Wednesday, December 19, 2007

By Popular Request

My friend Ben left a comment on an earlier post asking me to talk about a series of commercials that have been running in the Raleigh area. I'm not going to look it up, but he said they are produced by the same people who do the Geico ads so it's a pretty big deal for a local dealership. They're all great but here are some of the best:

And the sexist badger:


Finally, here's a commercial that will probably haunt me until my dying day. This came on last year at a friend's Super Bowl party and we must have watched it five or six times, repeating it every time someone new walked into the room. I saw it just last week and was reminded of how much it grosses me out. Those last five seconds are just indescribably creepy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Stress and Blood

I've completed two of four grad school applications.* Everything came together pretty well except for my UNC transcript. I had ordered it express delivered to my house so I could scan it and upload it to my applications, and I started to get really stressed out (rapid heartbeat, inability to sleep, constantly clenched jaws) when applications were due in less than 18 hours and it hadn't shown up. I got the idea to look around the back of the house in case the FedEx guy had dropped off the envelope there - it wasn't there but I did find it completely hidden under the doormat, where it'd been for the past week. Way to go FedEx! Maybe next time you could just prop that envelope against the door or leave a corner peeking out from under the mat? Just a suggestion.

(Insert transition)

Last night I stabbed myself in the hand while working on a Christmas present. I'm talking "blood all over the kitchen floor and a makeshift bandage involving half a roll of scotch tape" stabbed myself. While it's no wooden pickle, the recipient better love and cherish this gift in an amount commensurate with my suffering.

*There will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth if I have to do additional applications in the spring. This Christmas I just want Santa to put in a good word with admission committees.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Christmas!

I know it's early but I start to get antsy when I see trees for sale by the side of the road. I spent the last three nights working on a cranberry wreath for my wonderful neighbor who takes care of the cats when I'm out of town. I'm really happy with the finished product. Ignore the photo quality - I left my memory card at work and only had my phone to take a picture.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!



The Lilgrams hope you enjoyed your turkey.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

FAIL!

So, this month I've shown my true dedication to blogging. I've been busy, I swear! I've mentioned a lot that I get kind of stupid when I'm stressed out or tired - this morning I held my coffee mug at such an angle that I poured lukewarm coffee down my chest and didn't even notice until the coffee started pooling between my side and the couch cushion. Then when I was debating whether I could get by without changing shirts (I was just wearing a black undershirt) I poured coffee straight down my front while taking a sip. Obviously I need a break. Good thing I'm headed to Florida tomorrow!

Flying at the holidays stresses some people but I have a very zen-like approach to the whole experience. It is so rare that I can just sit and read without having anything else to do that I enjoy layovers and arriving early for flights. I think airports are one of the easiest places to entertain yourself - there's no better place for people watching. My family often plays a game in airports called "Mate for Life." You position yourself in a prime people watching area and say that the tenth man (or woman, as the case may be) to walk in front of you is your mate for life. Your mate for life could be a surly sixteen year old traveling with his family or an ancient woman in a wheelchair. There are endless variations: you can find your seat partner for the next flight, the person with whom you would to switch wardrobes, etc.

I'll report back with details if I have any fun airport experiences and I'll try to keep posting for the rest of the month. Word is there's going to be an apple stack cake in Florida that will merit its own post.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I will never be a superstar blogger

Well, I made it 11 days. I've been pretty stressed out and don't have a lot going on other than work so I haven't had the energy to sit down and write something (as the last few posts show). I'm going on a field trip down to Davidson today to talk to some old professors so hopefully I'll have some pictures or some stories for tomorrow. Meanwhile, go read about Koko and look at some pictures of her with some kittens (I looked for just a second but didn't see any of All Ball).

Inspired by this.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Rant

I want to publicly state my stance againse flavored deodorants. Asian Pear? Mystic Rain? All I want is some damn unscented deodorant and it's hiding behind baby powder and shower fresh. I'm just saying, maybe you should think about how that Asian Pear is going to smell at the end of the day.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Day 10

Every holiday has its own list of required readings and viewings. Some people say it's not Halloween unless they watch the Charlie Brown special. It's definitely not Christmas for me without my dad's reading of The Night Before Christmas. The link below is one of my personal Thanksgiving readings - The Black Table's turducken instructions. I've never made or even had turducken but this article makes me want to get into the kitchen with a carving knife, stuffing, and a baseball bat. It's a little long but totally worth it.

The Road to Turducken

Friday, November 9, 2007

Video tapes in my dresser I can't get rid of

  • Episodes of My So Called Life, including the Halloween one and the one where Angela thinks Jordan has written a song about her but it's really about his car. Heh.
  • Several MST3K movies, including Attack of the Killer Shrews and the rodeo short.
  • News clips of the foreign exchange student who lived with us in middle school.
  • Episodes of 120 Minutes and Alternative Nation, with meticulously documented contents.
  • A copy of Super Troopers that mysteriously appeared in our senior apartment in college. It has no label, no commercials, and nothing else on the tape. No one ever claimed responsibility.
  • The CMT Crossroads episode with Elton John and Ryan Adams.
  • Fifth grade research project presentations, featuring everyone in my fifth grade class.

Bonus cassette tapes!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Day 8

Weekly Round-Up!
Reading: The Corrections. I started this several years ago and couldn't get past the first thirty pages. At the insistence of friends I started again and like it much better this time around. Please shoot me if I end up like any of the characters in this book.

Stressing out: Turns out grad school apps are due in December, not March like I thought (I have no idea where that came from but it's been stuck in my head). Umm, maybe it's time to find some references and order some transcripts? I'm on it as soon as the panic attacks stop.

Loving: David Anders on Heroes. Now that we're back in the present (ancient Japan=bad idea) I can't wait to see how his character is involved in everything. He can do no wrong in my book. Also loving - the Arrested Development episodes with Charlize Theron. I've been rewatching these lately and they just never cease to be funny. I saw a car a while ago with a British flag-patterned bumper sticker with the text "Mr. F" - I seriously wanted to give the driver a cookie.

Not discussing: Yeah. Gardner-Webb.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Signs It's Fall

  • Morning coffee has been replaced with tea
  • Tights and skirts all week long
  • Evening reading has been relocated from bed to bathtub
  • Fleece pants and extra comforter have been pulled out of storage
  • Soup ingredients make up majority of grocery list

One other thing:

Coury and Porter? I really need to see a televised game to believe this.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Trying to be optimistic

My dad sent this article earlier this week. Ummm? No. I really don't think you should be able to play for Kentucky if you average 2 points as a senior in high school. Sure, we always need a Preston LeMaster or Steve Masiello to cheer for at the end of the game but they played and scored in high school. I guess I'm just getting nervous before the start of the season. I'm tired of getting disappointed early on and ending the season completely frustrated. At least my other Wildcats are looking good - a chance to break the top 25?

Monday, November 5, 2007

Day 5

One of the nice things about my job is that I can work from home occasionally. I've lately been working from the kitchen table on Mondays - what better way to ease back in to the work week? I generally get a lot done on the days I stay home but I have to deal with needy cats who must be in contact with my body at all times or risk death from lack of snuggling. Seriously, is it really that comfortable to be half hanging off the table, half falling off my lap?

Anyway, the work I've been doing on Mondays involves two computers at once so I feel like some overachieving stock trader as I type on one laptop and monitor a process on the other. (I don't know what a day as an overachieving stock trader would entail but I'm guessing it involves multiple computers and does not involve sitting at your kitchen table in your pajamas.) The working in pajamas perk is one I regret not taking full advantage of in the last four years.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Pretty Things

Heather and I went to the Handmade Market in Raleigh yesterday and I was able to overcome temptation and walk away empty handed. The level of quality is incredibly high at this biannual event and last spring I got a couple of great prints. I found a lot of inspiration for new projects. There were three artists in particular who I loved.
Bags - Mint Workshop
Prints and paintings - Alena Hennessy
Paintings and jewelery - Mikel Robinson

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Cheese, anyone?


Raclette party tonight!

Friday, November 2, 2007

NaBloPoMo - Day 2

Dooce had a piece this morning about Halloween with her daughter and there was one paragraph that I knew my parents would identify with:
"So we zipped up her chicken costume and headed out, and immediately she started asking if we were headed to Grandmommy’s house, because why else would we be this excited? Do you even know what they’ve got at Grandmommy’s house? FREEDOM, THAT’S WHAT. She can do whatever the hell she wants to at that place, and if we head over there now maybe there’d be enough time to bathe in a tub of chocolate syrup."

That pretty much describes my Kentucky grandma's house perfectly. Until the 5th grade we lived a few minutes from my grandma so my sister and I spent a lot of time over there. We could watch tv shows and movies that were forbidden at our house, eat peppermint until we were sick to our stomachs, and take all the food out of the pantry to play "grocery" on the back porch. We loved to go through Grandma and Aunt Jane's closets and try on clothes and shoes before lining all the shoes up on the back porch and having a shoe sale. She'd give us money to walk down to the Gulf station with our cousins and buy Fun Dip and Pixie Stix.

People often ask if I miss living in the Midwest or wish my parents hadn't moved to Florida. The answer is a resounding "no" - I have no attachment to the town where I went to high school and Florida is a much nicer place to visit than Indiana. I just wish it were closer to Kentucky.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

New Feature

I just added a little box to the left that shows links to other blog or website pieces that I've recently starred in Google Reader. I check my reader obsessively and always star items that make me laugh, have comments I want to come back and read, or give me ideas for new crafty projects, etc. I know some people don't read many blogs or spend much time messing around online because they don't know where to start - consider these links my "recommended" list. I'm going to update my actual links list later this month but I just wanted to explain the new box.

ETA: I also took down the Flickr badge since I haven't updated my pictures lately. I put in a new link to the photo page down in the links section if you ever want to check it out.

Grad school anxiety much?

Last night I had a complicated dream that boiled down to this: As part of a project work order I was forced to quit my job and work instead as a freelancer. This meant I was no longer eligible to receive the money in my 401k since I quit six months before the five year mark.*

Each year as school application deadlines pass I tell myself that I will be one year closer to that five year mark if I keep working rather than going back to school. This year is it - that excuse isn't going to work anymore and it's well known around the office that I'll be leaving in August. I have less than two months to get my act together. Doing nothing is not an option.

*I think part of this dream was brought on by reading the part in The Corrections where Alfred quits his job before retirement age and receives much grief from his family. I'm liking the book this time through (I quit after 50 pages a few years ago) but the parents make me really panicky and stressed out.

Monday, October 29, 2007

This picture is for you, Lauren

I was in Chicago for Allan's wedding this weekend and I'm still slowly recovering from the madness. I'm hoping to get some more pictures later because I didn't really take any - I was too busy achieving Level Five. The wedding was on Friday so we went to an Ohio State alumni bar on Saturday night to watch the game against Penn State. A lot of people were in costume and there was a girl in a Girl Scout uniform (Junior, not Brownie) that I was totally coveting. There were the usual slutty cops/schoolgirls/cheerleaders, etc., a really frightening man-baby, lots of Dicks in Boxes, and a couple penguins (I couldn't stop laughing at the penguin flippers). My favorite costume, though, was spotted at Navy Pier during the day. I couldn't get a great picture, but the costume was definitely better than anything at the Natural History Museum exhibit on mythical creatures (I wrote about it somewhere before but don't have the energy to look for the link). I would totally buy this for Lauren if they made it in adult sizes.


Posting has been light lately, but don't worry. I'm saving up for NaBloPoMo!

Friday, October 12, 2007

It would be kind of funny if it didn't suck so much

I decide I'm going to leave work early today and get a run in before it gets too dark or cool. I change clothes, shut down my computer, and gather my assorted belongings to head out the door. At the office front door I start looking for my keys. Not in my purse, gym bag, or computer case. Definitely locked in the backseat of my car. Shit.

I come back to my office and turn the computer back on to kill some time until Jeff can drive me home. The headline at Yahoo? Tips to Deter Car Theft. I'm guessing "Do not leave keys in car" is right up there at the top of the list.

Irrational Fears

1. Intentionally driving off a bridge. I'm okay on overpasses but long bridges over water kind of freak me out because I'm afraid I'll drive off the side just to see what it's like. This has gotten worse over the past couple years because I don't drive over water as much as I used to. Similarly...
2. Opening an airplane emergency exit. I really can't sit in an exit row because I get kind of anxious and jittery looking at the door the whole flight. There's just this tiny temptation to pull the handle that doesn't go away.
3. Turning on the dryer with a cat inside. I seriously have to check and make sure I know where the cats are before I start a load of clothes in the dryer. I've also been known to stop the dryer after a few seconds just to make sure.
4. Lockjaw.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Editors are always worth the extra cost


I totally got the Spellcheck gene from my dad.
ETA: And now "decide on" doesn't sound right. Maybe "choose"?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Losing My Mind

So I've been running a lot lately and I don't know if it's just me or if this is common but intense exercise makes me incredibly stupid. It's like I only have so much brainpower and when I'm spending it on limb coordination there's not a whole lot left to use for other purposes. This morning I spent the whole drive to work behind someone going 55 on I-40 because it never crossed my mind to change lanes. It's like mouse brain that never stops. Also, because there isn't a whole lot of thinking going on my brain tends to latch onto a word or phrase and repeat it endlessly. I was in the shower this morning and I kept thinking "IDK my BFF Rose" - now it's "kthxbai". I've become a walking lolcat.

Let's do a round-up, shall we?
Reading - I finally finished Nicholas and Alexandra. I've also finished Train Go Sorry and The Little Friend. Train Go Sorry was fascinating if a little out of date. I can't even imagine how the internet and related technologies have changed the deaf community in the 15 years since the book was written. The Little Friend was wonderful but ultimately disappointing. I have a love/hate relationship with Donna Tartt after this book and The Secret History, and I really can't figure out how I feel about her books. I read The Secret History five years ago and I still couldn't tell you whether I liked it or not.
As part of Operation: Read The Books You Own I'm not buying anything new until I've made a sizeable dent in the books I already have. I'm partially through an MFK Fisher one now and I think I'll tackle some Dickens after that.

Watching - Dexter and the fourth season of 24. I can't even describe how much I love Dexter, especially Michael C. Hall. He is so incredible as Dexter and I have a hard time believing he's the same guy who played David Fisher on Six Feet Under. I'm also super excited for the return of Friday Night Lights tonight. I've finally given up on Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy and I'm having a fight with Prison Break but we all know I can't give up on Scofield/Burrows brothers. LINCOLN AM NOT THE DUMB! ...And my brain has latched on to a new phrase.

I was going to write about some crafty projects and weekend plans but I think I've emabarassed myself enough for one day. See the post below and go vote for Pam!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Vote!

I've been volunteering at a no-kill cat shelter in north Raleigh for more than three years, starting with cleaning shifts and recently taking on responsibility as an adoption counselor. The shelter, Safe Haven for Cats, does some amazing work in the area and I'm really proud to be a part of it. We are primarily a rescue organization for stray and abandoned cats but we have been putting a lot of effort into expanding our low-cost spay/neuter clinic. I look forward to my Thursday night cleaning shifts because there's really nothing better than snuggling up to a kitten at the end of a crappy or stressful day. My Winnie came from Safe Haven (you can read about her on page 7 of this newsletter) and I'm still amazed by all the effort, money, and love they put into saving her.

Anyway, this is all to say that our founder, Pam Miller, has been nominated for the Animal Planet "Cat Hero of the Year" award. The grand prize is $10,000 for the shelter, which would be unbelievable. This shelter is her life and she is always there checking on the cats, working with our vet to distribute medicines, helping community members trap feral cats to bring to our spay/neuter clinic, and planning the next fundraising event. You can vote for her here - you don't have to enter an email or any other info - just click!

The blind kitties thank you!

Friday, September 21, 2007

You Can't Go Wrong With $2 Bets

I heard a song by Au Revoir Simone on the radio on the way to work yesterday that has become one of my favorite songs ever and I've been singing it in my head pretty much constantly the past two days. The first few lines of "Night Majestic":
We want to celebrate
and there's a place that we go
where the horses are for show
and they race for prize at the end of the line
and it impresses us.

For several years our family would celebrate my grandma's birthday at Ellis Park in Kentucky (but not across the river!). My parents would always give my sister and me $20 to spend on horses but we were too young to place our own bets so my parents, aunts, uncles, or cousins would have to buy our $2 tickets (always to show - maybe place if we were feeling lucky) for us. We'd fill the time between races with trips to the buffet, walks down to the track, and intense sessions scouring the listings for the next race. I think I made out ahead one year but technically I guess I was always ahead since I never spent my own money. I don't think I would really enjoy off-track betting but you can't beat an afternoon at the track.


And a kind of poor-quality video of "Night Majestic"...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Today is the first day since last winter I'm wearing what I call my organ playing shoes. (Side note: woah) My church growing up used to have lots of middle school lock-ins and my friends and I would always go up in the choir loft and play with the organist's shoes. My friend Melissa was the only one with feet small enough to fit in the shoes and she would perform tap dances for the rest of us. This has become all I can think about whenever I look at these shoes.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I Think I Missed Something

My grandmother recently mailed me a card in this envelope:

Since when did a kitty cat drawing become acceptable USPS tender?

Friday, September 7, 2007

Friday Wrap-Up

Reading - I left Nicholas and Alexandra imprisoned at Tsarskoe Selo and took The Virgin Suicides to the beach. The narrator and the relationship of the narrator to the main characters bothered me up until the end but it was worth reading. (But nowhere near as good as Middlesex.)

Watching - The Style channel (network?) has been showing the first three seasons of The Biggest Loser and I'm totally hooked. I know it sounds cheesy, but it's really inspiring to watch these people work their asses off (literally!) to reach goals they always thought were unachievable. I totally want a trainer like Jillian to come yell at me on the treadmill.

Winning - trivia! The Non-Profiteers cruised to victory on Wednesday, taking home free pizza, appetizer, several hours of free pool, and Guinness pint glasses. It's no PBR t-shirt but it'll do.

Missing - the beach. Our Labor Day weekend beach trip was so much fun. The weather great and we spent our non-beach time cooking and eating great meals, playing horseballs on the front lawn, and cheering the Golden Bears to victory. I have a few good pictures I'll try to post at some point.

Avoiding - studying for the GRE. How annoying is it that my perfectly good GRE scores from 2002 expire this fall? (Answer: super)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Oh, Carrboro


Sunday morning, across from Weaver St.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Weekly Round-up

Reading - still plodding through Nicholas and Alexandra. They have been arrested but aren't really in any danger (yet). I'm liking the book but it's incredibly slow going for me.

Watching - William Wegman's Fay's 12 Days of Christmas. I recorded this on HBO the other day - I have no idea why it was on in August. It completely cracks me up. I've always been slightly creeped out by the "dogs doing people things" concept but it's so funny in this video because they can't keep the dogs from doing dog-things, like trying to eat the cookie dough or licking inappropriate things. It's in the same style as the video below, with the same great narrator.


Getting ready - for the beach! We're leaving for the beach on Friday for the long weekend. The house is technically half a mile from the beach (it's "ocean-smell" rather than "ocean-view") but the weather should be beautiful. So excited!

Making - new recipes from my new Weight Watchers cookbook. Everything I've made has been delicious and not at all like "diet food" - leftover flank steak for dinner tonight.

Misusing - quotation marks.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

100 Things - Part 3 (or 4?)

12. I have two pieces of jewelry I've worn every day for the past nine years (counting earrings as one). I bought some earrings on a trip to the mall in the fifth grade and I started wearing them in my second hole (pierced my junior year in high school by my best friend Jessica) after it cleared up from the inevitable infection (sexy, I know). The other piece of jewelry is my toe ring. It's on the second toe of my right foot and it's been there for at least twelve years.

13. I've had "real" surgery once - when I had my tonsils out at age 4 (maybe 5 - my mom knows for sure). The only things I really remember are throwing up in a laundry basket once I got home, watching The Wizard of Oz, and getting a bunch of balloons in a creepy clown holder sent from people who worked with my dad.

14. My "fake" surgery was when I got my wisdom teeth taken out. I call it a fake surgery because I remember nothing of it but I wasn't ever in a hospital or operating room. I had to go to a specialist because of the position of my teeth but that didn't prevent him from burning the shit out of my lip. Apparently, he rested the surgical drill against my lip during the procedure - I woke up looking like someone had put a cigar out on my lip. Thank goodness my mom was there - she was able to make the CVS run for Oxy-Contin and Neosporin while I passed out on the couch. A later infection made the whole experience super fun.

15. I got hooked on Alias while I was recovering from my wisdom teeth surgery. I watched the first two seasons straight through in a couple days - I was either sleeping or watching Alias. My mom was staying with me and would come downstairs in the morning and ask me what had happened on Alias while she was sleeping (did I mention I couldn't sleep for a few days? That was fun.). If you watched it, you know that the whole show ended in a strange season. I couldn't resist getting the Vaughn Comeback Tour t-shirt (I'll try and post a picture here.)

16. My most embarrassing moment as a kid was probably my first day of the fifth grade. (Honestly, barfing on the school secretary's shoes in the second grade wasn't all that embarrassing in the end.) Our family had moved about fifty miles north from Kentucky to Indiana and I still had a very southern accent. Since I was a new student, my teacher asked me to stand up and introduce myself on the first day. She asked me the name of me elementary school in Kentucky. I went to Pride Elementary and I said so. She couldn't understand me so I had to repeat it: "Prohd". She then asked me to spell it: "Pay - are - aye - day - a." People never stopped asking me to "talk Kentuckian".

17. Besides my lip scar, I have one other major scar - on my knee. I cut it on a air vent on the school bus in the second grade. It needed seven stitches and still looks pretty sweet.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Weekly Round-up

I'm going to try to make this a regular feature but I'm obviously not the greatest with the follow-through (see 100 Things...).

Reading - Just finished The Accidental Tourist and now I'm in the middle of Nicholas and Alexandra. We're in the middle of WWI and the shit's about to hit the fan in Russia. Things do not look good for the Romanovs.

Watching - the third season of 24. I'm watching this through Blockbuster Online so it can take a while to get the next disc. Episodes 13-16 should be delivered today and I'll probably watch them straight through this weekend. Also: Meerkat Manor. You absolutely have to watch this show.

Loving - my new haircut. I have a good before picture so I'll take an after one and post them. I got about 6-8 inches cut off and it's much darker. This was way overdue.

Linking - Here are a couple links that have made me laugh out loud lately. (Allan, the Oregon Trail one is for you.)
Watch out for typhoid!
The story of Erin's rental house and the best noted Flickr photo.

Making - a measuring spoon hook rack. I got sick of never being able to find the right size measuring spoon so I made a little place for them all to live. I was looking more for a plain piece of wood to mount the hooks on, but the letter was the best option at Michael's. I just painted it and drilled holes - perfect!


Dreading - my air conditioner has been leaking water the past two weeks. The AC guy just came by and said I may need a whole new unit. That should be fun.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Maybe I Could Be on the Next Season of Heroes

When I pulled into the parking lot at work this morning there was a fire hydrant near the building pumping water at full force. It continued while I found a parking space, gathered all my stuff together, and started walking to my building. (I really wanted to go over and stick my hand in it to see how hard the water was coming out but I resisted the temptation - just barely.) Right after I walked by it stopped pumping out water. Then, when I'm about twenty feet from the front door of the building, the fire alarm starts going off inside. I obviously have some new-found power over fire control/notification devices - I just need to figure out how to use it. By this time next week I'll surely be able to make fire extinguishers fly through the air and knock enemies unconscious.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Deal With It

I know the pictures in the next two posts are messed up but I don't have time to fix it and I wanted to get these posts up this week. (ETA: Fixed!)

In other news, our weekly bar trivia may be a complete sham. Manufactured scores, incorrect answers, and no post-trivia accountability? Definitely a little shady.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Canning Camp


(The picture above will take you to the complete set of pictures from canning camp, but I've posted a few below.)

Canning Camp with Grandma was a complete success this year. Patricia and I drove up from Tennessee and stopped to load up the car with more tomatoes than we could possibly use during the time we were at Grandma's. After one and a half days of work, we left with 102 jars (a total of 33 gallons) of tomato juice, diced tomatoes, salsa, spaghetti sauce, and ripe tomato catsup. There was a lot more prep work than I was expecting - all of the recipes except the tomato juice called for skinned, de-seeded, and diced tomatoes. Additionally, the salsa and sauce needed lots and lots of diced veggies.

All we had to do for the juice was to put cored tomatoes (skins and all) through the sauce grinder and add salt. We canned a few quarts of juice that were left over from other recipes but the majority of the juice was produced with the grinder.


By the end of the first day we had 20 jars of juice and had prepped the ingredients for two batches of salsa. We worked all day on the second day and spent the morning of the third day splitting up the jars and packing up.


This is the part where I would brag about how good everything tastes and about how my pantry is stocked with jars to last until next year. Unfortunately, everything is in Tennessee and we're trying to figure a way to get it to North Carolina without paying an arm and a leg. I may have to give in and have Patricia pack it up and ship it because I can only go so long using the precious jars of juice and sauce I saved from last year.

Vacation

I got back from my extended vacation late Friday night to an air conditioner on the fritz, an empty fridge, and two needy cats. It almost made me want to turn around and go back to the airport. Since then, I've had some time to settle back in and upload pictures from the trip. I'll do a separate entry for the canning pictures, so here are the Florida ones.

One of the best parts of a trip to Florida is a boiled shrimp dinner with fresh caught shrimp. The plated item to the right of the shrimp is grilled peach halves - really good.


After dinner we started talking about Beatrix Potter while Dad cleaned the kitchen and the books eventually came out. Here's M'ma reading Two Bad Mice:


No trip is complete without dinner at O'Steen's in St. Augustine. I had a running feud in college with a random guy about the best place for fried shrimp in St. Augustine. We were both so completely convinced of the superiority of our favorite restaurant that we stuck to our convictions even after we learned the two restaurants had the same cook and identical fried shrimp recipes.


On our last night in Florida we took a twilight kayak trip through the mangroves in the Indian River Lagoon. The sun set with about twenty minutes left in the trip and the full moon was incredible. We paddled by a bird nesting island and my dad got some great shots of some baby pelicans.



Obviously the trip was way too short and my tan is beginning to fade. It's a lot hotter here than it is there so I've been longing for the beach breezes since I left.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Messed Up

Yesterday Patricia and I flew into Memphis and spent the afternoon cleaning her house so she could move out today. We finished around 4 and decided we deserved to spend the evening in an air-conditioned movie theater after spending the day scrubbing down a house with no central air. Since we seem to be the only two people we know who haven't seen Knocked Up (this includes our parents) we headed out to the edge of town to the only theater showing it. We were pretty early but found a bar where we could grab a drink before the show.

The movie started at 7:15 and we got our tickets and walked into the theater right on time. The theater was empty, with all lights on and no ac. Another couple showed up a few minutes later and we decided to let the staff know the movie wasn't playing. They had no idea what was going on, but after a few false starts the lights went down, the air cooled off, and the previews started. The projected image was about 4 feet taller than the screen but we could live with it.

Everything was going fine until the earthquake scene. Right as the earthquake hit, the image split and nothing on the screen made sense. At first we thought it was some kind of intentional effect but when it didn't correct itself Patricia went to talk to the staff again. They couldn't/wouldn't rewind it so we missed about five minutes. When they corrected the projection the image stretched four feet above the screen and about six feet below. Everyone's mouths were at the bottom of the screen but the movie finished without additional problems.

It could have been worse, though. About fifteen minutes from the end of the movie a couple walked in loaded down with drinks and popcorn. They looked confused but sat down and started watching. We later figured out they had arrived for the late showing but caught the end of the early one because of the delays we had. At least it wasn't The Usual Suspects or another movie with a surprise ending.

Off to Kentucky tomorrow where the internet is only a dream that exists in a far-away land. I have some good Florida pictures (mainly of shrimp feasts and shrimp eating establishments) but I'll upload those later. We're off to the pool now !

Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday Randomness

I saw a license plate on the way to work this morning: UVOTED4W. Um, not really, so don't blame me/tell me I have no right to complain. Thanks.

The Tour of the South 2007 (tm) begins Monday. I'll be gone on a 12 day trip that involves 5 flights, 5 airports, one 8 hour round trip drive, night kayaking, turtle watching, shrimp feasts, and 6 bushels of tomatoes. That's right - canning camp is officially a go. Patricia and I have to pick up Ripley tomatoes on our way from Memphis to Kentucky - by the end of three days we will have all the tomato juice, salsa, ketchup, and spaghetti sauce our hearts desire. I'm not sure when I'll get to enjoy the results since flying with tomato juice=terrorism but my Mason jars will one day make it to NC.

I'll take some pictures of the beach and grandma's kitchen (not to be confused with Grandma's Kitchen, RIP) and shrimp deliciousness. I've got lots of packing, cleaning, cat wrangling, and drinking to do before I leave but I'll be in touch in Florida, provided I can crack my parent's Alcatraz-level wireless security.

Monday, July 16, 2007

In the Last 10 Days...

1. Lauren and Ian's wedding, with related dinners, parties, shower, rehearsal (outside at 3:30 in 95+ degree heat), beautifying, dancing, and be-hatted tea party. It was so much fun to spend time with the two of them and the wedding itself was perfect and beautiful. Here's hoping the photographer can airbrush out all the in-ceremony sweating.

2. A 36 hour trip to DC the day after the wedding. It is understandable, then, that I tried to check in for a flight on the wrong airline (and even in the wrong terminal). I didn't bring any reading or entertainment material, which made for long flights and an extremely boring night at the hotel. I also didn't bring any clothes with pockets or a purse so my attempt at a taking a walk was short-lived - wandering unfamiliar streets (empty except for me and homeless men) with wallet and phone in hand didn't seem like the best idea.

3. An embarrassing showing (despite a tied for 4th finish) at trivia on Wednesday. Good thing we didn't make and bring the heavyweight wrestling champ-inspired beer bottle top bejeweled belt.

4. A weekend visit from my sister that included a trip to Sunset, lounging at the pool, breakfast of pancakes and country ham, the new Harry Potter movie (which we watched from the second row - my eyes and neck are still recovering), and card games with Jeff and Heather.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

10 Years of Summer - 2000

Sometime during the spring of my freshman year of college I decided it would be a great idea to work far away from home over the summer. (This is said with a degree of sarcasm. I was going through a heart-broken/angry-at-the-world/depressed stage common to college freshmen after the sparkle of college and independent living has worn away. Spending the summer away from everyone I knew seemed to be the obvious solution.) I applied to work at several national parks and Yellowstone was the only one that ever replied to my application. I don't think I had any kind of interview or that they ever told me what I would be doing before I sent in my acceptance.

There are so many stories I could tell about that summer so I'll just give you the highlights:

  • As I've mentioned here before, my job was serving meals in the cafeteria at Canyon. This was the most terrible job I've ever had. It was hot and exhausting but had one redeeming feature: we could take home any food left at the end of the night. The food we served in the cafeteria was much better than anything served in the employee cafeteria so people would line up after the shift to fix themselves a plate of food for dinner. The people in upper management caught wind of this and banned the practice completely, forcing us to throw out massive amounts of lasagna, roast beef, and fried chicken every night. The rumored penalty for consuming food left over at the end of the shift was dismissal but no one really believed it. As the summer went on, the American college students working at the park would quit or get fired, resulting in a labor shortage. The park staff had anticipated this and began hiring young people from the Czech Republic to fill in the gaps. One of these new employees didn't know the rules about saving food and was busted taking home a plate of food shortly after he started work. He barely spoke English and had no idea what was going on, but he was nevertheless fired and put back on a plane to the Czech Republic less than a month after he arrived. Poor guy.
  • My first boss was arrested for drug possession (and maybe intent to sell?) about two weeks into the summer. That was kind of awesome.
  • My roommate got hit in the face with a softball about three weeks into the summer and had to go home. There was a mix-up in the housing office and no one ever noticed that I had a room to myself. Late in the summer there was such a shortage of employee housing that some employees had to stay in guest cabins and people would get new roommates within an hour of the departure of their old roommate but I kept my mouth shut. I really think having that room to myself kept me sane over the summer.
  • One night towards the end of the summer I was driving up to Butte with some friends to pick up someone's car that had broken down on a previous trip. We had some fireworks so after it got dark we drove onto some back roads and found a secluded place to light them. A couple misfired directly into the nearby cow pasture and set the dry grass on fire, much to the distress of the cows. We stared with open mouths until a few guys jumped the fences and stomped out the fires, then raced to the cars and got back to the main road as fast as possible. Good times.
  • I drove down to Durango for a family wedding at the end of the summer. I had about three days to make the trip so I made lots of stops along the way. Somewhere in Utah near Arches National Park I saw a ski lift by the side of the road and a sign advertising "Great Views!" I bought a ticket and rode to the top where the lift operator advised me to take a walk around the cliffs, assuring me the path was well marked. Obviously, it was not. I got completely lost and spent more than an hour wandering around cliffs, looking for footprints and anything that looked like a path. Did I mention it was 110 degrees? And that I had no water? And that I was wearing a skirt and flip-flops? It ended up being one of the most stressful experiences of my life - but at least I got some good pictures!







I went back to my first summer post and added some pictures. Marvel at how cute and skinny I was in high school.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Week in Review

I had a great time with my parents last weekend. I'll post some pictures from our trip to the tiger preserve as soon as they send them to me. This week has been pretty crazy since they left. Evidence:

1. I flew to DC for a 24-hour trip on Monday afternoon. I was composing a post in my head about how I really don't mind flying and have pretty good luck with regards to delays, cancellations, and screaming children, but I decided that the only surefire way to end up in a seat next to a sweaty fat man was to brag about my luck to the internet before my return flight. Summary: I really like to fly and I consider myself to be a master of the security check-in.

2. Wednesday night trivia! The Non-Profiteers redeemed ourselves after our extremely poor showing earlier this month by coming in first. With only three people! We each took home a Duck Rabbit pint glass and a PBR shirt. Kudos to Jeff for pulling the location of Brenner Pass out of his ass.

3. One of my fabulous aunts (not to imply any of my aunts are non-fabulous) was in town last night. I got to spend time with her and meet some of her friends who were also in town.




Plans for the weekend include a Durham Bulls game and a play at Carolina if I can get my act together. Next week is filled with wedding related parties and madness.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Recent craftiness

Here is a picture of my linoleum in progress and a couple prints with the finished block. I just did these on construction paper to get an idea of how it would look but I have some nicer paper and different ink I'm going to work with when I get a chance. I also made a pineapple carving but didn't take any pictures. I want to get the linoleum mounted on wood blocks so it's easier to print. I know I could buy pre-mounted linoleum but I like the flexibility of the sheets (and I'm kind of cheap).







Also, here are some pictures of the re-fashioned clock. I had all these neat Americana travel/luggage stickers and had no idea what to do with them. I cut some wood squares and pasted twelve on those and used the rest of the stickers to cover the clock face. The "arms" are just small pieces of wood painted and glued to the clock and stickered pieces. The final product is way too big for the space I had the clock before and I don't really know what to do with it now. Let me know if you like it and it's yours.





Pictures coming!

So it's four in the morning and I've decided the whole sleep thing is overrated. Look at how productive I've been! I've done some dishes, folded laundry, and made hotel reservations for DC next week.

I've been working on several crafty-like projects and will try to get some pictures posted later today. After years of intentions, I finally did some linoleum block carving and I'm pretty excited about the results. I had forgotten how difficult inking and printing is but for now I'm content to pet my pretty linoleum and stare lovingly at my handiwork (while nursing a wicked case of carpal tunnel). I also have a rehabbed (rehabed? rehab-ed?) clock to offer to anyone who wants it. I'm happy with how it turned out but it's way too big for the space I have - I'll do some pictures later.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Did somebody get the license number?

I think I got hit by a truck this week. Either that or I underwent general anesthesia. I can think of no other explanations for my complete inability to do anthing besides sleep the past few days. When I got up this morning I had slept 30 of the past 34 hours. I've been up for almost 4 hours now and my head is just beginning to clear. I could seriously go home and sleep until Sunday.

In other fantastic news, I discovered my phone quietly drowned on my kitchen counter and could not be revived. I went to get a new one before I went in to work this morning and was afraid that my cloudy head would cause me to walk out with a blackberry and a $70 monthly charge. I should have known my phone cheapness would win out - I stayed on my tiny current plan, which hasn't been an official plan for at least four years and got a new $10 phone.

Just made reservations to go see the tigers next weekend! I totally want to take this one home.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Why no love for Guster?

Today Dooce opened up comments on a post about having her car broken into. Some of the comments are great - it's obviously terrible to have anything stolen or broken, but it's really funny to hear what thieves take and leave behind.

My car (the Accord) was broken into the fall of my senior year in college. I can laugh about it now but at the time I felt so violated and angry. Someone broke through the little triangle window on the rear driver's side and ripped my steering column apart before giving up and leaving the car. I had two cell phones in the car (albeit one weighed about two pounds and was roughly the size of a purse dog) along with other personal items, but they didn't steal anything. The part that really gets me is that my cds had all been taken out of the holder on the visor and tossed on the passenger seat. None were missing. Was my taste in music really that bad? I still feel kind of offended about that.

My sister will have to correct me if I'm wrong, but a girl she knew in college has the best car break-in story I've ever heard. She lived off-campus at their school in Memphis in a not-so-great area and had her car stolen. It was later recovered by the police, no worse for the wear except for some mysterious stains on the seats and carpet. I don't know if anything was taken, but the car was recovered with the following items in the trunk: baby clothes, porn, and a chainsaw. I know if it had happened to me I would feel so dirty and violated, but I can't help but crack-up every time I think about it.

10 Years of Summer - 1998 and 1999

1998 - "The Summer of Laurel""
I worked maybe 10 to 15 hours a week and spent the rest of the time at the pool. I was dating a guy who didn't have a job and would come over almost every day to swim. When we got tired of my house we would walk to my best friend's house and swim there. Nights were spent on a houseboat docked near downtown, drinking Bud Light and listening to Bob Marley.

1999
For some incomprehensible reason, my dad decides I need to spend this summer working rather than half-naked with my boyfriend. This is met with much weeping and gnashing of teeth. I couldn't pick up the extra hours at my regular job and had no desire to find another job so my boss found a volunteer position for me with the maintence department at the Y. I spent about 20 hours a week stenciling and painting the words Caring (red), Honesty (blue), Respect (yellow), Responsibility(green) as a border on the walls of a small gym. I think I barely had time to finish before I left for college. (This is surprisingly not the most tedious job I would ever have.) Aside from the painting job and the looming move to college this summer is very similar to the previous one.








Next summer, off to Wyoming...

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Busted!

A friend recently directed me to this article about all the stuff college students leave behind at the end of the year. As a graduate of one of the schools mentioned in the article, I can attest that the amount of stuff (furniture, books, clothes, things you can't even imagine) piled in dorm lounges and on the lawns between the senior apartments is unbelievable. Although Davidson is one of the smaller schools listed in the article the amount of stuff left behind probably rivals that of larger schools because everyone lives on campus.

I think the school started making an effort to donate usable items during my senior year, but before that anything left behind was first come, first served. I was one of the last people to move off campus my sophomore and junior years and picked up enough storage pieces (shelves, stacked drawers) to eliminate the need to ever buy others. The lamp in my office was picked up from the pile of unwanted things at the end of my junior year and still looks and works great. My alarm clock and a pair of brand-new flannel monkey pajama pants (like these) came from that same pile.

I obviously had (and have) very little shame about re-purposing people's trash so I could get a little carried away. For example, I pulled a street sign (intersection of Depot and Jackson streets) out of the pile at the senior apartments after my junior year. Instant decoration! College-town authenticity! It ended up sitting under our sink for most of the year until Ryan Auster decided to separate the individual street signs by jumping on it in our hallway (and putting a big rip in the carpet). Someone wanted the Jackson half and the Depot half ended up on the junk pile at the end of the year for some lucky underclassman to claim.

I worked on campus the summer before my senior year and was able to live in my assigned senior year apartment over the summer. At the end of the summer there was a mini-move-out day where all the underclassmen and non-Davidson students who had spent the summer in the senior apartments had to move out. As it happened, my mom and sister were visiting during that time and we spent the day away from campus since I didn't have to move during this time. When we came back to the apartments after dinner, there was a futon and an entertainment center near the pile of stuff that had accumulated over the day. Our apartment needed an entertainment center so my sister and I lugged it up the stairs and I got busy positioning my tv and vcr in the cabinet and reconnecting all the cables. My sister was interested in the futon so we picked up and carried it half-way to my mom's car before she decided it wasn't really worth it to take it all the way back to Tennessee.

Later that night I was sitting alone in my apartment, watching tv and thinking of how excited my roommates would be that I had scored this great entertainment center, when I noticed someone looking in the windows. A minute later there was a knock at the door and I opened it to find an underclassman (I think he was from Africa but I wouldn't swear to it) pointing at my entertainment center. "Did you get that from in front of the building?" Totally busted. Turns out he had left it there with the futon while he went to find a friend to help him move it across campus. He graciously offered to come back later to pick it up rather than standing in the doorway and watching me unconnect all the wires while trying not to die from shame. When he came back with his friend to move the cabinet he asked about the futon. "It looks like someone was going to take it because it's 50 yards away from where I left it. Do you know what happened?" I just kept my mouth shut and shook my head. It had, after all, been my sister's idea to take it. I was merely an accessory to that particular theft.

What is the NRA?

I love trivia. I can play Trivial Pursuit for hours and I can't flip past Jeopardy without stopping for a few questions. In high school my best guy friend and I woke up early one day during the summer and played along with Jeopardy in my living room to determine the trivia master. I won in Final Jeopardy: The acronym used by a current organization and was also the name of a New Deal organization. He called for a rematch and wiped the floor with me but we were generally pretty well matched.

Last night was bar trivia night at Tyler's. We went a couple times during the winter but there was a much larger crowd this time. The woman who comes up with questions has a thick Scottish accent so you really have to concentrate to listen. The last time we went we won third place (certificates for an hour of free pool at the Speakeasy) but I don't think we were even close last night. We have all summer to try, so I'll be keeping Wednesday nights free. (It doesn't hurt that there's a Wentworth Miller-esque guy who's a regular at Tyler's trivia.)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Ode to Tuesday

I'm not one to reminisce about college. Sure, I loved it while I was there and there are definitely some things I miss (laundry service, Outpost quesadillas) but, with one exception, there is nothing from college that I actively wish was part of my current life. The exception? Twenty-one year-old night.

Twenty-one year-old night took place in a two-level room in the union every Tuesday night. The balcony level provided prime people watching spots while the floor level provided easier access to the bar. Students looking to earn some extra money worked the bar, manned the popcorn machine, and controlled the music. Most people came straight from the library or computer labs and everyone would drop their backpacks in a large pile right inside the entrance. This was the time of the week where you wanted to get your work done before ten because there was no way you could drag yourself back to the library after last call.

College obviously provides lots of drinking opportunities, and of all occasions involving beer, twenty-one year-old night was by far my favorite. It had the set-up of a bar where you could mingle or claim a private table for you and your friends but without the bad lighting and terrible local bands. It had the atmosphere of the basement of a fraternity house, where all the people of age would gather during parties to escape the underclassmen bothering you to get them a beer but it also attracted people who hadn't been to parties on the court since First Night Down freshman year. Beer was cheap and served in bottles (no Beast to be found!) and by my senior year the bar accepted id cards for payment so you never needed cash.

I think what I really miss about Tuesday nights is the chance to put everything else aside and relax. It might be the first time all day you got to see your friends and roommates so it was a great time to catch up and exchange gossip. It was a scheduled social time that inconvenienced no one (no one was left cleaning beer bottles off their coffee table the next morning), was easy to get to, was affordable for everyone, and would be there next week if you missed it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Quick Post Before The Chills Set In*

This weekend I visited some friends in New York and we went to the Natural History Museum on Monday. There was a special exhibit called "Mythic Creatures" all about dragons, unicorns, and mermaids that we were super excited for (but only if we could ride the unicorns). We tried to buy tickets for it but it was sold out and we settled on the special exhibit on frogs. The frog exhibit turned out to be really good (take home message: do not trust male frogs because they will eat your babies) but we still wanted to see the unicorns. Lauren pleaded with the guard at the exhibit entrance to let us in without tickets and he was nice enough to let us go ahead. Total letdown. We started to realize that you can't really make a great exhibit about something that doesn't exist - go figure. Anyway, I kept thinking of this video of Charlie the unicorn and all afternoon I kept repeating "Chaaaarrrliee" in my head. I have no idea where I originally saw it but here it is: Charlie the Unicorn

*I was in New York for some work related to food-borne illness risks** and flew home this morning. My co-worker who I traveled with just had her husband come pick her up after she started feeling dizzy, nauseous, and sweaty. We at the same thing for breakfast.
**I really wish I could tell you more about this trip - it involves Spiderman and a semi-retired clown with a gay ex-wife. I could not make this up if I tried.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I See My Future

But not really. I think I'm going to watch this when I get afraid of turning into a crazy cat lady.
Video here
via Jezebel

How much do I love that she wants to meet David Duval? Infinity.

Decorating

I went to a art/craft market in Raleigh at the beginning of the month and still haven't framed and hung my main finds. The photograph below will fit in a standard 16x20 frame but I'm not sure about the print. I'm thinking the upstairs landing for the print and above the washing machine (in the kitchen) for the print.


This picture does not do the photo justice - the walls of the buildings are a much brighter orange. It's from Gorga Photography (and here's a link to a much better version of the photo).


The print is from Wolfie and the Sneak.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Because I Got Yelled At Today

Seriously. A woman who works in our office cafeteria told me I was inconsiderate of others and thought only of what I needed. Validity of her point aside, that's a pretty hefty charge to throw at someone because they neglected to tell you the salad bar was out of ranch dressing.

In order to end the day on a good note, here are some things that have made me laugh recently.

This is from Tina Ballerina but I wouldn't recommend reading other posts unless you have an unlimited threshold for obscenity.
"Okay, here's a weird story to wrap up Friday's uber-post. A couple days ago I was walking home from Target with a 20 lb bag of cat litter. Some middle-aged Mpls hippie type pulls over in his van, which has a bunch of clutter and crap in the back. And he offers me a ride. I say no... So then he comments on the cat litter, pulls out an actual live Siamese cat from his van and hands it to me while he writes down his phone number. I swear to god, this shit only happens to me."

This is kind of long and pretty old, but it makes me laugh to even think about it. Make Your Own Pruno and May God Have Mercy On Your Soul

This cracks me up - not really because of the main picture or caption but the collared cat to the left.

I am not the only person with embarassing rips in my clothing.

Friday, May 18, 2007

"I was born and raised down in Alabama...."

Last week Heather linked to this article listing "The 25 Most Exquisitely Sad Songs in the Whole Wide World" and I spent most of my drives home this week internally composing a post about what separates a sad song from an "exquisitely" sad one. I was especially interested in the comments to the article and what songs people thought should have been included. Some of them were laughable - "Last Kiss" covered by Pearl Jam. I just can't listen to that song without cracking up - if you are going to include that then you might as well add on "Leader of the Pack" and all the other teen car crash songs from the 60s. A lot of people wanted to see Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven" and Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Alone Again, Naturally" on the list and it took me a while to figure out why I immediately disagreed. I think that you can't really rate the sadness of a song that details a personal tragedy (whether real or fictional) because then you ultimately have to decide who suffered the most and whose experience was "sadder." If you're going to do it that way you might as well put "Patches"* at the top of the list and call it a day.

To me, the saddest songs are those that either (a) invoke an unspecified feeling of sadness (not necessarily depression - it could be more of a happy-sad), partly through lyrics, but especially through music and expression, or (b) remind you of a time or situation that brings back sad memories (again, it could be more nostalgic than depressing). I put together a playlist of songs that, to me, are exquisitely sad. I wouldn't recommend making a cd of these songs unless you enjoy spending your time lying on the floor and crying. You probably won't agree with some on the list so leave your own sad songs in the comments.

1. Fred Jones Part 2 - Ben Folds
2. Lizzy - Ben Kweller
3. This Time of Year - Better Than Ezra
4. Going Away to College - Blink-182
5. Walk Home Alone - Cast Iron Filter
6. Black Metallic - Catherine Wheel (preferably the radio version instead of the somewhat bloated album version)
7. Withering - Cracker (I know this is a Vic Chesnut cover but I don't know the original version)
8. Grace Cathedral Hill - The Decemberists
9. How It Ends - DeVotchka
10. Lover, You Should Have Come Over - Jeff Buckley (a much better pick than the Jeff Buckley song on the other list)
11. Cautioners - Jimmy Eat World
12. The Velocity of Saul at the Time of His Conversion - Okkervil River
13. Wonderwall - Ryan Adams (so much better than the Oasis version)
14. Harder Now That It's Over - Ryan Adams (I could really keep going with the Ryan Adams)
15. The Background - Third Eye Blind
16. God of Wine - Third Eye Blind (I know I've lost all cool points with these last two songs but damn if the last three songs on their first cd don't get me every time)
17. Marianne - Tori Amos
18. Blue and Yellow - The Used (my inner 14 year-old paints her nails black and shops at Hot Topic)
19. Getting By - Weekend Excursion

Honorable Mention:
Empty Shell - Cat Power
Graduation Day - Chris Isaak
Raising a Man - Public Affection (this is Live before they changed their name)
As Bad As They Seem - Hayden

*Some of you may think I wrote this post just so I could mention Patches. You would not be entirely incorrect. If you don't know what I'm talking about just ask and if you're lucky I'll show you a little dance.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Trip

My trip last week was completely fantastic - the work part was interesting and I didn't feel like stabbing my eyes out, the weather was absolutely fantastic for our site visit, and I got to take an extended vacation - first by myself and then with two friends. I had fabulous meals and ate way too much fried shrimp. You can see my pictures here and I've posted some of my favorites below.




















Also, we were at the beach when this happened. You can see my very own investigative video below. (This is the first video I've uploaded so it may take a while to work. Check back later if it doesn't!)

Nose in the Air

I am one of, if not the, world's biggest beach snob(s). Don't get me wrong, I'll never pass up an opportunity to go to the beach, but the whole time I will be silently tallying the pros and cons of each new beach and waiting to complain to my family that a certain beach failed to live up to my standards.

To me, the Atlantic side of Florida (specifically between Jacksonville and Daytona) is the gold standard for beaches. My mom grew up there and our family vacationed there at least once every year for as long as I can remember. The beaches there define the criteria by which I judge all other beaches. These attributes are, from most to least important:

  • Waves. Waves must be at least four feet and catchable. I see no point in going to a beach where the water has all the motion of a swimming pool. If I want to sit in still water I'll take a bath.
  • Beach structure. No rocks or sandbars. The beach must be wide enough that you can still walk along the shore at high tide. Sand should be firm and relatively shell-free.
  • Temperature. I like going to the beach when the air temp is at least 90. The water temperature isn't as important.
  • Crowds. The fewer people the better. That said, I have plowed into my fair share of wading toddlers and old women while riding waves in Florida.

Patricia and I think that it's easy to develop snob tendencies when all you know is the best. We compare our beach snobbery to the way someone from Vail might feel about skiing in North Carolina or the way a German might feel about Bud Light. To me, it's just not the beach if you don't have sand burns on your knees at the end of the day.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Heard and Seen

  • Multiple mating seagulls
  • Red billboard with single message across yellow banner: ihatemarriedlife.com
  • Yard sign, half a state away: Love Your Bride
  • Gruntz Videos "The Video Store with a Twist" ...ewww
  • Outside a strip club: Bouncing Boxing Babes!
  • Discussing local accents: "What you gotta do, is you gotta go up to Island Convenience and talk to Mack Midget..."
  • Dolphins playing in the sound at our restaurant tonight
  • Quite possibly the world's most pathetic (and somehow happy!) museum - you know there's a problem when your main display is multiple nearly identical duck decoys.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Not Dead. Arm Attached.

So I think it's poison ivy. Just an odd, single dime-sized spot on my forearm. It looks like no poison ivy I've ever seen and I have no idea where it came from. I am happy with mererly disgusting rather than flesh-eating so I'm not going to think about it too much.

In other news, I get to work from the beach next week! Notice that I said work rather than "work" - I'll be in meetings all day that will make me want to stab my eyes out, but it's the beach! It will be warm! We will be doing site visits on ferrys! Our meetings wrap up on Thursday afternoon so I am planning on staying down there through Saturday. Come visit and join me!

This weekend I'm heading to Raleigh for a craft fair and to check out the flea market. I have a very poorly conceived idea of a project I want to make so I'm looking for materials and inspiration. I also need to finish or pitch my current poorly conceived project - a shirt dress that's in pieces across my living room. My sewing philosophy is more along the lines of "eyeball it, sew it, rip out seam, repeat" than "make a pattern, measure twice, cut once" so it takes forever to get anything done. I worked three nights last week and finally have the skirt part of the dress finished. I would never make it on Project Runway. (Except the budget part - the dress materials were $6.)

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Spidey sense

I was working in the yard this weekend and got bitten by something. I first assumed it was a mosquito since I have some stagnant water behind my house and can't spend a considerable amount of time outside in the summer without walking around in a protective cloud of Cutter (smells like the woods! repels mosquitoes while attracting mountain men!). It really started itching today and I realized that it might be more than a mosquito.

After talking to my officemate and a friend I made the near-fatal mistake of asking Dr. Google about spider bites. I may never venture outside my hermetically sealed chamber again after seeing just a single picture of an untreated brown recluse bite. Luckily, my flesh has not yet started to rot but it can't be long now. If you don't hear from me after several days assume I am wasting away alone in my apartment surrounded by hungry cats or have joined up with Peter Parker to fight crime. It may be the latter, as I feel tingly all over and have been jumping out of my skin all afternoon. (Of course, it's always possible that those are just effects of my lunch-time bucket of diet coke.)

Google did say that there were two proven treatments for unknown insect bites: Coors Light and American Idol. It will be tough, but I think I can work that into my busy schedule tonight.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Random End Of Week Notes

Alternate title "Maybe I can get these things out of my head if I post them"

Coming in to work today I was listening to the Andrew Bird cd I wrote about a couple weeks ago. There is one song that has a line in the chorus: "we'll fight, we'll fight..." I cannot listen to that without thinking he's singing "whale fight, whale fight" which is infinitely more awesome.

Continuing the sea mammal theme, this totally cracks me up:
Rescue cat. It showed up on Cheezburger (warning: do not click here unless you have hours to kill) later in the week and I felt all cool and internet-y because I saw it on Erin's site first.

I know a lot of people who have been raving about the Discovery channel's Planet Earth series. They were playing a marathon earlier in the week so I decided to watch it for a while. It was showing some sea lions frolicking in the water and having fun so I kept it on the channel and sat back on the couch. I realized too late that these sea lions were obviously doomed - a killer whale swallowed a few whole before I could reach for the remote.

About an hour later I decided to give it another try. This time they were showing migrating cranes. Pretty safe, right? No. Sure enough, some kind of predator bird starts circling around, trying to pick off the weak ones. I obviously need a G-rated version of Planet Earth if I'm ever watch it.

Speaking of cranes, I would be remiss if I didn't link to a site that tells about how scientists are trying to get whooping cranes to follow their natural migratory patterns. Each fall and spring the cranes are led by an ultra-light plane on a cross-country trip to take them to and from their winter homes. The hope is that they will eventually learn to take the trip themselves and begin to repopulate their natural habitats. I know you're saying, "that's good and all, but what's the point?" The point is that the scientists dress up in crane outfits to imprint themselves on the babies. The pictures are great. Can you imagine having that as a job? Even the aircraft pilot has to wear it while he's flying.

Anyway, have a great weekend everybody!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Notes from Idol

1. I dvr-ed it tonight - I am officially emotionally invested. I guess I'm entitled since I've abstained since the first season. I actually haven't seen any Tuesday episodes since I have class but that hasn't stopped Seacrest.

2. How is it possible to love Zoolander from the very bottom of my heart but be completely unable to tolerate Ben Stiller? Someone should look into that.

3. Confidential to Teri Hatcher: You might want to reconsider the hair/makeup/shirt combo. I fast forwarded through your part and thought you were Michael Jackson.

4. Jack Black, I want to like you (see: "That's f--ing teamwork!" and "It's called telekinesis, Kyle!") but you are making it very difficult. Scratch that - now you are singing and it is impossible.

5. Blake's friends don't look that excited that he's safe. I was going to say something mean about that but I'm cutting him some slack since he's "giving back" tonight.

6. I have nothing snarky to say about Carrie Underwood's segment. Rascal Flatts guy, however, it looks like fame affected you the same way my freshman year of college affected me.

7. Staying Alive - Teri Hatcher: we already talked about your styling. You are not helping. Goldie Hawn: wearing your hair in your face will not help convince me that you are the same age as your daughter. LeBron James and Hugh Laurie: I love you two a little bit. Hugh Grant: looking a little mug shot-y. Twiggy: stop trying to pretend you know the words. Please go back to insulting Jael. Marc Antony: Wow! You look kind of not un-dead! LeBron and Hugh: ok, make that a lot. Please dance some more. Helena Bonham Carter: what have you done since Fight Club? Not that it matters since I will always love you for that. Chris Kattan: stop. Please pass the message to Rob Schneider. Guy in hat: who are you? should I care? Kevin Bacon: you made me think of the episode of Will & Grace where Jack stalked you. Like HBC, you have done something so fantastic that you have been given a free pass. Madden twins: Joel, you were cute when you were dating Hilary Duff. Now you are just a smirking tattooed guy who makes mediocre music.

8. Idol, now you are making me cry (and not for keeping Phil safe). Way to make me feel bad about being petty. Seriously, people, give some money so kids don't have their future determined before they're even born. So kids don't have to live in poverty or fend for themselves because their parents have died of AIDS. So kids in our own country don't grow up without learning how to read. There's not a whole lot that I'll write about on this site and be completely serious about, but some things are too horrible to ignore or gloss over. (psa over - back to the snark)

9. Kelly Clarkson, I have a little girl-crush on you. You will never reach Jennifer Garner levels on my girl-crush-meter but you're definitely up there.

10. LaKeisha - I think Idol could afford an undershirt or safety pin for you. I sympathize because I am no stranger to the shirt gap problem, but you are on national tv. Also, if you're safe that means my beloved Timberfake or the incredible Jordin is out. My money is either on Jordin getting "shockingly" eliminated or Idol having a heart and keeping them both in.

11. Annie Lennox has only played a couple chords and she has already completely outperformed Celine and Felvis. Does she still tour? I bet she puts on a hell of a show.

12. I totally called it! Seacrest would never get rid of someone tonight. Yikes - two gone next week - fingers crossed it's LaKeisha and Phil.

Longest post yet - that's kind of sad it's about a show I've talked so much shit about over the years. I will continue on my quest to drive away readers with an even longer post next week about my cats.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Because reading about avian flu is putting me to sleep

My sister sent this link today:

The Story of Grant Hill

Love it.

Around the house

I worked on two projects a couple weekends ago that I never got around to posting. The first is a bag to match my new gold shoes (seriously, I can't believe I actually own gold shoes). It's not exactly perfect but I think it works really well.





The second project was a set of floating bookshelves. I had seen these on some home furnishing sites and picked up 3 at nested, one of the best little shops in Carrboro. Here are the shelves in action on the wall beside my stairs:





The only problem is that I am running out of hardback books to display in the house. I already have all my Norton anthologies and antique books from my grandmother downstairs - I need to stop using books as decorating items unless I want to show off my macroeconomics and differential equations textbooks.
I am still recovering from one of the best weekends ever. One of my very dearest friends got married and I spent the whole weekend in Virginia at wedding events. The ceremony was beautiful and perfect, but the reception was unbelievable. I didn't take any pictures but will post some when I order them from the photographer - you really have to see the flowers and outdoor couches and caged birds to believe it.

After the reception I ended up going out in Lynchburg with some high school friends of the bride and I finally had my first cheesy after hearing stories since freshman year in college. Also, I got completely schooled in naked photo hunt despite many high scores on the machines at Linda's and He's Not. I barely got to bed that night but when I woke up my cheeks were hurting from smiling so much.

Anyway, best wishes to Miss Emily and her wonderful new husband - I can't wait till you move to Durham!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Mouse brain

When I get busy at work my brain turns into a little mouse brain the minute I get in my car to drive home. Sometimes the mouse brain causes small problems, like when it takes a week to process that the dvd on the passenger seat needs to be returned. Other times the mouse brain does silly things, like ignoring an entire page of problems in a GRE practice test for a class. The mouse brain is generally benign, but it pulled a stunt last week that had the potential to be pretty mortifying.

I was making dinner on Tuesday night and bent over to pull something out of a cabinet when I heard a loud riiipp! The jeans I was wearing had some small holes near the back pockets so I patted around but didn't feel anything unusual. The mouse brain immediately forgot about the noise. Two days later I was at the cat shelter changing from my work skirt to a t-shirt and jeans when I discovered the source of the ripping noise. (I've marked the end and beginning of the rip in the picture - not exactly something you can fix with a safety pin.)





I had nothing else to wear so I put on the jeans and got ready to scoop some cat litter. It wasn't too bad since I was working in the back with one other person rather than in front with 7 or 8 other people but cleaning cages involves a lot of bending over and kneeling on the floor - prime butt exposing activities.

Luckily, work has slowed somewhat so my real brain can function in the evenings. The mouse brain is really looking forward to taking over all non-academic work once I start grad school.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Today's Lesson

The proper eyewear is essential to a job well done.



Thursday, April 12, 2007

This Week

Listening to: Andrew Bird's new cd. I got this on Monday afternoon and haven't taken it out of my car cd player since. Love, love it. I saw him a few years ago in San Francisco when he was opening for Nickel Creek. I had never heard of him before the concert so I didn't know what to expect. I think my mouth dropped open when he began playing - his recorded music is good but nowhere near as good as it is live. You all know that I am not a concert person, but I would see him again in a heartbeat. Unfortunately there are no nearby shows on his current tour. Boo.

Reading: The Boleyn Inheritance. I borrowed this from my officemate a long time ago and just got into it this week. It's much better than I was anticipating and it makes me wish I knew more about the time period. After about 30 pages I was scouring through the history sections of British Literature textbooks from college to figure out the order of Henry VIII's wives.

Waiting: for these shoes to arrive. They are for this dress for a summer wedding (and the rehearsal of a different wedding). I have undertaken the potentially disastrous task of making a matching bag. I'll post some pictures if it turns out well.

Working: on scanning old pictures. I bought a scanner on sale at Target last week and I spent the weekend going through old photos and selecting ones to scan. I'll post some good ones and tell some stories as soon as I get them moved to a different computer.