Sunday, September 30, 2007

A lovely Nutwoody day

Oh, it's very nice out. I've been out to the garden and picked a nice bowl of peppers. Looks like this week I'll be making some fresh salsa, as well as a nice dish of Italian sausage and peppers. I have lots of those banana peppers, which are mild enough for me yet spicy enough for Ken. It's the perfect pepper for us!

Since I had the weekend off, I decided to get a little ambitious with my cooking. A while back, I found a nice brisket on sale, so I thawed that out. Yesterday, I put together a marinade for Texas-Style Barbecued Brisket (in the crockpot). It marinated overnight, and it's cooking right now. Later, I'll cook the barbecue sauce (from scratch!) and then the beef will cook an hour longer with the sauce. I also whipped up some cole slaw, which has been in the fridge overnight, and I'll make some baked beans later on. It's a Texas barbecue, yeeehawwww! Where's ma cowboy hat? Gee, looks like I'm hungry. All I've written about so far is food!

Next topic. I received a comment on my entry the other day about problems with carbon offsetting. I appreciate anyone who reads this journal, and welcome any and all comments (although I will delete them if they are excessively foul--I have the power). I would like to comment a little more on this one, though.

Comment from one1undergod
9/30/07 8:12 AM

carben off setting is the reason i came here, and thats what i will write about

the only way they will work is to everyone to get a base level , as a tax like cretit, that works at the point of purchase ,that offsets the real carben cost at point of sale [individually]
how it would work is by converting them to  a credit ,if your in credit ,you just get them deducted at the point of sale ,if you are in deficite you can borrow them [at intrest, or buy them via your carben credit banker[possably the same banker you basnk with, but not nessesarilly so it could be by a service provider or carben union ,who issue you a sepperate card to pay the carben offset excice

basiclly the total carben deficit stays with the product, from manufacture ,through transport, to other carben defecits ,inherant in the specific product ,and is factored into the price dependant on its real , actual carben cost

extra credits can be bought sold  gifted or inherited ,carben capture can claim refunds ,fior the carben captured, via licenced chartered carben accountants ,who have strict accounting protocols ,with real monetory fines for fraud

I agree that carbon offsetting is an interesting idea, and that it has possibilities. But I also strongly feel that it is being used as a convenient way to get out of actually changing our behavior. It's just too tidy and neat a solution, which pretty much tells me that it's too good to be true. In the latest issue of Audubon magazine, columnist Ted Williams talks about exactly the same thing. (I'll try to link to the entire article when it becomes available online. It's an eye-opener.) He writes:

 "...of all the damage done by ill-considered tree planting, none is more dangerous than the false sense of absolution provided by 'carbon offsetting,' a booming industry in which greenhouse-gas polluters and governments constrained by the Kyoto Protocol purchase supposed mitigation by, among other things, paying someone to jam seedlings into the earth. The industry, which according to some investor predictions could reach $250 billion in world sales by 2008, teaches that we don't have to change our profligate lifestyles. And with few controls, it provides fertile ground for scams.

"Denis Hayes, president of the Bullitt Foundation, an environmental grant maker, likens the worst offset programs to 'indulgences'--the pre-Reformation get-out-of-jail-free cards hawked by the Catholic Church. (Go and sin no more--unless, of course, you pay us off.) 'We tend to use "cap-and-trade" as a single word,' Hayes told me. 'But there's capping and there's trading, and my concern is with all these people treating offsets without any cap. Someone is buying someone else's emissions, but that may not do anything to reduce total emissions.' "

It seems pretty obvious to me that such a simple solution is not solving the problem. It does not prompt anyone to change their behavior, especially if they happen to be people who have plenty of money to pay these charlatans, which leaves out most of us. It's not a matter of writing a check made out to Global Warming and saying, "Here's a check--go away." Do you really know where that money is going? Do you really understand what the company is doing? Have you done your research to find out what will best serve the environment? I didn't think so.

Our ecology and planet are marvelously complex things. We are still learning the impact that our actions have upon them. When I was a kid, we used to drive by burned forests in Minnesota and Florida and I'd think, "Oh, how sad...that should have been prevented or stopped." But then as I got older, I learned that forest fires are one of the best things that can happen to a forest, that it nurtures new growth more than anything else. Nature developed a pretty elegant way to handle things, and WE'RE the ones who have screwed it up. Carbon offsetting is the latest way for the worst offenders to assuage their guilt, and until some pretty strict guidelines and detailed plans are laid out, I say call it the big scam that it is and don't buy into it. These companies are just going to sit back and rake in the dough, and not "fix" a damn thing.

I got another comment (you can read it in the same entry that is linked above) from Paul which I liked quite a bit--I'm all for a TOTO (Turn Off The Oscars) Campaign to protest these bogus environmentalists in Hollywood preaching to us about what WE are doing wrong. I love it.

I've written about all this crap before, and I won't pretend that Ken and I are the best people in the world when it comes to having a "green" home. We are consumers, and that's not going to change. We have our Mustangs, and we love them. However, we do our best to make differences where we can, whether it's buying reusable grocery bags, recycling more, taking care of our 11 acres in a wildlife-friendly way, or being prudent in our energy usage. (Not having central air conditioning makes it easy in the summer!) I don't want to be a hypocrite about it, and I don't appreciate being scolded by those who believe they know exactly how us peons should be living our lives.

It's gratin' on my last nerve.

Finally, my inner scientist is screaming at me to write this: It's carbOn, not carbEn! If you're going to write about an element, especially one as basic as CARBON, please spell it correctly! Gaaaaaaah!

Later that day

This little guy was grazing in our back yard a few moments ago. I think it's Spot (I wrote about him here). They grow up so fast!

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Gimme a pill

I'm getting a little tired of hearing and reading about all these "syndromes" lately. RLS, ADD, ADHD, Aspergers (which always makes me chuckle, because it sounds like Ass Burgers), etc. My cousin Erica says that her 13 year old daughter thinks she has Restless Legs Syndrome. Gee, wonder what put that idea into her head?

Please don't get me wrong. I know that these are all legitimate disorders. What bothers me is that instead of a practical solution, it seems that our society demands a pharmaceutical solution to every little thing. Again, don't get me wrong--I'm a microbiologist, so I understand the importance of antibiotics and antivirals for the treatment of infection and disease. I'm sure there are certainly times when medication is needed for treating some of these disorders. But sometimes, I think there are simpler solutions. Restless Leg Syndrome? Get up, stretch, walk around. Attention Deficit Disorder? Make 'em sit their ass down. Attention Deficit with Hyperactivity? Make 'em run around like maniacs to burn off some energy, then make 'em sit their ass down. (This is just my opinion, but I think Ritalin could be the Thalidomide of the late 20th century. Okay, probably not that bad, but it could be the most over-prescribed drug in recent history.) Aspergers Syndrome? Who among us doesn't feel some anxiety in social situations? A little coaching from a parent or friend can help. I'm very disturbed by our compulsion to take a pill for everything that ails us, and our assumption that it will "fix" us. Sometimes there is a little work involved, whether it's discipline, hard work, determination, or maybe just a little soul-searching. Not every problem we have requires medication! That should go without saying, but it sure doesn't seem that way lately.

I believe this calls for a new syndrome. I will call it Multiple Excessive Syndromes Syndrome, or MESS. Symptoms include reading more than is warranted into normal feelings experienced by most humans; compulsion to seek a simple solution, such as a drug; and a total lack of interest is finding out what the real problem is and working on it.

It sure seems like things were simpler when I was growing up. My cousins and I rode our bikes everywhere, on rural roads, and we didn't wear helmets. I can recall a time or two when I got knee scrapes, and my Mom put Merthiolate on my cuts. My cousins and I stayed out all day long, playing and exploring, making "forts" in the woods, and there were times when our parents didn't know where we were, but they knew we were safe. That's right, we were not always in direct contact with our parents. Hard to believe, eh? There were times when I was all by myself, and I would go out in the back yard and lay in the grass and read a book. Sometimes, we went out at night, and we'd lay in the grass and look at the stars. Somehow, we survived our terrible, unprotected childhood. And we managed to do it without major medication.

Sadly, this makes me realize that I suffer from OFS, or Old Fogey Syndrome. I'm not the only one...I know many who have the same symptoms: excessive nostalgia for their childhoods; a belief that things have changed drastically--and not for the better--since they were kids; and a sense of melancholy for children today, because it seems that Ken and I and others our age had the last truly carefree generation. When did it become so difficult to be a child and navigate the process of growing up? It wasn't a walk in the park when I was a kid--I had all kinds of emotions and social problems and questions about life, and I know that will never go away for kids, or even for adults--but I always had the certainty that I was going to be okay, that my parents and my family were solid and smart and doing their best to guide me onto the right path.

Bottom line, I hope our society can get away from easy, immediate solutions, and start focusing on the true problem and a true solution. A pill, while sometimes warranted and even necessary, is not the first thing to look at. God help us if we continue to expect a pill, or any kind of quick fix, to solve our problems.

Gotta go--I need to start working on a telethon for OFS.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Glad it's the weekend....

Whew. Rough day today. We just had a lot of work, and I was there almost an hour late, which is unusual for me. I was very happy when I finally walked out of there, believe me! Ken and I have the day off together tomorrow, so I'm looking forward to that. We'll get a few things done, then watch the ND-Purdue game, although God knows why. On the Bob & Tom Show the other morning, a comedian named Costaki Economopoulos (gesundheit) said that Touchdown Jesus has a new name: "Another sack?! Jesus!" Ouch, man.

Since I wrote about this column yesterday, I'm including the whole thing here. I think it's brilliant, and I think he makes a very valid point--in a very funny way.

Offset away our guilt

If we can buy ‘carbon offsets’ for our environmental missteps, why not for our other sins?

By Peter Schweizer

Some environmentalists are pushing a nifty idea to get people out of the moral quandary of being alarmed by CO2 emissions but not wanting to change their lifestyles. They are called "carbon offsets," and everyone from Al Gore to the Presbyterian Church is pushing them.

The idea provides a simple way to absolve you of your guilt.

Say you are wealthy and fly on a Gulfstream G400 jet. The plane will emit 1 ton of CO2 per passenger per hour. Flying commercial on a Boeing 777 will emit only .06 tons per passenger per hour. Wealthy environmentalists feel guilt about this, so they buy a carbon offset to supposedly reduce carbon emissions by an equal amount. The "offset" comes in the form of paying for solar panels or planting trees that "offset" the damage you have done. Buy an offset and — voilĂ — you are "carbon neutral."

Americans are snapping up these offsets, according to Time magazine, and public figures such as California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., buy them regularly. In endorsing the practice, Time says the practice provides an opportunity to "pay for your carbon sins."

Offsets are a brilliant idea: They allow people to carry on with their current behavior, buy their way out of their obligations, and along the way declare their moral cleanliness. As The Seattle Times put it, offsets are basically an "eraser."

We all have areas of our life that we feel guilty about. So why limit offsets simply to the carbon we produce? Why not expand offsets to erase our other sins? After all, why should environmentalists have all the fun?

Here are some suggestions:

* The Adultery Offset. People who are caught in compromising positions could purchase an offset from a pro-marriage organization such as Focus on the Family. By buying the Adultery Offset, the guilty party would counterbalance their adultery footprint with a monogamous couple trained by this organization. Like the carbon-emitter absolved of carbon sin, this would allow an individual to be declared "adultery neutral" instantly. As with carbon offsets, the guilty parties would not actually have to stop engaging in adultery; he or she would simply need to write a check after every occurrence. Two enterprising Britons have even set up a satirical website called demonstrating how this could be done.

During the last Oscar ceremony, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science gave each Oscar presenter a carbon offset of 100,000 pounds of CO2, roughly double the average American's annual output. The Adultery Offset might prove to be even more popular in Hollywood.

* The Pilates Offset. Spending more time in the gym might be the best way to combat America's growing obesity crisis, but if you can't make it, don't worry. A Pilates Offset purchased from a local gym would absolve you of any of the weighty responsibility for obesity in America. With the offset, you would be paying for other people to become physically fit. Their increased buffness would neutralize your expanding waistline, and you would be "fat neutral."

Carbon offset companies offer decals that guilty Americans with large SUVs can put on their cars to declare that they are "carbon neutral." Obese Americans who purchased a Pilates Offset would receive a T-shirt declaring them physically fit, or at least "fat neutral." A Time article last October said you could buy carbon offsets as part of a "Low Carbon Diet." Why not offer them for real diets?

* The Tofu Offset. Do you want to tell your hip friends that you are vegan, but you just can't give up cheeseburgers? A simple solution would be to purchase a Tofu Offset from your local health foods store. With a TofuPass, you could maintain your status as a strict vegetarian without actually giving up the double-cheeseburger with bacon.

Terrapass, a carbon-offset company, calculates that if you drive 12,000 miles peryear, you can offset your automobile's annual 20,000 pounds of carbon output with a $79.95 "Road Tripper" package.

To counteract that bacon double-cheeseburger, we could offer the "Whopper" package, which would allow you to indulge in your carnivorous habits but help fund vegan food stores. You could slap a sticker on your car that says "Eat Vegan" and still go through the McDonald's drive-through in good conscience.

* The Pamela Anderson Offset. If you are concerned about the humane treatment of animals but just love fur coats or veal piccata, this is the offset for you. By purchasing offsets from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, you would stay in the good graces of PETA activists without giving up these luxuries. Perhaps PETA could do the same for small mammals, too. Attend an animal rights rally in your fur coat. It will be OK when you show them your PETA offset.

If these offsets don't sound quite so appealing, don't be alarmed. True, you might be outsourcing your moral responsibilities for something you care about and paying off your obligations without changing your behavior. But if we do this right, offsets will give us all a chance to be morally clean, concerned citizens without actually making any changes in our life. What could be better than that?

Peter Schweizer is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and co-editor of a new book, Landmark Speeches of the American Conservative Movement.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

[insert sin here] neutral

Ken and I love NPR, and are happy to support our public radio station. I usually listen to it on the way home, and today on Talk of the Nation, there was a great interview with Peter Schweizer, a journalist who poked some fun at the concept of carbon offsetting. He wrote an editorial for USA Today about it, and basically, he wonders why should we stop at carbon offsetting? Let's apply it to other problems we have, whether it's adultery or obesity. It's quite funny, and a nifty little piece of satire.

In the interview, he got a little more serious, and said that he feels that carbon offsetting is basically an excuse for continuing our poor behavior, and calls it "outsourcing our moral responsibilities." He went on to say that in some circles (not to mention any place in particular, HOLLYWOOD), it's almost a status symbol to brag about how much you've spent to offset your carbon footprint, while in the meantime your private jet is running and awaiting you on the tarmac. I've felt exactly same way ever since the Oscars, when certain people (not to mention anyone in particular, DICAPRIO) talked about how special that broadcast was because the carbon footprint was offset, blah de blah blah blah. BLEAHHHH! You know what? Most of us don't live in houses that have a kazillion square feet, and most of us have ONE house. How many houses do YOU have, Leo? And I'm sure there weren't too many actors who DIDN'T arrive in a limo that night. The hypocrisy of it all makes me want to puke.

Hey Beth, tell us how you really feel!

Okay, I'll calm down. But honestly, it's ridiculous, and I'm so sick of being preached to by some of the largest and most egregious consumers in America. Spending a bunch of money on carbon offsets does not immediately negate the damage, and may not ever negate it. Think first about your actions, and somehow find the humility to admit that all the money in the world can't make you a better person or a better environmentalist or a better anything. For us mere mortals, our best efforts include changing our behavior and doing what we can to do make a difference, not simply writing a check to assuage our guilt and nullify the bad behavior that we continue to exhibit.

This is pretty funny, too.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The other side of the tracks

After work today, I had to drive over to the UPS building and pick up a package. It's on the west side of town by the airport. I don't get to that side of town very often, and it was kind of interesting.

First of all, I should say that there are lots of nice neighborhoods on the west side, with lovely two-story homes. But the areas where there are shops and restaurants look pretty dingy and sad. Dirty little shops on the corners, extremely had lettering that said "CB Specialists!" Who needs a CB specialist any more, good buddy?

But what really caught my eye was some of the buildings. It's actually a fairly historic area, and in Studebaker's heyday, it was THE happenin' place. Lots of immigrants settled there, and I've read that there were little Mom & Pop shops all over the place, bakeries, what have you. Behind the cheap vinyl siding and poorly renovated exteriors, you could catch a glimpse of these gorgeous, solid brick buildings, with some really interesting architectural detail. And some of the older homes were fairly well maintained, with lovely big porches. Naturally, my mind jumped into its Wayback Machine, and I started thinking about what the area must have been like in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Fascinating!

I know that every science fiction story about the subject warns that time travel is a very bad idea. Remember the story (I think it's a Ray Bradbury story) about the guy that goes back in time and steps on a butterfly and the entire world is changed? Or Dr. McCoy going back and changing history so that the Nazis won the war and ruled the world, thus space travel was never developed and the Enterprise was no more? It boggles the mind! But God, how neat would it be to go back and just observe? I'd love to go back to various ancient civilizations, but I'd be happy enough just to sit here right where I am, like in "The Time Machine" (the original movie) and see what Nutwood looked like in the mid-19th century, or earlier. I'd see Native Americans, bobcats, and all kinds of wildlife! Oddly enough, I don't think I'd want to go into the future--some things are best not to know, and if you've seen "The Time Machine" (or read the book), you'll recall that the Morlocks are in the future. The Morlocks still give me the creeps.

When it comes to books on the subject, one of my favorites is Time and Again by Jack Finney. No, it's not the basis of that lame Christopher Reeve movie filmed at Mackinac Island--what was the name of that? Something with "time" in it. No, in Time and Again, the guy goes back I think to the 1890's in New York City. He has an apartment in the Dakota overlooking Central Park. I need to read that one again, I really loved it. But he actually interacts with people. I just want to observe, and I wouldn't change anything, I swear!

In science fiction stories, those are the famous last words of everyone who goes back and totally screws up the world.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I think they shop at the same store

Ol' Mahmoud is quite a big deal in the news lately. I'm so impressed with his fine sense of style, especially that casual jacket that makes him look like he's ready to go to a clambake:

As I was half-dozing last night, it occurred to me that it reminded me of someone else's jacket:

(Sorry the picture is so tiny.) That's right, Hank Kimball of "Green Acres." Sure, Mahmoud has nuclear weapons, he wants Israel destroyed, and believes that the Holocaust is nothing but a myth. I say his larger crime, a heinous one, is stealing the style of one of America's most beloved secondary sitcom characters! Next thing we know, he'll be sporting a leather jacket like The Fonz, or wearing the leisure suits and neck scarves of Mr. Roper. He must be stopped! By the way, all you homosexuals out there, don't go to Iran, because you won't fit in there. They don't have gays like we do here.

Speaking of nukes (this time the power-generating kind), Ken sent me an article today. Here's a snippet:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Power producer NRG Energy Inc. will submit the first application for a new nuclear reactor in the U.S. in nearly 30 years, the company's chief executive said Monday. Nuclear regulators expect Tuesday morning to receive NRG's application for two new units at its facility in Bay City,Texas, about 90 miles southwest of Houston.

Should be interesting! Being married to Ken, I've learned a lot about nuclear power, and everyone needs to get beyond Chernobyl and "The China Syndrome." (In the former, safety practices in place were ignored and overridden, which we do not do here. Oh, and the latter was a MOVIE!) I've gotten to read a lot of stuff about safety and security, and if we truly want to wean ourselves from petroleum--not to mention cut our greenhouse gases--we'll go forward with building more nuclear plants. France produces about 80% (I believe that's about right--if not exact, it's very close) of its power from nuclear plants, and all of Europe uses nuclear more than we do. The safety practices are astounding, much more than we are led to believe in the media. This certainly is a great time to be in the industry, because the demand for engineers and managers is going to go through the roof.

Okay, that's my propaganda for the day.

There have been 12 turkeys hanging out in the back yard since I got home. They come right up to the house, so it's funny to hear them--little chirps and clucks, and a few squawks here and there. No gobbling or drumming yet, so I think that must happen only when it's mating season, which is getting close. I'm sure we'll see some toms displaying before too long, something I never get tired of seeing. A lot of people think wild turkeys are ugly, and I'll admit that toms in mating mode are...well, startling! But they are also these beautiful shades of brown and gold and tan, all shimmery and iridescent. And when they spread those tail feathers, it's truly a sight to behold. I love our turkeys!

I'm watching the news, and wow, the Cubs are 3 games ahead! Unbelievable. Thank God the White Sox aren't in contention, because it's always been my feeling that a Cubs-White Sox World Series will be a sign of the coming Apocalypse. I guess we're safe for another year.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Criminy, it's hot!

What's up with 91° on September 24th?! I think it will cool off fairly fast, but it was a steamy one today.

Blah, it's Monday. Sheeba was curled up so cute this morning, just snoozin' away, and I just wanted to curl up and snooze, too. It ended up being okay, because I had fun talking to people at work, including my buddy Jim, who I don't get to talk to at length too often. He cheered me up quite a bit.

We also had fun discussing The Modern Library Top 100 Novels reading list. My friend Jillian wants to do a book club, with an online discussion group, and it sounds like it might be fun. I'm not much of a joiner when it comes to...well, just about anything. But it would be a lot easier to do an online thing than meet once a week, for instance. Right now, we're trying to convince her that the readers' list sounds a lot more interesting than the editors' list, but I don't think she's buying it. Personally, my concern is that I already have Book Mountain sitting next to my bed, and it's growing instead of shrinking. But I have to admit, it would be neat to read some of those novels that are considered classics, but that you never took the time to read. I've read quite a few on the readers' list, but not so many on the editors' list. I also won't be purchasing any of these novels--this sounds like a job for our Public Library! Although I already own The Grapes of Wrath, and it's one of my favorites. I think I have Tobacco Road and God's Little Acre, too, but I'm not sure if those are both on the editors' list.

Hmm, I seem to be rambling. Sorry 'bout that.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Ouch, man. ND got spanked again. But at least this time, we saw a little offense and a little spark. That was a huge improvement, and Ken and I agree that Jimmy Clausen is the man. He's going to do just fine as the ND QB...if he can stay healthy.

I don't know what made me think of this last night, but I was so happy to find it on YouTube! It was always my favorite. Hard to believe it was made in 1950, and it still makes me laugh!


Colts win! Yahoo! Ken is looking forward to watching the Bears tonight, or at least an hour or so of it, considering that he's getting up at 3 AM.

A lovely day here at Nutwood, sunny and gorgeous. I got lots of little things done, including this:

I've been finding lots of feathers in the yard lately, and some of them are so pretty, I thought it would look neat to frame them. The turkey feathers above are in an 8x10" frame, because they're so big. I like the idea of decorating with things I find around here, so I've been looking for frames on sale. I'm very pleased with how the turkey feather frame turned out!

Off to make the meatloaf!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Rodney, etc.

Hey, Rodney was fun! Ken and I agreed that it wasn't quite as good a show as last time we saw him, but it was still a good time. He sang several songs, and although I'm not a big fan of modern country music, the guy has got an amazing voice. One of my favorite songs had the line, "I think that thing just barked at me." I won't elaborate. He ended the show with a heartwarming rendition of his signature song, "Letter to my Penis." Always funny!

Today has been a very pleasant day--the weather is gorgeous!--and while Ken ran some errands (he's currently mowing the lawn), I puttered in the kitchen, got the bird feeders cleaned and filled, stuff like that. Now I'm sitting upstairs using the laptop--I love our network thing!--and watching the Notre Dame pregame show. I guess we're going to watch the game, although no one is anticipating that it will be pretty. As painful as it is, everyone just has to accept the fact that this is a rebuilding year, plain and simple. Yeah, Charlie made some mistakes, but he's not stupid, and he'll correct those mistakes, but it's not going to happen overnight. There was a great article in the paper today, an interview with Lou Holtz (who is a Legend in these parts). Lou talked about how he has confidence in this coach and this team. The article mentioned that in Lou's first season at South Carolina, they didn't win a single game. He ended up doing great things there as coach, and while ND fans and alumni aren't known for their patience, that is what is called for here. Are we going to stop cheering for the Irish? Hell no! We love 'em, and we just have to understand that this is going to be a rough year.

On the pregame show, they're talking to Regis Philbin now. I honestly don't know of a bigger Notre Dame fan. He's crazy and goofy, but I love the guy!

Hey, what's for supper?! Tonight we're having Porterhouse steaks, grilled to perfection by my wonderful husband, baked potatoes, a nice salad, and oven-toasted bread with roasted garlic. This is a perfect day for grilling, especially because the main grilling season is winding down. We're hoping to use the grill a little more often this winter, though, as long as the weather isn't too crazy cold. I know a lot of people grill all year round, but when it's 5°, I think that's just silly.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Weekend Girl

When I transform into Weekend Girl, my powers consist of being able to sleep in; watch football games; consume mass quantities; and friggin' relax!

Argh, it was a rough week. Lots of work, and by the end of work today, I was more than ready for a break. I think I was actually going to write about something, but I find that I'm fairly brain dead, so it will have to wait. The show tonight (Rodney Carrington) should get me well on my way to a little R&R.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A funny treat for Friday

Friday night, we're going to see Rodney Carrington. We've seen him once before, a couple of years ago, and I think I saw him probably 15 years ago, before he made it fairly big. We both laughed till we cried when we saw him before, so we're looking forward to a much-needed bit of comic relief. I'll let you know Saturday how it was! (Oh, and he didn't take his pants off when we saw him before, and he can feel free to keep 'em on tomorrow night.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Alba revisited

A couple of weeks ago, I sent a letter to City Hall in New Smyrna Beach, asking for information about the Alba Court Inn, which I've written about previously. I got a very nice email back today from the city planner:

There were many people around town that were interested in preserving the Alba Court, but  the building is in such a sad state of disrepair, it was condemned. A site plan has already been approved by the Planning and Zoning Board to replace the existing building.
 I was told there was another building with the same layout somewhere in Maine, and the same people who stayed here in the winter would often stay there while they were vacationing in the summer. It looked like it was a really attractive building, but it was neglected far too long. I attached some photos of the interior and a few other things which may interest you.
I used to work on preserving old houses in the Greater Cleveland area and have a pretty good eye for what is repairable, and unfortunately, this building just was not. What is odd about the whole pending demolition is the previous owner used to be a member of the local Historic Preservation Commission and was instrumental in establishing the history museum located a stone's throw from the Alba Court.
<sigh> How sad! But how nice of him to write to me, and he sent eight photos! I'll put up one of the damaged interior. And he's right, it really looks to be beyond repair. Other pictures are even worse than this one:
He also sent me a couple of historic pictures, and these are wonderful! Look at the ladies!
He also sent one of what looks like the main lounge area:
See the big stone fireplace at the end? A fireplace in Florida may seem silly, but it can get chilly in the winter. I bet there were times when it was very cozy in that lounge. Can't you just picture people in 1920's garb sitting around, chatting, laughing gaily? Okay, I'm probably going over the top, but it's fun to think about.
This is also a nice lesson in polite inquiries. He didn't have to take the time to write back or send photos, but he did, and I appreciated it very much. Sometimes, all you have to do is ask--it never hurts to try, and you often get someone who is more than happy to help you out. Thanks, Mr. Baker!

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

This entry goes to eleven

I got myself a treat yesterday, on sale at Target: "This Is Spinal Tap." Woohooo! I know I used to have the tape of it, but it got lost somewhere, so when I saw that the DVD was on sale, I had to get it. Believe it or not, Ken had never seen it! So we watched it last night. I was so pleased that he liked it, and we were both laughing so hard we were crying when we watched MY favorite scene, which is when the 18-inch Stonehenge descends onto the stage. It makes me laugh just thinking about it.

Thanks to IMDB, I got some of my favorite quotes. Enjoy!

Marty DiBergi: David St. Hubbins... I must admit I've never heard anybody with that name.
David St. Hubbins: It's an unusual name, well, he was an unusual saint, he's not a very well known saint.
Marty DiBergi: Oh, there actually is, uh... there was a Saint Hubbins?
David St. Hubbins: That's right, yes.
Marty DiBergi: What was he the saint of?
David St. Hubbins: He was the patron saint of quality footwear.


David St. Hubbins: I do not, for one, think that the problem was that the band was down. I think that the problem *may* have been, that there was a Stonehenge monument on the stage that was in danger of being *crushed* by a *dwarf*. Alright? That tended to understate the hugeness of the object.
Ian Faith: I really think you're just making much too big a thing out of it.
Derek Smalls: Making a big thing out of it would have been a good idea.


Nigel Tufnel: You can't really dust for vomit.


David St. Hubbins: It's such a fine line between stupid, and clever.


Nigel Tufnel: The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and...
Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten?
Nigel Tufnel: Exactly.
Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it's louder? Is it any louder?
Nigel Tufnel: Well, it's one louder, isn't it? It's not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You're on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?

Marty DiBergi: I don't know.
Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?
Marty DiBergi: Put it up to eleven.
Nigel Tufnel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.
Marty DiBergi: Why don't you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?
Nigel Tufnel: [pause] These go to eleven.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Testing, testing, sibilance, sibilance

I've been reading about how to embed video on here (thanks Joe at Magic Smoke!). It works, it works! This is one of my favorites, titled "Don't F With Keith Richards." I like how he goes right back to playing.

Later that day....

The Emmy awards were last night ("The Sopranos" won best drama, even though it's no longer on the air. Yes!), and apparently one of the big deals of the night was that Sally Field was censored during her acceptance speech. I watched her speech, and after a rambling speech, she said, "If the world were ruled by women, there would BE no goddam war!"

Now, I like Sally Field. I think she's a fine actress, and I'm happy she's being treated for her osteoporosis. However, that remark offends me. The language doesn't offend me, but the stupidity of it does. What? She thinks women are superior because they don't fight? Has she ever seen a catfight between a couple of women? I'm tellin' you, it's not pleasant, and they are vicious. I've known some pretty nasty broads in my time. So what's the plan here (and why wasn't I informed)? Are we going to take over the world and take away men's right to vote, so they can't return to positions of power? Are we going to lock them in cages so that we can keep them under control until we need a little, you And wasn't there a "Star Trek" episode about that?

That's the kind of idiotic remark that just makes me crazy. Believe me, men don't have the market cornered on anger and aggressiveness. It's a human trait, one that is shared between all of us. How we act upon that anger is a personal choice. But don't be spouting this crap about how women wouldn't wage war if they were in power. It also doesn't take into account those rogue leaders--gender doesn't matter--that get a taste of power and want more. If our country were run by a woman, does that mean that we wouldn't fight back against an invasion? It's all just ludicrous, and it's stupid remarks like that that makes women look like a bunch of dim bulbs.

A little later

I am indeed having a Dandys-a-thon, going on even as I write. It's one thing to listen to them on the computer at work, but when they're comin' through the Bose 901's, it's a whole 'nother level. Dandys rock! And I think one of the new CD's I got rivals "13 Tales From Urban Bohemia," (2000) at least for me: "Welcome to the Monkey House." (2003) There are some great songs on there, and as I was listing my favorites, I realized it was most of the songs on the CD.

"We Used to be Friends" (complete with handclaps!)

"Plan A"

"The Dope (Wonderful You)" (great drum lead-in)

"(I Am A) Scientist" (my theme song!)

"I Am Over It"

"The Last High" (wonderful harmonies, very mellow and fun to sing along with)

"I Am Sound"

"Rock Bottom"

As I was listening to "Monkey House," I was working in the kitchen, and had to dance a bit to some of the songs. I also indulged in a little air-tambourine. Call me Lori Partridge! Good stuff!


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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Athlete of the century?

I think time will tell, and I think yeah, Tiger will be right up there. I've been fortunate enough to see some amazing athletes in my time. From Nadia Comaneci to Karl Lewis to Jordan and Manning. And I honestly don't know enough about athletes from the past, such as Jim Thorpe. But can any of them stack up against Tiger?

He still has a ways to go before he eclipses some of the records of greats like Nicklaus and Snead, but he's closing in on Arnold Palmer on most wins, and he's still in his early 30's. If Tiger keeps up this pace of wins, he could pass the leader, Sam Snead, in about 4 years, when Tiger will be in his mid-30's. Unbelievable. I'm not sure any of us realize how lucky we are to be able to watch him on TV so often, because he is truly one of the great athletes of our time. Ken has seen him play once, in the Chicago area, and we hope to take a weekend one of these days and see him play somewhere. Cool!

What impresses me the most about Tiger is his competitiveness and his need to be the best. I know that sometimes that drive isn't a good thing, but when watching sports, I love nothing better. When we're watching Tiger, Ken likes to say, "Steel trap, man, steel trap..." talking about Tiger's mental game. I see that drive in Manning, too, and although these are some of my favorites, I know there are other athletes out there who have that drive. The question is, what do they do about it? It's one thing to want to win. We ALL want to win. But do they strive--always--to be better? Do they practice for hours and hours, do they watch tapes? When game time comes, is their entire focus on winning that game? I love to see that kind of commitment. I certainly don't want to be that consumed, and I'm glad Ken isn't that consumed, but when it comes to sports, it's some fun stuff to watch. I do like to take a little bit of a lesson from people like that, though, and strive for doing the best work I can do and being the best person I can be. In normal life, it's not really a matter of competing against others, it's a matter of challenging yourself to do your best. 

Congrats to Tiger on winning the first ever FedEx Cup! He earned it fair and square. Not a bad payoff, either, at a cool ten mil.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Spideys Gone Wild

Giant web creates bug buzz


WILLS POINT –- If you hate creepy-crawlies, you might want to avoid Lake Tawakoni State Park where a 200-yard stretch along a nature trail has been blanketed by a sprawling spider web that has engulfed seven large trees, dozens of bushes and even the weedy ground.

But if you hate mosquitoes, you might just love this bizarre web.

"At first, it was so white it looked like fairyland," said park superintendent Donna Garde. "Now it's filled with so many mosquitoes that it's turned a little brown. There are times you can literally hear the screech of millions of mosquitoes caught in those webs."

There have been heated Internet discussions among experts that the webs were constructed by social cobweb spiders, which work together, or perhaps a mass dispersal where the arachnids spin webs to spread out from one other.


Wow, that is really disturbing. I kind of like the part about millions of mosquitoes screeching (DIE, DIE, you little bastards!), but one thing that creeps me out more than swarms of mosquitoes is a big bunch of spiders. In a lot of ways, they really do fascinate me, and I know they eat bugs, but I really don't like to have them on me. Have you ever walked head-on into a web? Not a pleasant thing. I've also read that the average person swallows several (I believe the number was six or seven) spiders in their lifetime while sleeping. Think about're sound asleep, lying on your back, your mouth falls open, and next thing you know, a spider drops down from the ceiling, and you just ate a spider. If that isn't creepy, I don't know what is. This massive web reminds me of a dream I had several years ago, where I went back to the house where I grew up, and it was loaded with spiders and their webs. There was a for sale sign in the front yard, and it had a spider hanging from it. I always meant to write a story about that, but never got around to it. Ugh, it just makes me shudder!

Ken and I finally stopped watching the ND-Michigan game in the fourth quarter, when it was 38-0. Itjust got a little too painful to keep watching. I know it's a rebuilding year, but criminy....

At least Tiger looks good to win the FedEx Cup, as he should. We were flipping back and forth between golf and football, and I finally said, "Let's just leave it on golf, okay?" Tiger's up, so I'd be very surprised if he doesn't win the Cup. Go Tiger!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Living well

Living well is the best revenge.
George Herbert
English clergyman & metaphysical poet (1593 - 1633)

That is one of my favorite quotes, but I never knew who said it until just now, when I looked it up. I'd always thought it was a Chinese proverb or something, but I'm probably thinking of "Revenge is a dish best eaten cold." I'm pretty sure that's a Chinese saying (and a good one, too).

I take a couple of things from the "living well" quote. Upon first glance, it would seem to be materialistic, saying that he who accumulates the most toys, wins. While Ken and I enjoy our "stuff" as much as anyone, there's a deeper meaning there, and as a clergyman and poet, I'm sure Mr. Herbert intended it to be a little more than keeping up with the Joneses.

For me, it's about how you live your life and how you treat others. Do you try to use your powers for good or for evil? Do you do your best to bring a positive outlook to every encounter, or are you known as a downer? (I know we're not all positive all the time, but I'm talking in general here.) When people come away from a conversation with you, do they feel in a pretty good mood, or do they feel miserable? To me, "living well" means living your life in such a way that you leave a positive legacy, whether you're just moving away or you're giving up the ghost. When you're gone, it means people will remember you with fondness and happiness instead of thinking, "Ugh, HER. I'm glad she's gone!" Others may accumulate more stuff, or they may rise higher in the ranks, or they may win a petty victory over you...but if you live your life in a decent and kind way, you will be remembered with affection, while those who choose a different path may not be remembered at all.

It's a choice, one we all have to make. Choose wisely, grasshopper.


Thursday, September 13, 2007


Oooo, their first two CD's are so cool! I still need to listen more closely to them, but on "The Dandy Warhols Come Down," I love "Every Day Should Be A Holiday," "Cool As Kim Deal," and "Not if You Were the Last Junkie on Earth," with the great line "Heroin is so passè." Ha! On "Dandys Rule OK?" I'm liking "The Dandy Warhols TV Theme Song," and the long "It's a Fast Driving Raveup with the Dandy Warhols." But there are some other ones I'm liking a lot, too, thus the need to listen closer. Hey, I'm off on Monday--I've got 5 Dandys CD's, and a 5-disc CD player...looks like a Dandys-a-thon is brewin'!

I wrote about bad behavior and karma yesterday. Boy, I can think of someone who is piling up a big steamin' load of both. I sure wouldn't want to be in their shoes when it all comes due--but then I won't be, because I don't live my life that way! Whew. That's a relief...not just for me, but I'm sure for everyone around me! Besides, it makes for a much more fun life. I enjoy it when I make people laugh, or even just smile, and it always makes my day. Can you imagine being the opposite of that? I sure can't. That would be my Bizarro World, a place where everything I did brought misery and pain to others. What a horrible place that would be in which to exist.

I had a nice email from our friend Kim tonight, and that made me think about something we're all still laughing about. It involves one of the stupidest things I think I've ever said. One night when they were out here visiting, I was getting ready to make dinner. When I looked in the cupboard, I saw a box of couscous. I had made some for Ken and I while back, and neither of us cared for it, so just out of curiosity, I asked Steve, "Do you like couscous?" He said, "It's okay." I said, "Well, I'm not making that." As soon as it was out of my mouth, I realized how stupid that sounded, and we got a good laugh out of it. After they went back, I had a brainstorm, and sent them a package with the box of couscous in it. Kim said that when she opened it, she laughed out loud, and that she laughed about it everytime she walked by the box sitting on the counter. That's the kind of thing I'm talking about--we all had so much fun with that, and even though I know I'll never live it down, it made us all laugh. I'm even grinning sitting here writing about it! That's the kind of stuff that makes life fun.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

All is forgiven

I take it back, Emeril. I don't want to smack you anymore. The enchilada lasagna really was delicious, although extremely rich. However, I told Ken, "Enjoy it while you can, because I'm not making this again!" I'm sure that when I retire, I won't have any qualms about spending extra time on dinner, but right now, spending several hours on a dish is just a little too much for me!

My buddy Jim wrote about something on his Myspace page, a book called The Four Agreements. I had never heard of it, but apparently it's been a bestseller for a while. I like some of the philosophies, like being true to yourself, but one troubles me a bit. I understand the jist of it: don't take anything personally. Realize that if someone lashes out at you, it's just them, it's nothing to do with you. Now, I'm all for projecting a calm and peaceful manner, and I think it's very important how you react to situations. Do you go off the deep end, get all upset or angry or react in a bad way? That doesn't help matters any, and does nothing to defuse the situation.

However, to me, that almost seems like giving people an excuse for bad behavior. "You just called me a bitch. I understand that you're having a bad day, and I understand that it's nothing to do with me." That doesn't work for me. I am not going to react badly to you, but I think I certainly have the right to say, "That's unacceptable, and you have no right to call me such a thing." This is part of what makes a civilized society. People must be held accountable for their actions. If you murder someone, you are prosecuted and get a trial by jury. If you lash out and call someone a bad name, you should be told that that is unacceptable behavior and learn not to do it again.

I remember back many years ago, I knew this person who had a habit of saying something sort of hurtful to people and then saying, "Just kiddin'!" After a while, it really wasn't very funny, so some of us started saying hurtful things back and then saying, "Just kiddin'!" That person wasn't laughing after a few minutes of that, and I think they realized that saying a phrase like "just kiddin'" doesn't negate a mean comment. Sometimes I believe it's acceptable to make someone understand the consequences of their words or actions, and to let them know that they are being hurtful. More than likely, it wasn't being done out of malice, just plain cluelessness. (Although I also believe there are people who are just plain evil and vindictive, and those are people you want to avoid.)

Part of being a decent and civilized society is knowing that our fellow human beings will hold us accountable for our words and deeds. It's all part of the checks and balances of society. I see nothing wrong with calling someone out for bad behavior. That doesn't mean that we should react in kind, but we certainly should be able to say that we don't care for their behavior.

It all comes back to the karma thing. I really do believe that what goes around comes around. You may cruise through life for a while without suffering the consequences of your actions, but it will eventually come back to you. A lifetime of bad behavior and poor judgements will not go unnoticed. Think about it--if you treat people badly, why on earth would anyone want to be around you? I'm easygoing, but I'm not an idiot, and I choose not to be around people who do not treat me--or others--in a decent manner. That's a no-brainer for me. So if you behave that way, you will eventually alienate everyone. For such a person, things might turn out differently if someone speaks up and says, "You shouldn't treat people that way."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

An ambitious attempt

First of all, check the date. Never forget.

After I get back from a doctor's appointment, I'm planning on making a recipe that will take some time. We were watching Emeril the other night, and he was making alternative lasagnas. One that made us both say, "Hmmm!" was an enchilada lasagna. (Enchiladas are one of Ken's favorites.) So I printed it out, and I'm going to give it a try. Emeril says it's "moderately difficult," so us mere mortals, I think that means "quite difficult." Actually, it really doesn't look too hard, but I'm thinking the half an hour of prep time is WAY low, because I'm sure it doesn't take into account cooking the chicken first, roasting the peppers, and making the cheese sauce. Once you get all THAT done, sure, the assembly will be a half an hour or so. I'm looking forward to it, though. I like having time to make something a little more elaborate.

One thing it calls for is 6 poblano peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded. At our local store, I could find 1--yes, ONE--poblano pepper! Which is suprising, because there's a large Hispanic population around here. I pulled something out of my memory banks, though, and recalled that Ancho chilis are simply dried poblanos. I went ahead and bought a package of Anchos, figuring I can rehydrate them. I'm sure it won't be quite the same, but I think it will work. In reading about Anchos, I think I might start cooking with them more--they sound delicious, not too hot and not too mild, and they are the chilis that are used to make chili powder, with a nice, sweet, smoky flavor. I'll have to see how they taste, but I'm likin' what I'm readin'!


Pepper problem solved! On my way home from my appointment, I was going by another grocery store, so I thought I'd check and see if they had some poblanos. Sheah! A whole basket full of 'em! So I'll save the Anchos for another day, and roast up all six of the fresh poblanos. I'm much happier sticking to the recipe the first time around. These poblanos are beautiful vegetables. A deep, glossy green. So now let me go char them to a blackened husk in the oven. Ha!

Six peppers roasting....

Oh boy, I might have a favorite new thing. Those roasting peppers smelled so good! They're steaming in a bowl right now, which is supposed to help with removing the skins. I can hardly wait to see how they taste! This is not anything I would want to do in hot weather, though, because I had the oven cranked to 500°. The chicken is almost cooked, and I think I'll get all the cheese shredded and ready to go. Like Emeril likes to say, "We're really cookin' here, folks!"

Later that evening

Emeril, shame on you! Half an hour prep time, my ass. I've been at it for 3 hours, and I haven't even put the lasagna together yet. I guess if you have minions in your control, half an hour is reasonable. This is NOT a half an hour dish, believe me. It darn well better be worth it! Actually, I've enjoyed it, but I'm a little disappointed that the recipe wasn't more honest about how much time it takes.

I haven't mentioned the Dandys lately. First, I was right, and I don't care for "Welcome to the Monkey House" and "Odditorium" as much as "13 Tales From Urban Bohemia." But I expected that. I like Monkey House fairly well--there are some fun songs on there, like "We Used to be Friends" and "I Am A Scientist." But it seems that on "Odditorium," released in 2005, they forgot the cardinal rule of rock and roll: hooks are good. I like the trippiness of some of their longer songs, but there's nothin' like a great hook. The two earlier ones that I got in the past couple of days are their first one, "Dandys Rule OK?" and their second one, "The Dandy Warhols Come Down." I'm looking forward to listening to them at work tomorrow, and the MP3 player is loaded and ready for bear. I shouldn't be so harsh on "Odditorium," because I really like "All the Money or the Simple Life Honey" and "The New Country." Yep, I really like this band, and I foresee many hours of pleasurable listening ahead of me, as I get to know the other songs as much as the ones from Bohemia.

And...I'm spent

Emeril, I'd like to smack you right now. Five hours after I started, the enchilada lasagna is in the oven. I have to say, it smelled delicious as I put it together, and I think it's going to taste really good, but dinner will be later than our usual 8:00 PM, and I am not happy about that. We're having either leftovers or frozen pizza tomorrow night, that's for sure!

Monday, September 10, 2007

A horror story

I don't mean to dwell on the mosquito problem around here, but I'm not kidding, I have NEVER seen it this bad. After my errands this morning, I had to put on bug spray before I could carry in the groceries, because they were swarming around the car! Once I had bug spray on, I ventured out to the garden (I'm glad I did, because I was able to pick a few tomatoes and peppers), but it was just crazy. Even though I had DEET on me, they were swarming around my head, and it is just the most awful feeling! I managed to escape any bites then, but after I took my shower, I got two bites just sitting there in our dining room.

I told Ken that I could seriously write a short story about this plague of Biblical proportions. Call it "Bloodsucking Freaks of Nature" or something like that (although I think there IS a movie called "Bloodsucking Freaks"). I honestly think that if someone wanted to torture me, I would be driven mad--MAD, I tell you!--to be stuck in a room full of mosquitoes. I think I'm starting to have auditory hallucinations in the night, because I think I can hear that Godawful mosquito whine.

It's official: I'm ready for our first freeze, so it will kill off these monsters. I loves me my summertime, but this is just insane!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Hail, Caesar

I'm not sure if I've mentioned that our cat, Sheeba, sometimes talks to us. Strangely enough, he has a slight Russian accent, and he sounds eerily similar to Ken.

Last evening, I noticed a caterpillar on the stairs down to the basement. When I went to get a tissue to scoop him up and destroy him, Sheeba was a little upset. He said, "Mom. Mom! Don't kill him! He's my friend"! I said, "I'm sorry, Sheeba, but I really need to." (Later, I felt bad, because I felt that maybe I should have put the caterpillar outside. But upon further reflection, I think it was a tent worm, and if you know what those are, you know it's not necessary to feel bad about killing one.) Sheeba said, "Mom! Please! Don't do it! He's my little friend...his name is Caesar!"

Well, I'm not sure where THAT came from, but I about died laughing, and I've been laughing about it all day. I guess I would have called him Fuzzy or something like that, but I had to admit that Caesar was an excellent name.


Okay, so it is officially a rebuilding year for Notre Dame. I think we all knew that, but it's been reinforced the past couple of weeks--with a sledgehammer. Already, the sharks are out for Charlie Weis's blood, but that's unfair. Give the guy time to build his program. Jimmy Clausen is the real deal, but he won't be able to do squat if his line doesn't protect him. This is not going to be a championship year, folks, and I think we'll be lucky if it's a winning season. But wait and see what will happen in the next couple of years. I could go on and on, but I don't have the energy at the moment. It should be enough to say that championships don't happen overnight.

The mosquitoes are even worse. Ken is not usually bothered by them, but tonight we chose to broil our salmon rather than grilling it, because he said he just couldn't stand to be out there any longer. He mowed the lawn today, and despite the DEET he put on, he still got multiple bites. A few minutes ago, I looked at the screen on the sliding glass door, and there were mosquitoes clustered all over it--I'll guess about 3 dozen. Gaaahh, I'm still feeling itchy! We closed the door most of the way, so I hope we can keep them at bay. C'mon bats, eat 'em up! This is why we love bats--they chow down on pests like mosquitoes BIG time. Bats good. Mosquitoes bad.

[where: south bend]

Friday, September 7, 2007

The evolution of Monorail Cat



Thanks to I Can Has Cheezburger.


You know, I love Monorail Cat and he makes me laugh, but the improved versions certainly make me think that some people have a little too much time on their hands!

So how 'bout those Colts? Lookin' good, baby. I have to admit that in the second half, once I saw that it was likely they were going to win, I headed off to bed. I never got my second wind. But I watched SportsCenter today to see what I missed, and it looks like they just tore it up in the second half. What was especially heartening for me to see was their defense. They took a lot of crap last year, but really came on in the playoffs, and it seems that they liked their new attitude, because they've still got it.

Peyton to Harrison? Awesome.

A little later

Yippeee! I got two of the four Dandy Warhol CD's I ordered, "Welcome to the Monkey House" and "Odditorium or Warlords of Mars." I haven't listened to all of the songs yet, but they are ripped and on the MP3 player. I doubt if I'll like them as much as "13 Tales From Urban Bohemia," but I think I will like them, from what little I've heard.

I saw this thing in a catalog, and I couldn't figure out at first why it creeped me out. Behold the "Fountain of Serenity."

I finally realized why I found it so unsettling and creepy. It reminds me of the eggs in "Alien"! When Ripley stumbles into where the alien has laid all her eggs, and some of them start popping open...<shudder> I can't think of anything less serene than having a hatching alien egg in my living room.


Thursday, September 6, 2007

Today's count

Carrying in the groceries: 1

Taking out the garbage:   4

Total mosquito bites:        5

These unholy pests are unbelievable right now. After my errands this morning, I stopped my car in the driveway to check our mailbox, and when I walked back to the car, they were swarming around my dual exhausts. A few moments ago, there were at least a dozen of them clinging to the screen on the door to the garage. It's insane! About an hour ago, our UPS man dropped off a package at the front door. I've never seen him run before, and wondered what was going on. As soon as he set the package by the door, he was off, and then I realized that he had to walk through the trees in the front yard, so he was probably being eaten alive.

When I went out to get the mail, I actually RAN, and I had a piece of cardboard with me to wave around. I'm sure I looked like a crazy woman, but I didn't get a bite this time. I feel all itchy now, though.

Can you imagine how creepy it must have been in the south when Yellow Fever was such a scourge? I've read that people actually left town to avoid it, but there were still thousands of deaths. For that matter, how awful to be in an area with endemic malaria in this day and age. I'd be a goner, for sure. As much as I love summer, I'm finding myself hoping for that first hard freeze. Or at least something to kill some of them off. I feel like a prisoner in my own home! (She said dramatically.)


Thank God for the good guys....

Indy children’s hospital named after Colts’ Manning

Associated Press Reporter

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Peyton Manning has a collection of MVP trophies and starred in numerous commercials. Now, the Colts quarterback has a children's hospital named after him.

The St. Vincent Children's Hospital was renamed Wednesday as Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent.

Manning has had a strong public and private relationship with the hospitals since he joined the Colts in 1998. He said he was honored to be so closely associated with the children's hospital, which St. Vincent opened in 2003 to care for critically ill and injured children.

"In the NFL, the name on the back of the jersey is emblematic of a player's commitment to contribute in any way he can to the success of that team," Manning said. "For me, having my name on the front of this building carries with it much the same — a weighty responsibility to contribute to the many victories ahead here at St. Vincent."
Manning, who was joined by his wife and parents for the announcement, said he has met many of this hospital's patients and their families over the years.

The hospital lobby was packed with dozens of children wearing blue Manning jerseys, and they cheered loudly as he was introduced during the ceremony. Manning later teamed up with 14-year-old cancer patient Sydney Taylor of Brownsburg to unveil the banner bearing the hospital's new name.

Officials didn't say how much money Manning has donated to the facility.

Manning's time in the spotlight Wednesday was much different from the attention Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick has received for his involvement in illegal dogfighting. Manning's father, former NFL quarterback Archie Manning, said role models such as his son are good for the NFL, and he wishes more was said about them.

"Every time a player stubs his toe, there's about 10 doing really good work, and it doesn't always get reported," he said. "There's some great people in this league, some great programs going on."

Archie Manning said he felt he witnessed his son's "greatest moment."

"I think a lot of people, from a distance, think you're proud because he threw so many touchdowns or he won a Super Bowl," the elder Manning said. "I think when you give back and help other people and better other people's lives, as a parent, there's no more pride than what that gives you."

The hospital, which has sites on the north side of Indianapolis and northern suburban Carmel, specializes in treating children with complex, chronic or congenital conditions. It has 46 inpatient beds and 15 beds in a pediatric intensive care unit, as well as 17 private rooms in the pediatric emergency department.

St. Vincent operates one of two children's hospitals in Indianapolis. Clarian Health Partners runs the other, Riley Hospital for Children.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

In case you don't think I'm geeky enough

Ahh, two days off! I'm as happy as a little girl.

I believe I may have mentioned my love of "Star Trek" at some point, but I haven't written at length about it. We got all three seasons on DVD (thanks Ken and kidlets, for seasons two and three!), and we've been watching an average of an episode per night. We're almost finished with season two. It's scary how many of them I remember. The title will come on, and I'll say, "Oh, I think that's the one where..." and I'm usually right. I have my favorite ("The City on the Edge of Forever," where they have to go back to 1930's Earth to save McCoy), but I just love 'em all. It's surprising how well they hold up--sure, there's plenty o' cheese, but the stories are pretty darn good science fiction. We do get a kick out of the pointy bras, though! And the poor Red Shirts--dead men walkin'!

It was really fun to watch "Space Seed," the episode that introduces us to Khan ("Khaaaaaaan!"), from my favorite Star Trek movie. My buddy Greg had never seen that one, so he enjoyed it, too. It does seem that there was a little foreshadowing in the episode, but that's probably just reading too much into it.

We have so much fun watching it together (Ken is a Star Trek geek, too, but I'll freely admit that I'm probably a little more of one than he is...perhaps it's my Star Trek lunchbox that makes me feel that way.), especially when we actually remember lines, or get to say things like, "I'm a doctor, not an elevator!" And while I always liked Chekov, my favorite is still Spock. Sometimes I actually find myself saying something like, "It only seems logical." I manage to leave off the "Captain." The original series will always be my favorite--it was already long in syndication when I was in high school, and there were a few of us that watched it every day after we got home from school. It's also amazing how many people love Star Trek, people that you wouldn't necessarily think would be into it. Our technical supervisor at work loves the show...I found out that another manager loved it, someone I never would have expected it from.

It's something that has had amazing staying power, and is pretty much ingrained in our culture. What I love about it is not just the storylines, but that it also gets people to think of the possibilities of the future. I think many of us take it for granted that space travel is not just possible, but likely, as well as finding a way for many diverse beings to actually get along. I honestly think Star Trek has had something to do with that. Not a bad legacy for a TV show.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Step on a crack

The past few days, I've had a little "crick" in my back, like I slept weird one night. This morning at work, I was doing some instrument maintenance, and when I bent over to pull a bin off of a shelf, something really tweaked in my back. It actually took my breath away! For a while, every time I moved, it tweaked again, so I took four ibuprofen and it eventually calmed down. But for a while there, I was Robot Woman, moving very stiffly because I was afraid it was going to tweak again! As Ken's Mom put it in a letter the other day, "The golden years...what a crock!" She cracked us both up with that one. I'm not quite to the golden years yet, but the stupid back tweakage made me feel like they were breathing down my neck!

She also wrote about how some drunk driver plowed into their garage and bent the door all up (luckily, their truck wasn't damaged). The guy also ran into a concrete deer they had in the yard, and she said there were chunks of him (the deer, not the guy) everywhere. She wrote, "He died a gruesome death!" I don't know why that struck us both so funny, but we chuckled about that for a while.

No one at work is talking much about the ND game. We all know how bad it was, so there's not much need to rehash it. I think we all are matter-of-fact about it, like "Okay, Charlie. Okay, guys. Get to work. Fix it." Of course, we're very close to Michigan here, just a few miles from the state line, so we have quite a few Michigan fans at work, too. I haven't talked to any of them yet, but after the game, when a reporter asked a Notre Dame player how he felt, the player said, "I'm glad I'm not a Michigan player." Ouch! Of course, we play them in a couple of weeks, so they'll be loaded and ready for bear.

Colts and Saints this Thursday night! I'm off on Friday, so I might actually manage to stay up for the game. Obviously, I'm a Colts fan, so I'll be cheering for them. However, the Saints might be my other team to cheer for this year. I really like Reggie Bush--is he amazing, or what?--and I'd love to see him do well. And I think it would mean so much to New Orleans to have their Saints do well. But not against the Colts or Bears!


Monday, September 3, 2007

Labor Day, for real

I actually DID have to work today! There wasn't a ton of work, but there were so few of us there that we stayed busy enough. That's okay, because it made the day go by fairly quickly.

I've got golf on (while Ken is powerwashing), the Deutsche Bank playoff. Or as Ken likes to call it, the Douche Bank playoff. It cracks me up every time, and I always have to say, "Doy-chuh. Doy-chuh bank!" Mickelson is in the lead at the moment. Grrrrrrr.

Hey, I found a little more info about the Alba Court Inn (I wrote about it here) in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. 

"This 26-room hotel was built in 1906 by James and Clyde Pennell. The three-story lobby provided cross-ventilation to the guest rooms. Steam heat and gas were supplemented by in-room plumbing added in 1917."

Kinda cool. If you've ever been in Florida in July or August, you'd know that cross-ventilation would be a very good thing in the pre-air conditioning days! Seems like 1917 was fairly early for in-room plumbing, also. Must have been quite a place in its day. Doesn't it make you wonder what life was like then? In 1906, was Florida a big vacation destination already? (I'd guess that it was.) Was it really rich people who went there? Did they go there to visit the beaches? Was there some kind of high society present in New Smyrna Beach? All the questions it raises in my mind, and I wish I could know what it was like. Who stayed at the Alba Court Inn? What kind of people were they? Hmm, maybe I can write to their local historical society and ask if they have any more information on the place. Yeah, that's a great idea, Beth! You should do that!'s kinda spooky, isn't it? I bet it's haunted.


The good, the bad, and the just plain silly....

The bad: Mickelson won the Deutsche Bank. But he won it fair and square, so that's okay. And by the way, Ken knows it's not DoucheBank. He just wants to make me laugh.

The just plain silly: I was reading some old correspondence tonight. Honestly, how long do some people have to hang on to crap? I've dealt with a good portion of crap in my life (and I'm sure I'll have to deal with more in the future), but I don't dwell on it, and I move on with my life. How pathetic to see someone still hanging on to things that happened years ago, and to be so consumed that they can't be happy with their current situation. And I have to admit, I found much of this old correspondence laughable, because the melodrama was just too funny! Spending so much time in harboring such bad feelings is just ridiculous, and it's also some majorly bad karma. It's amusing to me, but it's also pretty sad. Like the commercials say, "Are you enlightened?" If you're dwelling so much on the past that you can't enjoy the present, you are not enlightened. You're willfully ignorant--and there are not many things I despise more than willful ignorance. You are stumbling down the wrong path, blinded by your own obstinance and stupidity. The only thing that can stop this is for you to make a conscious choice to change, and to find another way to exist. People do it all the time. If you don't choose another way, you will continue to wallow in your own misery, and unfortunately, you're probably the kind of person who wants to share that misery and bring everyone around you down with you. That's not just sad, that's sick.

The good: After feeling sullied by the aforementioned correspondence, I tried to cleanse my palate. When I drive to work, I go by a homeless shelter. I'm not sure how it got started, but there are many mornings when a guy in a wheelchair is sitting out front, and we started waving to each other. Now I look for him every morning, and I hope to see him so we can exchange a smile and a wave. I don't know his circumstances, I just know that it brightens my day to see him. I wrote a note and a little check, and who knows? Maybe it will make a difference for someone. Seeing this guy in the morning and exchanging greetings sure makes a difference for me.

Good karma vs. bad karma. You decide how you're gonna play it. I know what I'll choose every time.