Apple Juice at 50,000 feet

Every year, the Tonster and I switch out on which family to visit for Thanksgiving, and which to visit for Christmas. This year, Christmas went to his family, who happen to live in the Great White North, where it is usually cold and snowy and windy, and basically all those weather conditions that I hate. (Reason number 1 as to why we cannot EVER live in the Great White North. EVER). Because of this, we decided to fly up, instead of attempting to drive it.

I normally like flying. It has the distinct advantage of Sky Mall magazine (the best magazine with which to play "Guess what's most expensive" and "Guess what's the cheapest"), and it's usually pretty fast, and you get free apple juice, and you don't get carsick.

Well, the Sky Mall magazine didn't disappoint. I can't really say that it was all that fast, seeing how we sat in the Detroit airport for 7 hours (fog likes to follow us around from city to city, reeking havoc with airplane visibility), but when we did manage to get into the plane and off the ground, the flight attendant gave me a WHOLE CAN of apple juice as opposed to just pouring some into the little airplane cup. SWEET! (For some reason, I only drink apple juice on airplanes. I like it, but it's never something I think to buy for myself at home. It's just my dedicated airline beverage). Anyway, the flight was only something like 55 minutes, so roughly 30 seconds after the attendant gave me the can, they made the announcement that she was coming back through to pick up the trash in preparation for landing. Tony is hissing at me, "Here she comes! Chug it!" so I chugged an entire can of apple juice (because apple juice can't be wasted!).
Meanwhile, in anticipation of our arrival, the fog has raced ahead of us to settle in around the landing runway (sneaky fog!). Apparently, fog is also very bumpy (who knew?) because at about 30 miles out, we started bouncing all over the place, and doing crazy mid-air figure eights, and defensive barrel rolls (standard anti-fog maneuvers?), all of which made yours truly (with a tummy full of apple juice) very very queasy. I turned a shade of green that even Debbie Travis would be impressed with.

Rules for airsickness: Pick a focus point inside the plane. I chose the back of Mr. Male Pattern Baldness's head in the seat in front of me. Do not look out the window! Think about anything other than food, drink, spinning in circles, or being sick. (I got Tony to start talking about random things so that I could concentrate on what he was saying. This, for some reason, makes him draw a complete blank). Pray for a quick landing and short taxi. (The fates were against me on this one. After circling in the air forever (oh my inner ear!) we finally land...4 miles from the terminal! And you know how those runways are- they zigzag back and forth, back and forth, turning in circles, daring you to get sick all over the place).

Luckily, I am strong of mind, and had the sheer will needed to avoid puking all over the plane. I did have to sit there for a few minutes to wait for my head to stop spinning, but I considered keeping all my apple juice inside where it belonged to be a Herculean feat. Those other passengers are so lucky. They're grumbling about the delay and the fog and the baggage claim, but they have no idea what they almost got hit with. I consider not puking on them to be my Christmas present to the masses. Merry Christmas ya'll.

Cousin Andy's Band

Actually, he's a cousin-in-law, but I'll claim him as family anyway, since he seems to be well on his way to riches and fame. (Did I mention that he's my favorite cousin-in-law?)

Anyway, the band is Jabarvy and I must admit that I'm really hooked on their music. (Favorite cousin Andy gave us a CD for Christmas, although that's not why I'm writing good things about them...I really do like the music. Besides, he doesn't know the blog exists, so I would totally feel fine bashing them if the music wasn't good- family or not).

Anyway, the music style is unique. For example, I thought Legs, Feets, Sheets had kind of a Barenaked Ladies-ness to it, but then Sweetness in the Sunshine is totally different, with kind of a western-y feel. (By the way, that smell of Texas that they're talking about refers to the cow smell. A little insider band trivia that I picked up). Oh, and the instrumental songs have a jazzy-but-in-a-non-annoying-way feel. (Okay, okay, music review isn't one of my particular strengths. Just trust me, it grows on you).

Check 'em out if you're looking for something different.

A Long Overdue Baby Cooter Update!

It's week 18 for Baby Cooter, and the newsletter seems to think that this is about the time that Nicole will feel him moving around (no doubt beginning his mamba lessons). So far, the Mom-to-be describes the feeling as a "small ball rolling around" when she stands up quickly. The next big photo shoot is scheduled for Jan 2nd, when we discover is Baby Cooter is in fact, from Mars or Venus.

You can vote for whether you think Baby Cooter is a boy or a girl at Nicole's My Space or And Baby Makes Three. (I picked a boy, just because I've been referring to him as a him for so long, but I think a girl would also be really good, especially with Nicole's love of pink ballet decor).

Stay tuned for more updates!

Angel Tree

Our team at work has picked an angel tree kid! Actually, we picked twins. We have twin 7 year old girls, and I've very excited about it. (Despite not knowing anything about kids, I looooove shopping for them). I wait for the Angel tree every year, just so I can justify buying Barbies and Easy Bake Ovens. This year, our twins asked for coloring books and crayons. They got all that and more. I ran right out and bought them coloring books and colored pencils (the deluxe box for shading) and glitter crayons and playdoh (I love playdoh!) and smelly markers. I'm hoping that they both become famous artists because of me. The rest of the team bought blankets and toys and clothes and games and more coloring books and every girly girl thing that a 7 year old could ever want. I wasn't one of the people to deliver the toys, but that's okay. The buying was the fun part for me. I still harbor a secret love of toys.


I usually avoid all things diet like the plague, but when Mom ordered a bunch on Nurtisystem food and then decided that she couldn't do it with her schedule, I was like, "Free food? Sure!" I mean, how bad could it be?

(Any of you who have ever tried diet food are smirking right now).

Anyway, it turns out that you have to use a little bit of imagination with this food. Oh sure, the picture on the outside of the box looks great, but in reality most of it is dehydrated and needs water before turning into something resembling food. (Think of those little pills that you drop into the bathtub and they magically expand into dinosaur shaped sponges). The scrambled eggs, for example, are just neon yellow powder in a cup. (I get around this particular lack of appeal by pretending I'm an astronaut, and this is all astronaut food). But just add water and microwave for 45 seconds, and viola! instant scrambled eggs! (Kind of). Of course, they aren't REAL eggs. But they do look a little like eggs, and they smell a little like eggs, so you can probably convince yourself that they taste a little like eggs.

Here's the secret to diet foods. They're specially designed to taste just good enough that you won't toss it out and eat real food instead, but not good enough that you'll be tempted to eat a second helping of it. This is how you lose weight on them. Sure, you could eat the "serving size" granola bar in three bites, but by the second bite, you don't really want to.

All in all, the Nutrisystem food has been a mixed bag. Some of the things aren't half bad. The chocolate cookie bar (which in reality contains no chocolate and no cookies) is good enough that even Tony has had a couple. The roast beef actually tastes like normal food, and is something that I would recommend to other people. Other things, like the banana spice muffins, made sawdust look tasty. (Mostly because sawdust would have been more moist and flavorful). I couldn't choke more than a bite down, and even after I threw it in the trash, I had to move the trash away because the smell was like burning chemicals mixed with a potpourri air freshener.

I certainly wouldn't eat this stuff at every meal like you're supposed to on the actual diet plan, but they're fine for those times that I'm just looking for an instant lunch that will fill me up while I'm on the go. Just have plenty of water ready, Major Tom.

Fa-la-la-la-la-la Everybody!

Just wanted to let everybody out there in Blogland know that I am now officially ready for Christmas. The presents are wrapped and under the tree, it's all decorated (finally), the outside Christmas lights are on a timer and lighting up delightfully every night when I come home, and I think I've built up a big enough wall of presents to keep Dixon from eating the tree. (Lucky for me, he's too fat to realize he could just jump over them). At work, we've taped up all the Christmas cards from our installers, and I've got my Trans-Siberian Orchestra blasting Carol of the Bells on repeat. (Go listen to it if you haven't gives me goose-bumps). Stephaluffagus and Patto are arriving next Wednesday. There's an ice skating rink in market square.

And as a special bonus, it's 70 degrees outside! This is my kind of Christmas.

If I forget to tell you later, I hope all of you out there have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.


You know that part in Braveheart where he's being drawn and quartered, and he yells "Freedom!" Well, replace the horses running in different directions with an accounting final, a presentation on a case, a paper, and of course, regular work. The official end of the semester was yesterday, and all I can say now is "Freedom!" (at least until January 7th, when the new semester starts.

I know, I know, it's been a while since you've heard from me. There's a little hole in your day to day existence without my delightful wit and charm. My only excuse is finals. For the past week and a half, I've been eating, breathing, and dreaming finals. (Well, that's not true...the last few days I quit eating and sleeping altogether). But I'm happy to say that now that it's finished, and I'm convinced that after a few more days of regular sleep, this eye twitch will go away and my hair will quit falling out in clumps. (You deal with stress your way, I'll deal with mine my way).

For now, it's like being on vacation. All I have to do is just go to work, and when that's done, I come home and do whatever I feel like doing. Do I want to watch tv? Do I want to read a book? Do I want to just soak in the bathtub? It's fantastic!

"They may give us failing grades, but they will never take away our freedom"!


In an attempt to make our little drab cubicles more festive for the holidays, a lot of people have decorated their cubes with lights and tinsel and whatnot. One guy even went as far as to bring in one of those lighted deer with "realistic head motion" (which is kinda freaky when you first walk by and the deer nods at you). As if having a lawn decoration deer in the office wasn't bizarre enough, the next day, the deer was "shot".

Just because we hunt Christmas yard decor in the office doesn't make us rednecks.

Flying Box Game

If you loved Helicopter Game, you'll love this one too!

Introducing...Flying Box Game!

From the makers of Flying Box Game; stealing your productivity since 1942.

(PS- longest time in the office is held by Crawford, with 31.5 seconds...let me know if you beat him).

Decking the Halls

I'm waaaay behind in my Christmas festivities this year. Normally, the house is decorated, the presents are purchased, and the Christmas cards are going out by the first weekend in December. True, we were out of town on Tony's-Official-Start-Of-Christmas-Decorating weekend, but still... This time between December 1st and December 25th flies by. So far, I have the outside lights up, but not burning due to a shortage of extension cords. (The final cord was purchased yesterday but I haven't had time to climb back up on the roof). So our house remains dark, even as the rest of the neighborhood shines in Griswold-like fashion.

The Christmas shopping is partially complete, with all on-line purchases made and shipping out of their respective warehouses as we speak, but the items that require actually going to a store and physically buying them has yet to be done. I just can't seem to drag myself to the store and fight all those other cheerful holiday shoppers.

We have no Christmas tree yet. We were going to go yesterday when we got back into town, but it was cold and dark, and we were tired. Tonight is out because I've got study group (who decided that it would be a good idea for the semester to end right before Christmas!?!). Hopefully tomorrow night after work we can swing by Lowes and pick out our annual Douglas fir. Then some lights and ornaments, and Dixon can begin his own annual tradition of homemade cat-barf wreathes. (This year, if the tree looks tasty, I'm going to buy a toy train to go around the bottom. Here's hoping that the movement scares him off).

Most of the inside decorations are up, with the exception of some garland that I haven't decided where to put yet, and the snowflake window stickies that I put on the mirrors and fish tank. Every year, the collection of weird Christmas decorations seems to multiply while up in the attic. All of a sudden, we have truly weird decorations that someone probably gave us, but I have no intention of putting up. I need to have a Christmas themed garage sale before it all overtakes the attic.

Haven't even started on the Christmas cards, which need to go out ASAP. We do those photo cards every year of the family (us and the cats), and the picture taking alone usually takes an evening. We average about 30 pictures of no-goes (Tony's eyes are closed, I'm making a funny face, Mason is trying to escape, the camera fell off the makeshift tripod of books and magazines, Dixon ducked his head, I didn't beat the auto-timer, Mason is fighting like mad to escape, the camera fell over again, the timer took so long that I was getting up to check on it when it flashed, Mason is a whirlwind of claws in an attempt to escape, the batteries in the camera ran out, Tony is trying to stop the bleeding from the claw marks, the camera memory is full, Dixon is eating the tree, I have one eye closed, and Mason has escaped). Surprisingly, the winning picture is usually the first one we take.

Here's to Christmas though! The lights, the smells, the parties, the presents, the carols, the Christmas cards, the cat barf. I love it all. It's the most wonderful time of the year.

I Know You're Out There!

Here's an unexplained phenomena: According to my "yes-I've-been-secretly-spying-on-you, dear-unwary-reader" stats page, the amount of first time readers for the month of November has tripled compared to October!

First, I would like to say, "Welcome all you new readers! Embrace your inner quirkiness! No one will judge you here!" (Except for me of course, but only if the opportunity is too good to pass up).

The second thing I would like to say is, "Where did all you people come from?" followed shortly by "Why all of a sudden in November?"

Don't get me wrong, I love that you guys are here. It was pretty sad for the first month, having had only two hits (and yes, both of them were me). But now! Now I have what I'm going to assume what could only be eternally adoring fans, even though you never leave comments and quietly slip away again, just as quietly as you slipped in. No worries. So you're all shy. I get that. Class participation isn't mandatory here, but encouraged if you feel so inclined.

Now, why in November? Did the weather get cold, so instead of going out to play you decided to partake in a little quirkiness? Or was it the Baby Cooter updates? Or the really riveting hiking stories? I'm just curious.

If you want, leave a comment, and let me know "Where ya'll from". If not, I'll just continue to assume that it's because you love me and are hanging on my every word. Either way, I'm good with that.

11/29/06 Baby Cooter...younger than he looks

Nicole had another baby appointment the other day, where she discovered that Baby Cooter isn't as old as he's been claiming. Turns out that he's only about 14 weeks old, which means that his world debut probably won't be until late May. No worries...just go back and read last week's update again. Meanwhile, her next appointment is January 2nd, when we find out if Baby is in fact, a Cooter or Cooterette. Stay tuned.

11/28/06 Your Account is Overdrawn

Yesterday while leaving work, I had a plan. I was going to go to the gym, then have a light dinner and work on my accounting homework. All things that needed to be done, and I was going to do them. I was determined. I was focused. So determined and focused that I came home, ate tortilla chips for dinner, washed it down with a handful of chocolate chips, and read Nora Roberts in the bathtub until bed.

What happened? I bounced a check at the Bank of Self-discipline.

I have a theory about self-discipline. My theory is that you only have x amount of it, and it's never enough to cover everything. Like money, you have to spend it on certain things that are important, and let the other stuff slide. And good intentions are like credit card offers...nice to have, but in reality, they have nothing to do with what your bank balance looks like. Like, before I started school, I went to the gym three days a week, without fail. Sure, it took discipline, but my butt looked pretty darn good, so it was worth it. Then I started school, and it took discipline to go to class and do the homework, and I had to steal that from the going to the gym fund, which slacked off considerably. The getting up and going to work in the morning fund is also a big chunk of my discipline budget. (This mostly takes the form of the housecleaning discipline drying up). Suddenly it's all you can do to keep yourself groomed and getting regular haircuts. Now I'm up to my ears in good intentions, and don't have anything to back them up with.

11/25/06 Thanksgiving Public Safety Announcement

If by chance, you are re-heating your leftover mashed potatoes and gravy from Thanksgiving, and, just by chance, you heat it up to be the same temperature at the surface of the sun, DO NOT PUT IT IN YOUR MOUTH!

And if by chance, you did put that forkful of liquid lava masquerading as mashed potatoes into your mouth, and gave yourself third degree burns on your tongue and the roof of your mouth, DO NOT SWALLOW!

And if by chance, your undeniably good manners do not allow you to spew flaming mashed potato embers back out onto your plate, and in a purely knee-jerk reaction, you do swallow the molten spuds, causing severe burns all the way down your throat, DRINK COLD WATER IMMEDIATELY!

And if by chance, your kitty cat knocked over your glass of water minutes before, and you had not refilled it yet, which allowed the boiling blob of starchy tuber to come to rest in your stomach, where it promptly burned all of your stomach lining off, causing intense and excruciating pain for days on end, well, next time you'll remember to let your mashed potatoes cool first, won't you?

This has been a public safety announcement.

Women CEOs

I knew there was a reason why I'm not a CEO right now...

Interesting article on Slate:

Positions of Power- How female ambition is shaped.

More Amazing Adventures of Baby Cooter

My stat tracker informs me that 16 people have come to visit by way on Nicole's Baby Blog in the last week alone, so I'm guessing that there's a lot of interest out there for Baby Cooter. And since I'm not above upping my own blog readership by exploiting Baby Cooter's fan club, I'll continue on with updates on his growth and development. (Plus I can be excited about it because it's not actually happening to me).

In this week's episode, our not-quite pint-sized hero weighs about 1.75 ounces and is about 4 to 4.5 inches in length (in relation to my stash of office supplies, that makes him the same size as my blue Major Accent highlighter). According to the PregnancyWeekly Newsletter, Baby Cooter's tiny heart is pumping between 20 and 25 quarts of blood every 24 hours (which will grow to 300 quarts by the time he's ready to make his official world debut), and in shocking cliffhanger ending, Baby Cooter is developing his future hairline pattern! (Cue the organ music: Whaamp, whaamp, Waaaaa!)

Will Baby Cooter choose male pattern baldness? When will we find out if Baby Cooter is, in fact, a "he"? What will he spend the next 178 days doing in there? (My guess is solitaire). Join us next week for answers to these shocking questions!

I Spy...

With all the hassles of flying these days, the only reason people continue to pile into airplanes is because they are addicted to the Sky Mall magazine. I know I am. Sure, you pretend like you're a seasoned flyer, and that you could care less about the amazing overpriced tech toys and bizarre travel accessories, but sometime during your cruising altitude, you'll reach for it.

So there I was, calmly waiting for my plane to taxi down the runway while casually flipping through the catalogue, when I noticed something; this catalogue has an unusually large number of spy devices. They have your secret listening devices, ranging from ones the size of a hearing aid for listening to people talk across a restaurant, to the slightly more high tech model (for eavesdropping on your neighbors from the comfort of your own home), to the same ones that the CIA is currently using to listen in on the chatter of Chinese rice farmers (think of the transcontinental conversations you'll be able to hear)! They have your secret cameras hidden in pens (ad copy actually states "Do your own investigation by taking snapshots of secret documents. Take photographs of a competitor's products at trade shows or retail stores"... like that won't get you in any trouble), in alarm clocks, cigarette lighters, on remote control cars ("with night vision!"), and airplanes. My personal favorite in the invasion of privacy department is the hidden gps tracker "secretly keep tabs on anything that moves - hidden in the trunk of a car, stashed in a child's backpack, zipped into a computer briefcase").

Does this worry anyone else? I've come to expect big brother to spy on me, but my neighbors? Strangers in the street, videotaping me with their ink pens? I say that's just a little too weird. People generally don't appreciate having their privacy invaded for fun. I find out that you're watching me sleep through your spy alarm clock, and I'm going to beat the crap out of you. Pervert.


You'll be glad to know that Baby Cooter is preparing for his debut on American Idol, because he now has vocal chords and more developed hands. Nicole has been buying some maternity clothes, although she says that no one can tell that she's showing yet.

Investment strategies

It's the annual re-sign up for your company insurance and 401k options day today. We started with a nice little meeting with HR, where they passed out loads of paperwork and gently let us know that we were too sick and too expensive to keep covering us like they were. Blue Cross Blue Shield claims that they lost something like $450,000 covering us last year, particularly due to the large number of emergency room visits. (I raise my freshly waxed eyebrows at this, because I went to the doctor all of once last year, and BCBS paid about $10 for it; the rest was my deductible). But anyway. Surprise, surprise, premiums are going up this year.

For the 401k, I am lost. I know that I want a 401k, but as to how I want it invested, I haven't a clue. The company, being ever helpful, has listed out about 50 choices of investment opportunities, ranging from The LMNOP 500 Stock Bond Index to mineral mining on the moon. I'm supposed to pick out the ones I want to use, and what percentage to invest in each. After careful consideration, I would like to invest it in Option 42: Hole in the backyard. And maybe the spider commercial one, because I think it's funny when the little spider picks up the barbell.

Luckily, I have a Whit. He's my financial advisor. (I love how grown up that sounds!) Whit keeps up with my money so I don't have to. I give him a call. He's in extraordinarily good spirits because the market has "decided to behave" and apparently the investments that Whit made for me are doing okay. "Have you been studying the reports I sent out to you about your stocks?" he asks. I haven't, and some how I don't think he'd appreciate hearing that when those reports come, I use the unopened envelope as a bookmark for whatever book I happen to be reading at the time. So I blame it on Tony. "Actually, Tony gets the mail now, so I haven't been able to look over them lately". This is technically true, since Tony does get the mail...mostly to keep me from using other unopened envelopes as bookmarks, like the credit card bill for instance. (For the record, I was going to give him that, as soon as I finished the book and didn't need it anymore). Whit admonishes me, but mostly because I'm letting Tony have all the fun of looking at his reports. I think Whit secretly knows that I don't open them, but he's still holding out hope all the same.

I read him the choices so that he can pick out which ones I want. He does his little part to explain the different ones to me, and why he likes this one but not that one, but he doesn't bring up the animated spider commercials, so I guess that's not one of his deciding factors. (Pity). Whit knows his stuff though, and he hasn't embezzled anything from me yet, so as long as he keeps making me money, he can use whatever deciding factors he wants. I still like the funny spider.


Stephylococcus has been busy preparing for her Ames competition at Hahhhh-vard, which means she hasn't had time to breathe lately, much less keep me entertained with amusing antidotes from her day. (I know, I know, heartless of her). After smashing the last round's competition into itsy bitsy lawyer bits, she has moved on to this round, which is basically the same deal, only this time her team is bigger, and they get to make rebuttals against the other teams' rebuttals, or something like that. The competition is tomorrow, so she's probably re-re-re-checking every footnote right about now. I, however, am not the least bit concerned. As a matter of fact, I would bet on them winning the whole deal, but I can't find any off track betting that lists the Ames. (Obviously an oversight on their part). Anyway, I have full confidence in the brilliance of her team (some of which I got to meet during Steph's bachelorette party...and the fact that they had miniature replicas of male genitalia on straws had no bearing whatsoever on my analysis).

So kick butt tomorrow, little sis, because once I find a bookie, I'm all in for a win.

Teeth buds

It's week 13 for Nicole's Baby Cooter (named after her favorite football player). Nicole assures me that she hasn't had any morning sickness, (only fatigue) and she actually beginning to get that energy back.

As for Cooter, he weighs about 1/2 ounce and is between 2.5 and 3 inches in length. He's busy developing his digestive tract, and his pancreas has begun producing insulin. Even more exciting, he now has all 20 teeth buds (which I'm guessing is the precursor to actual teeth).

Here, in a rare behind the scenes photo, is Baby Cooter's first official world debut!

Buns in the oven

One of my bestest buddies from, like, the 6th grade (and subsequent college roommate) just announced she's pregnant. She's very happy, so I'm very happy for her. But what's this? An unusual reaction underneath all this happiness? It's...the teeniest kernel of jealousy?

Hold the phone! This is very unusual for me. I've always considered kids to be a lot like horses...a neat thing to have if you're in to that kind of thing, but personally, I think they're more trouble than they're worth. And expensive. And a lifelong commitment. No thanks.

Plus, (and this is a deep dark admission for me here) they kind of scare me. I don't know how to act towards them. You know those people that kids naturally gravitate to? I'm not one of them. I'm the person that the kid is hiding from behind Mommy's legs while she's going, "That's funny. He's not usually shy...".

Annnnnd, you have to KNOW things about kids. Not only things like what rashes require medical attention and how much frosted cereal is too much, but you also have to be very careful not to scar them emotionally or accidentally turn them into a serial killer. (Why are 99% of people needing therapy today? They think their parents screwed them up). Sure, sure, people say it's all instinct, and that the mommy skills will show up when needed, but what if they don't? By then you're stuck. All sales are final in the kiddie department. (Case in point: the other day Jessica brought her 8 year old to work after we'd had a giant team party. The kid asked if he could eat the last deviled egg. I shrug. Sure, why not? Suddenly Jessica comes flying around the corner. "Don't eat that!" she yells, "That egg has been sitting out at room temperature for almost 8 hours!" Now, I would have let the kid eat the egg and not thought another thing about it. If he was my kid, he'd probably be having his stomach pumped right about now). That's not the sign of a good parent.

Anyway, all this is to say that normally when babies show up, I keep a tentative distance while thinking, "That kid looks like a bright red hairless monkey-child". And I was okay with that, because that's just how I am. But suddenly, the biological clock that I thought was permanently stuck at Never just went "tick". Not that I'm going to start popping out kids ASAP (sorry mom), but the IDEA of kids just got jumped from the "I'd rather lose a limb in a grain auger" list to the "I need more information before making any decisions" list. I'm going to keep an eye on how it goes for Nicole. If she does okay, I'll consider a few years.


I don't believe in horoscopes because they're never accurate for me. They are either so vague "Something really good or really bad will happen today", or they are describing my complete opposite. "Be careful to protect your heart Gemini! That guy that you met at the party while you were drunk won't have the same charm when you both wake up in a holding cell." (Apparently, all the other Geminis are real party people). If I read the horoscopes, it's usually to make fun of them. But while I was working on the Metro Pulse crossword yesterday (still can't figure out the 5 letter word for Hindu Cleric), I saw this horoscope:

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): You’re a little off-kilter and out-of-whack these days, Gemini. Don’t worry about it. It’s a natural response to recent plot twists. Fortunately, there is a medicine you can get that will fix you up pretty quickly. All you have to do is spend quality time in nature. One long hike should be enough, though to be absolutely sure you flush the psychic parasites that have been messing with you, two long hikes would be better. To aid in the exorcism and healing, I suggest that you also sing songs and shout out crazy ideas while wandering in the great outdoors. And if you can’t escape to the wild places, at least have a picnic in a park.

Now, it just so happens that I have been a little off-kilter this past week, but I figure that most people are about something, so no points there. And it just so happens that my off-kilterness is the direct result of recent plot twists, but again, no huge shocker to figure out that most people are feeling off because of something that happened. But here's the funny part. I am indeed going hiking this weekend, and when I first signed up for it, I thought, "I can't wait. A nice long walk in the woods will clear my head". (I'm not sure I'll be singing and shouting out crazy ideas though...that must be for party Gemini). I'll give you a half a point for the hiking though.

"Serving Wench!"

You'll be glad to know that my costume made the local news. (I'm guessing that adults who still dress up for Halloween is newsworthy somehow). WBIR showed up and started looking for people in costume to make fun of on tape, and we were glad to oblige. By the way, If you watch the tape, Pete Rose is my partner, Marilyn Monroe is the admin assistant, and Pocahontas does my art requests. I, of course, am the authentic western saloon girl, which Ken basically mistook for a French prostitute. (Sigh. No one understands my art).

I want to point out that they made me do the stupid walk down the hall. Ken wanted me "to really sashay". That's the best sashay I do. (Tony said I looked clumsy and awkward. Always supportive, that Tony). They also edited out all the witty things I said and managed to just use the clip where I leer insanely at the camera and yell "Serving wench!" when Ken asks me what I am. They totally ignored the part where I calmly explained that I was a high class saloon gal, like Miss Kitty. I swear, they were trying to typecast me.

To see the video, go to and click on "Dress up day" in the Schwall videos box.

I'm not sure how I'm going to explain this to my grandparents. Or my priest.

Racing for the Cure

We did Race for the Cure this weekend, (although in my case it was more "Leasurely Stroll for the Cure"). I will get up at the butt crack of dawn when it is less than 40 degrees (it was still dark outside! And really cold!), but I draw the line at running. Cold and early fulfills my quota of charitable hardships without having to resort to physical activity.

I did get a doughnut and hot chocolate for my troubles though, so I'll be back to do it again next year.

Goooooooooo team!

Lovin' the Lava

I decided I needed more peace and tranquility at work, and since quitting isn't an option, I dug my old lava lamp out of the closet and brought it to work.

Like myself, my lava lamp missed the 60's (and 70's for that matter), so we're "retro returns". Like a Disney movie, my lamp has been "released from the vault and digitally remastered for this generation to enjoy". Lava 2.0 you could say. (If you don't have one, you can always download the screensaver version).

Anyway, I brought my lamp to work to soothe me. And I am soothed. I am completely mellow. I am losing all productivity because I spend all day watching the lava levitate. And I don't care. I can sooooo see why these were a such a hit with the drug induced hippies. The little lava blobs look so happy. Like they're jumping up and down on a trampoline in slow motion. You can almost hear them going, "Wheeeee!" They float up. They float down. Doesn't matter to them...they're just along for the ride. Like Jell-O ate some magic mushrooms. I keep thinking how much fun it would be to grab those globs and squeeze them (although the rational part of me knows that they're hot molten wax, so that would NOT be fun in reality). I keep touching the glass anyway.

Wha...? How long have I been sitting here?

Tony's new hobby

Tony has rediscovered hockey. He played when he was a kid because the sport actually existed in Illinois, whereas children down here are like, "Skate on ice? That's crazy talk. Ice is for cooling your sweet tea. You'd never be able to even get your foot inside the glass". So when my little Yankee transplanted himself down here, he thought his hockey playing days were over. And they were...until now.

Tony has discovered the one place in town (actually, the next town over) where they teach and play hockey. He's in 7th heaven. Finally, he's found his own little slice of home in the South. Here he can skate, and play hockey, and wear ridiculously bulky padding, and claim that Southerners talk too slow, and that the humidity is killing him, and hate sweet tea with all the other Yankee transplants who have congregated on the rink.

I've been watching this slowly build over the last three weeks. First, he was just going to pop in on his day off and do some skating, just to see if he could remember how. Then he decided that he really should just buy his own hockey skates. Then he brought home the brochure with the class times, scrimmages, and league play dates. Then he was renting the equipment. Yesterday I came home to a living room filled with hockey pads, hockey sticks, hockey socks (which technically don't have a foot, so should really be referred to as hockey leg warmers), hockey helmet, hockey tape (for putting on the stick apparently), hockey jersey, hockey garters, hockey underwear, and a hockey equipment bill for several hundred dollars. It seems that it's officially hockey playing time.

Last night was the Tony's first adult hockey class. (Seeing how he hasn't played in 18 years, he thought he might need to brush up on a few of the skills). I went along for the fun. By the way, I will tell you the reason why no one knows that we even have hockey down here. It's because they only play hockey late at night, when all the sane people have already gone to sleep because they know they have work the next day. The class didn't start until 9:50, and we didn't get home until midnight. My guess is they would automatically double the hockey class size if they started at 7pm instead of 10pm.

Anyway, he got all dressed up in his new little hockey outfit (he looked so cute!) and did the class. (I surreptitiously took pictures while he wasn't looking. Apparently having your wife make you pose while she snaps photos ruins the tough guy image). It all looks pretty easy to just glide around on the ice while holding an oversized stick. Not so, says Tony. It's very hard. Very strenuous exercise. (Apparently Tony's last sport- laying on the couch while watching TV- did not prepare him for this kind of physical activity). But despite the sweat and running into the wall a lot and swinging madly at the puck with 13 other people standing on top of him, Tony's really pumped. I think he's found his calling.

Sophisticated bathrooms

Gary decided to bail out on hiking this weekend (lame-o), which is why I found myself with a fantastically free Saturday and nothing to do. I was going to lounge around, I was going to watch tv, I was read and soak in the tub and do absolutely nothing. It would be glorious.

Yeah. That lasted half an hour.

The problem is that my favorite station (HGTV) are all about people doing something, like gardening or building something or redecorating their house. And I cannot, in good conscience, watch other people redecorating their houses without taking a good hard look at my own. Anyway, I was watching the Design Remix crew redo this guy's bachelor pad (thank goodness! He I dare say it? White. Walls. White. As in, the way the builder left them. Barf. It's a good thing that Karen got there when she did). Anywho, as she's fearlessly slapping paint on the walls and covering a truly hideous couch with a slip cover, she turns to the camera and says, "Brown is a very sophisticated color". Sure enough, the guy's room looks great, which reminds me how much I HATE my guest bathroom. Hate. It. It has the same dirty looking paint and horrible country floral wallpaper border that the previous owners put up. The only reason that it survived as long as it has is because I just don't know what to replace it with. But now, now I am emboldened! I will transform my guest bathroom! People will ohhhh and ahhh over it. It will inspire! So off to Lowe's I go.

Normally, picking out new paint would be easy. Just paint it blue. (I love blue. It's the one color that I'm drawn to, over and over. The outside of my house is blue. My living room is blue. My kitchen is blue. My office is blue. My garden theme is blue. Blue makes me happy. Unfortunately, Tony has gotten a little blued out. "No more blue rooms!" He says. So I'll just have to find something not blue). Easier said than done. I throw out the reds, yellows, greens, purples (although I thought about that one for a while, being a cousin of blue, after all) cremes, oranges, and all colors in between. Then I spy...a brown. Normally, I wouldn't even consider brown walls (ack!), but Karen's little voice in my head says "Brown is a very sophisticated color" AAAAND, it's not blue. And I need to branch out...explore outside my color comfort zone (blue). Plus, it's the color of good melted chocolate, and how bad can that be? So I get some. Brown is a very sophisticated color. And I take it home. Brown is a very sophisticated color. And I strip the old wallpaper off (already a huge improvement) and I slap the first brushful of color on the walls. Brown is a very sophisticated color. And I paint some more, (brown is a very sophisticated color) and step back to get the full effect, and brown is...the color of poop. I have painted my bathroom poop brown. While it may inspire regularity, this was not the effect I was going for. But maybe that's just me. Maybe everyone else will still ooooh and ahhh over my sophisticated bathroom. Tony comes home and glances at the new bathroom color. "Looks like poop" he says, as he heads back towards the bedroom. "BROWN IS A VERY SOPHISTICATED COLOR!" I yell after him.

Actually, the brown is growing on me. Once I got over the initial shock, I realized that it is kind of a nice color, and isn't quite so poopy once it dries. It's the color of melted milk chocolate, and has a rich, creamy look. Kinda like a dark suede. And it does look sophisticated. And classy. All I need now for it to be perfect are some bathroom accessories in a coordinating blue.

YouTu-be, or not YouTu-be?

And here I thought I was the only one addicted to YouTube.

The thing that gets me most is all the lip syncing. I could spend hours watching complete strangers dance around singing songs that I know they're not really singing. But I'm hooked, and apparently I'm really not the only one.

It started with Numa Numa guy, and after that, I really couldn't help myself.

A little something from the 80s, 90's, and 2004.

The latest three songs on my playlist:

Standing outside a broken phone booth with money in my hands - Primitive Radio Gods
What about Everything - Carbon Leaf
Betty Davis Eyes- Kim Carnes

A little varied, yes, but I like to think that I'm eclectic.

And by the way, I googled Betty Davis, and her eyes are scary. Definitely a case of hyperthyroidism.

Helicopter Game

Say goodbye to productivity for at least the rest of the day.

It's...Helicopter Game!

By the way, my high score is 1058. Beat that, you ruffians!

Picture this

I read an article that said that blogs are more interesting if you put lots of pictures on it. How this blog could possibly be any more interesting, I don't know. But just for you, dear readers, I'll add some more photos. Incredibly interesting photos, that will keep you riveted to your computer screen.

Like this one, which is last year's Halloween costume (and incidentally, the winner of the company costume contest).


I must admit that I was scared for the first half, but my dear alma mater pulled it out!

Go boys go!

Doin' the funky chicken dance in my living room.

"I will walk 500 miles and I will walk 500 more..."

You'll be happy to know that I survived my second hiking trip also. This time we actually did two little trails, one of which (Mingo Falls) ended in this FANTASTIC waterfall. The trail to this one is short and easy to navigate, but requires hiking up about 150 stairs to get there.

Then we did a second trail, Kephart Prong (which meets up with the "Sweaty Heifer Trail", by the way) which was 2 miles up and 2 miles back. It follows a great stream, and has some old building ruins from a former Civilian Conservation Corp Camp that was there from 1933-42. You can also see old railroad remains that were left when Champion Fiber Company logged the area in the 1920s. I wasn't nearly as exhausted this time around, and even if I was, I'm not admitting it because Jessica brought her "almost eight" year old son with us, and he ran the whole way.

Today's wild animal spotting was the wild turkey, who, due to proximity to my person, was actually a little scarier than the black bear. (Those turkeys are bigger than butterball makes them look! And they were not scared of us at all, which is a little freaky).

This is all of us (minus Greg, who is taking the picture) on one of the "foot logs" (read: narrow slippery log with rickety "rail" on one side, which would probably only impale you if you slipped off the "bridge" and fell the 15' to the boulders below, where you would no doubt crack your head open like an egg and drown before anyone could get down there to save you). Fun times, fun times.

Here we have the view on the car ride up and over the mountains. Pretty cool how the clouds look like a lake, huh? We pulled over and took a few minutes to snap this picture (and in my case, allow the car sickness to pass. I love the mountains, but hate driving in them).

If you want to see more pictures, shoot on over to Greg's site.

Titantic toes with talent

Seems that Stephaluffagus is defending her freaky toes, and has provided a pro-toe website as backup. Now, I'm all for toe dexterity, and have been known to pick up several items off the floor, flex toes individually, and even turn doorknobs with my impressive toe grip, but would like to note that my extremely talented tarsals are still normal sized. Cute even.

I'm not saying that long toes are bad. I'm just not a long toed person. (Not that there's anything wrong with that). Don't send me anti-toe hate mail. I'm just dissing Steph's toes because she's family, and I've known her toes for a long time.

Science Gives Us the Finger

Long fingered freaks finally have something to celebrate! This study finds "women with ring fingers longer than their index fingers had performed better at running and associated running sports such as soccer and tennis." (Mine is indeed a tiny bit longer than my index finger, which probably means that I can run, but would rather not). The study goes on to say that this is genetic, but I figure that it started when the long fingered cave-girls got better at running because they had to chase down the short-fingered cave-girls who were no doubt calling them "monkey hands". Being long-fingered and slightly over 5'8", I can still claim that it's instinct that makes me what to pummel the "dainty" and "petite" women who can wear the fitted shirts that actually hit them at the waist instead of the lower ribs.

Too bad the study didn't say anything good about your freakishly long ape-toes, huh Stepher?

Grotto Falls

So in a new attempt to get my lazy butt off the couch and be marginally social, I went hiking yesterday with a group of people. They go every weekend and do day hikes up in the Smokies, and I figured, why not? It's just walking. (This is the point where the experienced hikers smirk).

Anyway, I pack my granola bars and some water, and put on my boots, and dress in layers, and do all the things that I know good hikers are supposed to do. I even put my granola bars in tupperware so that the black bears won't ambush me. And off we go.

At this point, you dear reader, are expecting me to have done something stupid, like fall off the side of the mountain, or get attacked by bears, or trip and break my leg. Well, shame on you, for having so little faith in me. I did none of those things. I did, however, realize that I am not in as good of shape as what I thought. A mile on the treadmill is HUGELY different than a mile uphill over rocks and exposed roots and rotting logs and stuff. We had gone about 100 yards and I thought I was going to die. The rest of the group is chatting about different things as they leisurely make their way up the hill, and I'm gasping like an asthmatic at a perfume testers convention. The poor guy who organizes these hikes is glancing like me like he expects me to keel over at any point. (He also looks like if I do, he's just going to roll my body off the side of the mountain and be done with it). But right about the time that I'm seriously considering just stopping and waiting for the bears to find me, I see the waterfall. It's fantastic! Like something out of Jurassic Park. (Well, maybe a smaller version of it anyway). After that, I totally forgot that I was on the brink of death. As a matter of fact, I felt fantastic! I'm not even sore today. I figure it just took my body a while to remember what physical activity feels like. Next weekend is the 8 mile hike. I can't wait.

Pictures here on Greg's official hiking site.

How to decide on a Halloween costume

I think I've got it! Thanks to Superman, the movie, I've been on the hunt for a new costume for Halloween ("I would've gotten away with it if it weren't for you meddling movie producers!") After lots of website searching (what NOT to wear) and soul-searching (What fun item do I want to build an outfit around?), I've finally come up with something.

Coming up with an authentic Halloween costume is a creative process, much like a painting, or a sculpture, or a new excuse to get out of a speeding ticket. The idea is inside you, and you just have to pull it out. First, start with a building block (a Lego will do). Okay, okay, the Lego thing was a joke. This is the building block: decide what fun new thing you want to try. List them out if you need to. Last year, I wanted to experiment with fake eyelashes, and it just kind of grew from there. This year's list was "Something with: a hat, or feathers, or a mask, or wings, or face paint". Next, throw your Lego at the list, and see which one it lands on. Ignore that. Pick the one that you secretly wanted it to land on, and go with that. This year was feathers. Now, at this point, everybody thinks that means that you have to be some kind of bird. Nonononononono. Lots of things have a boa, which is definitely fun.

So now we've got the boa. Then just build on what you have around the house. Some boots you have, that top you've been looking to wear, some scrap material. Check family member's houses also. All of last year's plastic fruit for my Carmen Miranda hat came from Mom's kitchen centerpiece. Add a Tupperware bowl, some purple scrap material, some fishing line to hold the whole thing together, and viola! Instant fruit hat. Same deal here. Mom's boa, my top, some material, fish net hose (oh yes!) and some material for a quick skirt, and your costume is practically complete.

Have you guessed yet?

Men in Trees

Okay, so I'm really getting hooked on that new show Men in Trees. At first, it was just something to pass the time until House came on. But I must admit that I'm getting attached. It's not Emmy winning, but it's cute. An old fashioned "root for the main character to find true love and a happy ending" kind of show. Like all those nights I stayed up to watch Caroline in the City because I wanted to see Caroline and what's-his-face finally realize what they had. Now, It's Jim and Pam on The Office (which, by the way, is ranked in my top three favorite shows. New season starts Thursday!)

Anyway, I think we need more shows like that. I'm so over the reality shows, and the dancing, cooking, and plastic surgery with the stars. I want to get back to the good old sitcoms, where the writing is funny and you can root for the main characters because they weren't doing anything illegal or cheating on their spouses. Give me good, happy tv watching. I hope Men in Trees makes it.

Rocking the very foundation of modern capitalism

I needed two textbooks for this semester's class (Accounting and Finance...boooo!), and the were about $350 at the bookstore. I shutter at paying that much for books that I will probably never read the first time, much less more than once. Sensing a challenge, I checked online. B&N...expensive, Amazon...expensive, the price of the others! Hooray! $65 a book. Not too bad when compared to $125 a book. (I pity the fools who bought their books retail from a bookstore...suckers!) I've always liked I've order several things from them, and have never been disappointed. The sellers of the about-to-be-my textbooks had only been members since July 06, so they only had a few feedback comments (I always check), but they were positive, and said things like, "Got my book right away...a pleasure to work with". I figure everybody's gotta start somewhere, so why penalize someone for being new to the selling scene? So I ordered my books and eagerly (snort!) awaited their arrival. Chris was a virgin, and because I'm a nice person, I clued him in to the cheap internet textbook scene. My confirmation email said that the books were being shipped media mail, and could take 4 to 8 days to arrive. Nooooo problem. So I wait. And wait. And wait. And no books come. We edging ever closer to the part of the syllabus that says "Read three chapters in your textbook every day", and still no books. I checked the status. It says they shipped. I email the sellers to see when they sent them. No response. Chris is having the same lack of response by his sellers (who, ironically, also started selling in July. Hmmmm). Today, I checked the feedback status of my sellers again. I ordered my books on 8/25, and all comments previous to that are positive. All comments after that are negative. It's like, on that very day, the bottom fell out of the textbook business. I see comments like, "Seller has not sent item neither responded to emails. Avoid seller completely!" and "DO NOT PURCHASE anything from this user...I waited 3 weeks and still nothing" and "This guy is a scammer! He never responded to my emails, and he never sent my books!" Now, talk like this makes me nervous. More nervous at the sheer volume of people who never got books. Really nervous when my reading assignment is due NEXT THURSDAY! I feel so used. So cheated. I've been buying online for years, and I've never been scammed before. And I feel really bad for bringing Chris into this, especially since it's probably warped his internet buying experience forever.

Funnier than solitaire

I found Dan Washburn's Sporting Life articles by accident. I was Googling job requirements for garbage men. (No, I don't want to be a garbage man...I was trying to make a point about wages vs job demand from the viewpoint of the Industrial/Behaviorist Economist for my take home quiz. Not knowing that much about the wages of garbage men, I had to look it up). It just so happens that Dan Washburn, a columnist (at the time of his articles) in Gainesville Fl, did a piece on the day in the life of a garbage man. So I read it. And I was hooked. He writes about weird sports that he participates in, such a bull riding, and cheerleading, and redneck Olympics. (He is undeniably bad at all of them, but that's what makes it interesting). It's kind of a Human Guinea Pig kind of deal, only limited to off the wall sports (and being a garbage man). I love reading about that kind of stuff. What better way to get the feel of bull riding without the rib-crunching danger of sitting on an actual enraged bull? Have someone else do it, then describe it in an article. I love it!

And so, because Hah-vard is officially back in session for another semester, and Stepherteeties will no doubt need something to pass those mind-numbing hours while her newest professor rants about social reform for the Supreme Court Justice, I bring you Dan Washburn!

Who wants to be "sexy Carebear"?

I've been going through the mass-market, completely unoriginal, Super Halloween costume websites looking for inspiration. I'm hoping that something will spark an idea that I can then make myself. I'm noticing a disturbing trend in the costume selection this year though. All the women's costumes are "sexy" costumes. They all have short skirts and midriff tops and high heels. You can't be a pirate, you have to be a sexy pirate. You can't be a queen, you have to be a sexy queen. You can't be a witch, you have to be a sexy witch. Even things that have no business being sexy are now sexy. (Storybook characters, for instance. Quit warping my childhood people!) That's all well and good, except that I can't be a sexy anything at work. I have a dress code, and even if I didn't, I can't show up as Sexy Evil Vixen Fairy and still have my co-workers treat me with an iota of professionalism. (As sadly evidenced by the girl last year who though "Hooters girl" would make a good work costume). And don't get me started on the freakish "Fairy" division. Pop wings on anything, and viola! Instant Fairy. There are woodland fairies, imp fairies, nature fairies, Green foilage fairies, spider fairies, Evil fairies, midnight fairies, colonoscopy fairies, IRS fairies, three-fingered carnival worker fairies, the list goes on and on.

Darn you Superman!

Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year for the simple fact that I am still secretly a child. I adore dressing up. Absolutely adore it. And I'm hardcore about it too. There are two rules to true Halloween costumes: 1) no one else can have the same costume (oh the embarrassment!) and 2) you have to make it yourself. I maintain that store bought costumes are cheating, and totally undermine the creativity of the season. I start planning next Halloween's costume sometime around January. Last year I was Carmen Miranda (which won the company costume contest, by the way) and the year before I was a lightening bug (complete with tap-on light taped to my rear). This year I was going to be SuperGirl. I had it all planned out, and it was going to be cute and creative, and fantastic. Then, horror of horrors, that stupid Superman movie came out, and Superman (and consequently, SuperGirl) costumes were EVERYWHERE! You can't turn around without seeing Superman stuff, which means that the number one costume this year will be Superman. Sure enough, a quick check of the generic, mass-marketed Halloween costume warehouse website (over 10,000 costumes!) shows that Superman costumes are indeed on the front page. So that idea is out. What fun is being SuperGirl if there are 5 other SuperGirls walking around. Now I am a measly 2 months away from Halloween and I HAVE NO COSTUME IDEA!


So Tony and I hooked up the old Sega Genesis (I say we, I mean he did it while I wasn't home one day) and we've gotten completely addicted to the old games. I must say, I'm still fantastic at Sonic the hedgehog. It's like riding a bike, you start playing again, and all the hidden rooms and tricks come back to you. We also have NHL Hockey 94, which is still fun after all these years. Sure, the pixilated characters are a bit rough around the edges, and the limited sound card is less than sophisticated, (the players "oomph!" when they get hit begins to sound like a bad porn video after a while) but where else can you play Quebec and Hartford? It's also something that my limited hand-eye coordination can handle, because there's only three buttons to push. My personal favorite, however, is the WWF wrestling. I'm always Hulk Hogan or The Narcissist, because those are the two that I can recognize the easiest. We played a hysterical 2 player game the other day where we were tag-teaming the Undertaker and Papa Shango, except we couldn't figure out how to tag or pin the other team, so basically we just stood around hitting and kicking (A and B buttons) until we pinned someone by accident. (We THINK it's B and C together while holding the down button, but we're not sure). Yeah, the new games are awesome to watch, and the graphics have gotten so real that they look like TV, but you need an 8 week class to learn how to play them. Give me the good old 16 bit cartridge games, where you can just sit down, randomly hit three buttons on a controller, and still score a goal in Quebec.

Who would have thought?

What are the chances of being stung in heart by a stingray? The last person to die by stingray was in 1945. 1945! That was like, a billion years ago, before modern medicine, so I can see that happening. Plus, I'm pretty sure dinosaurs were still roaming around then, so you'd have to be careful not to get eaten while you're rushing your buddy via horseback to your doctor's barn/operating room. But today? That's God telling you that you've cheated death one too many times, and by golly, this time there's no getting out of it.

"I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee, clouds in my coffee"

Al Pacino said "Vanity is my favorite sin".

I have to admit that it seems to be the one I'm best at. I'm hoping I grow out of it when I get old and wrinkled. Until then, I'm milking it for all its worth.

Speaking of, the wedding pictures are back, and while I can't post the professional pictures due to fear of being sued for copyright infringement, I will post some amateur photos, done by Mel. (See? Giving credit where credit is due). Anyway, after this post, I'll stuff my vanity back into the closet, but for now, feel free to oooooooh and Aaaaaaah over me. Especially the hair.

Secret Machines

I am completely and totally addicted to Lightning Blue Eyes by The Secret Machines. I listen to it at home, at work, in the car. Over and over and over again. I added it to my play list, but now I never listen to any of my other songs. I figure I'll listen to it straight for about 3 days, then it'll join the ranks of my regular play list. But for now, I'll continue to make my coworkers crazy by humming the same song over and over and over again.

Stepping Stones and the NGCISW

I have discovered my dream job. Well, sorta. I was in Joann Fabrics yesterday, buying quirky birdhouses at 80% off regular price, (Whoo-hooo!) when I saw a little tear off activity sheet in the isle. This particular one was how to make a stepping stone using their official stepping stone mix, stepping stone tile pieces, stepping stone letter stamps, stepping stone molds, and stepping stone cement dye. It's supposed to inspire inspiration-deficient people to buy up all the official stepping stone products and follow the simple stepping stone directions for their very own stepping stone! (This blog just became a drinking game...take a shot for every "stepping stone". Just note that any cases of alcohol poisoning are your own dumb ass fault, not mine). Anyway, my first thought was, "Hey! Now even I can make my very own stepping stone!" My second thought was "Hey! I can WRITE these kinds of craftsy projects!" I come up with things to do/make/paint all the time! I have so many projects in my head, it could keep the patrons of Lowes, Home Depot, Joanns, and Hobby Lobby busy for months! And when I come up with one of those projects, the first thing I do is write down all the materials needed and simple, step by step instructions. Yes, I already know in my head exactly how to make it and what I'll need...I just do this because I LIKE WRITING DOWN STEPS! Sometimes I'll write them down three or four times, just because I like it (and because I'm apparently OCD). Before, I just figured that it was one of those quirky personality traits that all people can do, but looking at this handy dandy tear off instruction sheet, I realized that some people must have to rely on these sheets, and if there's people who need a sheet to tell them that a stepping stone must contain concrete and tile pieces (duh), then obviously there's a market for the instruction sheet makers. This is such a perfect job for me! Those little craft instructions are everywhere! All the DIY stores have them, they're in magazines, they're on the DIY and HGTV stations! I could make a fortune off of telling people when to pour the official stepping stone mix into the official stepping stone mold and add the official stepping stone tiles in the shape of your official stepping stone choice! that I've discovered my calling, I just need to find out who is doing the calling. Are they employed by the individual stores/tv stations/magazines or is there a National Guild of Craft Instruction Sheet Writers that the stores just contract with? If you know, or better, you happen to be a member of the NGCISW, let me know how to get in on the deal. I'm made for this job.

Ghosts in the bathroom

So I've come to the conclusion that the 3rd floor women's bathroom at work is haunted. I say this because I'll walk in and the whole place will be empty, and yet there's still people-ish noises in there. Like the toilet paper holder will creak like someone hit it. Or there will be a shuffling noise, like feet walking across the floor. But all the stall doors are standing empty and open, so what gives? I've already explained the faint toilet flushing noises (from the bathroom upstairs) and the creaks in the walls (pressure changes in the pipes), but the toilet paper roll holder rattling? I'm still working on that one. Our building has been around forever, so it wouldn't be all surprising if there was lingering...we'll call it "energy" in there. A quick Google search tells me that this is not unusual, as "haunted bathroom" brought back 1,460,000 hits. It also tells me that most haunted bathrooms occur in schools. (I didn't want to hang out any longer than necessary in my school bathroom...maybe when you're dead, you find "Shelly loves Billy 4-ever!" more interesting). I guess when you gotta go, you gotta go...even when you're gone.

School Days...

So I woke up this morning feeling a bit queasy, and generally nauseous. (My mother would hopefully proclaim pregnancy...I figured I was coming down with the stomach flu). I got up and ate some Rolaids, but the uneasiness persisted. It wasn't until I mentioned it to Mom during lunch that she was like, "Of course you're feeling sick! It's your first day of school!" And you know what? She's right. For as long as I can remember, the first day of school has been nerve-racking for me. The nerves would make me queasy for days. You would think that at 26, I would have outgrown being nervous on the first day of school. (I didn't even realize that was it until she said something). 1st grade was a lot more intimidating that my little MBA program, and I don't have to worry about whether or not I'm one of the cool kids. (I wasn't, and I'm still not, but at least I've come to terms with it). But I do have my notebook paper and my calculator and my highlighter all lined up and ready to go, so maybe the ritual gathering of school supplies is the trigger. Maybe I'll go pick up a Trapper Keeper or some new school clothes to make myself feel better after class. Here's hoping that I still know how to study, and that the homework isn't as bad as it used to be.

Feasties with the Beasties

Well, Feast with the Beasts was a huge hit. I loved every second of it. It was a night of intense mastication. (If you think I've said something shocking, then you need to go hit Now.) The rest of you may snicker in my totally legit choice of words while feeling superiorly smug in your advanced vocabulary.

Anyway. The food was awesome, the drinks were awesome, the Beasts were awesome (especially when the elephants objected strongly to the karaoke music and started throwing trees around. Better than the gong show). We arrived at 7 with a battle plan. Focus on meats. Avoid the breads and pastas. Save alcoholic beverages until the second go around. Eat quickly to avoid lost space through rising blood sugar. Walk it off, walk it off. Be choosy. Hit the good stuff first before the fillers. Keep the second run for the favorites. I started off well, and probably made it through the first 20 food vendors without breaking stride. By the time we hit the Kids Cove, I made the tragic amateur's mistake of hitting several complex carbohydrates in a row. Brownie from Chili's, barbeque sandwich at Sonny's, Riblets from Applebee's, egg roll from some Chinese place, steak kabob from Riverside Tavern, mashed potatoes (Mashed Potatoes! For shame!) from Peerless, shrimp from Red Lobster. All so good. It was like trick-or-treating for really really good food. I was so stuffed I had trouble walking. We actually made two different meals out of it. The first gorging meal between 7 and 8, then a period of walking to digest, then a second, smaller run at about 9:30. More walking, and then a couple of hits on our favorite vendors before heading home. If you haven't gone and you're in the area, I highly recommend it. Tony and I are going to make it an annual tradition.

"I'm ready for my close-up Mr. DeMill!"

Well, Stepher's wedding was yesterday. She's now officially joined the ranks of those most commonly referred to as "the old ball and chain". I am pleased to announce that it was a smashing success, and even better, I was simply smashing. Yes, yes, the bride was beautiful, which was completely expected. What wasn't expected was how incredibly good I looked. Who knew? Most days I just manage to put enough effort in to my appearance so as to squeak by as "acceptable". I'm dressed, I'm groomed, but there's no pizzazz. But yesterday! I was radiating pizzazz. Simply oozing it. The difference was that professionals got a hold of me. A professional did my hair, and it looked fantastic! I have no idea how she did it. I don't think she knows how she did it. She just jack hammered 2 million bobby pins into my skull and sprayed me with about 40 cans of hairspray, and viola! Think Audrey Hepburn classy. Even my face looked different. But if that wasn't enough, I went to my local professional makeup artist, and she definitely got into the spirit too. I have come to the shocking realization that it doesn't matter what genes you have, if professionals are doing your hair and makeup, you will look sensational. I can so see why Glammer Shots has taken off. I never would have recognized me. Yes, I know, my vanity shocks you. It would shock me too, except that it was only for the day, and after washing my hair this morning, I have safely returned to the same old me. But it was totally Cinderella-like, which I don't recall happening on my wedding day, so I'm fully willing to take it on someone else's. And just so you don't totally disown me...You looked fantastic too, Stepher.

The Great Paper Toilet Seat Cover Conspiracy

You know those paper toilet seat covers in public bathrooms? I don't get those. Oh, I understand the concept, but when it comes to actual application, I seem to fall woefully short. The part I seem to have the most problem with is the ripping the little inside part away from the part that you sit on. It's only attached by a 1/4" bit of paper in a couple of places, and yet, I can't tear through it. I try to pull them apart, but the tear goes shooting off in the other direction instead, and I end up ripping the entire thing in half. I tried tearing little bits at a time and then connecting the dots. I tried ripping the whole thing quickly. I tried holding the entire thing with one hand and punching at it with the other. At this point, the line has formed outside the stall, and the woman next in line is tentatively knocking and asking, "Are you okay in there?" And then, if by some miracle, you can actually get the two parts separated with enough paper still intact to cover the seat, the whole thing slides mockingly into the toilet before you can sit down. I hate those toilet seat covers! I know they are the technological advance to the whole "spreading the toilet paper strips all around the seat" deal, but come on! By the time you battle the thing into surrender, you've already lost bladder control, and the whole point is moot. I'm just saying there's got to be a better way.

It's Cooooooooming...

This Saturday!

The REAL reason no one remembers the 70's

You must stop whatever you are doing right now and go to this website. When you are through with these, click on the link at the bottom and work your way through all the other similar websites.

WARNING: Do not look at this site while you're supposed to be serious, or working, or listening attentively to your dreadfully boring customer yack on and on and on during the weekly conference call. You will laugh, and you will be busted. Also, go to the bathroom now, before you click on it. Even if you just did. Laughing until you lose bladder control is not a good way to endear yourself to your coworkers.

I am soooo glad that I wasn't around for this. I would have certainly starved to death.

7/ 24/06
Alright! Alright! I'll tell you where Hoffa is...

What's the most vicious way to torture information out of terrorists? No, not bamboo under the fingernails. Not the electric shocks to tender parts of the anatomy. Not even the mutilating of body parts. It's...


I know how effective this is, because I have been making them for weeks, and at this point, I'd confess to anything if it meant that I didn't have to tie another little bow around another little champagne glass and wrap another set of little flowers around it. There's a simple 200 step process to these wedding favors, and in addition to being mind-numbing dull, they have the added bonus of causing vicious finger cramps after just two or three. It's definitely fine motor skill work, and I obviously have fat, uncoordinated fingers. But I shall suffer on for you, Stepher, because I am the Captain of the Bridesmaids, and it is my sworn duty to sacrifice the future use of my hands to ensure that your guests will have something pretty to ignore while they are at the reception.

Improv Everywhere

So, Stepherteeties sent me this link, which impressively helped me to waste an entire afternoon. I personally recommend the Best Buy one, the Moebius, Even Better than the Real Thing, and the suicide jumper. I'll leave it at that.

My Cubicle

I just heard this song on the radio this morning. Then I had to find it on the internet and hear it about 50 more times. Then I had to send it to my coworkers, who played it 50 times also. Now I know it by heart. If you haven't heard it yet, take a gander.

Happy Birthday...

To MEEEEEEEE! That's right, it's my birthday! Feel free to shower me with gifts (including cash, checks, and paypal). I like my birthday. My skin still has enough elasticity left that I am not ashamed of my age, or the day that honors my birth. Plus, it allows me to be wonderfully selfish, because it's my special day, after all.

Oh, by the way, it's also Tony's birthday, so when you're making out that check, add a little something extra in for him too. Yes, we were born on the same day. Yes, in the same year. No, not in the same hospital (because that would be just a little too freaky). He is just a few hours older than I am. It means I have to share my special selfish day, but it also makes a neat conversation starter for parties. Not too many people can claim the same birthday as the person they are married to. File that one under "quirky".

An oldie but goodie...

In a bizarre, sadistic kind of way. It'll disturb you, but I guarantee you'll do it at least twice.


What goes up must come down

156 emails! 156 new, unread, and decidedly unpleasant emails in my inbox. After working all day, I've gotten them down to 118 that will require some kind of work on my part to satisfy them. On a good day, I can handle between 5 and 8 if nothing new comes in. This is the punishment for going on vacation. It's career suicide. I've decided to run away and become a professional cruise ship stowaway.

Parting is such sweet sorrow.

Last Day of the cruise. We have said goodbye to the Bahamas and are sailing back to Jacksonville. I have determined to make the best of it by soaking up as much skin-damaging sun as possible. It has occurred to me that I may not be as dark as my jealous co-workers will expect, and I can't let them think for a minute that I have not been enjoying every moment of the tropical weather. So, a little sunscreen (because no one is jealous of skin cancer), another cheesy romance novel, and hours of quality time with Mr. Sunshine.

Other events of interest: the ice carving demo, where a tiny Filipino guy carved a 300 lb. block of ice into the elaborate shape of the cruise ship in roughly 15 seconds, the Hairy Chest Competition (where this guy won, hands down), and the evening Show, which was a tribute to country music. (Normally, I do not care for country music, but you have to admit that it's fun to dance to, and they did a great job with the dancing. I think it was the best show they've done so far. Plus, they played "Rocky Top", so I certainly can't complain about that).

Dinner: Caesar Salad with "Hearts of Romaine Lettuce Tossed with our Caesar Dressing, Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese and Herb Croutons" and tamarind roasted prime rib of aged American choice beef, baked potato, Balsamic glazed tomatoes, and sautéed green beans & cauliflower. I haven't a clue what Tamarind is, but I do not care, because it was delicious. I'm really going to miss the stoic Dejan and friendly Svetlin. They've almost become like friends. Ones who never actually talk but are happy to see each other all the same. Dejan actually smiled today, briefly. (Maybe because he knows he's finally rid of the uncouth Americans, but still.) I admire the kind of service where the patrons know you're inwardly smirking at them, but they like you all the same. I need to be able to take that kind of lesson back to work with me.

Goodbye wonderful food! Goodbye breathtaking scenery! Goodbye charming event hosts! Goodbye food! Goodbye amusing games! Goodbye enertaining dancers! Goodbye food! Goodbye poolside lounge chair! Goodbye casino poker dealer! Goodbye food! Goodbye nightly towel animal! Goodbye exciting ports of call! Goodbye food! I will be counting the days until we are together again next year.

Visiting with the Bahemian National Bird

Today is another port day, and Tony and I escaped the ship to do a little exploring on our own before our guided city bus tour and visit to the Zoo. (Because where do zookeepers go while on vacation? To other zoos of course!) Actually, the zoo/garden was really good. I was surprised. It's a small zoo, but you can really get up close and personal with the animals. Unlike American zoos, where you are separated from the animals by a fence, then a decorative hedge, then another fence, then a low concrete wall, the animals here are just a chain link fence away. One, I might add, that many visitors think nothing of sticking their hands through.

"Look Mommy! The hungry and bad tempered wild tiger is coming over so I can pet him!"

Also, just roaming around the zoo are about 100 flamingos. I have never been so close to so many flamingos in my life. Come to think of it, I've never been close to one flamingo in my life. But here, in paradise, they'll let you walk right through the middle of the herd. Flock? Group. I'll include the picture for you who need the visual to nudge your imagination in the right direction. I so totally recommend you hit the Zoo if you're ever in the neighborhood of the Nassau. Awesome little place. It's like a little private garden with a bunch of tropical animals thrown in.Dinner: Beef tenderloin with béarnaise sauce, broccoli and mashed potatoes. Two deserts, because 1) I could not decide between the chocolate Frenchie thingie, and the apple pie Frenchie thingie, and 2) I'm a gluttonous pig. But our waiter, Dijan, is only too happy to encourage diabetic comas, so he brought me both without comment. (Not that I've ever heard him comment, but still...)

Goin' with the motion of the ocean

We were in port at Key West today, and even through it's been choppy and rainy and windy, the cruise program director informed us that our snorkel trip will continue as planned. Not being ones to shirk away from potential sea sickness, Tony and I gleefully boarded our party catamaran and headed out on 10' seas to our designated snorkel spot. Snorkeling in choppy water is a bit like trying to lay down while on a roller coaster...during an earthquake...with people throwing salty water all over you...and submerging your snorkel tube in water. The trick, I have discovered, it to completely relax your body, so that your top half can be cresting the next wave while your bottom half is still on the last one. I, being naturally willowy, got the hang of this rather quickly. Tony almost drowned. The visibility wasn't much since the water was churned up, but snorkeling in and of itself is fun, so not a bad trip all and all. That is, right up until I got seasick on the ride back to the cruise ship. I have never been more thankful to get back on dry land, even for a few minutes.

Dinner: Mixed Garden and Field Greens with Tomatoes, Cucumbers and Carrots with Choice of Dressing , Mississippi Delta Prawns (I'll say it again to give you a chance to fully absorb how incredible they were...Mississippi Delta Prawns) with American and French Cocktail Sauce (I have no idea what they are made of, these sauces, and at the risk of being...what, a nationalist? I must say that the American sauce was much much better than the French sauce. And it has nothing to do with the fact that I am an American and so am naturally biased).

Anchors a-way, my boy, Anchors a-WAAAY!

Hmm, I'm not sure what has inspired all of this nautical singing on the blog. Possibly the stirrings of the steel drum band here on the deck of this Truly Lovely Cruise Ship.

Anyway, a run down of Day 1:
The morning was spent checking in and waiting for the ship to allow us to board. There were about 1600 people getting checked in, but the entire operation was surprisingly smooth. So smooth, in fact, that I had to really work to come up with one gripe. Luckily I found it, and his name is Ed. (I doubt Ed was his real name, but I never got close enough to the name tag, so I'm calling him Ed for simplicity. Besides, he looked like an Ed). Anyway, Ed was horrible! Ed was the affable cruise ship employee whose only job was to guide the people coming out of the check-in queue to their seats in the back of the giant lobby. It wasn't hard. All he had to do was point to the chairs and ask the people to sit. Except Ed, being such a friendly guy kept wandering away from his post to talk to other people already in line! And with Ed being otherwise engaged with his conversation about what he was going to eat for lunch later, the poor people coming out of check-in had no idea where to go! They wandered right past the turn, right past the chairs, right past Ed's brilliantly stimulating conversation ("Sometimes I get turkey, but most of the time its ham") and congregated with uncertainty along the wall. COME ON ED! Don't you know that people without a clear sense of order, people who don't know THE PLAN, get very uncomfortable? Of course, the entire episode tugged at my little order-loving heart. I wanted to jump up and lead them to their chairs. I wanted to let them know the plan, but I couldn't leave my own place in the line. Finally, some other Carnival employee noticed the congregating mob of confused people and led them to their chairs. A crisis averted.

But I digress. Once we got onto the ship, it was fantastic. We had a good lunch, unpacked our stuff and sat on the deck by the pool to watch the "Farewell to Jacksonville" party. Tony was totally psyched over two dolphin sightings on the way out to sea, and that has convinced him that he wants to move to Jacksonville immediately. We spent most of the afternoon wandering around the ship, trying not to get lost. There are 10 decks to the ship, and about 40 different staircases (which, I am convinced, move around like in the Harry Potter stories, because I SWEAR we took that staircase two minutes ago to get to the piano bar, and now we can't find it again). These ships are freakin' HUGE, and this one is only considered a mid-sized ship.

Favorite places so far: The second sun deck overlooking the pool with the waterslide. Good place to listen to the music and watch the people, but without actually having to be down there with them.

Dinner: An absolutely perfect Filet Mignon with green beans and mashed potatoes. Also, a side salad with ranch and the best. Chocolate. Cake. EVER. for desert. I can't pronounce half the fancy French names for all this awesome food, so I pick out the one word I do know in the description and use that when ordering. ("I'll have orange sauce"). Our waiter, bless his stuffy Frenchie waiter soul, is the epitome of fancy stuffy Frenchieness, but is good enough to pretend like he knows exactly what I'm talking about when I'm waving vaguely towards the menu and ordering um with orange sauce. I could so get used to this.

Bon Voyage suckers!

"I'm lea-ving, on a cruise ship! Don't know when I'll be back a-gain, but bay-bee, I'm-outta-here-so-fast-that-I'm-trampling-both-small-children-and-the-elderly-and-NOT-EVEN-giving-them-a-backward-glance."

That's right folks! I am OUTTA HERE! Finally, the time has come for my much anticipated, much celebrated, and most desired 5 days cruise to Key West and the Bahamas!

I have purchased my sunscreen, I have packed my bags (4 of them, because I take the boy scout motto "Be Prepared" very seriously, and you never know what you'll need when you're surrounded by nothing by ocean) and I have selflessly rubbed my jealous co-workers faces all over the brochure so that they are extra sure of how much fun I will be having all week while they slave away at work.

If I feel like making the effort to set down my umbrella drink, I may record all my merrymaking here on the blog so that all of you can also be insanely jealous of my balmy tropical paradise.
We'll see.

Happy Birthday Billy Joel!

According to the radio deejay this morning, today is Billy Joel's birthday. (This was an excellent reason for the deejay to then play 4 Billy Joel songs in a row). I like Billy Joel. I can sing along with them, and if I can do that, it classifies as a good song to me. If you really care, you can read all about him and his 50 bazillion albums.

Happy Birthday Billy!

I Dare You To Eat That

Lately, Mason and Dixon have been playing a great game, "I dare you to eat that", or alternatively, "Who can cause the biggest vet bill?". It's been a very close game, and loads of fun for all involved. Dixon scored first by (to use the highly scientific medical term) barfing any and all cat food ever consumed back up all over the floor. Repeatedly. Everywhere. A trip to the vet revealed...a stomach full of cat fur, commonly known as the hair ball. Points scored: $105 ($75 for the blood test and $30 for the visit). Dixon was not able to take advantage of any medication cost points, however, because he had pulled this stunt before, and we were already prepared. Not to be outdone, Mason countered with his own barfing THE VERY NEXT DAY. Mason's tummy trigger of choice turned out to be half of a furry caterpillar that he found out on the back porch. (You would think that thousands of years of ingrained instinct would tell him not to eat furry caterpillars, but alas, instinct is no barrier when your brother looks you in the eye, nods to the caterpillar, and says, "I dare you to eat that"). Caterpillar, by the way, makes the kitty cat VERY sick, and Mason was able to rack up $66 for the vet visit, $30 for a follow up visit a week later, and $30 for the anti-caterpillar medications, resulting in a grand total of $126. At this point, I'm thinking that actual children would be cheaper than these cats.

Follow-up thought: Do cats "Double-dog dare" each other, or is there such a thing as a "Double-cat dare"?

Got Milk?

Because who wouldn't want a picture of themselves with a milk mustache?

It was Milk Day a few weeks ago in our local Downtown Square, and what better way to avoid doing an honest day's work than to sneak out of the office and have your picture taken with your milk covered co-workers? Pay special attention to Chris's milk FuManChu on the left. That little beauty was compliments of your truly tipping the milk cup up for him "to ensure good upper lip contact". I did such a good job that it also ran down the sides of his mouth, creating a bold new statement in milk facial enhancements. (Luckily, Chris was raised not to hit girls, so I actually got away unscathed). Other partners in crime include Stevie, whose milk mustache lasted for roughly .0003 seconds before his highly advanced (or severely dehydrated) upper lip absorbed it, Jennifer (who actually doesn't like milk but went along for the ride anyway) and Jennifer (who likes milk so much, this was her second milk picture of the day). Together, we managed to steal 10 minutes of paid work time from "the Man", and get this lovely commerative picture in the process. God bless Milk Day.

Ritual dances around the giant phallic symbol, and other memories of my youth

Happy May Day to you all, happy blog readers.
It has come to my attention that many people today are not aware of the significance of May Day and the appropriate celebration thereof. (I am one of those people, but I will try to convince you of knowledge I do not have with vague truths and a sense of authority). Here goes:

When I was but a wee lass, and living in the deep South, we celebrated May Day with the traditional May Pole Dance. There was a large celebration in the historic town square, complete with music and food and the required entrepreneurial vendors. And of course, the May Poles. (If the reasoning behind the May Pole was ever explained to me, it has since been lost in the mental archives, but I'm pretty sure that the "Germanic pagan fertility symbolism" part was not in the brochure at the time.) I do remember that May Day was a very big deal. We all had costumes, which for us girls consisted of identical white dresses with pink bows on the back and a wreath of flowers on our heads. And white ballet shoes, which is by far that coolest footwear that one can manage to wear. Anywhere. My second grade class practiced for weeks to perfect the May Pole Dance. We were divided into boy-girl pairs (my partner was a boy named Grant, and the only thing I can remember about him was that he was shorter than I was, which was very disappointing to me, because everyone knows that the boys are supposed to be taller). Anyway, everybody holds on to a ribbon that's attached to the top of the pole, and you weave in and out of the other dancers, thereby weaving the ribbon around the pole in a (hopefully) aesthetically pleasing manner. In truth, our class usually ended up with sometime accidentally tied to the May Pole and several arguments about who was supposed to go over and who was supposed to duck under. Ms Carroll, our teacher (bless her patient soul) would work tirelessly, untying knots, breaking up fights, and clapping in rhythm while yelling "Over! Under! Over! Under!" from the sidelines. Eventually, Ms Carroll's desire for perfection would shatter under the weight of 8 year old clumsiness, and anything short of mass accidental strangulation was considered a success.

That, my friends, is how you celebrate May Day.