Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas 2006: A Look Back in Silly Pictures

The Husband and I went to visit my folks on Christmas Eve. I know it kind of looks like they live in a Cracker Barrel, but they don't.

It was raining on and off, and when the sun came out we got to see a rainbow. We all thought it seemed terribly symbolic to see a Christmas Eve rainbow, but I don't think any of us knew why.

The sunset was spectacular.

My favorite part of Christmas Eve is when the sun goes down and we get to turn on all the lights.

Can't forget the baby Jesus!

Here's my Grandma's house. It was really hard to get these pictures outside because it started raining again, and my tripod was sinking in the mud.

If you turn your back on my Grandma's house, you see my parents' house.

Here's their hitchin' post.

We've been saving these fireworks since last New Year's Eve, but the drought was so bad all year we never got to shoot them off. This was the first Fourth of July in my memory when we didn't get to have any fireworks at all for fear of burning Parker County down. It may not be traditional to set off fireworks on Christmas Eve, but it was raining, and we were all together, so we thought, "What the hell?" I mean, "heck." We wouldn't think the word "hell" on Christmas Eve.

On Christmas Day, we visited the other side of my family. Most of the pictures I took were goofy ones of my brother. In respect for his privacy, I'm not blogging them all over the internet for the whole world to see. But, there was a really cute Christmas tree ornament.

We also spent time with The Husband's family, opening presents and playing with the bay-bee, whose internet-related privacy I am also respecting. Most of the pictures turned out like this, anyway. He's a wiggly little booger.

I hope all y'all had as much fun as I did!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Very Whedon Season's Greetings

Many thanks to The Husband for such awesome Christmas gifts!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Cafe Japon Revisited

I know I said that I wouldn't go back to Cafe Japon, but I decided to give it another try. The Husband and I were on our way home from work, and I really wanted some sushi, but I wasn't in the mood for the take-out place. The Husband is repulsed by does not care for sushi, so Cafe Japon seemed like a good option since they have a good non-sushi selection.

Fortunately, the sushi was much better on this visit. Everything tasted much fresher and wasn't at room temperature like last time. The squid wasn't stringy, and the mackerel was flavorful. I didn't try the salmon roe again, however. The Husband got the salmon teriyaki*, which was also delicious - not overcooked and dry like it was at Mr. Sushi.

I had my own problem with Mr. Sushi's food and their overly liberal use of wasabi. Another advantage of Cafe Japon over Mr. Sushi is that you can order single pieces instead of everything coming in pairs. I know pairs are more traditional, but sometimes I don't want that much of any single thing. I would go back to Cafe Japon before I'd eat at Mr. Sushi again.

Since I've only been there twice, I'm not sure if one visit was an anomaly or if they are consistently inconsistent. I will definitely give Cafe Japon another chance, and I can recommend that you at least check them out if you're in Addison to do some sushi-eatin'.

*The Blogger dictionary has the word "sukiyaki" in it, but not "teriyaki." Weird.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Musings from the Office

I work from about eight to five, which I believe is the usual starting and quitting time. I commute from the semi-urbs (good word, Dave) into the city center. I follow the same route to and from work. Can anyone explain to me why it easily takes 50% longer for me to drive home than it does to get to work?

Someone is holding a moron convention in my building today. First I noticed that a particularly well-dressed man was using his briefcase to hold open the automatic sliding glass door into the lobby as if it were an elevator and he was letting people on. But, he was just standing in the doorway, gaping at the lobby and everyone walking around him to get in the building.

Over at the actual elevator a large group of be-suited people all carrying briefcases were crowding into an elevator and muttering at each other. Then, they all shuffled off the elevator. Then, they all pushed back onto the elevator. Then, they started to get back off the elevator when someone said, "No, no. We're going to two." They all squeezed back into the elevator, and the door closed. Maybe it's not a moron convention; maybe they're having elevator training for befuddled executives.

Evidently the bathroom antics at my work can only get less amusing. I went into the first stall, and it appeared that the seat-sprayer was on her period. Gross. I tried the last stall. The toilet was full of crap and piss, but no toilet paper. Disturbing. How about the middle stall? There was a used seat protector stuck to the seat. Could be worse, but I decided to head downstairs to do my business. Somewhere on my floor there must be an office full of marginally toilet-trained orangutans.

I made someone cry for the second time in the course of conducting my managerial duties. She even said she was so upset that she thought she should just quit. I think I was supposed to say, "Oh, no! Don't quit!" Instead I said, "Huh. Really?"

I overheard a conversation that our cute, helpful, grandmotherly administrative assistant was having. Turns out she used to be a professional body builder. People might suck sometimes, but sometimes you find out they're really cool.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Duckling Drinks Pinot Noir

Indigo Hills
2001 Pinot Noir
$10-ish on the interweb

I have no idea where and when I purchased this wine. It wasn't on either of the receipts from my last two trips to Central Market in February or July, and the bottle was all dusty when I took it out of the cooler. It may date from pre-cooler days, and may not have been stored very well before this year. Keeping that in mind, it was still OK.

When I first poured it, I was a little put off by the color - a dull pinkish, red. However, it had a nice cherry aroma to it. Its main flavor was cranberry with citrus - very similar to a Cosmopolitan. Like I said, it was just OK. I usually like a red with a bigger, deeper flavor. This one was a little thin for my taste.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas

The Christmas tree is complete! Until The Husband and I have our tree, I can't really feel the spirit of the season. Here's this year's beauty.

Just for comparison, here's last year's.

Now that we're real grown-up people, and not broke-ass college students or adorably broke newlyweds, we traded up to a real tree sold to us by a real hillbilly who made it abundantly clear that he works on commission. After driving by the grocery store and seeing trees for 10 times less than what we paid, I think we should have haggled. But, hey! It's Christmas!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Super Walmart for the Well-to-Do

The Husband and I made a trip to the new, ginormous Whole Foods last night down on the corner of Forest and Preston across the street from the old, unnormous Whole Foods. Overall, I give it a resounding, “meh.”

Usually when we go to Whole Foods, we head there right after work and have dinner from the little deli dealio before we shop. The little deli dealio offered prepared foods that you could buy by the pound and take home and put in your own dishes and pretend like you cooked it. Or, the person behind the counter would make a plate for you and heat it up in their crappy microwave, and you could eat it in the store.

I enjoyed this. The counter person was always friendly and patient and helpful. Most of the time, they gave you your food on a real plate with real, reusable silverware. Well, the new Whole Foods has a “hot food bar” where you dish out your food yourself onto a paper plate. I was open to this new procedure, despite my issues with change and the anxiety it provokes. And, I have to admit that the “hot food bar” had its advantages.

However, when we went to the seating area and got our silverware, I found that they only had plastic forks individually wrapped in plastic. Does this not seem like it should be against everything Whole Foods stands for? I really started to feel like they had sold out to the Central Market crowd.

Compounding my silverware dread was the crowded, hectic, loud atmosphere. I found myself having to tamp down a rising panic. There was just too much noise, too many hyper children, too much too much. But then, I noticed a woman carrying a music stand approach a staff member who was sitting nearby and tell her that it was time. Suddenly, most of the people began to drift away and the noise died down. I could see that several of the children were carrying instrument cases.

It turns out that they were all heading upstairs to a balcony overlooking the store to play Christmas music. Oh, they were terrible – out of tune and off tempo. But, it was also very charming, and once the tension of all those children waiting for the concert to start had dissipated, I could feel myself relaxing. It’s amazing how people’s emotions can fill a room and affect those around them.

Once we finished eating and started our shopping, I realized that the store isn’t really all that different. It had most of the same stuff we always bought, PLUS some things we used to buy but had disappeared from the old store. Like organic, all-natural, bleach-free pads – with wings! And Veat – the only meat analog product The Husband likes to eat! Not just Veat, but the bite-sized Veat, which tastes way better than the nuggets for some reason!

The rediscovery of Veat means we can start making one of our favorite, easiest recipes again – Veat Stew. Basically, you take a butt-load of minced garlic and sauté it in a butt-load of olive oil. Then you put in a can of diced tomatoes, some sliced green olives (with pimentos), and half a box of Veat. Then, spoon it over quick-cooking brown rice. Sounds weird, but it’s tasty and fast, which is better than gourmet as far as I’m concerned.

Anyway, some of the new features included a dessert bar and cases and cases full of beautiful chocolates and pastries, a New York deli, and a spa. Yes, a spa. I did not venture upstairs to investigate the spa situation; however, I heard a rumor today that Whole Foods will have someone do your grocery shopping for you while you spa. I couldn't even bring myself to splurge on the shoulder massages they offered in a dark corner of the old Whole Foods, so I probably won't be having a servant-boy pick out my organic beet greens while I get a facial anytime soon.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Brokeback Jesus?

Spotted in the window of the L1feway Christian Store.

via Unruly Duckling's cell phone

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Duckling Drinks Chenin Blanc

MAN Vintners
South Africa
2005 Chenin Blanc
$9.99 Central Market

I don't have too much to say about this wine, although I really did like it. It has a very refreshing sweet-tart flavor, which mostly reminded me of tropical fruits - banana, pineapple, and papaya. It's not a complicated wine, and it won't make you feel all brainy and sophisticated when you drink it, but it's quite tasty, and that's what counts.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Fun With Poetry

Obituary for a Very Good Girl

She always remembered
to put things on the calendar.
She could write a very concise memo.
She never wore too much make-up
or spent too much on shoes.
She didn’t always wash the dishes,
but she felt bad about it.
When she felt depressed,
she still smiled a lot
So as not to bother us.
When she died
We broke open her head
And found it as full of poems
As Emily Dickinson’s writing desk.
We looked at each other and shrugged.
“Hmm, who would have guessed?”

Friday, December 08, 2006

Online Eavesdropping

From Overheard in the Office:

5PM We Ran out of Monkey Wax

Research supervisor on phone: So, question: Monkeys -- apparently one got a rash during the drug trial but no one noticed because she was really hairy. Yeah, really, really hairy. She's a hairy monkey. What do you know about that?

West Point, Pennsylvania

Overheard by: Alison

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Little Pink Happy Flowers

After wallowing in tragedy like I was yesterday, I thought I would share this.

Last week my geranium was pelted with icy-cold rain and flung into a dark, unheated garage for several days while the temperature hovered around freezing. Once I got around to rescuing it from its miserable emergency shelter, it already had a tiny pink bud on it. Now this neglected little twig has three flowers on it and more on the way. It's amazing how beautiful things manage to persist.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Trail of Clothing Led Searchers to Lost Father's Body

I started following this story on Monday when a mother and two children were rescued from their snowbound car. My first thought was, "That's why I live where it's warm." But, after I read the article and saw that the father had left the car two days earlier to go for help, I couldn't stop thinking about that family. Before he left them, they had already been stranded for days with no food. The car was out of gas, so they couldn't run the heater any longer. They must have been desperate for him to set out into the snow without even a coat.

In the first stories, the searchers sounded hopeful that they would find him even though temperatures were dropping well below freezing each night. They starting finding his belongings and pieces of clothing and believed he was leaving a trail for them to follow. But they didn't find him in time. He died alone in the wilderness not knowing if his family would ever be saved.

Terrible, unthinkable things happen to people every day, everywhere in the world. I don't know why this story makes me want to sob every time I think about it. I guess this small tragedy is such a tiny example in a world of suffering that my mind can actually absorb it.

They just wanted to take a nice vacation. They ended up in a horror story.

How did they say goodbye before he left that car?

Did they have any idea it might be the last time they ever saw each other ?

What was she thinking as she waited?

What was he thinking as he walked?

When did he realize he was going to die?

How many times, in her mind, will she see his back as he walked away?

Unamusing Bathroom Antics

Every single day around 4:30 p.m. someone pees all over the toilet seat in the first stall of the ladies' room in my office building. Yesterday there was actually a puddle on the floor, too.

WHY??? Not to mention, HOW???

Why doesn't she just use a seat protector and sit down?

How are her pants and shoes not completely soaked with pee?

Does she take off her clothes before she goes?

Does she hold it all day until 4:30, and is that why it sprays everywhere?

Why does she only go in the first stall?

Is she doing it on purpose?

How does she think this is OK????

Monday, December 04, 2006


First of all, let me apologize to everyone, everywhere. I had nearly 2 bottles of wine on Friday night, and I know good and well I am a loud, obnoxious, opinionated drunk. Every time I drink too much, I spend the whole next day writhing with shame and regret.

So, to try to make it up to everyone who puts up with me and actually continues to invite me to alcohol-related events, I would like to offer to you: Bad News Hughes.

Bad News Hughes is one disgusting, hilarious, mofo. His most recent post about his encounter with a lumpy testicle and the drama that ensued made me laugh so hard snot came out of my nose. In fact, his medical woes generally make for excellent humor.

I think his true genius may lie in his photo essays. The Hughes Family Christmas 2004 is epic. Although his brother's wedding may have topped it. I can't decide if I'm disappointed or unbelievably relieved that my family doesn't approach the degree of drunken redneckery that his clan achieves.

Whenever you need a good laugh at someone else's expense, check him out. Click around in his archives. You'll probably be appalled, but you'll probably be laughing your ass off at the same time.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Last Harvest

It was 75 degrees and muggy outside as I drove home from work tonight. A couple of hours later The Husband and I found ourselves wearing pajamas and rain coats, standing in a cold rain, picking the last few tomatoes and peppers, and chucking all our potted plants in the garage.

I knew it was coming, but it's so hard to believe winter is really here when there are ripe tomatoes on the vine.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A Brief History of Knitting

I've been knitting for about nine months now. In the time that many women actually produce a baby, I have managed to produce 3 baby items - 4 if you count each bootie separately.

The first project I completed was a pair of baby booties, which I gave to one of my friends when she was expecting her second child.

Here is an example of one of the "final draft" booties.

Here is the "first draft" bootie. It's about the right size for a thumb warmer. Not too much use to a normal, human-sized baby, but it was a good learning experience.

Next, I knitted a blanket for my nephew. Unfortunately, all the pictures came out kinda crappy, so you'll have to trust me that it's a pretty great blanket. (Cat included for scale.)

And finally, the best one so far - the sweater!

I think I ended up knitting the whole thing twice after ripping out all the mistakes and the spots that weren't quite good enough. I plan to run it through the wash before I give it to the baby, mostly to make sure it holds up and also to remove as much cat hair as possible, but I'm putting it off because I'm afraid the sweater will fall apart. Then I'll have to cry and cry, and no one wants that.

Now I am knitting a wrap with pockets as a Christmas present for my mom. The yarn is the best stuff yet. It's kind of a russet color, and it's very thick and soft. Maybe next I will actually knit something for myself with this awesome yarn. I'm surprised it's so great since it's cheap and synthetic.

Due to my aforementioned wool issues, I find my selection of quality yarn quite limited. However, after some research, I've found yarn online made of everything from cotton to pineapple plants. Some particularly cool yarns are made from bamboo and soy. There's even a book in the works all about non-wool knitting. Now I need to find a local store that carries the stuff. Yarn is one of those things that I need to feel and see up close before I'll buy it.

The husband and I did venture into a "real" yarn shop this weekend looking for the specific color of yarn my mom requested for her wrap. ("Pumpkin" Never did find any nice yarn in "pumpkin") It was very weird - like walking into someone's living room and being totally ignored. All these ladies were sitting around at tables knitting and talking. I had no idea who actually worked there. I mostly felt like I'd be interrupting them if I had any questions. As I was leaving, one person did ask if I needed any help. After I explained what I was looking for, she suggested this certain mass-market brand of yarn that I could get at Hobby Lobby or somewhere like that. I was dubious that it would be decent, but I ended up getting exactly what she recommended, and I love it! It's not "pumpkin" though. Sorry, Mom.

ETA: The yarn I ended up liking so much is Homespun in the "Ranch" color by Lion Brand.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Public Service Announcement

Please, please, please make sure you have health insurance.

The bills from my adventures in pulmonary disease are starting to come in. My four-hour visit to the emergency room cost $5,800. Essentially, I had an EKG, a CT scan, some drugs, and then I was sent home. I didn't receive any treatment, and I wasn't admitted, and if I didn't have health insurance I would owe the hospital $5,800 right now.

A few years ago, I found myself uninsured after the company I was working for went bankrupt. While looking for new employment, I got a temp job at Children's Medical Center in the internal audit department, and I regularly saw hospital bills in the six figure range. I immediately started shopping for health insurance and was able to find a policy for a little more than $100 a month. It didn't cover routine doctor visits or some pre-existing conditions, but if I were badly injured or seriously ill, I knew I could cover the deductible and avoid going bankrupt myself.

Another important action to take is to know what your deductibles and out-of-pocket limits are on all your insurance policies (not just health insurance) and be sure you have a plan to cover those amounts if you need to. If you don't have any savings and you're barely making ends meet, it can be just as impossible to come up with $1,000 as a million. In fact, one of the most common reasons for middle class people to declare bankruptcy is medical bills, and most of those people had health insurance when they got sick. (See this article for example.)

At this point, this post could easily veer into a long rant into what's wrong with this whole country. But, I'm just writing this to urge you to be aware and do what you can to take care of yourselves. If you are reading this, I probably really like you and don't want anything bad to happen to you.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Vindicated? Not quite yet.

There's a little bit of good news for ol' Floyd Landis. The lab that performed the urine tests that revealed abnormally high testosterone in Landis's system has admitted to at least one "administrative error" in the handling of the samples. Specifically, there was an incorrect identification number on his backup sample.

This individual mistake doesn't necessarily mean that the sample wasn't his, and it doesn't explain why the original sample tested so high for testosterone. However, it does introduce an element of doubt into the integrity of the testing process.

This post on Landis's blog tells how to access some additional documents that support his position that he didn't take any testosterone. I looked through one presentation that explains how there were also errors with the handling of the original sample, evidence of sample degradation, and inconsistency between repeated tests. A retired physician put together the presentation, but he describes himself as a "long-time Landis coach and advisor," so he may not be completely objective. However, without hearing the lab's defense, it certainly seems like reasonable doubt.

I hope it's true.

Thanks to Holly for the head's up.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


With the weather getting cooler, I was in the mood to shop for some funky thrift shop sweaters this afternoon. I've usually gone to Thrift Village over in Garland. It's a long drive from here, but the store was huge and super cheap. I say *was* because it's gone now. I drove all the way over there only to be denied.

Trying to salvage the situation, I ended up stopping by Goodwill. Goodwill mostly sucks, however. It's not as cheap ($4.99 for a sweater as opposed to $1.99), and the selection isn't as good. Maybe there's some mega-Goodwill around town that would be really great. Let me know if you know where that would be or if you have a cool thrift store where you like to shop.

I ended up getting one sweater - a green wool v-neck from Old Navy. Somehow five bucks doesn't seem like that great a deal for a used Old Navy sweater. Also, I'm not that thrilled with buying wool. PETA has permanently scarred my brain with pictures of maimed sheep being raised for wool. But, when I'm buying second-hand clothes, my conscience doesn't feel so bad for buying animal products.

Maybe I'm just justifying my selfishness here, but one of the main reasons for not buying products I disagree with is to avoid economically supporting that industry. When I buy a wool sweater or a leather jacket from Goodwill, the money goes to support Goodwill, not anyone who profits from mistreating animals. In theory, I don't have any problem with animals being killed for food or materials - only with the way that industrial practices cause animals to suffer and harm to the environment. So, you can call me a hypocrite if you must, but at least it makes sense in my own head.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Out of the Blue

I felt fine on Monday morning, so I certainly didn't expect to end the day in the ER getting CT scanned, EKGed, and shot up with morphine. Even more surprisingly, I didn't particularly enjoy the morphine.

It turns out, I have pneumonia and possibly a partially collapsed lung.

I started out just having a funny pain in my side, which is sometimes caused by my problems with my digestive system, so I didn't really think that much about it. It kept getting worse throughout the day, so much so that I decided to take my medicine for IBS at work, which I never do since it's a muscle relaxer and makes me sleepy and slow. Of course, I had changed purses that morning and didn't have the medicine with me, so I figured I just had to tough it out until I got home.

By the time I was driving home, the pain had gotten bad enough that I couldn't breathe very well. I took a couple of puffs on my emergency inhaler, but it didn't do anything, so I thought I must be right about my intestinal issues causing the problems. As soon as I got home I took my medicine and waited to feel better, but the pain just kept getting worse.

For some reason, I thought if I could just get a good night's sleep I would wake up in the morning and feel fine. However, lying on my back kept me from being able to breathe at all, and I couldn't fall asleep sitting up. I just sat there in the dark trying not to cry for a few hours before I decided to put that health insurance to good use.

The Husband and I went to the ER, which - thank goodness - was not crowded at all, so they took me straight back. I got an EKG to make sure nothing was wrong with my heart, and they took my blood. Then I got an IV with fluids, anti-inflammatories, and morphine. It took the morphine about 10 seconds to kick in, which felt like being dropped over the side of a tall building. I thought I was going to throw up. They turned the lights out so I could sleep, but I just had strange thoughts and sensations without really being able to sleep. At different points I thought I had handfuls of yarn and that I was wearing oven mitts. I realized I might not be able to drive home, so I was thinking about calling someone for a ride, but I couldn't remember my friend's name.

I was grateful when the weird side effect started to wear off after about 30 minutes, and I was left just relaxed with a lot less pain. Then they took me to get a CT scan to check my lungs. They had to inject dye into my veins, and they warned me that it would cause burning and heat throughout my body, but it wasn't nearly as bad as I feared.

After all the tests, they figured out I had pneumonia and fluid build-up around my left lung, which had caused the bottom part to collapse somewhat. I have antibiotics, prescription Motrin, and - best of all - Vicodin to take for the next several days.

I'm expecting to go back to work tomorrow, but I don't know how well I'll do without all the painkillers keeping me going. I think I'm a damned trooper for trying to show up at all. They'd better appreciate it.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Blogoween

There has been a minor controversy in the feminist blogosphere about the sluttification of Halloween costumes for women. See, for example, Twisty's Slut-o-ween Report and accompanying comments.

I, on the other hand, am simply grateful for the wealth of fun costume ideas. Next year, I'm totally going as sexy 1900s steel conglomerate tycoon!

(Click below on the big white square or whatever it looks like to you or else what I just said will make no sense whatsoever.)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Sometimes You Win

...and this is actually one of those times.

Last week I chipped in to bid on a gift package to benefit the Dallas Women's Foundation. When we split the package up I had a choice between free tickets to the Dallas Theater Center or a $50 gift certificate to Dave & Buster's. I was temporarily overcome with a mad desire to get drunk and play skee-ball for useless trinkets, so I picked the gift certificate. However, remembering Holly's effusive post about DTC's production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, I realized I made the wrong choice and started kicking myself.

But! Lo and behold! Just a couple of days later fictionfiend comes through with a lovely invitation to attend the show "FOR FREE" tomorrow night. Isn't it wonderful how things work out sometimes?

I wonder if she enjoys drunken skee-ball...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Live from the Gypsy Tea Room...

The Decemberists!

via Unruly Duckling's cell phone...

I had a great time at the show last night even though they didn't play very many of my favorites. A lot of the songs came from their new album "The Crane Wife" which I don't have yet. However, I enjoyed the new stuff more than I thought I would. I tend to get really attached to one certain album of any particular band, and then I'm all disappointed with everything else they do, but The Decemberists are one of a few bands that I consistently like.

The crowd was also very cool. No one jostled me or inappropriately Woo!ed in my ear throughout the show. No one puked on themselves within my sight. And, most importantly, at no point was I in fear of being quite literally trampled to death by hormonally over-charged teenagers. These are the experiences I have come to associate with concert-going, which is why I usually avoid it like the plague. Way to go, Decemberist fans! We totally rock and have a well-developed understanding of socially acceptable behavior at a public gathering! Woo hoo!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


The Husband and I had a delightful trip to Ohio a couple of weeks ago. The main reason for the trip was to visit my Sister-in-Law and her new baby - my nephew. Yay! I'm finally an auntie. Poo! The little bugger lives in another state.

Anyway, when we first got there, we headed up to a little resort town on Lake Erie. It was off-season, so everything was very quiet, but the weather was perfect - cool and sunny. We took a ferry over to South Bass Island to check out a small town called Put-In-Bay.

When we got to the island, we realized that the town was on the other side of the island from the ferry dock (the only ferry running in the off-season), so we rented bikes and rode into town. We rode down the street you can see running through this picture. We started quite a ways past the small airstrip in the upper-rightish corner, followed the zig-zag, and entered town somewhere off to the lower-right side of the pic.

While we were there, we visited the Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial.

Here's the town and the bay from waaayy up high on the memorial.

After we were done tooling around the island on our mondo-crappy rental bikes, we drove to the very charming Marblehead Lighthouse.

The next day we took the scenic route down to Athens, stopping at Mohican State Park for lunch and a quick hike.

The first full day we were in Athens we went on an "urban hike" and wandered all around Uptown and the campus of Ohio University. For dinner we went to a really cool hippie co-op Tex Mex restaurant, furthering my quest to eat Tex Mex in as many corners of the world as possible.

The next day we took a scenic train ride with the cutest, most chubby-cheeked baby EVAR!

On our last day in Ohio, we stopped at Hocking Hills State Park, which was unbelievably gorgeous.

And then we came home and my cat's ass exploded.

The End

Friday, October 20, 2006

Warning: Too Disgusting for Anyone to Read

I've been gone a long time, getting ready to go out of town, being out of town, swabbing my cat's ruptured anal gland with peroxide. Oh yeah, I've been getting alot of not-so-HOTT anal action (sorry to disappoint you perverted Googlers out there).

When The Husband and I came home from our trip late last Friday night, Dizzy seemed fine. But over the weekend, she got punier and punier. She just lied in the same place all day. On Monday when I got home from work, she didn't even get up to come see me. But later that night, she made her way downstairs whining and wanting to be held. That's when I discovered the gaping wound on her backside.

Of course I freaked out and called my dad immediately. (He's a vet. I don't call him on a regular basis to update him on the state of my cat's butt.) He said it sounded like an abscess from the way I described it, which is usually caused by a bite. I started wondering what the hell C (the wonderful, trusty, volunteer cat sitter. Thanks, C!) was doing biting my poor cat on the ass while I was out of town.

I took off work on Tuesday to take Dizzy to the vet, and it turned out that her anal gland had gotten infected, which is probably why she was feeling so crappy, and then it ruptured, letting out the infection and making Dizzy feel better, even though it looks utterly gross.

In addition to the butt-swabbing, I also have to give Dizzy a pill once a day. Not to minimize Sophie Sealegs's nail-trimming accomplishments, but I have managed to give the cat her pill unassisted and with no major injuries on either of our parts. The next challenge: to brush her teeth on a regular basis.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Give Us Some Credit, Mainstream Media

Compare the cover of the U.S. version of Newsweek to the international versions (Oct. 2, 2006 issues):

via Rising Hegemon
via Echidne of the Snakes
via feminist blogs
via Molly Saves the Day

Isn't the internet a wonderful place?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Enough with the Pink Ribbons Already

The (to remain unnamed) "ignominious" foundation that Twisty mentions here gives a lot of money to my (to remain unnamed, as well) place of work to provide mammograms to poor, uninsured women. So, why aren't I defending them? Because this sentence from Twisty's post is dead on:
Furthermore, once all this ‘awareness’ has produced, via mammography outreach programs or self-exam propaganda (both masquerading as ‘prevention’), a positive diagnosis, there’s not any great push to secure treatment for underserved women.
Although this foundation funds the mammograms we provide, they give us NO money for follow-up diagnostics after a women gets a questionable result on her mammogram and NO money for treatment for women diagnosed with cancer. They pay for a mammogram, period. What use is that for someone who can't afford treatment? It's all well and good if they have a negative screening and can enjoy the peace of mind of a clean bill of health. But, what about those women who find out they have cancer and there's no more help for them?

We have secured additional funding to provide basic diagnostic testing, which I am so thankful to say, usually results in a conclusive diagnosis of something benign. We also found funding to pay for program staff to provide follow-up case management to try to help women navigate the medical system - an important service because the vast majority of our clients don't speak English. But, we can't afford to pay for biopsies when a possibly malignant lump is found, and we certainly can't pay for treatment.

This foundation puts a huge emphasis on breast cancer awareness, and has contributed to the proliferation of 20 bazillion tons of pink crap for people to spend their money on. At this point who's not "aware" of breast cancer? What we need is "total lack of treatment options for really poor people awareness." And then we need people to focus their efforts and resources towards making sure all people can access treatment whenever they are sick, whether they're suffering from cancer or mental illness or a really nasty cough that might not turn into pneumonia if they can get treated early.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Advice Martha Stewart Won't Give You

I tend to be less diligent than I should be at getting laundry done. Yesterday evening I put a load in the washer but forgot to put it in the dryer before I went to bed. So, this morning I put the clothes in the dryer when I woke up, but they were still damp when it was time to leave for work. The undiligentness of my laundry-doing meant that the only clean pairs of underwear I had were in that load of laundry, and there was no way in hell I was putting on moist drawers. If you find yourself in this situation, I have a few words of advice for you:

1. A microwave oven dries damp underwear quickly and thoroughly.

2. Five minutes is evidently too long to cook your underwear in the microwave.

3. A little baking soda and lemon juice will clean the smell of scorched underwear right out of your microwave oven.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before...

I nearly died from the awesomeness. Make sure you have the sound on. NOT SAFE FOR WORK!

Friday, September 15, 2006

An End to Exile

Yay!! My regular email is back, but I still seem to have lost any emails that were sent to me before 10 pm last night and all my archives back to November 2005. I'm not sure if I'll eventually recover any of it. Evidently the server on which our email was hosted experienced a RAID failure. I understand this is very bad and involved multiple redundant hard drives failing. According to the hosting company there was a .001% chance of this happening.

For the time being The Husband has put our email back on our server at home. However, this may cause some difficulty in my sending email since they'll be going out through a cable modem, which is evidently a spam red flag.

Overall, the whole catastrophic data loss thing hasn't been too traumatic (for me...I think The Husband is a bit traumatized). We have backups of all the photographs we lost. I can't think of any priceless emails I was hanging on to; although, I definitely think that I will be looking for something important eventually and realize it's gone. All of our music and videos were stored here. It could have been so much worse, but we'll definitely be backing up locally a lot more often in the future.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Lost, Adrift, Cut Off From Humanity

My regular email address is down for who knows how long, and it's driving me crazy. This is what the server hosting type place told The Husband: "It is being looked into... it is not an easily rectified problem, but I believe it will be up shortly." I'm sure I'm missing out on all sorts of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that are just sitting there in my inbox unread.

In the meantime, anyone can contact me at unrulyduckling at hotmail dot com. If you've sent something today you want me to respond to, please resend it to the Hotmail address. In the future I won't be checking that address very often, and I'll just use it for blogular activities. But, for right now, it's all I got.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Men are not the Patriarchy

There's been a lot of patriarchy bashing going on lately, and I feel the need to completely explain what I'm talking about when I blame the patriarchy (tm Twisty Faster). Men are not the patriarchy. The patriarchy is a cultural and social system, which imposes roles and expectations on both men and women on the basis of sex. I believe this system and any system that does not recognize each person's humanity as an individual is harmful to everyone. Men are hurt by the patriarchy as well. Now, I don't spend a lot of time worrying about patriarchy's consequences on men because as a whole men have the Kleenex of money, power, respect, authority, etc. with which to wipe their tears. However, as a decent human being I hate to see any person suffer regardless of the type of gonads he or she is toting around.

So, let's use a completely inflammatory and provocative allegory to illustrate what the patriarchy does with the ideas of "male" and "female." Think of an abusive husband and his battered spouse. To be clear - the man in this scenario is not to represent the patriarchy. Nor is he intended to represent individual men. Rather he is serving as the idea of masculinity under the patriarchy. By the same token, the spouse is not meant to represent what most individual women experience, but what it is to be the feminine in a patriarchy.

Now, let's look at things from the man's point of view. He is an utterly horrible, hateful person but he is an emotionally destroyed utterly horrible, hateful person. All those things that healthy people experience in a relationship - trust, mutual support, unconditional acceptance - he is absolutely incapable of enjoying. The only way that he can relate to his fellow human beings is in terms of power, control, possession, and dominance. He is a broken and twisted person.

Then, let's think about her. Why does she stay? First of all, she's more likely to be murdered if she tries to leave. It's hell on earth to be beaten and beat down by someone who's supposed to love you and take care of you, but the consequences of trying to escape can be deadly. Secondly, she truly believes she loves him. She wants to figure out how to make it work. It's a huge burden, but she feels the responsibility to try, no matter how humiliating and painful it is. She twists and contorts herself trying to be lovable and acceptable, but she can never, ever get it right. The expectations are always changing, never consistent. One day she's beaten for being a nasty slut. The next day she's beaten for being a frigid bitch. One day, she's beaten for spoiling those damn kids. The next day she's beaten for being a disgraceful, neglectful mother. And she completely believes it's her fault. If she could just be better, smarter, prettier, less of a "bitch" he would stop; he would approve of her, and listen to her, and treat her like a human being. But, she will never be good enough, and he will never stop.

Who wins under the patriarchy? In terms of human potential for interpersonal harmony, emotional health, and spiritual well-being, no one wins. Everyone is pitted against everyone else in a stupid, brutal struggle for scraps of approval and acceptance. But, if you're talking about power, wealth, respect, etc. men come out on top. Because of those rewards there are men in this world that will use every nasty tactic in the book to uphold and defend the patriarchy. However, the patriarchy could not thrive without the complicity of women. Why would any woman buy into the patriarchy? If, as a woman, you jump through enough hoops - if you're skinny enough, waxed enough, slutty enough (but not too much) - the patriarchy throws you a bone. And, if that's all you've ever known, it seems good enough to beg for.

But, do we even live under a patriarchal system?

Well, this is interesting to think about.

As is this. Although I like how they managed to frame it as a positive. Nearly 80% of Americans aren't outright sexists!

This isn't really "interesting." It just sucks.

P.S. I've preemptively decided to moderate comments on this one based on some weirdness over at Holly's. I'm probably over-reacting, so I hope you'll prove me right. Also, this is my blog for me to say what I want to. The internet is wonderful at facilitating some unlikely dialogues, but not every page everywhere exists to give everyone free rein. If I need to, I'll take some time to think about what you have to say (assuming anyone bothers), and if I decide it doesn't contribute to the general asshattery of the world I'll post it. Or, I'll post it and call you an asshat. I haven't decided yet.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Something is Wrong

I haven't really been able to articulate it, but I have not been doing well lately. I wonder if it is possible to be depressed without really feeling sad. For a couple of months now, everything just seems so hard. I'm getting no exercise. I have no motivation to cook or get things done around the house. I don't even feel like taking a shower in the morning (although I do). I'm constantly late for work, and once I'm there, I'm unproductive. On the weekends, I don't want to get dressed or leave the house - not even to go on the back porch and water the plants. One Sunday morning The Husband and I were getting ready to go somewhere, and I was mumbling and grumbling. When he asked me what was wrong, the only true answer was, "I'm awake."

However, my mood seems fine, except for my frustration with myself and my pathological laziness. The Husband and I laugh about stuff together. I enjoy spending time with my friends when I manage to make it out the door. I have a couple of projects going, although none of them require much energy - mostly knitting or writing. My appetite is more than fine, and I'm sleeping well, both of which were serious problems when I have been depressed in the past. I just have no energy.

What is doubly frustrating is that a few months ago, I felt like I had all my stuff together. I was super efficient at work. I was getting lots of exercise and felt fit. The Husband and I were cooking nutritious meals full of organic fresh vegetables. The checkbook was balanced. The house was clean. Then all of a sudden I felt like I hit a brick wall, fell on my butt, and couldn't get up again. I'm an emotional Mrs. Fletcher.

IQ (Instant Quacking)

I'm trying out the new meebo me widget, which you can see over there to the right. I use meebo to handle my various IM accounts, and if I'm signed in there, you can use the widget to send me an IM directly from the blog. I have no idea if it will be useful or convenient, but it seemed like a cool idea, so there you go.

You can put in whatever name you want where it says "edit nick" (that was not readily apparent to me at first) and then type an IM like usual. The only problem with using meebo is that it can't tell when the computer is idle, so if I forget to manually set my status to "away" you may think I'm ignoring you, but really I just wandered away. Don't take it personally.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Jury Duty

A few days ago I was chosen to serve on a jury. As annoying as it was and as much as it threatened to ruin some delicately planned machinations at work, I was a little excited to try something new, something I'd only ever seen on TV. However, it was far from a Veronica Marsian romp of cleverness and intrigue. (Although, I was chosen to be foreperson because of my adorable youthfulness.) It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

I was forced to confront the fact that I live in a pleasant little bubble compared to most women. I work in an office full of progressive women; my husband seems to have effortlessly opted out of the patriarchy; and my friends are well-educated, thoughtful people. However, in the regular world, there's a nasty streak of contempt and disrespect for women very close to the surface. I believed I was keenly aware of this, but I rarely encounter the reality face-to-face, and it felt like a punch in the stomach.

Before the trial even began, and we were just in the process of jury selection, the judge was giving us instructions and trying to break the ice. Unfortunately, all his attempts at humor involved wives as difficult harpies and how his daughters are greedy and willful. Yeah, that's hilarious, you chauvinist jerk-wad.

The case we were going to be hearing involved an accusation of domestic violence. The attorneys asked potential jurors questions trying to determine how they might respond to such a case. One woman actually said that she didn't know if it was right to charge men in this sort of case because women tend to bring it on themselves. I was under the mistaken impression that even if some people privately believe that sort of crap, everyone understands that it is inappropriate to publicly say so. Even if she was just trying to sound crazy enough to get out of jury duty, couldn't she have come up with something less vile?

After we heard the case and were deliberating, a major point of contention was the credibility of each person involved since there was almost no physical evidence to indicate what actually happened. The phrases " know how women are," and " know how women get," were bandied about with alarming frequency. At one point I started yelling about "how men get," which involved popping little ladies in the eye when they have the nerve to object to men having affairs or when they neglect to cook dinner. Not that I believe men as a whole tend to get violent any more than I believe women as a whole tend to get hysterical, but the fact that most of the other jurors seemed to find her less credible just because she was a women made me feel a little violent and hysterical.

In the end I had to admit that there was enough reasonable doubt about what happened that night that it would be wrong to convict. However, I've been struggling about whether or not I made the right decision. Personally, I'm pretty sure that he did hit her on purpose and out of anger, not self-defense. But, how sure is sure enough to convict someone who is entitled to a presumption of innocence? How much doubt is reasonable?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Cafe Japon

The Husband and I tried Cafe Japon in Addison this evening. As a non-sushi eater, he enjoyed it, but I don't recommend it. It did have fairly cheap happy-hour prices - $1 for most pieces of sushi and $1.95 for hand rolls. I liked the hand rolls, but I had never had one before, so I have nothing to compare them to. A hand roll is a sheet of seaweed rolled into a cone and filled with rice and fish or shellfish and vegetables and stuff - sort of a sushi taco. Both of the ones I tried had cooked shellfish in sauce in them and were quite tasty.

It was the sushi pieces that I was unhappy with. Just a couple of weeks ago, I was raving about some squid I had from Central Market, so I was looking forward to eating it again. But, what I had at Cafe Japon did not taste fresh. They served it at a tepid temperature and it was really stringy. I also had some salmon roe, which I usually love love love. However, this didn't taste fresh either, and the eggs looked wrinkly and dull. I was also disappointed by the mackerel, which is served salted and marinated, so it's usually very flavorful, but this was too bland.

The Husband enjoyed his dish, which was essentially a sushi roll, but instead of rice and seaweed it was beef wrapped around vegetables. The only reason why I might recommend Cafe Japon is that is has more or less acceptable, inexpensive sushi, as well as dishes that non-sushi/seafood eaters would like - both vegetarian and carnivorous. However, I don't plan to go back.

Seriously, Just Don't

Tequila shooters. Are they ever a good idea? Probably not, but if you do decide to go there regurgitation is going to be your friend. Do it early and often. You'll thank yourself in the morning.

And, after 9 tequila shots (I could have sworn it was only 7) trust me, your husband is so not "getting laid" despite your drunken bravado. However, if you take my advice and chunder mightily before you go to bed, you may just wake up without a fatal hangover in the morning, much to your surprise. And "Oh, thank the lord, I'M ALIVE!" sex is pretty damn good.

If you're going to quaff the Mexican madness, at least take advantage of the liquor-inspired self confidence and be sure to have your picture taken with a really awesome mustache guy.