Dumb Ad

Saw the dumbest advertisement this afternoon:

Silver Sonic XL
Kind of like a James Bond super hearing device
Why is it dumb?
One of its "virtues" is that it is disguised by looking like one of those hands free phone things. Little do they know that those are pretty well universally despised because they make their wearer appear to be a self-absorbed wanker (or douchebag, if you prefer). I know one of the biggest wankers I've ever met wore one of those phone things and when a coworker was doing a humorous imitation of him, all he had to do was put one of those on to be instantly recognizable.

So, be cool and wear a Super Sonic XL (and overhear compliments about yourself! ;) that people think is a supercool bluetooth handsfree headset. They'll think you're so important!



Home Safe

Baron is back with his parents again. He was pretty intent on getting home again. I knew he was missing his routine, but I didn't realize how MUCH! Knowing that now, I'm glad he restrained his "I wanna go HOME" whine until they showed up. Whew! His good behavior all week shows what a well behaved and nice dog he really is.
Thanks, J & T, for letting me take care of your big baby.

In other news, my dad and I are working on a home renovation project in the basement. I'm putting in a storage room/walk in closet since the old storage room will eventually become a new bathroom. A friend helped me frame the wall, and my dad's helping me with the electrical. It's "fun" in the way that working on an old house can be "fun". ;)


Tasty Friday & Baron Watch: Last Day

We had a yummy veggie soup today and are watching Ratatouille right now.

Baron and I took a long walk this morning and then he waited patiently in his crate while I went with the family to see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It's well done and interesting. My brother commented that it felt a bit like Forrest Gump. Turns out, the same guy wrote both!

Today's the last day with Baron. Tomorrow morning, J & T come to pick him up and as fun as going for walkies is, he will be overjoyed to see them. He's wonderfully well behaved -- which is a good thing considering how big he is. It's like having a pony around the house. He's used to being cared for by family (real or adopted) and though he does like me a lot, he misses them. So, I'm looking forward to the adorable little hop he does when he's excited. Only 12 more hours, honeybunch!


Merry Thursday and Baron Watch: Day 8

Hope you all are having a lovely midwinter celebration. Last night we opened presents (not our typical tradition, but we like trying out the imported traditions). It was a bit different, since we were doing a "secret Santa" version. That's the one where you each draw a name and only buy one gift. Would have been much more straightforward, except that four of our Santas were trapped in the Pacific NW. Very peculiar feeling for some people to open presents and some not.
My dear aunt Ruth was there, so it was wonderful to see her. G&A were lovely hosts.
I'm sitting with Baron right now, waiting to go to my sister's till a little later in the day. He's been missing J & T more than usual today. My mum took him for a walk and she felt like he was less into the walk and more into looking for his house. I think it's because he had a yummy peanut butter mailman that reminded him of J & T. We reminded him that he only has two more days until they come back.
He'll be OK. He's snoozing in his crate right now. Soon I'll take him out back for a potty break and head on up to the festivities.
Hope all the rest of you are having a great day. I am thankful to have you all as friends. It's really friendships and families that make the holidays as special (or "special" if you've got one of Those families) as they are.
Merry Thursday!


Christmas Prep & Baron Watch: Day 7

Well, all day I was either shopping or cooking most of the day.

Baron, Jag, and the rest of the crew went out for a quick walk (it was cold!).
Then we (sans dogs) shopped for Christmas ingredients.
Then, we headed up to my sister's. Baron stayed behind, not because he wouldn't behave, but just so I could focus on cooking and he wouldn't get too stressed being in a new place.
I made AB's baklava, easy fudge (not a true fudge, but oh, so chocolately and really, what's the difference?), and chicken salad in toast cups (the salad and the cups are separate until tomorrow). My mom put together the artichoke and Parmesan dip (to be baked tomorrow) and cut up veggies for the veggies and dip and the cream of broccoli soup. My sister made "texas caviar" and sugar cookies (I think there was something else she made, but I can't put my finger on what it was). My BIL made homemade eggnog. My dad made an emergency trip to the grocery store for forgotten items.

Now, I'm back at home and I've just put the finishing sauce on the baklava. There are sounds of Baron eating his dinner coming from the spare bedroom. We'll go for a walk and then it's back into the crate for Baron, 'cause I'll be going up to G & A's for a Christmas Eve gathering. Hopefully this'll be the only day out of the week that he'll have to spend so much time in the crate (albeit with breaks at decent intervals).

Yes, my parents do think Baron is a nice, well-behaved and handsome dog. My sister will make sure to come down on Friday to meet him...
Ah, he's done dinner. Time to go for a walk!


Baron Watch: Day 6

All is well. Went for a short walk this morning. Am busy all day! O.o

Much Later: Well, my parents arrived safe and sound. The dogs met and had a bit of an Omega-Off. Jag won (lost?) and retains the title of Omegaest Dog We Know. Turns out that Baron isn't a total weenie. He's still got a healthy respect for the cats though. Things are fine and stay pretty peaceful, since everyone's got their own space.
Tomorrow: Christmas Prep!


Baron Watch: Day 5

All is well.
Took Baron out for a freezing cold walk this morning. He loves it regardless of the cold. He's learned to recognize the sound of me putting on my shoes and the little bouncing hop he does while he's waiting for me to put on my jacket is hilarious.
He didn't eat much this morning, but I'll re-offer it at lunchtime.
Until then, he's safe and warm and napping in his crate.

Baron was very good today (as usual). I had a friend come over to pick something up and stayed for dinner. Baron was well behaved, if a little needy. I was very pleased. Plus, it's almost a perfectly coordinated gradual introduction of Baron to new people. Tomorrow my parents and their lab, Jag, arrive. They have a plan for shifting Jag to his brother's (my sister and BIL's) house if there are just too many animals in this house. We'll see.
So far so good! Easy when Baron is such a nice doggie. :)


Baron Watch: Day 4

All is well.
Baron's learning to snooze while I'm being boring (like now), which is nice.
Until I can get a photo, here's a Google image search for those of you who are curious what a giant schnauzer looks like. Baron is pretty much exactly like that.
It's a little like having a small horse around the house. He's around 30" tall at the shoulder and very fit. He's got a cropped tail and cropped ears and his coat is kept short, except for his shaggier legs and handsome eyebrow trim and beard and mustache.
We'll go for a walk later and I'll try and take a photo then.

Later: We took a long walk around the other lake. My thighs were starting to go numb after the halfway point, so we mostly jogged back from there. Now Baron will probably nap while I clean up the downstairs for guests.

Still Later:

Per popular request, here's a photo of Baron and Martin enjoying the sun.
I, on the other hand, have been toiling away in the basement.


Baron Watch: Day 3

All is well.
The cats are very relaxed around him now, though a little irritated that they have more competition for my attention. He likes to give them a big sniff as they pass... funnily enough just then, he wandered by to sniff me and the Dell Mini, then lean in to be scratched (it's a little like having a horse lean into you when you scratch).
He's still slow about eating his kibble, but I figure if I stay on routine, it'll self correct. No, I'm not feeding him too many treats. :P
We went for a medium sized walk yesterday evening, which he enjoyed very much. He loves his walkies! If it gets reasonably warm like it did yesterday, we may go on a long walk around the lake. Otherwise, I think today's schedule is filled with "follow Anne while she cleans up around the house."

Well, we went for a long walk around the lake and now Baron is sacked out in his crate. Hee!

Still Later:
YAY! Baron ate all his dinner! He's officially settled in now. Whew!
And now he's dragged his blanket out of his crate and is playing with it. Wierd doggy. ;)


Baron Watch: Day 2

Baron seems to have slept well. I didn't hear a peep from him all night. He looked around for J & T when he got up, just in case they reappeared overnight. He didn't eat much breakfast (still a bit unsettled, I think). I'll offer it again at lunch when he's hungrier. He was very cute and went to lay in his crate while I was getting dressed. He misses home, I'm sure. Then, we went for a walk (yipee!). It was a fast-paced sniff fest, hurrying from one smelling spot to the next.
He is so cute, looking for his treat after being told to go into his crate. He seems quieter and more at peace when put in his crate, so that's where he is right now, taking a morning nap and waiting for me to come home for lunch.


Baron Watch: Day 1

Baron, a handsome giant Schnauzer that many of you know by a nickname, has come to stay with his Auntie Annie for a week.
His parents (J & T, who I shall not link to in order to not advertise they will be away from home) dropped him off a couple hours ago. He was a bit agitated by the signs that he was being left behind (his crate being put in my spare room being a big one) but gradually settled down while we went over his routines.
When they left, he whined a bit and wandered around for a long time investigating or whatever it is he was doing, going from room to room. Then, after about an hour, he finally settled down, ate the rest of his dinner, played hockey with his empty bowl, then carried it into the spare room. Now, he's lying against my feet, getting the patented Annie Pet (tm). He is such a big cutie.
He and the cats are getting along fine. Martin was very curious about him and followed him around a bit. He also likes Baron's food. When I put it down on the floor, he came over to investigate, which meant Baron (a little nervous of cats) couln't approach. I don't know what it is about his food, but Martin takes out a couple chunks and chews on them. He lost interest eventually, and Baron was able to eat, but it was funny. Matti's been pretty cautious, but Martin and Baron have reached an understanding (maybe they bonded over food). Martin even let Baron smell his rear end. That makes them practically best friends, right?
So, everything's good for now. Yay!



...is a cool word.

Anywho, random things from today:
Martin suddenly jumped up to where I was sitting on the couch and pressed his head against my hand. It was such a cute request! "Put your hand HERE!" Actually, I think the cats identify more with my hands than they do with my face. "Ah yes, the feeding appendages that also pet and scratch. Excellent. Why don't you have more than two?"

I found it very difficult to get out of bed this morning. Not because it was cold (which it was) or because I was tired (I wasn't) but because I really just didn't want to interact with the day.
Fortunately, I talked myself into taking off the entire week between Christmas and New Years. It should be nice to get a breather (even if the project IS winding down).

Reading while eating lunch really is one of the seminal pleasures of life.

Bitter cold is not fun.

I need new shoes.

It's time for bed.

ETA: Jenn, posting at the same time as I was posting, talks about cats being heat-powered and the addiction of reading. Clearly, she is a fellow member of BA (Bookaholics Anonymous).


Economy Bites

Janiece said it best on her blog when she pointed out that her economy worries boils down to a control issue.
Go, read, and I'll get back to that job I am currently lucky enough to have.

Best of luck to you all in these nerve-wracking times.


Weekend Update

- Went to help G & K set up for their party. Found siblings there too! :D
- Drove back to Denver for the office Christmas party. It was nice but I get tired of all the organized activities that start very late. I think I'm getting old. ;)
- Left the party just as the snow started coming down. Got home safely, but was really glad there weren't many cars on the road.
- Didn't have to clear the sidewalk as the neighbor did it for me! Now I'll need to make cookies as a thank you. :)
- Put up exterior decorations. Hurt thumb. :(
- Wrapped presents
- Wrote blog post
- Can't make choc. chip cookies, 'cause there's only a half a bag of milk chocolate chips in the house. The horror! (And I'm too lazy to go out to the grocery store at the moment.)
- Cleaned the bathroom and my thumb still hurts. (Wah!)
- Went to Home Depot for some house project supplies
- Had dinner w/ a friend
- Watched TV and knitted :)



Heard On the Turning Away (Pink Floyd) on the radio on the way home from work.
It's one of my favorites, but it's so moving (always brings tears to my eyes) that I can't listen to it very often.

There were two versions on YouTube, the one I'm embedding here and another one that was paired with a Carl Sagan clip and some computer generated celestial images. I liked the latter, but found it to be a bit manipulative, so I'll include the former, live version (which has a great section with the whole audience singing along) which suits my purposes just fine:

Note: There is an extensive instrumental section at the end.

The lyrics, if you would like to see them, are located here.


Cooking Sweet

Made baklava for the office holiday party (we're economizing by having committee members bring in desserts). It takes a while, but people enjoy it quite a bit and it's fun to make. My favorite part is pouring the honey sauce over the hot baklava and seeing it come to a boil again from the heat of the dish.

I also managed to make something fun for a Christmas related project. I'll have to make a second batch, since there was a minor flaw with the first batch. For something I've never even attempted before, it turned out pretty well. When I have the second batch made, I'm sending it to a few people I think will appreciate it and I'm looking forward to reactions.

We'll see...


Muppet Theory

More food for thought...

Online comic strip, PVP, presents a Muppet theory, with two of the characters drawn as if they were Muppets. Hee! (And Rowlf was always one of my favorites!)

Reactions to Tragedy

I found this very interesting article, by Shankar Vedantam at the Washington Post about a scientific study looking at how people (as groups) react to tragedy. Essentially, they determine that there are "two distinct forms of moral reasoning." The most interesting paragraph is:
But our mental systems can come into conflict in the case of terrorism and large-scale disasters: Our focus on perpetrators who intentionally cause harm prompts us to minimize the effects of "mundane" tragedies such as floods, famine and disease outbreaks, because those do not have a sinister agent behind them.

I highly recommend the whole article at the Washington Post.

Food for thought...


Da Boyz

For those of you who haven't had the good fortune to "meet" my boys, here's a supercute photo of them. They are brothers. (If you look closely, you might be able to see the family resemblance.)
The one on the right is Martin. I think of him as the big brother. He started of being the more reserved of the two, but his affection, once earned, is a serious attachment. He is the "talkative" one, and he has an adorable way of stretching up with one paw outstretched that really won over my dad when I was in India.
The one on the left is Matti. He's like the little brother. He checks to see what Martin is doing on a regular basis and likes to sit against him and have his head groomed (as shown in the picture). He used to be the more outgoing, but less attached of the two. Now, as they've gotten more comfortable in my house, they're pretty equal with the greeting duties. Matti is more likely to wander off on his own and sleep above the heating ducts in the basement and more likely to make an escape attempt out of the yard.
They are such brothers. One minute they are competing to see who can lick the other more, then they're fighting and chasing each other around the house.
I love them both equally, even though they are so different.
My boys make my house a home.

(More pictures of them can be found in the righthand sidebar, towards the bottom.)


Friends, Feet, and Food

No, not Feet IN Food, that would be the old fashioned stomping of grapes or something.

Yesterday I headed on down to Janiece's house to meet up with her so we could go sit in lovely massage chairs while having our feet soaked and fussed over and fun colors painted on our toes. It was, as usual, a lovely time, but it only got better from there.

I got to see the fabulous Kindle (which has an extremely readable screen! Not like looking at an electronic readout at all) and meet Janiece's very nice son. I also petted the Incomparable Boogie (tm).

For dinner we (Janiece, her funny and smart husband (T), their equally-entertaining longtime friend (D), and I) went to dinner at Junz, a wonderful French/Asian restaurant with divine sushi. Janiece had some delicious Sea Bass on mushroom risotto, and I admit that if there hadn't been sushi there, that would have been my choice. I, being a)indecisive or b) adventurous, had an "appetizer-sized" portion of Broiled Yellowtail Collar (Ha! It was half the collar) AND sushi. The collar was very tasty, but the sushi was, as I said, divine. T and D were the main sushi eaters and cleared a table-load of fresh fish. They really know how to enjoy sushi. The fish was so tender and fresh. The Yellowtail and green onion roll was as heavenly as that first real FISH roll that converted me from eating veggie and California rolls to being a real sushi eater. All of it was excellent. AND I got to have Toro for the first time which was... hmmm running out of superlatives... ah... transcendent. I understand now, why it belongs up there at the top of the sushi hierarchy. Sigh. Give me a moment...

Ok, I'm back.

This restaurant also has excellent martinis (I had Raspberry Lemondrop and the others a regular Lemondrops). Very smooth. The sake was good too. And Janice let me have some of her dessert - it was a mango ice cream wrapped in a rice pastry. Not only was the flavor excellent, but the pastry gave it a fun, chewy texture that I really enjoyed.

I can see why this is one of their favorite restaurants.

Adding to the sensory delight of the good food was the delightful conversation. All three of my dining companions are fun, intelligent, irreverent, and thoughtful people. Our conversation pretty much ran the gamut of subjects and it was never boring or dull. I laughed a lot and felt relaxed and appreciated. It was a hell of a lot of fun.

Thank you, Janiece + 2 SmartMen. I had a wonderful time. It's people like you that make life GOOD.

(Janice has put up her own post, both pre-event and post-event)


Idle Fingers, The Devil's Work?

Ah, it's nice to not have something that I HAVE to do.

I'm relaxing at home, having eaten a tasty dinner, leftover from lunch, and After Eights for dessert. Yum!

I'm catching up on my Heroes episodes. Maybe I'll do something useful, like wipe down the bathroom or do some filing. Maybe. If I feel like it.


ETA: Seth Green in a cameo on Heroes! SQUEEEEEE! That was so awesome. :D

ETA 2: Nathan and JTS are tearing up NY. (You may well ask if I mean tear as in rip or tear as in weeping. Both, I imagine. They certainly made me tear up when laughing.)


Jimmy Stewart Returns

The vertigo issue from Thanksgiving came back this morning, though not as bad, so I went to the doc (I love my doc, he's very cool) and he confirmed that it was either labyrinthitis (the coolest illness name, as Tania and my mum both noted) or BPV. The good news is neither is lethal, the bad news is there's no drugs for either of them, just wait until it goes away by itself. He also gave me some exercises to re-adjust the inner ear. So, after attempting to go to work (bad idea), I went home and took a four hour nap. Feeling a bit better now, but looking forward to sleeping more.

And now I'm having the urge to watch the Stewart and Hitchcock film.


Weekend Updated

Three more UCFers got to the NaNo finish line over the weekend:
John the Scientist (I saw his purple "winnner" bar on Friday)
Eric aka Evan (Finished a rough draft of an elephant... or something)
Matt W. (Got done with two hours to spare)

Also, I neglected to give an update on Operation: Thanksgiving Dinner.
Two wonderful friends, Stacey (and friends, Susan and Dawn) and Janiece (and Smart Man) brought lovely leftovers to me on Thanksgiving evening so I wouldn't be left out of the feasting. Both offerings were wonderful and I appreciate *so much* both of your friendships. You guys are awesome. And boy, do you know some good cooks! :D


The Day After

What does one do after focusing on one thing everyday for a month?
All the irritating little things you have been noticing for the past month.
I vacuumed the dirt from the cats off the counch (one bad thing about a dark chocolate colored couch, it shows the dirt more).
I almost finished cutting out the matted fur on Martin's side. He was very patient, but got tired of it just before I finished. I should be able to finish it later.
I'm doing laundry (which reminds me, I think I need to go down and switch out one load for another). I had a bit of a scare when I started the laundry. I have a little stacked washer/dryer combo. I started the washer filling with water, then put in soap and my clothes. When I came back downstairs, the timer was counting down, but it wasn't agitating. Which, naturally agitated me. I fiddled with the controls, imagining that I would have to use some of my savings for a new washer/dryer. Out of habit, I looked at the back and idly wondered if everything was connected right. I fiddled with the one plug and that jogged my memory. A few weeks ago, I had pulled one of the plugs to plug in something else. So, I plugged in the second plug and viola, it started working again. Whew!
I fixed a roman shade I have that had broken several weeks ago.
I'm sewing some pajama pants that need mending.
I'll write up a recipe I promised to some of my guests at the last dinner party, and perhaps start reformatting the novel and run it through the spellchecker. I won't reread the novel or start editing that aspect of it yet.
And last, but not least, I'll start reading something good. Maybe the next Miles Vorkosigan compilation. :)

Later: Wrote up the recipe, portioned out the catfood I made yesterday, and now? Painting my fingernails while watching the LotR cast commentary. Yup. The day seems neverending. :)


We Are the Champions!

I just passed 50000 words a few minutes ago. I pretty much hit the end of the novel exactly at the end of the 50K. Of course, I still need to go back, graft it on the prequel piece that I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2005 and do a cursory edit/reformat before printing it out for my beta readers (Mum and Sis, first). This does feel like a stronger story than the one I wrote in 2004, so more likely to survive the editing process and much more likely to be submitted to publishers afterwards.

In the meantime, I'm going to shower, eat leftover Thanksgiving dinner, go to a movie, and then celebrate my brother's birthday.

Thank you everyone, for your support. I can honestly say that you made the difference between giving up and going on. THANK YOU!


[cue Chariots of Fire music]

If you see me cha-cha-ing around the room, that's because I'm one day's worth of writing away from the finish line. I wrote 3K words today, mostly in the evening after I got away from the Boob Tube and in front of my desktop and regular keyboard. The Dell Mini is great, just not for marathon writing.
So, less than 3K to do tomorrow and I plan to get it done before I go to my brother's birthday dinner. Woo hoo!

cha cha cha cha cha CHA! cha cha cha cha cha CHA! cha cha cha cha cha CHA!


Thankful for Friends and Family

Today began oddly for me. I woke up, got up, walked around doing various things, and realized within minutes that something was wrong. My head felt woozy, as if it were on some kind of time-delay. Any time I moved my head, I felt dizzy, and as I experimented with this, I also started to feel really nauseous. After I lay on the carpet for a while, the nausea started to go away. So I got up again to get my cell phone, getting really nauseous again in the process, then installing myself in that age old "just in case" position right by the toilet.
When my head stopped spinning, which it did when I held it still for several minutes together, I called my cousin Susan and my friend Stacey to let them know I was unlikely to get out of the house today. I called my mum. What I am going to do when she's not around to give medical advice, I gave serious thought and decided it would be Brian, my BIL. Anyway, mum had similar (though lesser) symptoms a month or so ago and had come to the conclusion that it was an inner ear infection. As I had come to a similar conclusion (at least the inner ear part of it), I investigated online to find out what the typical treatment is and how critical timing is in the scenario. WebMD gave good, if slightly vague advice. The crux of it is that the condition is generally self-correcting (which is what my mum found) and is generally viral, not bacterial, so anti-biotics don't help. Further, WebMD recommended that you simply get bedrest for a few days, then try to resume normal activities after that in order to let your brain get used to the imbalance.

So, here I am, lying in bed, surfing the 'net and writing my NaNovel with my little Dell Mini. The writing is going OK, but slowly, as my brain does not seem to be running on all cylinders. No matter, it appears I have lots of idle time in front of me to work at excruciating slowness. When I get up to get something to eat, I actually do OK for several minutes at a time and usually return to bed because I am really really tired.

So, if this ever happens to you, you can recognize it!

In other news, I am really irritated to be missing Thanksgiving dinner - which, I love. My cousin Mike (Susan's awesome dad) is making pheasant. I called Susan to ask her to put some in the freezer for me so I don't miss it entirely. I'm missing turkey and cranberry relish (my favorite!) and mashed potatoes. I will not, however, be missing pie. Janiece has promised to save me a piece and bring it to me on their way home. Yay Janiece!
I'm also missing my friend Stacey's party with our mutual friend Susan (a different Susan). She's visiting from Huston, TX, and has managed to pay off her house, so she's having a little celebration, with champagne and everything.

It sucks to be missing out on these things, but as I am dead tired and my head still feels oddly wobbly, I doubt I would be very good company. I have no doubt that I should not be operating a vehicle.

However, I feel VERY lucky that I have such caring friends and family wishing me well. AND I am thankful that this is probably only a minor inner ear infection (which I really hope does not damage my inner ear for SCUBA diving) and should be mostly resolved by the end of the long weekend.

So, in the words of a very provoking character: "I forbid you to feel sorry for me."

Hope you are all having a better Thanksgiving than I am!

ETA: I am feeling much better. The vertigo has subsided to almost nothing, and with it, the nausea, but I find myself getting tired out quickly. My two groups of gift-bearing angels came one after the other and probably constituted 20 minutes of conversation in total, but I was pooped afterward. And now it's 8:30, I have reached 44K words, so will go to bed now. Good night all!


Into the West

The previous post was a view to the south and east of the building. Here's the view to the northwest from the 32nd level balcony. Talk about dizzying!


Seeing the Finishline Ahead

I'm at 40,471 words, which means I have less than 10k to write. I'm going to keep up the 2k per day pace, I think, so I'll be able to either finish early or take off Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile, MWT has finished 50K! Congratulations!

Building With A View

Here's the view on a foggy morning from one of the top floors on my building.


Toot toot!

I have gotten to the heights of 38,419 words, which is where I'm supposed to be if my words/day average is to get me in to the finish line on time.
Who rocks? Me! That's right!
Well, MWT rocks too, for patiently listening to me cogitate through my plot issues (turned out it was a character issue, actually, but it got fixed).
And Jen rocks, for sending me a cake pop that I ate halfway through the day as a reward for meeting my minimum words requirement so early in the day. It was DELICIOUS! I now see why you are so popular amongst the younger set. ;) And you are absolutely correct. Yellow always lifts my spirits.
And Jeri rocks for passing the 50K mark already.
And Stacey rocks for sending me good writing vibes from the tundra of Chicago.
And Janiece rocks for making raspberry jam and for, well, being Janiece.
Actually, that's the reason that you rock too! Yeah, you! Thank you for thinking of me and wishing me well. (If you're my enemy and secretly wishing me ill, well, nyah nyah nyah, I'm doing great!)

Oh yeah, and I'm not hating the story, which... is nice, to say the least.

I still have to keep working, but it seems to be going pretty smoothly at the moment. Keep your good writing vibes coming, and thanks, to all y'all (yes, part of the story is set in Tennessee).


My Friends Are the Coolest

Brilliant + creative + generous = Jen A.

Round about Halloween, Jen blogged about making Halloween cake pops. I admired them (who wouldn't?) and because Jen is awesome, when she made ladybug themed cake pops, she sent me one! In the awesome and colorful Nesquik container. Isn't that cool?

Jen, I have not been as diligent today as I should have been. Despite having figured out a plotline last night, the writing has been slow. I think I've figured out the problem. Hopefully it's not "I hate this frickin' story." I've got a plan. We'll see how it goes.

So, I'm saving the yummy looking treat as a reward for tomorrow's effort.

Which is not to say I'm not going to write more tonight. I will. I just don't think I've done enough today.

Thank you so much, Jen! You rock like Gibraltar!


Writing AND Friends

I had dinner with my dear friend, Janiece, tonight. We had a great time, eating and talking and laughing. Lest you all think this kept me from my NaNoWriMo, I can honestly point out that I used the time waiting for Janiece (who was stuck in a traffic jam) working out some plot issues that were starting to loom. I got 2 and a half napkins worth (both sides!) of outline written out before she showed up. These words don't contribute to the word count directly (unless I were to transcribe it, which I won't) but it'll make my efforts for the rest of the weekend go MUCH smoother.
So, yay for Janiece and yay for traffic jams (except for the stress they caused others)!

I don't know how much I'll get written tonight. I'm pretty pooped (stayed up late last night, writing) but I'll make a stab at it. Tomorrow and Sunday I should be able to do several days worth of work, especially as I haven't planned anything except for this (and going to the store to get materials for catfood).


Cheering Section

Tonight wasn't as difficult to push through as last night (no sentences like "You've been off, making yummy food, and telling us about it." Which, while true if applied to this blog, have zero to do with my storyline. I have no idea what I was thinking.) but I would like to acknowledge my support group for the evening: MWT, whose challenge of who could write 500 words faster helped me to get out of the surfing rut I had been in for an hour and to the boys, pictured below, cheering me on to the 2000 word mark.

I am maintaining my 2K words per day goal (despite what the chart to the right thinks), and hope to jump forward some in the weekend coming up. We'll see. After that, there's one more weekend to complete the effort, but I'd like to be able to take off Thanksgiving without causing too much stress at the very end. Me no likey stress. :)


A Challenge

Yesterday, John Scalzi posted a picture of a sunset in Ohio.
Jim Wright, had to one-up him by posting a picture of a sunset in Alaska.
MWT, not to be outdone, posted a picture of a gorgeous sunset in Georgia, and challenged me to post a sunset of my own. I couldn't find (as MWT suggested) a sunset photo from India, though I know I took a ton of them in Honduras. So, I'm posting a photo of a sunset here in Colorado. We do pretty well with having dramatic sunsets, so I think it'll be able to stand up the competition. What do you think?

In other news, I've passed 26K words and where I was on the 2004 novel that I did complete. If I can continue to be diligent (and my friends are being good about leaving me be), I'll get ahead of the game so that I'll be able to take Thanksgiving off entirely. :D

ETA: Yesterday I figured out that on the weekdays, I don't really need to buy any treats to use as rewards (I was considering cupcakes from here). When I'm pushing myself at night, the best reward is SLEEP! By the time I'm done, I'm dying for it. It doesn't cost anything and it's not fattening. What could be better? :)


Not Drunk, Just Tired

Written last night at about 10:30 while I was trying to get my 2K in:

"The lights spread out below them in the balcony..."
(I'm pretty sure I meant in the valley... oops.)

Me Trying Out Embedding Video

While I'm working my tush off to write a 50K word novel in 30 days, here are a couple videos I thought were entertaining:

First, Justin Timberlake doing a 3 minute version of the SNL show he would have done if he hadn't had to cancel. It's cute. It's packed with Timberlake inside jokes and references to SNL skits I have not seen, so I didn't "get" it all, but something about the energy and inventiveness impressed me. (Full disclosure: I became a Timberlake the Actor fan the minute I saw Black Snake Moan. He is a brave actor, which makes him great.)

Second, for those waiting for the new Star Trek "revitalization" you've probably already seen this trailer. For those who haven't, take a look. It's actually starting to look... maybe good! I'll go purely for Zachary Quinto as Spock.

Oh, and if any of you have thoughts about the Twitter feed I've put at the top of this column, here's where to comment. :)


Blessed 22K

I've had another 4K day and hit 22K words. If I can write 2K words per day from now until the end of the month, I will have 50,000 words and a novel on my hands. This is do-able, particularly if I am diligent about not slacking off and about turning down invites to do stuff after work. That, as we all know, is tough for me to do, so I've taken the additional measure of asking friends not to invite me to stuff for the rest of the month. (Except lunch invites. Those, I can do!) I dearly love to hang out with y'all, but I also dearly want to finish this beast. Put together with the 20K or so words (written for a previous NaNoWriMo) that constitute a sort of preface to this NaNo story, I would have the makings of an official length novel that, properly edited and smoothed out, could be shopped around for publication.

But first, it must be finished!


Puffing Steam

I am "The Little Engine That Could."

I'm up to 18K. The story is moving along fine. I got 2300 words written today, which is not as much as I'd hoped, but over the amount I need to do every day if I want to finish this on time.
I did get a late start today, having gone to a brunch with my sister, future SIL, and good friend/cousin, Susan. We had fun. My sister pointed out that I'd probably do just fine if I could train my family and friends not to invite me to do stuff when I'm supposed to be writing. She has a point. My ability to say no to a social invitation is getting feebler and feebler as I age.
However, if I can keep moving forward at a little over 2K a day, I will finish on time. I'd like to do a bit better than that so I can take Thanksgiving off. And there are 2 1/2 weekends left in which to produce more than 2K [crosses fingers].

It's "only" 10:30, but I'm finding it difficult to string together coherent sentences, so I'm going to bed.

Nigh nigh!

Starting the Day

This morning I'm eating another quesadilla like the ones I made last night. Yum!

Here's how to make them:

Put a layer of cheese (I used munster and monterey jack) on a white tortilla.
Sprinkle on some chopped green onion.
Place on top a handful of white mushroom slices.
Put on some chopped/cubed leftover chicken.
Then layer on some more cheese. Make it enough to stick everything together, but not so much as it would ooze out while cooking.
If you want to add herbs, I'd recommend a light sprinkling of Italian herbs or Herbs de Provence. I ended up forgetting to, which meant the lovely flavor of the green onions was predominant.

Put a teaspoon of olive oil in a skillet and set the burner for just above medium.
Place this open-faced quesadilla in the skillet and let it cook for long enough that the cheese on the bottom is melting. This should be longer than you think it will be, probably around 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it though, if you have the burner turned too high, the bottom may begin to burn.
Then, place another white tortilla on top, press it down, and then flip over the quesadilla. The bottom should be golden brown and crispy.
Cook for a few minutes more, until a peek inside shows that the cheese has melted.

Take out of the pan, cut into wedges, and serve with salsa and/or sour cream.


An Excerpt

(for JTS ;)

"You are entering the Ice Queen's NY home. It's not her palace of course, that is either in Antartica, Alaska, or Iceland, depending on who you are talking to. Those of us who know better, of course, know that Iceland is relatively temperate. It's Greenland that's actually icy and the site of the Ice Queen's palace. It's described as a gorgeous composition of ice sculpture, Art Deco in its detailing, I believe, as it's most recent manifestation was built in the 1930s. The detailing is said to be exquisite. The eastern wall is decorated with the image of the rising sun, the rays of light ironic when rendered in ice, a fragile..."
"Shut it, Walter," Francie said, as a liveried butler appeared.

ETA @ 12:13 am - 15698 words. That's 1862 more words than I had yesterday. That's above my average, which is great, but not as high as I need to be doing in order to finish on time. No matter, I'll improve on that tomorrow.



You can tell by the title I procrastinated today.

I worked late (got home at 8).
I ate dinner and watched CSI.
I sat down to write and then...
I posted my old couch for sale on Craigslist and
I signed up for Twitter.

Yesterday I went out with a friend instead of writing, but that was mostly because I had a headache and didn't feel like doing anything but being a bump on a log. Turned out to be a tiring evening, just being a bump too.
The next day I deduced that the headache came from dehydration. I'd been in the field all day, but drinking no water because it was chilly and I didn't think of it.
Today I did much better. Still need to drink more (water), but I did better. ;)

My plan?
I know the procrastination today arises from the fact that I do not have a clear picture in my mind of the setting/situation for the next scene. I know what stuff needs to happen in this scene and the next, but not the how.
So, I'm going to bed and I'm going to brainstorm before I go to sleep and before I get out of bed. And when I'm done with that, I shouldn't have anymore procrastination for the weekend.
For me, it's sometimes good to do my thinking away from the computer and it's myriad procrastination opportunities and the scary blank page. ;)
We'll see how it goes.


A Slog

This time, I'm back to my old pace. I only got about 1300 words written (bettered my abysmal average, but that's all). I'm just so tired this evening, and the words have not been flowing as I like.
I'm a little concerned about a meeting I have to go to tomorrow morning, but meh, I'll read the report before we get there.
Right now, I need to stumble off to bed.

Night night!


A Blur

Wow. I just wrote a couple thousand words in a couple hours.
That's pretty stunning for me. Definitely not typical. I do have a pretty strong idea of where I'm going, however, and I'm feeling comfortable in the setting I've invented, so I'm sure that contributes.
I'm up to over 12K words (actual number there on the right), which is below where I "should be" if I were writing an equal amount every night, but I'm steadily gaining ground on the "should be" number. Actually, what I'm more concerned about than getting where I "should be" is making the most of the time that I do have in the chair and writing a thousand words an hour, rather than the five hundred I usually produce. That way I have time when I can get out and play and not feel pressured! :D



Well, it's been a long slog, but I've made some good progress today. I'm up to... 7661 words right now. That's several thousand below where I *should* be, but it's making progress. Things are going much more smoothly now that I have my (muahahahahahaha) plan. Hopefully the rest of the day today and tomorrow I should be able to make more progress.

Jeri issued a writing challenge and then posted her own response to the challenge. I, amazingly enough, have managed to meet the challenge myself. In a nutshell, it is: Write a short short piece titled - or themed - either “Karachi by Monday” or “The Pakistani Schlep”. Both of these are inspired by our friend and fellow UCFer, Saqib Sadiq, getting engaged! Yay, Saqib! (He's also generously posting peek at the experience for us foreigners. Again, yay, Saqib!)

My "entry" is under this link and is an excerpt from my NaNovel. Interestingly enough, I managed to work in another writing challenge in there. My fellow UCFers should be able to spot it.

Later: My final count for the day, 8346 - 4K more than I had this morning. :)

Depths and Heights

Well, I slacked off yesterday too, 'cause my siblings and their S.O.s asked me out to dinner and a movie. We went to see RocknRolla, the latest Guy Richie film. Very funny, if a bit rushed at the end. The music was great (heavy bass beat, which I like) and the guy who plays the RocknRolla himself is great. Actually, I found the acting in general to be top-notch. Gerard Butler is, as usual, yummy to look at and yummy to listen to. I think one of the things Guy Richie does best is to show how men (friends and enemies) relate to each other. It's one of the things I like best about his movies. So anyway, I recommend it (4 out of 5).

So, I'm in a wordcount hole, mainly because I have some great characters and a great setting, but no plot/conflict. This morning, I sat down with a piece of paper and hashed out a plot. I had dropped in one piece of mystery into the already written part of the story and then drew out the thread of the story from there. I've got the whole thing roughly sketched out. I'm hoping for some of the motivations to develop some inspired qualities once I get there, but for the moment, I have a map. So, HURRAY, writing should be easier from here forward! I'm working in yWriter, which has places to write in Chapter headings and descriptions, so I've done that. Unfortunately, it doesn't count them towards the word count. I could manually add it, of course, but it's only a few hundred words, so in theory it shouldn't make or break me. So I'm very optimistic about my word output this weekend.

What is the depth? I just finished the last of Janiece's apple butter. I had been rationing it, a small spoonful here and there, but now it's all gone. :(



Yesterday, I cooked dinner, watched a little TV and got caught up on my internet. I did not write a word. :(

So, tonight, I went out, had dinner and drinks with a friend, and got back in time to go to bed at a decent hour. I figure, if I know I'm going to dick around, I'd better enjoy it.

I'll work on catching up tomorrow and this weekend. :P



It's actually scary to listen to the speech of someone who speaks so well and so much to the heart. I love that he reached out to those who did not vote for him. I love that he pointed out that the work has only just begun. (Because he's right. There's a long road ahead.)

It's scary to have my hopes raised so high.

Scary, but thrilling.

Wow. What a moment.


Makes me proud to be an American.
I love diversity. I think it's one of the best things this country has going for them. I simple do not understand those who want to be surrounded by those who are exactly like themselves. Intellectually, I know it's about fear, but I still don't really get it.
Like Michelle, I'm a little teary eyed about what this election says about the maturity of the American voter. A pundit on CNN pointed out that this doesn't mean that there isn't anymore racism, but that people are voting for Obama *in spite* of their own racism. I would point out also, *in spite* of the fact that he has a foreign sounding name. It was something that was extremely apparent to me when looking at my ballot. There is no hiding that his name is so different from the Joe Schmoe Anglo name.
Here's Jim's response.
Here's Janiece's well-written "Open Letter to President-Elect Barack".
John Scalzi has Reality Check post I think is a good antidote for some of the extremist kool-aid that's been drunk by both sides.
(Others to be posted as they appear.)
For perspective on John McCain from a former Navy man, here's Jim's post on McCain. (He's pretty rough on the guy, but then again, McCain betrayed something Jim really knows the value of -- his honor as a naval officer.)
More from Michelle and Nathan (stole a link from him, see below).

And to address the breaking of a racial barrier, here is Whoopi Goldberg (Isn't that a Jewish name?) and our own MWT, an American of Asian descent.


I'm good for me :)

I made chicken stock this weekend with the bones from the dinner party and so, of course, tonight I made chicken noodle soup!

It was really yummy, with pieces of chicken, noodles, carrots, green onions, edamame, and sliced mushrooms. Yumm!

Is it because of this kind of thing that I got the following results?

35.5 miles per gallon

Created by The Car Connection


Hmm, I'm only up to 3901, but I'm sure I'll make it up soon. :/


Let Sleeping Cats Lie

Some of you know that I have perfectly adorable kitties. Here's some proof:

In other news, I've written almost 500 words this morning. I went back and tweaked the opening scene so it runs in a more fruitful direction and added some information. Technically, I'm not supposed to be editing my work yet, but :P to that. Now, I need to procrastinate by putting some food on to cook and some laundry in the machine. Multi-tasking, it's the wave of the future!



Again, I got lots done -- made chicken stock, cleaned out cat bathrooms, (hmm, didn't do laundry), cleaned up the dining table, and started collecting leaves. AND got my quota of writing done. I'm up to 3508 words, which is basically on track for finishing in time, if I write the same amount every day. Generally, in the past though, I've tried to get ahead (or catch up) on the weekends, as I don't get a lot done on the weekdays. We'll see how it goes.
I've got a decent track going on the story, and I have a strong feeling about where my story is the strongest. The best part is that I like my main characters. :)

Tomorrow, it's back to work! :P


Procrastination Productivity

Ah, procrastination. So far (at 7:30 pm), I've gotten tons of things accomplished today, but not much writing. Mainly, I did a bunch of financial housekeeping I needed to get caught up on. I also did some other errands around the house. And now, having gorged myself on procrastinatory productivity, I'm going to get my minimum words out before I... hmm, I can already think of something else that needs to be done (the cat bathroom needs to be cleaned!). Fortunately, I'm already on the computer. I'll come back and let you know how I've done. ;)

Later, around 11:30 pm: Whew! I got just over the minimum 1670 words done today. Hopefully it'll start getting a little smoother. :/


It's Writin' Time

Some of you may be familiar with my annual writing effort: National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo). Essentially, I am participating in a sort of writing marathon -- 50,000 words in 30 days (the month of November). It's an activity organized online, but the effort is essentially individual. You can follow my progress on my NaNo page.
The first year I did it, 2004, I "won" by managing to successfully string together 50K words in the regulated amount of time in a story about a space bounty hunter. It wasn't bad, but it also wasn't great. The following year, 2005, I wrote about a poor couple who discover there is a magical "underbelly" of the world. I did not finish, because I was finishing up the construction document phase of a project. In 2006, I decided to experiment a little with a story that was a thinly veiled Mary Sue -- wish fulfillment of a sort. I didn't finish that year because I got involved with someone and didn't have the time. In 2007, I knew I wouldn't get far. I was working on taking the ARE and studying would take priority. I decided to try a light variant on the exercise, writing a faux travel journal by hand. It was also a bit of wish fulfillment, as I pretended I traded my car for a motorcycle and took off for Mexico. As expected, I didn't get far. (All of the stories above can be investigated by clicking on the NaNoWriMo label or this link.)
This year, I have no expected interruptions. I've told my friends that I'll be turning down invitations to drinks. I have no S.O. and zero prospects of having one in the near future. Work is not too pressing and there are no impending deadlines. AND I'd like to complete a NaNo novel that's good enough to expand into an 80,000 word (regulation length) novel that I can try to shop around to publishers. If I want to be able to support myself in retirement by writing novels, I really ought to start now.
So, wish me luck and tune in for the blog posts that I'm sure will be procrastination from the real writing. ;)

Prize Loot

My prize for winning Michelle's short story contest was a book, which arrived... well, sometime in the last week or so. I opened the package, thought "Cool! This looks good!" and then was picked up again by the whirlwind that's been my life lately.
The book is The Shape of Mercy, by Susan Meissner. Michelle has already done a review, but I'm trying to hold off reading it until after I read the book.

Also pictured above is a postcard (coincidentally, also from Michelle) is from San Antonio, TX. I'm thinking of starting a UCF postcard scrapbook with all these cool postcards. :)

Thank you, AGAIN, Michelle. :)


New Toys

Ah! Home again! I left the book club thing relatively early, 'cause I just had to spend some time at home. Part of that is because I have a couple new toys. The main one is my new "netbook" (a Dell Inspiron Mini 9, aka 910). Some of you may recall me drooling over it a couple weeks ago. Funny thing was, Dell had a big sale less than a week later, coincidence... or serendipity? Since it was pretty much exactly what I wanted and the price was good, I decided to jump in and buy. It came a couple days ago and the wireless router I bought to connect the netbook with the desktop and the internet came yesterday.
This evening, I hooked everything up. My sister helped me out by talking/listening through it. You know how you sometimes need someone hovering to get computers to work right? Well, sometimes the phone is just as good. Thanks for your help, Aileen!
So, now I'm writing this post on the Mini. It works pretty well. The keyboard is small and mildly reorganized. There's only one key change that irritates me, and that's the '/" key. We'll see how well I get used to it.
One of the things I plan to do with it is experiment with finding other programs to do the things I like. Firefox, for example, or Google Desktop and word processing programs. (Any suggestions are appreciated!) If the netbook gets too tangled, I can always reformat it (as I plan to back up everything irreplacable).
Above, I've taken the picture with a paperback (regular little sized one, not one of those oddly big ones) and my new cellphone, which has a cool texting feature. It can open two different directions and has a QWERTY keyboard, for easier texting.

Considering the current economic situation, this will probably be the last of my indulgent purchases for a while. But it is so cool! :)

An Informal Poll, Appropriate to the Times

A friend (who wants to win an argument) has requested that I put a question to you, dear readers.

What would you think of an employer who, when laying you off, tells you on a Friday and asks you to leave at the end of the day (you are permitted to come back on Saturday to get your things and send an email to the rest of the company saying "bye")? Is this insulting, insinuating that you are not trustworthy? Or is this considerate, saving you from awkward goodbyes? Does getting a severance package affect the "feel" of the dismissal? Is there a better way to do it?

Your input is appreciated and no, I won't tell you which side was mine. (To be honest, I can see both sides, though one side was my natural inclination and immediate reaction.)


spam spam spam spam spam spammity spam!

You may have noticed some spam around here. I've got a professional spammer from Beijing, China harassing me. I'm not sure why. He (or she) may think I have something to do with a commercial public storage space, and therefore high blog traffic, or it may just be a random thing. S/he is definitely a professional, using a Google search that goes directly to the "post comments" page. Very interesting (if a trifle inconvenient for me).
So, I've changed my comment settings to disallow anonymous comments. That should put an end to it. If not, I'll step it up to moderated comments for a while. The spammer will move on, and we can go back to having an open community here. :)

In the meantime, amuse yourselves with Monty Python's Spam Song...


Gulp! [Dives]

[That's me coming up for air before diving down again...]

It's a busy week for me, and has been since mid-last week. Here's a rundown:
Last Thursday - Had drinks with Stacey instead of going grocery shopping
Last Friday - Grocery shopped, had lunch with my brother, cleaned the kitchen, and made a fabulous meal for eight.
Last Saturday - Hung out with my mum, got locked out of the house, drove around looking for various items my mum needed, went to my sister's to hang out with the family.
Last Sunday - [Blessed free time in the morning!] Hung out with my parents and aunt and uncle, listening to reminiscences, went to my brother's to hang out with the family.
Yesterday - Went to The Melting Pot with mum, sister, and future SIL for a girls' night out.
Today - Going to a friend's house for a get together.
Tomorrow - [Blessed free time! I think.] Probably trying to finish the book club book, The Thin Man, and catching up on financial housekeeping.
Thursday - Going to book club gathering.
Friday - [Blessed free time! I think.]
Saturday - Start NaNoWriMo.

Whew! I'm exhausted just thinking about it.


Tales From Distant Lands

This weekend I got a postcard from Singapore from John the Scientist. Woohoo!
I also photographed the one I got from San Antonio from Random Michelle. (I got it a few weeks ago, but neglected to blog about it at the time. Better late than never, I say.)

I loved the stamps on both. Uber cool. One is a watermelon and the other, a civet cat (I believe). If I get SARS, I'm blaming John the Scientist.


And now to hijack my own post (in honor of Nathan):

A Quiz That Gave Me the Results I Totally Expected:

Right Brain/ Left Brain Quiz
The higher of these two numbers below indicates which side of your brain has dominance in your life. Realising your right brain/left brain tendancy will help you interact with and to understand others.
Left Brain Dominance: 9(9)
Right Brain Dominance: 10(10)
Right Brain/ Left Brain Quiz

It's not for nothing that I'm an architect.

ETA: Dammit, I meant for this post to come up tomorrow morning, since I'll be out in the field most of the day. :P Well, it'll still have to count as my Monday post.


Dinner: A Photo Essay

Flowers, brought by some of the guests.

Wine, Crackers, and Cheese. Note the contented cat amongst the chatting.

Main Dish: Roast Chicken on a bed of bread salad (think huge, tasty, and crisp/soft croutons).

Vegetarian Dish: Cheesy Creamy Leeks on Brown Basmati, the vegetarian version of the bread salad, and water with slices of lemon.

Dessert (sorry it's a little blurry): Crepe Cake with Wild Raspberry Jam (gift of Janiece) and Limoncello flavored cream.

Thankfully my family showed up a half an hour early to help out. :D


Dinner Gong

Let the day commence!

7:00 Get up, pet the cats, and begin morning routine of showering, brushing teeth, etc.
(Interesting article while catching up on the Internet: Link found between physical and emotional warmth.)

Hmm, "wasted" the last hour catching up on the Internet, comics, forum, and other fun stuff. Discovered a website of bizarre and funny t-shirts. Am going to transfer the cat off my lap and go get dressed now. Seriously.

9:00 Showered, dressed, cleaned the bathtub while I was in it, cleaned the cats' bathrooms, and have started tidying. That's better.
I have to be at home between 9 and 11, since the free blinds that I won at the work conference vendor show are supposed to be installed then, but during that time I can be cleaning/tidying. Then, it'll be off to the grocery store. Much better.

11:20 Grrr... Something wrong with Blogger. :( Until then, I shall keep notes on Notepad.
In the past couple hours, I emptied the dishwasher and cleaned the kitchen. The blinds installer was here from 9:45-10:45. The blinds are very nice. Then I took the cats outside while I ate breakfast. Now it's off to go grocery shopping. I'm a little behind schedule, but pleased with what's been accomplished so far.

3:50 Uh, well, the hour long lunch I thought I would take with my brother turned into something a little more like 2.5 hours. Eeep! Grocery shopping is done now and I'm going to start pronto on the crepe cake, which needs to set for at least four hours. Fortunately, the chickens only need to roast for an hour or so. I think I'll still have time, but I need to focus. Eeeep!

10:40 As you might guess, I was running from then on out. Everything turned out fine. People enjoyed themselves, food was good. Mission Accomplished. Report will be filed tomorrow. Right now, I need to go to bed. :)


Impending Dinner

I'm thinking of live blogging (in an extended sense) tomorrow to let you all follow along in my dinner party process.

So far, I've planned the menu, read through the recipes of the dishes I haven't made before (most of them) and gotten a sense of when things should be done. For example, I'm roasting chicken, which was prepped a day in advance (didn't get the herbs to shove under the skin yet, dammit), and I'm making a crepe cake, which needs to have some time to set in the fridge. I'll be making that tomorrow morning.
I wrote out the grocery list and made sure of what I have. I meant to go shopping this evening, but a therapeutic drink with a friend turned into a whole evening of chat. Oh well, I forgot my list at home, anyway. ;)
So, that'll happen tomorrow morning as well.
I've put a rough timeline together of when different parts should be started, but that'll be thrown to hell (in a good way) when my parents come over early and offer to help. So, at least I've run through the process a time or two in my head.

If that sounds terribly planned out (for me at least), I'll have to tell you the stress mess one of my dinner parties was like a couple parties ago. I invented a dish on the fly and without aid until just before the dinner started. Taught me a lesson, and even though everything turned out fine (dish tasted great, people had fun), I'll never do it that way again.

I invited Admiral Legs, but she was unable to come due to a family gathering. I thought she said she was free that evening, but I have a terrible memory and should have confirmed. :(
Next time.

The other thing I need to do is tidy the house. So, that'll probably be between shopping and cake making and the arrival of the parents.

Since I've been away from my computer a lot this week (on the jobsite), I thought this might be a great opportunity to do a periodically updated post that keeps you entertained and abreast of the process.


Fall Beauty


I have been randomly gifted by that mischievous mastermind, Michelle.

And, of course, made my day. I love that it's a live plant. :D

You are awesome, Michelle.

(And I will have my revenge!)

[commence plotting]


Speaking Up For What's Right

Sorry I haven't been as prolific of late, folks, but even when I think of something to blog about, by the time I sit down at the computer I've either forgotten or lost interest. However, I did find something today...

On John Scalzi's Whatever, he posted about something very important in today's political and sociological climate -- On Who is American. He was prompted by Gen. Colin Powell's remarks during an endorsement of Obama. Powell said (according to this NY Times article) about the conservative concerns that Obama is actually Muslim and not Christian, “And we have got to say to the world it doesn’t make any difference who you are and what you are. If you’re an American you’re an American.”

Thank you, Colin Powell, for saying what's been bothering me about the current trend of American thinking. Muslim does not equal terrorist. No more than Christian equals disbeliever of science. No more than atheist equals morally-bereft. We cannot vilify each other if we ever hope to make this world a better place for anyone.

[sigh] I love Colin Powell. (Thank goodness he climbed out of that pit he fell into when he in Bush's administration!) Go to the NY Times article or the MSNBC article and watch the video. It really says it all.

And yes, it would be So. Awesome. if Powell were formally involved in Obama's administration. I understand if he doesn't want to be, but it would be so great.

The Daily Show addressed the extreme negativity pretty directly, as well as whether Muslims can be good family men. (The first one is particularly good.) I feel sorry for John McCain.


Office Breakfast II

Today was my biannual breakfast day extravaganza, so I took a picture of the spread: (from foreground to background) Ham & Cheddar Fritatta, Chorizo & Potato (w/ Jalepenos and Monterey Jack) Fritatta, Asparagus & Tomato (w/ Swiss) Fritatta, Ham & Cheddar (w/ fake eggs) Fritatta, green and red tamales (bought), Poppy Seed Cake, and orange juice and milk.
Turns out, I did almost the same thing last year around this time and blogged about it pretty thoroughly (the pictures in that one are much more appetizing), but I thought I'd post about it anyway. :)

Hope your day is starting well!


Internet Silliness

Name That Candy Bar

Some of the other UCFers answered a quiz about T-Rex digestion, but on the same site, I was fascinated by the "Name That Candy Bar" quiz. I think part of the fascination is the method by which they show you the candy bar and what information you have to identify it.

Silly, but fun. I got two mixed up, which resulted in the 87%.


Ironically enough, that's the exact same score I got on the "Name That Element" quiz. Thank goodness I'm not a complete dunce.

Name That Element

(Yes, our Chemist friend will laugh hysterically at such an easy quiz. Even the trick questions weren't that tricky.)


New Discovery

I had some really tedious work to do today, so I went online to find some streaming media to keep me entertained but not require constant watching. In the midst of that, I went to cnet.com on impulse. I've been thinking about getting a laptop and I wanted to peek at what current prices are (and dicovered a cool new option: netbooks, particularly the new Dell Inspiron Mini 9). In the midst of THAT, I found that cnet has fun informational internet shows about technology, and the most entertaining ones featured a smart, funny, and attractive gal named Molly Wood. I proceeded to watch most of the archive of at least two of her shows, Buzz Report and Mailbag, while doing my tedious work, and the time just flew by. She's like a younger, female, technology-oriented version of Jon Stewart. See for yourself: Here's one tidbit and here's the whole shebang.

I don't know how many tech items I need to know about, but I do need laughs now and then, and Molly Wood delivers.

PS - This is my 700th post in this blog! (Yes, I had a newsy website previously, but as only my mum remembers it and it didn't have "posts" per se, we won't count it.)

PPS - A short story of mine won Michelle's writing contest! :D


Circle of Life

I've been watching some of Discovery's Planet Earth. On one hand, I love seeing the beauty of nature and life. On the other hand, life out there is Tough (with a capital T). Yes, I know it's all necessary. The wild dogs need to gang up on the ibex for their dinner, otherwise they'd starve (and so would the ibex, once their numbers exceeded the ability of the environment to sustain them). I just hate seeing animals in distress. When the calf elephant get separated from his momma and follows her trail in the wrong direction, you know he's going to die, alone.

Oh great. Now they're showing the huddled masses of the male penguins protecting their eggs in the winter of Antarctica. Sigh. (Anyone remember seeing March of the Penguins?)


Software Changes

After my rants about the sucky McAfee anti-virus program, I got a recommendation (from Belsum, I believe) for Avast, a free (for home users) anti-virus program. Tonight, I downloaded the program and will try it for a while before registering. So, we'll see.

I'm also looking at switching browsers. I've noticed that Firefox 3 is the most popular browser amongst my site's visitors and I've often heard people singing its praises. So, tonight, I'm downloading the program and trying it out. Any advice you guys have on its use would be appreciated. (I know you guys like giving advice. ;)

Hope your weekends have started out well!

Friday Cat Blogging

Michelle regularly has "Friday Cat Blogging" and for the first time, I coincidentally have cat pictures from a cozy evening watching TV:

The cuteness! It burns!


it's here! [/sotto voce]

[Dances jig]
My mail in ballot arrived today in the mail. Yippee!
I'll take my time over the next week or so to check out the million and one amendments Colorado has on the ballot (including the royally misguided and unthought out Amendment 48), vote, and then get it in the mail to be counted by election day.

Yay voting!