Tuesday, December 21, 2004

This week I'm writing a couple of papers for work, and between paragraphs I'm decompressing with Manolo's Shoe Blog. This man has managed to tap into the deepest reaches of my soul. At last, a guy who shares and experiences the elation associated with great shoes! And furthermore, The fashion mania for the poncho, It was over before it started. I will say the same about sherpa boots. Hello, can you spell cankles?? eewe. The Manolo might disagree with me there, but I'm holding to my guns on this one. Single Season Fizzle.

In honor of my new superhero, I thought I'd share with you my latest Loves, Likes, Laughs and Hates from Nordstrom. And from the "Retro space boots are all the rage"-is-just-evidence-of-the-decline-of-civilization category, we have these shoes.

Taryn Rose shoes are hit or miss, but I like the idea. Someday I will own a pair. For now, I choose to eat and pay my electric bill. But I'm saving pennies.

On a more significant note, today is SNG's birthday!! Happy birthday SNG! You are my favorite anything anywhere, and I'd still rather spend a Friday night wandering the grocery store with you than doing something superfabulous without you. I *heart* you more than chocolate!

Tonight we're taking SNG for a bowling pizza party, in the honored tradition of birthday food-and-fake-sport. We've had bowling, laser-tag, mini golf, and billiards. We've had BBQ, "pizza", pizza, and pizza. One of these months someone has got to choose darts as the fake sport. And soup.

The bowling alley is cool because it's old, and mildewey, and you have to hand-score. Why is this cool, you ask? Because it's never too crowded, no one takes bowling too seriously, and the guy doesn't charge you for "practice" frames, "warm-up" frames, or "cool-down" frames. I like that. Over the weekend we did find a closer, fancier bowling alley that has electronic scoring, clean tables, and it even has automatic bumpers! So if player A wants bumpers, and Player B does not, then whenever it is player A's turn, the bumpers just Magically Appear!!! And then, when it's B's turn, they Magically Disappear!!! Like MAGIC! But there are Serious Bowlers there, so you have to go at odd times to avoid the league players making fun of your bumper-tastic action.

But we're going to the old bowling alley tonight.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Last 2 Business Trips of the Year, Part 2

So this week I'm in Toronto. It hasn't really snowed since I've been here (got in Sunday), but there have been little dry flakes of snow flying around much of the time. From the window of the 22nd floor the updrafts send them circulating around and they never quite reach the ground below. It is very cold. The other night is was -12C and windy. I don't know what that is in "real" temperature, but I know that it is very very very very cold.

Monday night I got to experience genuine local culture- I went to an amateur hockey match!! It was great fun. EVERYONE plays hockey. I can't even come up with an analogy in the US- bigger than basketball or football. Co-ed teams. Old guys, young folks (didn't see any old ladies playing, but I'm sure they're here somewhere). Thousands of ice rinks in one city. Constant drone of zambonis in the distance.

The game I saw was the team of a colleague of mine from the Toronto office. He invited me to his family's house for pakistani take-out dinner, and then to the game. I watched with one of the wives od another player. She told me all about how the US tarrifs on Canadian soft wood is putting mills out of business and wrecking local economies. Ironically, it's the big-box US companies like Home Depot who are trying to come to Canada's rescue-- because Canadian wood should be cheaper than US wood. This was all neat stuff that I didn't know about. So I go back and call Tony to tell him all about what the US is doing to Canadian wood exporters, and guess what? He Already Knows. Gr. How do I miss this stuff?

Anyway, so the pakistani food was fabulous, the company was terrific, and the game was a hoot. It was a rink with no stands, so we got to stand by the team's bench. I never realized how loud a hockey match is up-close. Guys yelling, the loud CLACK of the gate opening to let players on and off the ice, the BUUUUUUZZZZZZ at the end of each period. No wonder there are so many hockey fights- all the stimuli are designed to rouse up as much SNS activity as possible. So much teststerone, you could smell it.

Unfortunately, there were no bloody fights. No teeth strewn on the ice. A few people got penalties for being rude and one guy (from the "other" team) tried to pick a fight after the game- which I didn't see. I'll have to go to more games to see real scary action.

Last night I did some shopping-- pumped a few wrinkly, heaving & sweating US dollars into the local economy and got a few Christmas gifts. Everyone likes stuff with red maple leaves on it, right? 'Cause that's what you're getting. Red maple leaves. So if anyone leaves the country they can pretend to be Canadian to avoid the humiliation of being mistaken for one of those Americans that voted for Bush.

But you wouldnt do that, would you??

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Last 2 Business Trips of the Year!
Last week I was in Austin and had a terrific time. I saw old friends, new babies (well, only 1 baby, really) and got to go biking with SpiderStan. Which was cool. Mom made a pilates certification video at her (used-to-be-before-it-went-bankrupt) gym and that was also fun. I was sad to leave.
While there I taught a 2-day class which was a mixture of how-to with some software, basic statistics review, and advanced statistical topics overview. The basic stats review wasn't deep enough for someone without a stat background to grasp, and it was just plain boring for people with a stat background. The How-To was most useful for people with no background at all, and the advanced topics overview was only useful for statisticians. So who was in the class?? 20 people, 5 or 6 with strong statistical backgrounds, about 10 who had seen our software before and fancied themselves statisticians but didn't understand the basic review material, and another 4 or 5 who I'm pretty sure usually sweep the parking lot or run errands or do stuff in Excel. Almost every single person in the class said, on the evals, something like

Great class, but it would be a good idea for you to discuss the level of the class and the students ahead of time-- try not to mix so many different levels of experience for a single class-- this should be split into 2 classes, one basic and one advanced. You should pre-screen the students...

ummmmmmmmmm yeah. We did that. We do that every time. The person who arranged your training for you specifically said that the trainig would have to cover basic, intermediate and advanced topics to suit everyone, and it was OK with them if at any given time, SOMEONE in the class was banging their heads against the keyboard because of boredom or frustration. Do you now that this is the rule, not the exception? WHY? Because no one believes that we, the people who provide the training, who do it for a living, who see this kind of thing ALL THE TIME, would know what is best for their employees, because, well, THEIR employees are DIFFERENT. Ha. Nope, your employees are no different than anyone else's.

Other than that, though, the students did seem to all take away something from the class that they could use. Which was nice. And I got an excellent free trip to Austin out of the deal.

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Thanksgiving was fun. Ate too much, went shopping, did some yardwork. That's about all there is to tell. It's now past the grace-period for this to be a "post-Thanksgiving wrap up" post, but, meh!

Tomorrow I'll be leaving for Austin to teach a class Mon and Tue next week. SNG will be going to his office Christmas party without me Friday night. He'll have more fun this way- I'm always a wet blanket of a date at that event. I'll either be going to the San Antonio Wheelmen's Christmas party or hanging out with an old friend from grad school or hanging out with my brother this weekend.

Last night a municipal deer brigade tromped through the front yard making the dogs blind with madness, frothy and squeaky. Their eyes rolled in ecstacy as they stood watching from the front door. They ran up and down the stairs hoping to wear a hole through the wall that would let them out to chase the deer. Then they both ended up confined to the closet under the stairs in darkness for about 5 minutes while they shook off the hysteria.

They are currently getting turkey-shaped cookies that Dianaverse made for them. They smell good enough that I almost want to eat them myself. Perhaps it's the diet talking, but peanut butter *and* chicken broth? Drrrroooooool.

SNG is learning french! We're doing lessons in the kitchen. He has all the subject pronouns, the verb for To Be, definite and indefinite articles, and posessive modifiers. And a handful of nouns. So now he can tell you things like,

Ils sont mes parents.

Nous sommes les chiens.

Je suis un carafe d'eau.


Just ask him - he'll say all kinds of amazing things!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Another one of Cat's reminiscent blogs. With respects to Tomato Nation's Thanksgiving post.

I've never quite adapted completely to the whole Thanksgiving tradition thing. Every "traditional" Thanksgiving I've ever spent has been with the family of some boyfriend or significant other, so my picture of traditional Thanksgivings is colored by those experiences. Our family's traditional Thanksgiving was really, in my mind, the only sensible and decent way to spend the holiday weekend, but I can imagine that others may disagree.

As a kid in my family, Thanksgiving holidays were always spent at JAM, a.k.a. JAM fest, or properly known as Jambalaya Tour. If I describe it, it won't do the event justice. But here goes. People from various bike clubs around Louisiana (Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette, etc) convene at a campground near St Francisville, LA for 4 days of eating, biking, dancing, eating, and biking. Days were spent touring through the countryside, burning calories. That part of Louisiana is not the swampy willows and spanish moss so common throughout southern LA. St Francisville has lots of pine and even some rolling little hills. Evenings were spent eating and dancing to music by a cajun band that would come in just for the event. Nights were spent in a tent, listening intently for bears, aliens and snakes that were trying to get in all night long. Armed with best friend and flashlight, we usually discovered that the sound was a raccoon or an owl eating on the picnic table.

The first boy I ever had a *real* crush on was at JAM. He was in college, I was in 6th grade. It was a 1-sided romance doomed to failure, but at the time I was sure I could sway his attention away from that co-ed. I first learned to cajun dance at JAM. We did the crippled chicken, waltz, cajun 2-step, and other dances I couldn't name in a million years. We could dance all night. I had my first deep-fried turkey at JAM. Thursday night was always turkey and jambablaya, Friday was always red beans and rice, made by an award-winning chef from Gonzales, LA- the self-proclaimed Jambabalaya capital of the world. I rode my first 30 mile bike ride at JAM. Hey, that's saying something for a 10-year-old! I spent a lot of Thanksgivings riding no further than the dirt trails in the campground and scrambling around the rocks with my best friend Jennifer, and in later years with my best friend Katy. You know about the transitive property of best friends, right?

When we moved to Texas, we stopped going to JAM every year. We made it back 2 or 3 times after that, but it was the end of the era. After that, I spent most Thanksgivings with Current Boyfriend's family. It's funny how Thanksgiving has always been the holiday for the significant other. Since 1992 I've spent every (or nearly every?) Thanksgiving with SNG and Dianaverse's family. My family gets New Year's and Easter.

Easter is still spent much the same way as those old Thanksgivings. We don't have the cajun band, and meals require that we cook for ourselves, but it's almost as much fun as JAM fest. But you'll have to wait until March for the Easter Hill Country Tour...

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

YAY we only have ONE HOUSE!

I'm still not over the excitement of selling the old house, at last! It's like being released from prison. It's like having sunshine after 8 months of rain. It's like losing those 10 vanity pounds. It's like the departure of the airplane when you've been sitting on the runway for 3 hours trying to go home. It's like chocolate cake after finishing your liver and brussels sprouts. I think I'm taller now...

Over the weekend we did a bunch of house maintenence stuff. We rebuilt the pantry so that it's usable, just in time for the big Thanksgiving shin-dig this week. We burned a bunch of branches and stumps in the firepit in the backyard, adding to our trailer-trash mystique that we've tried to establish in our new neighborhood. The guys next door came over and drank beer around the fire for awhile, and then we made apple cobbler over the coals in the dutch oven after dinner. Let me tell you, it does NOT taste the same to cook it in an oven. Next, we've got to find a big brisket and do 12-hour-firepit brisket. It doesn't need a knife, it doesn't even need a fork. It's "need no teef to eat my beef" brisket.

I guess soon it'll be time to start holiday shopping. As usual, I'm going to do as much of it online as possible. This year my friend Peace is doing a fundraiser for an organization that she heads up through web-shopping. You shop online through their site (www.hec.onecause.com) and a percentage of the revenue goes to them. Hey, if you want to shop online, and some of the places you'd shop are on the list, you could support HEC, too. They're a pretty small organization and they have a HEC-k (:-P) of a time raising funds for their outings, which require a lot of specialized equpiment such as wheelchair-accessible transportation, medical supplies, etc. There's a link to their homepage at the top left side of the onecause website.

Did you know that during mating season, bucks (as in male deer) get so crazed that they've been known to attack people? Have I ever mentioned that we live in deer-central? Manhattan-for-deer. And our deer are HUMONGOUS. They're taller than I am. I'm starting to get a little nervous jogging home from work around sunset. If I don't blog for a few weeks, just assume I've been gored by a crazed blood-thirsty 300 pound buck, and am lying in a ditch in the state park waiting to be found.

To prepare for this eventuality, I've been practicing kicking the heavy rubber kickboxing-dummy we have at the gym. If I set him to "short attacker" height, I can repeatedly kick his jaw with pretty good accuracy with my roundhouse. I figure that's about where a deer neck would be, so if I practice a lot, maybe I can go Mr Miyagi on the attacking deer. It's the antlers I've got to watch out for. So I'm also practicing side-kicks in the ribs-- which should be about rib-height for the deer, too.

I should write one of those worst-case-survival guides: Urban Trail-Running Survival Guide. I could discuss how to deal with attacks by snakes, deer, squirrels, beavers, hawks and equestrians. What to do when your shoestring gets caught in poison ivy. How to escape a flooding creekbed. The safest way to pass a steroid-raged high school track team.

The royalties will make me rich!

Thursday, November 18, 2004

The folks left this morning. (sad) It was so much fun with them here. And they came to town immediately after the house sold, so we had lots of time to do fun stuff. I also enjoyed having an excuse to take some time off work. Yesterday dad and I took a 30 mile bike ride through central and north Raleigh neighborhoods- hilly parts of town- and it was peak of fall color. Our neighborhood, being a little further from the city, had its peak over a week ago. And the sky was bright blue, so the contrast of the yellow, red, orange and purple leaves against the bright blue sky was enchanting. It was a nice way to end a terrific week.

First thing this morning I got online and scheduled our Appointment With The Devil. We're getting cable again! This time, no movie channels. We're getting the digital package with DVR, and we'll do road runner again. No more dialin. Now we only need a printer. We're so 1992.

I have vowed not to get sucked into the cable. I've told you before how TV does me. It's scary, really. But when I'm out of town for 3 weeks in a row, poor SNG has GOT to be bored. Because, well, it's probably boring without me! ;-) Anyway, now he can watch spanish-language soccer, british mystery series, shows about american's top 10 favorite lollipops, QVC, you name it.

I am going to try not to turn on BBC America and Food Network every day after work. I will continue to spend my free time enjoying the woods behind the house, reading books, playing with the dogs.

Unless Iron Chef is on. I dig Iron Chef so much.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

So I went home on Friday. Right after I wrote the last post. hee. I also took Monday off. I'm taking tomorrow off. I'm at work today. What a hard worker I am! I better get a raise!

As you know, mom and dad are in town. We had such a fun weekend, once we sorted out the dog-ear business. It was so icky that I just have to share it with you.

I went home Friday and was sitting with Daisy, feeling sorry for her, and decided that I should get her ear wound all cleaned up before the vet visit because they would probably try to shave her head or something ridiculous if the wound looked messy. They love to shave animals. Then the animal looks like a rabid squirrel or like it has mange or something equally nasty.

Anyway, so I took some peroxide and cottonballs (and yes, a flashlight) and started cleaning off the black nickel-sized scab under her ear. It wiped away to reveal... pink doggie skin. There was no wound there. Hmmmmm. Then I lifted up her floppy blonde doggie ear and there I found something from an eopisode of the X-files, from the season right before they made that movie. Black sludge was oozing from her ear onto her fur, causing some irritation. Luckily, I recognized this symptom because I have one shape-shifting alien dog already-- Goofch sometimes gets yeast infections in his ear. They come from a little bit of water in the ear (usually because of a bath or swimming) combined with having big flooppy doggie ears that don't let air flow in and out freely. It's also characterized by a distinctive yeasty smell. Yes, you really DID need to know that.

The only way to know for sure, though, was to clean out the sludge, stab the dog in the back of the neck with a sharp alien-killing device, and see whether she bled green toxic ooze. OR, clean out the ear thoroughly with more peroxide. OK, you must know this-- I could hear the ear canal clearing. Aaaaah, aren't you glad you know this now? Daisy was visibly relieved. She started shaking her head, shake-shake-shake-shake-shake. She made happy grumbly noises when I cleaned out some more. Then I grabbed the doggie lamisil and voila! She no longer has that not-so-fresh-feeling. In fact, within about 10 minutes, she was entirely restored to her normal hyper-active-jumping-in-your-face self.

The quiet Daisy was kind of nice. We considered filling up her ear with vaseline for the rest of the weekend. Instead we took her for a very long walk in the park on Sunday. She was joyful. Even moreso because Dianaverse picked her up last night to take her home.

So we're having a fantastic time with my folks- hiking, biking, eating, reading newspapers from Diana's front yard, watching DVDs, you know, all that fun stuff you do when people come to town and you have no cable TV.

Friday, November 12, 2004


Wednesday we signed the paperwork and closed, today we get the check (it was ready yesterday, but yesterday was a bank holiday) and now we are FREE!!!! HAHAHAHA!

My parents are in town and I'm at work. I had planned on taking off afternoons to hang out with them, but now I think I should've requested whole days off. If the weather looks nice I'll take off Monday and Wednesday next week. But today the weather is rotten so I can handle working.

OK, here's something I wonder about. My office window is tinted glass. This is to keep the summer heat out, which I appreciate. But it also makes it looks like twilight when it's cloudy outside. Sunset looks like midnight. It's so gloomy. Don't they make window tint that changes with the intensity of the ambient light? Like those sunglasses? Why don't I have that on my office window?

In other news, we're taking care of Dianaverse's animals this week. The cat, Tex/a.k.a. Voldemort is staying at her house ripping up the visa bill, and the dog Daisy is staying with us. Normally Daisy drives me nuts because, frankly, she's just so enthusiastic. She weighs about 100 pounds and likes to lie on the ground until you bend over to pet her and then she jumps up so that her head slams into either your chin or your nose, which hurts. a lot. She's sweet, but she's also stronger than I am. So she's SNG's responsibility. But this week she has a sore on her head, just below her ear. It has completely changed her personality. She won't bark, jump, run, leap, wiggle, etc. No Sudden Movements. The first night I was pretty happy about that- but then it seemed to get worse. She was lethargic the second night, and last night she was at the the point where she didn't even want to come out of her kennel to walk. Now I'm worried. The sore on her ear is a nickel-sized black wound with a scab, and I can't help but think of a Brown Recluse spider bite when I look at it. Except she isn't throwing up and she will eat, so maybe I'm just paranoid. I'm taking her to the vet at 2:00 today. Poor thing.

Monday, November 8, 2004


That's the sound of someone who didn't have to go work on the old house Sunday.


But I was a little peaved this morning. Our agent got an email from the agent of the people who are buying the house:

"When we were in the house the other day, I noticed thare was leaf and yard debris on the carpet. It would be appreciated if it would be vacuumed prior to closing:-).


(buyer's agent)"

Oh come on, I could just spit. It's not their house yet, won't be until Wedensday, and we were over there grouting tile, and house-shoppers were still doing showings in the house, and she can just take her little comments about debris on the floor and shove them.... OK, getting too worked up over this. But it was just annoying as all heck. Like we need to be told that the house should be cleaned prior to closing? Are we idiots? It's been like that with this woman throughout the entire process-- like she thinks we're trying to pull the wool over her eyes and sell them a crappy house and shirk our sellers' responsibilities, and it's downright insulting of her. I sometimes wonder whether these 2 agents (ours and theirs) have an ugly history together and they're just jabbing at each other, but it's just ridiculous. She's sent things like this, incinuating that we're trying to be irresponsible, several times.

But I will think about happier things instead.

* I've whittled my jog-to-work time from 30 minutes down to 23 minutes. Now, jogging fast and going the shortcut way to work takes the same time as biking slowly the long way to work. Woohoo!

* We had a fun Sunday afternoon spontaneous party eating brick burgers with our friends Fuzzy and Peace and our next door neighbors who we like a lot. Sorry, I haven't come up with an alias for them yet.

* Tomorrow night a bunch of friends and the 'rents-in-law will raise a toast at the old house to bid it farewell and wish it a happy life with its new future owners.

* I'm excited because later in the week my 'rents will be here to hang out and watch the fall colors on the ground (because they already missed the fall colors in the trees). They've never seen the new place and I just imagine my mom will be like Modean when she sees all the hiking trails in the forests around the house-- as in she'll run off and we won't see her for days until she returns, tired and ragged, grinning ear-to-ear, carrying the leg of a deer she chased for 8 hours until it died of exhaustion. OK, maybe it won't be * quite * like that. But she sure won't run out of fun things to do while we're at work!

Monday, November 1, 2004

Denver was FUN-- once I finally got off my lazy ass and did some stuff. The first few days were typical business trip fare, but with one nice expection-- I had someone to eat with every night which is rare) . But I was just doing the usual-- up early, try to workout (haha), go to work, go eat dinner, watch TV, read a little more Victor Hugo, go to bed.

Saturday started off like that. I went to an 8am spinning class-- all exercise at altitude is hard exercise-- and afterwards, I went to the mall to walk aroiund and get lunch. So much for my grand plans to hike a 14'er. The Locals talked me out of that because there would be too much snow, and I'd be all alone, which isn't safe in the snow, etc. After lunch I decided I couldn't stand my hair anymore, so I went to a salon that allowed walk-ins to get it colored. I thought, highlights with red lowlights! That'll be a change of pace! Well, 2 1/2 hrs later, I has a new look and I didn't like it too much. So now I can't wait to get home to see my regular hairdresser so she can fix it.

I guess I'd killed as much time as I could, and I finally decided that I'd bite the bullet and go hiking- so I went to a state park just southwest of Denver and hiked for about an hour and a half- no major elevation- only up to about 7200', but to my sea level lungs it was tiring.

Yesterday morning (Sunday) I had enough time to get up early and hike the same park and watch the sunrise. Which was awesome. I hiked for 2 hours and took a ton of pictures. I haven't been able to look at them yet because I didn't bring the camera-computer cable thingie.

So then I flew to Dallas at about 1:30 (mtn time) and got here at about 4:00 (central time) and went to my hotel. Which was not where I left it. It was across the street. so I thought. I took my 105 pounds of combined luggage into the Hilton lobby, and they said I did not have a reservation. When I showed Howdy Doody my itinerary, he told me I was at the wrong North Dallas Tollway Hilton-- I was supposed to be a the Hilton Suites, not the plain-vanilla Hilton. So I and my 105 pounds of combined luggagewent back to the rent car and drove around to find the Hilton North Dallas Tollway SUITES. It's in a better location anyway-- right next to the Dallas Galleria, which is one of the best shopping meccas in Texas. And that's saying something.

BUT- when I got in, I felt like CRAP. For a few hours I'd been getting little symptoms- loss of appetite, dull headache, chills, a little groany stomach... and then my skin started to hurt. And I knew something was very wrong. I think I have the flu!!!! :-(((((

Anyway, so today I don't feel as bad as I did last night, but I didn't workout this morning because I don't want to take any chances of making myself sicker.

Can't wait to go home!

Friday, October 29, 2004

Last week I was in Jacksonville, Crazyland. I actually had a good time- I was teaching a 2-day class to a group of statisticians and business analysts for a large bank. They had lots of questions, they were really interested in the course material, and they ate lunch and dinner with me while I was there. Which is always nice. But I still say that Florida should be renamed Crazyland. Those people drive on the shoulder, cross the grassy medians to make U-turns, and pass in the turn lanes. F'ing crazies.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm in Denver this week and will stay the weekend and fly to Dallas on Sunday, and stay there until Tue night. I was planning to go hike a 14'er this weekend while I'm here, but the locals have talked me out of it- they said there'd be too much snow and I shouldn't do it alone this time of year. So instead I'll go check out the hiking trails in some of the lower-altitude state parks instead.

In Dallas, I'm booked to stay at the Hilton Dallas North, which some of you may recall (haha, like you'd really recall this) was the hotel where Tony and I had our wedding reception. It's only a mile or so from our Dallas regional office so it was a convenient place to stay, and I'm looking forward to seeing the ballroom again and reminiscing a little bit.

And I'll be flying home on election day. HEY-- have you voted yet? We early voted last Saturday-- stood in line for 2 hours, but we got it done. Like it matters, since we're in a "red" state. But really, it does matter. If every single Kerry/Edwards supporter in NC actually voted, we'd take the state in a landslide. And then we'd beat up all the W supporters. And finally we'd smear ourselves in the W ketchup in representation of the blood of the enemy. I swear, the next time I see one of those idiotic black "W. The President" stickers on a car I will seriously consider putting a brick through the window. On the side with the driver. Getting a little rowled up. Must re-center and find inner peace (oooohhhhmmmmm ooohhhhmmmm ppppht).

I've been trying to keep my workouts going while I've been on the road, but for some reason I am completely unmotivated. I get dressed, go out, but on my headphones, start jogging, and then.... hmmm... nope, this sucks. Then I go back to the hotel and watch some TV. Wierd. I'm so good at keeping my workouts going when I'm home.

After the Denver/Dallas twin trip, I'll have a trip to Indianapolis, Ugh. But I've been informed that it might be cancelled. Fingers crossed. Oh, I hope. Because if it cancels, then I won't have to go anywhere until after Thanksgiving. And in December, I have 2 great trips-- one to Austin and another to Toronto. Now, maybe Toronto in December sounds pretty bad to some people, but I can't wait. You see, we close on selling the old house next Tuesday (!) and so I will be able to once again go SHOPPING! And Toronto has terrific shopping. Most of downtown can be accessed from underground (where it's warm) and the exchange rate, while not as good as it once was, is still pretty good. And they have different stores than we have here, so I can get nifty things that I wouldn't be able to find at home. Ha. Ha! Shopping! whEEEE!!

Monday, October 18, 2004

Short update-

When I bought my new hiking boots yesterday, I also bought a pair of Vasque trail-running shoes, and today I took them on their maiden voyage on the rock-and-root-roll-your-ankle trail in the state park, 4 miles. It was GREAT! I luvluvluv my new shoes. They turn rocky-bumpy terrain into smooooth pavement. nice.

Happy Days Are Here Again

Well, OK, I didn't get out and vote on Friday. It was the 2nd day of absentee voting, and I figured the lines would be pretty long. So I'll either go today or Friday. I leave tomorrow morning for Jacksonville, FL. Florida, a.k.a. Crazyland, is one of my least favorite states to go to. I don't mind Orlando too much- it's the least pretty of the Crazyland cities, but there seem to be fewer Crazies there, so it's OK. Yes, yes, I was born in Crazyland (Tampa) and lived there until I was 7, but I like to think that most of the maniacal serial-killer tendencies were washed away by living in New Orleans during the formative years (7-16) and Texas during early adulthood (16-26). It's amazing how one's environment shapes their outcomes: instead of a maniacal serial killer who drives badly, I'm a woman of relaxed moral standards with tendencies toward vigilante justice.

Anyway, if I don't vote by the 25th, I'm screwed because I'll be out of town from the 26th-Nov 2.

That'll be a FUN trip. I'm teaching in Denver the 27-29 (W-F), and then in Dallas the 1-2 (M-T), so I'll stay in Colorado for the weekend and just fly straight to Dallas Sunday night. That means I can drive out to somewhere near Georgetown, CO and hike a 14'er on Saturday morning. :-))) I hope the snow isn't too high at 14K feet! Last night I bought a new pair of gore-tex hiking boots which I'll break in next weekend. I've got waterproof ski pants. Is that enough for hiking at 14K feet in the snow in late October?

On Friday our house went under contract- Yay! -so we spent the weekend doing more work on the decks. The realtor insisted that we have both decks inspected by the city (which is wierd- nobody does this, but she was all insistent about it) and so, of course, the city inspector had a long list of things to be done to bring it up to the Residential code. Well, thing is, it was designed and built by a structural engineer, and it is more than strong enough for all the load bearing requirements, but because the inspector has a list ("building code for dummies") of specifications, he doesn't like the shape of the footings, the type of beams, color of the wood stain, whatever, and it has to be changed. The biggest project was pouring new footings for the front deck. Totally unnecessary, since what we had already far exceeded the load requirements for NC building code (according to the Structural Engineer), but it will make the inspector happy, so we did it. There was one thing we had to do that we always suspected we'd have to do-- add pickets to the handrails on the back stairs, so we did that too (and added some unnecessary X-bracing, some unnecessary anchor bolts, and unnecessary screws). But hey, it's done! :-) :-) And the house is selling. I'm glad, because it is a nice house- and SO MUCH NICER than it was when we bought it.

I probably won't blog much this week, so look for more around Friday or so!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Did You Watch Any Of The Debates?

I think for most of us decided voters, the debates were just a good excuse to go do some yardwork, take a nighttime bike ride, catch up on all the overdue loofah-ing that was ignored in the last 2 months, or go to bed early.

I mean honestly? Anyone who is not a decided voter by now has either been under a rock for 4 years or is late for a date with a straightjacket. Oh, that also goes for anyone deciding to vote Bush in '04.

Which reminds me. File under "gee, we've come a long way, and no, political correctness is NOT a bad idea," Tony is currently working on a project that was built in the 50s, and at the time was officially known as an "Idiot Colony." Idiot, for those not quite up to speed on their psychological lingo, was one of the (now antiquated) terms used to refer to the mentally handicapped. Makes it sound like "idiocy" is a communicable disease, like leprosy. And speaking of leprosy, we got to see lots of dead armadillos while we were back in TX last week. Ahhh, home sweet home.

Back on topic. We did accidentally watch about 5 minutes of the first debate. All we caught was a lot of Bush smirking, then lying, then smirking some more. We turned it off once we realized that our ears were ringing from yelling at the TV so loudly. Here's a snippet of the transcript:

J Lehrer: Mr president, question

Bush: lie, lie, lie

(JL: Mr Senator, question)


B:(smirksmirksmirk snarf!!)

JL:So, Mr President, question

B:lie,lie,lie misunderestimate nookyooler lie

JL:mr senator...


(catandtony): did you ever hear Kerry say ANYTHING? No, I didn't. Did you?

Ah, I've got to go vote tomorrow. Then perahps I'll find some kind of inner peace. Hey, this is the first time I've ever lived in a battleground state! Who'da thunk NC would be a battleground state!

Don't forget: vote early and often.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

True Tales of a South Texas Bridesmaid

No blog for a long time because I was away from a computer all last week, and have spent this week catching up at work from being gone last week.

My cousin Twinkie #2 got married last weekend in Uvalde, TX. I was one of eleven bridedmaids (4 junior, 7 senior), arranged at the altar by height. The only reason I wasn't in the VERY back of the line was that I was a senior bridesmaid, and the junior bridesmaids had to line up behind the senior bridesmaids. But they were all (ages 12,13,14) taller than me. grr. grr. I was, thanksfully, taller than the flower girl.

I flew into Austin Tuesday. Mom picked me up at the airport and we drove straight to Uvalde (about 3 hours). We had a nice time chatting in the car. I managed to get my workout in Tue, Wed, and Thursday. After that, all bets were off.

In spite of the title of this blog, it was a really pretty, tasteful wedding. But boy, was it a lot of work. There was quite enough to do with wedding preparations anyway (flowers, dresses, various tuille-wrapped thingies, glue-guns and ribbon) but on top of it all, we spent several days just cleaning my cousin's house and yard. I was not expecting this kind of wedding preparation, and with 3 dogs and somewhere around 20 cats in the house, it was no easy job. But she wanted the wedding reception at her house... (next time I will offer to pay for a reception hall)

Around 150 guests came to the wedding, most of them from our family. Tony flew in Thursday night (we picked him up in San Antonio) and was put to work first thing Friday morning, and had work to do up until the end. Various wedding praparation things, mostly. He was also Mr Catering, being responsible for picking up and setting up the food at the rehersal dinner Friday as well as the appetizer table at the reception. We cut up several coolers-full of cheese, fruit, and veggies. After the ceremony, he rushed back to the house, loaded up all the food onto a 3-tiered platter, set out dip, toothpicks, napkins, plates, etc. and then kept the platter replinished throughout the evening. Too bad nobody tipped. :D

In side news, dad raced in the Texas state road race championships Saturday and took 2nd place-- not bad for a guy who had prostate surgery just last June! The only guy who could beat him was a fellow who got 2nd place in the nationals last year.

Sunday, our flight home was out of San Antonio at around 7pm, so we had all day to play around. We helped a little with the cleanup, but I wanted to have some fun time as well, so dad, Tony and I drove in to SA and spent the day at the Riverwalk. We had a terrific time and just chatted over coffee for several hours.

We had some delays on our flight home, but nothing too bad, got home around 2am, slept late Monday, and I've been trying to catch up at work since.

In more news-- Someone Might Be Interested In The House......shhhhhhh.....can't count my chickens before they hatch.......

I'll keep you posted. Light a candle and say an Ave for the house to sell!

Friday, October 1, 2004

A Long, Boring Blog About Exercise: You've Been Warned! (but I had fun writing it)

OK, I've now jogged to or from work the short way (2.3 miles) 4 times, and I've gone the long way (4.25 miles) 3 times. I'm still biking too, because that's the only way I can carry stuff to/from work.

As a reminder to you who are on the edge of your seats about my work commute, the short way is all on roads-- 1/2 mile in the woods leaving my neighborhood, 1/2 mile in the woods on the road that goes alongside the state park, and then 1.3 miles on campus which is a blend of woods and farmland, so it's pretty well shaded. There is a sidewalk on campus. Not too many cars, but there are some.

The long way is 1 mile on roads (same thing- 1/2 mile out of the neighborhood, 1/2 mile to the State Park entrance) and then 2.25 miles on trails, and another mile on a busy street that crosses the interstate, but with a sidewalk the whole way.

I like to go the long way better than the short way, but I get so sweaty that I can't do it in the mornings on the way to work, only in the evenings going home. On the long route I see more wildlife. Yesterday heading home I saw 6 or 7 deer. Lots of teeny baby deer that look just like Bambi- all speckly. And dogs. People with dogs all over the park. I like the dogs. :-) Except yesterday I was chased by a hound dog whose owner was nowhere in sight and he was BIG and it scared me a little.

I've been biking to work for almost 3 years, on roads, on mtn bike trails, on routes as short as 2 miles and as long as 12 miles each way. I loooooove biking to work. Maybe I'll feel that warmly about jogging someday. Maybe. It is a completely different workout to jog than it is to bike. You can't coast when you're jogging, so there's no rest time. On the other hand, hills are way easier on foot than on a bike, so it's also less high-intensity to jog. If you see a big speed hump, you can WHOOSH rush up to it on the bike and go FWOOP!! FWOOP!! and get a thrill. On foot, it's more like --fwap--fwap--fwap--fwap--fwap--fwap--fwap--fwap. Overall, I'd say the jog is harder than the same time on a bike mostly because you can't use wind to cool you off and you can't coast downhill. I'm getting blisters on my toes. That can slow me down. I usually get a stitch in my side when I jog. I don't get that doing anything else, and I don't know how to prevent it. :-(

It doesn't help that I am 1) the most high-maintenance jogger in the world and 2) the slowest jogger in the world. Oh, you don't believe me?? If I have to pee, I hate jogging. I won't jog with a backpack. If iPod bounces *at all* on my arm on in my waistpack, I get aggravated. If my bangs bounce and touch my forehead, I get aggravated. Same with my sunglasses on the bridge of my nose. If I can hear sweat beading up on my headphones (yes you CAN hear it!!), I will stop and wipe them off. If my shorts ride up a little and my thighs rub together, I get aggravated and start running all chicken-legged to shake them loose. I've turned my ankle doing this. more than once. I don't like to run if I just ate, or if I'm hungry. Shoes too tight, shoes too loose, shoestrings too long so that they bounce and touch my legs? Grrrrr. AND- that 4.25 mile jog on the trails takes me *1 hour.* So, how many mph is that?

On the other hand, *nothing* bothers me on the bike. I can wear pretty much anything, I don't care if I'm sweating, or if my eyes are watering from the cold, or if it's a million degrees out, if I'm thirsty, hungry, just ate, have digentional distress, none of it matters. It's all tuned out by the joy and rush of wind, speed, scenery, flipping the proverbial bird at auto-commuters everywhere.

So why am I jogging? Well, like I said, I want to feel that way about jogging, too. I didn't always love biking so much. I can remember once, when I was a teenager, telling my dad (who has been a bike racer for over 30 years and is now a cycling coach) "Dad, biking is *your* sport. I just don't like it as much as you. I'll stick to aerobics. I'll never like biking all that much so just stop bugging me about it, OK?" Some of my fondest memories of age 12-15 were riding the tandem with my dad on the weekly Monday-Wednesday Lakefront training rides in New Orleans. This was a 6-mile loop that passed along Lake Ponchartrain and looped back on Robt E Lee Blvd. To get hills in there, we'd cross an overpass that took you over a canal into New Orleans East. Then, I tried racing. At the time there were no girls racing, which I now see as the major problem, but didn't realize it at the time. Anyway, I was competing in races with the 15-17 year old boys. And compared to them, I STUNK. How fun is it to always come in LAST place in EVERY race? It didn't matter that I was first in my "class" (junior women) ...biking just wasn't so much fun anymore.

OK enough regression therapy. Back to jogging. Eventually (especially if I can beat the Stitch In The Side) I'm hoping that jogging be fun, too. If not, well at least it's good cross-training. For a few years I was swimming a lot (now you want to see slow-- WHOO! 1 mile per hour, oh yeah!) and I think there's a triathlon in me somewhere. And I can ride fast enough now that maybe I won't come in LAST place...

If anyone knows what the heck that stick in the side thing is, or how to get rid of it, please tell me!

Thursday, September 30, 2004

With thanks and apologies to Dr Bronner...

The project I'm working on right now is a 2-day course on multiple imputation of missing data. Way-nerdy stuff, even if you're a statistician. I am trying to overcome a dilemma in how to write the lecture portion of the course material.

Well. We have standards. For instance, we're not supposed to use bold, italics, or underlining for emphasis. There are very specific circumstances where these tools are used, such as defining a new term for the first time, and that is all. Which means that if I want to draw attention to one or two points on a page that are particularly important, there's not a good way to do so.

So in the shower this morning, it occurred to me- I'm adding a new style standard, known henceforth as the Dr Bronner method.

For example, instead of:

Most data analysis situations involve the estimation of unknown parameters from a sample drawn from the population of interest, typically with some assumptions being made about that sampling process.

You'd see:

Assumptions are being made about that sampling process!! OK!

Observations provide information for estimating the parameters corresponding to the variables used in the analysis!!!!! OK!

And instead of:

Nonignorable missingness depends upon either of two conditions. The first condition states that if the mechanism that leads to the missing observations (PHI) is unrelated to the (unknown) parameters for the model, THETA, missingness is nonignorable.

The second condition is more likely: if missingness for a particular variable is related to the true value of that variable, then we say that missingness is not ignorable, and furthermore, that it is not random.

You'd see:

Understand nonignorable missingnes!! Two conditions!! Two! Two!! OK!

First Condition: Phi is unrelated to Theta!! Unrelated! Unrelated!!!

Second Condition: Missingness is not related to the True value of the variable! Not related! Not related! Not random!!!

And finally, instead of:

Sophisticated methods of handling unobserved data can perform reasonably well even with nonrandom missingness. Specifically, it may be possible to model the missing data mechanism before performing certain types of imputation. The more information you have about your observations, the more likely it is that you can adequately model the missing data mechanism PHI and make the missingness ignorable.

you'd see:

We can handle the nonignorable missingess!! AllOne!! AllOne!!

Model the missing mechanism before the analysis!! Before the analysis!! Before the analysis!!

Find the model for Phi!! OK!!

We must protect ourselves from nonrandom missingness to protect Spaceship Earth!! OK!

This approach, I think, would really reach students where they live. Way more effective than long, boring paragraphs. What do you think? Will it work?

I'm still feeling the BBQ from yesterday.

I met a deadline at work yesterday-- 3 days early, I might add-- which means I now have a little more time to work on the *other* project that has an unrealistic deadline. But now I have the "woo I finished that final exam and now it's SUMMERTIME" blues. I've got to find a way to get started on this even though I'd rather surf the web at work. Or write in my blog. hm.

A coworker had a neat idea for a diet- she said that she thought her metabolism was slowing down, so instead of eating 2 or 3 big meals a day, she's eating 7 or 8 tiny meals a day. I call it the Hobbit diet, but she didn't like that nickname too much. Anyway, I might try it too. I already eat like a hobbit, but most of my meals aren't tiny. So I'd only be changing one thing, right? Anyway, I've gotta try something different because I outgrew another pair of blue jeans this month. And until we sell the house I can't go shopping for more. Dabnabbit.

Modean has been especially affectionate lately. He usually gets that way after one or both of us has been on too many trips without him, or when it's cold. But he's just spontaneously become Mr oohdon'tleaveIneeeeeedyourloveNOOWWWW. And he's eating his food. Something's up with that dog.

I need to plan what to bring to Uvalde next week. It'll be warm, for sure. Shorts and t-shirts. I'll need the bridesmaid dress and shoes, of course. Something for the rehersal dinner? Will there be a rehersal dinner? Will it be the customary (for my family) eating wild pig and venison fajitas around a camp fire? Or will the groom's family plan something a little more civilized? Does he have any idea that, in marrying a Rhodes girl, he's actually marrying a Rhodes clan? That he'll never again have any secrets? Just who does this guy think he is, anyway, and can his mama cook a roux?

Oops- tangent. And by the way, Tony may seem like a saint to have stayed married to a Rhodes girl for nearly 10 years now, but the truth is that Tony is actually being kept cryogenically frozen in an undisclosed location and he was replaced immediately after the wedding with a mandroid. Oh, crap, I wasn't supposed to tell you that.

(just kidding, Roy, we love you. Now be a good boy and follow Tita into that door marked "secret underground lair")

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Today was the department picnic-- BBQ, fried chicken, cole slaw, hush puppies, brunswick stew and lemonade. And hot apple and peach cobbler. No dinner for me tonight!

This was the first year we've had the picnic without any inflated pompous speeches, "welcome" recognition for people we've hired this year, and other formalities. I suspect that this was because practically all of upper management are recovering from knee reconstruction surgeries and didn't want to stand up from their tables. Whatever the reason, everyone ate happily in peace, sat with people we don't get to see every day because we all travel and some people work in a different wing of the building when they are in town, and discussed why the meal was just going to wreck our low carb/ low fat/ 6 meal a day/ 1 meal a day/ no wheat/ vegetarian diets. It was great! I hope next year's picnic is as much fun.

Next week I'll be heading to Uvalde, TX for Twinkie #2's wedding. I'll be bringing iPod with me, and so far I've loaded up through the Fs in my CD collection. Hopefully I'll get through the rest of the alphabet before Tuesday. Yesterday and this morning I jogged with iPod and it was SO MUCH better than jogging with a CD player. I have an arm-band thingie, which is a little wierd but I'll get used to it. In the dark, it has backlighting so I can see it to skip past crappy songs. :-D

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Well, my cousin PartnerInCrime should get kickbacks from Apple, because I got an iPod over the weekend. It's pretty nifty. I went for the 20GB version, a good compromise between the oh-so-stylish mini (4GB) and the just-a-little-too-heavy 40GB version. It's white with a shiny silver chrome back. I know why the people in their ads are all wearing gloves- they're trying to keep from getting fingerprints on the back of their iPod. I find myself compuslively rubbing the back of my iPod on the front of my shirt.

The documentation for this thing is really funny. As someone who does a lot of writing for software, I understand that there are corporate style and usage policies, and one of them at Apple is apparently to never refer to the unit as "an iPod," or "your iPod," or "the iPod." This is because, you see, iPod is a proper noun. It is "iPod." Period. Be sure iPod is fully charged before you sync it with your computer. When you plug in iPod, iTunes will automatically update your music. To turn on iPod, press any button. To turn off iPod, press and hold the Play/Pause button. Always keep iPod in a cool dry place. Be sure to feed iPod at least twice a day. Never, never, never shake iPod.

I had some trouble with iPod at first. I couldn't get the software to detect that iPod was plugged into my computer. I read on the discussion lists that iPod doesn't like USB all that much, and I was suspicious about my USB ports to begin with, so I called tech support (I know the super-secret-tech support numbr now). They talked to iPod, but iPod was being surly and just stared at the wall. Tech support sent me to the Apple store. I went. While iPod and I waited for a genius/iPod therapist, I emailed PartnerInCrime and asked if she knew how to alleviate iPod's woes. Turns out she did have the same problem, and had a solution that probably would have fixed it, but I didn't see her email reply until after I left the Apple store. armed with a new Firewire card. It worked! Now iPod is happy and well-adjusted.

On other news, we spent the entire weekend working on the old house again. We repainted the kitchen, dining room and utility room-- and now almost all the rooms are back to the ugly builder-beige that the house was paitend when we bought it. This was out new realtor's idea. Hey, if it sells the house, I'll paint it purple. We still haven't painted the front living room, but it's a very subtle blue-green (called Tea Time, as I recall) and is more of a relaxing aura than a color. We'll paint in there next weekend if we have time, but I think it was more important to get rid of the bolder colors in the house. We also cleaned up a lot, had the house, driveway and sidewalks power-washed, we changed a bunch of fixtures and switchplate covers, and did some more yardwork

And today another former hurricane is coming to town. That'll mean more yardwork next weekend.

Tomorrow is my division's annual picnic- yay, 2 hour lunch! I hope the hurricane has moved on by then!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

We met our new realtor last night (YAY) and I have a lot of hope that we'll be able to sell the house with her. She had some revolutionary ideas, like putting pictures on REALTOR.COM, leaving MLS sheets/flyers out in front of the house, and actually sending us the email feedback she gets on the house from other realtors. Wow, it's all so innovative I just don't know what to do with myself (you may be rolling your eyes, but really, the other realtor? wouldn't do any of those things. Even when I asked her to).

And the weather is SO GREAT this week, I've decided to start jogging to work some of the time instead of riding. I have this great system planned: Bike to work the long way (through the state park, 4.3 miles), jog home the short way (through campus, 2.3 miles) and the next morning, jog to work the short way and bike home the long way. I did it yesterday and today, and it takes almost the same amount of time to jog the short way as to bike the long way: <30 vs 20 minutes. Only downside is I get a LOT more sweaty jogging than biking: there's a lot to be said for a 20 mph breeze. Once the weather cools down mre, I might start jogging the long way as well. That'd be probably 50 minutes each way.

Tomorrow night some friends are coming over to watch Bubba Ho Tep and eat burgers and crepes-- sort of a texafrance theme, I guess.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Well, we finally are doing it-- we're getting a NEW REALTOR. Woowoo! I hope this one is more successful at getting the house sold than the last, but we'll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, she's given us a ton of homework to do:

Power wash decks, brick on the house, driveway and sidewalk

Re-paint the living room, bedroom, dining room, bathroom, dining room, utility room

Replace the (recently replaced) light fixtures again (rereplace?)

and a few piddly things I won't take the time to recall here.

Just last weekend we re-floored the utility room, and it took our whole Sunday. And it was a really pretty day.

So the next few weekends will be taken up with chores at the old house. And if you're wondering, yes, the new house is still exactly as we bought it- we've done no painting, no renovating, no fence has been built, no cabinet added in the kitchen, and it's not because nothing needs to be done, if you catch my drift.

At work I'm sitting in another 3-day class, this time it's a test teach for a course written by a Canadian colleague. Sadly, I will have to ignore most of his lecture because I've got some crazy deadlines approaching. But the bike ride to work through the park has been particulrly nice lately- it's been around 55-60 degrees and clear in the morning, so as I cross over the lake on the bike trail, there is mist rising from the water and the trees and cliffsides reflect on the water and it's really pretty. I don't know how I make it into work each day, honestly. One of these days I'll just sit on that bridge and stay there all day long.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Right now we are underneath Ivan, or what's left of him-- mostly just MUG-GY and windy, with occasional blasts of precipitation (I think I used to work with a guy like this). Some cool cloud formations-- dark dark grey clouds punctuated with little bits of clear blue sky. Of course I did ride my bike to work today, as I usually do on days that we have tornado watches. I am just glad that New Orleans gets to stay above ground for another year, or so it seems right now.

The 3-day Boot Camp class I attended is over, and I think I graduated- yay? What that means is that now I can once again teach classes with this software at customer sites (rather than be restricted to our own training centers). That's good and bad. Good: more opportunities to teach classes at some fun sites. Bad: if too few other people are certified, then I teach TOO MANY classes at customer sites, and have no time left for what I'm supposed to be writing right now when I'm at the home office. Good: I feel better prepared to handle unexpected configuration problems (as in, I'm a statistician, not an IT person, so your server's port # for the IOM bridge-- not my problem) Bad: more on-site opportunities for unexpected configuration problems. In all, the goods are weightier than the bads. I like this software and I kind of miss teaching it.

On the "oh I wish I was you" front, 3 of my coworkers are headed off to Europe in the next few weeks. Fuzzy scored a class in Germany that he'll be flying to next week- unfortunately he won't have a lot of time to visit. NewGuy will be teaching in Denmark (or is it Belgium? Danishes, Belgian waffles-- you can see why I'd confuse them) in October and RenaissanceWoman's fiancee was assigned to 6 weeks in Paris for business (Oh, how I wish I could get an asssignment like that) so she'll be going for 2 weeks in October to visit. She's boning up on a few French phrases and made her first phone call in french yesterday. You can read about it here. Aah, I remember my first french phone call:

Hotel: Bonjour, (name of funky french art hotel in Saumur), puis-je vous aider?

Me: uuuuuuuuuuuuuuh, oui, uuuuuuuuuuuh, je- voudrais- faire- une reservation- pour- votre- hotel, s'il vous plait?

H: Oui, Madame.

M: uuuuuuuuuh

H: Pour quelle date?

M: OH! Nous - arriverons - le (date of arrival) et - nous - partirons - le (date of departure)

H: Tres bien, madame. Zhe zhe zhe fru fru fru?

M: Uuuuuuh- pardon? Je - ne - comprends - pas...

H: zhe zhe combien personnes fru fru?

M: Ah! Oui! 2 chambres, pour 3 personnes. 2 - personnes - dans - un - chambre, 1 personne - dans - l'autre - chambre.

H: Alors. zhezhezhefrufrujuneee?

M: Dites encore? Je -- suis -- desolee, mais --- je -- ne -- parle -- pas -- tres -- bien...

H: Yu want ze brekfahst?

M: Oh! Non, merci, pas de petit dejuner pour nous.

H: Alors, a quelle heure..what tihme weeel yu be ahrivingg?

M: OH! uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh, uuuuuuuuuuuh, dans l'apres midi? Pres de 3 heures de l'apres midi?

H: Oui, madame. Tres bien, zhezhezhefrufrufru!!

M: D'accord...merci....


M:D'accord... merci...


M: merci, madame uhhhhhhhh

H: (paaaauuuuuse) au revoir, madame!! Bye-bye!

M: OH! au revoir.

Although I've come a long way since then, I still have not quite figured out how to end a phone conversation in french. In English:

1: well, OK, I better run...

2: Oh, yeah, me too...

1: OK, talk to you later.

2: OK- see you!

1: bye!

2: bye

It's like a little dance that we are so good at that we don't even realize we're doing it. Like the slow walk towards the door that gets everyone else up out of their seats and also headed towards the door, and then there is an appropriate "break point" where it is appropriate to ask, "Oh, are we going now?" and that is like the "spin" right before the "dip" at the end of the dance.

I hope everyone has a great time in Europe. As soon as we sell that stupid house, I'm buying a pair of plane tickets.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

I'm in a 3-day training class this week. It's a class taught by and for employees in my department, learning how to setup software for onsite training courses. We're having a fun time, but I have to wonder- if setting up this software is so complicated that we (the experts) have to take a 3-day training just to understand it, how can we expect customers to set it up properly?


In other news, Modean got a bath last night. The dogs were playing out in the rain while we caught up on season 5 of Sex and the City. Goofch was a little upset that we left them out in the rain but was sure that it must've been his fault. That dog carries the weight of the world on his lugubrious face. All the while Modean was digging his way to China. Perhaps he was seeking shelter from the storm? When we brought them in, he was filthy and laughing maniacally.

By the way, Modean and Goofch mentioned that they're pretty bored during the day and since Modean knows how to type (he's slow--hunt and peck), they wanted to start a blog. I let them tack onto my blogsite. Here's the address. Check it out, they'd appreciate it. They also have a couple of new (small) pictures on their picture-page

Monday, September 13, 2004

Cheeseburgers in Cheeseburgers in Cheesburgers (and Cookies) in Paradise

Where Cheeseburger is a proxy for burgers, hot dogs, chips, candy, chicken, pasta, garlic bread and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

LONG POST. Read it in bites?

I'm talking, of course, about the MS150 this past weekend in New Bern. We drove down on Friday evening along with most of the greater Triangle area. Not only were 1400 riders making their way to the coast for the ride, so was everyone else-- the weather was expected to be sunny and mild all weekend. Surfers, bikers, sunworshippers, triple-pontoon sailboaters, you name it-- all headed out on Hwy 70 for a weekend of great weather and beaches. I'm guessing that I-40 to Wilmington was at least as crowded.

Since SNG was the team captain (henceforth referred to as El Capitan), we had the duty of driving the SEI company pickup truck with a U-Haul trailer at the back full of the team's bikes. We were honored. There was fanfare every time we turned right- Bump! Bang! Ting! and applause every time we turned left (HEY! AAAAH! WHOA!). Although the outside spectator may have thought that these were the sounds of running over curbs and near-misses with oncoming traffic, we knew that we were hearing desperate cries of loyalty to El Capitan.

We had the dogs in the cab with us. They need breath fresheners. I'll say no more about that.

The dogs got to stay in El Cap's parents' garage for the weekend (they live in New Bern). I don't get this- everyone was saying, "Oh, the Poor Dogs! They'll have to spend most of the weekend in that dark, smelly garage!!" Now, really. There's a boat, some old carpet, tools, rags, a garbage can and some smelly overalls. Sometimes there's even a truck in there. It's dog heaven. What more could a dog want? A TV? Internet access, perhaps? Considering the fact that they sleep 16 hours a day, I'd think a dark smelly garage would be right up their alley. They got to take walks in the meadow several times a day, they were given lots of attention from the grandparents. There were no complaints in dog-land.

We had a nice birthday dinner and some blueberry pie with El C's parents and then headed back to our hotel for the night. Nice hotel- besides the stains on the walls and cigarette burns in the bedding, there was a diesel engine-powered window A/C unit that drowned out the siren noises outside.

Saturday we were reluctantly up by 6, down at breakfast by 7, and at the ride start by 8.

Oh, and it was raining.

8:30 rolled around. Some guy is talking about God knows what, then some lady, they're laughing and yelling into a PA system, playing snippets of the SAME THEME SONGS that we heard all weekend last year, and of course again this year, and surely again next year and oh God I hate these songs now "LALALATHEMYSTERYTOUR!!!! LALALTHEMYSTERYTOUR!!! MAGICCARPETRIDE!!! MAGICCARPETRIDE!!! LALALATHEMYSTERYTOUR!!!! LALALATHEMYSTERYTOUR!!!! MAGICCARPETRIDE!!! " Someone sang the national anthem badly (is there any other way to sing the national anthem?).


FINALLY they let the 1st group ride away from the horrible repetitive music. I want to be next year's top fundraiser so I can escape the horrible repetitive music faster. Because once the 1st group was released, the people started bantering again. And then the music started again. Then they released the Hammerhead riders (25+ MPH, mostly riding the century) who raced away as fast as they could singing Diana Ross tunes and Funkytown to try to clean the taste of the Beatles out of their minds.

Then some more banter. More LALALAMAGICCARPETRIDE and group 2 was released-- 20+ MPH. *sigh* why did we decide to go with the 15-20s? We could be gone by now!

Did I mention rain?

Group 3-- they cut our group into 2 pieces-- we were in the latter half. So half of the 15-20s were released. At last, (it's 8:50, BTW) we were released (I chose to cleanse my musical palette with I Feel Fine by the Sundays). Did I mention, 1400 riders? Another 20 minutes, we'd gone about 2 miles, and finally some open space. Um, hey folks, 15-20 MPH means your *average* speed, not "Once I coasted down a hill at almost 15MPH" The first 38 miles were spent passing riders who- knees akimbo, weaving in an out of pacelines, sprinting in aerobars, then slowing down- presented quite an obstacle course.

Rides like this present a difficult choice. To go faster with less effort, it is advantageous to "draft"- ride close to the person in front of you- to gain an aerodynamic advantage, going faster with less effort. Drafting is a key to surviving these long rides and still finishing fresh. On the other hand, in the rain, bike tires throw out a rosster tail of mud and road slime that is at its climax at a tangent to the wheel in the direction of the rider drafting behind.

To draft, or not to draft?

If you can breathe mouth-closed, draft. If you need to open-mouth breathe, fall back. Take some wind. Spit.

Three of us from our team rode together and did pretty well balancing drafting and not drafting. We skipped the 1st and 2nd rest stops, and stopped for lunch at the third. Lunch 1: PBJ sandwich, Ham sandwich, 3 orange segments, 4 cookies, 1/2 moon pie.

After the lunch stop another team member rode with us and many riders were either still at stops 1 and 2, exausted from hammering all-out the first 38 miles, or way ahead of us finishing up the century. It was great. Skipped rest stop 4 and stopped at 5 to re-fuel. HOMEMADE COOKIES! 3 cookies, 1 brownie, and a toffee graham cracker bar.

Only 13 miles back to New Bern!

We were in by 1:15 or so and I made a bee-line to the massage table to work out a walnut that was forming underneath by left shoulderblade.

We learned that one of our teammates who started behind us had a crash in the 1st half of the ride and was taken to the hospital. She was drafting and while putting her water bottle back in the holder, the guy in front had slowed a bit, she hit his rear wheel and POW onto the pavement at about 20 mph. Some road rash, but most of the impact seems to have been on her head. Helmet was split, she had a goose egg on her head and was a bit disoriented. They released her from the hospital after some xrays determined nothing was broken, but of course, sat out the rest of the day's ride. We laughed about the story over dinner, but I kept thinking, without the helmet we'd be visiting her in the ICU. It was one of those accidents that could have happened to anyone. Friends, please wear helmets when you ride. Please? (end of psa)

The weather finally cleared up in the afternoon, so after some long showers and hosing down the bikes, we walked around NB with El C's mom and did a little shopping. Lunch 2: beef jerky, chips, 2 cookies.

Dinner was at the convention center. Garlic bread (5 pc), chicken (6-7 oz), salad (about 1 cubic foot), 2 cookies, 2 brownies, veggies with cheese sauce.

Sunday was sunny and warm.




*grumble&*%$&*grumble**why is there the sound of a toilet flushing in that song??*

We rolled out at 8:15, and by 9:15 we were in a double paceline with some seasoned riders and a lot of Indoor Cyclists. Indoor Cyclists: people who train for a big ride by doing spinning classes. They usually have lots of fitness and zero bike-handling skills or etiquette. They take the bike to the shop when the tires are low. They do not know to point out crap on the road, that you should signal your intentions to nearby riders, that you might not want to go chase down every single rider that passes the group, because you WILL be sucked back in again once you've busted your lungs, that in a double paceline you shouldn't cruise up.the.middle and stay there.

In classic style of SpiderStan's daughter, I finally decided that this was no place for tolerating fools lightly. "Hey! Hold your line. I need you to tell me if you're going to swerve around for no apparent reason," etc. Did I get a few ugly looks? Probably. We got rid of several offenders and a few others chose to ride a little more neighborly. And several people thanked me for my, um, frankness.

We actually finished day 2 slower than day 1 because it was WINDY WINDY WINDY. How can you ride a 76 mile loop and have a headwind or crosswind the entire way? I swear, we only had maybe 10 miles of tailwind total. We were exausted.

LUNCH 1: 3 PBJ sandwiches, 1 hummus pita, cookies, cookies, cookies, oranges, 1 ritz cracker.

Our teammate who wrecked on Saturday (and the other teammate who she wrecked into) rode Sunday in her brand new helmet. They decided to start out at the VERY BACK of the 1400 rider crowd and still blew us away by the finish. You might chalk it up to those fabulous tri-bikes they were riding, or maybe the fact that they were riding on fresher legs-- whatever it was, they made it look easy.

At the finish there was a big picnic lunch.

LUNCH 2: hamburger, 2 patties; chicken patty; hot dog no bun; pretzels; 4 cookies, salad.

We cleaned up and picked up the dogs, drove home, eating lots of Truck Stop snacks along the way, and went to a salad place for dinner. Woke up 4 lbs heavier this morning than I was on Friday.

I burned an estimated 6000 calories on the bike, and I replaced it with about 5999. A girl could get used to this kind of dieting.

So how was your weekend?

Friday, September 10, 2004

Happy Birthday To Me!!!

This year's birthday (no need to ask-- I'm 31) is already way better than my 30th, but still not quite up to the standard set by my 29th. And 28th was just wierd (not in a good way, though).

But I LURVE birthdays-- mine or other people's. That's probably my mom's fault- she always makes a big deal of bdays. But the 29th bday set the standard: In Paris with Tony, had a fantastic time shopping and eating french pastries, riding around on the Metro and visiting the Louvre, having Canard aux Olives for dinner under the gold nighttime glow of the Eiffel Tower. Aaaaaaaaah, that's the way to do it. I think EVERY birthday should be spent that way.

Last year (30) was the antithesis of the Paris bday-- alone in Indianapolis eating an apple dumpling at the Cheesecake factory. I guess on average, 29 and 30 were still pretty good.

31 has been fun so far. Last night Tony invited a bunch of friends to go out for BBQ and bowling, and then we had ice cream afterwards. I love bowling. I'm so bad at it. It's so much fun. But I don't like "serious bowlers." Fortunately, none of my friends last night were serious bowlers. In fact, some were as bad at bowling as me! Or at least they pretended to be for my birthday.

This afternoon we drive down to New Bern to ride in the MS150-- it's a 2-day, 150-mile bike ride (75 miles each day) to raise money and awareness for MS research and patient support programs. We did it last year and it was hella-fun, and it looks like the weather should hold out for us. We're currently between-hurricanes.

I'll let you know how the ride goes next week-- hopefully no crashes!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Summer Movie Fest!

My summer movie watching list includes all sorts of greats from the MegaCorporateMovie rental place that I'd never *pay* to rent. Back in June we enrolled in the "rent all you want as long as you don't take more than 3 at a time" program at MCM rental place. This is intended to serve 2 purposes- to make up for having no cable TV at home and to have movies to watch on long boring plane trips.

After the initial gleam of All Those Movies We Missed In The Theatres, we quickly realized that there are a LOT of crap movies there on the shelves. We're working through them on at a time.

We saw "Once Upon A Time in Mexico." Oops, nope, make that "in The Midlands." "In Mexico" would have meant that we actually read the ENTIRE title on the box.

We watched it anyway.

We rented everything in French with English subtitles. I know why they like Jerry Lewis. The French have no Funny.

Tony rented all the Scary Movies. I rented anything with John Cusak in it. Oh yes, ANYTHING. Ever seen True Colors? No? Lucky, lucky you.

We rented long stuff, we rented short stuff. We rented the entire first season of Six Feet Under-- and then they hid the 2nd season from us. Now I have to wait to find out whether the mother picked Hiram the Corn Flake or Gorbachev the Florist or became a lesbian instead.

We rented anything with pretty food images. We rented stuff we've already seen. We've even rented stuff we already own.

So we don't sound quite so desperate, we rented stuff on DVD that we already had on VHS because the VHS has no extras. Gotta see the deleted scenes. OK, maybe that's still pretty sad.

Last night we watched Life Without Dick. There was a trailer for another Sarah Jessica Parker film called If Lucy Fell. That's next on the list. Yes, I am using previews from bad movies to decide which other bad movies I'm going to rent. But what I really want-- the Golden Butterfly of my DVD Dreams-- is the entire Airport series. These movies, made throughout the 70's, were about mid-air plane disasters that had famous big-deal actors in them, and apparently were successful at the time. They were so wonderful that Airplane, which parodied these films, was not quite as funny as the originals. I have only seen one of them-- airport '77-- and I want to see them all. I want to have a series of Airport watching parties at my house and invite people to come dressed as their favorite stars from the Airport films. Anyone wanna play Charleton Heston? Or maybe Dean Martin is more your type.

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

Sorry about the long intermission. I was in Irvine, CA last week, and the students were pretty demanding, so I never had the time to stop and blog.

The trip to Irvine was nice. A friend from work (fuzzy) was on the flight from RDU to DFW, so I had company. Then I caught an earier than planned flight from DFW to Orange county, which was cool. Even cooler, I had a row of 3 seats to myself. The only bauble was that my luggage didn't catch the earlier flight. So I had to pick it up later. No problem, John Wayne Ariport is small and my hotel was nearby.

Irvine/Orange county is really pretty, what I could see of it. I should clarify. More accurately, OC needs clarifying. The air is, well, brown. No other way to put it. It's not hazy, or foggy, or misty, it's just brown. Now and then, if the wind was blowing, you could see that there were mountains nearby. But if the air was still, you could only see the tops of those mountains. There is also a beach. The air seems to get cleaner as you near the beach, but Go-LLY there are a lot of people there. Just too many. If half of them up and left, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. There'd still be too many people. But they sure are polite. I complain about bad customer service (because I hate that) and the east coast seems to have some very serious customer service problems. But in OC, every service worker smiled, looked me in the eye, and said "hello" or some other appropriate greeting. Sometimes it was even a little alarming-- 6am, I'm coming into the hotel from jogging, and I'm tired, sweaty, smelly, and trying to slink up to my room to shower. The hotel person behind the desk Stood Up to say hello to me. At 6am. In Atlanta, I could walk right up to the desk holding Chocolate Bars and $20 Bills I'd still never get a straight-on look in the face, much less a Hello, from the person behind the desk at the hotel. In DC, I'd have to be holding a gun to be noticed, and in Manhattan, a gun would just annoy the desk clerk.

So needless to say, I reveled in this friendly customer service a little. Being a southern girl, it doesn't matter whether the politeness is genuine or not-- that isn't the point. The point is that it's cheap and easy to be polite to people, and it makes everyone just a little bit happier. OK, sure some people don't care about politeness. But they're in the minority I'm sure, and besides they probably aren't very polite themselves, so why waste time worrying about what kind of customer service they prefer?

After the Irvine trip I flew home (first class all the way back!) and we rode our bikes a lot over the weekend. A mere 10 miles on Friday night (renegade nighttime mountain biking!), about 50 miles on Saturday in the hills, about 60 miles Sunday (Tony got extra miles because my chain broke and he had to ride off for help) and a 25 mile recovery ride in the hills on Monday. We were trying to get in some last-minute long miles before the MS150 this weekend. And my birthday is this weekend too! I'll get to eat LOTS of cake because 1. birthday cake on your birthday has no calories and 2. we're riding 150 miles in 2 days, so the calories will burn off before lunch on the first day.

In other news, I'm still reading Les Miserables, The Unabridged Edition. About 1/4 of the way through it. For the most part I really like it, but I just spent 2 evenings reading about the battle at Waterloo. I'm not really sure why, but Monsieur Hugo thought that we should know. A semester-long survey course entitled "all the piddly details of Napoleon's last stand at Waterloo" wouldn't say as much as Victor wanted us to know. Only my mother could have given as lengthy a treatise on the battle, punctuated with descriptions such as "oh, the soldier, I can't remember his name, but he also fought at Austerlitz, he was posted next to the guy who grew up next door to the old woman whose son was a weaver? Remember? He used to weave the most beautiful fabrics, and his mother once made a flag from this fabric which was carried into battle in 1817, and they found it hundreds of years later, your father and I saw it at the Musee D'Armee in Paris. Anyway, that soldier, who was next to this man's grandmother's neighbor..." Last night we finally finished talking about Waterloo, so the story will go back to being lots of misery-filled fun.

(With apologies to my mother. You know I love you mom, but I've learned not to ask what a movie was about if I'm paying the long distance bill. ;-) I wouldn't want you to be any other way)

I hope everyone had a good labor day weekend!

Monday, August 30, 2004

The Weekend Update

Saturday morning- woke up with a sunny disposition and the resolve to go teach my aerobics class, eat a little lunch, take a care of a few errands, pick up Dianaverse at the airport at 3:00 (she's bringing ScaryKittie on the plane with her), and then go for a long bike ride. Sticking to the diet should be a snap.

Taught the aerobics class- we had fun, it was step, and we listened to some classic scary-disco.

Ate some lunch

Did some laundry

Cleaned up the old house

Ate a big snack because we were taking a long bike ride later.

Waited for the airplane to arrive. Find out D is rebooked on a different flt out of Chicago because the first one was cancelled. No biggie, she'll arrive an hour later. We'll ride after 4:00.

Snack. You know, fuel for the ride later.

Flt #2 is delayed. Well, of course it's delayed, this is O'Tortoise airport. We'll take a nighttime ride in the state park instead (Breakin' the Law!!!)

Flt #2 has departed! Yay! But poor D- you know how much O'Tortoise sucks. You can NEVER.LEAVE.ON.TIME.OR.FROM.YOUR.SCHEDULED.GATE.OR.ON.YOUR.SCHEDULED.AIRCRAFT.

Um, if Flt2 has departed, why did the arrival time move back again?



Hey, she's still on the runway! How dare the airline say that they've departed already when they are obviously still on the runway? D is going to be in a crappy mood if she ever gets home. Did I mention she's traveling with a Balrog? I hope the cockpit security door is in good working order.

Departure time has stabilized. They must have departed at last.

Go to Whole Wallet and get a bouquet of flowers and some chocolates-- after that kind of day, the Keeper Of The Balrog will need to be placated.

Go to the airport for D and B (aka SK). How is this flight delayed further? Did they decide to stop at a McDonald's on the way?

D finally arrives at 7:15, in a daze. SNG and I take D and TimebombInAPetbag home and look at some of her Marquette pictures.

Carboloaded for Sunday's long ride.

Sunday morning- 3 1/2 hour, 55 mile bike ride with SNG and KiltGuy. Big lunch afterwards.

Snack. Hey, it was a long ride!



It's D's birthday today! BBQ and chocolate cake at D's. The balrog seems to be in a tender mood. As in, "Your hand looks tender and juicy. So does your throat. And your eyes. Come closer. c'mon." But D has cable, and BBC America is on. I.Am.Entranced.

This morning we woke up to the leftovers of tropical storm Gaston. I like hurricanes and tropical storms. They're so cleansing. But they're not as nice in Raleigh as they were in New Orleans. Here, the pine trees are quite tall and they flex in the wind, and after a good hard storm there are dead squirrels everywhere. I suppose they run up the trees to escape the water, but then the trees send them catapulting through the air to their deaths. Now that you've got this shining image in your mind, allow me to sing for a you a selection from the broadway production of Schindler's List. Aah, isn't that nice?

But I still like big tropical storms. It's easy to like hurricanes if you've always lived above sea level. Our house in New Orleans was about 3 feet above sea level, so unlike much of the city, we didn't get flooded. The bayou would rise up enough that we could go canoeing down our street, but the water never quite got up to the front door. Afterwards the yard was full of nifty turtles and frogs.

Um, yeah, tangent.

Anyway, it hasn't stopped raining yet but I don't care because I'll be on my way to Irvine/southern CA tomorrow morning. :-) I will tell you how it goes. Hopefully there will be a bike for me to rent and a place to ride it.

Friday, August 27, 2004

I finished that book. I was right about it.

The question now is, Would I recommend it to others? Actually, I would BUT- only if you're a bit of a romantic (I mean that in the true sense-- not as in, flowers and candies, but as in driven by emotion and intuition). I'm too much of a scientist to be able to really let go and enjoy something with so much transcendent melodrama, but the writing really is good and the author definitely knows how to keep the reader engaged. It's a great airplane read.

Speaking of airplane reads, I'll be flying to LA next week and am going to need a good read. Don't laugh, but I'd like to read Les Miserables (unabridged, in English). Sadly, all I know are the musical and the movie. Victor Hugo is a national hero in France and I'd like to find out why, first-hand. If anyone's read it and it's just horrible, let me know before I start on all 1463 pages of it. It'd definitely last for the whole LA trip, and the return as well. And, speaking of return trip, I somehow scored first-class seats the whole way home from LA. Go me! I guess I could use some of my upgrades to also fly First for the trip out there. It's long enough it'd be worth it. We'll see.

This weekend-- taking lots of brush and other yard waste to the dump, hoping to sell the House, riding our bikes a lot, and possibly house guests on Sunday night. Oh, and Dianaverse comes home from Marquette so we'll be getting her at the airport.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Campbell's Soup Again, Just Can't Wait to Eat Campbell's Soup Again...

(sung to the tune of on the road again)

*warning: semi-spoilers for The Virgin Blue in this post

Willie Nelson is on my mind again. I bet he doesn't go on diets. I wonder what he thinks of Minneapolis? Not too many honkytonk bars here. I get to go home today. Yay! Good thing, because my hotel room was not conducive to good sleep (Pop!! Thunk! Hisssssshhhhh!-- all from the A/C across the room).

I'm still working on that T Chevalier novel. Darn book. It's really addictive, but I'm SO on the verge of vomiting with all the supernatural "woman's intuition" bullhooey. I mean really, come ON. OK, so this character who is living in today's world, is a midwife (Gasp! So was her Ancestral Grandmother from the 16th century!!!) whose name is Ella (Gasp! AG was named IsabELLA!) has found her family's old bible (GASP! She's from New Jersey and just HAPPENED to end up in AG's birthplace in southern France and found a LONG LOST FAMILY RELIC) and is having nightmares (GASP! That are reminiscent of AG!!!!) and then visits a distant relative who (GASP!) lives in the Swiss town that AG and her family relocated to in the late 16th century, meets another cousin who is pregnant and has had the same nightmare (GASP!! under the exact same circumstaces-- clearly it is a semen allergy of some sort), and when they visit the (presumably CURS-ED) house that AG once lived in (unbeknownst to them), BOTH our heroine and pregnant cousin have abdominal pains and cousin even has a miscarriage when they approached the (presumably CURS-ED) hearth, where (OK, I haven't read far enough to know for sure but here's what I predict) AG and/or AG's daughter were BURIED ALIVE in the 16th century (probably wearing a blue dress) but no one knew this, and I think soon they'll find an excuse to dig up the floor, be shocked, and then stop having nightmares and run off with the swarthy cabana boy (I mean, the librarian) and live spookily ever after. Oh, I can't take the SUSPENSE.

But I have to finish it. It's just so well written. Good writing, goofy story.

BTW, this is the same autor who wrote Girl with the Pearl Earring, which I've neither read nor seen (the movie). I hope it's better than TVB.

/*end of rant*/

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Dianaverse sometimes uses writing cues to get her blogs started, so that's what I decided to do today. Today's theme is 5 things I like and 5 things I don't like. I'm avoiding the truly obvious, since everyone loves puppies and kittens and everyone hates traffic.

5 things I like:

*the first cup of coffee from a really full pot

*the peanut butter stalactites (stalagmites?) that form on the lid of SNG's jar of natural peanut butter after he shakes it up and leaves it in the fridge (I eat them with my fingers. I wonder if he knows?)

*public transportation

*the smell of the woods on a morning bike ride to work

*buying produce

5 things I don't like:

*the smell of jet fuel at the airport

*being called "Mrs."

*blue jeans

*having short, stubby fingers

*icky black-and-yellow centipedes that are always on the bike trail after a rainstorm

Hm. Well. OK, so that made me think about stuff I like and don't like, but it didn't seem to spark a writing frenzy.

I'm in Minneapolis this week. I'm still on a diet. And I'm PMSing. I ate 1/2 a can of salted smoky flavored almonds last night. Before dinner. Needless to say, that made me grouchy and lethargic, so I stayed in my room watching Shrek2 and ordered room service. Then I walked on a treadmill for 10 minutes listening to a book on CD. I'm listening to The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier which my friend KiltGuy recommended. Before you chide me for not *reading* the book and instead listening to it, I get motion sickness on planes and treadmills if I read. OK, and it's just easier for someone to read to me. I do still read real books, I swear!! Gr, damn PMS. Anyway, I'm ambivalent about the book-- as in love-hate-- because the first chapter is all about a marriage of necessity resulting from what most of us would call rape, and that marriage turns (of course) violent and increasingly repressive, and I really really really really really really hate depictions of rape and domestic violence in TV, books, movies, whatever. For some reason that's the kind of thing I've never been able to get desensitized to, and it's really unbearable and painful to see (or read). But once the horrible horrible rape scenes are over, the rest of the book is intriguing. Oh, except that the *other* heroine in the story is a complete IDIOT and stupid flaky-magic things keep happening that are completely IDIOTIC and STUPID and only work to make the story completely FLAKY. And there are all these STUPID COINCIDENCES like YEAH RIGHT, I don't buy for an INSTANT that the only thing left after 500 years of town history is the bible that belonged to YOUR ANCESTORS and that YOU found it after only 2 days searching. Give me a break! Or maybe it's the PMS talking. I do like getting to practice my french a bit, though, although none of the french in the book is very complicated. Memories of catholic school-- she recites the Our Father in french. I'm surprised I remembered nearly the whole thing.

Today for lunch I'm having a lean cuisine and some chunky soup. Maybe 2 non-lunches together will make a decent diet lunch. We'll se if I'm sneaking into the Krispie Treats by the end of the day.

On other topics, Hi CzechChick!! We missed you when mom and I were in Europe last January- I hope you had a good bday in the US, and I hope you're doing great!!

Gotta go for now. There are some annoying people I need to give dirty looks to.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Sadness, Relief, Bewilderment, Admiration, Reflection.

Those were the words for the day yesterday.

My cousin Teresa Truxillo (aka Sparky) passed away peacefully yesterday morning after a 17-year battle with cystic fibrosis. She was 19. She lived longer than anyone had expected, but not as long as anyone had hoped.


To say that we'll miss her doesn't do justice. There will be a little less laughter at the Starbuck's. There will be a little less attitude thrown around on cousin-outings. We won't have to watch our margarita glasses as closely, and my cousin Duck will have to find someone else to call "Squirt."


This one is a multi-use word of the day. First, relief that she is no longer in pain. Second, relief that some of my cousins and I made one last visit with her a week ago, and another cousin made it down to visit 2 weeks ago. Relief that I think she knew how much we all loved her.


That diseases like this still do not have cures. That there are drugs to improve erectile dysfuntion and to grow hair and there is not a cure for CF. More money is spent on finding an effective cure for "those last 5 vanity pounds." How can priorities be so backwards?


For an older sister who gave so much of herself to her little sister. She never gave up hope, she never stopped fighting on Teresa's behalf, and she was there with her to the end. They were more than sisters or best friends but something that most of us can only wish they shared with someone. T was lucky to have such a great force in her life. They were both lucky to have the time they had together.


Reflection on a life that was not long enough, but that lived enough for 2 lifetimes.

Remembering a little girl who laughed easily and ran around at full speed almost all the time.

In memory of a young lady who, pound-for-pound, was feistier than anyone I know.