Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Looking Ahead

I woke at 6:00am thinking about the day before me.

I've been on PTO (paid time off) since a couple of days before Christmas. Time off that I desperately needed to get my head together again. It wasn't all fun and games, though. Due to work commitments, I thought that I'd have to spend a lot of time working during my "time off." Thankfully, my presence wasn't needed all that much. Today, I'd planned to get up, fire up the laptop, and tackle all of those emails that I'm sure have piled up in Outlook before diving into whatever work had popped up during my absence.

As I lay in bed, warm under the covers in the dark, listening to Avindair's measured breath of slumber, getting out of bed became a much more difficult prospect -- and I began to think. On the precipice of 2009, I thought about the past year. I thought about the year to come. I thought about what I needed and wanted for myself and my family.

I want:
- To put work in its proper place
- To have time for Avindair and I
- To enjoy our children while they are children
- To be supportive of my son
- To be patient with my daughter
- To be in the sun
- To find more joy in life
- Happiness to outweigh sadness
- Certainty to outweigh fear
- Friendship to outweigh lonliness
- To balance work with play
- To balance want to's with must do's
- To see more of the world
- To have the leisure to learn

There's so much uncertainty in the year ahead that may affect all of us with the economy and the political landscape shifting. So much fear and hope in our personal lives with family and work. I'd like to say that I'm looking forward to 2009, but in truth, I'm hesitant about it. I won't make resolutions. I won't make promises. I won't make predictions. There's just too much at stake.

Today is New Year's Eve 2008. Time to put work in its proper place and log in for the last day of the year.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Merry Christmas, Everyone!



A little gift from my favorite Christmas movie, "Love Actually". Enjoy!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Why... So... Serious?

My son as The Joker!

Happy Halloween



A Halloween gift by Edgar Allen Poe...

The Raven
First Published in 1845

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.'

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more,'

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,' said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you' - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!'
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!'
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,' said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
'Tis the wind and nothing more!'

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,' I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning - little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door -
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.'

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered - not a feather then he fluttered -
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before -
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.'
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.'

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,' said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of "Never-nevermore."'

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.'

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,' I cried, `thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he has sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!' I shrieked upstarting -
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Come on, Fashion Industry. Make up your minds.

Way back in July 2007 I posted a little rant, Size Does Not Make a Difference about women's clothing.

Now I'm seeing with my 11-year-old daughter's clothes.

At the beginning of the summer, I bought SportyGirl a couple of pairs of blue jeans at the Big Red Concentric Circles store. They were the store brand, size 10.

Fast forward to last week. The same size 10 jeans still fit SportyGirl, but they were getting worn out. Not wanting to send my child to school in hole-covered jeans (no matter how much she begs me to let her) we ran to the same store for the same size of the same store brand. Easy-peasy purchase, right?

I took them home, took off the tags, washed them and put them away for the school week. Yesterday she tried to put them on. Couldn't even get them buttoned. They were skin tight. Wuh?

SportyGirl, although she has a great attitude about weight, healthy eating and exercise, still falls prey to the media-hyped fat/skinny thing occasionally. Her eyes started to tear-up. "Am I getting fat?" she said.

I checked the label between the pair she'd been wearing and the pair we'd just purchased just a few months apart. Identical. I held them up together to match the seams. The new "size 10" pants... same brand... same size... same style... were now 2 inches smaller in the waist and legs. TWO INCHES! Her "old" size 10 pants still fit her to perfection. SportyGirl had to move up to a size 12, even though her body had not changed.

Our size-conscious society, keeps telling us to be healthy on one hand, while telling us to be size 2 on the other. There are girls SportyGirl's age (11), who are starving themselves and hurting their bodies to fit into these impossible and unhealthy sterotypes. Most of them aren't going to do a physical comparison of the clothing and think, "The clothing manufacturer changed the sizing." They'll think, "I'm fat. I've got to lose weight."

Yes, I know that one size isn't what matters. I know that the number doesn't matter, but it's a mind game. I've had some clothes for 15 years that fit me nearly the same now as they did then. Yes, I've put on a few pounds over the years, but when a Large from 10 years ago is a roomier fit than an XXL today? There's something wrong.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Maverick

You know, the word "maverick" gets thrown around a lot these days, but what does it really mean? The American Heritage Dictionary has two definitions:

1. An unbranded range animal, especially a calf that has become separated from its mother, traditionally considered the property of the first person who brands it.

2. One that refuses to abide by the dictates of or resists adherence to a group; a dissenter

Since McCain and Palin seem to agree with the Bush administration and the Republican party most of the time, I'm guessing that the second definition is wrong.

The first definition seems much more appropriate.

November 4 can't come soon enough. I'll never be able to watch "Top Gun" again.

BLOCKED!

No, not me. Someone else. Someone I thought was reasonably sane... until politics came up.

I actually blocked someone on my Facebook account.

I expressed my opinions about a certain candidate, as is my right to do, to have her reply, "Puh-leeese." Yes. "Puh-leeese." Much like an eye-rolling 14-year-old. A less than valid argument, I'd hazard to say. So I replied by providing validation for my beliefs. Another reply was given that hit yet another level of rude, sporting opinions that sounded as if they were gleaned from 1 minute of Bill O'Reilly sound bites.

Wanting to demonstrate that I actually make up my own mind based on multiple reputable sources, I refuted her unfounded claims and made a few valid arguments of my own, citing said reputable sources... and even quoting them.

Today, her reply had all the depth and weight of... of... well, the same uninformed rhetoric of the candidate she supports. My sources? Can't cite the New York Times! Can't cite CBS! Thery're left-leaning liberals patsys! Her sources? Guess she doesn't need them. Dirty political ads, frightenenly false email spam, and Rush Limbaugh seem to be proof enough.

So, I had two choices - keep up this ridiculous waste of time where I'd spend precious minutes of my life reading, researching and evaluating before sending back a measured and well thought out response...

... or I could lob one last volley and block this angry, intolerant, uninformed, and most of all rude former co-worker.

I chose the latter.

Bye!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

After the Smoke has Cleared

The one and only vice presidential debate for 2008 is over. I didn't need time to parse any of it. Biden was clearly superior in his grasp of policy and articulate in outlining the Obama / Biden ticket.

Palin on the other hand... well... it was the aural and visual equivalent of cotton candy. Much too sweet and no substance.

And that's all I have to say about that.

In Palin's Name

(Many apologies to my Babylon 5-savvy readers out there for the title...)

Just a little progress report on the Palin Planned Parenthood phenomena from The Democratic Daily:

"As of Friday, Planned Parenthood had taken in $802,678 in donations from 31,313 people, said a spokesman for the organization, Tait Sye."

Freakin' sweet.

Al Franken HATES PUPPIES!

The perfect political ad reply to the crap that Norm Coleman's campaign has been shoveling out to the airwaves:

I Pledge to Not be a Dumb-ass

My friend Teresa over at Anomalous Data posted this email she received from the AFA (American Family Association). If you'd like to see it for yourself, you can find it online. Here's the text:

Are you tired of the extremely bias reporting by ABC, NBC and CBS? Do something about it! Tell the networks you are fed up with their attack on conservatives. Join other Americans who are tired of these networks promoting Barack Obama and attacking Sarah Palin. Take the pledge to not watch ABC, NBC or CBS until after the November elections! When the networks lose viewers, they also lose money. If viewers aren’t watching their promotion of Barack Obama and their trashing of Sarah Palin, they are losing money!

Send a message! We are sick and tired of your bias reporting, and we are not going to watch it anymore!
We will keep you informed on the progress of The Viewers’ Pledge.
Results will be given to ABC, NBC, and CBS.
The Viewers Pledge’ simply states, "I pledge not to watch any news programs on ABC, NBC and CBS until after the November elections."

**************************

Brilliant. Let's encourage the voting populace to be sheltered and uninformed. While we're at it, let's tell them to put gum in their ears and stick their heads in the sand. They might as well keep them there after election day.

I made up my own pledge, anyone care to join me?

"I pledge to not blindly believe any more blatant lies or rampant speculation without performing due diligence by fact checking with multiple reputable sources to make up my own mind."

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Best VP Candidate the Republican Party can Offer?

Can anyone in good conscience vote for Sarah Palin? Check out this quote from an Associated Press article in the Star Tribune.

***************************************************************

Asked what other Supreme Court decisions she disagrees with, Alaska's governor couldn't name any.

"Well, let's see. There's, of course, in the great history of America rulings there have been rulings, that's never going to be absolute consensus by every American," Palin said. "And there are, those issues, again, like Roe v. Wade where I believe are best held on a state level and addressed there. So you know, going through the history of America, there would be others but ...."

Asked again to name a decision she disagreed with, Palin replied: "Well, I could think of, of any again, that could be best dealt with on a more local level. Maybe I would take issue with. But you know, as mayor, and then as governor and even as a vice president, if I'm so privileged to serve, wouldn't be in a position of changing those things but in supporting the law of the land as it reads today."

***************************************************************

Wow. That many words to actually say, "I don't know squat about the judicial history of the United States."

Excuse me, Governor, is there any valid question to a possible future vice president for which you can offer an intelligent, articulate, straight-forward answer? She's one wrestling pose away from "Idiocracy".

Monday, September 29, 2008

Make Your Opinion on Palin Heard... and Do Some Good

Since Sarah Palin was picked to be McCain's running mate, I've met ONE woman who's expressed support for her. Every other woman I've spoken to has more or less had this to say, "Sarah Palin doesn't represent me!" Someone came up with the brilliant plan that I've agreed to pass along. It's a way of demonstrating our lack of agreement with Sarah Palin's "moral compass" while simultaneously supporting a great organization that Caribou Barbie opposes -- Planned Parenthood. Many thanks to MadBlonde for forwarding this to me! Read on below:

****************************************************************

Instead of (in addition to?) us all sending around more emails about how horrible she is, let's all make a donation to Planned Parenthood in Sarah Palin’s name for reminding us of the importance of protecting our rights for birth control, women’s health and reproductive choice. This is a brilliant idea for $10, or even $5.

And here's the good part: when you make a donation to PP in her name, they'll send her a card telling her that the donation has been made in her honor. Here's the link to the Planned Parenthood website online donation form. [Note from Geek Goddess: I verified that this is the Planned Parenthood donation form.]

There is a short form to fill out that requires your name, address, email address, the name & the address of the person in whose honour you are donating, and you will need a credit card (if you don't have one, or prefer to have the cost come from another source, don't forget that PayPal now can generate a one-use credit card number for you). You must fill out the complete form & be sure to check the "in honour of" box, rather than just using the "donate online" link. If you include her name & address, PP will send an "in Sarah Palin's honor" card to her to let her know of the donation. I suggest you use the address for the McCain campaign headquarters [Note from Geek Goddess: The address below is not "campaign headquarters", but it is the Mid-Atlantic Regional Headquarters in Virginia, which I added to the address.], which is:

McCain for President
[Mid-Atlantic Regional Headquarters]
1235 S. Clark Street, 1st Floor
Arlington , VA 22202

The minimum online donation is $5, but there is also a printable form that you can mail in with a check (for more or even less). C'mon, women (& men)! It's got to be worth a few minutes & a few bucks to make your opinion heard WHERE IT COUNTS.

PS: make sure you use that link above or choose the pulldown of Donate–Honorary or Memorial Donations, not the regular “Donate Online”.

(Please cross post! Email! Spread the word!)

****************************************************

Just so you all know, IT'S WORKING! Here's an article from the Rocky Mountain News in Colorado. This email making its rounds on the Web is making a difference. Donations are pouring in to Planned Parenthood! From the article:

"Sarah Palin is not only anti-abortion but opposes abortion even in the case of rape or incest, a point she hammered home in the 2006 Alaska governor's race by saying she would oppose her daughter getting an abortion if she were raped. She said this month that she wants to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion, but will work with abortion-rights activists to find common ground on reducing the number of abortions."

This is not a woman I want speaking for me or my daughter in the White House or anywhere else. If you value your rights, put a few bucks where your mouth is, join tens of thousands in peaceful protest, and VOTE, too!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Remembering 9/11 with Jon Stewart

I know it's a few days past 9/11. Doesn't matter. I found this wonderful clip from the Jon Stewart show on Neil Gaimen's journal and had to share it. It's from his first show back on the air after 9/11.

Eat This -- Not That

The other day the kids and I were wandering Target, doing a little shopping. SportyGirl, always looking for ways to be healthy, found this book, Eat This Not That! For Kids! I was a bit skeptical, but after thumbing through the pages (and seeing the lovely discount coupon) decided to pick it up.

To say it was an eye-opener for both the kids and myself would be doing a disservice.

I've been a faithful label reader for many years now, but usually stopped at calories, fat, sodium, fiber and vitamins. I didn't pay all that much attention to sugars in the ingredients.

Since I read this book, I do now... and wow.

I was looking at the ingredients of a very popular granola bar. It's package says that it is 100% natural and an excellent source of whole grain. Natural ingredients don't always mean healthy. Out of the first eight ingredients, FOUR were sugar-based: Sugar (2nd), Honey (6th), Brown Sugar Syrup (7th), High Fructose Corn Syrup (8th).

I'd highly recommend the book. A perfect way for kids to learn to make good, or at least better choices in the world of prepared foods. Lots of pictures, current information and easy to understand. It's realistic about busy American family eating habits. There's a version out there for adults, too. I might just look it up.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Surreality Show

Perhaps the last chapter in the tale of my former boss. Robert Beale has finally been sentenced. James Walsh, writer at the Star Tribune, couldn't have summed it up better, "At his sentencing, Robert Beale alternated between remorse and existential diatribe. He got 11 years to sort things out."

You gotta read it to believe what he said.

Other RB related postings:

Get Used to Wearing Orange
Crazy talk! Crazy talk! Change the subject!
It Couldn't Have Happened to a Nicer Guy

Monday, September 01, 2008

Hello? Is this thing on?

It seems I'm back.

My blog has been down for weeks. Perhaps it was up and down. I got sick of trying to reach it and moved over to Live Journal with a new blog, Rhapsody, Too. Not sure which I'll keep going with now. I've got a lot of history here and it would be a pain to move it or archive it.

Time will tell.

Monday, August 11, 2008

You're Drivin' Me Crazy

Nah. I take that back. Not crazy. I'm actually quite impressed.

Last Saturday, I gave my son, MonkeyDude, his first driving lesson.

A full week before, he'd passed his learner's permit test. We won't have the actual piece of plastic for another couple of weeks. He could have had his permit last year, but we forgot to send him to driver's ed... and he didn't remind us. Driving just wasn't a big deal to him.

Even now, he'll be a junior in high school this fall with a full academic, extra-curricular and social calendar... soon to be adding his first job to the mix. Unfortunately, I'm still going to have to be his chauffeur. He has to have his permit for a full 6 months before moving on to some kind of low-level license with restricted driving privileges. Then another 6 months (I think), before he's allowed to drive for real.

Although he hadn't been in a hurry to drive, and seemed, really, to avoid it for awhile, actually enjoyed himself. He handled himself very well behind the wheel. Listened attentively to my instructions. Knew when he'd made a mistake and corrected for them. Asked good questions.

Granted, we only drove around the big high school parking lot, across one road, into another school parking lot and back, but for a first lesson he did well!

Color me proud.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Neil Gaiman - Storyeller Extraordinaire

I don't know what I haven't done this before now. I just added Neil Gaiman's online journal to my list of blogs. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

THANK YOU, SENATOR KLOBUCHAR!

Some of you may remember my post back in November 2007, "Your Papers, Please." I had discovered on a family trip that I'm one of the lucky, lucky people on the Department of Homeland Security's "Selectee" list. I regularly get the "special" screenings, can't print out plane tickets from home or from kiosks, get pulled from the airline gate for additional security checks... lucky me.

FINALLY, a politician is trying to fix it! Enter Senator Amy Klobuchar. I first heard about this on a Fox 9 news report tonight. (I know, I know... Fox News... but for this story, it was worth it.) Check out Senator Klobuchar's website to learn more.

I even wrote her and pointed her to my blog post from last year.

Oh, and apologized in advance for the occasional expletives from a very, very angry Geek Goddess.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Medora

These days I'm constantly running to catch up, but better late than never. A couple of weeks ago my parents took the kids to Medora, ND. They went to museums, saw the Medora musical, did the Pitchfork Fondue, went through Theodore Roosevelt National Park and saw wild horses and buffalo, went horseback riding, swam, romped... and had a generally wonderful time.

I'm awaiting some pictures that my parents took, but I had to share these from the Alien's cell phone.



Like grandfather, like grandson. This is my dad and my son, MonkeyDude. They'd just each bought themselves a new hat and settled into a bench to wait for my mom and the Alien.



Beautiful country in western North Dakota. I would love to see it myself some day.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bat Chat and Chewin' the Fat

Yesterday was... pretty good.

The kids and I woke up late. We divied up the household chores... they got a start while I made homemade biscuits and scrambled eggs for bruch. 11:00am was too late to call it breakfast.

For the past week, I'd promised them a movie after the weekly house cleaning. What was it to be? There are so many movies we've missed this summer. Something silly like Get Smart? A family-friendly adventure like Journey to the Center of the Earth? A promising sequel like Hellboy II? The mishmash of 70's memorabilia that is Mamma Mia? Nope. We opted for the newest Batman offering, The Dark Knight.

SPOILER-FREE BAT CHAT

MonkeyDude had already seen The Dark Knight at a midnight showing with his friends on Thursday and loved it. "This is the best movie of the year!" he exclaimed. "Heath Ledger redefines the Joker!"

My concern was that it would be too intense for the Alien. Let's face it. One of the things I love about the dark knight is that he's... well... dark. The Killing Joke is a masterpiece, but not for the kiddies. Of course, this girl's a big fan of relatively dark fandom material. And MonkeyDude was there to let me know if any particular part was particularly grim, so we decided it was okay.

I think she fared better than I did. I spent most of the film, instead of sitting back and just enjoying it, wondering if it was "too much." I have to admit, it really muted my enthusiasm for it. Not the film's fault. Mine. In this case, a rating of PG-13 was spot on.

Granted, I was already a bit skeptical walking in the door. I'd loved Michael Keaton's Batman in 1989 (but don't get me started on the leading lady). I've also never been that keen on Christian Bale or the last iteration, Batman Begins, depsite its inclusion of Michael Kane, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman in the supporting cast.

The Dark Knight brought back the stellar casting choices (and mercifully cast OUT Katie Holmes), while adding Heath Ledger to the mix. MonkeyDude was right. Ledger was absolutely mesmerizing as the Joker. He was psychotic and terrifying... so much so that I almost felt guilty laughing when he did something funny. How could I laugh at a gibbering sociopath? I couldn't help myself. Another brilliant young actor - gone before his time.

Aaron Eckhart also deserves props as Harvey Dent/Two-Face. His Dudley Do-Right turned to the the dark side was a heart-rending transformation. Screen veterans Michael Kane, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman, as usual, turned in wonderful, natural performances.

There was also a parade of B-list actors we recognized from television and movie favorites that surprised me: Keith Szarabajka (Angel, Star Trek, prolific voice actor), Nestor Carbonell (The Tick live action series), Eric Roberts (the kids rememberd him as the Master from the '96 Doctor Who movie with Paul McGann), and according to the credits, Anthony Michael Hall... although I can't remember seeing him in the movie. Huh.

I think I need to see this one again... sans the Alien. She and I will take in Mamma Mia next. I don't think Meryl Streep treats anyone to the disappearing pencil trick.

HELLO. I'M THE DOCTOR.

Later, at home, we turned on the latest, and last for two years, Doctor Who. The kids had seen it, but I hadn't. I know it was filled to the brim with fan-boy squee, but I loved it all the same. Yeah. I love the Doctor, and I'm not ashamed to say it.

After dinner, MonkeyDude was off to be with his friends. Kate and I putzed around the house until it was time to pick him up. Mostly here, the television stays off now. We got rid of all but the most basic cable, and TV is mostly shite. We've got enough around the house to keep us occupied.

We did do a bit of online shopping. Ordered personalized pencils for the Alien for the school year. They're Tardis blue, inscribed with - "Bad Wolf". I love my little nerd girl!

ANIMALS ON THE CHEAP

I love bargains. Today, our insurance company is treating us to a cheap day at the Minnesota Zoo. Discounted admission and chow. It's a helluva drive, but I've been looking forward to just strolling through the animules with the kidlins. I think the three of us need an outing together - especially with the work week looming on the horizon.

Suppose I'd better wake up the kidlins and get started on the day...

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ramblings of a Mad Woman

Forgive this post in advance, if you please.

It will more than likely be rambling, introspective, negative and a little whiney. But I've been way out of the posting habit for more than a few months and need to get back on the bicycle... horse... wagon... whatever it was I fell off of.

My brain isn't in a place for flowing prose right now, so allow me to set my thoughts up in neat categories.

Avindair
23 days ago, Avindair set out on a big adventure -- off to the DAVE School to change his career and our lives. He's doing amazing work, but the pace is almost overwhelming. The kids and I miss him, of course, but we're so proud of him and support him every step of the way. We count down the days until his first visit on our office whiteboard and calendar. One of his Block 1 images (made his second week of class) even made it to the DAVE School online gallery. Look for the Sideways Tanker image.

Kids
Doing remarkably well. They spent 1/3 of their summer spending as much time with Avindair as they could before he had to go. Then another week with the grandparents in North Dakota with a fun trip to Medora. Now they're back home, getting together with friends as much as possible and trying to get the most out of what's left of summer. MonkeyDude finished the classroom portion of driver's ed. Now I have to get him his permit and get him behind the wheel to practice. He's got a busy social life (and hopefullly a job soon, too), but with Minnesota's 3-stage process, he should have his license to drive alone sometime before he's 25. The Alien is just doing her best to be with friends and keep her room from having a "hazard" label put on it.

Work
I love my new job. It's absolutely perfect for me. But even the best jobs have their rough patches. It's a long story, but the last few weeks have been more than challenging in the sleep department. As in "not getting much." Suffice it to say, due to many big projects due all at once, it's been less than rosie. Last week I logged 80 hours. Last night I pulled an extra 11 hours and was up until 545am. This craziness won't last forever, but my batteries are not recharging like they need to. Last Friday I was literally fit to be tied - completely burned out and exhausted. I'm happy to say that this week has been much better and I'm learning to put the needs of the schedule in perspective.

One HUGE plus in my job is the ability to work from home... pretty much any time I need to. That flexibility in my schedule is true blessing. I also have a fantastic boss and co-workers. And I love, love, love what I do.

Life in General
In some ways, Avindair's absence has been easier than I'd thought. Both of us are so busy - he with school, and me with work, kids and home - that we hardly have time to miss each other a lot. The missing is almost harder when we have down time. Weekends are the toughest.

I spent one week alone when the kids were away with my parents. Unfortunately, it was the one week where I worked an ungodly number of hours. I had hoped that I'd have been able to use that week as much-needed downtime, but no luck. On the other hand, with no one else in the house... just me and Houdini Poochini... the house stayed remarkably clean.

This weekend I'm forcing myself to NOT work (with the exception of about 2 hours of freelance stuff I promised to do). Tomorrow is yard work, a little housecleaning, some errands and a movie with the kids. Sunday we're going to the zoo. I need to spend time with my kids and not with my computer.

I'm off to hang out with the Alien. She wants to read me an article about Doctor Who (I STILL haven't watched the last episode!). Then later, it's off to pick up MonkeyDude from the theater. He went out to dinner and a movie with some pals. I'll have a brownie that just came out of the oven, pour a little glass of wine, and kick back.

Maybe I'll get around to watching that last Doctor Who...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Not Too Shabby...

Your result for The Commonly Confused Words Test...

English Genius

You scored 100% Beginner, 100% Intermediate, 100% Advanced, and 87% Expert!


You did so extremely well, even I can't find a word to describe your excellence! You have the uncommon intelligence necessary to understand things that most people don't. You have an extensive vocabulary, and you're not afraid to use it properly! Way to go!


Thank you so much for taking my test. I hope you enjoyed it!



For the complete Answer Key, visit my blog: http://shortredhead78.blogspot.com/.

Take The Commonly Confused Words Test at HelloQuizzy

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Believe It or Not, I'm Still Here

No, I haven't posted much lately.

No, I'm not likely to post much for at least another week or so.

We're busy preparing the NerdPod for Avindair to "depart the fix." In less than a week, he'll be heading off to DAVE School for a year. I'll write more about it later. Right now, I'm just concentrating on him, the kids, and my new job.

But, just to show that I'm still here, I stole this from MagicMarmot. Okay. So I just stole the questions. I made up my own answers.

1. First Name:
Kristi. Just Kristi. Not short for Christina or Christine. Spelled with a "K", not a "Ch". Spelled with an "i", not "ie" or "y". I've been explaining that since Kindergarten, so I'm well-practiced.

2. Age:
In 6 months I'll be equal to the answer to the question of life, the universe and everything.

3. Location:
At my desk, in front of the Mac I love so very much, in my darkened office in a northern Minneapolis suburb... wondering how the contents of my Diet Coke can disappeared so quickly.

4. Occupation:
New job. Web Content Manager for a major initiative of a worldwide health care insurance provider. I also do freelance writing on the side.

5. Partner:
The love of my life, Avindair.

6. Kids:
Two great kids: MonkeyDude (16) and The Alien (11). I couldn't be more proud.

7. Brothers/Sisters:
None. I'm an only child. Unless you count the cranky, but loved poodle I grew up with. We did often fight like sisters.

8. Pets:
Buddy, our sweet, black (and turning grey) poodle. AKA NerdHound, Shadow Dogbreath, Houdini Poochini, Fuzzy Butt, Waggy-Tail Dog, CatDog, and other endearing names.

9. List the 3-5 biggest things going on in your life:
-- Avindair heading off to school for a year.
-- New job.
-- Facing temporary single-mom status.
-- Learning to balance freedom / parenting for a 16-year-old boy just getting his driving permit and his first job.
-- Dealing with an increasingly hormonal 11-year-old daughter.

10. Education:
As a formal education, I have a Bachelor of Arts in English that's actually served me well. I'd love to be able to go back to school one day, just to learn about things I feel like learning about.

11. Parents:
Mom, 64, living in North Dakota to care for her elderly mother.
Dad, 67, living in Mississippi to care for his elderly mother.

12. Who are some of your closest friends?
My husband is my closest friend. But outside the NerdPod locally, it would be MagicMarmot, Saveau and Garret. PenMaster and Bunnie from afar.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Your Stupid? Or My Stupid?

The other day, during my lengthy new commute, I got stuck behind a bright yellow XTerra. The back was covered in stickers expressing the "My incredible, brightly-colored, 4-wheel drive vehicle exemplifies that I lead a life of adventure and I'm better than you!" attitude of its driver. All very well and good, I suppose, except for 10 white sticker letters mounted on the back window, just above the rear wiper. These letters proudly stated, "YOUR STUPID".

It gave me no end of amusement the rest of the way home.

Yes, yes. I know I've been away for awhile. Lots of stuff going on. So sue me!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Giving to a Good Cause... or Two!

Two good causes that are close to my heart are coming up soon. If AIDS or breast cancer have touched your life in any way, please consider donating.

Minnesota AIDS Walk

Last year, Avindair, our kids, our friend Garrett, and I walked as Team Stone Soup. We won't be able to team up this year, but I still encourage everyone to make a donation to this great cause. No amount is too small, it all adds up. This year the walk is on May 18. If you don't have a team or person to support, you can still make a donation to the organization. Once again, I've thrown a few dollars in the kitty in memory of my uncle, Dale Christopher.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure

My good friend Trees has accepted the challenge to walk 60 miles in The Breast Cancer 3-Day. She'll do the walk for (and with) her best friend Sue on their team, Beautiful Feat! She has to raise $2,200 by the time she ties on her walking shoes September 19-21. Please help Trees and her team reach their goal! How I wish I could join them!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Get Used to Wearing Orange

What d'ya know? The justice system DOES work once in a while!

Few things in life put a spring in one's step more than having a former boss convicted of tax evasion. Life is good.

From the Star Tribune: Up to 10 years in prison for millionaire tax dodger

One of my favorite quotes from the article, "When Beale was arrested in November at a strip mall in Orlando, Fla., he was carrying a fake passport and driver's license issued from "The Kingdom of Heaven," something he had copied off the Internet."

Fucking brilliant. It's a good thing he decided to represent himself, or a lawyer may have tried to get him off on an insanity plea.

My past posts on the subject:
Crazy Talk! Crazy Talk! Change the Subject!
It Couldn't Have Happened to a Nicer Guy

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Long and Literary Post

I found this on MagicMarmot's blog.

I wasn't going to give in. I mean, post 106 book titles? What am I? Crazy?

My English degree won me over and here I am.

From MagicMarmot:

What we have here are the top 106 books most often marked as "unread" by LibraryThing’s users. As in, they sit on the shelf to make you look smart or well-rounded. Bold the ones you've read, underline the ones you read for school, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
Catch-22
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi : a novel
The Name of the Rose (and I liked the movie)
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Ulysses
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad
Emma
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Middlesex
Quicksilver
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian : a novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
Middlemarch
Frankenstein
The Count of Monte Cristo
Dracula
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible : a novel
1984
Angels & Demons
The Inferno
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les Misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Dune
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes : a memoir
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
Cryptonomicon
Neverwhere
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
Dubliners
The Unbearable Lightness of Being (HATED the movie)
Beloved
Slaughterhouse-five
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Lolita
Persuasion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

To total up:
Read on my own: 16
Read for school: 22
Started but didn't finish: 7

Monday, April 28, 2008

Happy Birthday, Magic Marmot!

I took a page from the blog of MadBlonde for this one. She posts pictures of fun birthday cakes for friends' birthdays. Thought I'd try it on for size.

Since I'm AT work right now, I didn't want to risk searching for anything NSFW. I couldn't find a marmot cake, but I figured, "Hey! Marmots live in burrows. Rabbits live in burrows. Marmots eat... stuff. Rabbits eat carrots... but they both eat. Marmots are fluffy and fuzzy... so are rabbits."



Besides, Bugs Bunny is smart...

... and so is Magic Marmot.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

So... on Target?


My Personality
Neuroticism
40
Extraversion
20
Openness to Experience
44
Agreeableness
27
Conscientiousness
52
You are a calm person who is considered almost fearless by some, however you tend to lack energy and have difficult initiating activities. You get overwhelmed by too much noise and commotion and do not like thrill-seeking activities. You tend not to express your emotions openly and are sometimes not even aware of your own feelings. You do not enjoy confrontation, but you will stand up for yourself or push your point if you feel it is important, however you generally see others as selfish, devious, and sometimes potentially dangerous. You take your time when making decisions and will deliberate on all the possible consequences and alternatives.


Take a Personality Test now or view the full Personality Report.

The best UGG Boots.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Crazy talk! Crazy talk! Change the subject!

"Crazy talk! Crazy talk! Change the subject!" -- Arthur, The Tick

Fans of the short-lived, live-action version of The Tick will remember that line above, delivered frantically by the Tick's sidekick, Arthur.

Someone should have thought to offer that advice to my former boss. Last August I posted about the Nerd Clan's pilgrimage to the Twin Cities and what part the company I worked for played in that. The post was prompted by a Star Tribune article, outlining the CEO and his dash from the law due to tax evasion.

After 14 months as a fugitive, authorities caught up with him on November 1, 2007 in Orlando, FL. I guess Mickey Mouse is a draw for tax evading religious zealots. Anywho, he's back in the Twin Cities, on trial, providing his own defense. But if he wasn't in enough trouble already, check out this article from the Star Tribune on Monday. Apparently, even from his jail cell, he's still having chats with God. It seems that God isn't too fond of the judge assigned to his trial. Allegedly, he told his common law wife, "God ... wants me to take the judge out, that's what he wants me to do," and "Once I take down Ann Montgomery, no judge in the whole court will have anything to do with me."

Good job. Nicely done! If you're going to make secret plans to get rid of a judge, the perfect means of communications is to do it through RECORDED PHONE CALLS FROM JAIL to result in the arrest of your accomplices. Very sneaky!

Yes. I'll watch this trial over the next two weeks with great interest.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tagged!

I've been tagged by CubeZoo!

The rules:

1. Pick up the nearest book (at least 123 pages).
2. Turn to page 123.
3. Find the 5th sentence
4. Post the 5th sentence on your blog.
5. Tag 5 people.

"There's my picture: and I'm his friend - so much so, that had he thought seriously to catch you, I should, perhaps, have held my tongue, and let you fall into his trap." (Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte)

And now the tagged:

Anomalous Data
Room to Ruminate
Madblonde
Wild Colonial Boy
MagicMarmot

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hot and Cold Running Air

Taking a quick break from working at home today. We're finally replacing our ancient furnace and central air conditioning. We scored a great deal on having both installed at once, and we jumped at the opportunity.

The furnace was original with the house, built in 1980. It was loud, smelly, and had an efficiency rating indicated by a pictograph of a neanderthal rubbing sticks together. The A/C was on it's last legs, having been repaired several times by Minnegasco, often through the shaking of ceremonial beads, banging of drums, and sacrificing of chickens.

It was time.

In the seven years that we've "owned" this house, this is just the latest in a running list of repairs and replacements, including but not limited to: water heater, water softener, sump pump, refrigerator, dish washer, garbage disposal, roof, tree removal... and more!

In short, our house inspector was a freakin' moron.

Now, however, we'll have a brand new efficient furnace with a digital thermostat, an A/C that actually works when you turn it on, and it's all backed by a full warranty. In June we're having the house painted and deck stained again. We're putting in some new flooring, taking on some interior improvements ourselves. It'll be nice.

Now if we could just afford new windows, a new deck door, landscaping...

Tell me again why home ownership is better than renting?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Positive Post #10

Yes. It's been a long time since I've posted.

Yes. I feel guilty.

Yes. This is a lame-o Positive Post, but here it is.

2007 TAXES ARE DONE!

No more tax prep worries for at least... several... months.

Hey. I tried.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Stone Soup on TrekMovie.com!

Proud wife moment! Avindair's latest trailer for "Valdez" has been picked up by TrekMovie.com. Scroll down to "New Star Trek Trailer."

Wow!

Monday, March 31, 2008

A 3-Year Old Explains Star Wars

I couldn't resist this. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Walk Down Horror-Filled Memory Lane

Back in 2002, I co-hosted a few episodes of "Horror, Inc." on KSTC Channel 45 with Jake Esau. When Jake went off the air as TV's Count Dracula and the show was reincarnated with Uncle Ghoulie (Thom Lange) and Carbuncle (Tim McCall), the fans asked that I make a come-back. That led to our independent film group, Stone Soup Films, working as the crew and sometimes cast of "Horror, Inc." in 2003 and 2004.

Recently, Tim McCall has begun posting the bits that we filmed on YouTube. I thought I'd offer up the ones that featured me or Avindair.

DISCLAIMER:

1. The budget per episode wouldn't pay for a family of five to have a reasonable dinner out.
2. Our schedule consisted of filming FOUR episodes in ONE two-day weekend.
3. We often didn't get to memorize the script until the day that we filmed.

So, no... it's not my best acting! These are just a smattering of what we did.

The Mesa of Lost Women - Part 3 (Lawyer)



Creature from the Haunted Sea - Part 2 (Lawyer and Swimsuit Babe)



The Crawling Hand - Part 2 (Geek Goddes as Lawyer and Avindair with his awesome homemade steady cam work)



The Brain that Wouldn't Die - Part 2 (Swimsuit Babe)



The Bat - Part 2 (Avindair as Weird Hick Guy, Avindair and Geek Goddess as NRA Representatives)



Lady Frankenstein - Part 2 (Lawyer)



Nosferatu - Part 3 (Caterer)

Friday, March 21, 2008

"I Wanna Be Your Tribal Dancer!"

Friday mornings aren't a good time for puns. Comparing this woman's art to Tina Turner's "Private Dancer"... less than stellar, GeekGoddess.

I found this amazing woman on Bohemian Rhapsody's blog. Rachel Brice is a tribal dancer extraordinaire. Check out these videos! I guarantee it will kick-start your weekend.



Wait till you see her drop to the floor in this one. Amazing!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Positive Post #9 - Good Dog

Another home-grown Positive Post today.

This morning at around 230am, we woke to the sound of dogs barking and our dog, the ever-viglant NerdHound, growling at the window.

A few months back, one of our cars was broken into and our GPS stolen. Although we've since installed motion detection lighting and an intrustion alarm system, we're still wary.

Tony poked his head out the bedroom window. "The motion light's been triggered. Did you park your car in the garage last night?"

"No," I said. "I would have had to move your car over more and forgot about it. Crap."

We rushed out of the bedroom and down the front stairs. I threw open the front door and walked out. If there was someone lurking about, I wanted to scare the crap out of them.

Instead, I saw a very large dog standing at the end of our driveway in the darkness. Staring intently at me.

Uh, oh. My first thought was, "Get back in the house. NOW." You never know what the behavior of big, lone, wandering dogs will be. The last thing *I* wanted to be was another dog attack victim.

By the time I closed the screen door behind me, HE was on the other side.

HE was a very large golden lab. He looked sweet, cold, and seemed to be begging for human attention... and he had a collar labeled "Scruffy" with two phone numbers. Now we had a name for him.

I carefully opened the door a couple of inches and firmly grabbed his collar, trying to keep NerdHound from coming through the door at the same time. NerdHound was aggressively curious, as poodles can be. Scruffy was quiet and friendly. "How you doing, Scruffy?" He looked up at me with happy chocolate eyes. Sweet pooch.

I read off the local phone number to Avindair. I heard him speak into the phone. "I'm sorry to get you out of bed, but we found your dog wandering in our street." He gave detailed directions to the house and promised we'd be waiting at the door.

Avindair picked up NerdHound and kept him at a distance, while I brought Scruffy into our entryway. He was cold and muddy, but gentle and quiet. Never made a sound the entire time. I scratched his ears, said his name a lot, and told him he was a good dog.

A few minutes later, a car pulled up at the end of our driveway. A slim, middle-aged woman, who had the distinct appearance of someone woken up in the middle of the night, got out and cautiously came up the walk. I'd be cautious, too, if I was walking up to a stranger's house at almost 3 in the morning.

Scruffy, we learned, had been gone for some time. They'd almost given up hope of finding him. I immediately thought of all the hungry and cold days and nights he'd probably had to endure. As the woman leaned in to take hold of his collar, she pressed a $10 bill into my hand.

"Thank you for finding him. Please take it for your trouble," she said.

I handed it back to her. "Oh, no! He was a good pooch. No trouble at all. It's just good to know that he's going home!"

She thanked me again and herded Scruffy into her car.

Getting up at 230am is no fun. Doing a good deed at 230am is.

And, since we never would have discovered Scruffy without NerdHound's alert, he got a biscuit before he went back to bed. Good dog.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Woe is Me


Stuffy nose. A vague fuzzy, humming in my ears. Sinuses that feel like they're packed with wet cement. A painfully red nose. Headache. Muscle ache. Sore throat. Chills.

The cold and flu season is my bane this year.

I wash my hands. I had my flu shot. I take my vitamins. I even regularly disinfected my desk and keyboard at work.

I've had the flu -- twice. It made at least a couple of laps at our house. Now Monkey Dude and I both have killer colds.

Misery, thy name is GeekGoddess.

As much as I'd like to, I can't call in sick this week. I'm taking next week off, and I hope and pray that I'm well by then. I have a document due tomorrow that MUST get done before I leave.

It feels all the worse to me because before I came back to a regular 9-5 gig, I was healthy. When I was freelancing, I went years without severe colds or flu. One year back in an office and I've been sick more than I can count.

An excellent argument for more telecommuting.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Positive Post #8

I admit it. I'm a little behind on my Positive Posts. The final week of "Sound of Music" performances really took it out of me. Here's my positive post for the day:

"Sound of Music" is done!

Even though I'm relieved that it's done and I can get back to my regularly scheduled life programming, I have many positive things to say about it:

1. It was great to be back on stage again.
2. It was great to have the challenge of live theater again.
3. It was great to be in a show with Avindair again.
4. It was my first show that A) had a run that long and B) was over 98% sold out. Only 11 unsold seats - over 5,100 tickets sold.
5. We met a lot of great people.
6. We worked with a fantastic cast and crew.
7. We got a foot in the door at an active and successful community theater.
8. It helped us get through the worst part of the winter.
9. We got the kids involved in ushering. Monkey Dude worked the last show, even though he was exhausted from closing "The Laramie Project" the night before. Adventure Girl worked at all of the last six shows, impressing the volunteer coordinator so much that she emailed us and told us so.
10. It completely pushed my endurance limits for a show and proved to me that I can do more than I thought I could.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I have to share this little St. Patty's Day goodie with everyone. One of our fellow cast members from "Sound of Music" sent this my way today. THANK YOU, Sharon!

The best rendition of "Danny Boy"... EVER!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Creepy Argentinian Gnome Video


Weird news alert! Apparently a small gnome-like creature has been terrorizing a small town in Argentina. According to the Belfast Telegraph, it stalks the streets at night with a creepy sideways walk. Here's the video that was caught. The "gnome" only shows up on the last few seconds of the video.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Positive Post #7

A replacement for petroleum-based plastics?

There may still be hope.

Finally, an Explanation for Nigerian Spam

Who hasn't received one of those odd Nigerian spam emails asking for help in claiming a lost inheritance or other such crap? Ever wonder why the language in them was so... well... odd?

It seems that Nigerians have allowed English to go it's own way, with words that survived from early Victorian-era colonists mixed with the syntax and grammar of indigenous African languages.

It's either linguists nightmare or doctoral study dream!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Now Playing - The Laramie Project

Our son, Monkey Dude, has taken a big step into the world of theater.

Last night, I went to the second dress rehearsal of "The Laramie Project" at Maple Grove Senior High School. This is a powerful and challenging story for a high school theater, and I applaud them having the guts to do it. Here's an excerpt from the school's web page dedicated to the show:

"In October 1998 a twenty-one-year-old student at the University of Wyoming was kidnapped, severely beaten and left to die, tied to a fence on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming. His name was Matthew Shepard, and he was the victim of this assault because he was gay. Moises Kaufman and fellow members of the Tectonic Theater Project made six trips to Laramie over the course of a year and a half in the aftermath of the beating and during the trial of the two young men accused of killing Shepard. The conducted more than 200 interviews with the people of the town. Some people interviewed were directly connected to the case and others were citizens of Laramie. THE LARAMIE PROJECT chronicles the life of the town of Laramie in the year after the murder. Kaufman and the Tectonic Theater members have constructed a deeply moving theatrical experience from these interviews and their own experiences. THE LARAMIE PROJECT is a breathtaking theatrical collage that explores the depths to which humanity can sink and the height of compassion of which we are capable."

Each actor in the show portrays several real-life characters. Monkey Dude himself, has five. Even at a dress rehearsal, these young actors brought the professionalism and gravity of the subject to light with surprising talent and thoughtfulness.

If you're in the area and you have the opportunity, see this show!

Location:
Maple Grove Senior High Auditorium

Performances:
March 13, 14 and 15
7:00pm

Tickets:
Call 763-391-8736 or email mgshdrama@gmail.com.
Adults - $8
Seniors - $5
Students - $5

Adult Advisory:
This show contains strong adult language and themes that may not be suitable for all audiences. Discretion is advised.

For more information, visit the Matthew Shepard Foundation.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Always Look on the Bright Side of Death (Warmed Over)

WARNING: Long pissing, moaning, and whining post ahead... with a happy ending.

It's a phrase my family used to use if someone looked very tired or sick, "Oofta! You look like death warmed over!" Its usage was so common, that I never really considered how horribly dark that statement was until I was much older.

Today, along with the rest of the NerdPod, I feel like death warmed over.

Why?

1. Tomorrow begins our last run of Sound of Music. Six performances in a row. Last week it was five followed by two days off. Great people. Lots of fun. But after several months of rehearsals and almost 20 performances spanning five months, I'm running out of steam.

2. Big projects at work sucking up all available brain power. By the time I finish up an hour of commute and 8 hours of work each day, I'm absolutely mentally drained.

3. Monkey Dude's rehearsals for his play keep us hopping in the short period between leaving work and getting to the theater for our own show AND on the days we don't have a performance. Last night's dress rehearsal went past 1130pm.

4. Adventure Girl has a life, too. We've had to juggle her school commitments, as well as plan a social calendar for her when Monkey Dude isn't available. We owe Adventure Girl's friend's parents for all the sleepover invites that have accomodated our hectic schedule.

5. Round and round it goes sickness. We've hardly gone a week in the past two months without someone in the family having some version of flu, cold, or just plain exhaustion-induced ickiness.

6. Health issues of close and distant family has had me worried. It wears on the psyche.

7. Avindair's work has been a constant source of irritation, like a rabid weasel in one's underwear.

7. All work and no play has made Jill a grumpy bitch goddess. Each day, for months, has been jam-packed with have-to's from before sun up to after sun down. My juggling act is suffering as all but the most important red, bouncy balls get dropped.

There is some good, though. To drop a cliche, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. A few of them, in fact.

1. By this time next week, there are no commitments on our calendar for the next few months.

2. A hectic day will mean going to work and running a few errands on the way home.

3. We're both taking some time off over Spring Break when the kids are out of school. We are not going away. We are not going on a vacation. We're staying home. Get up when we feel like it. Do some projects around the house that have been nagging at us. Getting things accomplished for US, not for someone else.

4. We'll have time to be social again. Invite friends over to watch a movie or play games.

5. We'll be able to eat dinner as a family and spend time together again.

6. It's Spring! The weather is warming up. Now we can take walks by the lake after work and maybe the trails at Elm Creek on weekends. I had my first walk-around-the-building at work today after months!

7. I'll have the energy to exercise in the morning, like I've been wanting to.

8. We've made some new friends with Sound of Music and hope to nurture some of those friendships past the final curtain.

9. We got our foot in the door at a remarkable community theater. It's great to be back on stage, and once we've rested up, we'll be auditioning again... later. *grin*

10. St Patrick's Day the whole family gets to see Gaelic Storm!

I know it's another cliche, but it fits. Sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees. I'm weary beyond belief today and don't quite know how we're going to make it through the week. I had to scramble up a veritable old oak and get some perspective before I lost all hope.

It didn't give me the rest of a full night's sleep, but it did help quell some of the frustration. I'll just play the last scene of Monty Python's The Life of Brian in my head and remember these important words:

Some things in life are bad,
They can really make you mad,
Other things just make you swear and curse,
When you're chewing life's gristle,
Don't grumble,
Give a whistle
And this'll help things turn out for the best.
And...

Always look on the bright side of life.
[whistle]
Always look on the light side of life.
[whistle]

If life seems jolly rotten,
There's something you've forgotten,
And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
When you're feeling in the dumps,
Don't be silly chumps.
Just purse your lips and whistle.
That's the thing.
And...

Always look on the bright side of life.
[whistle]
Always look on the right side of life,
[whistle]

For life is quite absurd
And death's the final word.
You must always face the curtain with a bow.
Forget about your sin.
Give the audience a grin.
Enjoy it. It's your last chance, anyhow.
So,...

Always look on the bright side of death,
[whistle]
Just before you draw your terminal breath.
[whistle]

Life's a piece of shit,
When you look at it.
Life's a laugh and death's a joke it's true.
You'll see it's all a show.
Keep 'em laughing as you go.
Just remember that the last laugh is on you.
And...

Always look on the bright side of life.
Always look on the right side of life.
[whistle]
[repeat and fade out]

Positive Post #6

My mom has a water cooler in her basement. The kind that you'd find in an office breakroom. At least once a month, a delivery guy comes by to haul those big heavy bottles of water down the stairs. Several times a month, my mother has to lift one of those suckers into place. All this just to have good drinking water in the house. It's expensive, it takes up storage space, and it's generally a nuisance.

What if you could create water... out of thin air?

A Houston company has done just that. Aquamaker converts the humidity in the air into water. It works virtually everywhere in the world, including the desert, filters out pollutants, refills itself, and (if you're not using a solar powered version) uses about 1/4 of the electricity of an eletric kettle. Plus, they're competitively priced.

This could especially be a boon to remote villages where clean water sources are scarce. They make a 5,000 litre capacity machine that runs on a solar-powered generator.

Wow!

Read more about the Aquamaker in The Jerusalem Post.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Dinner and a Show? See a Loan Officer First.

It had been a long week: work, school, our son's rehearsals, our own performances, and battling seasonal health crud. We'd hardly seen the kids. They'd pretty much taken care of themselves for the past week. As a reward to them for being so helpful and responsible, and as a treat for ourselves, we decided to go to a silly movie and have dinner out.

First stop, the movie theater to buy our tickets in advance. For three adults and one child, $33.00! $33.00 for four people to gather with other people in a large darkened room and view celluloid being run past a lightbulb. Buy popcorn and four drinks, and the theater doubles their take.

If that weren't bad enough, we decided to have dinner out as a family. Something we hadn't done for weeks. Since California Pizza Kitchen was walking distance from the theater, we figured that was as good a place as any. Monkey Dude ordered the Thai Chicken Pizza, Spaghetti Bolognese for Avindair, Fettucini Alfredo for Adventure Girl, and some veggie-filled pasta thing for me. Add in four soft drinks. Wanna guess the total? The bill came to over $60.00. With tip, what we would consider a not at all fancy dinner, totaled over $80.00. Tell me that isn't highway robbery.

Granted, the prices were on the menus... I guess none of us thought about it as we ordered. But we'd been there before and didn't have to choke on the bill. No doubt that the prices have gone up. Considerably.

So, dinner and movie out for a family of four was over $100.

It's no wonder that home theaters are booming. Families can't afford to go out any more. When I was a kid, a movie was inexpensive entertainment. (A generation before, for my parents, even more so. Or should I say "less"?) Mom would drop me off at the theater with a friend and about $5. We'd have enough for admission, a drink, and a treat - with change left over. Now, if the kids want to go to a show with a friend, I practically have to fork over a $20. Am I the only one who thinks that's nuts?

Every family has something that they love to do. We are a movie-loving family. It's our thing. But from now on, with very few exceptions, movies are going to be at home, matinee only (because that's expensive enough), or at the cheap $2.00 theater.

Dining out, which had become less frequent as it was, will also become a rare event. Groceries prices have gone up, too, but I can feed my entire family a meal for the cost of one plate at a restaurant. I'd rather sit around the house eating bologna sandwiches with Avindair and kids, playing a board game, than shell out the geld for something like that again.

In fact... that sounds pretty damn good!

Postive Post #5

Soon, telling someone that they're full of hot air may no longer be an insult. French engineer Guy Negre has developed a 5-passenger concept car that runs on compressed air!

For a no-frills, economical, get-around vehicle, he may just have something. Check out the article from BBC news for the details.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Getting High... Legally!

Time for some silliness! It's going to be a long day at the theater, so I'm putting my brain on hold for a few hours. Behold! A meme ganked from Magic Marmot!

1. Did you date someone from your school?
Yes. I had a few dates.

2. Did you win anything in Senior's Who's Who?
Not that I remember.

3. What kind of car did you drive?
A dark blue, 1980 Dodge Omni. Loved that car!

4. It's Friday night...where r u at?
Usually hung out with my girlfriends. We were like the four musketeers.

5. Were you a party animal?
Ha! No. Not me. I played by the rules 90% of the time.

6. Were you considered a flirt?
No. I didn't know HOW to.

7. Were you in band, orchestra, or choir?
Orchestra (viola) and choir.

8. Were you a nerd?
Of a kind. In the '80's, nerds were supposed to be socially awkward guys with tape on their glasses. I was a theater/music/speech nerd. Knew I was different, but later embraced my nerd-dom.

9. Did you get suspended/expelled?
Nope. Never got in trouble in high school.

10. Can you sing the fight song?
I remember the whole damn thing!

11. Who were your favorite teachers?
My theater teacher, Cyndee Brown. She was a big influence. My French teacher, whose name shamefully escapes me at the moment.

12. Where did you sit during lunch?
As a sophomore, mostly at our theater/music/speech table. As a junior and senior I transitioned to mostly walking downtown and getting something really bad for me, like a Baby Ruth bar and a Coke!

13. What was your school's full name?
Grand Forks Central High School

14. School mascot?
An Indian... or should I say "Native American"? We were the politically incorrect "Redskins" back then.

15. Homecoming court?
Ha! Not a chance!

16. If you could go back and do it again, would you?
I'm sure there are some things I would have done differently, but even the mistakes molded me.

17. What do you remember most about graduation?
Eh. I remember it. Don't think much about it.

18. Where did you go senior skip day?
There was a Skip Day?

19. Have u gained some weight since then?
Oh, yeah.

20. Who was your Senior prom date?
I didn't get invited to Senior Prom. I threw a party for the girls I knew that didn't get invited.

21. Are you planning on going to your 10 year reunion?
I went to the 10-year and the 20-year. With the exception of a few people we spent time with, it was generally the same cliques and bullshit 20 years on.

22. Who was your home room teacher?
I don't even remember. I was never IN homeroom. That's when they fit in orchestra class.

23. Who will repost
Not a clue.

24. Did you play any sports?
No. But I did go to the occasional game. To quote the original "high school musical", Grease, "If you can't be an athlete, be an athletic supporter!"

25. Do you still talk to people from school?
A few. One I talk to every day, my husband!

26. What year did you graduate?
1985

Friday, March 07, 2008

DST a Sham?

Wow, am I ever a bundle of rant today.

I just got an email from the very thoughtful production manager of the theater where we're doing Sound of Music. She was reminding us to set our clocks ahead for Daylight Savings Time, so that we weren't late for Sunday's performance.

It got me thinking. What is Daylight Savings Time anyway? What's it's purpose?

As a kid, I'd always heard that it had something to do with farmers having more sunlight to work. That explanation didn't set right with me though, since farmers are pretty much free to make their own hours from sun up to sun down, regardless of what the clock says.

Daylight Savings Time, ever a controversial concept intended to help reduce energy consumption, was adapted by the United States in 1918, but repealed in 1919. President Woodrow Wilson tried to repeal it... he liked to have that extra daylight time off the office clock to play golf. No joke. DST reared it's head temporarily over the next 50 years, but became standard in 1966.

Recently, a University of California study found that DST actually raises utility bills. According to sources listed in Wikipedia, it not only costs consumers more in utilities, but also creates increased revenue for many buisnesses. I guess that's why, over the years, big businesses, often backed by politicians have supported the continuance of DST, even though it's been proven to be unsuccessful in providing any kind of savings for Americans.

Yes, we'll all grudgingly "spring ahead" this Sunday while we lose an hour of sleep. But next time the question of continuing this practice comes up, let's not let the lobbyists prevail so they can sell more french fries and slurpies.

Who Just Up and Leaves the Work Force?

There are lies, there are damn lies, and there are statistics. It all depends on how you shift and spin the numbers.

In the Labor Department's report released today, the nation's unemployment rolls dropped by .1 percent to 4.8 percent this month, even though employers cut more than 63,000 jobs in February. The highest number of cuts in one month in the past 5 years.

So how did our unemployment rates end up looking better? According to the article in the Star Tribune from the Associated Press:

"The reason why the jobless rate went down, rather than up, is because so many people stopped looking for work and left the labor force."

WHO LEAVES THE LABOR FORCE? Four possible reaons, (1) you're retired (2) you're disabled and unable to work (3) you stay home to care for children, the elderly, or disabled (4) you're dead. A person who is unemployed still needs to pay for a roof over his head, clothes on his back and food in his belly. Those needs do not end with lack of job prospects. In other words, they've just STOPPED COUNTING a bunch of people. Of course, that's going to make the numbers look better.

This isn't unlike the spin doctoring of the Consumer Price Index and other indicators. Check out John Williams' Shadow Government Statistics site for more information. Makes you wonder how bad things really are.

I especially like this quote at the end of the article, "All the economy's troubles are putting people in a gloomy mood."

No shit, Sherlock.

Positive Post #4

Don't pass up this article from Yahoo! sports news. 101-year old Buster Martin, Britain's oldest employee, is training to compete in the London Marathon!

When he finishes the marathon, he plans to celebrate with "a pint and a fag" (that's beer and a cigarette). “People ask what is my secret but I haven’t got one. They say fags and booze are bad for you — but I’m still here, aren’t I?”

Awesome.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Positive Post #3

Did you know that there's an entire website devoted to reporting positive news? It's true! The Good News Network founder and editor began her career in television news and production. She started the site in 1997 to gather and disseminate positive news from around the world.

So when Star Tribune, CNN and other news sources are getting you down, hop over to the Good News Network and remember that there's more out there than just bad news.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Postive Post #2

Good news in the world of AIDS research. Researchers at the University of Alberta have discovered a gene that blocks HIV. They've identified a gene called TRIM22 that can prevent the assembly of the virus.

From the article in the University of Alberta Express News:

"This means that TRIM22 is an essential part of our body's ability to fight off HIV. The results are very exciting because they show that our bodies have a gene that is capable of stopping the spread of HIV."

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Hot, Spicy Little Ranger Number

Our friend, Pen Master, sent me this quiz to discover which Dungeons & Dragons character you would be. Thank you, Pen Master, you Lawful Good Human Paladin, you!

I Am A: Neutral Good Human Ranger/Sorcerer (3rd/3rd Level)

Ability Scores:

Strength-13

Dexterity-13

Constitution-14

Intelligence-16

Wisdom-14

Charisma-13

Alignment:
Neutral Good A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment because because it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.

Race:
Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Primary Class:
Rangers are skilled stalkers and hunters who make their home in the woods. Their martial skill is nearly the equal of the fighter, but they lack the latter's dedication to the craft of fighting. Instead, the ranger focuses his skills and training on a specific enemy a type of creature he bears a vengeful grudge against and hunts above all others. Rangers often accept the role of protector, aiding those who live in or travel through the woods. His skills allow him to move quietly and stick to the shadows, especially in natural settings, and he also has special knowledge of certain types of creatures. Finally, an experienced ranger has such a tie to nature that he can actually draw on natural power to cast divine spells, much as a druid does, and like a druid he is often accompanied by animal companions. A ranger's Wisdom score should be high, as this determines the maximum spell level that he can cast.

Secondary Class:
Sorcerers are arcane spellcasters who manipulate magic energy with imagination and talent rather than studious discipline. They have no books, no mentors, no theories just raw power that they direct at will. Sorcerers know fewer spells than wizards do and acquire them more slowly, but they can cast individual spells more often and have no need to prepare their incantations ahead of time. Also unlike wizards, sorcerers cannot specialize in a school of magic. Since sorcerers gain their powers without undergoing the years of rigorous study that wizards go through, they have more time to learn fighting skills and are proficient with simple weapons. Charisma is very important for sorcerers; the higher their value in this ability, the higher the spell level they can cast.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)