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. :)

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Οπα!*

I spent the 2002-2003 school year studying overseas in Nottingham, England. In addition to the chemistry classes I had to take for my major (which convinced me that undergraduate study in the UK is hands-down much more rigorous than anything you’d find in the American public university system), I had the option of taking some of the electives offered. One of these was a modern Greek language course. I love languages, and as I do have a bit of Greek blood in me, I jumped at the chance to take the class.

Midway into the first month, the professor informed us that the Greek Orthodox church in town offered Greek dancing lessons once a week. Now, no one could ever confuse me with a person who has any dancing skills, but how could I pass up this opportunity to learn more about my heritage? So I joined up and was amazed by how quickly I caught on.

Here’s the thing about Greek dance that made it easier for me to, well, not suck at it – it’s very structured. Ninety percent of the time the group dances together in a line, everyone shoulder-to-shoulder. Sometimes you’re holding hands with your neighbors, sometimes your arms are on their shoulders, and occasionally you link elbows. The line snakes around the floor as the dancers’ feet move in the prescribed patterns. As long as you can pick up the patterns quickly, which I could, you’re golden.

I. Loved. It.

Every week we would practice several of the “standard” mainland dances, and then the instructor would teach us a dance from one of the islands. They were all interesting and had their own unique styles. Cretan dances had us all up on the balls of our feet, Cypriot dances required us to pair up, and one memorable dance from Xios had the line slowly spiral in like a snail shell and then quickly unravel. Some dances were very slow and methodical, others required us to fly across the floor in a series of compicated steps, some were very repetitive and simple, and sometimes kicking and/or hollering were involved. I loved them all.

I'm sad that I've let myself fall out of practice both with the dancing and the language since I've been back stateside, but I know I'll pick them back up again someday. I enjoyed both far too much to let them just fall by the wayside forever. :) I highly recommend the dancing to anyone and everyone, even those who think they can't dance (*cough*Tom*cough*). Try it...you just might like it!


*This post inspired in part by the Greek title of MA’s post from yesterday. As a side note, I am a little creeped out by the fact that, just as I was about to post this today, I saw that MA also had written about studying abroad, and in England, no less! (looking around for a camera in my office...)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Are warriors supposed to be this sore?

Back when I was riding (and falling off of) horses all the time, my back was very often quite sore, and for a couple of years I was visiting a chiropractor on a regular basis. On one of my last visits, my chiropractor suggested I purchase the Warrior Wellness tapes (yes, they were only on VHS back then) and give them a try. The philosophy behind the WW program is that improving joint strength is vital to preventing injury and improving overall wellness. So I bought them, did the beginner tape for a few months, and was pleased with the results. My back soreness was greatly reduced, my posture improved somewhat...pretty much all-around good things.

And then I slacked off for - oh - about three years.

About a year ago, when I was running 3 or more times a week, I dug the tapes out again and decided to get back into doing the routine every day. It takes all of 20 minutes to get through the exercises, which consist of nothing more than moving your body around such that your limbs and trunk go through their full ranges of motion. Simple enough, right?

Well, even though I was pretty fit cardiovascularly from the running, my joints (more accurately, the muscles around them) were apparently not in very good condition, because after doing the exercises, I couldn't walk right for a week. Every single part of me was sore. By the time I was finally feeling better, the tape was back on the shelf and I didn't get around to watching it again...until this past Monday.

I have to keep reminding myself that this kind of pain is a good thing. It's definitely a muscle soreness, so I don't worry that I've done any actual damage to myself, and I know that if I can just stick with it this time, I will be in much better shape for it. But boy howdy am I achy today! Everywhere. As I said, that's likely a good sign, because it means I'm using muscles that I normally don't. As long as I keep thinking about it that way (as I limp around) I'll probably be able to motivate myself to keep working at it until I am a strong-jointed warrioress!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

I love...


...goat cheese! There are few things finer on this sweet earth. Someday, when Tom's done with his PhD and we can leave the hell-hole that is Los Angeles and move somewhere nicer, I would love to get a she-goat. I would feed her sweet, sweet grasses, and she would produce the finest, creamiest milk, from which I would have a nearly-limitless supply of tasty, tasty cheese.

(Of course, I'm not sure how the whole milking schedule would fit in with my "not a morning person" preferences, but I suppose if I have to get up early anyway, I may as well have the promise of homemade goat cheese as an incentive.)

Sigh. Someday.

Morning people

Don't get 'em. Not one of 'em. I much prefer to remain abed until well after (as Megarita often puts it) the White Hot Ball of Light makes its morning appearance.

There's a fellow in my department who lives within walking distance of the company. He is scheduled to clock in at 7am. He told me he wakes up every day at 4:00 to do chores! And I'm not talking farmer chores - milk the cow, feed the chickens, put the mules out to pasture - no, I'm talking dishwashing and tidying. He said he likes to take his time in the morning, eat some breakfast, watch the news, etc., which I can understand in principle, but getting up a full three hours before it's time to be at work, and not because he's allowing for farmer chores or a traffic-clogged commute, is hardcore to the point of insanity. I am way too fond of my sleep for that kind of nonsense, and my body refuses to adjust to some sort of bizarre, in-bed-by-seven schedule.

There is a time of night, which my mother has termed "the shank of the evening." It usually lands around 10:30 or 11:00, and no matter how exhausted I am before then, if I happen to stay awake past it, I get a second wind. I get gabby, I get giggly, I can't settle down - it's what I, my family, and any poor soul unfortunate enough to have been my roommate at one time or another, have come to know as "shanking." (And no, not in the prison sense of the word.) I'm certain this condition afflicts millions, but they just aren't aware of the proper term. Until now. Shanking - may it spread like wildfire.

As you may have guessed, I fell victim to the shank of the evening last night. It was time for bed, but Tom and I stayed awake a while talking about interleukins and this-and-that. As a result, I hit the snooze on the alarm twice this morning without actually waking up. Oops. Such is the downfall of the shank.

Best go mainline some more caffiene and get back to work...

I'm of the mind that shankers and morning people are mutually exclusive. Anyone who can bound singing out of bed in the morning surely has to be immune from the shank's effects. Thoughts? Comments? Opinions on the matter? Share 'em!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Extended Team Coverage!

There's been quite a bit of talk on the news lately about the big brush fires scorching tens of thousands of acres around L.A. The anchors always make a big deal out of their "extended team coverage!" of the fires, but I don't see what all the fuss is about. It would be so much cooler with a single field reporter covering the story for days at a time.

***

"I'm here in the foothills east of Chatsworth, where the fire has been raging, barely contained, for 36 hours now. I haven't slept. I've got ash in my hair. I smell like a roasted shoe. I just want to go home to my wife and kids."

"Can you tell us, Don, have any homes been lost?"

"To be honest, Sheila, I don't know, and I couldn't care less."

"Well, you'd better get back in the helicopter and give us some more aerial shots."

"Do I have do? I don't think I'm in any condition to fly."

"Stay tuned, folks. We'll be returning live to Don Hensworth with News Chopper 9 after these messages."

"Please god just let me go home."

*Commercials for SUVs, hemorrhoid cream, and lingerie*

"And we're back with extended solo coverage of the Chatsworth fire. I'm Sheila Marsten, and we're returning live to Don Hensworth in News Chopper 9. Don?"

"Clearly, Sheila, there's nothing new to see here. The hills are still on fire, the blaze is still only 5% contained, and I still smell like a roasted shoe. And if you don't let me go home soon, I think I will deliberately crash News Chopper 9 in the next valley and start another fire. You don't want that, do you Sheila?"

"I think you'd better get back to the ground and talk to some residents. We've got a camera crew waiting for you with Amanda Higgins and her border collie, Jojo, and you can give us details on their incredible survival story."

"Tell my wife I love her, and tell Janie and Billy that daddy will be watching over them always. Back to you in the studio, Sheila."

***

I'm telling you, that would make for much better television.

Camera-worthy moments

I was sorry I did not have my camera at the grocery store this evening, when I saw a rather unfortunate contest advertisement. There were a bunch of those "electric match" lighters for sale beside the checkstand, and on the packaging was listed the following:

Enter to win a 5 day, 4 night trip to New Orleans!

Ouch. I should think the store staff might have pulled those from the shelves, oh, a few weeks ago.

Then I returned home to find, parked in the driveway of the apartment complex next to ours, a van. And not just any van.



That's right. It was the van of Sandy and Houdini, the magical miniature horse! I was quite amused, so I gleefully grabbed my camera from the apartment and scampered back downstairs to capture this marvel for posterity.