Saturday, February 28, 2009

You look like a monkey and you smell like one, too! *

February 12 of this year marked Charles Darwin's 200th birthday, and the 150th anniversary of what is arguably the most important scientific work ever published, On the Origin of Species. As a professional science geek, much of my February was spent researching, talking about, thinking about, and formally celebrating the life and works of a guy who seems like he was above all a pretty cool dude. My background is not in biology, and there are dozens of bloggers who already wrote more eloquently and with more authority about Darwin and his work, so I won't get into the heavy stuff.

I would encourage everyone to track down a copy of this month's National Geographic and read the cover story about Darwin. Like the biggest project I helped with at work, the article focuses mainly on the man behind the myth, the guy who had no formal scientific training and yet went on to write books that are still accepted as accurate today on subjects as varied as botany, geology, the formation of coral reefs, the mechanisms of orchid fertilization, and the ways in which worms turn vegetation into soil. And of course there's that whole natural selection thing. You know, only the foundation of all modern biology.

Happy birthday, Darwin. The day a reliable time machine is invented, I am coming back there to buy you a beer.

(Many thanks to evilducky for the festive Darwin photo.)

* Did everybody else add this verse to the end of the happy birthday song, or was that just us?

This is not my best day ever

So far, MB has discovered that somebody slashed two of his tires in the night. Apparently a few cars in the neighborhood were hit. He discovered this on his way to teach the final for his class, and I had left my phone at my parents' last night, so I woke up at 7:13 to the doorbell ringing. It was my dad, who was dropping off the phone and heading to take MB to school. There was a bunch of back-and-forth about whether or not I needed to go wait with the car until the tow truck arrived, and in the end I didn't.

I waited about an hour and a half and called the shop to see if they could tell me the cause of the flats before I called and filed a police report, then Indy and I went out on a few errands. I was determined not to let the events of the morning ruin the whole day. MB wanted to go ahead and have the oil changed while the car was there, so I called to see if I could use a coupon that I found at the house. The guy I'd already talked to at least three times said, "Oh, I gave you a free oil change. That's how I roll."

Hoping this was a sign that the day was on its way to improving, I headed off for the next stop. Indy and I went to Rural King and found the stuff I needed to start some seeds. Then we went to his favorite pet store, where he met a little girl named Caroline and kissed her gently on the nose. He met several people who wanted to scratch his ears, and we met a huge and very polite mastiff. Except that after a good few minutes of friendly sniffing, Indy growled at her. I have no idea what was going on, and he has never done that before. I desperately do not want to be the owner of That Dog, so I apologized and yanked him out the door. I was so embarrassed.

Once we got home, I decided to be mature about it and let Indy earn back the treat I'd bought him and then he lost when he acted up. He got so excited that when I asked him to give me a high five, he punched me right in the lip with his honking huge paw. And it's not even noon yet, for Christ's sake. I'm almost afraid to go back outside again.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Photo Friday

(I've been dreaming of Spring.)

View the entire Photo Friday collection on Flickr.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sweet nothings

Meg at Vintage Flapper to the Rescue bestowed this upon me, and I am thrilled to get an award from such an all-around rad chick. If you haven't checked out Meg's blog, you should. Her posts about gardening, living sustainably, her in-the-planning-phase move to Alaska, and her fabulous dogs are always great reads!

The award "acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his/her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary and personal values every day." This is probably the only time I'll ever get an award that involves the word "values," so I'm running with it! ;)

The rules to follow are:

1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person that has granted the award and his or her blog link.

2) Pass the award to another 15 blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment.

Since the award description is a little vague, I am going to choose bloggers who I think display a real passion in their lives, work, and writing, whether it's a passion for a cause, a passion for a hobby, or just a passion for life.

1. Kerri Anne, who shares my passion for green causes and reality TV (and has a thing for itinerant felt moustaches). And she's a great writer.

2. Jenn at Breed 'em and Weep, who is bravely soldiering on with humor and honesty in the face of what has been a very hard year.

3. Momo Fali, who is smart, funny, and writes things like this.

4. Tasmiya, who claims to be no one of consequence, but always manages to write with substance.

5. The Cheese Fairy, who writes realistically (and often hilariously) about stay-at-home mothering her adorable boys and who experienced the best Christmas photo shoot ever.

6. Julie at S'up?, for her beautiful, understated photos.

7. Alison at Party of 3, whose blog about raising her two girls as a single mom is sweet, funny, and real.

8. Maggie at Okay. Fine. Dammit. She is an amazing writer, and has just launched Violence Unsilenced, a blog that provides a voice for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

9. Jocelyn Johnson, a writer who often tells her stories using photos of her lovely family, especially her little son William.

10. My friend K, who is chronicling life as an American in Kathmandu.

11. My homie evilducky, whose passion for baking and feeding her friends has blossomed in recent years.

12. Dawn at Baleful Regards, who parents, writes, and works toward her PhD, while sometimes wearing obscenely kickass shoes.

13. Chris at A Free Man, who has a thing for great music and great writing. Cute kid, too.

14. Martina of FreshMD:  doctor, mother, fab writer.

15. Shreve Stockton at The Daily Coyote. Her passion is inspiring.

(A double Coraline review is up at the book blog if anyone is interested. You also have until tomorrow morning to leave a comment for a chance to win a book!)

Reading:  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Playing:  the Decemberists

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


vbg:  So you're going to the insurance office, and then out to dinner with my dad?

MB:  No, we rescheduled. We're going on Saturday instead.

vbg:  Wait, you're going on Saturday? Can I come?

MB:  It's for my birthday. I'm not sure you're invited.

vbg:  Hey! That's not fair.

MB:  Besides you're not available, anyway.

vbg:  Yes, I am! Wait, no I'm not. I have a work thing. Dammit.

MB:  See?

vbg:  Hmmph.

MB:  Oh, and Mr. Muskrat might be taking me out for dinner tonight.

vbg:  Wait, what? You get to go out to dinner tonight AND Saturday?

MB:  I'm not paying.

vbg:  Still, how come you get to go out for dinner, TWICE, and I don't?

MB:  I dunno. Maybe you need to get better friends.

vbg:  I...damn. Nice one, honey.

Monday, February 23, 2009


I will admit that I'm a sucker for this particular Coheed & Cambria song anyway, but even without it, this looks TOTALLY BADASS:

Here's the whole song, for full effect:

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I'm in ur chats, talkin dirty

vbg:  May Day is a good holiday, too
in a semi-related note, good Lord ancient myths are ALL ABOUT TEH SEX

Tam:  or death
sexxing and dying

vbg:  I'm trying to find egyptian myths about the stars, and everyone's a pervert


vbg:  something about Seth wanted to have sex with Horus
so Isis said, go ahead, but steal his sperm
and so Horus "pretended" to have sex with Seth and caught the semen in his hand

Tam:  yup

vbg:  and then Isis cut off Horus's hand
threw it in the river
made a new hand
jerked off HER SON

Tam:  always puts me off the name Seth

vbg:  took HIS semen

Tam:  as you do

vbg:  and put it on Seth's lettuce
and then he ate the lettuce
(not a euphemism)
and got pregnant
and then birthed the sun disk out of his head
to which I say, "Please pass whatever you were smoking, ancient Egyptians"

there is something sort of hilarious about the fact that she put the illicit sperm on the dude's LETTUCE PATCH, though

Im in ur lettis patch, plantin stolen seed

Tam:  I feel I should warn you that I have just called my husband in here so he could read your entire conversation

vbg:  ROFL
he'll be traumatized
stay away from the lettuce, Mr. Tam!

Tam:  everything from 'I'm trying to find Egyptian myths about the stars' down to 'stolen seed' needs to be a blog entry

just copy and paste

vbg:  Just so.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Third Thursday Lolkitters

View the collected Third Thursday lolkitters on Flickr.

Imagine me and you, and you and me

It's rare to find a meme that hasn't made the rounds 43,726 times by now, so when I saw this one over on Dooce, I snagged it. It's also a little different, because it has questions that relate to the meme-answerer and the meme-answerer's spouse / significant other.

What are your middle names?
My middle name is Marie, MB's middle name is Christopher. (What, you thought his initials were MB?)

How long have you been together?
We've been married four and a half years, together eight and a half. (Holy crap.)

How long did you know each other before you started dating?
I met him on August 7, 2000, and he asked me to be his girlfriend on August 30, 2000. There was some dating in between.

Who asked whom out?
I asked him if he wanted to "hang out sometime" while we were still just interested in each other. He was the one who asked me, "Do you think the question 'Will you go out with me?' is corny?" less than a month later.

How old are each of you?
I'm 27, he's 28. I have less than one month left to tease him about being old, and then I'll have another birthday.

Whose siblings do you see the most?
We each have one sibling, and they both live here in town, so we probably see them about equally.

Which situation is the hardest on you as a couple?
It's hard to say...we tend to cope with stuff pretty well. Being broke always sucks, though.

Did you go to the same school?

Are you from the same home town?

Who is smarter?
MB would say I am, but I disagree. I think we just have differing academic strengths.

Who is the most sensitive?
Depends on the topic. I won't elaborate, lest I get myself into trouble.

Where do you eat out most as a couple?
Probably Longhorn...we're suckers for the firecracker chicken wraps.

Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple?

Who has the craziest exes?
Neither of us dated much before we got together (we were only 19 years old, so it's not like we'd had lots of time), so we're pretty lucky to have lives mostly devoid of exes.

Who has the worst temper?
Taking the fifth.

Who does the cooking?
Probably MB, to be honest. He's definitely better at it than I am.

Who is the neat-freak?
I get eye twitches when he hangs his shirts up crooked or puts the Tupperware away in the wrong places. He gets crabby if the living room gets cluttered. We each have our preferences.

Who is more stubborn?
I can't even tell. I fear for our future as parents.

Who hogs the bed?
Someone with SHARP, BONY ELBOWS.

Who wakes up earlier?
MB. He has to be at work at 6:30.

Where was your first date?

Who is more jealous?
I don't think either of us is a very jealous person, thank God.

How long did it take to get serious?
We knew at about three months of dating that we'd get married someday. We have also talked on the phone or in person every day since our first date.

Who eats more?
MB, but it's less because he's a pig and more because I'm a picky eater who can't eat much in one sitting.

Who does the laundry?
Remember the eye twitch? Yeah. I have very specific routines for the laundry, to the point where I actually requested that MB not wash any clothes while I was away for a week last Fall.

Who's better with the computer?
Definitely MB. I'm ridiculously ill-equipped.

Who drives when you are together?
Usually me, since we usually take my car. We also discovered after several years of trial and error and OHMYGOD WE NEED TO STOP TALKING ABOUT THIS that road trips work out WAY better if I drive and he navigates. Let's just say that only ONE of us cares to know exactly how many meters it is to the next intersection. And that person should always be the one controlling the GPS, not the vehicle.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I guess I should find out what my husband prefers

I can't decide if I want to put this on my car or tattoo it on my ass:

(available here)

Monday, February 16, 2009

One down, eight to go

Back in January, I posted a list of nine goals for 2009. Number three was, "Enter a photograph in an art show. Now, I can't control whether or not I get into a show, but for two years I've looked at photographs at art shows and thought, I could do that. So at least once this year, I'm going to get a photo printed, frame it, and pay my fifteen bucks to see about getting that sucker in a show."

At the urging of evilducky, I entered two photographs in a juried women-only art exhibition sponsored by the local arts council. I found out today that both pieces were chosen for the show. I'm feeling pretty chill about it right now, but I think by the time we go to the opening reception on Friday, I'm going to be all blushy and jittery. Maybe I'll even feel like a real photographer? Okay, that might be pushing it a little...

Reading:  Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak by Writers Famous and Obscure (it is WONDERFUL)

Playing:  Make Yourself by Incubus

Friday, February 13, 2009

Photo Friday

View the entire Photo Friday collection on Flickr.

(I also added some additional photos to the ice storm set.)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I could put strychnine in the guacamole

We got our taxes done last night, and went to the same guy who's done them for us the past three years. I love our tax guy, but he is a huge nerd. Actually, that's probably why I love our tax guy. He's super nerdy, really nice, and slightly socially inappropriate (two years ago he told us about his second honeymoon trip to the Catskills; this time he mentioned that all three of his kids were one-mistake pregnancies. He said that he'd told his wife they should do some field testing to see if he was super virile or if she was super fertile, but she never gave the go-ahead for the "cross pollination" experiments.)

This year I learned something about him which explains so much:  he's an engineer. No offense to MB, who is actually remarkably well-adjusted, but in my experience engineers tend to fall on a predictable spectrum from totally socially frightening through what my friend Spence has dubbed "engiwiener" and (if they're lucky) up to almost normal. Tax Guy falls squarely in the endearing engiwiener part of the spectrum.

Early in our appointment, I noticed that he had a red Swingline stapler on his desk. Because I am not an engiwiener, I restrained myself and did not start throwing Office Space lines at him. But then at the end of the appointment, he pointed to the stapler and said, "You've seen Office Space, right? I am Milton!" Tax Guy, te amo. You'd better get us a good return, though. I could burn this place to the ground.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Om mani padme humdrum

I probably should not admit this on a public blog that my husband reads (hi, honey!), but I find certain forms of housework to be rather relaxing. Some chores I merely enjoy in a sort of grim, abstract way. For instance, I enjoy sweeping the floor in that it feels nice to have a clean floor when I'm done, but not in the sense that I actually like sweeping the floor. However, there are other chores that I find truly meditative.

I always focus best when I'm doing two things at once, which I suspect can be blamed on my ADHD. For instance, when I was in high school, I usually did my homework in my room with the TV on, and in college if I was studying the stereo was playing. I don't know how to say it in any kind of medical or scientific way, but it feels to me like the ADHD part of my brain can focus on the distraction, leaving the rest of my brain to get on with things. If I don't have a distraction, the ADHD part is roaming around, listening for one, which means I get distracted by everything, including the absence of things. Yes, I can get distracted by it being too quiet.

Anywho, the chores I enjoy the most are the ones that are easy and repetitive. While one part of my brain is sorting socks or drying spoons or washing plates, the rest is free to roam. I have written blog entries, composed emails and to-do lists, come up with things to say in difficult conversations, and pondered the state of the world while up to my elbows in clean laundry or dirty dishes. Back in the days when fiction seemed to come as easy as breath, I wrote entire passages while standing in my parents' basement, folding clothes. I'd run snips of dialogue and prose through my head, tweaking and refining, and then I'd go straight back to my room and write it all down. My very favorite pair of opening and closing lines used in a short story were born this way. I distinctly remember standing in front of the dryer and hearing them in my head clear as a bell.

I don't compose fiction as easily as breathing anymore, sad to say, but I still find laundry folding and dish washing to be a contemplative, peaceful time, so the two hours or so I spent conquering the dirty dishes this evening (usually MB's job) were rather relaxing. Of course, that doesn't mean I want to do it all the time (hi, honey!), and let's reiterate that I don't find all household tasks delightful. I have never once had a profound thought while cleaning the bathroom or scooping cat poo, just for the record.

Reading:  Terrier by Tamora Pierce

Playing:  Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette

Friday, February 06, 2009

Thursday, February 05, 2009

It's the little things

At the apartment building we used to live in, a family down at the far end had one of those goose statues that you can dress in specially-made outfits. Over the year or so that our lives overlapped, I fell in love with that goose. I'd walk by it on my way to take the garbage out, and every time the goose's outfit changed, it made my whole night. I finally got brave enough to start sneaking photos of it, though several were taken before we got our digital camera.

If memory serves, when we moved into the building in May, the goose was decked out in a sundress and yellow bonnet. For the Summer, she changed into a -- no lie -- pink bikini. I'm pretty sure that's when she won me over for good. Somewhere I have a printed photo of her in her bathing suit. She had a harvest-print cape for Fall, and then this:

I don't recall a Valentine outfit, and the next time she appears in my photo folder from that year, she's wearing this:

Shortly after this, someone in the goose's household graduated from high school, and she represented proudly in a cap, gown, and "Class of 2006" diploma. Sadly, before I could snap a photo of her in her graduation outfit -- and before her bikini came out again -- the family moved away. I never met them, never even saw anyone going in or out of that unit, but I'll always be fond of them for filling my walk to the Dumpster with pure unadulterated awesome.

New review and giveaway up at the book blog!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Come the Icepocalypse

Where to begin? In the days leading up to last Tuesday, the forecast kept changing. We were going to get 2 inches of snow, then 4 to 6, and finally they settled on 5 to 10 inches. Tuesday dawned cold and cloudy, but no snow. We waited and waited, and by the time I went to bed, not too much had happened. The snow started overnight and kept falling well into Wednesday morning. But instead of a full 5 - 10 inches of snow, we got a lot (a lot) of ice, and then around 4 inches of snow on top. It was gorgeous, for certain:

Indy and I went out to play in the backyard once the sun was up. It felt like the kind of snow day we all wished for as kids. It was sunny, cold but not brutally so, and there was enough snow to romp around in. It was the third snowfall of Indy's young life, and the first significant accumulation. He had a fantastic time playing fetch and keep-away and chase. Later in the afternoon, after BoMB came over to hang out, Indy and I took a walk down the tree-lined boulevard near our house. It was equal parts magical and Armageddon-y. There were branches down all over the place, and icy patches everywhere that were dangerously slick. We had a pretty good time stomping around in the snow on the median, listening to ice falling from trees in the distance. I took a bunch of photos with BoMB's camera, but we lost power before I had a chance to transfer them to my computer, so I'll have to get those another time.

There are quite a few problems with ice, as you know if you're in an area that experiences ice storms. Snowplows can't scrape it up, for one thing. Lots of side streets never did get plowed, and our parking lot at work was so treacherous that we were closed for an unheard-of five days straight. Schools closed Tuesday and didn't reopen until Monday of this week. An estimated 40,000 people in the region were left without power when ice brought down power lines and tree branches that took out more power lines. Things actually got a little bit worse in the days after the storm, because it was warmish on Thursday. The top layer of snow melted and then refroze to solid ice that night.

These are from Wednesday afternoon (BoMB took the first one):

Here's what our street looked like on Friday morning, two days after the storm:

We watched the morning news on Wednesday and knew that tens of thousands of people were without power, but as the afternoon started to give way to evening, we figured we were in the clear. I had just finished uploading the first set of snow pics and thought, "We're lucky to have power," and zap. No more power. We scooted the couches over toward the fireplace and unearthed the box of candles we hadn't used since we moved. We hung out by candlelight and firelight, and MB dug out our camping cook pot and coffee pot to make hot chocolate and heat up canned chili. We made a passably comfortable bed on the floor with our sleeping bags and a bunch of extra blankets, BoMB slept on the loveseat, Indy (apparently the smart one in the family) had the couch to himself, and Kitters slept on top of BoMB.

The next morning, BoMB and I went out to get firewood, bread, milk, and hot dogs to cook over the fire, only to find that everyone was sold out of firewood and that the grocery store near us was running on backup generators and had lost all of their cold food when their power went out on Tuesday night. I went in to work for a few hours in the afternoon, since my department was in the middle of a big project that needed to be finished. By the time I left, we had made the decision to head to my parents' house if the power didn't come back on before I came home. Since Kitters does not get along with other cats, BoMB agreed to take care of him so we didn't have to sequester him away from my parents' cat Rusty. Indy was quite pleased to find that he'd be hanging out with his BFF Maggie full time.

Puppy slumber party, complete with popcorn! (it's Woofy Pop)

While it's never convenient to be out of your home, staying with my parents was actually quite enjoyable. With no internet or cable, I got through four books in the time we were away. I also followed through on a long-standing promise to my mother that I'd clear my boxes of stuff out of the attic (that's a blog post in itself, I suspect), since I now have an attic of my own in which to stow boxes of sentimental crap. We played a little bit of Wii, did some laundry, introduced my mom to some iPhone games, and generally had a really relaxing time. And yes, it did remind me of The Long Winter.

Reading:  Terrier by Tamora Pierce

Playing:  the Firefly soundtrack

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Home at last!

We have power, and we have returned to our house. I have lots of things to say, but for now, I'm just glad to be back home.

Monday, February 02, 2009

No news

Still no power. We're still staying at my parents' house, and the cat is still with BoMB. Everyone is doing well, considering. I would say I'm hoping to be back home by mid-week, but at this point I have no idea what to expect.

So, 'bout them Steelers?

And you can still enter to win my dear friend Stephanie's book until midnight on Wednesday. go here for details.