Monday, December 31, 2007

Sounds About Right says I'm a Cool High Nerd.  What are you?  Click here!


I sign up for online book-reading challenges.

At this very minute I'm totally geeking out to The Matrix while The Husband tests out the new woofer he got for Christmas.

The last party I attended involved a protracted discussion of Linnaeus vs. Mendel vs. Mendeleev.

The TBR (To Be Read) Challenge 2008

I'm joining the TBR Challenge for 2008.

Below is my list of 12 books I had piling up around the house or languishing on my Amazon wish list or lying in wait on my book club's list that I'm committing to read in 2008. They're in no particular order as I can't be arsed to bother organizing them.

Neverwhere: A Novel - Neil Gaiman

A Wizard of Earthsea - Ursula K. LeGuin

Pink Ribbons, Inc.: Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy - Samantha King

The Golden Compass - Philip Pullman

The Giver - Lois Lowry

Salem Falls - Jodie Piccoult

The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova

The Missing Class: Portraits of the Near Poor in America - Katherine S. Newman

Gravity's Rainbow - Thomas Pynchon

The Last Continent - Terry Pratchett

Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

Frankenstein - Mary Shelley

Alternates - The challenge allows you to name up to 12 alternates in case one of the books on the main list doesn't tickle your fancy. In my alternate list are the next two books in the The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K. LeGuin and the His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman, the first of which are in my main list. I didn't want to commit to the entire trilogies if I decided I didn't care for one of them.

The Tombs of Atuan - Ursula K. LeGuin

The Farthest Shore - Ursula K. LeGuin

The Subtle Knife - Philip Pullman

The Amber Spyglass - Philip Pullman

Wish me luck!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Losing the War on Christmas

First of all, if you would like to know exactly how much awesome The Husband brings to this marriage, please read this entry with special attention to #11. Then take a gander at this photo.

Yes, it is the much coveted blue road reflector. The Husband claims he just happened to run into it while walking down the street, but knowing him, he fashioned it out of rare sapphires that he mined himself or something equally ridiculous. Either way, you win Christmas, The Husband. Also, you rock.

Runner up for coolest present of 2007 is this box of random jewelry he scored off ebay.

I'm curious about the origin of all this jewelry because it's such a hodge podge of cool and cute and out of date and perfectly ugly, it's hard to see how this all came from one person's collection. This is my favorite piece so far.

I plan to wear these to my next monkey-oriented fashion gala.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Yarny Yarnmas and a Yarny Yarn Yarn

In either a personal best or a personal worst, I have four projects on my needles right now.

This is a shawl I started for myself several months ago. During the summer it is an icebox in my office, and it's impossible to buy a space heater because it is supposed to be warm in Texas in the middle of August. Never mind that the thermostat is turned down to the mid-fifties in every damn building. How much energy could we save if we let the temperature of the air conditioning creep up towards seventy degrees? And I bet we wouldn't lose one person in a tragic indoor heat stroke incident.

Anyway, if commerce couldn't solve my hypothermia problem, I figured I could take matters into my own hands and knit myself something to keep me warm. Of course now that it's winter, my office is perfectly comfortable, so I put this on the back burner for my next project.

I had just enough time to get this baby hat started before the Christmas knitting rush started. A month or so ago, the head of our young mothers' program at work mentioned that it would be nice to get some volunteers to knit blankets for the babies in the program. For some reason, she seemed shocked when I told her I'd be glad to knit some things to donate. I guess I don't seem like the knitting type.

This is my first project on double pointed needles, and it hasn't been too hard so far. With some practice I hope to be able to whip up tiny hats pretty quickly, as well as some blankets, which are super easy. I also have some patterns for knitted finger puppets I could make for the older children in the program. Unfortunately, even though we're dealing with young mothers (mostly under 18) many of them already have toddlers and another baby on the way. Other than that this whole "abstinence only" thing seems to be working pretty well. /snark

Pretty soon, this will be a smaller version of this hat for my nephew. I'm thinking about putting pom-poms on his, however. The yarn is Paton's "Rumor" in "Moonstone Heather." The name of it is stupid, but the yarn is awesome.

Last, but not least, is a scarf for The Husband. It's going to be one of his Christmas presents, but I don't need to worry about spoiling the surprise because I made him describe to me in great detail what the scarf should look like and approve the yarn I bought. Also, I've been working on it in the evening while he's sitting right next to me watching TV.

It seems like an awful lot of trouble to hand make a custom project for someone and not have it be exactly what they wanted. Maybe if I were a better wife I would have an intuitive understanding of The Husband's scarf preferences, but evidently I'm not that wonderful. He is getting a pretty great scarf, however; so that will have to be wonderfulness enough.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Random Photo Friday: Goofy Cousin Edition

This is my cousin, Rob. Although, back when this picture was taken in August 1992, we called him Robbie. You wouldn't know it from this photo, but evidently he grew up to be quite the hunk of let's-not-go-there-he's-my-cousin.

His mom, my aunt, invited me to go with them on vacation to Florida, where they have a condo. They picked me up here in Texas, and when they left to drive back to Canada, I got to fly all by myself for the first time back to Dallas. My dad picked me up from the airport, and on the way home we happened to pick up a kitten, who turned out to be our weird cat, Buster. He deserves his own post at some future point.

Anyway, we enjoyed snorkeling and seafood and visiting the wildlife park, where my French-Canadian uncle flouted the rules and rolled down the window in the middle of the lion habitat. He nearly got us eaten by lions, and most definitely got us yelled at by a nice park ranger who didn't want to see us get eaten by lions.

He met another Canadian couple on the beach and made polite small talk with them. Once they left he spent several minutes mocking them for the way they said, "Eh?" at the end of every sentence. Evidently the Québécois don't talk all funny like that. Of course I only understand every third word of his "excellent" English.

Oh, but back to Robbie. He mocked me for not knowing French and believing that a salon is a place where you get your hair done instead of a living room. I mocked him for not knowing that a word can have more than one meaning, and also for pronouncing the letter "z" like "zed."

He was kind of bratty, being an only and very much wanted child born into a family with more than enough resources to pile upon a precious son. I suspect a little part of my being invited on that trip was to play the role of big sister and cut him down to size a bit. At one point I refused to swim with him because he was being kind of jerky, and I made him apologize to me, so I think it might have worked.

I haven't seen Rob in years, and I don't know if I could pick him out of a crowd. I guess as he got older he had more of a life in Montreal and didn't have time to be dragged down to Texas to visit family. He has probably been here once or twice in the last 15 years, but for whatever reason, I didn't have time to be dragged two counties over to visit with him. If he comes for Christmas, I'll be sure to take an updated photo to compare.

Thanks to Holly for reminding me about this whole random photo Friday thing.

Double Take

On my way to work this morning I saw this dude all decked out in cycling gear pedaling his way down the street next to my office building. On a unicycle.

That's cool and neat and whatnot, but you have to be borderline suicidal to be navigating rush hour traffic in Dallas on a unicycle. Seriously.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

nap time for the feline

i am typing this with one hand because the cat is sleeping on the other one. she's dreaming, and her toes and ears are twitching like crazy. she is too adorable to disturb.

i am not at work but instead am trapped under my cat because i am waiting for the plumber to come back and do expensive things to our pipes. although the pipes are located underneath the house, this will involve climbing on the roof. i don't know. it made sense when he explained it to me.

i hope the cat wakes up soon because i need both hands to finish my christmas knitting.

oh no. she just stretched and sighed and is beginning to ooze onto the keyboard. must go. more later.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

Ten Artists

This game was floating around my little corner of the internet before I embarked on my own blogular adventures. Now's my chance to play, too.


1. Open a music player.
2. Add all your music.
3. Hit shuffle/repeat/randomize.
4. Find photos of the first 10 artists/bands that come up (no repeats and no cheating).
5. Have people guess who the artists/bands are.
6. Paste this in your journal/blog and do it too, so I can have fun guessing as well.











Friday, December 14, 2007

Remember, Envy Is a Deadly Sin

The Husband and I are the proud owners of two, brand new, bright and shiny tickets to see Ani Difranco at the House of Blues in New Orleans on March 16.

There is some chance that The Husband will be in Tokyo again on business during that time, so I will be taking applications for a fellow awesomeness aficionado to be my back-up partner in awesomeness. Good luck.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

What Made Me Cry Tonight

The last 20 minutes of Kid Nation.

This post on Craigslist.

The people who emailed to thank me for that last post.

What did not make me cry tonight:

My boss telling me that the report I handed in yesterday made her "angrier than she's ever been."

Seriously, boss? You must lead a life refreshingly free from rage and indignation.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Better Living Through Chemistry

I'm crediting liberal application of red wine for the swift decline in my Lexapro induced high blood pressure. However, my return to normal blood pressure was followed by heart palpitations. According to Dr. Wikipedia, there are two different kinds of palpitations - the kind that feel like your heart is fluttering and the kind that feels like your heart goes "thump!" I was having the thumping kind.

I called the nurse helpline of my insurance company, and I was trying to explain how my heart felt over the phone. I told her "...and then my heart goes 'blump.' I know 'blump' isn't a word, but...", and she said, "No, but I understand exactly what you mean. " And then I kind of fell in love with the nurse helpline.

Anyway, I would be going about my business, and then my heart would go "blump," and I would get a little dizzy and lose my breath. It made me feel kind of weird and giddy, so I didn't mind it so much, but then I would fear for my life, and I didn't like that part very well.

Between the nurse helpline and the cryptic message my doctor's office left me, I decided that I probably wasn't risking imminent heart failure. As long as I didn't black out and fall down, I didn't have much to worry about. Sure enough, the palpitations went away by themselves.

As far as I can tell, the physical symptoms of the withdrawal seem to be over. In the course of a year I've gone from barely functional to medicated to drug withdrawal to feeling OK again. I hear of people who refuse medication because they worry it will turn them into some kind of vapidly grinning zombie or that the withdrawal symptoms won't ever allow them to go off the drugs. I am here to suggest to you that


In my case, it was the anxiety that turned me into a zombie, and earlier in my life it was the depression. Once I got medicated I could think and concentrate and interact with people like a live human being. Suddenly, I could write and work as if a key in my brain had turned and let the person I remembered being out of a dark basement.

Coming off the medication (which my doctor specifically chose to avoid the worst of the side effects and withdrawal and fortunately worked for me) was weird and uncomfortable, but now, instead of just feeling like a functional human being, I feel like a capable, confident person. To tell the truth, I worry that this must be a side effect. Surely, people don't normally feel this good, this resilient.

I don't think I have for ten years. But I remember what this used to be like. And I'm looking forward to plenty more.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Considerably Crafty Christmas

Although I lack the dedication to Pledge Handmade, I am trying to choose as many locally handmade gifts for my family as possible, including a few projects I have on my own knitting needles.

Last weekend a couple of friends, The Husband, and I checked out the Urban Street Bazaar, and I came away with some excellent finds, most of which I actually intend to give away at Christmas. So, if you're related to me quit reading now or you might spoil the surprise.

I was about ready to walk away with Kraftivity Studios' entire inventory, but I managed to select three things, only one of which I plan to keep for myself. This cherry blossom plate is finding a home on my shelf.

This little pot is for my grandmother. I think I'm going to plant an African violet in it before I give it to her.

This sad sack Santa is for my mom's stepmother. She's the type of person who can't answer the question, "How are you doing?" without tossing off a comment like, "Oh, you know. The excruciating pain and paralysis come and go, but I guess I'm fine."

I'm giving this hand painted dishtowel to my mom to add to her chicken collection. It comes from MaggieDell's Designs, which doesn't have a website, but it does have a MySpace page. They'll do custom projects, so just drop them a line if you need a barnyard animal painted on your kitchen linens.

This last plate from Superchica is mine, mine, mine. It nearly leapt off the table into my arms. I don't know exactly why it strikes me like it does, but I keep hugging it because I just love it so much.

I picked up this candle from Shambhala Body Gallery to make our house smell all Christmas-ey.

Finally, the Kitchen Beautician (who also doesn't have a website; come on people, join the 21st century) put together this basket for my girly little diva of a twelve-year-old cousin. I've been keeping all the gifts in the spare room until Christmas, and the whole place smells like roses now.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Random Photo Friday: Hot Tub* Edition

I love this picture of the hall after our wedding reception is over. My brother is looking all James Bond villain in his tuxedo. Friends who now live in three different states are lingering and laughing.

Meanwhile, The Husband and I are enjoying some marital bliss for the first time in our hotel room's hot tub.

This is supposed to be when the party ends and the real "work" of being married begins. However, after 2 1/2 years I still haven't figured out what's so strenuous about hanging out with The Husband all the time. If I didn't think it was going to be fun, I wouldn't have married the dude, and so far it has been.

I would like to impart some wisdom to newlyweds and horny people everywhere. Engaging in "bliss" in a hot tub is not all it's cracked up to be. I have to recommend against the amphibious "bliss." If you feel the need to know why, you'll have to email me because I'm pretty sure posting explicit material on the internet isn't allowed.

*Not pictured

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

YWCA drive to aid struggling moms

From the Dallas Morning News today.
12:00 AM CST on Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Robert Miller

The Young Leaders Board of the YWCA of Metropolitan Dallas is hosting a Holiday Donation Drive through Dec. 17 to help the neediest families served by the YWCA.

You can help by dropping off canned food, baby food and travel-size toiletry items at the YWCA's headquarters, 4144 N. Central Expressway, Suite 580, or the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce at 2838 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

The donated items will be used to fill holiday gift baskets for single mothers.

"When you consider that the YWCA's typical client is a single working mother trying to raise two children on less than $30,000 a year, you see how tight her budget has to be just to cover the bare necessities," said Cherika Latham, president of the young leaders board.

The board is made up of "emerging leaders" from 25 to 40 who are committed to serving as YWCA ambassadors and raising awareness of the YWCA's mission, goals and initiatives.

For more information about the board, e-mail or call Joyce Meyer at jmeyer@ywca or 214-584-2312. To learn more about the YWCA, visit or call 214-826-YWCA (9922).

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Accidental Multitasker

My boss has asked me to conduct a time study of my work habits for the next couple of weeks, so I'm keeping track of how much time I spend on different tasks and projects. Supposedly the idea is to justify hiring a high-level administrative assistant, so I don't have to do so much paperwork and can concentrate on more managerial responsibilities. Of course, I'm sure she's also using this chance to check up on me. That doesn't worry me, though, because I have no trouble staying very busy.

I've only been doing this for about a day, but I couldn't believe it when I looked at yesterday's list and saw that only twice all day did I spend more than 15 minutes focused on any one thing. The only times I could concentrate for 20 or 30 minutes in a row was when I was having a face-to-face discussion with someone about an issue.

I spend most of my time asking people to do things, and the rest of my time following up to make sure they did them. This probably isn't the best use of any employee's time, but it would be doable if I didn't have my own things to do. I need to hire a new employee, and complete a performance review for another one, and get some invoices paid.

So far, I've always managed to accomplish everything I needed to eventually, but now I'm wondering how. No wonder I'm behind all the time if I'm interrupted every 15 minutes to deal with one issue after another. Maybe I need to designate some "leave me alone" time each day and close my door and turn off the phone. However, I'm the only person with an office but no window, so I'd worry people would think I'm taking a nap or something while I'm ignoring them.

Pleh, maybe I will. I'm not getting anything done as it is. I might as well take advantage.

You Know What Would Be Cool?

It would be cool if there were some sort of website or application that would rank your potential "compatibility" with other bloggers by comparing the amount of overlap in each other's BlogRolls.

Does this exist, and if not, when do you plan to invent it?

Monday, December 03, 2007

28 Things, More or Less

I got a little OCD with witchypoo about the fact there is no #2 on this list. I figure if I'm going to be all over-invested in its ordinal consistency, the least I can do is play along.

1. Any nicknames? Not really. I do go by my middle name instead of my first.

3. Favorite drink? Wine, and I'm not too picky about it.

4. Any tattoos? Yep, my astrological symbol on my belly. I went on a road trip with two of my friends in college, and we all got tattoos in Pittsburgh.

5 Body piercing? Just my ears.

6. How much do you love your job? I love working on a cause I believe in, and that makes me happy everyday. On a day to day basis, I love my job completely about 99% of the time. The other 1% of the time I'm crying quietly to myself with my office door closed.

7. Favorite vacation spot? I couldn't pick one spot. I love to travel.

8. Ever been to Africa? No. I hope to have the chance to go and visit my uncle, who is in the foreign service, if he gets reassigned to an African country.

9. Ever eaten cookies for dinner? Yes. Sometimes I don't even bake them first.

10. Ever been on TV? Once, answering phones for the local public television pledge drive.

11. Ever steal any traffic signs? No. But I did used to collect those little bumps that divide the lanes on the road. I had small white and yellow ones, white and orange reflective ones, and one of those giant yellow ones that mark a left turn lane. I always coveted the blue reflective ones that mark fire hydrants, but I wasn't irresponsible enough to steal one, and I never found one that had come loose on its own.

12. Ever been in a car accident? One time, but it wasn't my fault.

13. Drive a 2-door or 4-door vehicle? 4-door with a hatch back.

14. Favorite pie? If I had to pick just one, I'd say cherry, but my love for pies is broad and deep.

15. Favorite Number? 7 or 17. My birth month is July, and I was born in 1977. The address of the first home we've ever owned begins and ends with seven. The last two jobs I've had hired me on the 17th of the month. Those numbers just keep popping up.

16. Favorite movie? Heathers

17. Favorite holiday? Thanksgiving

18. Favorite dessert? I can't narrow it down. My sweet tooth is mighty.

19. Favorite food? Sushi, and most things that come out of the ocean. Honorable mentions go to Tex-Mex and really garlicky Italian food.

20. Favorite day of the week? Saturday. It's the only day I can manage sleeping in and staying up late without having to worry about work.

21. Favorite brand of body wash? Evidently bath products are a popular gift for females, so I have received several metric butt loads of body wash over the years. When one bottle of body wash runs out, I just reach in the cabinet and choose another one at random.

22. Favorite toothpaste? Tom's of Maine, wintermint flavor.

23. Favorite smell? That's a hard question. I love the smell of onions frying, but I wouldn't want my shampoo to smell that way.

24. What do you do to relax? Read blogs and drink wine. Plant things. Take a hot shower. Knit. I really have the whole relaxing thing down.

25. Do you have a message to your friends reading this? The crow flies at midnight.

26. How do you see yourself in 10 years? Kind of the way I am now, only more so.

27. Furthest place you will send this message? Not too far, I'm pretty sure.

28. Who will respond the fastest? I'll be surprised if anyone does, to tell you the truth.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Adult Supervision

Last night I went to hang out with Jack (a.k.a. The Offspring). Earlier in the week my good sense was overcome by the sheer wonderfulness of the craft store, so I ended up with several wholesome activities to inflict upon The Offspring.

We started with the make your own Super Ball kit.

Let me advise you, if you have kids who are easily disappointed. Do not buy this toy for them. It is absolutely impossible to create balls that look anything like the ones on the package. Fortunately, The Offspring has reasonable expectations when it comes to truth in advertising, and was openly skeptical about the likelihood that our finished products would match those on the box. He was absolutely correct. We did manage to make a few bouceable balls, however.

Then, I tried to sell him on the pirate ship kit, but for some reason "coloring on wood" was a big turn off for The Offspring. I asked him if he had tried coloring on wood before, and he said yes but he wouldn't elaborate. Maybe one of his parental units could let me in on the coloring-on-wood related trauma he has experienced because that's just weird.

I didn't see any reason to expose the kid to the horrors of wood coloring, so we moved on to making sun catchers that look like bugs. We both thought this was pretty fun, and our bugs turned out quite beautifully.

We took a few breaks to play Guitar Hero, watch Futurama, and have a snack. I also managed to accidentally expose the poor child to sadomasochistic sex slavery (thanks a lot, network television) before distracting him with the movie Dodgeball.

Although we were peacefully coloring when The Offspring's folks came home, I have to admit he spent an awful lot of time flinging our homemade super balls at the walls while I made helpful suggestions like, "Let's see what happens if you throw two of them at the same time." But seriously, if I wanted to be all responsible and discipliney I'd have my own kids.