10.26.2009

103 - And then there were none

Wow. It's finally here. I started planning this trip two years ago and we finally leave tomorrow. I'm ready to cut loose and relax... I've been stressing, I'm exhausted. My cousin's itinerary was fine this morning when I checked it. When she checked in this afternoon there was a note that her second flight was delayed. They didn't say how long. She freaked out. I started to freak out. I called Delta. Five minutes. The flight would be delayed by five... minutes... Good grief.

Some blogs to tide you over while I'm gone:
  • Excellent post by Laurel K. Hamilton, author of the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series, about the business side of writing. I'm really digging her blog -- this is what I think all good author websites should be like, updated frequently, open, personalized.
  • A prediction about the next big thing, apocalyptic stories (yea... I love those, too)
  • Interesting... book price wars continue to build momentum with retailers taking a loss, and now publishers have had enough. It's ridiculous. I frickin' despise WalMart.
  • Writing love scenes, something I grappled with in my novel. How far do you go? Not far enough and you're wussing out, too far and it can get uncomfortable.
  • This was so cleverly written... Of Life and Layoffs experience scheduling an interview
  • And speaking of Bruce Lee, this makes me laugh so hard I cry (not appropriate for work)
  • Wow. Publishing is going on quite the roller coaster ride. Sux for me as a new writer. Did I mention that I frickin' hate WalMart? I can't say that enough.
  • You can spend all day here. Titanic, The Exorcist, and Twilight are my faves.

And when I return, a bazillion pics of my vacation and my travel diary entries. I know... it's 'edge of your seat' crazy!

10.25.2009

102 - TWO DAYS!

My cousin is cracking me up. She texts me this morning to ask if they have Diet Coke in Scotland... Like they're some backward country with no ties to civilization (or civilisation). LOL And then I thought, 'what if they didn't? would that be the end of the world?' Apparently... she said she might have had to make room for some in her suitcase if they didn't. That's dedication. As for me, they have a lovely pear cider that I'm looking forward to getting reacquainted with... it's even tastier than the Ace pear cider that we have over here, but I don't recall the name, just that it was in a ginormous green bottle and they served it in a glass with ice. YUM! Trick-or-treat... pear cider, please!

Then I go to my Myspace page and I get: "I dreamt LAST NIGHT that I lost you when we landed in scotland and i couldn't understand what anyone was saying, I lost my phone and my money and was left outside the airport to die." LOL, I forget how anxious she is. I told her that bad dreams before a trip are actually a good thing. It means things run smoothly when it actually happens. It's worked for me so far anyway... all those dreams about forgetting my camera mean that I am hyper aware of whether or not my camera has been packed (and it has been). Dreams about missing my flight make me double-check the schedule. It's the mind's way of working out the kinks.

So I'm on the final approach. I'm terrified of not being allowed on the plane because my allerigies might make it appear that I have the flu, and everyone's so paranoid about it... I actually did gargle with salt water last night, and I swabbed my nose, and I took my vitamin (which I started doing beforehand since I finally found a vitamin I can live with - Viactiv), drank a Crystal Light that has 100% of my daily vitamin C in it, and I used the 'drink hot liquids' as an excuse to whip up some hot chocolate. Today I started sneezing so I took some Zyrtec -- which does seem to work for me without making me drowsy. Just gotta make it through tomorrow...

So, I'm trying to remember words I learned, and this is what I've come up with:

Alba = Scotland
Alba go bragh = Scotland forever
Albannach = Scotsman
Biscuit = Cracker
Crisps = Chips
Chips = Fries
Dressing = Mayonaisse
Salad = Lettuce
Ben = Mountain
Kirk = Church
Uisge Beatha = Water of Life = Whisky
Slan = Welcome / Goodbye
Slainte = To your health
Loch = Lake
Courgette = Zucchini
Aubergine = Eggplant
Neaps and Tatties = Turnips and Potatoes

Now if I could just master the accent. I can do Irish 'til the cows come home. In fact, the more I drink, the more Irish I can become. Scottish... it's the r's that get me. I can roll them by themselves, but to put them in a word... nuthin. Craig told me to practice 'the rrred birrrd murrrderrred the worrrm' but I can't get it down. If I can't do it right, I won't do it. I'm not trying to be condescending when I imitate an accent, I'm honestly trying to figure it out... but not everyone would know that...

Fixing to (yeah, fixing to... it's what we say here) go to my parent's house and have hamburgers. I love when dad grills hamburgers, he makes the BEST. Taking Push and Wolverine with me. I have high hopes for Push... after seeing this 30-second break down of Wolverine I'm not expecting a lot (I don't know why but it cracks me up every time!).

10.24.2009

101B - Pan(dem)ic

Checked my work email (it's not dedication, it's because I sometimes get personal emails at that address), and saw this:

"As you may see reported in the media, the Administration has categorized the H1N1 pandemic outbreak as a national emergency. Such a declaration impacts the availability and release of medical resources and personnel and is considered to be a proactive measure."

...sigh... I don't know what to think about this whole swine flu thing. I feel like it's overblown, but maybe I'm being to lackadaisical about the whole thing. I tend not to get excited about things that I probably should get excited about, but (to quote Doris Day) que sera, sera... whatever will be, will be.

I did get an email that had some suggestions on how to avoid contracting it, and the suggestions seemed pretty reasonable, so I'll share them with you:

1. ** Frequent hand-washing (well highlighted in all official communications).


2. “Hands-off-the-face” approach. Resist all temptations to touch any part of face (unless you want to eat, bathe or slap).


3. **Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (use Listerine if you don’t trust salt). *H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat/nasal cavity to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents proliferation. In a way, gargling with salt water has the same effect on a healthy individual that Tamiflu has on an infected one. Don’t underestimate this simple, inexpensive and powerful preventative method.


4. Similar to 3 above, clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water. **This can be done by blowing the nose hard and swabbing both nostrils with cotton buds dipped in **warm salt water is very effective in bringing down viral population.


5. Boost your natural immunity with foods that are rich in Vitamin C**. If you have to supplement with Vitamin C tablets, make sure that it also has Zinc to boost absorption.

6. Drink as much of warm liquids as you can. Drinking warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse direction. They wash off proliferating viruses from the throat into the stomach where they cannot survive, proliferate or do any harm.

101 - Woot!

Something amazing happened to me today: When I sorted my laundry all the socks matched up. That's right, you heard me -- I wasn't missing even one sock.

It's such a beautiful day. I wish it was like this all the time. I love the way the sun filters into my house, and the cats enjoy lounging on the windowsills, breathing in all the outdoor scents that my nose can't discern. Gracie wants to go outside and play, but ever since her mother disappeared, I don't let her do it anymore.

I think the cats know I'm going on vacation... they've been especially snuggly lately (could also be the cold). I hope they behave themselves while I'm gone...

Speaking of the trip, every day, more things manage to find their way into my suitcase... a few days ago I took extra shirts out, but I have added at least two more since then, and a cardigan. I only have a couple of things left to pack and I'm done! And I leave Tuesday! I'm so excited to see my cousin, and then the next day I get to see Laura and Brian. We're going to have a blast. I'm looking forward to showing them around Edinburgh and Dunkeld, then experiencing new things with them for the rest of the trip. I know Brian's really excited about the Harley dealership, and Laura and Jamie are just excited at the whole thing. We're all chomping at the bit.

Last night I revamped my budget. It was a lot more work than it sounds. See, I do budgets for a living, so my personal budget is something to behold... each debt has its own worksheet that is mapped to a summary page, and I also track my 401k's and savings accounts. There are 'if' statements, formulas linked to different worksheets, and ammortization tables... it's a beast.

My problem was that the checkbook page (I don't use paper check registers anymore) wasn't sorted by date, so I kind of manipulated my balances. I would spend the money but not show it in the register until the next paycheck. The date would be right, the placement was wrong. I was never in any actual danger of an overdraft because I use my credit card like a debit card, entering each item into my checkbook and setting the money aside... same principle but this way I get the airline miles. But... I wasn't exactly being honest with myself, and if I'd had to pay my balance as I spent it, it was sometimes negative. Because I'm setting a certain amount of money aside for the trip, I needed to know my true balance... so... two days worth of work later... and I feel better about things. I know where I stand.

When I get back from the trip I'm going to work on sorting clothes, patterns and fabric to sell on eBay. I have a lot of stuff I don't wear, either because it doesn't fit right, or it's something that I'd love to wear but just don't (like silk... I swea... I mean, perspire in silk so I should know better). And I thought I was going to love sewing, so I bought a lot of patterns and fabric... which is sitting in my closet of shame... I think I can make a pretty penny if I manage to sell some of it. I really want to chip away at my debt in this coming year. It bugs me more and more. And the debauchle when one of my cards increased the minimum payment really opened my eyes to the fact that I could end up in a real hole if all of my creditors follow suit. Once I pay the windows off I'll have more wiggle room, but until then I'm nervous.

...sigh... gonna make a trip to the grocery store. I need to get a paper, and some stuff for the cats. I've almost finished my to-do list though... yea!

10.23.2009

100 - 100th Post and nuthin' special but the ed

I think I am just doomed to be irritated.

I placed an order with Wing Stop, cuz they have the best wings and fries and ranch, and I crave it... Come Friday, if I have no plans (which I don't... can you say exhausted? I am sooooooooo sleeping in tomorrow), I want some wings (was gonna be funny and say 'wangs' like I had an accent and all, but then I realized that 'wang' is kind of a real word, and if I say I crave 'wangs', Greg's gonna be all on my jock... ur a perv... but you're my homie)...

I have my order down pat: 10-piece, half original, half garlic-parmesan, an order of fries, and a side of ranch.

In that last sentence, were the words 'coke' or 'soda' or 'drink' on the screen? No? Well they didn't come out of my mouth either, but they persist on trying to sell me the damn combo. The problem is that they don't ask, they just tack it on to the bill. Grrrr... homey-don't-play-dat (did anyone else love In Living Color? Gads that show was brilliant.) So I got my seventy-two cents back, thankyouverymuch.

And that reminds me that it's time to take my change to the bank and add it to my travel fund. I am estimating upwards of twen-ty buckaroonies this time around... BONUS! I used to pay with cash, and any change went into the piggy bank, but I never use cash anymore. That's why it's such a pitifully small amount. But it's something at least. My enthusiasm is waning (it is waining!).

Just finished watching The Haunting of Molly Hartley. Another grrr moment. I'd like to say I got all worked up and there was just no payoff... but I didn't even get worked up. I think I can bring it home by telling you... it's a boring version of Rosemary's Baby. Which was pretty boring I thought.

So now I'm watching Monsters vs. Aliens. I'm not very far into it, so I haven't formed an opinion yet, but I am amazed at how realistic some of the animation looks. Wow. The hamburger looks real. The hair looks real. The idea that she grows and grows, her dress gets shorter, yes -- but it's otherwise gaining in size along with her... that part's a little hard to swallow, but it's PG, right? Don't want any awkward moments for the kiddos... this ain't Heavy Metal. And oh... who would have thought I would find the physical humor so funny... she slams the alien on the table... ha! I'm laughing! Wanna watch the movie with me? No? Not interested? I get that. Ha! The alien threw his back ou... oh, sorry. Did it again.

This morning I had to chase the garbage truck. I leave at about the same time every morning... the garbage men keep showing up earlier and earlier... Imagine that... people who like to get up in the morning. Freaks... I find that life is easier without a garbage can to keep track of. I close up my trash bag, set it on the curb, it's gone when I get home and I'm okay with that. It's like magic. I like magic, hence my obsession with Harry Potter... I digress... Since I don't have a can, I don't set my trash out the night before because sometimes raccoons or strays tear into it and then there's garbage all over the place.

So this morning I realize that the truck sounds awfully close, but sound can be misleading sometimes, and since I live by the main drag, they drive by and I hear them, but they're not necessarily at my house. When I opened the garage door I saw that they were indeed in front of my house, so I shuffle to the end of my driveway (heavy bag), but they failed to make eye contact and they were about to move on to the next street. So I said, "Hey!" to get their attention. Whaddaya know, it worked. And then the guy grabbed the trashbag, the bag with my lunch in it and my purse strap (they were all in the same hand) and we played a little game of tug-o-war with each other for a few seconds as I attempted to extract my lunch and my purse from his iron grip. That's all I need is for my purse to get compacted... Oy. In the end, all was well.

So I've been reading a new book and it's hilarious... Undead and Unwed. About vampires, of course. It keeps me laughing. Even when the bathwater starts to get cold, I don't want to stop reading. I see a new series in my future.

But I'm taking Enslaved by Ducks with me to read on the trip (not taking it to carry it around for looks... just so we're clear). I saw it profiled in Entertainment Weekly years ago, got totally reeled in by the title, and it has sat on my bookshelf, patiently waiting for me to read it ever since. The duck on the cover has been patient with me, but I sense his hostility. It is time.

What? I, well... I -- Woohoo! 'Most distracting use of parentheticals' award goes to... me? Oh my gosh! I totally accept. I've been working toward this my whole life. The day I nested five parenthetical thoughts in one sentence? Well, I knew it's what I wanted to be when I grew up. I'd like to thank the big guy... my parents... and a latent hyperactivity gene that makes me goofy when I'm all wound up about something (Scotland. Didn't think you were going to get through a whole blog without hearing about the trip did you??? Silly optimistic fools... muahaha), and the academy (of voices in my head) for giving me this honor. *Smack* Get away from me Kanye, it's MINE!!!

G'night. If I keep going, this is only going to get worse... ;)

10.22.2009

099 - De nada

Sometimes my job drives me crazy. Sometimes I get about as much support as a large-breasted woman with no underwire in her bra. Sometimes I feel like I accomplished something big. Sometimes I just scratch my head in wonderment.

That was my day in a nutshell, thank you for listening.

I'm getting so antsy... my trip is four days away. I know, you're tired of hearing it. BUT I HAVE CABIN FEVER AND YOU HAVE TO CARE!!! (or at least pretend)

This morning it was raining... no -- raining isn't an accurate protrayal of what was going on out there... water was coming from the sky in horizontal sheets, hitting my window in a way I haven't heard since the hurricane. I hit snooze and made my peace with being late to work. Then the rain stopped. I got up, slightly disappointed. I looked out the window and saw that the water wasn't pooling in the street, so I got dressed and started in to work.

I was wearing my sunglasses, it was dark. That was stupid. I did have my headlights on, but they didn't differentiate between the glistening sheen of water in a thin layer on top of the concrete, and a curb-deep pool of water across the road as I approached the entrance to my neighborhood. I didn't realize I was in trouble until I was in the water. Shit. My car's little, and I never did put those pontoons on the bottom.

'Don't let off the accelerator... don't speed up... just keep going, slow and steady... remember what they told you, if you push on the accelerator it will suck water into your carburator and you're screwed.' (can you tell I'm a girl by the way I don't know how to spell carburator?)

It seemed to stretch on forever, the water seemed endless. It even seemed to deepen at one point. The life of my car flashed before my eyes, but Trixie slogged on without a hiccup. I came to the end of the water. I began to rejoice. Then I heard the familiar sound of water under my car. There's nothing quite so horrifying as that sound and the way my nerves respond to it. Shit. More water. Thankfully a lesser amount.

From that point on I had green lights all the way, never came to a complete stop until I got close to work. I was shaking. I was also pleasantly surprised. My car didn't die. It started when I cranked it this afternoon. Everything seems fine. Sure... I have mental scars that may affect me for the rest of my life. But everything's okay...

10.21.2009

098 - Geography is all over the map

I suck at geography. I don't know where anything is unless I've been there, I am there, or I'm going there soon. I am so bad that Daniel's comment about my dream tripped me up. I began to worry that maybe Mozambique wasn't in Africa... so I looked it up. Phew. It is. (and I didn't put two and two together... Daniel is Mozbak... got it!) Today my boss told me that one of our technicians will be going to Geneva for five weeks (jealous) for work (I take it back) and I had to double-check... that's in Switzerland, right? It's a little embarassing. But at least even if I wasn't sure, I turned out to be correct. Sometimes I retain information without realizing it.

Tonight I repacked my entire suitcase... I realized that I was bringing way too many shirts. And I forgot that my costume replaces one day's outfit. I am bringing a lot of black and white... I read somewhere that Europeans can always recognize Americans by their lack of colorful clothing, and by their baseball hats, lol. I know, any more about packing and I'm on the cusp of boring you. But I think my fragile hold on my sanity is about to snap... It's only five days away now, and I'm starting to feel the pressure... gotta do this... gotta do that... shit! gotta do one other thing... ARGHHHH!!! Once I get there, I can relax...

One of my cousins wants the family to go to the Grand Canyon when she graduates from high school. Part of me is really excited at the prospect. Love to travel? Me? Yeah... and I definitely want to see the Grand Canyon. There are a lot of interesting things to do out there. I also like the idea of getting the family together somewhere different, not just going to their neck of the woods. That way I can see my family and still see the world. Otherwise there just aren't enough vacation days to go around.

The rest of me thinks it's going to be a huge mess. I'm not sure everyone has the money to do it; some can probably swing it if they don't fly -- but to drive from where they are is about 36 hours all totalled, still costly (that's a lot of gas!) but also tedious. From my parent's house it would be 19 hours... and I think there's a whole lot of nothing between here and there. Coordinating that many people (~10) is going to be a big hassle. Too many people means being pulled in too many directions, especially with the strong personalities in my family.

Also, the Grand Canyon isn't the most easily accessible place to visit. It's about 230 miles from Phoenix. Our hotel would be in a town about 55 miles from the South Rim. A hotel inside the park is about triple the price. Yeowch. And once we get there I don't see my parents, my grandma, or my aunt wanting to ride the mules to the bottom of the canyon, go white water rafting, or take a helicopter tour. I'm really not sure what they're going to do while they're there. I'm not averse to hiking, but I think grandma would be.

But...

Ashley is a teenager who shouldn't have to think about all the logistics of how much it costs in terms of money and sanity, or how taxing a drive that long can be. She's never asked for anything before, and she wants this one thing -- to celebrate a momentus occassion in her life by going somewhere amazing, with her family (which is a really nice thought for a girl her age to have and I think we should jump on it). She's a great kid, young, but in some respects, mature beyond her years. So I really want it to happen for her. I just know my family, and they'll find reasons not to go. If that happens, maybe me, Jamie, Ashley, and a friend of hers can go. I want to encourage her to get out and see the world, not put up roadblocks. I waited until I was 30 to start exploring, and I wish I would have done it sooner. The part of my family who lives where she does never really strays far from home; I don't want her to feel stuck. If she ends up there I want it to be because she chooses to stay, not because she doesn't realize she has a choice.

I wish my family were more adventurous. They make excuses that start off small and quickly build momentum, so they talk themselves out of a lot of experiences they might enjoy. They have about a year and half to go back and forth on this one. In the end, we can always make excuses, and stay in our box, but life is far more exciting when we seize opportunites to grow. Sometimes it means stepping out of your comfort zone, which can be scary, but soooooooooooo worth it.

Anyone been to the Grand Canyon? Any advice on where to stay, tips on things to do, or things I should know about to make life easier?

10.20.2009

097B - A random thought...

How is it possible to love vampires, but hate mosquitos? Existentially, I mean.

097 - Something I've never seen before...

Came home and saw the strangest thing ever... a mail Jeep, stopping at each mailbox on my street, very briefly... pull up... stop... rock back... open mailbox... and go. And then... a second mail Jeep, stopping at each mailbox on my street, very briefly... pull up... stop... rock back... close mailbox... and go. Mail drills? Interesting.

Yesterday at Target I ended up in line behind a lady that I disliked on sight. She was probably younger than she looked... her heavily made-up face was gaunt, with a severe, pointed nose, and dispproving eyes. Her head was crowned with spiky red hair which came to a point just in front of her ears, and as I watched, she took her thumb and index finger and primly twisted it into an even sharper point. At that moment she looked like a preening bird. Her thin lips never cracked a smile. She looked dreadfully unhappy, almost nervous, as if she were forcing herself to relax. She was the epitome of someone with a stick up their ass. So I thought, 'yep, here's a woman with a stick up her ass... but maybe that stick is all that's holding her together.'

It leads me to wonder if that kind of thinking is a throwback to survival of the fittest. I disliked someone I didn't even know. Her appearance led me to make unflattering assumptions about her personality.

Part of my irritation stemmed from the fact that she was standing at the very end of the conveyor belt. She had three small items. She could have moved up and put the plastic divider behind her purchases, but she didn't. I stood behind her, grunting, as the weight of the cat litter cut off the circulation to my fingers. I shifted it onto my knee. I balanced it on top of my foot. I held it in my arms like a baby. She glanced behind her like I was annoying her with my antics.

Later, I saw her in the parking lot, in the middle of the lane, not making any effort to move to the side as a car approached. After that, I didn't feel so bad for jumping to conclusions, in fact, I felt justified, because she actually was inconsiderate.

(Hey look Fish! A short one!... or short-ish)

P.S. Seven days! This time next week I'll be on an airplane!

10.19.2009

096B - Costume

So I rummaged in my closet and found a dress I once wore to someone's wedding, and I think this will work. Keep in mind that:

-- my hair and makeup aren't done like they will be
-- my accessories aren't on
-- the corset isn't hooked all the way so it's bulging in the middle
-- the black material is stuffed haphazardly up into the corset, so it looks lumpy
-- I'm not wearing shoes

You get the general idea though. Yea! I don't need no stinkin' petticoat!


096 - Makin' money the old-fashioned way...

... by returning things to the store. In the last couple of days I've returned and/or cancelled enough stuff to put $70 back into my bank account. *smile*

My allergies were killing me and I couldn't concentraheth wiroth a dhgbnm, so I cut out of work two hours early. I went to Walgreens to pick up some Zyrtec, a sample size to audition (fingers crossed) because I've never used it before. Wow. Expensive. But Claritin doesn't work worth a crap for me, and neither does Allergra. Benadryl does, but it makes me sleezzzzzpy, and I didn't want to be sleezzzzzpy.

Then I set out on a whirlwind mission to find something to wear on my lower half for Halloween. Oh. I'm sorry... I skipped ahead -- I had another bad customer service experience this afternoon... (I need a theme song)

On September 26th I placed an order with Cosplay Costumes (you may note that today is October 19th). All I wanted was a black petticoat to lend volume to my skirt. Once I submitted my credit card info, they sent me an email letting me know that it would ship from the manufacturer in about 5 to 10 business days. Cool. They also said that if I had a specific date in mind, to let them know and they would do their best to meet it. Okay. I let them know that I had to have it by October 25th, and if they couldn't meet that date -- cancel my order. I heard nothing back. Sometimes silence means there's not an issue. Other times silence means they're ignoring you.

Today I used my old friend, live chat, and asked if my order had shipped yet... by my math, it's been 23 days. She said it should ship out sometime this week. What I didn't like about that sentence? Three things: "should," "sometime," and the fact that it hadn't already shipped out. I told her no one let me know it was on backorder. It wasn't on backorder, she replied. Really? I thought.

While I was at it I told her no one responded to my email. Maybe it went to your spam folder, or we didn't receive your email, she suggested. I check my spam folder, there was no reply, I said. In my head I'm thinking, 'I check it every day before I empty it, because sometimes things get in there by mistake. I even wrote a blog based on the contents of my spam folder. Don't lie to me, it's unbecoming. You either have a crappy IT team, or bad customer service, either way, it's not my problem. It's yours. Cancel my order. I'm done with you. P.S. Thank you for screwing up my Halloween.'

So now I'm down to the wire, and I have no petticoat. I went to two consignment stores and three thrift shops this afternoon. One of the consignment shops had the perfect skirt, but it was more than I wanted to spend even after a 20% coupon (it was probably a two-piece wedding dress to be honest). I couldn't bring myself to do it. But I will have pangs of regret as I think about how perfect it was. Ironic how the stuff I took back, was more than enough to buy the perfect skirt. Tempting, even. Very frickin' tempting, since I could wear this again, as a fancy dress or a costume. Hmmm. And the lady at the consignment shop was awesome -- the polar opposite of the online costume shop, this lady seemed almost as enthused to be helping me as I was to find it. Damn. I think I'm going back and getting the dress.

None of the other shops had anything that fit in with my vision.

I think I might be able to rig something with fabric I have at the house by pinning some material to a skirt I have, and draping it in folds to get the same effect that the perfect skirt had, and fluffy enough to give the volume of a petticoat even though I don't have a petticoat.

That's what I think anyway. But it's a lot of work, and it might very well look like crap.

Also odd... my sky high energy bill? With a heavy sense of dread, I logged on to the website and prepared to fork over the dough, only now, the bill included charges for the next billing cycle... but the total amount went down by $80. Interesting. Mayhap I was right and they overcharged me... I am almost always right after all, but some people have to learn that the hard way.

Watched The Unborn. Wished I hadn't. I want my hour and a half back. And it's funny how you can watch something and think it's great, then years later watch it again, anticipating that same wonderful experience... and not get it. Take the case of H-E-Double Hockey Sticks, a Disney presentation that first aired in 1999. I thought it was one of the most hilarious movies I'd ever seen. I remember commenting to my friend Debra that it was one of the most hilarious movies I'd ever seen. It so impressed me that when I saw it was being aired on the Disney channel this week, my heart began to beat faster, my sweat glands became active, and my pupils actually dilated.

Let's just say that sometimes it's better to keep a fond memory than attempt to experience it a second time.

10.18.2009

095 - Dreaming of Rob

Last night I dreamt I was Rob Schneider's girlfriend. We were very happy together. He was a snuggler. Then, the dream morphed... and I think this is because I read Mozbak's blog, my backyard turned into a little piece of Africa... with a twist. I was sitting on my couch and saw the strangest parade of animals go by: a little gorilla, followed by a duck, followed by a monkey, followed by a squirrel, followed by a small wild boar. So what to do I do? I wait for them to pass and I walk outside. *sigh* (in the dream I remember thinking 'oh shit! where's Gracie? my cat) Once I was out there I saw a fox, a porcupine, and two rather large lion-like creatures that I chose not to investigate. I would have preferred to be canoodling with Rob in the weird movie theater where they sold jewelry before the show started.

Now we get a little deeper than I usually go:

On Friday I went to an Inclusion and Innovation training class taught by Dr. Steve Robinson. I hate training, but this session was actually interesting, and if more training classes were like this one I'd probably be more excited to go. I got there early, and I found it ironic that there were several tables but only one person sitting at each table. So, not to be different, I staked my claim on a table of my own. It was interesting to watch the tables fill up. I wondered what though process people had as they entered the room and took it all in. At my table it happened this way: First was a friend of mine, Chris, then a girl who probably recognized a fellow introvert, then a small British man, then my friend Brian, and finally someone I'd seen at a mutual friend's house, who also knew Brian (but he made eye contact with me first, so I was the lifeline -- that was part of his process, 'I recognize her'). So really at my table there were only two people I didn't know. The girl continued to keep to herself. The Englishman engaged me in conversation. Human behavior is fascinating.

At one point Dr. Robinson had us get up and go around, repeating some silly phrase as we gave each other high-fives. Not my cup of tea. In a situation like that, I am the one who stands there and lets people come to her. I don't like to approach people. If I'm approached I'm perfectly nice, but I'm shy and awkward if I have to initiate (stop laughing, I am shy!). My friend Brian? He high-fived me first, then zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzip, he was all the way across the room in no time flat. He's an extrovert and that exercise was right up his alley.

He's one of my absolute favorite people. We're such an odd pair. Looking at us from an outsider's prospective, we shouldn't click at all. He's the guy who's always perfectly coiffed, very professional, very polite, seemingly very straight-laced. I'm the sarcastic girl who always wears jeans, who has the pierced nose, dark eyes, and sucks at office politics. But get us together and we never stop laughing. I really enjoy talking to him, time just flies. He's just one of those really cool people that come into your life to bring a little sunshine into it.

One of the things Steve discussed was (yep, we're back to this) perception. He asked us to come up with a series of numbers, based on the model 2 - 4 - 6. I knew he was looking for something different, so I shrugged off the typical 8 - 10 -12 and decided that the model was to double the first number and add two to the result, so my answer was 6 - 12 - 14. Steve took it a step further and said it could be any series of numbers where the next number is bigger than the last. It was an interesting illustration of how our though processes are boxed in by our past experiences and we are conditioned to only see things the way we've always seen them without looking for innovative solutions; we rarely think outside the box. It's part of the way the brain works, it's efficient.

He also talked about mental scripts, how outside influences can put thoughts into our heads without our consent, things we don't necessarily elect to allow in, but can't get rid of. Like advertising. He asked us a question (which in writing is probably more obvious than it was in spoken form): Tim's mother has three children: Snap, Crackle and...? We all screamed POP! But the answer was Tim. Stupid Rice Krispies.... These messages are especially easy to absorb when we are stressed out. In real life, we perform action A and get result B. If we continue to perform these actions, and continue to get the same results, it becomes our script. If someone hurts us, if we get bad results, it becomes part of the script. If we do something and we fail, it becomes part of the script.

My hypothesis is that we're more open to receiving negative scripts.

It seems to me that people retain their negative experiences, and allow them to shape the future far more often than we focus on their positive outcomes. Some of us will go through a whole day of wonderful, face one obstacle, and that's what we focus on (or blog about). How many of us still remember something horrible that someone said to us ten years ago? How many of us take it one step further and let it affect how we react to similar situations today?

It's easier to say that we can merely decide to change than it is to actually do so. It takes effort to change your mindset, but it's possible. For example, I get cranky when I drive, but sometimes I make an effort to remain calm. When someone pulls out in front of me, I don't let it bother me. When someone gets on my butt, I switch lanes and don't let it bother me, instead of my usual reaction which is to think "if you want to go around me, go around... I'm not moving asshole," which, to be fair is usually when they're on my butt, not just coming up to me. Normally these things would have me speaking French and my blood pressure would shoot up, but if I choose not to let it bother me, it actually doesn't. What if I took that and applied it into the rest of my life? How much better would I feel?

I don't know where I intended to go with this, I just sort of free-formed it. I guess I'm trying to say that we shape our own futures. We decide to let things bother us. Ultimately, we decide to let other people get to us. If we put our minds to it, we can make a better life for ourselves, it just takes effort; it's not easy, and we have to remind ourselves to do it until it comes naturally.

So yesterday's movie... turns out the bloody guys were people that were murdered and they came back to set things right. Another one of those unhappy 'this could go on forever' endings, because we had resolution, and then all of a sudden this even more sinister looking bloody person came out of the ground to attack one of the bloody guys. Funny how a two hour movie that I DVR'd seemed to take four hours even when I skipped over the commercials... You can't say I give up easily...

10.17.2009

094 - I'm pooped!

Got up this morning and hit the ground running... I had to -- I'll peter out and things will get left undone if I stop, so I've been going ninety to nothing all day.

Started out by being anal retentive and cleaning my back door. It has a glass-paned door in the middle, with two long windows that swing in with screens on the outside. I love it. It's awesome. But I get to see the dirt that accumulates on the white frames and eventually it bugs me. So about once a year, I clean them off. Then I cleaned the glass for good measure. My fingers smell like vinegar, it makes me want to grab the pickles out of the refrigerator and have a snack (much better than eating my fingers).

In the middle of that, my blinds arrived, and they are PERFECT. I got them online from Select Blinds for half what I would have paid at Home Depot, and they are the exact right size. My room looks so nice and bright now, and I can raise or lower them AND open and close the slats. My foray into the world of Roman shades has made me appreciate the brilliance of the way mini-blinds are designed, and their ability to control the light. I can't wait until tonight, because the other issue I had with the Roman shade was that they let too much light in at night (and not enough during the day), so I was always annoyed by the street light behind my house.

Once I took the Roman shades down my own laziness was staring me in the face... last year I had company coming so I made a push to get some of my home improvement projects finished... but I took a couple of shortcuts. I pulled a stunt worthy of the previous owners... I painted around the top of the blinds instead of taking them down and painting behind them. I know... bad Kristy. I vowed I would never do that. Just don't look behind my headboard or my armoire and we'll pretend that it never happened (I'll fix it if I ever sell the house, I promise... but that armoire is HEAVY).

I also loaded the dishwasher and vacuumed. But that's boring stuff and not worthy of a paragraph. And I emptied 3 of the 4 cat litter pans in the garage, which is also boring, but a major accomplishment so I'm tootin' my horn. Toot! Only one more to go... sigh... And a billion fireants to kill. Die ants, die!

So... the trip... you may leave if you wish. For the rest of us:

Day 1 - Edinburgh -
  • We will be visiting Edinburgh Castle.
  • Later that night we will go on the Underground City of the Dead Tour that takes us to the underground city (of the dead, muahahaha) where us plain folk would have lived in squallor, surrounded by our own filth. It was walled up due to the Black Plague, forgotten about, and rediscovered several years later. It's supposedly haunted -- and we like ghosties.
  • Then we may visit a pub. Interestingly, my friend Debra turned me on to Milk Thistle, claiming that if you take it before you drink, it will prevent hangovers. So I bought some yesterday. If I go to a pub, I will drink, and I do not want a hangover on my vacation. And if Jamie or I encounter a creepy guy, the code word is "whipoorwill." I will not be caught in another Jerry Fallon situation, do you hear me???

Day 2 - Edinburgh -

  • The Scott Monument, a very tall, very coal-stained, very massive tribute to Sir Walter Scott. I'm climbing it -- I want the certificate.
  • Get on a bus and tour the city. Hop on, hop off. Hop on, hop off.
  • Holyrood Palace / Abbey / Park, hoity-toity abode of Queen Elizabeth, and home of a bookstore that pimps the royal family like nothing I've seen before. Books on Prince William. Books on Prince Harry. Books on Diana. Books about that other guy. Tons of them. Ironically -- and trust me on this -- it is the site of the most foul-smelling bathroom in all of Scotland. I've been to the Best Loo, it smelled of oranges, and it really was nice. This was not that.
  • Rizzio's Grave in the Canongate Kirkyard ("kirk" means "church" now you know some Gaelic... and "Sinn Fein" means "run! bomb!") - I read a fictionalized biography about Mary, Queen of Scots, so I'm a little obsessed with Mary and Rizzio. I stumbled across his grave by accident on my last trip. I want to go back and leave a flower or something.
  • Then we get on a train and go to Dunkeld

Day 3 - Dunkeld / Birnam -

  • Braan Walk - a gorgeous walk through the woods that takes you to the Rumbling Bridge (so called because the water is so powerful that it rumbles) and the Hermitage. I don't know what the purpose of the Hermitage is, but it's pretty, and I like walks in the woods, and waterfalls.
  • Dunkeld Cathedral - a gorgeous, massive Cathedral ruin with a functional Cathedral attached to it. Did I mention gorgeous?
  • Beatrix Potter Garden - Birnam is where Beatrix Potter got the idea for her books, so there is a little garden there and a gift shop where you can buy all kinds of Peter Rabbity-related knick-knacks.
  • Possible pub visit, more Milk Thistle.

Day 4 - Onward Ho! - Our driver picks us up and we begin to jump around... (knock it up, knock it in, let me begin...)

  • Rosslyn Chapel - a stunning piece of architecture that I think will rival St. Conan's Kirk. At least in photos, it appears to be chock-full of eye candy in the form of friezes and minute archetitectural details. It was once thought to be associated with the Masons, but that's been debated. Since my uncle (the father of the cousin who will be there with me) was a Mason, I like to think it was, and it will be all the more special to her.
  • Melrose Abbey - Don't know much about it... it just looks amazing, and it causes me to drool (metaphorically speaking).
  • Mary's Country House - The obsession with Mary continues. But if we run short on time, this will be what we skip.
  • Jedburgh Abbey - This is thrown into the plan if we have time to spare
  • Chillingham Castle for HALLOWEEN or Samhein (pronounced "sow-won" if I recall correctly, now you now two Gaelic words!) - We get to go to a bonfire, a fireworks show and then we are taking the ghost tour. This is supposedly the most haunted castle in the UK and has a particularly grisly past... torture chambers, lots of death, bodies in a lake, and a couple of ghosts. *Eek!*

Day 5 - Still-a-movin'

  • Hogwarts! I mean, Alnwick Castle. Unfortunately it closes the day before we get to it, but all I really want is a picture of the outside. Unless, of course, Rupert Grint happens to be around, and then I will maul the poor bugger. He's hot. It's a red hair thing.
  • Hadrian's Wall - Beware the blue painted Picts!
  • Caerlaverock Castle - A cool ruin. Ya gotta see a castle ruin.
  • Sweetheart Abbey - If you thought carrying a vial of your lover's blood around on your neck was devotion, you were taking the easy way out - try carrying your lover's embalmed heart around in a box... then build him an Abbey...
  • The Globe Inn (maybe dinner, maybe just a visit) - Where poet Robert Burns hung out, and it's supposedly haunted by a maid.

Day 6 - And the train kept-a-rollin...

  • St. Ninian's Cave - an interesting place
  • Bladnoch Distillery - Particularly excited about this distillery. Prior to my last trip I researched whisky to see what I thought I might like, and I chose two: Auchentoshan and Bladnoch. I was able to find the Auchentoshan, and during the whisky tasting it was the hands-down favorite. So I'm eager to pick up some Bladnoch and see how it fares.
  • Cairn Holy I and II - Ancient megalithic tombs... it's fun to say isn't it? Try it... ancient megalithic toooooombs...
  • Culzean Castle - A modern castle... ya gotta see one of those, too.

Day 7 - Back to Edinburgh for an encore presentation

  • Calton Hill - A mish-mash of monuments. I've heard it's best not to be there at night, so we'll go in the afternoon
  • St. Giles Cathedral and Thistle Chapel - St. Giles has the most gorgeous collection of stained glass windows I've run across, which is really saying something because I've seen a lot of stained glass. Thistle Chapel is a knight's chapel. It is small, but packed with interesting details. I didn't get to spend much time there last time so I'm looking forward to exploring it a little further on this trip.
  • Royal Botanical Gardens, time permitting
  • City of the Dead Haunted Graveyard Tour - Where we will face off with the MacKenzie Poltergeist at the Greyfriar's Kirkyard. Muahahahaha!

Day 8 - The End.

I take it back - that Robert's 14 movie wasn't the worst. Shallow Ground. I don't get it. I'm 32 minutes into the movie and I have no idea what it's about. All I know is that there's this guy, and he's covered in blood. Blood leaks from his ears. Blood dribbles from his mouth. His eyes bleed. There's something sinister about him, but I don't know what it is. Except for the blood. That's kind of a giveaway. If they ever get around to a plot I'll report back. Oh... interesting... a second bleeder...

10.16.2009

093 - A company that cares

I didn't realize it was bosses day today. I was clueless until I got to my desk and there was a nice card waiting for me that said BOSS on the envelope. And shortly after that I checked my voicemail and proceeded to listen to a message that would have been mysterious had I not already received a card alerting me to the significance of the day: 'Hey... when you get a moment... could you stop by Merrina's desk?' So I did. Knowing full well that I could be walking into an ambush.

But I got a giant card instead.

And it was awesome.

And it said I was THE BEST BOSS EVERRRRRRRRRRR!!!!

And I played it in the hallway. And I played it up the stairs. And I played it in my office. And I played it again in my office. And I called my parents and played it for them. And I played it again in my office. And when I got home, I played it for the cats (one of whom proceeded to take a nap on top of it once I set it on the couch).

Now I'm going to play it for you! *smile*

Okay... it was only a figure of speech... I can't play if for you, so stop being lazy and press the button.

Please.

video

Later in the day I was sitting at my desk when my friend Jeff dropped by to show me something truly astonishing... his company provided him with a Personal Biosecurity Kit. First of all, it introduced me to a new word: Biosecurity. Gonna try to work 'biosecurity' into conversation as often as I can so that I sound 'in-the-know' and 'with it'. Secondly, it made me realize just how paranoid we, as a nation, have become, and how eager some greedy corporations are to take advantage of this paranoia. This is from a brochure I found online:

Helping your employees. Shaking hands with a client. Opening a door. Standing in a crowded elevator. These seemingly ordinary occurrences can spread a virus that may cause disease among your workers. While you shouldn’t panic at this prospect, you also shouldn’t ignore it. This convenient kit can help limit the transmission of infectious viruses among employees.

Each kit comes with 1 Digital Thermometer. This allows your employees to monitor their body temperature (usually the first indicator of infection) before coming to work.

We also provide personal protective equipment, disinfectants and antiseptics to help reduce germs in the office:

-- (30) 3-ply surgical masks – Wearing these masks can help minimize the spread of viruses among your staff and help reduce the transfer of these viruses from someone with symptoms. The DuPont™ Personal Biosecurity Kit contains enough masks to last up to two weeks.

-- 2 oz. DuPont™ RelyOn™ Antiseptic Hand Spray – Hand contact is a very easy way to transmit pathogens. Providing this antiseptic spray to your employees allows them a convenient means to sanitize their hands when soap and water are not available. This will help reduce the spread of germs when the antiseptic is used after coming in contact with communal surfaces like doorknobs, faucets, etc.

-- 0.18 oz. sachets of DuPont™ RelyOn™ Multi-Purpose Disinfectant Cleaner† (DuPont™ RelyOn™ MDC) and Spray Bottle – This hard nonporous surface disinfectant was chosen for its proven effectiveness against the influenza A virus, its long shelf life, as well as portability and compatibility with surfaces. Infectious diseases result from the rapid spread of viruses. For this reason it is critical to choose the right virucide and disinfectant. Remember, just touching a contaminated hard surface can spread some viruses. Keeping frequently touched areas as sanitary as possible is vital. DuPont™ RelyOn™ MDC can be used on items such as: computer keyboards, doorknobs, tables and desks, light switches

As with all disinfectants, always read and follow the label instructions.

-- (2) Pair Nitrile Gloves – For handling DuPont™ RelyOn™ MDC powder

What I take away from this is:

1 -- My company doesn't care about me the way Jeff's does (lol)

2 -- We're not telling you to panic... but... OHMYGODWEAREALLGONNADIE!

3 -- Someone is ungood at math, because 30 masks is way more than two weeks worth. Last time I checked, two weeks equals fourteen days. (I realize that 'ungood' is not a word, it was meant to be funny)

4 -- We're about to create a generation of people who suffer from severe OCD -- people who sanitize their hands even after they just washed them, because after they washed them, they touched a faucet, or a doorknob. Doorknobs are particularly dangerous by the way -- they were cited not once, but TWICE. Eek! DANGER!

5 -- A spike in your daily temperature may also be an indication that you're ovulating. And if you're a guy, that might freak you out a little. But take heart, if you end up preggers, you could be on Maury. Especially if you don't know who the father is...

6 -- If you have to wear nitrile gloves to handle RelyOn, I'm not sure I want to handle it. Or spray it on anything in my general vicinity.

7 -- Michael Jackson started out wearing a glove... then he started wearing masks... you get where I'm going with this?

And I'm pretty sure they got the kits on clearance, seeing as how the sticker said they were produced in 2007. I wonder, does virucide have a shelf life? If they really valued his life they would have given him a roll of duct tape -- because not only can you seal your windows and doors with it the next time Homeland Security raises the threat level, but you can also fix a myriad of home ailments. ;)

I am giving you advanced warning -- tomorrow I will probably be writing about the places I am visiting on my upcoming trip. Some people may have adverse reactions to this, for instance, Jeff, having been there himself, may feel extreme jealousy. That's okay... it's normal. A few of you may feel an immediate compulsion to ask for the contact information of my chauffeur so you can book your own trip to Scotland -- forthwith. Do not panic... click the pretty purple word and you will be magically transported to his website. On the other hand, if it sounds boring to you... doesn't matter... I'm posting it anyway. So there. And pthbbb (that's the written version of a raspberry if you were wondering).

10.15.2009

092 - All the Doo-Dah-Day

I work with a lot of men, and quite a few of them are at the age where they have developed ginormous man guts. Not like my jiggly tummy, which is unattractive yes... but malleable (ask my cat)... no -- these are solid masses of fat so dense that you could use them as a tray table. I often wonder if they hurt, because (and this is just what I gather from the way the shirt fabric is straining against it) they look so bloated that their skin must be about to burst open. Mostly when I see one I begin to picture the two of us in a cartoon world (this happens more often than you'd think... me in a cartoon world)... me with a needle, him with his big, bloated belly... which I proceed to puncture... and he deflates into nothingness as he flies up into the atmosphere.

Speaking of flying up into the atmosphere, what was up with the kid in the big balloon??? I don't have a child, but if I did, I'm sure I would have the same concerns any other parent would: Are they getting enough calcium? Did I make it clear that they are not to talk to strangers? Did little Johnny do his homework? But certainly not, "You know... one day my kid might climb into a giant mylar balloon and be blown all across hell and Colorado." How weird is that? Luckily he wasn't in the balloon at all. Lucky for him and his parents, because if he had been, his parents would have been in so much deep dookie they may as well have dropped their other kid with a relative and killed themselves. Can you imagine? *shiver*

So I'm pretty sure the world is about to come to an end. Maybe even before December 21, 2012. I know that the end is nigh and we are hurtling toward Armageddon because this year has been a whopper: Not only did my parents get satellite tv this year... not only did my computer loathing mother recently decide to make nice and adopt a laptop for Christmas... but now they have begun to text me. Next thing you know, they'll be blogging. Cold Earth beneath your feet? That's not winter -- that's Hell freezing over.

Speaking of texting and Hell... I'm not a huge fan. That's right. I don't like text messages. Unless you have something really important to tell me -- don't text me. Sending me a picture of your foot does not amuse me like you'd think it would. Sending me a chain letter telling me to text it to my friends or my already bad luck will continue to worsen makes me want to brain you with my telephone. I am on a 500 text messages a month plan, and if I ever send or receive that many text messages I will probably cause myself bodily injury. If you are message 501, I will cause bodily injury to you.

Also not a fan of people talking to other people on the phone while they're in a public bathroom. Do it and I will flush and flush and flush and flush just so the person you're talking to will know where your hands have been. I have never had something so important, so urgent to talk about that it couldn't wait until I was out of the bathroom. Besides that, you're infringing on my private moment. Don't do it.

Stepping down from the soapbox. Hmph. I'm feeling snarky, but not yet flu-ish, today.

And I was so ridiculously happy to find several comments about my last blog post. Wow. I know that I'm easily amused, but I have to admit, it was kinda cool.

10.14.2009

091 - She's a flu-zy

Today I got my flu shot, so tomorrow I pretty much expect to have the flu. Yeppers. Mr. Doctor can claim that it isn't actually the flu... all he wants to... but let's call a spade a spade... last time -- I came down with the flu. He tried to make it sound alllllllllll kinds of innocent... like it was just my body building up immunity... and that can sometime mimick the symptoms of the flu... Nuh-uh, mister -- I had the damn flu.

And why can I take ibuprofen but not aspirin? He went into great detail about the contents of the syringe and why I couldn't possibly have had the flu, but then he threw that out there and didn't explain it at all. He even said it with emphasis -- 'not aspirin' -- in an ominous 'or you will wake up with a set of horns sprouting from your ears' kind of way. I read the literature before I signed the form, so I knew everything he was telling me about the shot... but the aspirin thing was not covered. I mean, how long can I not take aspirin: 24 hours... or the rest of my life?

I also learned that sometimes it doesn't pay to be honest (like that life lesson hasn't bitten me plenty of times before). They gave us a form to fill out, and one of the questions was whether you've had the flu shot before... and if so, did you have a reaction to it... and if so, what kind of reaction? Yes, yes, and flu-like symptoms. The lady behind the table saw that last part and became concerned; she wanted me to consult with the doctor. I told her I lived through it, I didn't have any concerns, and I wanted to get the shot. She was apparently placated, because I'm an adult and she had a signed permission slip in her hand with my big girl signature on it.

So then the doctor looks at the form and asks me how long my 'flu-like' symptoms lasted. I told him it had been about four years since my last shot, I didn't remember. (Liar) He prompts me with 'One day? Two days?' Ummm... two days sounds like the right answer. Did I have a high fever? To tell him that I stayed home from work for two days with a fever in the 101 range (my normal temp is about 97.6) would have meant that I got no shot.

So I lied.

My morals can be flexible sometimes. In other words: Kristy says what Kristy needs to say in order to get the shot... So as the day goes on, karma begins to repay me for my fib... my throat starts to feel scratchy, and I feel a little run down. At the moment I feel slightly feverish, but not too bad. I'm hoping things won't get bad until the weekend so I don't have to be miserable at work (I have no vacation days to spare, and we don't get enough sick days to be worth a crap).

For some weird reason, I get blood drawn from my left arm, and shots in the right. I'll tell you what... that shot is thick, it felt a bit like getting anesthetized at the dentist's office (I can feel it going into all the little vessels in my cheek and it creeps me out), and my arm started to ache about two hours after I got it. I realized how stupid my choice was when I got in the car to come home and was faced with the harsh reality that I drive a stick, and I shift with my right arm. Ow. In fact, I do a lot of things with my right arm...

So, off the topic of flu shots, here's something I struggle with sometimes... I blog (obviously), and some of the people I know in real life read my blogs... so when I start making conversation, they've already heard some of my stories... because they read my blog. And that sucks. If they'd follow my blog, then I'd know who they were ahead of time and wouldn't bore them with my encore presentation (it cracks me up that re-runs are now called 'encore presentations')...

Then again, I do talk about other things...

Anyone else have that problem?

10.13.2009

090 - I'm crazy

Soooooooooo... I go to work this morning, and I share the broom story. Did my co-workers say, "Wow! That's really cool!" Nope. My co-workers look at me like I'm daft. Even after I showed them the video. It was very disheartening to find that they have me figured out after all. I thought I was fooling them into thinking I was normal.


Not to be put off by a little doubt I think, 'Ha-HA! I'll find it on the web and prove it to them.' So I search... NASA electromagnetic field broom kitchen... nothing... NASA October 11 metal broom kitchen... nothing. I continue searching, and coming up with nothing, until I put in a magical string of words (that unfortunately I can't remember and can't seem to re-create) and my blog shows up at the top of the list. Unfortunately it didn't help my case to cite myself as a reference.

But it really happened. And if it wasn't electromagnetic, then I have bigger problems... anyone know a good priest?


I'm about to make an admission that is mortifyingly embarassing to me, but it's true nonetheless -- so please don't judge (and if you watched Jerry Springer, you really can't... seriously). I was reading a trashy gossip mag this weekend (no! don't run away!) and in the reader comments area, there was this comment about the breakup of Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel (and I paraphrase): "He should move on. Rhianna is prettier and Jessica isn't really relevant anymore." Wow. Harsh. Not relevant anymore. I didn't realize that was a reason to date someone. No wonder my relationships don't seem to work out... I'm last year's sweater. I mean, if Jessica Biel is no longer relevant... and I never was... guess it's me and my cousin in a creepy house at the end of the block with fifteen cats and a large herb garden after all. I love my cousin, but I was hoping for the fairytale. *sob*


Tomorrow I'm getting a flu shot. I don't want to risk getting sick on my vacation, so I'm going to bite the bullet and get the shot. And get the flu. Last time I got it I had all the symptoms except for the vomiting... and really, that worked out for the best. The only way vomiting is semi-pleasant is if you ate chocolate cookies beforehand... and in that case, it isn't half bad. Just a little tip from me to you... if you know you're going to puke -- eat chocolate (although when it happened, I really didn't see it coming).

Wonder if there's a blogging award for 'most frequent use of dashes, parentheses and ellipses,' cuz I have that on in the bag.


All of a sudden I received several new responses to my 'looking for blogs' post. It was kind of weird. Silence for a couple of weeks and then 10-20 new emails. So I found some more good blogs, and decided to clean house on blogs that aren't being updated regularly. I can only read so many. I tried to add them to my sidebar but I guess there's a processing time involved or something.

The spiced nuts turned out a little greasy, but only just. I wasn't too sure about them at first, but after sitting for a day the flavor has improved and now I'm starting to like them. Basically you toss some nuts in olive oil and lemon juice, roast them in the oven (that's so redundant... like you're going to attempt to roast them in a sink or something), and in the meantime, rinse some capers, let them dry on a paper towel for an hour, then fry them for about 3 mins on med heat until they're brownish and crispy. Mix it all together and voila! Nut mix. The caper part was the worst of it, because somehow, with all my kitchen gadgets, I failed to purchase a simple slotted spoon. Keep that in mind if you attempt it.

Pretty new RED suitcase got here late yesterday. Seems like there's some kind of inverse proportionality between how eager I am for something to arrive to how late UPS delivers it. It got here around 6:30 pm. Like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Stupid UPS. They did, however, get the hint and take my other package -- the note worked, they are literate. Anyhoo, my suitcase is pretty and red, and it's just the right size. I packed everything I can pre-pack (because I'm anal retentive like that) and I'm READY TO GO. Now.

Or now.

Got my hair cut this afternoon, and it turned out well. I think. One never knows until one washes one's hair, does one? (One more one anyone?) She miraculously got my hair stick straight... which maybe isn't my best look, but the cut is what matters, and I think it's a good cut. I always get a little worried when there's steam coming off my hair... that can't be good for it. Seems like it would get dry and brittle if it were subjected to that all the time, especially since I don't condition. My shampoo has some (and this is where I lose the guys) moisturizing properties in it, and I guess it's enough, because I haven't had split ends in years... God bless TIGI.

10.12.2009

089 - Broom Fall Down, Go Boom

Well, the broom finally fell around 1:30 pm. So sad... I think mom and dad think I'm nuts for calling them to ask if they have a metal broom, and going on and on about how my broom is standing by itself in the middle of my kitchen. Oh well. They've known me for 36 years... they know by now (and the apple don't fall far from the tree, lol).

Today was a holiday, so I got to sleep in a little. Then I got my butt in gear and ran some errands. In the rain. Which I love. (it's not flooding this time)

So scratch the following from my to-do list: deposit check (dangit! I forgot to pull some cash out of the ATM), do grocery shopping, gas up car, and get engine coolant. And I learned a neat trick. If the guy behind the counter at Auto Zone says he likes your car and was thinking about getting one like it, let him look under the hood and he'll add your coolant for you. Awesome. So all I have left is the unsavory task of emptying the cat litter. Oh -- and when my suitcase gets here... pack. Yea! I can pack tonight! Accomplishment is good!

Even better than accomplishment though is this Easy Indian Stew. It really is easy, and it's yummy-licious, too:

1 cup long grained rice (I use Tex-Mati)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 med onion, minced (I use a red one)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp ground ginger
3 cups tomato sauce (one of my cans happened to be "hot" and adding it turned out well)
(2) 15-oz cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice (or 1 packet True Lime)
1/2 cup plan low-fat yogurt (I used light sour cream)

Cook rice according to package directions, cover and keep warm. While rice is cooking, heat oil over med in a large skillet. Add onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is tender, 4-6 min. Add curry powder and ginger; cook, stirring until fragrant, about a minute. Add tomato sauce, chickpeas, and 1-1/2 cups water (oops! failed to do this, and actually I liked it better than the last time I made it). Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occassionally until thickened, 8-10 min. Stir in lime juice, season with salt and pepper. Serve over rice and add a dollop of yogurt. Garnish with lime, if desired.

Next I'm going to make some spiced nuts. I want to try out a recipe for a nut mix with fried capers in it because I think it would make a good snack to take on the trip. On our third day we'll be hiking through the woods, and I figure we'll want something to nosh on. Plus, on my travel day I'm going to be changing planes all day long and I'm not sure when I'm going to eat a real meal... I do know I'm gonna have me a couple of bloody dang Marys though... oh yeah... must follow travel routine... And since I won't be going to the Renaissance Festival this year, I want some cinnamon toasted almonds... yummy. I wish I could find a recipe for the balsamic almonds I got at Target. Found a couple that are balsamic 'glazed' but this was more of a powder coating instead of a glaze. I have a feeling that I could take the Chex Mix recipe and use balsamic vinegar instead of Worcestershire sauce and get pretty dang close... Anyhoo... if the nut mix works out, I'll post the recipe. Wish me luck!

P.S. This is hilarious

10.11.2009

088B - Weirdness (a blog that more than makes up for the crappy earlier blog)

One of my friends posted a pic of her broom standing upright in her kitchen and claimed that NASA was telling people that metal brooms would stand upright by themselves in your kitchen because of something happening with the electromagnetic field tonight. I said, "yea right... something's fishy and I think it's FISHING LINE!" But she called and said there was no fishing line involved, and because I know her, I believed her.

So I started toying around with it.

I wondered... why the kitchen? Must be because of the appliances... So I moved the broom to the triangle where my refrigerator, stove and dishwasher intersect, and sure enough... damn thing's standing there on its own. Weird. Disconcerting. Still standing.

Since I know that no one will believe me (unless they do it themselves), I video'd it. I swear on my trip to Scotland that I didn't rig it in anyway, it's standing on its own. Kinda curious when it's going to fall over... probably middle of the night because I'll forget about it and go to bed without putting it back in the closet, and it'll scare the crap out of me...


video

088 - Goals & Objectives - A blog only a mother could love

Today I have several things I need to get done. I even wrote out a list, just so I wouldn't forget anything... and it keeps getting longer. But instead of doing any of those things, I'm sitting on the couch listening to the sound of my neighbor mowing her lawn, and watching Point Pleasant. I've never seen it before, but sort of like Wolf Lake, it intrigues me (and they're having a marathon). I'll have to DVR it so I can break away from it. How sad am I?

So far I have cleaned the kitchen, taken out the garbage, moved the recycling off the counter into the bin, and ordered blinds to replace the ones in my bedroom. The pull cord that raises and lowers them broke this morning, so my room is dark and gloomy (they're roman shades, there's no other mechanism to control the light). I also ordered a flapper for my toilet. After two unsuccessful trips to Home Dept, I finally gave up and made sure I was getting the right part. Also on my list? Return flapper to Home Depot.

What I'm putting off is emptying the cat litter, cleaning the bathroom, and mopping the floors. I also want to clean out my garage, but probably won't. My main goal is actually to clean the area around the work bench, and take it down. Whoever built it left a 6" gap between the work bench and the wall and I don't know why. I'd rather get rid of it and put up a shelving unit. And there's a bunch of crap I should get rid of altogether, but I'm not ready to tackle that yet.

I put off the most ridiculous things, and maybe writing them in my blog will shame me into doing it, like changing the registration sticker on my car. It expired at the end of September, so I need to do it before I get pulled over... And it probably wouldn't hurt to vacuum my car out while I'm at it. And check the oil. Yep... gonna jump right on that...

After I start the grill and cook some of that leftover jerk chicken. YUM!

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

10.10.2009

087 - Does it really have to be this difficult???

I decided to return the huge suitcase and buy a smaller one. I have to pay for return shipping, but there's a pre-paid label, so all I have to do is get it to a UPS dropoff location and hand it over. Easy peasy. Except that I have a small car. Small car = small trunk. The suitcase wouldn't fit in my trunk, and because I have a middle console in the back seat, it obscures my vision if I put it there. I also can't figure out where the hell the UPS locations are, because the closest one looks like I'm driving in a square that ends up very close to my house, but the directions take me down one street, along the highway and then back to what appears to be 0.2 miles from my house. I don't understand... The point is moot anyway... like I said, the damn thing won't fit into my car.

Then I remembered that the post office offers free pick ups, so surely UPS does, too... I look to see if I can schedule one. Eureka. I can. Problem solved.

Not so fast... nothing is as simple as it seems. I get to the billing part and it doesn't like what I put in. So I have to call. This is where it gets ridiculous.

The lady says that if I have a pre-paid return label, my no-cost options to return the package are to flag down a passing UPS truck, or drop it off at a UPS location. What are my chances of flagging down a truck? Better than you think - on Monday they are supposed to deliver my other suitcase. So I tell the lady that I have a package coming on Monday, can they pick it up then? Yes - if I hand it directly to the driver. I ask if they can just put a note into the system so I can just leave it on my porch, because I can't sit there all day watching for the UPS driver, and I don't know what time they're delivering it. She can, but it might incur a pickup charge, because now I'm scheduling a pickup.

Seriously?

She says she'll transfer me to the department that can tell me approximately what time my package will be delivered. This guy at least says I can put a note on the box and they should pick it up when they see the return designator on it. They can't tell me what time the package will be delivered, and frankly that doesn't surprise me... I didn't think they could...

So in a nutshell: They are delivering a package to my house on Monday. To schedule a pickup of my other package would cost me $10 even though they're already coming to my house... simply because I want to be proactive about it schedule the pickup. The driver may or may not pick up the package with the note attached to it.

Completely illogical. Sometimes I wonder what I'll blog about today, because nothing ridiculous has happened to me yet... and then there are days like today.

And I'm going to see AC/DC. One of my friends wanted to see them last time they came to town but the tickets were around $150 before all the taxes, convenience fees and we-just-added-this-so-you'd-know-we-were-ripping-you-off fees. This time the tickets are reasonable, so we're going.

I type fast, but they have the online ticket system set to warp speed. You have 30 seconds for this screen, and 1 min for that screen... good grief, there's so much pressure! Despite the time constraints, I made it with time to spare, and we actually got good seats. She's really excited about it, and I'm pretty excited, so I have something else to look forward to. =)

10.08.2009

086 - Random

As I walked into work this morning I realized what a curmudgeon I can be. There are a couple of long-winded people that I just don't have the patience for... at all really, but especially in the morning. I'm not a morning person. I'm a nightowl. So as I pull in to my parking space, I admit it... I sort of glance around and make sure these people aren't anywhere in the vicinity, and if they are, I dawdle. I fiddle with my visor, I lean over to arrange my bags... I kill time so that they end up walking ahead of me (not behind me, because as fast as I walk, that still allows them the opportunity to catch up...). This morning I saw one of those people just pulling up and my mind screamed, "Go Kristy! Go! Go! Go!" It was like I was running from a sniper. This person is widely known for their long-windedness, but even more famous for not having a clue. I have edged toward the door, I have overtly shut the conversation down (well, okay then... I need to get going...), I have stood in the door of the bathroom with a pained look on my face trying to subconsciously will them to implode before my bladder bursts... and they keep talking. After years of being nice about it, I've decided enough is enough... avoidance is the only way!

Sometimes I can be extremely lazy... like 'how can a person possibly be that lazy,' lazy. It was sort of a rough day and I'm worn out, so I don't even feel like making a salad or throwing a potato in the oven. I know -- that's really lazy, but I told you... I feel like letting my food come to me, but I'm not in the mood for pizza. When it's that bad, I call Takeout Taxi. I don't do it often, because there's an order minimum, and then you pay a delivery fee, and a processing fee, and you're expected to tip the driver... plus since I don't live in the city, the restaurant selection is rather limited. But whenever it gets so bad that I don't give a shit that it costs double what it would cost if I got off my ass and picked it up myself, I order from them -- and this is how lazy I'm feeling... I didn't even pick up the phone to call, I went online. That way I don't have to deal with another human being and give them the opportunity to piss me off. I'm starving... I wanted calamari, so I ordered calamari. And stuffed mushrooms. And a salad. And key lime pie. Mmmmm... You can tell it was a bad day because there's no entree on that list... just appetizers.

I'm starting to feel a little run down. My throat is a little scratchy, and I am praying that if I have to get sick, it'll happen this weekend. It's a 3-day weekend for me, so it will suck, but I don't have any spare vacation days at work, and I certainly don't want to be sick on my vacation. I'm seriously considering getting the flu shot at work this year. I got it once, and I got the flu, so I vowed never to do it again. I operate under the assumption that everyone around me seems to get the shot, so by process of elimination, I'm protected. What makes me think differently this year is that I will be on a plane with hundreds of other people... I'm not sure that I want to risk it. I don't know. What do you think, should I get the shot or take a chance?

10.07.2009

085 - Inspiration and perspiration

A couple of writing related thoughts and questions. They're not just rhetorical, so feel free to chime in (and if this is incoherent I apologize, I've spent all day in front of a computer crunching numbers):

-- Where do you find inspiration?

I was reading a blog that suggested the best thing for creativity was the ability to indulge in silent moments. I never put two and two together, but after thinking about it, I have to agree. I find that most of my 'great' ideas occur while I'm in the bathroom or in bed about to fall asleep. I never gave it much thought but those are both quiet times -- perhaps the most quiet, introspective moments of my entire day. For the rest of the day I'm around people, or my television is on, and/or I'm sitting in front of a computer. All of those things tie up valuable brain capacity when I'd rather just sit and let my mind wander.

I also find inspiration in my interactions with people, or observations of human behavior. I'm a loner by nature, so I spend most of my free time holed up at home. That's probably why most of my blogs are about one thing that stood out to me in the course of a day and then I see where it takes me. I find that during the times that I get out of the house and do things, I come home brimming with ideas and anecdotes.

As I was writing my story I would stumble across interesting things in the course of my research. Unexpected gems I hadn't intended to find that inspired me to go down a different path, helped me get over my writer's block, or added more to the plot than I originally intended.

-- How do you avoid becoming formulaic? I am a voracious reader, and if I like what an author has to say I will exhaust their body of work. After a book or two I find that I know what to expect. That can be a good thing as long as they continue to surprise me, but if it's the same story over and over it becomes, well... redundant. For example, Stephen King used to be one of my favorite authors, in fact, he wrote one of my favorite books (The Stand). But after 20 or so books I know that something bad is going to happen in Bangor, Maine. That bad thing is most often paranormal or alien in nature. Eventually Team Good and Team Evil will form to battle it out, and Team Good will triumph. Many times the main character is an alcoholic with a penchant for chewing on aspirin tablets. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy the books I read, it's just that eventually I was less surprised by the story. It was almost like a Mad Lib where I could fill in the blanks. I haven't read his work in over a decade now so I don't know if that still holds true or not, and it doesn't diminish his work, but it's not exciting to me anymore.

There's another lesson to be learned in Mr. King... when I was 12, I convinced my parents to drive me and my best friend into the big city so I could get his autograph. We stood in line for an hour before rumors began to trickle down the line that he was refusing to sign his own books, he would only sign books by a fellow author he was there to promote. On the one hand, nice of him to promote a fellow author. On the other hand, here I was, a 12 year old girl who put her parents to the trouble of two hours of rush hour traffic, who only wanted to meet her hero and have him sign a book... it was a major disappointment. I wanted to meet him so badly that I actually went into the store to look at this guy's book, and I almost gave in and bought it, but in the end I saw it as a strong-arm tactic to get me to buy a book I wasn't the least bit interested in and I walked away. So the moral of the story is... if you happen to make it big, be nice to the public that supports you. What would it have hurt for him to sign his books? Nothing. But it sure upset a lot of people when he didn't. It didn't stop me from reading his books, but it certainly dulled my enthusiasm.

Non-writting stuff... I got my suitcase this afternoon. It's going back Friday. It was bigger than I thought, and I don't know how I missed that it was only red on the front. It also felt flimsy. So I found another one I think I like. I hope I like it. Friday my other one will be 600 miles away, so there's no going back! Eek!

I also go my flat iron. I am pleased.

10.06.2009

084 - Self congratulatory

HTML baffles me. It makes me feel stoopid... Stoopid -- that's stupider than stupid. When I first started blogging it was an epiphany when I learned how to make a picture magically appear. Most of the time I just copy the example, but sometimes I actually get it and in those moments I feel pretty brilliant... or as they might say on Skins (I expertly interject after having watched one whole episode)... bloody brill. Some people elaborate, I noticed that characters on Skins had a tendency to abbreviate... a fondness for contractions. I digress (I do that a lot). One of the bloggers I follow was wondering how to turn her email into a link instead of making people copy and paste it into an email... or at least I think that's what she wanted, so I did a quick search and found out that it was pretty easy. Here's the link. They even explain why you put these letters and symbols around the words. Wowsa. I don't know what program pops up when you click on it, I assume whatever your default is. To be honest I didn't think this through before I started writing it...

Speaking of links (how's that for a segue), here are a couple of blogs I read yesterday that blew my mind:

First off is a post by Reasons to Forget. This poem is amazing. I admit that I'm not a huge fan of poetry. I write some from time to time... I love my friend Tia's poetry... and my cousin Jamie's poetry... but on the whole I find that it doesn't appeal to me. This poem, however, was perfection. Read it, you won't be sorry. (and she's 17! wow!)

Second was a hilarious post by Pioneer Woman about a ruffled blouse. Women can relate to it, but I think husbands and boyfriends can also relate. It deals with the age old question / trap: How do I look?

Sigh... I miss Paranormal State. I love that show. It freaks me out sometimes, but it's helped me overcome some of my fears. I think it's why I can watch horror movies again... because I'm becoming desensitized. We'll see how that goes when I'm actually faced with something scary...

Funny story... after the last hurricane, the power was out at my house for about two days. It came back on and life was good... my parent's didn't have power for five days, and some of my friends went without for two weeks (one of them was okay with it, she just switched to red wine... she's a trooper, lol). Life was mostly back to normal around here except for the downed fences, the blinking traffic lights and the injured birds. We got lucky. Cable was still out, but that was before the digital transition, so I could at least watch my local channels... which kept me feeling connected, but it was rather depressing, to say the least... I felt so bad for the people lost everything. Anyway, when Monday rolled around I thought to myself... this week has been so stressful and shitty that I just want to watch Paranormal State and relax. It would be such a small thing, but it would be wonderful to have a piece of normalcy back in my life (yeah... laugh at the irony of that being normal). And I lost hope, because it was 8:55 and the cable box was still unresponsive. Oh well... if I hadn't realized it before, I certainly knew by that point that there were much worse things than missing a tv show. Then I left the room to do something, and when I came back, the red record light was on... Cable got restored just in time for me to watch my favorite show... paranormal indeed... muahahahaha...

Earlier today I duked it out with yet another customer service representative... I find that I'm writing too many blogs about customer service lately... I'm really not a difficult person, I just expect customer service to actually be helpful and have some inkling about the product or service they support. It's like when I called to ask my insurance company if my slab was covered and they asked if I was inquiring about auto, home or life insurance... it kinda blew my mind... I literally didn't know what to say.

I couldn't believe how hard it was to get to get the answer to what I thought was going to be a simple question (and in fact, I never did get an answer). Whatever happened to customer service??? I know it used to exist, and every once in a while I get a spectacular representative... but most often I get this:

Kristy H (10:43:44 AM): I need to know if the battery charger for a Kodak Easy Share 813 runs on dual voltage. I'm going to Scotland and they run 240v.


(10:43:44 AM)[An agent will be with you shortly.]
(10:43:50 AM)[You are now chatting with Juan Z .]

Juan Z (10:44:14 AM): Welcome to the KODAK Store, my name is Juan Z. Please wait while I review your question

Kristy H (10:44:22 AM): ok

Juan Z (10:45:37 AM): What charger would that be?

Kristy H (10:46:02 AM): I don't know. My cousin is borrowing the camera from a friend and she said it's an Easy Share 813.

Juan Z (10:46:16 AM): ok, please wait.

Juan Z (10:49:33 AM): Unfortunately we do not have this information available, allow me to transfer you to technical support for assistance ok?

Kristy H (10:49:44 AM): ok

Juan Z (10:49:56 AM): Thank you for contacting the KODAK Store. Please wait.

(10:50:04 AM)[You have been transferred to queue: DCD Chat]
(10:50:25 AM)[You are now chatting with Bjorn V.]

Bjorn V. (10:50:30 AM): Welcome to Kodak, my name is Bjorn. Please wait while I review your question.

Kristy H (10:50:48 AM): ok

Bjorn V. (10:50:49 AM): Hi Kristy. I can see that you have some questions with your camera. Let me assist you with that.

Bjorn V. (10:50:50 AM): Before we proceed, can I have the serial number of your camera?

Kristy H (10:51:42 AM): It's not my camera. My cousin is borrowing it from a friend so that she can take photos of our trip. I don't have that information. All I know is that it's an Easy Share 813.

Bjorn V. (10:52:23 AM): I see.

Bjorn V. (10:52:28 AM): Are you with the camera?

Kristy H (10:52:50 AM): No. I'm in one state, the camera is in another. All I need to know is if the charger runs on dual voltage.

Bjorn V. (10:54:02 AM): I see. We will need to know the output voltage written on the charger. It will indicate there upto what voltage can it take.

Kristy H (10:56:33 AM): If I had the charger I could have answered that question without having to contact you guys. Since I DON'T have the charger, I need to find the answer so I can tell my cousin whether or not she needs a converter. It should be a fairly simple thing for you to look up and it would be a great help.

Bjorn V. (10:57:51 AM): I understand that. If you can provide me the name of the charger I can better assist you with your concern.

Kristy H (10:59:37 AM): I gave you the name of the camera. There should be a way for you, as a representative of Kodak, to cross reference the charger that came with the camera and answer my question.

Bjorn V. (11:01:02 AM): We do have different Kodak charger. Also, I'm not sure if the what is the battery that you are using with the camera. Chargers, and rechargeable batteries are purchased seperately.

*** Newest Message ***

Kristy H (11:01:46 AM): The type of battery is irrelevant, but I see that I'm not going to get my question answered. Thank you for your time.

I know, I know... now that a little time has passed and I reread it... I got a little bitchy there at the end, but I was astounded that I couldn't get my question answered, and frustrated that they basically kept asking me for the answer I contacted them to get. I mean, if I knew which charger it was I could probably find it on the internet and answer my own damn question. And if I could have found the damn 813 on their website like I tried to in the first place, I could have also answered my own damn question, it simply wasn't there (dammit). How many chargers can there be for that camera? Perhaps all of their chargers are dual voltage... perhaps none of them are. Do a little legwork people.

I have an Olympus and I'm happy with it, but do you think I'm going to consider Kodak if I decide to replace it? Nope. Because they don't know their product, and they aren't willing to find the answers.

Reminds me of a realtor I once spoke to...