Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Super-duper Catchup Post

Wow, what a lovely holiday break it's been so far. I've been enjoying myself so much, I've not even managed to get around to blogging about it. Until today, of course. Allow me to offer a brief summary of the past few days.

Friday
My boss let us out of work almost 2 hours early, which was really excellent of him. I swung by Gram Gram's on the way home, then Krispy Kreme and the grocery store (so I could get candy and jerky for Tom's stocking).

Saturday
We woke, cleaned the whole apartment, did laundry and washed all the dishes. (It was about 79 degrees outside and clear...yeesh.) We watched Ridicule, which was highly entertaining. We made and ate chocolate chip cookies. We opened our Christmas Eve pjs and cozied up for the annual viewing of A Christmas Carol (1951 black & white version with Alastair Sim - technically titled "Scrooge" and the only version worth watching, as far as I can tell).

Sunday
Catblogging:

Christmas Eve day, Leo sat like this at the window for quite a while. Guess he was looking for Santa.

Other Christmas Goodness:
It was surprisingly foggy when we awoke (early, due to whining cats...grr), so that was nice. :) Many excellent gifts were given and received, bacon was broiled (holy cow...er...pig...but it's so easy to make that way!), cinnamon rolls and calzones were baked, and way, way, way, WAY too much chocolate was consumed. Good gravy, I was ill. Overall though, a fine time was had by all. I got Tom Freaks and Geeks on DVD, and he got me The Lone Gunmen, so we've been working our way through episodes of those shows and enjoying them very much. :)

Monday
Did a whole lot of nothing. It was great. Ate fajitas for dinner.

Tuesday
circling little cats
about and between my feet
like wee furry sharks

Tom went back to work, so I tried to keep myself occupied. I managed pretty well. Got the first round of wedding invitations mailed, played Sims2 on the XBox (so inexplicably addictive, that game), did crossword puzzles, read, napped. In the evening we met up with Max & Agnes for dinner and beers at the Yard House and then saw The Ringer. I feel like I need to wash my eyes and scrape my insides clean after watching that movie, and that's about all I'm going to say about it.

Wednesday
Ran errands, came home, haven't done much else. I'll try to get around to posting a recipe a little later.

That's all, folks! For now, anyway. Hope everyone has had/is having a lovely break from work/school/etc. :)

Friday, December 23, 2005

Pretty Sunrise


We have had some really incredible sunrises lately. When I was driving to work this morning, it looked like the clouds behind me were on fire. Yay for Rayleigh scattering!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

(VF)RotW: Calzones

Some people make turkey or ham or lasagne for Christmas dinner; I make calzones (or, I did last year and intend to do so again this year). So in honor of Christmas, I'm re-posting my calzone recipe. Hope you enjoy. :)

Ingredients
(for 4 calzones)
1/4 cup warm water - about 110 degrees F
1 packet (or 2.25 tsp) active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
4 cups bread flour (or just regular flour...I'm not really sure what the difference is)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1.25 cups cold water
1 tablespoon olive oil
Various calzone guts (veggies, cheeses, sauces, etc.)

1. Combine the sugar, yeast and warm water in a small bowl or cup, and stir. I find that a chopstick works quite well for the stirring, but a spoon's fine too.
2. Combine flour, salt and garlic powder in a large bowl, and stir.
3. Add the yeast mixture and the olive oil to the flour mixture, stir, then add the water 1/4 cup at a time, stirring until it's all pretty well mixed together and looking nice & doughy.
4. Put a bunch of flour on your hands and scrape the dough out on to a floured board. Knead until smooth, adding more flour as necessary until the dough isn't sticking to everything.
5. Place the dough back in the large bowl and let it rise, covered with a towel, at room temperature for an hour.
6. Go check email/update the blog/watch TV/read a book while the dough is rising.
7. When the hour's up, punch the dough down (this is particularly satisfying if you've had a rough day), divide into 4 balls, and let it rise again for 30 minutes.
8. Chop veggies and pre-heat the oven to 500F.
9. Roll out the dough balls to about 9-inch rounds. Slather on the sauce, spread the fillings on half of each round. Fold the plain dough half over the filled half and pinch the edges together to make bulging little pockets of goodness.
10. Cut 3-4 slits on the top of each calzone to let the steam escape. Otherwise they will explode! (Well, probably not, but I don't like to leave such things to chance.)
11. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown on the outside, gooey on the inside. Have a care when eating them, because the innards will be molten.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Hello Karma*, My Old Friend...

*Yes, I'm talking about the "popular" conception of karma, which smacks you in the face almost immediately following a transgression, and not "real" karma, which follows you from life to life instead of day to day. No correctional comments needed *coughneil5280cough* ;)

Last Tuesday, as you may recall, I played hooky from work. I justified it because I was a wee bit sniffly/congested/what-have-you, and because I wanted to burn one of my use-em-or-lose-em sick days, but I really could have gone in. One week later, I woke up with a wicked bad sore throat. You know, not the scratchy, "drink some cold water and you'll feel better" kind, but the "swollen glands, can't hardly swallow" kind. Yuck. I went to work anyway, proceeded to feel crappier and crappier over the course of the morning, and went home at lunchtime. I've been dozing (or trying to) on the couch ever since.

Bleh. I am officially karma's bitch today.

Fun with Chicken Parts

Warning buzzer blares
Bang! then something lands nearby
Ah, 'tis bird shot day

Yesterday they were doing birdstrike tests out back. This requires shooting a recently-deceased (but not frozen) chicken out of a cannon toward an aircraft windshield at a high velocity. I was walking across the plant to the other lab, when I heard the warning buzzers sound, indicating the cannon would be firing shortly. Believing myself to be well out of range for any poultry shrapnel, I kept walking. I heard the crack of the cannon, and then a couple of seconds later, a soft smack against the pavement just a couple of feet behind me. I turned around to see a leg and haunch lying on the ground. Lovely! Not out of range after all, it seems! Just glad the durned thing didn't hit me in the head.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Getting Caught Up Again

Schooooooool's out. For. Evah!

Okay, not really, but I'm done with classes until February, which is nice. I've got a month and a half to get back to reading non-textbooks. (I guess all books are text books, except of course for picture books, but you know what I mean.) First on the list is Salt, which I only barely managed to start reading a month ago before I abandoned it. I've also got Jarhead to read, The Elements of Murder to finish, and Chemistry of Explosives to browse. I'm excited!

Also, I'm finally almost caught up on all my blog-reading. I'd gotten woefully behind, but I'm current again on all but a couple of them. It's good to be back in the loop and whatnot. :)

Christmas shopping is officially completed. I'm pissed at both Amazon and myself about the fact that one of my orders (which was due to arrive today) won't be delivered until Thursday or Friday, and clever girl that I am, I included 3 of the presents for my family in with that order. Had I anticipated the delay, I'd of course have had the gifts shipped directly to the folks, but you know what they say about hindsight. Oh well. I still have other gifts to send them, which I will mail out today, but they'll have an extra gift each that won't arrive until a few days after Christmas. Que sera sera...

Five more days of work before a luxurious ten days off. I cannot wait. We're signing up for Netflix this week so we can have plenty of movies to watch during the mini-vacation. I'll accept any and all recommendations as I start building our movie request list (yes, MA, I'll definitely put Ridicule on there!).

All right, better get to work. Hope everyone has a good week. :)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Sunday Catblogging: Inspector Catget


'Tis the season...for box inspection!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Requiescat in pace, John Spencer.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Holly Jolly (and all that good stuff)

Tom & I went Christmas shopping last night (and survived), and I can officially proclaim that I am now in the Christmas spirit. If I had sleigh bells, I'd ring em, and if I had a Christmas tree, you bet your ass I'd rock around it. Alas, I have neither, so I shall blog instead.

I dread the crowds associated with Christmas shopping. I love the lights, I love the crispness of the air, but god do I ever hate the crowds. The throngs of people milling about, preventing me from having the pleasant and efficient shopping experience I so desire, I could most definitely do without. Consider in addition the idiotic behavior typically associated with such crowds, and you've got a pretty comprehensive understanding of why I prefer to keep to a minimum any gift buying that takes place away from the comfort of my computer.

It is my distaste for crowds in general and the idiocy thereof that keep me as far away from WalMart as possible on most occasions. WalMart at Christmastime...the thought is nearly enough to make me break out in hives. And yet I always seem to end up there for one, soul-sucking shopping trip each December. Last night, after finishing with the rest of our purchases, Tom uttered the dreaded question:

Look, I know you don't want to, but do you think we could go to WalMart? You know, just really quick?

That I agreed to go is a testament to just how much I love that man. By the time we finally found an empty space, way out in the parking lot boondocks, my WMAS (WalMart Anxiety Syndrome) was in full force. Tom even agreed that we were in for hideousness. Steeling ourselves, we entered the maelstrom of rabid budget consumerism. Twenty minutes later we emerged, enervated but not defeated.

Okay, so it wasn't as bad as I'd anticipated, but I will say I'm glad my annual Christmas-trip-to-WalMart is done now. And I can also happily report that my Christmas spirit was only temporarily dampened by the experience, but that it's totally back now. I am a holly jolly kiddo today. :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

(VF)RotW: Risotto

Ingredients:
Arborio rice
butter
onion
red, orange or yellow bell pepper
mushrooms
vegetable broth
white wine and/or a nice amber ale (optional)
butternut squash soup-in-a-box
parmesean cheese
sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
salt & pepper


Start by chopping the veggies. I'd say use as much of each as you like, but for a general guideline, about half an onion, 1 bell pepper, and a couple of handfulls of mushrooms should suffice when making enough rice for 2 people (with leftovers).

Melt about a tablespoon or two of butter in a pan and then add 1.5 - 2 cups of rice. Saute until the rice is a nice, golden brown. Then add the wine/beer to the pan, if desired. I'm not exactly sure how much I typically use - liquid volumes are notoriously hard to guess - but I'd say pour it in until the rice is just barely floating. Once that boils back down, add your first aliquot of butternut squash soup (about a cup and a half). Add the mushrooms, salt (just a bit) and pepper, and stir the mixture until it starts to look a little dry again. Then add 1/2 cup of veggie broth, alternating thereafter between the soup and the broth (1/2 cup at a time) every time the liquid boils down again. You can't really leave risotto alone for too long or it will start to stick to the pan, so keep stirring, and every time it starts to look a little dry again, add more liquid. I usually go through about 5-6 cups of soup and broth, all told.

In a separate pan, saute the onion and pepper in some olive oil. You just want to brown them a little without letting them get soggy (which could happen if you toss them in with the rice early on).

When five cups of liquid have been added to the rice, take a taste. It should be slightly al dente (am I allowed to use that for rice, or is that a pasta-only term?) - not too mushy, but not exactly crunchy either. If it's not quite done yet, add more liquid, taste, repeat until it's right. I guess it's really a matter of preference; if you'd be willing to tuck into a bowl of the stuff, then it's ready. ;) Stir in the onion & pepper, and shake a nice layer of parmesean over the top. Stir everything up again, and then serve. Garnish with the sun-dried tomatoes.

Mmm...I haven't made risotto in a while. I think it just may be time again soon!

Sick Day

Yesterday, hooky
Called in "sick," slept in, stayed home
Today, back to work

Man, playing hooky never gets old. 'Tis the season for it, too, as the end of the year approaches, and all the salaried employees try to burn their use-em-or-lose-em sick hours. To be fair, I haven't exactly been feeling in peak health lately, so my level of guilt wasn't as high as it could have been. ;) It also didn't hurt any to have a whole extra day to work on my crime scene paper for class and finish another huge chunk of Christmas shopping (ah, blessed Amazon, a crowd hater's best friend).

Back to the grindstone, today. Check back later for the weekly recipe.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Sunday Catblogging: Retroactive Monday Edition


Gah! Poofy raccoon tail and crazy eyes! That is one startled feline, if I dare say so myself.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Slacker!

I have been a complete and total slacker lately, falling way behind on my blog-reading/writing/commenting. I would say it's because I have been working extra hard on stuff for class, except I haven't. I'm not really sure what the cause of my slackification is, actually. It's a mystery. But I'm trying to shake the malaise and be interesting/interested again, so bear with me. ;)

The weekend went by far too quickly. Tom spent it working on his conference submission paper (which he finished and submitted last night! Yay!). I spent Saturday working less on my term paper than I should have. Yesterday I took my car in for an oil change, did some grocery shopping, and got a bit more accomplished on said term paper. Actually, it's not really a typical paper at all; we're supposed to put together a mock crime scene report, complete with scene sketches, evidence collection information, witness interviews, the whole nine yards. It has the potential to be a very fun and interesting project, but I can't seem to get all that enthused about it. I guess I'm dealing with burnout across the board. Oh well. I'll be able to pull it together by Wednesday (when it's due), turn it in, take my final on Saturday, and not think about school until February. That will be nice. :)

I'll put a retroactive Sunday Catblogging photo up when I get home this evening. Other'n that, hopefully I'll have something more interesting and upbeat to post before too long. Until then, go check out random detritus and read about Tom's ER experience. ;)

Friday, December 09, 2005

New Look for TotS

Felt like it was time for a mini-overhaul, what with the changing weather and the approach of a new year. I remember the last time I did this some of the colors looked weird because my monitor at work is unusually dark (causing me to pick colors that didn't look quite right on a "normal" monitor), so let me know what you think. :)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

(VF)RotW: Flautas

Ingredients:
Morningstar Farms Veggie Crumbles(TM) - 1 bag
Onion - approx. 1/4
Cheddar cheese, shredded - as much as you want
Flour tortillas
Red Pepper Flakes
Garlic Powder
Cumin
Salt
Pepper
Desired condiments (sour cream, salsa, guac, etc.)


Step one is to dice and saute the onion (medium heat, use olive oil). Add a few shakes of red pepper flakes, salt & pepper to the pan. When the onions start getting soft, add the frozen taco substance (Morningstar Crumbles). There's no need to actually cook this; just heat it up and add seasonings (garlic powder & cumin). When hot, turn the stove heat to low.

In a large pan, heat some olive oil. It's hot enough when you can toss a little piece of tortilla in the oil and see it immediately start frying. Prep your flauta by spreading grated cheese on a tortilla (over the whole thing), adding a line of taco substance along one side, and rolling up like a taquito. It helps to fold in the top & bottom ends before rolling, since it keeps the insides from falling out, but it's not necessary if you want to be a purist. ;) (I just fold the bottom end.)

Place the flauta seam-side down in the oil, and let it fry for a little while. Roll it over with tongs to make sure the whole outside is a nice and crispy golden brown. Remove from the pan and place on paper towels to remove excess oil. Add condiments as desired, and enjoy (but be careful, because it will be very, very hot). Make and eat more flautas thereafter until full. :)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Sue's Original Miscellany

This is going to be something of a Captain Random post, moving swiftly from one topic to another. I'll begin with the Tuesday haiku:

Pox on thee, Blogger
Down for most of yesterday
I could not update

Not that it matters much, since I didn't really have anything exciting to say. Just the start of another week, another 8 hours closer to 10 glorious work-free days. Boy oh boy do I need that break. How I look back with longing upon those month-long school vacations. Those were the days...ah yes.

I don't remember exactly why, but Tom & I were talking about the movie Enemy Mine, which I've never seen. Tom was describing the make-up Lou Gossett Jr. had to wear in the film (he played an alien), so I turned to trusty Google Image Search to find a screenshot. I came upon a website that featured video covers for miscellaneous SciFi and Horror movies. Browsing that page led me to what must be a horrendously campy movie, but which I suspect has the potential to be extraordinarily entertaining (in a "it's so awful it's awesome!" sort of way). I give you...Evil Town!


How could any movie go wrong with cover art like that? ;)

Our wedding invitations arrived today, and let me just say that if you want the most bang for your buck, and don't care about having fancy shmancy invites, head on over to Budget Wedding Invitations. Super cheap (100 printed invitations plus inner & outer envelopes for $30!) and better quality than I expected for the price. I am really quite pleased with them.

Final bit of miscellany for the day - I'll leave you with a quote left on the discussion board for my Crime Scene Investigation class. We were talking about the pros & cons of a national DNA database.
"Everything today infringes on privacy. But I would rather loose my
privacy then live next to a cereal rapist whom they haven't caught yet
because of some DNA technicality."
Heeeey, what's that in the Grape Nuts bo....eeewwwwww...

Monday, December 05, 2005

Sunday Catblogging: Artsy Fartsy Edition


I call this one "Loki Sitting in Repose"

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Saturday Night Comedy

Ten years from now, when we're living somewhere far away from here, I don't want to look back and say, "Man, we really should have done more X while we lived in L.A." (where X is a variable representing some activity, and not a controlled substance that induces euphoria...) Ergo, every now and again we get tickets to a music or comedy show downtown. Earlier this week, I saw that Jeremy Hotz (hilarious Canadian comic) was going to be performing at The Laugh Factory tonight, so we decided to go check it out. The show was due to start at 10pm, with the doors opening at 9:30. We arrived a little after 9:00, got our tickets from Will Call, and got in line.

Waiting in line outside a club on Sunset is never a boring experience. For one thing, the limo-to-regular vehicle ratio is much higher in Hollywood than it is elsewhere. At one point, I saw 3 stretched vehicles (two "normal" limos and a stretch Hummer...guh, what a monstrosity) pass by in less than a minute. Then they kept buzzing by every so often thereafter. Only in Hollywood... There was also an array of unusual buskers - specifically, the toothless, bearded old guy singing "Brick House" & various Christmas carols and the kazoo-player who ended up dancing with a couple of radically underdressed drunk girls. Most memorable, unfortunately, was the cold and windy weather, which I am ashamed to admit was probably somewhere in the 50s; I, however, have abandoned my northwesterner toughness and become a full-on SoCal wuss, so I was quite chilly. No matter, though. The doors would be opening in less than 20 minutes, and we'd be inside the warm comedy club. Or so we thought.

Nine-thirty came and went. Soon after, 9:45 arrived and departed. Then 10:00. At 10:13, some guy from inside the club came around and claimed they would start to let us in two minutes from then. Liar. Finally, at 10:18, we were permitted inside. Our tickets were taken (we ended up getting seated in the second row!), as were our drink orders (two-drink purchase required...Tom made the astute observation that drinks cost as much at a comedy club as they do on an airplane...lame), and soon the comedy began.

First up, and host for the night, was the very funny Ruben Paul, followed by Tony Rock, Mario Joyner and Jokoy. All were absolutely hilarious (as one would tend to expect good comics to be), and we laughed until our cheeks ached. After Jokoy finished up though, that was it. Show over. No Jeremy Hotz! The whole reason we came to the show in the first place was to see him perform, and the punk was a no-show (which, in retrospect, was quite possibly the reason we were kept waiting outside for nearly an hour). Grr. It's hard to be too disappointed since we got to see a great show anyway, but still. Not cool, Canuck.

Overall though, not a bad way to spend a Saturday night. I am up waaaay past my usual bedtime, however, so it is time for me to get some sleep. Catblogging and any additional stuff I may have forgotten to mention, tomorrow.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Listen up

This week's This American Life was particularly good. Should be available to stream early to mid next week. Give it a listen.

Agnostic Like Tom Cruise?

I had a rather bizarre exchange with a coworker (M) yesterday afternoon. Neither his English nor my Spanish are really up to a level that we can understand each other 100% of the time, so we frequently end up having some amusing misunderstandings. Our conversation yesterday was about the wedding; he wanted to know what kind of ceremony we are going to have.

M: Catholic? Jewish? Baptist?
Me: Oh, none of those. It'll be a civil ceremony.
M: What, like at city hall?
Me: No, it will be outside. It's essentially the same, just not in a church.
M: You don't go to church?
Me: Nope. We're basically agnostic.
M: Ohhhhh, you're in that one.
Me: No, it's not something you're "in." Actually, it's the utter lack of being "in" anything...
M: All the rich people are in the agnostic. Like Tom Cruise.
Me: Gah! No! That's Scientology! Completely different.
M: Oh.

That's me. Agnostic like Tom Cruise. Anybody up for an audit?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Christmas Covers I Could Live Without

Actually, most covers of Christmas songs could be blinked from existence and I wouldn't get all broken up over it. This week I've been treated to a plethora of baddies on the crappy radio station they play at work. Just now, one came on that I just could not not blog about.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town - by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons

Holy crap. "You'd better watch out. You'd better not cry-eee-iiiee..." Oops. Too late. My ears are bleeding, and that kind of hurts. Sniffle.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

(VF)RotW: Best Pasta Salad Ever

Ingredients:
pasta (rotini is best)
sweet onion or shallots
tomato
avocado
cucumber
red bell pepper
carrot
parmesean cheese
good Italian dressing (I use the Good Seasons mix and make it with balsamic vinegar)


First, you must cook the pasta. For 2 people, a 1 lb box is sufficient if you want leftovers for a day or so. While it's boiling, chop up the veggies. I usually end up using about 1/2 an onion or 2-3 shallots, 2 tomatoes, 2 avocados, 1/2 cucumber, 1/2-1 bell pepper and 10 or so baby carrots.

When the pasta's done, rinse it with cold water, and put it in a bowl in the fridge. While that's chilling, make the dressing (if required). I usually put some parmesean in the dressing and then add it (parmesean) to the salad afterward as well. Stir the pasta a few times so all the noodles can cool down, and then add the veggies & the dressing. If you can stand it, put the bowl back in the fridge for another 35 minutes or so until the whole salad is nice and chilled. However, I always end up dishing some up immediately; it's just that delicious!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Conversation with the Flower Lady

But first, a haiku for Haiku-Tu (I resisted for a few weeks, but I shall join in the fun):

handsome man of mine
twenty-six years ago born
you are no oldster

Happy birthday, Tom. :)

After such a warm reception to the bridesmaid post, I figured I would share this as well. Yesterday evening I spoke with the woman who provided all the flowers when my best friend got married 3 years ago. My buddy gave such a glowing recommendation of this lady, and while I'm not really a flower person (what the cats wouldn't eat, I would probably kill), I do remember her wedding flowers being nice. Not just your run-of-the-mill roses and carnations and daisies, but also some more uncommon varieties. I don't really know names, but I know I thought they looked pretty and not boring. And I'm all about things that aren't boring.

Anyway, I called the Flower Lady to see if she was available for the day we're getting married, and indeed she is. She said she usually likes to meet with clients a bit in advance of the wedding to get a feel for what sorts of things they like; trouble is, she lives in Southern Oregon, and I won't be up there before the wedding. She told me that's all right and that we could do our consulting through the mail. As in, the "real" mail. I'm to look through magazines/books/etc., find pictures of the sorts of things I like, cut them out and mail them to her. It's kind of exciting and fun, in a "send me your swatches!" kind of way. ;)

So as I am something of a flower dummy, I started doing a bit of research online last night, and I learned a very interesting thing. Up until last night, I thought nosegays were a type of flower. Not so! They are in fact a style of bouquet.
Nosegay: A hand-held fragrant cluster of flowers designed as a small bouquet. Dating from 14th century, this clutch of flowers and foliage was originally used to mask unpleasant odors, thus the name "nosegay". Also called a tussy mussy.

Hehe. Tussy mussy. That's great. :)

Anyway, I have no idea what will be in bloom in mid- to late-May, but researching this should be fun. Any flower experts, enthusiasts or aficionados out there with any advice to offer?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Bridesmaid-ly fun

This wedding planning sure is tricky when you live 800 miles from your closest bridesmaid. Fortunately, the magic of the internets has helped us tremendously, and we were able to find something that appealed to everyone. The lovely 2-piece ensemble pictured at left earned high marks from all concerned because a regular bra can be worn with it. (An important consideration, you know!) So now all that's left is to decide on a color; I'm having swatches sent to me. How exciting is that? Swatches, I say! Hehe.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Sunday Catblogging: On the cover of High Times


It's a pity this photo turned out blurry...Leo was looking all funny and dopey, sitting there with his tongue out.

Friday, November 25, 2005

We came, we feasted, we rolled away home

Thanksgiving dinner this year was held at my aunt & uncle's place. Tom & I arrived around 1:00 to a fine spread of hors d'ouvres. We had both the traditional - spanikopita, feta & olives, dolmathes, chips and onion dip - and the innovative - baguette slices with cream cheese, homemade pesto and chopped sun-dried tomatoes and kalamata olives. We snacked, drank wine, watched football (Joey, please stop throwing interceptions...we beg of you!) and chatted while the rest of dinner was being prepared.

Soon it was time for the eating. There was a fine turkey, 2 kinds of stuffing (vegetarian version for me, bacon-laced version for the others), green beans, mashed potatoes, gravy, yams & marshmallows, homemade cranberry sauce, and corn. We ate until we could eat no more!


After dinner we retired to the living room and fought off sleep. Later, it was time for the annual writing upon the Thanksgiving tablecloth. This was a tradition started only 2 years ago, but I think it's a really good one. We have a big, white tablecloth, and every year we write upon it what we're thankful for. There's usually much laughter involved, and this year was no exception. Silly me, though; I neglected to get a photo of it.

By the time we put the tablecloth away, we all decided we were finally ready for a bit of dessert. Since Tom's birthday is coming up next week, we put candles on one of the pies for him. Of course, we didn't have the right candles, so he'll be turning 81 this year. Looks good for his age though, doesn't he?


After dessert, we were treated to an impromptu performance by Aunt Teresa, who has recently discovered her talent as a tamborine virtuosa. Her playing truly is something to behold!


We then settled down to watch The Polar Express, which was even more horrifying than I expected it would be (and I didn't have high hopes for this movie at all). Fortunately, all of us were equally horrified, so nobody took it seriously, and we mocked it all the way through a la MST3k.

And so there it was; a fine time was had by all. Excellent food, excellent company, and much, much laughter. But then, I wouldn't expect anything less in this family. :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The roof, the roof, the roof is...

...smelly!

We've had some nasty roof leaks here for a long time, but today, finally, the roofers are fixing them. I'm grateful, for sure, but not exactly jumping up and down at the prospect of marinating in tar smell all day.

New Wednesday Feature

It's time to bid adieu to Song of the Week. It was fun (for me) for a while, but even I have tired of it. In its place, for now at least, will be (Vegetarian-Friendly) Recipe of the Week. This won't even always be "from scratch" food, but it's my little way of showing the carnivorous world that even vegetarians can eat well. :)

All right, this week's (VF)RotW is: Spicy Black Bean Gardenburgers (TM) with Goat Cheese

Ingredients:
MorningStar (TM) Spicy Black Bean Patties - frozen
Goat Cheese
One ripe tomato (hard to find this time of year, but sometimes you luck out)
Hamburger buns
Optional:
Red onion
Ketchup (or other preferred condiment)

Now, Gardenburgers can be microwaved for quick & easy eating, but they're even better pan-grilled. You can just plop the frozen patty in a frying pan over medium heat and cook it til the center's hot. Flip it over a few times, of course, and the last time you do, put some crumbled goat cheese on the top.

While you've got the goat cheese warming up and getting just slightly melty, toast the hamburger bun by whatever means you prefer. Put your favored condiment on the bun - as a side note, I was skeptical about Tom's recommendation of ketchup, but it ended up blending really well with the spiciness of the patty! - and a slice of tomato and/or red onion on the bottom bun (since you've already got all that goat cheese-y goodness on top of the burger). Totally simple, takes all of 7-10 minutes to prepare, and it's very, very tasty!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Um, thanks?

What exactly is the proper response when someone you don't know very well informs you that they're praying for you?

I was walking down the hallway at work this morning when the following exchange took place:
Coworker (in the sense that we work at the same company but don't typically interact on a daily basis): Hi Susan.
Me: Hey, how's it going?
*pause*
Coworker: I'm praying for you.
Me (with raised eyebrow): Okay.......?

And that was it. He just kept walking. Then I saw him later in the cafeteria and he didn't say a word. It was really...odd. I'm not at all sure what to make of it.

Well, except blog fodder, of course. ;)

Monday, November 21, 2005

I wish...

...I wish, I wish I were a fish, 'cause fishes have a better life than peo-ple.

Er, sorry, had a Mr. Limpet moment there. What I really wish is that I'd had my camera with me this afternoon. There were about 5 different kinds of clouds in the sky, from big puffy ones to crazy swirly wispy ones. The Mt. Wilson Solar Towercam caught a pretty decent shot with the clouds and the sunset this evening, but I'd still have liked to get pictures of the dark clouds to the west that were still bright white at the tops. They reminded me of Statue of Liberty torches.

Here's the towercam pic from this evening, with the sunset over the ocean.


And here's a daytime picture from yesterday with labels as to where things are.



Photos courtesy of Mt. Wilson Observatory.

Bully for productivity!

I am, in general, a big fan of spending my weekends relaxing. Sitting around reading, napping, recuperation from and preparation for returning to the rat race again on Monday...these are things I consider good uses of my weekend time. However, sometimes it feels a whole lot better know you really managed to get something accomplished. This past weekend was one such bastion of productivity for me (I'm not actually sure if a non-physical object thing can be a bastion...thoughts on that, anyone?). Here's what I managed to get done in the past 48 hours:

  • Studied for and took my long-ass Major Case Investigation final
  • Finished and turned in my term paper on firearms examination
  • Did 3 loads of laundry
  • Washed a bunch of dishes
  • Cleaned and vacuumed the living room and bedroom (which hadn't been done in a few weeks, since Tom & I have both been busy lately)
  • Beat another Spiderman 2 level on the Xbox ;)

  • Hmm...doesn't look like quite so much when I list it out like that. Oh well. Still means I have a nice, clean apartment to return to at the end of the day. ;)

    Sunday, November 20, 2005

    Sunday Catblogging: Keeping Evil Spirits At Bay


    Leo doing his gargoyle impression.

    Longest. Test. Ever.

    I had my final exam today for Major Case Investigation. The prof had indicated it would be comprised mostly of essay questions with possibly some multiple choice, matching, fill-in-the-blank and/or true-false questions thrown in as well. Fine. I was surprised when I took the midterm on Tuesday (yeah, the schedule was just a wee bit strange for this class, with the midterm and final only 4 days apart) that it was a closed-book test. All of the other exams for this class and my previous two have been open-book, open-notes. But whatever, I was okay with that. Would've been nice to know beforehand, but at least I now had an idea he'd probably do the same thing for the final. So I spent most of the day studying the gigantic-ass textbook for the class. Then around 6:30 I felt I could study no more. I took about a 10-minute break and started the exam.

    Holy god. The time allowed for this one was 3 hours, not 2 as the previous tests had been. And there were somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 multiple-choice and 20 essay questions, some of them with 3 or even 4 parts. And these were not trivial parts either. One of them required that I construct a crime scene and then describe how I would examine it. And then there were another 3 parts to the question! I knew pretty much from the get-go that it was going to take me damn near the full 3 hours to complete. And it did. I think I finally submitted the thing after 2 hours and 54 minutes. I don't think I've been so brain-weary after an exam since I took P-Chem in England.

    The good news is I'm pretty sure I did all right. At least I don't have that sense of impending doom that I had after P-Chem. ;) I'll enjoy my day of rest tomorrow before I start another class Monday.

    Thursday, November 17, 2005

    A Study in Contrast

    The moon was still fairly high in the sky when I left the house this morning. I'd wanted to get some pictures of it yesterday, when it was quite a bit lower and bigger-looking, but I forgot my camera. I still think I got some pretty decent shots today.


    Leaving the house


    The exposure in this one was a bit long, so the moon looks unusually bright


    This one, however, has a much shorter exposure. Damn near perfect.


    I call this one "Moon over Warehouse with Palms." Allow me to draw your attention to the creepy decapitated palm at the far right...

    It was nice to have such pleasant scenery on the drive to work. I wish I could say the same for the drive home. Unfortunately, Los Angeles isn't exactly known for its clean air and clear horizons. It's really unnerving, the extent to which we pollute our air.


    Ewwww...lovely.

    Kind of makes me want to wear my respirator home from work...

    Cap in Hand - The Proclaimers

    I didn't really think anyone would get this one (except maybe Tom), but it's a good song, and I wanted to share the lyrics. So here they are. Oh, and in case you didn't know or couldn't guess, The Proclaimers are Scottish, so picture this being sung in a fine brogue.
    Lyrics

    Wednesday, November 16, 2005

    Song of the Week: #5


    Nothin' like a little rebellion to start the morning off right. (Well, maybe more like protest than full-on rebellion...) Yes, that's a clue. ;)

    Tuesday, November 15, 2005

    If you can't say somethin' nice...

    Every time I've sat down to blog in the past few days, it's been to bitch about something. Airfare prices are out of control. The weather's too warm again. I get up way too damned early in the morning. I'm never going to make it through that big-ass book for my Major Case Investigations class. Et cetera. By the time I'm halfway through a post, I'm already bored by my own whining and refuse to waste other peoples' time with it as well. I know I won't be all witty and insightful and whatnot all the time, but I don't particularly want to post drivel just for the sake of getting something posted. Ergo, things have been a little quiet around here.

    Hopefully I'll come up with something interesting to write about before too long. Until then, go check out this week's Perry Bible Fellowship comic...more than meets the eye, eh?

    Sunday, November 13, 2005

    Sunday Catblogging: Whoop-ass Edition


    You see this paw, bitch? Take a good look, 'cause in a minute all you're gonna be seeing is stars...and maybe some a them little tweety birds...

    Thursday, November 10, 2005

    Current events? What current events?

    Apparently some people do live under rocks. Here's a nice little excerpt from my class tonight.

    Prof: What strategies would you use to interrogate these two types [of rapists]?
    Student 1: Guantanamo?
    Prof: Student 1, you are killin' me! (laughing)
    Student 2: What's Guantanamo?

    Nights in White Satin - The Moody Blues

    Here are the lyrics

    Wednesday, November 09, 2005

    Song of the Week: #4


    So I guess I've been a tad on the obscure side as far as my song/band selection. This one ought to be easier. I hope. ;)
    Update: Okay, apparently it's still tricky to get. But it's a song with which most everyone should be familiar, at least.

    Tuesday, November 08, 2005

    French Kiss Moment

    There's a line in French Kiss that always pops into my head when people at work (or anywhere, really) are driving me batty. It's one of Meg Ryan's lines, and she's imitating Kevin Kline's character.

    "My ass is twitching. You people make my ass twitch."

    Somehow it always makes me feel a little better to mutter that under my breath as soon as I'm out of earshot. Anyway, just thought I'd put that out there.

    Gmail scares me sometimes

    Okay, I don't know how many folks use Gmail, but for those who aren't familiar, it's a free email service (like Hotmail) except it's run by Google. You get a ridiculous amount of space, and it's set up rather well, I think. The thing that is a little creepy from time to time is that the way Google can afford to offer such a great free-mail client is that they run text ads along the side of the screen. They're "smart ads" or something, which basically means Google uses its stellar searching capabilities to look for certain words in your emails and then the ads are supposedly tailored to your interests (or whatever it is you're writing about at the time).

    Tom & I both had a heck of a time falling and staying asleep last night, and this morning I sent him an email to the effect of "Blargh, I'm so sleepy today." Upon receiving his reply, which said, "I'm sorry you couldn't sleep either," Gmail presented me with 4 text ads for...chloroform! Not Lunesta or NyQuil or melatonin -- chloroform.

    I'm scared.

    Wardrobe New Additions

    Yay to Tom for buying us some cool shirts! This one for me, and this one for himself. They're awesome.

    Monday, November 07, 2005

    Whole Lotta Reading

    My prof assigned 400 pages of reading this week. Actually, our quizzes are on Thursdays, we'll have to get through 100 pages/day in order to have all the material read by then. Yikes. The reading covers 10 chapters that are about specific classes of crimes. The chapter on narcotics violations (50 pages long) is beaten in length only by the homicide chapter (110 pages long). By comparison, the sex offenses chapter spans only 38 pages, and the assault chapter only covers 18 pages. Something about that seems wrong to me. Yes, I know drugs are bad, but come on. More coverage than assault and sex offenses? Also, larceny, burglary and robbery are all covered separately, which I find a little surprising. I guess I'll be learning a lot about the nuances of "taking shit that doesn't belong to you."

    Better get to it. Yippee skippy, happy Monday.

    Sunday, November 06, 2005

    Sunday Catblogging: Yoga Style!


    Presenting the incredible, the amazing, Leo the Yoga Cat!

    Saturday, November 05, 2005

    Movie Review: Jarhead

    Last night we went to see Jarhead with some peoples Tom knows from school. I'm usually not one for war movies, but this one looked like it would be pretty good. And I wasn't disappointed. It was, to borrow Tom's adjective, very affecting.

    Jake Gyllenhaal did a darn good job as Tony "Swoff" Swofford, the reluctant Marine; he wanted to go to college, but his dad was in the Corps and expected Swoff to follow in his footsteps. Early on in the film, Swoff is being berated by his drill sergeant at boot camp. Seargent Whatever says, "What does this recruit think he's doing here?" Swoff's reply amused me: "Sir, the recruit got lost on his way to college, sir!" While at boot camp, though, Swoff is recruited to be a Scout Sniper, and it turns out he's really good at the sniping. Not only that, he loves it. Still doesn't much care for the Corps, but he does love being a sniper.

    Anyway, without going into a lot of detail, the film is set right before the first Iraq war (not the current one, which is what I'd gathered from the trailer). Swoff and his company get deployed, and you can guess the rest. A few highlights (or lowlights):
    • There is a scorpion battle, which I guess is something soldiers do for fun in the desert. I had to peek through my fingers at the six-foot-long scorpions on screen. It was hideous. (Oh yeah, and the theater was packed, so we were in the very front row.)
    • The kid from Sling Blade, who also played Stevie in The X-Files Movie, was one of the guys in Swoff's company. I spent a good twenty minutes wracking my brain trying to figure out where I recognized him from before I figured it out. He's a lot taller than he used to be. (Duh.)
    • The wives and girlfriends of military peoples are apparently some seriously bad ho-bags. There were some pretty upsetting moments wherein this fact was illustrated.
    All in all, a good movie. Extremely well acted, equally moving and disturbing, not a blood-and-guts war movie so much as a story about a guy trying to survive in an awful situation without losing his mind. It was based on a book of the same name, written by the real Anthony Swofford, which I'd now really like to read.

    Friday, November 04, 2005

    Devil, thy name is Procrastination

    Does anybody know how to cast out that inner demon that causes you to think it's okay to put something off until tomorrow? Fear doesn't do it. If I actually learned anything from the number of times I've been sweating those metaphorical bullets, trying to finish a paper before a deadline, you would think I wouldn't still find myself in that situation over and over again. Planning doesn't do it. I can make all the plans in the world and then promptly neglect to follow through on any of them. Rewards don't do it. I was all proud of myself last week when I turned in my weekly paper a whole day early, and yet here I was this week, scrambling to meet the 6pm Friday deadline.

    The worst feeling is trying to write anything, anything at all just to meet the word requirement, knowing that everything you're writing is crap. You know you could do better, if you only had the time, but damn it, you don't.

    I would resolve not to make the same mistake again next week, except that I know such resolutions are futile. Does anyone have a procrastination-avoidance technique (ooh, how's that for meta?) that actually works?

    Thursday, November 03, 2005

    Attack of the pr0n

    We have a big tractor trailer out back in which we store empty shipping boxes and other miscellany. I was digging through it this morning in search of absorbent sand, and I came across a box that claimed to have chemicals in it. Wondering why we had random chemicals in the storage trailer, I peeked inside. What I found were a bunch of old files...under which was buried a rather sizeable stash of, erm, shall we say, adult reading material, presumably left behind by the guy who worked here before me. Big old box of nekkid lady magazines. Charming.

    Tangerine Speedo - Caviar

    What, no Caviar fans in the house? They hail from Alley Rat's new home, Chicago.

    Oh yeah, and yesterday's image was created by artist Christina "Smudge" Hanson.

    Here are the lyrics

    Wednesday, November 02, 2005

    Sorry fellas, I'm spoken for!

    (Well, I've technically been "spoken for" for a few years, but now it's official.)

    That's right. The news is out. Tom and I have set a date upon which to enter into the bonds of holy matrimony. We'll be getting hitched on the 20th of May, up in lovely Grants Pass, Oregon. Yay. :)

    Song of the Week: #3

    Hopefully this one will be easier than last week's...


    You can ignore the wings. They are unimportant. (I'll credit the artist tomorrow, just in case anyone wants to buy this fine image on a t-shirt.)

    Tuesday, November 01, 2005

    Just Alito bit scary...

    Okay. I've done some reading, checked out both liberal and conservative opinions on the guy, and have come to the (tentative) conclusion that Alito is pretty dangerous, but not quite the spawn of Satan that a lot of lefties are making him out to be. I'm willing to go with "minor-level demon," but not all the way to the Devil's golden boy.

    The way I see it, it shakes down like this: Alito's got some frighteningly conservative views that are dangerous because, if confirmed, he will represent 11% of the Supreme Court. He's just one guy, but his opinions have more impact in a group of nine than they do among the whole country, or even among the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, where he's currently appointed. The 3rd Circuit Court has 14 seats (though only 11 of them are filled at the moment), and it's known for being rather on the liberal side, so Alito's conservatism doesn't carry an undue amount of weight there. On the SCOTUS, however, his vote packs a bit more of a punch, so to speak. I'll illustrate (and feel free to correct me if I've got my facts wrong here).

    In Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1991), the 3rd Circuit struck down a Pennsylvania law requiring married women to notify their husbands before obtaining an abortion. Alito submitted the only dissenting opinion on that ruling, claiming basically that husbands have a right to know if their wives are considering an abortion. And sure, in a healthy and loving relationship, you would think a woman wouldn't make that decision without talking it over with her husband, whom she loves and respects as a partner in the relationship. The reason Alito gives for his dissent is that "some married women are initially inclined to obtain an abortion without their husbands' knowledge because of perceived problems - such as economic constraints, future plans, or the husbands' previously expressed opposition." So in Alito's world, hubby says, "Gee, I don't think we should have kids before I get that new job," wifey gets knocked up the next week, decides to get an abortion, tells hubby about it after the fact, who then says, "Oh no! We could have made it work! Why didn't you tell me?" All right, well that's an unfortunate misunderstanding, but since when do we make laws designed to prevent misunderstandings?

    So the Pennsylvania law, in Alito's opinion, was a valid one to have because of situations like the one above. The problem is that situations like that one are extremely rare. In fact, 95% of married women seeking abortions do notify their husbands. (That post I linked there is a good one; read it.) Of the other 5%, most (if not all) cases involve a relationship that is abusive. So in effect, the law required some women to put themselves in dangerous situations with their abusive husbands. Wow, sounds like awesome legislation to me. Sarcasm aside, Alito thought the notification requirement was a good thing, which is why he submitted his dissenting opinion when the 3rd Circuit Court ruled to strike the law down. Fortunately, he submitted the only dissenting opinion, and the rest of the court agreed the law was bogus.

    Here's where things start getting scary (and where I'm not sure I'm 100% correct in my understanding of the facts). The Supreme Court later ruled to uphold the 3rd Circuit Court's ruling. But where the 3rd Circuit ruled 13-1 or whatever, the Supreme Court only upheld that ruling in a 5-4 vote. Four of the justices on the SCOTUS thought the Pennsylvania law should not be struck down. Of the other five, one of those justices was Sandra Day O'Connor, whose seat Alito will be taking over. Had he been sitting on the SCOTUS at the time of that ruling, the vote would have been 5-4 in the other direction. The 3rd Circuit's ruling would have been overturned by the SCOTUS, and the Pennsylvania law would still be on the books. Not so good.

    By all accounts, Alito is a really smart guy. (Apparently also a really nice guy, as well as a really quiet one, which they seem to keep repeating on NPR.) I'm all for smart people on the Supreme Court. Harriet Miers was a horrible choice because of her apparent complete ineptitude even with speaking and writing professionally ("Oh Mr. President, you are just the coolest ever!"). But, as Tom said last night, Justice Scalia is also wicked smart; too bad he's evil. I worry about Alito turning out to be the same way. His dissent in Planned Parenthood v. Casey definitely gives me cause for such worry, but I'm hesitant to form a complete opinion on the man's qualifications based on one piece of evidence that he's a complete wacko nutjob (who's a misogynist, to boot). I mean, he did concur with a later ruling that a New Jersey law banning partial-birth abortion was unconstitutional, so there's that. I guess I don't want to yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater, so to speak. I'm willing to wait and see what comes out in his confirmation hearing, but I won't exactly be waiting with a lot of optimism.

    Monday, October 31, 2005

    I am a West Wing dork

    Donna's back! And it's about freakin' time, that's all I've got to say about it. I got all excited when I saw Janel Maloney's name show up in the opening credits ("Does that mean she'll be on? Yay!"). It was great how they brought her back, too. She got hired behind Josh's back to be one of the campaign spokespeople, and at first he was pissed, but then we got to see how it was all about him feeling betrayed and abandoned because of when she left to go join the Russell campaign last year (which she had every right to do, since he refused to promote her or give her any real responsibility while she was working for him, even though she was more than capable). Oh lord, I'm starting to sound like I did when I used to watch The X-Files; I'd better chill. Anyway, looking forward to next week with the live debate! That ought to be very cool.

    Sunday, October 30, 2005

    Sunday Catblogging: Napster Edition


    Here we see the boys in their natural all too rare, semi-dormant state.

    Saturday, October 29, 2005

    "I am a dead-eye shot, shooting."


    Yes, that's an actual target of mine from today.

    This morning Tom & I awoke and drove to the shooting range in Burbank, where we met up with my dad for some good, old fashioned, blow-holes-in-stuff fun. After a minor delay in the parking lot while we waited for some jackass parked his ginormosaur Hummer H2, we went inside, signed all the necessary waivers, and looked at our gun rental options. We chose a Glock-19 9mm and a Kimber 45 caliber. Equipped with targets and a couple of hundred rounds, we headed for the range.

    I've shot a lot of .22s; I was on the pistol team for a year in college, and I got my first rifle when I was 8 or so years old. When we lived in middle-of-nowhere southern Oregon, my dad and I used to go shoot things in the backyard. I wouldn't shoot anything I don't have intentions of eating, and I'm a vegetarian, so you can take a guess as to what we shot. Whenever Mom cleaned out the fridge, there would invariably be some old forgotten winter squash or something, and we'd take it out to the back, put it up against a stump, and shoot it. A couple of times we shot some higher-caliber weaponry - I had a bruised shoulder for a week after the time we busted out the shotgun - but for the most part it was just a variety of .22 pistols, revolvers and rifles.

    Today, however, we went for something with a bit more umph. None of us had shot anything in a number of years, so we were a bit out of practice, but we got the hang of it quickly. I mentioned last week I'd like to get a year pass to Magic Mountain so I could go ride roller coasters after I've had a bad day at work; I'm now rethinking that idea. A year's membership to the range might be even better! There's nothing quite so satisfying as squeezing the trigger on a .45, feeling that kick, seeing the resulting hole dead-center of the target. My thumb is sore from refilling the magazines, but that's okay. I'll take a little thumb pain in exchange for the satisfaction of a good day's gunplay. ;)

    This evening we're off to a party in honor of Gram Gram's 80th birthday! That's really quite something. It'll be nice to see aunts, uncles and cousins I haven't seen in a while. All in all, shaping up to be a good weekend so far.

    Thursday, October 27, 2005

    Supernova - Liz Phair

    Well, no one took a stab at the SOTW, but here are the lyrics.
    Lyrics

    Wednesday, October 26, 2005

    Turn of the Sudz?

    When I was about 8 or so, my horseback riding instructor took to calling me Suzzen, saying there was some rock star who went by that name. That got shortened to Suzz, and then one day she called me Sudz by mistake. For whatever reason, Sudz stuck, and that's been my nickname among family and close friends for a while now. (My parents hardly ever call me Susan, unless of course they're mad at me, which fortunately isn't very often now that I've passed those lovely teenage years.)

    I quit broadcasting this as a nickname a few years back. I don't exactly introduce myself to business associates by saying, "Hello, I'm Susan. Please call me Sudz." I guess that's normal, to "outgrow" our childhood nicknames. It's certainly not something I'm embarrassed to be called, but it's not a nickname I'll specifically request new friends/acquaintances use.

    Anybody else have any nicknames that are not at all or only tangentially related to your actual name?

    "Sick" day

    Yesterday my dad arrived in town for a visit. After not seeing the guy for over a year, you can bet I wasn't going to waste the day working. No siree! So I called in sick and surprised him at the airport. Spent the day hanging out, looking at his pictures from Iraq and Hawaii, playing fetch with Leo. Ate a tasty, tasty lunch at the California Pizza Kitchen, and I made tasty, tasty pasta salad for dinner. It was a really nice day. :) Now he'll be bouncing around visiting various other peoples for the rest of the week; how convenient that 80% of the extended family all live right around here!

    And now I'm back to work, wishing I were at home. :P Stupid work.

    Song of the Week: #2

    Sunday, October 23, 2005

    Sunday Catblog Time Again


    Here's Leo playing with the glow-in-the-dark necklace we brought home from Magic Mountain.

    Saturday, October 22, 2005

    Mountain o' Magic

    Or, the post in which I babble about roller coasters like a total geek

    Back in the spring, my company had its annual picnic at Six Flags' Hurricane Harbor, which is the water park right next to Magic Mountain. Along with admission to the water park and picnic venue, we were given free passes to Magic Mountain, which we could use anytime from September til the end of the year. When a friend of mine said she and a group would be going to MM yesterday, and asked if Tom and I would like to meet them up there in the evening after work, we thought it was as good a time as any to use those free passes.

    The parking lot still looked pretty full when we got there at 7:30, but once we got inside the park we realized that the lines to most of the rides were in fact quite short. It seemed the crowds were more interested in the haunted houses and other Halloween activities than the actual roller coasters. Fine by me! I'd much rather get my thrills from hurtling through the air than from walking down a dark hallway with people jumping out at me.

    I will say the park peoples spared no expense with the decorations. Webbing on every surface, unnecessary fog machines here and there (unnecessary because by the end of the evening there was more than enough natural fog to blanket the whole park), and several hideous-looking giant spiders descending above the entrance gates (Mom, you would so not have liked them!). There was even a humongous spider attached to the side of Colossus, which is a big, white, wooden coaster that looks conveniently enough like a spider's web. Charming.

    In 2.5 hours, we got on 4 rides and took time out for a quick dinner. We never waited more than 15 minutes in a line (well, except for Ninja, maybe, but that's because they were only running one train). It was a great way to end the week! The one coaster Tom & I both really wanted to ride, X, was closed - a shame, but we'll get to it someday. We rode Scream, Goliath (one of my favorites...has a 255 foot, 61 degree first drop! Holy hell!), and Ninja (my childhood favorite, which I hadn't ridden in probably almost 15 years), before ending the night with Superman.

    Superman's a fun one. It's got the rapid-acceleration, zero-to-ninety in 2 seconds sort of start, and then you go straight up a tower and fall back down. The really great thing was that by the time we rode it, at a few minutes to 10:00, the fog had really rolled in, so the ride sent us shooting into a giant cloud! It was indescribably neat. I really wished I had brought my camera so I could get a picture of the ride from the ground, with the mistiness draped over it. So cool.

    All right, enough of my raving. Better quit with the procrastination and get back to work. Hope everyone's weekend treats them well. :)

    Friday, October 21, 2005

    Snippy McCrankypants

    I know I don't work in a coal mine or anything, but I'm still feeling The Living End's "I Want A Day" right about now.

    I want a day, where I don't have to get up
    Sometimes I'm sick of being in a rut
    I want a day, where I don't have to go to work
    This low life job makes me feel like a jerk


    I've been in a bad mood pretty much all morning. I think I just woke up peevish. As Tom is well aware, I can be an irritable cow every now and again, and I think the fact that I haven't gotten a lot of sleep all week, and am nervous about my final exam and term paper to boot, has brought out this lovely aspect of my personality even more readily than usual. Oh joys. Then once I got to work there were circumstances (about which I won't elaborate) that led to me having to be the evil shrew supervisor-lady, which I really, really hate being. I would much prefer to be the genial and not at all shrewish supervisor-lady. So that effectively sealed the deal on my mood for the day. Awesome.

    The only silver lining of this lovely day is that it's Friday, and after this weekend I'll be done stressing about exams and paper-writing for at least another couple of weeks. Sorry for the grumptastic post, and hopefully I'll have something nice to write about later. Tom & I are going with some friends to Magic Mountain tonight for their "Fright Fest" Halloween dealie (ride roller coasters in the dark and whatnot), so that oughta be fun.

    Update: Forget that laughter nonsense. Roller coasters are the best medicine. Wha-ha! I think I may be investing in that "buy one day ticket, get season pass free" deal if they do it again next year. Crappy day at work? Drive fifteen minutes, ride a coaster or two, go home happy. ;)

    The Fog



    Here we have this morning's view from the Mt. Wilson Solar Towercam. Those little island-looking dark spots down below are the hills that separate the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys, peeking out through the fog. I drove through that fog this morning on my way to work, and as I sit here now looking up at it, it's hard to believe there's blue sky and sun up above it. Kind of nice, though. Reminds me of home.

    I'd much prefer, however, to sit on my couch all snuggly-like with the blanket o' fog outside than to drive through the stuff on the freaking freeway in the dark. Big ol' Dodge Ram came hurtling up behind me this morning, driving way too fast and then switching lanes to pass on the right at the last second. That was pretty scary.

    Thursday, October 20, 2005

    Family Tree - Ben Kweller

    Random fun fact - Tom & I went to a Ben Kweller concert for our first date. Aww...
    Lyrics

    Song of the Week: #1


    Okay, we'll start off with a fairly obvious one this week (well, the song title should be obvious from the picture, anyway). You give me the song title and the artist, and then I'll post the lyrics tomorrow. I have no idea how amusing/exciting/dumb this will be as a weekly feature, but it's simple enough to do, so I'll give it a shot for now. Have fun!

    Tuesday, October 18, 2005

    Study Break!

    The ever-twisted Perry Bible Fellowship has me in stitches again this week:



    All right, back to the paper-writing. Sorry for the short posts of late, but between the crummy internet access at work and the looming deadline for my Forensic Psych term paper, I haven't been able to devote as much time to the blogging as I normally would. Things should be back to normal in about a week or so.

    Ich heiße supercraptastic

    The company I work for must have the worst ISP on the planet.  Anytime the weather is less than absolutely perfect, we lose our connection to the interweb.  Super lame, says I. :P

    Monday, October 17, 2005

    West Wing recap for MysteryGirl! (and anyone else who cares)

    I'm not sure how many people reading this blog watch and/or give a damn about The West Wing, but if for some reason you haven't watched last night's episode yet and don't want to know what happened, read no further!
    Forge Ahead

    Blog-o-rific Parents

    I love that my folks are adept at the whole blogging thing. My mom's set up a blog to chronicle their Hawaiian cruise, and I'm sure there will be pretty pictures up in the gallery soon.

    Oh What A Night!

    Man, last night was rough. Had a heck of a time falling asleep, and then once I managed to nod off, I didn't stay asleep for more than two hours at a time.

    Saturday night Tom & I went to his friend Paul's for a get-together. We didn't get home too terribly late, but we slept like the dead and didn't wake up Sunday morning until 10:00! That, coupled with the fact that Tom left for Tucson later that morning for a conference, led to my initial difficulties in falling asleep last night (hey, I'm kind of used to having the guy around). Finally around quarter to midnight I dozed off.

    And then a few minutes before 1:00, the heavens opened up and dumped buckets of rain on our roof. I'm talking enough rain to wake me from my newly-acquired slumber. A few minutes later, the thunder decided to join in the fun. Said thunder was just loud enough and sporadic enough that it would jolt me awake every time I started drifting back off again. Finally after about half an hour of that, I got back to sleep.

    Until the storm renewed itself around 3:00! The thunder was so loud at times that in my sleep-addled brain I wondered if the lighting was actually hitting the top of our building. I imagined (somewhat blissfully, I'll admit) the phone call I would have to make to my boss the next morning when I'd awaken at 8:00 or so - "Oh, I'm so sorry boss. The storm blew out our power, so my alarm never went off this morning." To which he'd surely reply, "Oh, that's all right. Why don't you go ahead and take the day off? There's nothing important going on here today, anyway."

    Sadly, this was not to be, and my alarm did in fact erupt in its usual frenetic buzzing bright and early (well, early anyway) at 5:30. Oh joy. Today is going to be fun.

    Update: On the bright side, I am completely loving the rain and the absolutely incredible clouds we've got going on today. This Oregonian-at-heart is a happy camper! :)

    Sunday, October 16, 2005

    Weekend Catblogging


    Just a coupla catnip junkies, these boys are.

    Friday, October 14, 2005

    Say that ten times fast...

    The "Shoemobile" was here at work today, distributing safety shoes for employees. I got some steel-toed, conductive-soled, ankle-high boots (ten times fast...you know you want to). I'm happy because I searched high and low to no avail a few months ago, trying to find replacements for my much beloved but thoroughly thrashed trooper boots, and today I not only managed to get a decent pair, but I got a hefty employee discount on them as well. Yay for the Shoemobile. :) And for discounts. ;)

    Why y'all gotta hate on Liz?

    I'm sick of people ripping on Liz Phair for not making every album identical to Exile in Guyville. Yes, it's a really good album, but come on. I've read the interviews; she went through her man-hating, angstified youth, but now she's happier, wants to mix things up a bit and vary her style some. What's wrong with that? Just because her songs have been more pop-friendly of late, that doesn't mean she sold out and decided she'd rather "pander to contemporary hit radio."

    People change. Musicians are no different. I can understand fans being disappointed because they liked the style of Liz's earlier, moodier songs, but they don't have to treat her new stuff as if she intended it to be a personal affront against them. Either accept and appreciate the poppy songs on their own merits, or crawl back to your worn-out copy of Exile. I'm not saying you have to like the new stuff, but quit bashing the poor woman for enjoying where she is in life right now.

    That is all.

    Hello sunlight, my old friend

    Today, for the first morning in a while, I didn't get to work before sunrise. That is partly because the days are getting shorter (sun's rising later), so it's typically still just barely dawn at half past six, and partly because I accidentally shut off my alarm this morning and slept for another half an hour (I was having a dream that I was Agent Scully, running through the halls of my old high school...too much X-Files talk yesterday!). Oops...

    This meant that Ralph's was open already by the time I was ready to head out, so I stopped and got a box of Krispy Kremes for my coworkers. Yeah, they're a day old, but they're still sugary and delicious. Nothing starts a Friday off right like a Krispy Kreme. :)

    Speaking of Friday, boy howdy am I ready for the week to be over. It's been long and wholly uninspiring. Here's hoping the day proceeds at a reasonable pace (I know it won't, but I'll hope anyway) and that I'll be out of here before I know it.

    Thursday, October 13, 2005

    X-Files Holiday

    I am going to descend into utter nerd-dom here for a minute. Bear with me...

    Today is October 13th, which happens to be X-Files creator Chris Carter's birthday. It is also Agent Mulder's birthday. And Ten-Thirteen is the name of Carter's production company. The numbers 1013 and 1121 (Mrs. Carter's b-day) show up all over the place on the show - on badge and/or case numbers, hotel rooms, clocks, in phone numbers, etc. - and it made for kind of an I-Spy type game to catch all the times the writers stuck them in. (Actually, I'm fairly certain there were drinking games floating about the internets as well, but that was never really my thing.)

    Anyhow, happy birthday to CC and Mulder. And Chris...when are you going to get your crap together and make the second movie, huh? Seriously, it's time.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2005

    Daddio

    I haven't seen my dad in over a year, not since he helped me move down to L.A. last June. Is that because I moved almost 1000 miles away from home and haven't returned to the verdant northwest since? No...in fact, I've seen my mom and sister 3 times each in the past year. Is it because he and I don't get along? Not at all; we're quite close.

    Family and close friends know that in September of '04, my dad took a job with a defense industry contractor. My sister and I were told about a month before he flew to Texas for training, and thence to the Middle East. Kuwait, specifically. The whole family (myself very much included) proceeded to freak out, vehemently opposed to this decision. Eventually though, most of us eventually came to understand and even somewhat accept it.

    Dad spent the past year in Kuwait and Iraq, though well out of the major "hotspots" for the most part. In my mind, of course, the whole damned region is one big hotspot, but even I will admit he was as safe as he could have been, under the circumstances. He sent home many photos of the heavily-armored trucks he drove - the windows for some of which my company makes! - and the camels he saw (apologies if that link doesn't work; my webhost's server has been funky lately). When his turn came for R&R vacation, Mom flew over to meet him in Greece, where they spent two weeks. Yes, there were many, many worrisome days (most of us gave up on reading the news from that region altogether), but none of our greatest fears for him were realized.

    Last night, after some marathon plane-riding, my dad landed at Portland Int'l Airport, home for his second R&R (he and Mom are taking off for Hawaii next week) and hopefully for good. I finally feel okay with writing about where he's been and why, now that he's home. Just felt oddly as though I would be jeapordizing his safety if I wrote anything before now. But I want to put out there for all the world (okay, a few dozen people) to see how very proud I am of him. It was not an easy decision to make, taking a job in an extremely dangerous part of the world for the sake of his family, and he was incredibly brave to do what he did. Doesn't mean I want him to go back (please, god no, don't go back), but that aprehensiveness doesn't at all diminish my pride for and appreciation of him.

    Welcome home, Dad! I love you. :)

    Chortle

    Oh Toothpaste for Dinner - you kill me.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2005

    This is way more fun than my workday's been :P

    This looked entertaining, so I'll participate. Thanks, Rit!

    Directions: Go to Google Images. Type in the following and post the first (or your favorite) picture the search engine finds.

    - The name of the town where you grew up
    - The name of the town where you live now
    - Your name
    - Your Grandmother’s name (pick one)
    - Your favorite food
    - Your favorite drink
    - Your favorite song
    - Your favorite smell


    This guy is right off the freeway, the first thing greeting you to the lovely town of Grants Pass, OR.


    Cool shot of the Colorado Blvd bridge, in Pasadena.


    Susan B. Anthony was not an attractive woman. Amazing woman, but definitely not attractive.


    Apparently there's an AKC Champion Scottish Terrier with the same name as my grandma...Dorthea. Go figure!


    I was surprised how hard it was to find a picture of lasagna that didn't look completely gross. This one looks pretty delicious, though.


    Mmm...water good.


    I can't place one song above all others, so I went with one of my current faves. Bonus points to anyone who can figure out the song from the picture. ;)


    I love the smell of horses and horsery. Love it.


    Hmm...who shall be tagged next? How about Datrick (you need to update your blog anyhow) ;) and Sunny? And Tom, if you feel like it. ;)

    Monday, October 10, 2005

    Lies!

    A pox upon thee, NBC! Your advertisements promised that last night's The West Wing episode would reveal the identity of the leak within the White House...but it didn't. Damnit. The episode was good anyway, but I really want to see CJ exonerated. Or, if she won't be, then just stab me in the heart and get it over with.

    What's next? "This week, on a very special West Wing, Donna returns, and she and Josh are no longer able to hide their overwhelming love from each other......Psych! Oh man, we really got you that time..." Bah.

    Seriously

    I'm probably not going to say this eloquently, but I feel like I have to say it. Reading about the earthquake in Pakistan and mudslide in Guatemala makes me think about how the rest of the world often sees tragedy on a scale that most Americans could never even fathom. I felt that way after last December's tsunami, too. Don't get me wrong; the Katrina situation was horrible, but for different reasons. The storm itself wasn't the worst part, which is probably why the ensuing mess was so upsetting. With better planning, so much of that badness could have been prevented. But I digress.

    My point is that, in my (albeit short) lifetime anyway, America hasn't really been faced with a natural disaster of truly catastrophic proportions. The Northridge earthquake, considered the worst earthquake in Los Angeles history - yes, it was only 6.8 or 6.9 in magnitude, and not 7.6 like the Pakistan quake - had a death toll of 57. I think if something happened in America resulting in 30,000 deaths, we wouldn't even know how to react.

    Anyway, just had to get that out there. We now return to our regularly-scheduled blogging about mundane crap.

    Saturday, October 08, 2005

    Nifty Clouds

    Here are some pictures I took a couple of weeks ago when the sky was unusually cool-looking. Finally got around to uploading them onto the compy.


    Okay, enough with the procrastination. Need to finish studying and take my midterm. Hope everyone has a nice weekend!

    Fun with Textbooks

    Here's an amusing excerpt from my Forensic Psych textbook:
    E. Loftus has demonstrated that, through the use of misleading questioning, witnesses can be made to report such things as barns that were not seen, an assailant with curly hair whose hair was in fact straight, broken glass in car accidents that in reality involved no broken glass, incorrect colors of objects, and changes in the frequency of one's own headache pain.
    Okay, so most of those I would expect in a discussion of the infalliability of witness memory, but that whole "barns that were not seen" thing just seems so random. Cracks me up. I may have to check out the reference (Loftus, "Leading Questions and the Eyewitness Report") to see what the whole story is.

    Friday, October 07, 2005

    Whooo are you? Who-who? Who-who?

    Couldn't think of anything terribly interesting to write about today, so I figured I'd piggy-back on MA's blanket tag and answer some questions. Here goes...

    1. How old were you when you found out Santa was not a jolly man, but your Mom and Dad?
    I think I was about 6 or 7 (correct me if I'm wrong there, Mom). I know I figured out the Tooth Fairy first, and then made the logical leap to Santa.

    2. Who was the first celebrity's poster you had hanging on your wall?
    I don't know that I've ever actually had a full-size poster of any celebrity on my wall. Had plenty of pictures of David Duchovny up, though.

    3. How many times have you heard the phrase, "Please step out of the car Ma'am/Sir."?
    Just once. It was the first time I'd gone out drinking, I'd gone with some friends the weekend after my birthday, and I had taken a long time to make sure I was okay to drive before I left the bar. I was driving at midnight back to the navy base where I had a summer internship, and I didn't realize they reconfigured the barricades by the entrance at night. So I got confused and ended up driving in the exit. The kicker was that I would have done that even if I'd had nothing to drink at all. Everything worked out in the end, though. Blew well under the legal limit (can I trust people to take that in a non-sexual way?), and they sent me on my way.

    4. What is the lamest reason for breaking up with someone you have ever given or received?
    Can't really think of one, but I've only broken up with someone twice and been broken up with once, so I don't exactly have a large sample size from which to draw.

    5. What is the dumbest lie you ever told your parents to get out of something?
    The dumbest thing would have been trying to lie at all, because I'm horrible at it.

    6. Paper or Plastic?
    Paper bags with handles, like they have at Trader Joe's.

    7. What did you want to be when you grew up when you were little (under 10)?
    A jockey.

    8. What do you want to be now?
    A forensic analyst.

    9. What kind and color of underwear do you have on right now?
    Geez, my grandparents read this blog...good thing I've got boring underwear, I guess. Sensible blue Hanes Her Way. I think they're called "sport bikinis."

    10. What CD are you ashamed to admit you own and listen to?
    Hmm...I guess those would just be CDs I wouldn't play in the company of others, hmm? I don't know, probably Pink's debut album and a couple of mix CDs with a few boy band pop songs on 'em. What can I say? Some of them are catchy!

    11. Who would you sleep with if you had the opportunity to?
    I am a one man woman, thank you very much.

    12. Finish this sentence and say what movie this is from. The FBI is going to pay me to ______?
    ...work in their lab and analyze evidence to help catch bad guys! - Movie of my Future

    13. Are you a lame asshole who lied on the above question?
    Am I still a lame asshole if I was just trying to be funny?

    14. Why did you come to the blog that tagged you?
    I've seen MA comment on some (okay, most) of the other blogs I read and was amused by what she had to say. Finally got around to clicking the link on Megarita's blog and giving Fictional Rockstar a read.

    15. What is your biggest fear?
    Waking up to find Tom has died beside me in the night. (Totally irrational, and I'm a little embarrassed by that, but there it is.) And scorpions.

    16. Do you watch reality television and why/why not?
    No, and I like Megarita's answer to this question. "I get really stressed out for people, I feel really bad for them, and I hate watching people embarrass themselves. I can't watch some sitcoms for this reason." Ditto.

    17. Have you ever slept with someone and wondered why the hell you did that?
    Nope.

    18. What is your biggest regret?
    Eh, I don't really have any huge regrets, but I wish we would have bred Kakki when she was younger. She would have been a good mom.

    19. How old where you and what happened the first time you got drunk?
    I was 21. See answer to #3.

    20. Which would you rather be, the hammer or the nail?
    Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug... I like RitMeyer's take on the question. "The nail, because I would hold shit together. Yes I would."

    21. What is your favorite curse word?
    Why does my inner voice suddenly turn into James Lipton's when I read this question? I like the ever-versatile F-bomb, in all its various forms. I particularly like the much-underappreciated "fuckery!" as a standalone expletive.

    22. If there was one thing you could ask your parents, but never had the guts, what would that be?
    Eh, I don't think asking my parents things really requires guts. Anything I'd be apprehensive about asking would be a question for which I wouldn't really want to know the answer anyway. ;)

    23. What are 3 things that make you go Hmmm?
    1) That SNL has invited Ashlee Simpson back to be the musical guest again.
    2) FOX News
    3) Reality TV

    24. Real or fake boobies?
    Um, real, thankyouverymuch.

    25. Do you like being tagged by people?
    Certainly it is convenient for days like today, when I have nothing else of interest to write. :)