Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Hello, everyone! I'm in California until May 30, but MB has kindly agreed to upload some pre-prepared posts for me while I'm away. I promise I'll read any comments you leave me when I get back, so please don't be shy!

Hope you like!   xoxo ~velocibadgergirl

metaphor egg carton full of babies:  a special edition of the bi-monthly Googleage report, with pictures and links!

old school jello mold recipes
(click here for the brilliant "Decline and Fall of Western Civilization as Seen Through the Medium of Jell-O")

images:dog pictures THAT YOU PRINT
(I love how some searchers seem to think that using the Caps Lock key will make Google try harder.)

man vs. egg
(The grudge match of the decade!)

Dave Barry licensed characters princesses
(To read Dave Barry's iconic column about using Rollerblade Barbie to set a pair of underpants on fire, click here. To read about Dave trying to duplicate the stunt for David Letterman, click here.)

why my mom rocks
(I don't know about your mom, but here's why my mom rocks.)

Im in ur fridge Starcraft

More LOL cats

the LolCat Builder

just pygmy girls sexpics
(What the holy hell is wrong with people?)

who farted in church in catcher in the rye
(The above is not as amusing as who farted in church in cats in the rye, which sounds like a bad musical adaptation.)

broadhead skink+upside
(Kitters spotted one of these in the backyard last year. It was awesomely cute.)

white dusty mold in closet
(That did happen once. It sucked.)

words of a song titled hawaiian whoopsie
(No clue.)

boob egg mold
(I was going to be sarcastic about this, but then it turned out to be real.)

Jennifer McMahon Promise Not to Tell
(It's a great book.)

jose nunez-you fucking me makes me bilingual
(If you say so.)

diagram showing the rocky mountain ecosystems

tim gunn darth vader
(I got nothing.)

(Again with the Caps Lock. And again with the perverty searches.)

regina spektor vs emily dickinson
(No, wait. This is the grudge match of the decade.)

"happy poo"
(I absolutely do not understand this. If you get it, please, for the love of all that is holy, explain it to me.)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Hello, everyone! I'm in California until May 30, but MB has kindly agreed to upload some pre-prepared posts for me while I'm away. I promise I'll read any comments you leave me when I get back, so please don't be shy!

Hope you like!   xoxo ~velocibadgergirl

The Story of My Dad and the Kool-Aid

For the fabulous Miss M, who wanted some favorite stories about my parents.

When I was about four, my dad and I were home alone while Mom was out shopping. Dad made me some Kool-Aid to drink with my lunch, and I complained that it didn't taste right. Dad assured me it was fine, so I choked some down (and I'm sure I was a total drama queen about it). When Mom got home, I complained to her that my Kool-Aid didn't taste right, so she tried it.

According to family legend, she tasted it, then asked my dad, "How much sugar did you put in this?"

To which my dad responded, "Sugar?"

Poor Dad has never lived this one down. My sister, who wasn't even born until a year and a half later, even teases him about it.

The Story of My Mom and the Mouse Skeleton

I don't remember what year this story took place, but I know I was in high school at the time. This story is not really for the faint of stomach. You have been warned.

I was at my aunt & uncle's house for Easter dinner with my family, and someone noticed a dried-out puddle of cat vomit on the breezeway porch with something peculiar inside. I went over to look at it (and I guess my mom was there, too), and noticed that in the middle of the former puddle, there was a perfectly articulated mouse skeleton. At this point, it was still my plan to go to college and study vertebrate paleontology, so I was quite interested in the skeleton, even though I was alarmed by the cat puke.

I don't remember what words (if any) were exchanged, but the next thing I knew, my mom had procured a shoebox from my aunt and pried the dessicated cat-puke-and-skeleton pancake off of the concrete. When we got home that night, she took the box of pancake straight to the kitchen, where she meticulously extracted the entire skeleton from the dried puke matrix, arranged it carefully on a bed of Easter grass inside a clear plastic Aussie hair caplet container, and presented it to me.

I told this story to someone in my mom's presence a few months ago, and she had no memory of it happening, but it's one of my favorite My Mom Kicks Ass stories to tell. And I still have the mouse, of course.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Another book meme

Instructions:  Look at the list of books below.

Bold the ones you've read.

Italicize the ones you're planning to read.

Cross out the ones you won't read / aren't interested in.

Star the ones on your book shelves.

Place parentheses around the ones you've never even heard of.

Do nothing to the ones that you may or may not read.

I grabbed two different lists and combined them, and then alphabetized them by title because I was really irritated by the haphazard arrangement.

*1984 - George Orwell

(The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho)

Angela's Ashes - Frank McCourt

Angels and Demons - Dan Brown

Animal Farm:  A Fairy Story - George Orwell

Anna Karenina - Tolstoy

Anne of Green Gables - L. M. Montgomery

Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand

(Atonement - Ian McEwan)

The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

*The Bible (I tried reading it all the way through once and got through the second or third page of Numbers before I gave up.)

(Blindness - Jose Saramago)

The Bourne Identity - Robert Ludlum

*Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

*Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding

The Catcher in the Rye - J. D. Salinger

The Celestine Prophecy - James Redfield

Charlotte's Web - E.B. White

The Clan of the Cave Bear - Jean M. Auel

A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess (From what I've heard about the movie, I don't think I'd enjoy the book.)

(Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell)

Confessions of a Shopaholic - Sophie Kinsella

The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas (I love the newer movie version, but judging from the three or four pages of The Three Musketeers that I slogged through once, I don't think the book will be quite as interesting.)

*Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

(Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson)

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

(The Diviners - Margaret Laurence)

Dune - Frank Herbert

East of Eden - John Steinbeck

Emma - Jane Austen

Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card

The English Patient - Michael Ondaatje

(Fall on Your Knees - Ann-Marie MacDonald)

(Fifth Business - Robertson Davies)

Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk

*A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom

*The Fountainhead - Ayn Rand

Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell

*The Good Earth - Pearl S. Buck

*Good Omens - Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald

*The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

*Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - JK Rowling
*Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
*Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
*Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
*Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
*Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

(His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman)

*The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

*The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

(I Know This Much is True - Wally Lamb)

Interview with the Vampire - Anne Rice

(In The Skin Of A Lion - Ondaatje)

*Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

(Kane and Abel - Jeffrey Archer)

The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Life of Pi - Yann Martel

*The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe - C. S. Lewis

*The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Little Women - Louisa May Alcott

*Lord of the Flies - William Golding

* The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring - JRR Tolkien
*The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers
*The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

(Love in the Time of Cholera - Gael Garcia Marquez)

*The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

(Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides)

The Mists of Avalon - Marion Zimmer Bradley

(Neuromancer - William Gibson )

The Notebook - Nicholas Sparks

(Not Wanted On the Voyage - Timothy Findley)

Of Mice And Men - John Steinbeck

The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway

One Hundred Years Of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

*Outlander - Diana Gabaldon

The Outsiders - S. E. Hinton

(The Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett)

The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver

(The Power of One - Bryce Courtenay)

(A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving)

Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

(Rebecca - Daphne DuMaurier)

*The Red Tent - Anita Diamant

The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett (I tried to read this as a kid, and I just remember that Colin whined a hell of a lot and I got bored.)

(The Secret History - Donna Tartt)

The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd

(The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zago)

*She's Come Undone - Wally Lamb

(Shogun - James Clavell)

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants - Ann Brashares

*Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut

The Stand - Stephen King

(The Stone Angel - Margaret Laurence)

(The Stone Diaries - Carol Shields)

(The Summer Tree - Guy Gavriel Kay)

A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

The Thorn Birds - Colleen McCullough

The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Betty Smith

Tuesdays with Morrie - Mitch Albom

*Ulysses - James Joyce

War and Peace - Tolstoy

*Watership Down - Richard Adams

White Oleander - Janet Fitch

Wizard's First Rule - Terry Goodkind

(A Woman of Substance - Barbara Taylor Bradford)

The World According To Garp - John Irving

Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

PS Mrs. Squirrel, if this is the meme you wanted to do, consider yourself tagged.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Hello, everyone! I'm in California until May 30, but MB has kindly agreed to upload some pre-prepared posts for me while I'm away. I promise I'll read any comments you leave me when I get back, so please don't be shy!

Hope you like!   xoxo ~velocibadgergirl

Book Meme: 123.5

1. Grab the nearest book.

2. Open the book to page 123.

3. Find the fifth sentence.

4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

5. Don't search around and look for the "coolest" book you can find. Do what's actually next to you.

Since I was at the computer desk, I had MB pick a book at random from the shelf in the living room.

He picked Lirael by Garth Nix.

Page 123, sentence 5 is:  "They didn't," replied the Dog happily.

If you want to play along, grab a book and either post your line here in the comments, or post it on your page and leave me a link! :)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Photo Friday

I'm still in San Francisco, so here are a few of my favorite photos from our trip to Olympic National Park last October. For the trip recaps and more photos, go here.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Journal of Billbo Catkins, Future Emperor of the World
Entry #476

The Squishy One has been gone for days now, and the Pointy One shows no signs of going out to fetch her. This is a slightly alarming development, for while it means there is less of the so-called "grooming" and "trimming," there are also less tasty things from the yellow jar in the kitchen and of course, no Squishy One to make bread upon when I get sleepy.

I've been keeping the Pointy One company on the bed at night, and I know he thinks it's because I miss the Squishy One, but really it's because I can't stand it when he cries. Also, I figure it never hurts to suck up, even if so far he shows no signs of doing me any favors.

The One That Takes Over the Salad Room and the One That Lives With the Tiny Pink Things have been over a lot, which kind of sucks since I'm still pissed at the OTTOTSR and I'm always worried that the OTLWTTPT will bring said Pink Things over when he visits. God, they're freaky. They look just like the various large Ones, but they're small. And high-pitched.

Yesterday that damn squirrel was back, prancing around on the back porch like he owns the place. He still owes me $400 from that poker game last fall. Tell you what...one day soon I'll figure out how to open this sliding door, and then we'll see who's laughing. Cheeky little bastard.

I'm getting off-subject, though. Where did I leave off last time? Ah, yes. The problem of thumbs. Over the last few years living with the Squishy One and the Pointy One, I've been able to teach myself lots of useful skills. Imagine my glee when I realized that I landed in a family where the Pink Things would actually encourage me to practice trying to open doors. Fools. Unfortunately, even with their complicity, my efforts led nowhere. It seems that opposable thumbs really are necessary for the operation of a doorknob. Damn. I will figure it out, given time. That I can promise.

I've also made a lot of progress setting up my network of supporters. The regional net has been cast, and I'm almost ready to go national. It looks like it should be up and running by--

Uh-oh. The Pointy One just pulled into the parking lot. I'd better cut this short. Until next time, my minions, keep the faith.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

You're in the demon produce aisle!

Here's my favorite episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, plus one of my favorite jokes:

So one night, this vampire bat comes straggling back to the cave, really really late. He's covered in blood, and all the other bats surround him in a frenzy, demanding to know where he found it.

He says, "I don't want to talk about it."

They keep harassing him, and he just keeps saying "I don't want to talk about it."

Finally he realizes they won't be dissuaded, so he says, "OK, fine, you want to know where I got this blood?"

All the other bats are screaming "YES GOD YES!!" so he says, "All right, follow me."

He leads the other bats through the forest, for miles and miles, and all the while they're getting more and more excited.

He finally stops, and the other bats all shriek, "The blood! Where is the blood?!"

The first bat says, "OK, you guys see that really big oak tree right over there?"

"Yes! Yes!" the bats howl.

"Good," the bloody bat says. "Because I fucking didn't."

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Hello, everyone! I'm in California until May 30, but MB has kindly agreed to upload some pre-prepared posts for me while I'm away. I promise I'll read any comments you leave me when I get back, so please don't be shy!

Hope you like!   xoxo ~velocibadgergirl

The Story of How My Sister Scared Me Half to Death

For the fabulous Miss M, who wanted stories of me and my sister as kids.

As a child, I was a wound-up, top-speed, Energizer Bunny of a kid. I never ever stopped moving. My sister, on the other hand, was a perpetually chilled-out, daydreamy, loose-limbed child. She was quite possibly the clumsiest kid ever born. Luckily, she must've also been equipped with Secret-Service-grade guardian angels, because as many times as she tripped over and onto and into things, ran into things, fell off of things, and just flat-out fell on her face, she was never severely injured. She's never broken a bone, and never had to get stitches. On the contrary, she always seemed to have a gift for hurting herself in really interesting ways, but in never sustaining a serious injury (thank goodness).

For instance, there was the time that she tripped over something in her bedroom and hit her mouth on the metal slat of her bedframe, knocking out not her front tooth, not her newly-grown-in eyetooth, but the next tooth over, a baby tooth which was already loose. And only that tooth. There was the time that my dad took her to a carnival and she tripped over nothing at all, landed on her face, and scraped the enamel off of her permanent front teeth. She didn't knock them out, break one, or even chip one...just scraped the top layer of enamel off on the concrete. Years later, her orthodontist was able to perform some kind of abracadabra to buff out the scratched spots, and now you can't even tell. At a picnic at our cousins' house one summer, I watched her wandering across the yard, headed straight toward a giant bush. Any other kid probably would've noticed the bush, but I could tell that she hadn't. I called after her to watch out for the bush, and as she turned to hear what I was saying, she walked right into it. Then, mellow as ever, she looked up at the bush for a few moments, then calmly walked around it and kept going. Or the time she was racing our foster sister up the porch steps, put out her hands to stop herself against the glass of the storm door, and went right through, but only ended up with a tiny cut near the side of her wrist.

Looking back, I'm sure Mom and Dad and I were always poised to run and catch her before she could fall, holding our breaths waiting for a step to go wrong and Little Sis to go down. I never knew how ingrained it was in me to expect little kids to fall down and get hurt until I was at a beach in Maine, watching a friend's two-year-old running headlong across the sand, and realized that I was literally holding my breath, cringing, waiting for the tumble that never happened, the tears that never came.

A block away from my parents' house, there's a church with a parking lot behind it, perfect for roller skating and riding bikes. Instead of blacktop, it's paved with perfectly smooth, very fine-grained concrete. As kids, we constantly took our bikes down to the church parking lot to ride around. By the time my sister was about eight or nine years old, she was finally beginning to grasp the coordination necessary to ride a two-wheeled bike. She had a regular-sized bike--my old handed-down Huffy one-speed--because she was too big for the bikes that come with training wheels attached. My mom had found a set of larger-than-normal training wheels that could be attached to the Huffy, and my sister was finally at the point where both training wheels had been raised. The idea was that she would be able to ride normally if she could get the bike balanced, but the training wheels would still be there to catch her if she started to tip over.

This worked really well, and one day, she and I were at the parking lot when she got her bike perfectly balanced for the first time. Elated, she turned around and yelled to me, "Velocibadgergirl, look! I'm doing it! I'm doing it!" She was pedaling as fast as she could, her training wheels clear of the ground...and she was heading straight for disaster. The parking lot concrete was shaped like a serving tray, with a short, barely inclined lip around the edge. At the back of the lot, there was a low grassy ditch just past the lip, with a chain link fence behind it. She was almost out of concrete. I yelled, "Look out!" but it was too late. By the time my sister turned to see where she was going, she was too close to the end of the lot to stop. She hit the lip of the concrete and ramped off of it, and she and the bike sailed up into the air, then gracefully tilted over backwards and upside down, and crashed down into the ditch, vanishing from my sight.

I panicked. I threw down my own bike and ran as hard as I've ever run down to the end of the lot, where I found my poor sister lying at the bottom of the shallow ditch, in a tangle with her bicycle, understandably upset and crying for our mother. On the way down, she'd scraped her arm from wrist to elbow along the top of the chain link fence, but instead of the horrific injury this should've caused, she just had a long scratch. Nothing was broken, so we limped home, her crying and me trying to help her hobble along and drag both of our bicycles. Always resilient, I'm sure she learned to ride her two-wheel bike before the end of that summer. Looking back, it does make a funny story, but I don't think I'll ever forget seeing her sail off into the air, or watching her disappear into that ditch with her bicycle. I wonder if it would be cruel to keep my own kids on tricycles until they're eighteen...

Monday, May 21, 2007

Hello, everyone! I'm in California until May 30, but MB has kindly agreed to upload some pre-prepared posts for me while I'm away. I promise I'll read any comments you leave me when I get back, so please don't be shy!

Hope you like!   xoxo ~velocibadgergirl

A Day in History

Meme stolen from Radioactive Jam

1. Go to Wikipedia and enter your birthday without the year:

March 13

2. List three events that occurred that day:

1781 - William Herschel discovers the planet Uranus.

1993 - The Great Blizzard of 1993 strikes the eastern U.S., bringing record snowfall and other severe weather all the way from Cuba to Qu├ębec. (I think I remember this! If it's the snowstorm I'm thinking of, we were on Spring Break that week, and my mom helped me and my sister build a snowman in the backyard.)

1997 - In Phoenix, Arizona, USA, the Phoenix Lights, one of the most widely witnessed UFO sightings, take place. (Methinks this sentence has a bit of a comma infestation.)

3. List two important birthdays:

1855 - Percival Lowell, American astronomer (Lowell's obituary from the NY Times.

1960 - Adam Clayton, Irish bassist

4. List one death:

1842 - Henry Shrapnel, British soldier and inventor (He does not seem to have been killed by his own invention.)

5. List one holiday or observance:

Feast of Saint Nicephorus

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Two Five Zero

It doesn't seem like it was very long ago that I was marking the posting of my hundredth entry, and now I'm posting #250. I'm not sure what I hoped for when I started this blog, but it's definitely been a crazy journey, exceeding my expectations in many, many ways.

I owe a huge thanks to all of you who read my little barbaric yawps, all of you who comment, and all of you who write your own blogs. It really is a cool world here in the internet, isn't it?

Of course, now that I've reached 250, I'm leaving for California (and no internet connection) for 10 days. Luckily, MB has been coerced convinced to post some pre-written entries for me while I'm gone. Please don't run off and forget about me! I promise I will read every single comment when I return, so please leave some. If you don't see me commenting on your sites, you'll know why. I'll do my best to catch up on your lives when I get back.

Thanks for reading, thanks for writing, thanks for being.   :)


Wednesday, May 16, 2007


To:  the fuzzy baby bunnies

From:  Velocibadgergirl

RE:  running into the street

Don't, okay? Just...don't. Because to be quite honest, just about the very last thing I need when I'm driving home, full to bursting after drinking a grande chai and a cup of ice water, thinking sadly of my poor dear friend Heather and how she saw a cat get hit by a car last night, and about that time that I saw a deer get mowed down by a truck...well, just about the last thing I need at that moment is for you to bound merrily across the dark street, aiming straight for my car. And sure, the other lane was empty, so when I swerved across the center line to avoid crushing you beneath my tires I didn't get squished, and true, the stab of dread that went through my stomach when I saw you didn't actually make me pee my pants...but I still am pretty unhappy with your ill-advised actions of earlier this evening. In the future, for your sake and mine, cut it the hell out.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming

SSFB at Starting Fresh tagged me for the Eight Things meme.

Here are the rules:  Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves. Write a post about your own random things. Post these rules. At the end of your blog, tag 8 people and post their names. Don't forget to leave them a comment and tell them they're tagged.

1. When I was a baby, my mom's car caught fire while she was driving it and I was in the back seat. The way she tells it, she was getting ready to turn into the gas station at the end of our block (which actually had attendants back then), when the gas station guys came running out into the street, yelling at her to stop and not to pull into the station. She looked in the rearview mirror and saw a trail of fire following her down the street.

It must've been an electrical short, because all the door locks and power windows ceased to work, but she managed to get herself and me (in my gargantuan 1980s carseat) out of the car. One of the gas station men went back to the car for her purse. A firetruck came and the firemen put out the fire, and when my dad came home for lunch, he turned the corner and saw my mom's burned-up car sitting in the middle of the street and then (probably the longest split second of his life later) saw us sitting safely on the curb.

To this day, when my mom goes shopping for a car, she asks the salesman what will happen if the car catches fire--will the door locks automatically open, or will they remain frozen in the last position they were in before the fire? The salesmen inevitably laugh and ask, "What are the odds of that ever happening?" Then Mom says, "Well, it happened once, and I'm not eager to repeat the experience," and buys a vehicle with manual locks and roll-down windows.

2. I have a terrible sense of direction. If I don't have exact written-out step-by-step instructions on how to get somewhere, I will get lost. Sometimes, I'll get lost if I do have exact step-by-step instructions. I always count on having to turn around at least once on a long drive somewhere that I've never been before.

3. As part of my job I speak in front of a few hundred schoolchildren and several dozen members of the public each month with no problems, but in high school and early college I had nearly paralyzing stage fright. I have no idea how I got over it.

4. I have a freakishly good short-term memory. When I was in college, I took a Shakespeare class with a mythically strict professor. Besides reading at least one play per week (if not 1.5 - 2), we had to take weekly quizzes which required us to remember tiny little details of plot and dialogue. We also had a choice between three avenues of Horribly Hard Work:  1. Memorize and recite 50 lines from a selected list of scenes and present two oral reports to the class. 2. Memorize and recite 150 lines from a selected list of scenes and present one oral report to the class. 3. Memorize and recite 250 lines from a selected list of scenes.

Trusting my memory, I chose option 3. We had to recite 50 lines at a time, and we had to choose our lines from the list she gave us. Also, she knew every section on the list so well that if you missed literally one word, one contraction, she'd notice and you'd have to begin the line again. If you so much as substituted a for for a but, your line didn't count. If you could start the line again and get it right, she'd count it, but if you left out a word and honestly didn't know it, you'd have to come back another time and try again. Luckily, she didn't make us look at her while we were reciting, or I'd have forgotten all of my lines. I would write my sets of lines out on notecards and carry them around, studying in fits and starts for about a week. Then, on the morning of each recitation, I went to the liberal arts building about 45 minutes before my appointment and I'd sit by myself and say the lines over and over and over in my head. They'd stick long enough that I could recite them perfectly, and then by lunch, they'd be gone.

Four years later, out of my 250 lines, all I can remember is "To be, or not to be, that is the question: / Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer / the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, / Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, / And by opposing, end them" and "To sleep, perchance to dream--ay, there's the rub" from Hamlet; "Is this a dagger which I see before me, / The handle toward my hand?" (Macbeth); and "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers" (Henry V).

I actually finished my recitations before anyone else in the class, and as a completely unexpected prize, my professor gave me a pen, a ruler, a keychain, and a postcard with Shakespeare's portrait on them, and a completely hilarious eraser with "Ay, there's the rub," printed on it. I still have the eraser.

5. During the summer of 2003, I spent 6 1/2 weeks at a geologic field camp in Montana. We were out in the field from 8 AM to 5 PM six days a week, with no restrooms of any kind (not even outhouses). Thanks to that experience, I can basically pee anywhere, anytime. I once peed in an alley behind a boarded-up liquor store in Canada at 4 AM after ill-advisedly leaving a closing bar without visiting the bathroom and then realizing too late that a seven block walk to your hotel is way too long when you're about to die from needing to pee and one of the chicks you're with is so drunk she's taking one step every two minutes.

6. I've never been drunk, ever. I haven't really found any kind of alcohol that I like enough to drink until I'm drunk. Even the stuff I can pretend to like (raspberry Smirnoff, for example) fills up my stomach long before I've had enough to even get a buzz. I sometimes wonder if I'm missing out, but I figure I save lots of money this way.

7. I don't eat anything made from pigs. I watched a terrible video at an anti-CAFO (Confined Animal Feeding Operation, a.k.a. factory farm) conference in college about the horrific way the pigs are treated at giant hog farms, and I haven't been able to stomach anything containing pig since then. I have also learned my lesson and stopped attending conferences that might involve traumatic animal videos. I miss bacon, but I just can't bring myself to go back to eating pigs. It's been something like 6 years since I gave it up, and I don't know that I'll ever go back.

8. In March of 2002 I went to Washington, DC, with five other members of the campus environmental club (including the bibliophile and J-Dog) to participate in a Public Lands Action Summit hosted by the Sierra Student Coalition. We lobbied our representatives on Capitol Hill, asking them to keep the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge closed to oil drilling. Sometimes I miss those days so much it aches. We were so full of fire and righteous indignation, and we really did want to change the world.



Miss M

That Chick

Mrs. Squirrel



Mama Snee

Antonia at Whoopee

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Isabel posted a cool entry today detailing the contents of her purse, and I figured it would be fun to play along.

Here's my purse:

It's a woven bag, allegedly a native handicraft from Ecuador or Guatemala. I don't know how indigenous it really is, but a vendor who always sells swag at the Native American arts festival at the historic site I worked at in 2004 sold them. I'd seen them around (I'm guessing lots of hippie shops also sell them) and I really wanted one, so MB bought me one. I've used it ever since and I love it.

Now for the contents:

A:  My mp3 player in an old cell phone case. MB attached a ribbon and a carabiner to the mp3 player so I can clip it onto my clothes somewhere when I don't have any pockets. It works great to hang it from my pajama top when I'm lounging around listening to music and reading at night :)

B:  Hairband. Necessary in case of sudden barrette failure, as I cannot stand to have my hair in my face while I'm working.

C:  Coin purse with a kickass holographic comic book-style design. It used to belong to a girl that I worked with at my high school job at the ice cream shop, and I'd play with it whenever she got it out to buy something. When I started college and switched to only working weekends, she gave it to me as a semi-going-away present. It still reminds me of the good times we had at the store.

D:  Buckeye nut for luck *.

E:  Tiny compact-style mirror with a Care Bear sticker that I put on the front to cover up a sticky spot from the price tag. I got it at a thrift store for 25 cents.

F:  Fuzzy zipper pouch where I keep all the bargain club cards and punch cards and random whatever cards that I can't fit in my wallet anymore.

G:  One of three pens.

H:  Bank receipt and expired car insurance card (don't worry, I have a non-expired one in my wallet).

I:  Hot Topic gift card that MB gave me for Christmas.

J:  Notebook for writing down books I hear about and want to read, cool quotes I come across, etc. I actually use it all the time.

K:  My phone, clearly.

L:  Burt's Bees milk & honey lotion, the best lotion in the whole wide world.

M:  My wallet. I bought it for 50 cents on clearance at Gadzooks in high school, and I've been using it ever since.

Anybody else want to play? Link me in the comments so I can see your purse loot!

The most determined tortoise ever born:

Monday, May 14, 2007

If only I'd remembered to wear my camo pants.*

My mom loves flowers, but has severe allergies, so any flowers she is given have to be of the outside variety. Unfortunately, she also gets sick if she's out in the heat too much, so she can't do much gardening. Every year for Mother's Day, my dad plants flowers in the beds in front of the house, and for the last three years, MB and I have outfitted the porch with two large planters full of petunias. To this end, I went out in search of potting soil after work today, and wound up at Rural King, the most aggressively middle-American store I have ever, ever seen. (Incidentally, they really are only in middle America:  locations.)

I usually do my extremely limited home and garden shopping at Lowes or Home Depot, stores with shiny commercials and neatly organized stores, places where I feel empowered to beautify my lawn and improve my living space. Rural King is not a place for shiny commercials. It's a place that gives out free popcorn and sells horse feed one half-assed partition away from a pile of deer bait, which is across from the Carhartt aisle. I felt like there needed to be a sign over the door that said, "You don't have to drink PBR to shop here, but it helps." As I guided my squeaky shopping cart across a parking lot so cracked and uneven that I swear my fillings were coming loose from the vibrating and the noise, I had to navigate around a tractor. A tractor, ya'll. And not a little Toro job, either...an honest-to-God bigger-than-my-car tractor.

This is the kind of store that doesn't bother with fluffy or sparkly advertising campaigns, and there is something solid and noble to that, I think. It's a pretty unusual experience to be shopping in a place that doesn't even pretend to care about projecting a modicum of sophistication. Then again, the Midwest wasn't built on sophistication. It was built on hard work and being somewhat countrified, and I guess that's nothing to be ashamed of, even if it does produce the kind of retail experience that could underwrite an entirely new, entirely vast spectrum of Midwestern / Upper South stereotypes, just by having a non-native wander into a Rural King and assume it was an iconic experience.

*And is it just me, or does "camo pants" sound somewhat naughty?

Can I get a Hell, yes?

From Pajiba's 10 Sexiest People -- The Celebrities You'd Most Like to Bang:

1. Nathan Fillion - I’ll concede this: Christian Bale actually merited more mentions on the freebie list, but Nathan Fillion ... well, goddamnit, when I think of "Pajiba," he’s one of the first names that jumps into my head (after "Arrested Development"). I feel like you folks have a sense of ownership over the guy--not quite as much as the Whedon people, but still, he’s like the unofficial Pajiba mascot (if you’re into shtupping mascots), the site’s personification, if you will:  A guy that’s known in certain circles, but--amongst the mainstream--he’s an obscure actor, still remembered mostly as the dude from "Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place" (he played the pizza place) if he’s even remembered at all. He’s not a nerd, nor a geek, nor a dork, but he’s the nerd/geek/dork sex symbol, you know? He can play the lead in a fanboy movie while maintaining fanboy detachment--he’s cool, but he’s not, you know, Clooney or Depp. He’s also a genre-crosser. He can do the dimwit ("Two Guys and a Girl") dry wit (Slither), twisted villain ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer"), befuddled charmer (Waitress), droll action hero ("Firefly"), or charismatic leading man (Serenity). He can do TV or movies. He’s like this generation’s Harrison Ford, but there aren’t any goddamn Indiana Jones films (and how great a Han Solo would he have been?) for him to star in, so he’s relegated to a bad Fox show that is cancelled after three episodes. Because nobody appreciates this guy--and why the hell not? Worst of all:  He’s got nothing in the pipeline. Nothing! Why won’t anyone hire him? Lookit:  I don’t even like sci-fi that much ("Firefly" / Serenity being the exception), but I think this guy is the coolest motherfucker on the planet. There’s no reason in the world he can’t do traditional action flicks or romantic comedies or even another ensemble movie / show. And hell, I’d kill to be his wingman for a night--he’s the ultimate Everyman but, for the ladies, completely bangable, too--as long, it would seem, as you go on a few dates first (Christian Bale, maybe even Paul Rudd, might go for a one-night stand, but this guy’s got scruples--he’s Canadian, for God’s sake). He can be bluster and sarcasm, but underneath it all, you know he’s a softie--and a handsome man, at that. Indeed, he’d treat you like a lady while you were cheating on your husband.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why Nathan Fillion is Pajiba’s 2007 Sexiest Man of the Year.

(Cue applause and wolf whistles from the velocibadger household, where even MB states, "That is a very handsome man.")

Reading: Lions and Tigers and Crocs, Oh My!:  a Pearls Before Swine Treasury by Stephan Pastis

Playing: mixes on the mpMonster

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Ode to the Oldsmobeast

She took me to Danger's graduation from massage school. Because of her, I was able to move in with MB after my junior year in college, once I was well and truly over the appeal of campus living. The first summer that I got into the weeklong creative writing workshop, she carried me 45 minutes out in the morning and 45 minutes back in the evenings. Because of her, I was able to take the internship at the nonprofit downtown, and then work for the DNR for a season after graduation.

A Neon sideswiped her once, and she ripped the Neon's side mirror free and scraped it down her attacker's side. She only suffered a small crack in the glass of her own side mirror. She's a tough old broad.

She only gets about 20 miles to the gallon, and she can't go over 72 mph. She has no cruise control (which I don't mind since I don't like using it). Her tape deck doesn't work, but luckily her radio does.

Her headliner is hanging mostly free, the front left speaker is blown, her paint is chipping, the seal on the driver's side door is gone, and that same door tends to stick in the winter.

If she was a person, she'd be able to get her driver's license now; she's 17 years old. She's starting to show her age, like an aging overplasticized socialite who's got more replacement parts than originals. Late last year it was the starter. Before that, the left front brake line collapsed. The brakes have been replaced two or three times, the tires twice. Her computer gave up the ghost one day on the expressway between home and campus, and luckily my dad was available to rescue me.

On Thursday, she was fine. On Friday morning, she was fine. Then, Friday afternoon, not so fine. The starter was making enthusiastic revving noises, but the engine was ignoring it. Each time I started her, it took longer for the engine to turn over. MB took her to the shop yesterday, and after paying $400 to get the fuel injection system fixed, he decided that her days are numbered. We've known for a while that we're to the point in her life where it's only a matter of time until the costs of keeping her running will exceed what she's worth.

With gas prices climbing higher and higher, it's a good idea to find something a little more fuel efficient. I'll get a CD player, a reliable vehicle, new paint, a headliner that's not shedding disintegrating insulation. I should be excited, and I am...but it also feels like I'm turning my back on an old friend. For all her crotchety behavior, all her shortcomings, I really do love my car. I worry that she'll end up in a junkyard somewhere, rusting and unloved. To me, she'll always represent freedom and a time in my life when I was just beginning to test the waters of full-fledged adulthood.

As Jack Sparrow said, "Wherever we want to go, we'll go. That's what a ship is, you know. It's not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails, that's what a ship needs but what a ship is... is freedom." I've always felt the same way about my clunky old car. Happy trails, old friend.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Photo Friday

Mama Snee posted a link to a crazy cool site:  3191:  a year of mornings. On 3191, two friends take a photo almost every morning, then post them side by side.

I love the concept, and thought, "I could do that!" Then I realized there's no way I have the motivation or the talent to take an interesting picture every morning. But I figure I can maybe manage to do it once a week. I like the idea of trying to find something of beauty in the world at least once a week, too.

So here is the first installment of Photo Friday:

Thursday, May 10, 2007

This is my alibi.

I spent the day putting together supplies for a forensic science workshop that we're running at work on Saturday. One of the activities the kids get to do involves spraying a solution on imitation "blood evidence" to produce a chemiluminescent glow, just like TV cops (and real cops, though not as often) do with Luminol. In order to facilitate this, I cut six bandanas into fourths and then carefully splattered faux blood across each piece, while the macabre sounds of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds played in the background.

So if I disappear and you hear about an office in the Midwest being shut down by a crack crime scene team, please tell the police that the blood on the carpet is fake.

Incidentally:  "Chemiluminescence takes place in numerous living organisms, the American firefly being a widely studied case of bioluminescence.

The firefly reaction has the highest known quantum efficiency, QC of 88%, for chemiluminescence reactions."

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

It's time for another Slate Green Challenge

The United Nations says that the average American is responsible for about 22 tons of carbon-dioxide emissions every year, compared with an average of six tons per person throughout the rest of the world. Scientists are sure those emissions matter: Even a small rise in global temperature could significantly change the climate, potentially resulting in major storms and droughts, disruption of the food supply, and the spread of disease.

When we ran the Green Challenge last fall, some readers noted that individual carbon diets can go only so far in addressing climate change and that it's even more important to change the menu of options that individuals—and businesses—have when they're making choices about energy use. Along those lines, here are three ideas from the nonprofit Environmental Leadership Program.

Create a market:  A tax on carbon, or a cap-and-trade proposal like the ones before Congress, would lead to price-setting for carbon dioxide emissions. That would cause a ripple effect throughout the economy, giving us an incentive to factor in CO2 emissions and energy efficiency as we make choices.

Raise standards:  Replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents in one's own house is great, but what about retiring all the incandescent bulbs in the country? Australia recently set a phaseout date of 2010, and the European Union appears ready to follow suit. Similar proposals have been introduced in several states, including California. There is precedent for this kind of eco-mandate: When California set efficiency standards for refrigerators, gas furnaces, and other appliances in 1977, the state reduced the growth of electricity demand for the next generation. Fuel-economy standards and emissions limits for cars and trucks are more critical versions of policies that force technology changes.

Cut commutes:  Transportation is a major source of emissions. What if we cut the travel out of work? Senators Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and Mary Landrieu, D-La., recently introduced a bill to make nearly all federal employees eligible to telecommute. Alternatively, could we bring jobs and people closer to each other? "Smart growth" policies spur mixed-use development around transit hubs and revitalize urban centers.

Week 1:  Transportation

Transportation is one of the biggest culprits in human production of carbon dioxide—the source of about one-fifth of global-warming emissions worldwide. In the United States, two-thirds of the oil consumed goes toward powering vehicles, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Passenger cars alone are responsible for 25 percent of the greenhouse gases we produce.

Some suggestions for reducing the miles you log in the car and on the plane:

• Keep your tires properly inflated by checking them regularly when you fill up at the gas station. Environmental Defense notes that 32 million U.S. vehicles ride on at least two under-inflated tires, wasting 500 million gallons of gas each year.

• Drive 65 miles per hour instead of 75. This increases fuel efficiency by 15 percent, thereby reducing emissions. And speeding tickets.

• It seems almost too obvious to point out, but idling cars get zero miles per gallon. According to the Department of Energy, no more than 30 seconds of idling is needed to warm up a car, even on cold winter days.

• OK, so it's a long way and you have to fly. Consider buying carbon offset credits from a company such as TerraPass or Native Energy. You calculate your annual carbon emissions for flying and then buy a credit to help offset the pollution. The money funds renewable energy projects like wind farms. (Read this Slate piece for more details and analysis.) You can buy offsets for your car's emissions, too. Though some critics contend that you can't buy your way green, we say buying carbon offsets is better than doing nothing.

I took the Transportation quiz, and here's what it said:

Your baseline score is 10,549.

The average American score is probably about 20,000 pounds of CO2.

Hooray! I agreed to attempt to check my tires regularly, since driving on underinflated tires wastes up to 500 million gallons of gas annually, nationwide. That would save me 250 points, or 2%.

Since I'll be flying to San Franciso in a few weeks, I decided to check out the TerraPass program, just to see what it was like. I figured it would be vastly out of my budget, but it turns out I can balance the 1,473 lbs of carbon dioxide that my share of the flight will generate by purchasing a $10 TerraPass package. Huh. I think I'm going to go for it.

Your emissions report

Personal emissions:  1,473 lbs CO2
Miles flown:  3,778 miles
Personal fuel use:  75 gallons
3,778 miles:  1,473 lbs CO2

How does a Flight TerraPass work?

Your purchase of a Flight TerraPass results in reductions in carbon dioxide emissions elsewhere, by funding industrial efficiency and renewable energy projects such as wind farms.

Renewable energy from wind reduces carbon dioxide emissions by displacing power generated from fossil fuels. And industrial efficiency projects reduce carbon dioxide emissions through conservation.

In this way, your Flight TerraPass results in a guaranteed reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, balancing out the global warming impact of your flying.

Cool. The challenge is already in its fourth week, so I'll be playing catch-up for a little while. Are you up for the challenge?

Why you should never piss off an engineer who owes you money:

Edited to add: I thought the name on the check looked familiar, so I checked, and the creator of this fabulous piece is the same guy who does xkcd, my most favorite webcomic ever. That's just awesome.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Sitting pretty

There are a few dangers inherent in the companionship (I dare not say 'ownership') of a super-sized cat, besides the simple truth that having a 15-pound feline make bread on your boobs freakin' hurts.

Kitters is spared a lot of indignity due to the fact that, as a cat, he doesn't need clothing. No search for big and tall sizes for him! There are other issues, however. For instance, MB and I once splurged at PetSmart and bought him a single-unit kitty condo:

We brought it home and showed it to Kitters, and tossed a toy mouse inside in an attempt to get him to check out his new digs, and then realized that the cat was about twice as large as the inside of the condo. Whoopsie. Kitters hadn't exactly been excited about the condo anyway (his reaction had mostly been one of slightly irritated "You want me to go where?"-ness), so we took it back and exchanged it for a distinctly non-fun tub of litter.

Another time, we thought it would be really nice to buy Kitters a little window perch.

You see, at our old apartment, Kitters sat on the windowsill of the big living room picture window every day and watched the cars drive by on our street below. In fact, it was his window-sitting habit that landed him in our little family in the first place. One night, we were leaving to go visit BoMB in Kentucky, and our neighbor was out on the shared exterior landing smoking a cigarette. As we were talking to our neighbor, Kitters jumped up into the window. Now, Kitters had lived with our neighbor for a year, and once he came to live with us he sat in our window every day, but somehow in an entire year, we'd never seen him in the neighbor's window. We didn't even know that the neighbor had a cat. I exclaimed, "Oh, you have a cat! He's pretty!" Neighbor replied, "You want him?" To which, of course, I said, "What's wrong with him?" Neighbor said, "Nothing! [dirty liar] I'm just not home enough to give him the attention he deserves," and so we adopted him upon our return at the end of the weekend.

Anyhow, we bought the kitty perch and installed it in the spare room so that Kitters would have a clear view of the backyard. Once it was ready, we tried to get Kitters to jump up onto it, but no amount of patting and cajoling and encouraging exclamation could convince him. Eventually, we lifted him onto the perch, all the while enthusing to him about how cool it would be for him to use it! To watch the birds! And the squirrels! Kitters rolled his eyes a few times and jumped down, but then he jumped right back up. We were thrilled for about two nanoseconds, and then the whole goddamn perch came crashing down, with poor Kitters along for the ride. As you can imagine, we felt like absolute shit. We crammed that traitorous perch back into its box and promptly returned it for more kitty litter.

Hope must spring eternal in the human heart, because when I found this on the PetSmart website tonight, my first thought was how much I'd love to get one for Kitters:

"Give your indoor cat the safe outdoor experience. With the locking PetSafe Cat Flap, you can give your cat the freedom to go in and out of the Cat Veranda as he pleases or close it to restrict his use. The Cat Veranda features a washable-carpeted interior as well as a covered roof to ensure that your indoor cat has the most comfortable outdoors experience possible."

But then I realized that this is actually a pretty cruel idea. "Hey, kitty cat! You know those birds and squirrels that you can see but never catch? Now you have to smell them, too!"

Sun Salutation

Reading: Sammy's Hill by Kristin Gore

Playing: Aha Shake Heartbreak by Kings of Leon

Monday, May 07, 2007

Okay. But dogs CAN look up!

This is a public service announcement. If you like or once liked stereotypical cop movies, like Point Break or Bad Boys or Die Hard or Lethal Weapon, you need to go see Hot Fuzz. If you liked Shaun of the Dead, you need to go see Hot Fuzz. If you haven't seen Shaun of the Dead, you need to watch it and then go watch Hot Fuzz. If you didn't like Shaun of the Dead, then you need to keep it to yourself, or you'll make the baby Jesus cry. For serious.

I, unlike Danger, watched and liked Point Break back in high school, so Hot Fuzz was especially amusing. Even if you don't watch cop movies, I think you'll still be able to enjoy Hot Fuzz. I didn't catch Shaun of the Dead until it was out on DVD, but I loved it, even though I've never watched a proper zombie movie (I don't think Resident Evil counts).

With Shaun of the Dead, I remember going into it thinking it was going to be a parody and then being sort of thrown off balance when it wasn't so much a parody as it was a zombie movie with funny parts. I also remember thinking it was funny but not hilarious, but then spending the next few days recalling lines and scenes that just got funnier the more time they had to sink in. Hot Fuzz is sort of like that, too. It's a cop movie that pays homage to other cop movies, and that happens to have some hilarious parts, and it's even better the second time.


Sunday, May 06, 2007

Is it Sunday already?

As mentioned, MB and I spent this weekend camping with some friends. We always eat ridiculously well on our camping trips, and this one was no exception. On Friday night, MB and his friend from work (let's call him Mr. Muskrat) fixed chicken and gargantuan steaks. I took a photo because I knew no one would believe how big the steaks were without proof, but I'll just post a link since I know some of my readers are vegetarians: tasty dinner, pre-cooking

On Saturday we went for a hike, but I only got a few pictures before it started raining:
Yay, turtle!

Teeny snake. He didn't like Mr. Muskrat holding his tail.

We hiked for about three hours, and it sprinkled off and on for the first two, and then rained straight through the last hour. We didn't get soaked, exactly, but we were definitely damp all the way through to our skins. Luckily, it was warm enough that the rain just made things feel nice and cool. This was a welcome change from last year, when we tried to make this same hike during the last weekend of July, at the tail end of a record summer heat wave. Other than Mrs. Muskrat's orange hat bleeding some color out on her skin (not her face, thankfully), everyone survived more or less intact. That night, Mr. Muskrat made his trademark barbecue hamburgers, and they were SO good. I finished a really good book, Mrs. Muskrat and I had S'mores again, and the stars came out above the impossibly tall pine trees.

Today, the Muskrats left early to go to church, and MB and I slept in until about 9:30. Our tent tends to turn into an oven once the sun hits it in the morning, but it was so cool outside that we were comfy--even a little bit chilly. Once we broke camp and packed everything back up in the car, we headed to Marengo Cave for the day and took both walking tours.

flowstone forming

the Lion's Den

the Penny Ceiling, where you can try to get pennies to stick

Elephant Rock

soda straws covering the ceiling

the Rocky Mountains

stalactites, stalagmites, columns (formed when stalactites
and stalagmites meet), and a huge mound of flowstone

We saw two bats! I love bats, and firmly
believe that they are unfairly maligned.

More nice cave formations:

For more cave photos, go to Shutterfly.

After our second tour, we took a short walk to see the sinkhole where the natural entrance used to be, and even though the sinkhole was somewhat unimpressive, the woods were pretty.

Now the fun's over, and all we have to remember it by are pictures, memories, and a huge freaking pile of laundry. BoMB has moved into his new apartment, the plants are all outside for the summer, and Kitters is quietly gloating, since he once again has access to the most sacred and coveted spare room.

How about you guys? How did you spend your weekend?

Reading: Sammy's Hill by Kristin Gore

Just finished: Promise Not to Tell by Jennifer McMahon

Playing: Cake (sound warning)