blog-blocked and shit tonight. So, um...linkies?

bizarrely captioned and somewhat amusing cat pictures, thanks to basscomm

Some favorites:

I asked, "So where did this 'I'm In Ur ____, doing ____ ' thing start, anyway?"

And basscomm, always helpful, sent another link.

Excerpt: "Two players (one unnamed, the other known as 1337h4x (leetspeak for "Fucking Nerd") are in a game of Starcraft, with 1337h4x playing as the Zerg race, and the other as either the Terran or Protoss races. 1337h4x Zerg-rushed his opponent, and on finding that he was getting raped, his opponent asked:

n00b:  dude, where are you?

1337h4x:  im in ur base, killing ur d00ds"

God, the internet has bred some serious weird. Funny weird, but weird.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

I'm a master of fright and a demon of light

Last Sunday, my best friend Danger and I took my sister to see The Nightmare Before Christmas in 3-D.

My mom took me to see it when it first came out in 1993, and I've loved it ever since. I'll admit I was skeptical about the 3-D thing. My only previous experience with 3-D entertainment came from attempting to play Rad Racer in 3-D back in what...1989? The previews kind of worried me, because they were for somewhat super-3-D movies, and they looked kind of out of focus to me, but once Nightmare started, it was great. I felt like a little kid, in my big dorky green plastic 3-D glasses, but it was so much fun.

I don't know if it was the 3-D or just seeing the movie on a gigantic screen, but I found myself noticing intricacies of the stop motion that I either never noticed before or haven't noticed in a while. I was amazed at the amount of small movements that were used, especially with Jack Skellington. During some of his big songs, he moved his hands around constantly, which means they shot sequence after sequence where they had to move all his little skeleton fingers just a little bit and then a little bit more. Crazy...

The big rescue Sandy Claws from the Oogie Boogie sequence has always been my least favorite sequence (not really that I disliked it...I just didn't like it as much as I liked the rest of the movie), but in 3-D it just popped. Something about the combination of the 3-D effect with the blacklight was just incredible.

Seeing it in large size / volume also helped me appreciate Danny Elfman's score all over again.

If you like Nightmare, it's definitely worth seeing the 3-D version, and if you've never seen it, maybe it's time to give it a chance.

Friday, November 10, 2006


Bumper sticker:  "My gamer fragged your honor student."

Watched:  Man in a dress shirt and tie, mid-thirties, test-driving a hunter green Lincoln Continental with the dealer's magnetic plate stuck on the back, with the windows rolled down, R&B blaring, absolutely nearly-full-body dancing at a stoplight.

Overheard:  "I don't know about Marilyn Manson. I don't really understand him. He's one confused soul, dogg."

Reading: Sunshine by Robin McKinley...just keeps getting better.

Playing: soundtrack to The Fellowship of the Ring

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Trip Recap #7:  In vino finis.

We ended our trip with two great days back in Seattle. On Friday, we drove down to see Mount Rainier. It was a long drive, but it was a really nice day so it was enjoyable. The scenery was fabulous, but we couldn't see Mount Rainier from the highway. I think it must've been blocked by clouds or something. We drove and drove, and kept getting higher and higher up, but we couldn't see anything through the trees along the road. We have this goofy joke on vacations, where MB will suddenly announce that whatever view we're looking at is just a backdrop, and we were both joking about that and about the Mount Rainier backdrop being removed for the day or something, and right then, we came around the corner, the trees thinned completely, and WHAM. There it was.

Please understand that this photo doesn't even begin to do it justice. It was a jaw-dropping moment. The mountain was so massive, so completely and undeniably present, that it really was hard to wrap my brain around the sheer size of the thing.

My only regret is that this was pretty much the only view of it we got, since all the visitors' centers and the scenic routes were closed for the season.

On our way back to Seattle, we met up with this fantabulous person and her darling family for dinner. We had a complete and total blast. M & I yakked our faces off, and our husbands were very accomodating, and M & J's divine boychild let me hold him yet again. Once again, bribing him to be my friend by giving him a spoon to play with was the ticket. He was so cute it was almost painful, I swear. Hanging out with M was AWESOME. I felt like we'd been friends for years (which we have, for 2 years) and not at all like it was only the second time I'd ever seen her in person. I'm seriously bummed that they live so far away, because I would totally and completely dig monthly get-togethers with them.

On Saturday, our last day of vacation, MB and I drove up to Woodinville to visit the Chateau Ste. Michelle winery. MB just recently got interested in wine, so I really wanted us to take a wine tour before we came back to the Midwest. We went on the wine tour, and it was pretty interesting. I didn't realize that the Woodinville facility only produces white wines, and at first I was disappointed because MB prefers reds. We went to the tasting bar after the tour, though, and it turned out that their $5 wine tasting menu was all reds for the fall. We had overbudgeted by quite a bit for the trip, and even though MB usually almost never spends money on himself, after the tasting I was able to convince him that the occasion of a vacation with surplus cash called for a bit of splurging. It's a good thing I'm honest, because I probably could've convinced him of a lot right then. There was a 15% discount for purchasing 6 bottles, so we went for it and got them packed in a shipper box for the plane ride.

On the way into Woodinville, we'd seen signs for about five wineries besides Chateau Ste. Michelle. One of them was the Columbia Winery, and MB had tried a glass of their Merlot at dinner the night before, so he was interested. We had some time, so I agreed that if we could find the Columbia Winery, we'd stop by and see if they had tours, too. As I pulled the Behemoth up to the exit of Chateau Ste. Michelle, we looked up and saw that the Columbia Winery was literally across the street. We pulled straight across the road from the Chateau's parking lot into Columbia's.

We went in and were told that there would be a tour leaving at 2:00. It actually didn't leave until about 2:20, but I'm so glad we waited. The guide at Columbia was even more knowledgeable than our guide at CSM had been. I don't really like wine, but I love learning about it. The tour was fantastic, and we stopped by the tasting bar for MB to sample some of their wares. Our tour guide ended up being his tasting server, and she continued to be awesome. MB tends to prefer Shiraz / Syrah, and they had two on the menu. She gave him a taste of each, and apparently the one she recommended as her favorite was fantastic. Since he'd basically had the equivalent of three glasses of wine in an hour at this point, I easily talked him into buying two bottles of the favorite Syrah. We had planned on buying two bottles that morning, so we had space reserved in one of our suitcases. We carefully wrapped the bottles in plastic bags and then two T-shirts each before cushioning them in an entire suitcase of clothes, but MB still worried about them through our entire flight home.

After leaving the second winery, we drove back down to Seattle and met up with a good friend of mine who moved out there after we graduated from college. We saw her awesome apartment in Capitol Hill and walked to a Thai place for dinner. MB was delighted. Their chicken satay wasn't as good as the Thai-ger Room's, but it was tasty. We talked and caught up, but all too soon we had to leave in order to head back to the airport and get checked in for our red-eye flight home.

This trip was probably the best trip we've ever taken. We did so many cool things, but I never felt like we were rushing or packing too much into our days. Other than the night we got lost looking for our hotel, we enjoyed the trip and each other's company immensely. There were so many wonderful moments with friends and amazing sights and a real sense of our particular synergy / connection / partnership with each other. Someone asked me what my favorite part of the trip was when we got back, and I honestly couldn't say. The whole trip was just that good.

To continue with The Cheese for one more paragraph, tonight I'm feeling extremely fortunate that we had such a fantastic trip. Last weekend / early this week, the area we visited was hit with huge amounts of rain. It looks like a lot of the roads around the Mount Rainier were washed out and at least one of the visitors' centers was flooded. I checked for news on the Olympic National Park webpage, and it looks like the road into the Hoh Rainforest is closed off outside the park boundaries, and the Hurricane Ridge road is closed due to fallen rocks. M & J & the bot had to evacuate their apartment, and though they're home safe now, it looks like some of their first-floor neighbors got hit pretty hard. I feel very lucky and smiled-upon that we had such a great trip, and I'm relieved that our friends are safe and sound.

Once more, with feeling...Shutterfly.


I obviously shouldn't post when I'm as tired as I was last night...if anyone noticed that I ended up with two November 7th posts in a row, please believe that I mis-dated the second one. There were also an embarrassing number of typos. I hope I found and corrected all of them.

Reading: Sunshine by Robin McKinley. It is EXCELLENT so far.

Playing: Bringing Down the Horse by the Wallflowers

Okay, I usually don't post celebrity gossip...

...even though I love reading it. But this? This is CRRRAZY:

Watch Faith Hill. I can't imagine the eye twitch her publicist must be suffering right about now. And it's even more awful because Carrie Underwood is so damn cute & happy about winning. Oy. Thanks to Hollow Squirrel for linking it in the first place.

Also, I know it's tacky to celebrate the end of a marriage, but good for Britney. I heard that some gossip sites are calling K-Fed "Fed Ex" now. Is that not the most hilarious thing ever?

Well, almost the most hilarious thing ever. This is truly the most hilarious thing I've read all week, totally in a "Poor kid, but what can you do except laugh?" sort of way.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Trip Recap #6:  A sandwich for the ages.

Over the course of our three days at Olympic National Park, we ate PB&J sandwiches in some pretty awesome places.

Sandwich spot, day one:  under a giant western hemlock tree in the temperate rainforest.

Sandwich spot, day two:  on a rock looking out over the Pacific Ocean.

Sandwich spot, day three:  an overlook with a crazy view.

The contrast between the everyday peanut butter and strawberry jam on white bread and our ridiculously incredible surroundings was interesting. It made our PB&Js seem almost mythic.

The lunch view on day three was a result of our drive up to visit Hurricane Ridge. We'd planned to do some hiking, but the mountaintop was almost completely wrapped in fog / a low-hanging cloud when we got up to the visitors' center, and it was snowing. Just a little, but snow is snow. We watched the educational video inside the visitors' center and then headed back down the mountain. It was sort of disappointing to have to miss the views from the top of Hurricance Ridge, but the drive up and then back down the mountain did its best to make up for it:

As usual, Shutterfly has a few more photos.

After a leisurely drive back to Seattle, we visited the Archie McPhee store. It was very...random. I snapped this picture at the More McPhee store for evilducky:

Then we got very, very lost trying to find our hotel at Sea-Tac. It did not rock at all. It sucked a donkey's you-know-whats, to be honest.

But we eventually made it to the hotel, safe and sound, which rocked a lot.

a really cool rainforest picture, somehow overlooked earlier this week