No Fancy Name
Friday, December 31, 2004
friday dog blogging

[click to embiggen]

This is Petey, my friends' dog.
The innocent look on his face? Don't be fooled.
He had just disembowled a stuffed hedgehog.
No offense to Hedgical Trevor.

yes, that's my leg.

so yesterday I was going to the library...
when I found that it was closed for the week. This is not the first time this has happened to me, a situation when I actually wanted to go to the library and found it was closed. I'm so used to the always-on Internet...I just expect huge information sources to be available to me whenever I want. But no, the library actually opens late in the morning and closes relatively early at night (but there's been enough student [it's a joint uni/city library] outrage that they are making efforts to have extended hours for mean feat with the uni system and the state itself in budgetary crisis mode), and is closed during the holiday week. But at least we have a library.

Anyway, I wanted to go and get more of the required reading for my British/Irish Fiction class next semester. During the semester, it's unlikely I'll have the opportunity to re-read books, and I really should read them more than once in order to be a decent student. So, I'm reading them all now while I have the time (classes start at the end of January). I know, I'm a geek.

Oh but wait, it gets geekier. I did all my catalog-searching at home, and made a little list of books and call numbers. Sigh. Then, in a fit of hubris, I did a search to see if any of my books are in the library. Two are, one in the public library and one in the SJSU-only library. The one in the SJSU library is STY PMA in 24 Hours, which was a good seller but was published in Dec 2002. In Internet time, that's like a billion years ago. In 2003 I heavily edited it and it became STY PMA AiO 1e, and then a few weeks ago the 2e version was published. No big deal, I figured who the hell would check my book out of the library?? (Despite the fact that I know exactly how many books I've sold, I still have this idea that no one really wants to read them.)

Eighteen holds. There are eighteen holds on "first copy returned" of my out-of-date book. I then significantly increased my geek/goober/loser rating by firing off a concerned note to the Computer Science/Programming librarian about people lining up to read this out-of-date book, when I have ten brand-new copies of the latest version just sitting in my closet and would they like some? I'm sure the librarian will have a good chuckle and pat me on the head and be all "no, no, that's not how it works," but I really have no clue how libraries work. The way I figure, a free book is a free book, so why not?

so my parents...
didn't call me on my birthday. I finally gave in around 2pm and was all "why the hell didn't you call me?" Turns out they were "busy". "Busy??" I said...calling me should have been first on the list. They didn't get that, thus the apologetic comment in the post below. But they did then send me five Hallmark e-cards, so...I guess that's ok. I just won't call my mom on her birthday, next week or so. Nyah.

No, I wasn't really upset. It's just easy to give them crap.

Thursday, December 30, 2004
Happy Birthday Tiger Woods and LeBron James! (oh, and me too)
Also: Rudyard Kipling (1865), Bo Diddley (1928), Sandy Koufax (1935), 2 Monkees (Michael Nesmith in 1942 and Davy Jones in 1945), Patti Smith (1946), Tracey Ullman (1959) and, uh, Faith (Eliza Dushku, 1980). A bunch of other minor stars and celebrity prostitutes share my birthday. The only "famous" person born in the same year as I was (1973) is Ato Boldon, the Olympic sprinter.

Yesterday had some pretty cool birthdays, including Billy Tipton (1914), Jude Law (1972) and profgrrrl.

What happened on your birthday?

Wednesday, December 29, 2004
très gourmet

You know, where "très" is pronounced "trez" and the "t" in "gourmet" isn't silent. "Kake" with a "K", "krab" with a "k", all those things that definitely aren't up to my usual standards for food. This is what my parents and my cousin sent to me the other day.

We come from a long line of candy-loving, big-boned/fat people. No matter how many times per week I go to the gym, or how few calories I eat, I gain weight just by thinking about food. But that's another story for another time. This story is about the crap I got in the mail the other day. It's good crap. "Krap", even. To really see the pile in all its glory, check out the notes in the image at Flickr. Basically, I got a box with all the fine food available for export from the commonwealth of Pennsylvania to the lovely state of California.

- Potato chips and cheese puffs from Hartley's, the chipmaker in my hometown (and really the only chips I like)

- Various Tastykakes, which I can only get here if I drive a few hours, and I'm not doing that for Krimpets. Well, maybe one day I will, if I'm desperate.

- three pounds (three!) of milk chocolate toffee macadamia nuts

- my mom's white and milk chocolate macadamia candy stuff

- my mom's candied nut things

- shortbread, not from Pennsylvania, but from my buddy's mom who is an actual Scot and thus knows how to make some shortbread!

In other words, my diet isn't going to start anytime soon....

tsunami relief orgs, donations, etc.
Before I look like a complete schmuck and write a few blog posts about food and food-related items received for the holidays, while hundreds of thousands of people are displaced, dead or otherwise in need of serious help...

- Google's Tsunami Relief Page, with links to news and organizations in need of donations.

- Donate to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief via, from just a few days ago til this very moment, over 45K people have donated over $2.5 million, which works out to about $57 per person. This number was just at $1.5 million this morning when I put my cash in the pot. Not that I donated $1M, but at least 10K other people have helped make that number grow in such a little amount of time. Regular folk, helping other regular folk.

Amazon Honor SystemClick Here to PayLearn More

Sunday, December 26, 2004
remnants of pie

Mmmm, pie. It was a success, in that the boy liked the pumpkin and I liked the apple (I liked the pumpkin, too, but I really liked the apple). Other people liked the pie as well, so I don't think I'll get my pie-making card revoked any time soon.

The apple pie recipe is an interesting one, in that it bakes inside a paper bag. It makes the kitchen smell like crap, as the bag smolders on the bottom, but it does its job as the apples get all steamed and it's just a good thing overall. A mess to clean up, but oh well. I got the recipe five years ago from, but it's no longer on the site. If anyone wants it, just holler. It's incredibly simple, and really good.

Also, a commenter (the nice fellow who reviewed my plone book) noted that Flickr has a group recipe one day if I make something really REALLY good, and pretty, AND happen to take a photo, I may be so bold as to post there. But I think profgrrrl should go first.


Saturday, December 25, 2004
10:15am and all my pies are made
Now what the hell do I do? Pumpkin, done. Apple, done. Chocolate-peanut butter candy, done.

Four hours til it's time to go to where the food will be...I suppose I shall watch basketball or some DVDs.

Kinda wish I had bought more pie-making things, so I could make more pie and have some to eat now...

Friday, December 24, 2004
my lovely holiday week
The best thing about the holiday season is that it provides structured outings for me, with my friends. We infrequently do anything that isn't weekend kid-sport-watching or movies-with-the-kid (not that there's anything at all wrong with that, and in fact I love it, I'm just saying that's what we usually do when we hang out). I told them that for a holiday gift I'd be perfectly happy with a set of "redeemable for one adult outing" coupons. Ha. Ok, it's not like we don't talk to each other/see each other every damn day—we do. We all work together, and it's just us in the company. weeks are fun.

On the 22nd, it was outing-with-a-client. As in "the client was paying for everything," which is always good. First we went to Campo di Bocce and drank beer and played bocce. Despite being Italian, I'd never played before. I liked it a lot and didn't entirely suck. Afterwards, we walked to a fancy little restaurant (Cafe Marcella) and ate good food and drank champagne. As if that wasn't enough, we then walked to Dolce Spazio for gelato. I'm a gelato snob, because in a former life I worked in a gelato place that kicked serious butt. Dolce Spazio doesn't suck, though. I had Amaretto gelato, if anyone cares.

Yesterday, the 23rd, was the annual company lunch outing (the four of us plus another friend who sometimes does work with us), at Kamakura Sushi and Sake House. It's a tiny little place and always good. At lunch, I was given a box to open with the order "open it NOW, it's time sensitive," which of course freaked me out. Was it edible and melting, I asked? They looked at me like I was a nutjob and said, "just open it." So I did, and it was a shiny new Motorola V551 phone! With a camera, of course, and all sorts of fancy Bluetoothy things to play with. I am very stoked, and will moblog accordingly! I believe they got it for me because I pouted a lot everytime I saw their phones (same kind) and they wanted me to shut up about it. :) [it was time-sensitive because they turned my other phone off without telling me]

Today, the 24th, is the annual dinner-at-the-British-pub, the Brittania Arms. My buddy's family is Scottish, which explains why we go to a pub and not, say, some Italian place. So, it's all of us in the company, plus my buddy's brother, parents and grandma. It's a fun time. There is beer. What more do you need?

Tomorrow is dinner at the buddies' house, and I am in charge of pie! I'm so happy to be in charge of something that isn't rolls or napkins. My one buddy said, "if you bring a pumpkin pie, it will make [kid's name] very happy," so I was like "that's all I have to do? heck yeah." So, I am making a pumpkin pie and an apple pie. Before you get all impressed, bear in mind that I don't make pie crust from scratch. Pie crust is a very particular thing, and until I make a really good crust, consistently, freezer shells it is. I'm not going to experiment the day before the dinner. But I have a good pumpkin filling recipe, and a really good recipe for apple pie that involves baking it in a paper bag. It gets all steamy and lovely.

Then it's back to work the next day. But we'll all be well-fed!

NFL Predictions, Week 16
It's the sixteenth (aka "next to last", while last week should have been "next to next to last" because I'm an idiot and can't count) installment of the Julie v Curtis NFL picks extravaganza, in which Julie is still leading (66.7% to 63.8%). More disagreement this week. Fascinating, I know. Just wait til NCAA Final Four time! Anyway...


WEEKS 1-15 RESULTS148/222143/224

NOTE: I believe I've done an admirable job of tightening the race for the final week.

how to keep from opening presents early...

A bunch of boxes arrived the other day, presents from my parents (via Amazon). Immediately, Toby jumped up on top of the boxes and stayed there all damn day, thus limiting me from actually opening the presents.

He did eventually get down, probably to eat (he's big, as you can see), at which time I opened my boxes and retrieved a Dremel, a Farberware knife block, some silverware, some books and a CD. Whee! Good picking-from-a-list, folks!

Toby was upset, of course, that his pile of boxes were no longer, but I did leave one box on the couch and he has been sitting inside of it ever since.

cones! that's what they were making...
I was confused, yet enthralled, all week long. Like a little comic strip, those Google kids made.

Thursday, December 23, 2004
britney FRICKIN' spears
Never, ever did I think I'd mention anything Britney-related, but this has more to do with the general decline of American culture than anything else. I think.

The 2004 Year-End Google Zeitgeist is out. For the SECOND YEAR IN A ROW, the number one query overall, in Google proper (as opposed to Google News), is BRITNEY SPEARS.

I am so sad.

The top 10 most popular queries of 2004 (in the US):
1. britney spears
2. paris hilton
3. christina aguilera
4. pamela anderson
5. chat
6. games
7. carmen electra
8. orlando bloom
9. harry potter
10. mp3

Sigh. At least the Top 10 Queries of Google News (in the US) are slightly (and I mean really, really slightly) better:
1. george w bush
2. janet jackson
3. john kerry
4. britney spears
5. saddam hussein
6. kobe bryant
7. michael jackson
8. angelina jolie
9. martha stewart
10. clay aiken

So yeah, Dems? Our man was less-searched-for than Janet Jackson.

The International Zeitgeist shows that our European counterparts search for [better? utilitarian? less Britney-related?] things, like telephone books and maps and football (aka "soccer"). Australia likes Paris Hilton. Canada is very TV-oriented. Korea digs Maria Sharapova. China likes pop music and the Olympics. Japan also likes maps, and wallpaper (as do the Russians). I believe we're talking the computer kind, not the glue-to-your-wall kind. And the UK? News. BBC News was the top query (question? how difficult is it to remember isn't that like using google to search for "google"?).

So there you have it. In the US, "iraq" is only popular as a "country query" and as a news query, it's either number one or number two in Australia, Canada, Italy and the UK.

But we have Britney.


random music x10
Mac's a joiner, so am I. Basically, do a Party Shuffle or Randomizer or whatever you want to do, in your digital music player (or software) of choice. It has to be from your entire music library, so no taking out the cheesy pop that you're embarrased to own up to...if it shows up in the list, that's TOO BAD. Your blog friends won't think less of you. Well, we might.

Anyway, here's what I got:
- "Blue and Far", by The Jody Grind, from One Man's Trash Is Another Man's Treasure
- "Somebody Help Me", by Melissa Ferrick, from +1
- "Oblivious Theme Song", by The Oblivious, from America
- "Angel", by Throwing Muses, from Hunkpapa
- "Fixxxer", by Metallica, from Reload
- "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby?", by Dudley Manlove Quartet, from The Dudley Manlove Quartet...Are Go! (CD never released; I possess the gold master)
- "Superhuman", by Velvet Revolver, from Contraband
- "Nothing Is Alone", by Toad the Wet Sprocket, from Pale
- "Inside", by The Toad the Wet Sprocket, from Dulcinea
- "Wash My Soul", by Tricky, from Juxtapose

Wednesday, December 22, 2004
on the utility of ramekins
Not really. I'm not really going to post something about the utility of ramekins. It just struck me that if anyone went to my web site after reading a Slashdot book review which included one of my books, then followed the link to my blog and landed here, they're sadly disappointed. I swear, there really is more to me than cooking, poking fun at things not meant to be funny, laughing at actual things meant to be funny, football picks, talking about school and noting the holiday season.

Oh wait, there isn't. I'm an incredibly boring person and you wouldn't know what I do for a living unless you looked hard for it. You might know that I developed and teach a class. Maybe.

But none of that matters. The coolest things about my blogroll is that they're all regular folk—who happen to be exceptional in some way in their life, in their field, in their personality—and I get to "know" them without racking up phone bills or travel costs. Except for Mel...I'll call you next time, ok? Ok.

The moral of the story? I don't know. It's 6:02am and I've been up for 2 hours already. You know you're up early when (living on the west coast USA) those on your blogroll in the east coast haven't posted yet, and it's too early to call your parents (also on the east coast).

Monday, December 20, 2004
it's like collaborative cooking, only not
If you're thinking about making the Butternut Squash and Leek Gratin from December's Cooking Light, and pictured at profgrrrl's blog, you don't need ramekins. I think they're grand, and do actually work best with something like this, but I don't happen to own any. I just dumped it all into a 9x9 and baked accordingly. It did take slightly longer (5 mins? I dunno. I just cook things til they look done) before it was ready for the broil-the-cheese step.

Also, if you make the Peppernut Tea Bread (also from December's Cooking Light) pictured here at profgrrrl's blog, it's really good with cranberry cream cheese. As in "take some cranberries and some really soft cheese and acquaint them with the food processor." See, profgrrrl garnished her plate with pomegranate seeds and someone asked if they were cranberries. They weren't. So I thought "hmmm...." and thus the cranberry cream cheese was born, and it is good.

two thumbs up for Chupe de Pollo con Chipotle
From Cooking Light, a lovely recipe for Chupe de Pollo con Chipotle (aka "Chicken Chowder with Chipotle").

Here's the original recipe:

1 (7-ounce) can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
[NOTE: Only use one chile (or two, or three), not the whole can!]
1 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
6 garlic cloves, crushed
6 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast
2 medium red potatoes (about 12 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 (15.5-ounce) can white or golden hominy, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup chopped seeded plum tomato
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 lime wedges

Remove 1 chile and 1 teaspoon adobo sauce from can; reserve remaining chiles and sauce for another use. Finely chop chile; set chile and sauce aside separately.

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add chopped chile, onion, and next 6 ingredients (through garlic); cook 7 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring frequently. Stir in broth; bring to a boil. Add chicken; cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 30 minutes or until chicken is tender. Remove chicken with a slotted spoon, and cool slightly. Shred chicken with 2 forks; cover and keep warm.

Remove pan from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Place one-third of broth mixture in a blender; process until smooth. Pour pureed broth mixture into a large bowl. Repeat procedure in two more batches with remaining broth mixture. Return pureed broth mixture to pan. Stir in potatoes and hominy; bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, uncovered, 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir in chicken and cream; simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in reserved adobo sauce, tomato, cilantro, and salt. Serve with lime wedges.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: about 1 1/3 cups soup and 1 lime wedge)

CALORIES 246(23% from fat); FAT 6.2g(sat 2.3g,mono 2.4g,poly 0.8g); PROTEIN 24.5g; CHOLESTEROL 60mg; CALCIUM 52mg; SODIUM 672mg; FIBER 3.5g; IRON 1.7mg; CARBOHYDRATE 21.8g


I doubled the potatoes and doubled the hominy, also had an extra quarter-pound of chicken. I don't like soupy soups, and it ended up more like "a lot of food with a little moisture" when I was done with it. I also forgot the carrots...nothing against carrots, I just forgot to get some. I only used the one chile like it said, but I probably should have used three. As it is, it's a very mild hint of chipotle and three would make it more chipotle-infused.

Good stuff!


no words. I have NO WORDS.
Haven't watched a video clip with your mouth hanging open in disbelief in awhile? Try this.

[via Boing Boing]

UPDATE According to the Panasonic site, the "artist's commentary" says: "This video expresses the joy of exercise. My theme was a fitness video that anyone could do easily at home. While I was trying to find something that both adults and children could enjoy, I saw a poodle with its 'muscle-like' hairstyle and I thought, how about a girl with muscles in the same places? I hope you will watch this during the Olympic Games, work out, and become happy in both mind and body too."

IOW, someone made this for real.

Friday, December 17, 2004
a festivus for the rest of us
It's holiday time. There are a lot of holidays/festivals/celebrations in Dec/Jan, including but not limited to: Chanukah, Christmas, Dia de los Reye, Kwanzaa, New Year's, Saint Nicholas Day, Saturnalia, and a host of birthdays including me, profgrrrl, my friends' kid and my mother.

In other words, it ain't all about the Baby Jesus, but if you want it to be, knock yourself out—just don't tell me "to keep the Christ in Christmas" because saying that isn't least for now.

So let's remember what the season is all about: giving! peace on earth (hmmm....some folks need to work on that)! goodwill toward [all]! While I'm thrilled to receive gifts, and I get my friends their fair share (mostly alcohol this year, go figure), it's also good to take an extra ten or twenty bucks and do something good for someone you don't know.*

If it's the Salvation Army or your local homeless shelter or a shelter for battered women and children, or a soup kitchen or a church (preferably of the welcoming, non-judgemental, open-minded, non-bigoted variety), throw your quarters in the kettle. Or volunteer. [Tangent: if you live in a really diverse place and are donating food to a pantry/kitchen type of place for the less fortunate, take a moment to think about what you're giving versus your actual neighborhood. For example, it didn't even dawn on me that the Koreans and Vietnamese in my neighborhood totally don't dig on the canned vegetables thing so if they get them in their gift bag they don't use them. I started donating big bags of rice, instead.]

Also during this time of year, your local newspapers may start profiling specific families in need. You know the type, "His house burned down and he can't walk, but a radio would go a long way toward brightening little Timmy's day as he recovers. Donate $25 specifically to Timmy's radio fund." Yeah, I read all of the profiles in the SJ Mercury News 2004 Holiday Wishbook, and I managed to narrow it down to a few, who then got their gift cards or food vouchers or whatever it was that they asked for. Then there's Heifer International, to which I donated some seedlings and chicks. The chicks are so useful after they grow up into chickens—eggs for protein for the family, eggs for use in trade, chickens keep the bugs and weeds out of the garden and enrich the soil...a win-win situation.

So yeah, instead of reloading my Starbucks card, I bought some seedlings and chicks. Try it, you'll like it.
* If you can do it year-round, even better. But the holidays are usually the time when people have a little extra what with bonuses and all, or maybe we're just all better at finding the extra around this time.

new signature iPods!
It's not just U2 anymore...check them out! I expect the Toby Keith iPod to be a big seller.

[via joi ito]

yes, it's a joke.

NFL Predictions, Week 15
It's the fifteenth (aka "next to last) installment of the Julie v Curtis NFL picks extravaganza, in which Julie is still leading (66.5% to 62.9%). Again, this week we have disagreement! Gotta keep it interesting.


WEEKS 1-14 RESULTS137/206131/208

Thursday, December 16, 2004
finals? what finals?
All done. Whoo. I think I shall go watch Shrek 2.

Yahoo! Maps and traffic info
Ok, this would be REALLY cool if I drove anywhere for work...

Yahoo! Maps with real-time TRAFFIC INFO, as in accidents, average speed on highways, etc.

- Where I Live (ok, I don't live at the star, but I live off the right-most orange road, pointing south)

Very cool.

[via little. yellow. different.]

Wednesday, December 15, 2004
only one final exam to take...
Vict Lit, Thursday night. It's a good thing I know something about the poetry (the mid-term was the test on the novels) because my notes from the lecture say stupid things like "Tennyson -- important." No kidding. It's just further proof that I am a terrible notetaker when I'm actually listening to the prof (because he was a good lecturer and very interesting and funny), despite the fact that I'm a kinesthetic/tactile learner!

I only have the one final exam to take because I just finished my Phil of Science (Is there a Bob of Science? Or a Joe of Science? I mean really, I should spell out "philosophy".) exam and pressed the "Finished" button in WebCT. Now I will go run an errand, then sit back and watch the Warriors/Hornets game [note: it wasn't on TV, and it's a good thing, because the W's lost and that sucks]. If I haven't fallen asleep by then (three days of 4:15am alarms because of a work thing, but at least my boss shared the pain with me), I'll watch Shrek 2.

Thrilled you all are to read this, I'm sure.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004
easily my favorite course next semester
I just looked at the required texts for an English course I added for kicks, next semester—British/Irish Fiction Post-1900. I think it's a cool list, but what do I know...I haven't taken the course yet. But there seem to be some interesting choices:

- The Butcher Boy (Patrick McCabe)
- Cal (Bernard MacLaverty)
- The Code of the Woosters (P.G. Wodehouse)
- The Good Soldier (Ford Madox Ford)
- House of Splendid Isolation (Edna O'Brien)
- Lucky Jim (Kingsley Amis)
- Mimic Men (V.S. Naipaul)
- A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Joyce)
- The Quiet American (Graham Greene)
- To the Lighthouse (Woolf)
- Women in Love (Lawrence)

I registered for the course because it's being taught by my Vict Lit prof, and he's hilarious. Also, it was a last-minute addition to the schedule and didn't get printed in the catalog, so if not enough people sign up, it'll be cancelled which would be a bummer for people who do need the credits for something important.

I'm not so sure about the other English course I'm registered for, The American Novel (Revolution to present). I haven't seen a list of texts yet, and the prof was changed to someone that I've heard less-than-stellar things about. Even if the prof sucks, I'm sure it'll be a better class than the three Business courses I'll be taking: Business & Society, Negotiation & Conflict Resolution, Strategic Management.

Go, American Novel, go!

i love cooking light (the magazine)
Boy is this ever a good magazine. I like it for different reasons than Cuisine at Home, which I also approve of wholeheartedly. I'm a little behind in my recipe-gathering, but since I was turning down the corner of every stinking page at one point, I figured I'd stop and mention that this magazine rocks hard.


Monday, December 13, 2004 two three down, four three two to go
Business Systems and Policy, check. I think I pissed everyone off when got up and turned it in after 52 minutes. Know what? Life's hard. Know what else? Three of the four essay questions, and all of the bonus questions, were on previous exams. So, the answers shouldn't have taken much thought.

Int'l and Comparative Management, check. I know I didn't fail. That's all I know. But I just don't do fill-in-the-blank tests, and multiple choice tests where the questions are all "which is not false" (just fricking say "true" for chrissakes) and "which is less than the greater of blah blah blah." Whatever. It's over.

Management Issues in High-Tech Companies, check. I know I didn't fail. Oh hey, I said that about the Int'l Mgmnt final, too. Look how much I care.

Phil of Science (sometime between now and Wed 11:59pm)
Victorian Lit (will get it on Thurs, due Thurs 10pm)

Not Taking:
Organaizational Change and Design (I have an A- in the class. Even if I take the final and get a B- or above, which I imagine I would, and thus get the A in the class, it would only affect my GPA by thousandths and it's just not that important to me.)

it's a wonderful the bunnies!
I so, so, so love the Angry Alien folks.

Check out the latest short: It's a Wonderful Life, in 30 seconds, re-enacted by bunnies.

Sunday, December 12, 2004
having one's parents buy a computer...
is often stressful, to say the least. But this stress is somewhat mitigated once said parents fully embrace the joy of online shopping. For example, my Amazon Wish List is now significantly shorter this holiday season, as they happily click-click-clicked away. Awesome.

Saturday, December 11, 2004
proud to be a netflixian
Damn, Netflix rocks. I knew it did, but I only knew secondhand. Amazing, how I can make a queue of 19 DVDs in five minutes, when if you asked me what movies I've missed recently, I'd have said "oh, I dunno." The funny thing is that the only movie that's a "short wait" is one that my friends are renting and just watched last night. Not that there's only one copy of Dodgeball in the Netflix library, but I still feel the need to call them and say "hey! send it back!" Ok, not really. I can wait.

really REALLY good choco-peanut butter treats
The recipe comes from Taste of Home, the publication which I lovingly refer to as "the white trash magazine," because—I swear—I have never seen more recipes that call for mayonnaise and/or cool whip in my entire life. But it was a gift from my mom, and sometimes you just have to have spaghetti casserole. Sometimes.

Anyway, if you're looking for something really good and really easy, these chocolate peanut butter squares are like a peanut butter meltaway, or a tandycake without the cake. Good stuff.

Start with:
2 cups confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter (melted)

Line 9x9 pan with foil and set aside. Mix up confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, graham cracker crumbs and the butter. It'll get pasty. Spread the paste evenly in the pan.

For the topping, you'll need:
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips (note: I used milk chocolate, and probably a whole cup)
5 teaspoons creamy peanut butter (whatever...if you want a more peanutbuttery taste, just keep adding peanut butter to the chocolate as you're melting it, til you like it)
1/2 teaspoon butter

The recipe says to throw all the topping stuff into a bowl and nuke it til it's melted, but I never melt chocolate in the microwave. If you do, knock yourself out. I'm a double-boiler person, myself. Spread the melted topping over the peanut butter in the pan, then refrigerate til cool. Lift out the foil, cut into 1-inch squares.



mel, you can get off my back now...
because when I stopped at the store to get laundry detergent, I also picked up a DVD player. I even plan to hook it up today, and not let it sit for six months. This also necessitates a Netflix subscription, which I will be purchasing today as well. So there. :)

UPDATE I have hooked it up and tested it and everything!

NFL Predictions, Week 14
It's the fourteenth installment of the Julie v Curtis NFL picks extravaganza, in which Julie is still hanging on to the slimmest of leads (66.3% to 63.5%). This week, I did my best to ensure that "we disagree on a statistically significant level" (so said Curtis). We'll see.


WEEKS 1-11 RESULTS126/190122/192

Friday, December 10, 2004
friday cat blogging
If profgrrrrl can do Friday Bird Blogging and Mel can do Friday Dog Blogging, I can do Friday Cat Blogging.

friday cat blogging #1   friday cat blogging #2
I actually have three cats, but you wouldn't know it by the pictures I've posted. The orange cat is Toby and the tuxedo cat is Deuce. With Toby, it doesn't matter where I put my sweatshirt, he'll find it and go to sleep near it. At the same time, Deuce was sitting behind my laptop, patiently waiting for me to finish reading What Now?'s blog. The telepathic message she was sending me was something along the lines of "you know, this time yesterday you gave us salmon treats...and the day before that...and the day before that. So, get off your ass and give me my salmon treat!" Or something like that.

Google Suggest is COOL
[It's Beta, FYI.] Why try it? Because "By suggesting more refined searches up front, Google Suggest can make your searches more convenient and efficient by keeping you from having to reformulate your query." Yeah, that. Here's the FAQ.

charlie and the chocolate factory...the trailer!
I just viewed the trailer for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and to answer Jess' question "disturbingly brilliant or brilliantly disturbing?" I say "disturbingly brilliant." I can't wait. I love Johnny Depp more than I love Jude Law, which is saying something. Then there's the Tim Burton factor, and of course the Danny Elfman music. Needless to say, I can't wait for July 2005.

[via Jess]

i did turn in a paper...
and it was absolute crap, and short...about five pages less than intended. Ok, so what I wrote wasn't crap, but as a paper, what with cohesiveness and examples being important, it was crap. I give myself a C. I wrote a little note that said, basically, "I'm not this lame and I didn't intend to write a crappy paper. I had also intended to use examples from X, Y and Z, and I failed because of my own lack of time management skills and general apprehension about writing this paper in particular. Not your problem, not my usual way of doing things, and I apologize for being a lousy student." Something to that effect, at least; something to make me feel better and convey the idea that I didn't write the crappy paper in an attempt to blow off the class or be disrespectful in some way. Yeah, I'm overly concerned with things like that.

The class itself was fun, as we all broght food and beer (No, beer is not allowed in the classroom, but rebels that we are, beer flowed.). Pizza and 7-layer-dip and these eggrolls the size of...well, like two eggrolls. They were freaky big. I brought the most insanely sweet candy things: peanut butter meltaway candy (which was very VERY easy to make) and these chocolate covered balls of cookie dough that you really could only eat one of before you went into some sort of sugar shock. Good times.

The prof spent some time showing slides from the Pre-Raphaelites, then regaled us with tales of teaching freshman composition to the inmates of Attica, in the 70s. One of his students was none other than Winston Moseley, the man who killed Kitty Genovese. Who knew?

Thursday, December 09, 2004
i am an incredible loser
I have a paper due tonight, about 13 hours from now. I finally settled on a topic...about 15 minutes ago. Not that I haven't been thinking about it for weeks—I have—and not that I haven't been researching around a general subject, because I've done that too, but I have this problem with "thinking big." It's the same problem I've always had as a student, because I don't see the value in doing anything small.

A less-than-10-pages essay is small. I never saw the point of them, other than the general idea that "hey look, you can write 3000 words about something." Well sure, I can do that, but why? What value would I be adding to the greater discussion, if I spewed forth 8 or 10 pages about the use of salt in the novels of the 1860s? (Note: that's not the topic of my paper.) A few weeks ago I was finally smacked upside the head and informed that there is no point, there's not supposed to be a point, and no one expects you to contribute anything. That was good to hear. Unfortunately, as I went forth the next few weeks, happily researching around a topic and thinking "I can do this, no problem," I realized that I am still saddled with my own personal expectations and a terrible problem that requires me to be thorough in everything that I do.

But I can't be thorough in a short essay like this, and thus I have to write cop-out sentences about how the examples herein represent all that I could fit into 3000 words and in no way represent all the other things I know about, let alone that exist. I hate that.

So, I just wrote an outline. I never write outlines. But an outline and a title is all I have at this point, besides a bunch of musty books and handwritten notes. Then there's this other stack of notes I took that would make for a lovely thesis if a) Victorian was even my preferred field and b) I was even in a graduate program.

I think I need more coffee.

UPDATE 1 1:42pm, I have written one-and-a-half pages. Whoop.

UPDATE 2 4:29pm, I have written three-and-three-quarter pages. This is not good progress. Or, to look at it as my wonderful, wonderful friend put it, "that's like almost close to sort of halfway. good job!" I think I'll look at it that way.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004
7am and already I'm a weepy mess
Thanks to this article about a mother octopus [via Pharyngula] and this story about a gorilla wake.

yes kids, there are 50 states in the US of A
(Because lord knows what they're teaching kids in school these days.)

Via Curtis, we have a Geography Game based on a US map.

You get a completely blank map, no rivers or mountains, and the game randomly throws states at you and you have to drag and drop them to their correct placements. The then get a score re: number of absolutely correct placements, and the average mileage you biffed the placement by. Curtis' score was 88% with an average error of 21 miles in 487 seconds. I did mine without coffee (an important qualifier) and scored 84% with an error of 46 miles in 350 seconds. Second time (still no coffee), 88% correct, 10 miles off, 251 seconds...different random stuff even, so I don't completely suck.

Like I said, it's random, so he could have been given a good one like California to start with...I got frickin UTAH. Oh yeah, place Utah on the map with no discernible features helping you. I was 100 miles off, exactly the correct placement horizontally, but off vertically. Oops. I had the opposite problem with Colorado. I've even driven through all these states! Oh well. At least I knew exactly where the vast majority went, and was pretty darn close on the others. If I had put North Dakota where Pennsylvania belongs, then we'd have something to talk about.

Go Play!

POST-COFFEE UPDATE... 96% correct, 8 miles off, 153 seconds. Happy with that, I'll now stop playing and get some work done.

Monday, December 06, 2004
cartoon character skeletons
Some of these are very cool. The artist, Michael Paulus, did a character study of present and past cartoon characters, which are also being shown at the Stumptown Coffee/Belmont in Portland. Not that I'm going to Portland, but in case any of you are, there's something else to see.

Eggbert has alwas been one of my favorite characters:

[© Michael Paulus]

[via Pharyngula and BoingBoing]

UPDATE Paulus is selling his work; I'm ordering an Eggbert for myself in January. He doesn't yet have "buy me" links up, but I e-mailed him and got the info.

a lovely trip to the gym
Finally made a trip to the gym yesterday. I've been woefully, woefully inept at keeping to a gym schedule. I can't wait to get an iPod now, whether it ends up as a present or something I buy for myself, because it seems that the gym music is getting worse.

I didn't do any cardio, because I hate cardio and always have, unless I have exactly the right music to take my mind off the boredom that is cardio. But I did a good 45 minutes on various machines, and today I hurt in all the important places. Good to know I can still design a workout.

Sunday, December 05, 2004
six classes, work, teaching...this is nothing
I've had people comment (in real life and here as well) about my six classes plus my work plus the grading/emailing that constitutes "teaching," mentioning how I'm a wee bit odd or nuts or must just really be busy, etc. I think I'm all of that, but really, this type of schedule is nothing.

I learned how to deal with lots of work at one time many moons ago, during my final three semesters of college. After my third semester at the school, I wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. Because it was a special program, and I had suckass grades those three semesters (GPA was like 2.6 at that point, ugh!), transferring wasn't going to be an option: likely I wouldn't have gone anywhere decent, and I would been behind anyway what with credits possibly not transferring, different requirements, etc.

So I got a little nutso with the schoolwork for the last three semesters, and ended up graduating in three years instead of four. My last three semesters went like this:

Spring '91
Brit Lit after 1680, Children's Lit, Romantic Lit, Modern Poetry, History of Tudor-Stuart England, Intro to Physics, Issues on Women & Leadership, Focus on Women...8 classes, 25 credits, 3.4 GPA

Fall '91
Women & Mass Media, Brit Lit before 1680, Writing the Mini-Play, French for Reading Knowledge (aka "I can't speak it worth crap but I can read it ok, so the French prof set up a directed inquiry class so that once a week I'd hang out in her office, we'd drink espresso, and I'd translate French, poorly." It rocked.), Latin I, Existentialism, Sex Roles & Male/Female Relationships (I hadn't yet fulfilled my social sciences requirements, and it was the only one that fit into my schedule. Don't judge.)...7 classes, 18 credits, 3.85 GPA

Spring '92, the BEST SEMESTER EVER. I had an absolute blast.
19th Century English Novel, 20th Century British Lit, Major's Seminar (more on that in a minute), History of 20th Century Europe, Latin II, Intro to Ethics, Philosophy & the Arts, Death & Dying, Oral Interpretation, Intro to Shakespeare, Great Plays...11 classes, 33 credits, 3.6 GPA

So yeah, six classes is nothing. I vividly remember the discussion I had with the head of my department as well as the Dean of the college, both of whom had to sign off on my wacky plan. It went something like this: "I'd like to take overloads for the next three semesters, including a double-load the last semester, so I can graduate a year ahead of schedule. Here's my plan [insert plan]." Them: "You're nuts, you haven't even gotten an A in anything your first three semesters." Me: "But I can." Them: "Prove it" Me: "Ok, if I screw up this semester, forget I asked." Them: "deal." Whereupon I went out and got 4 As, a B+, 2 Bs and a C- in Modern Poetry. Issues with the prof. They signed off on my plan, and here I am.

Of course a few months later I promptly withdrew from grad school after half a semester, due to burnout and just general lack of preparation for grad school. Flash forward 12+ years and here we are.

Oh, I said I was going to mention the Major's Seminar. What an absolute joke. I have no doubt that at one point in its history it was a good idea, but in a student-driven seminar thing, to have a good seminar you must have good students. We weren't really blessed with great students at my school, and English wasn't a popular major. In any given year, we had maybe 10-12 senior English majors.

In the Major's Seminar, the majors attended a class every few weeks during their last four semesters. I only had to do it my last two semesters, or maybe it was three, I don't know. It wasn't four. Anyway, each senior had to write a paper about a short story or a poem, something that could be copied for everyone to read. They would turn in their paper and the story/poem to the faculty (note: we only had like 5 or 6 faculty in the department), who would think up questions based on the paper. The rest of us then got a copy of the paper, the story/poem and the questions, and had to write essay responses to two of the questions and turn in to the faculty at the seminar the following week. At the seminar, we'd all get together and talk about the piece, the paper and the questions, and if there was anything to "defend," the senior would do so. Since most people couldn't read their way out of a paper bag, let alone ask questions that would require the major to defend anything they wrote, there wasn't much was more a lovely little chat.

A LOT of the selected pieces were American short stories of the latter half of the twentieth century, or modern poetry, or children's lit. The papers, what a joke. If a paper was five pages long, the person was overachieving. So I messed with all of them and wrote ten pages on Oscar Wilde's "Panthea". A lot of majors hated me for that, what with the thinking that was required of them. Oh well, life's hard.

Saturday, December 04, 2004
As in my hemoglobin test results. I've been trying for a month to get over the 12.5g/dl mark, which is what is required to donate blood. I like to go every 56 days, but then sometimes that means it's the week of or the week after the monthly girly thing, which—as you can imagine—lowers your iron what with all that bleeding.

No amount of meat or cream of wheat (not together, blech) was successful in raising my iron level (last week it was 11.5), but third time's a charm. I get really perturbed when I can't give blood, especially when the only shortage they have is my blood type (O negative) and I have plenty.

A few weeks ago I started doubling up on my iron, as in a multi-vitamin plus an iron capsule, and the other awesome side effect besides just having enough iron to donate blood was that I had no cramps whatsoever the last time the girly thing rolled around. Iron is now my new best friend.

Incidently, when I can give blood, they like me a lot because they get a vein with one shot, and I leak out my donation in just under 4 minutes. I'm going to have my platelet count done next time, to see if I can be an Apheresis donor. If I can, that means every two weeks I can go hang out at the blood center for a couple hours and watch a DVD while they pull all the good stuff out of my blood.

NFL Predictions, Week 13
It's the thirteenth installment of the Julie v Curtis NFL picks extravaganza, in which Julie is still hanging on to the slimmest of leads (66% to 63%). Don't worry, non-football fans, this will all be over soon. I could easily have agreed 100% with his picks this week, but that would have been really boring, so I went out on a limb on a few, just to be different. It will probably backfire.


WEEKS 1-11 RESULTS115/174111/176

i love a small world
I do genealogical lookups for people in my home county (the county I was born and raised in, not where I live now), and I just got a request from a stranger that said "can you give me the death dates for Samuel Hile and Rebecca Hoop Kidd Hile," to which I replied, "why yes, and given they're my great-great-great-great grandparents, I can give you a lot more than that." :)

Friday, December 03, 2004
i won something...
...which doesn't happen often so gosh darn it, I'm going to say something about it. I was named "Instructor of the Month" at I know, I know, whoop-de-damn-do, it's not a "real school" and these aren't "real classes" but I was pretty stoked about it (and the extra hundred bucks that came with it!). This was the nice thing they said about me in the monthly faculty newsletter:
The 21st instructor-of-the-month award of $100 goes to ... new instructor Julie Meloni for delivering great service in the database/dynamic web design course to a whopping 25 students in her first month. As you can imagine, PHP and SQL is a proving a challenging subject for our students to learn, compared to our visual design courses. (Wot? No Dreamweaver?) But Julie has stuck with the students and made numerous updates and adjustments to the content to make sure the launch went off smoothly. Kudos!
Personally, I just think they felt bad for me because I had problem students, and I spend a lot of time answering e-mail and grading exercises, and until yesterday my course was offered at a discount so technically I was working for half-price. Or maybe they just like me. That'd be fine, too.

It's not official yet, but it looks like I'll be teaching another course for them starting in the next month or so. Someone else is writing it, but he doesn't have the time to teach it [insert chuckle about "having time" here]. Will post more when it's official, lest I completely jinx it now.

i don't usually read reviews...
But my Plone book has gotten three decent user comments at Amazon. Typically, I don't read reviews and comments because, well, we've all read instances of nutjob reviews of books on Amazon. Not that I'm comparing my books with works of art that would attract such nutjob reviews, but it's not uncommon to read things like "Julie Meloni's books suck because I [the comment author] couldn't [follow instructions to save my life in order to] make the examples work." Text in brackets mine, of course. I have no problem with crappy reviews like "this book just didn't do it for me and here's why," because I don't write in a techie style and some people, when they buy techie books, want a techie style. That's cool, no problem with that. I do have a problem with "This book didn't cover X, Y and Z, so it sucks" or "I already know A, B and C, so it sucks"—one glance at a table of contents usually will tell you what's in the book, so don't buy it if X,Y,Z aren't covered, or A,B,C are. If you do, and you're disappointed, don't write a bad review, because that's not my problem. I wrote this book, if you want X,Y,Z or don't want A,B,C, write your own damn book.

Not that I have issues with that or anything.

Ok, so anyway, the three reviews at Amazon of the Plone book indicate that at least three people bought the book and understood the niche it was trying to fill, and judged it on its ability to fill that niche. That's cool.

what to do in the next two weeks
I know I should be terribly stressed about the end of the semester, what with the final papers and the exams, but I'm not. I don't think I've ever been terribly stressed at the ends of semesters (note: I may very well have been a basketcase as an undergrad the first time, but I honestly don't remember it that way.)

This is my next-two-weeks school-related-stuff list:
- Philosophy of Science research paper (1500 words, like that's a problem for me...)
- Int'l & Comparative Business case writeup, other exercise writeup
- Bus Systems and Policy case study (group work)
- Bus Systems and Policy MS Access lab project (group work)
- Mgmnt Issues in High Tech Companies my portion of group paper (group work)
- Mgmnt Issues in High Tech Companies pull together everyone else's written contributions (group work)
- Victorian Lit paper, 12ish pages, which I'll also be using as a writing sample for my MA application...and I'm pretty sure I nailed down a topic finally, thanks to a certain Victorianist who remains nameless. It's a good thing I have a topic, since it's due in six days. :)
- Int'l & Comparative Business final (non-cumulative)
- Mgmnt Issues in High Tech Companies final (non-cumulative)
- Org Change & Design final (cumulative) that can't hurt my grade, only help it (it replaces a previous midterm, if the final grade is higher than the midterm grade). I'm still thinking about doing this one or not. I biffed the first midterm (C-), then got As on the next two. I currently have an A- in the course. If I sit for the final, and get even a C, I'll get an A in the course. Yeah, I'll probably end up taking it. Unless I get really stressed between now and then.
- Bus Systems and Policy final (cumulative)
- Victorian Lit final (non-cumulative, take-home essays)
- Philosophy of Science (cumulative, open book take-home essays)

Oh, and also my job and my teaching. The really funny thing is (to me, at least) is that since I'm not writing a book at this very moment, all this work is a breeze.

I need a hobby.

org change & design group project done, part II...the presentation
The presentation aspect of this group project was technically ungraded, but required, and if you personally did a shitty job (like not showing up) he'd mark you down for it. The way the group project grading worked is that it was worth 100 points, and only the paper was graded, but then individual grades were adjusted up, down or not at all. Each member of the team was asked to rank the other members 1 through 5 (1 = best, 5 = worst), and the people with the lowest and highest scores were potentially marked up or down. If everyone did equal work (like you wanted to give 4 people 1s and a crappy person a 5) that was taken into consideration and the 4 would get the same grade and the crappy person would get a lower grade. In our group, there was a definite split between the top three and the lower three. I reckon that I will get a bonus, two will just get the regular grade, and three will get lower grades. An A paper will net me 108 points, the other two will get 100 points, and probably the other three will get 85 points. It's all very complicated, this grading thing.

So about the actual gave us two rules: don't recite the paper, and do something interesting. We had a 30 minute block of time. So our idea (not mine...someone else actually contributed! I was so happy.) was to give a standard 6-section overview presentation (each member had a few slides) and then split the class in half and pit them against each other in a Jeopardy-like game...the winning group would get first choice of donuts. In my opinion, the key to a successful presentation is always the food. So, the fella who suggested the idea make a game board with velcro notecards and it was all very cute. Each group member had to send him two questions...and of course people were still giving him questions right before the presentation. Losers.

Anyway, everyone had to give me the text for their slides. I refuse to let other people create the presentation, because I swear, 98% of students can't make a PowerPoint presentation to save their lives. 200 words in 10pt light blue text on a dark blue background with animated clip art that you then read word for word IS NOT A GOOD PRESENTATION. Now, I'm not the world's greatest presentation maker, nor is it something I do in my job (I don't do anything with color, really, in my job), but I know presentation theory and by god I can use it. So I do. Simple, clean slides with 18-24pt dark text on light backgrounds, highlighting key points, blah blah.

So of course I get "slide text" in paragraph form. Whatever. I made it into a presentation. It worked. I carried it on my USB keychain flash drive and felt all cool...

...until one of our group members decided the presentation was optional, and didn't show up. AT ALL. Luckily, her contribution was crappy to begin with, so one of the good guys pinch hit and all was well. Then, we started the Jeopardy game and a couple people asked questions about the stuff we said in the presentation, we got onto a tangent, never played the game, gave out the donuts anyway and I felt so bad for the guy who took the time to make the game board!

Then the next group got up to do their presentation, and THEY HAD NO SLIDES. How can you do a presentation without slides? Ok sure, if you're a great speaker you can, but a 6-person presentation about a corporation (UPS, in their case. We did Agilent's Life Science/Chemical Analysis business.)? It was terrible. Other groups have done that as well, the no slides thing. But I don't get it. Oh well, it just made us look better.

org change & design group project done, part I...rambling about a paper
The semester is almost over. As in, "I have one more week of classes and then finals." Thank god. Too damn many business courses with idiots in very happy I had a philosophy class and a literature class to balance me out. Three of my four business courses have a "group work" element in them, as you'd imagine. Yesterday, I was able to cross one of those off the list: the paper and accompanying presentation are both DONE.

Tell me if you didn't see this coming: the class is at 7:30am on Tuesday. Julie is still working on both the presentation and the paper at 6:45, also still has to bind the paper (Hooray for Kinko's next to campus! Did you know that anything educational automatically gets a 10% discount, you just have to ask for it? I didn't.) and still has to buy donuts for the class (more on that in a moment). That's right, at midnight on Monday people were still sending in their talking points for their PowerPoint slides.

You may say, and you'd be right, "well, dumbass, don't take on the responsibility and you wouldn't have that stress!" True. But I'd also have an F for the group project because getting some of these people to do anything was like...something really difficult (I've only had a little coffee today, brain not firing yet). The paper was not really a "paper" in the academic sense; the paper consisted of a series of Q & A entries based on the questions at the end of eleven chapters of the Org Change & Design textbook. Each team member had two chapters to do, except me since I was pulling it all together, but I ended up doing probably about three chapters worth of stuff since I took over one chapter from a fella who had serious scheduling issues, and some people just didn't answer all their questions/answered poorly. Enough of that, though. I spent all of last Saturday pulling the paper together, and it was decent enough. I know we'll get an A on it, because I know what the prof was looking for and I made sure that we did that...but I also made sure that it was clear who wrote which parts, because prof was also grading individually...

Wednesday, December 01, 2004
three cheers for PG&E!
PG&E == "Pacific Gas & Electric," aka "the power company". The power tends to go out here at the ol' homestead. It went out yesterday morning, prompting me to actually pack up and go to the office to work (the horror!). Then tonight at 7:26 it went out again. No worries, I just got my spotlight flashlight and...the battery promptly died. So, I got dressed (yes, I was in PJs at 7:30pm) by computer light (it has a working battery), called to report the outage, and headed to the store to buy a battery (and a candle, for backup).

By the time I got back 15 minutes later, the PG&E guy was waiting at the gate to be let in. What service! He fixed the issue (something with a transformer, he thinks our particular transformer is giving up the ghost) and all is back to less than an hour! I went outside to say thank you, but he had already moved on. Too bad, because I'm sure they don't get thanked enough.

too. many. cute. kittens.
One of my cats sat here with me as this page of 198 extremely cute kitten photos loaded. [NOTE: don't try it on dial-up; it's about 5MB.]

Now I think my own very cute kitten (ok, she's 2 now, but she's still the youngest!) has a complex. Of these photos, this one may be my favorite, but I could just as easily have picked twenty others. I picked it because it's so true: give a cat a pillow to sit on and they will. I swear, you could put a pillow on the top of a moving truck on the highway and my cats would sleep on it as sound as could be.

geeky academic bumper sticker
I parked next to a old Volvo station wagon yesterday, in the shopping center that houses my Whole Foods/Starbucks/Cost Cutters/Una Mas (among other things). Bumper stickers abound, and they tend to be a hoot (and very liberal). This particular Volvo had a sticker that said "I ♥ Steinbeck." It was dark out, and I thought "that can't possibly say that," not because it's outside the realm of possibility that someone would ♥ Steinbeck, but because it struck me as a hilariously geeky academic bumper sticker; I peered at it and saw that it did indeed say "I ♥ Steinbeck." Other stickers included "Keep Santa Cruz Weird" (a sticker to support Santa Cruz street performers), but still....I wanted to stick around to see who owned the car, to make this story better, but alas I did not.

i totally narc'd on some old lady
I love my Whole Foods store. I've been going there for years and years and know a lot of the folks by name, we're all very friendly, etc. I go to the store at least three or four times per week (hey, I like fresh things). It's a nice place.

Anyway, last night I went in to pick up something for dinner, and I'm wandering around the cold case and there's this older lady being a wee bit persnickety. She was getting samples of a lot of things, but never bought anything. She was engaging the WF employee in conversations about the berry crepes and the chicken salad and the glazed apricots and what not, and the employee was dutifully answering all of the questions. The lady never bought a thing. She then wandered over to the hot case, where I was getting myself some turkey and rice. She poked me on the arm and started up a conversation...well, more like a "preaching to" because I was just polite and nodded and said things like "how about that," like I was talking to my grandmother.

She went on to tell me about these packages of rice at Trader Joe's [they are a competitor in the higher-end-than-Safeway grocery domain], how they're such and such size and pre-cooked and you just pop them in the microwave and they're really cheap. Oh, and then about these pork loins, that are [blah blah blah]. I finally extracted myself, picked up a bottle of juice and headed to the checkout, whereupon I told the cashier fella, "there's an old lady over there who's either really lonely or is a plant for Trader Joe's."

He didn't look surprised, which makes me think that it's fairly common for Trader Joe's to send people over to WF to strike up conversations with shoppers about TJ items. He dispatched a manager over to have a chat with the woman, to see if "there were any questions he could answer about WF items," and I left in a hurry because although I'm very loyal and protective of my WF, I also fear crazy old ladies.

get your archive on...
04/04 · 05/04 · 06/04 · 07/04 · 08/04 · 09/04 · 10/04 · 11/04 · 12/04 · 01/05 · 02/05 · 03/05 · 04/05 · 05/05 · 06/05 · 07/05 · 08/05 · 09/05 · 10/05 · 11/05 · 12/05 · 01/06 · 02/06 · 03/06 · 04/06 · 05/06 · 06/06 · 07/06 · 08/06 · 09/06 · 10/06 · 11/06 · 12/06 · ???


job / books / new blog

04/04 · 05/04 · 06/04 · 07/04 · 08/04 · 09/04 · 10/04 · 11/04 · 12/04 · 01/05 · 02/05 · 03/05 · 04/05 · 05/05 · 06/05 · 07/05 · 08/05 · 09/05 · 10/05 · 11/05 · 12/05 · 01/06 · 02/06 · 03/06 · 04/06 · 05/06 · 06/06 · 07/06 · 08/06 · 09/06 · 10/06 · 11/06 · 12/06 · ???


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