Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wait! Wait! I wasn't done with that!

Tam said they turned off summer like a switch, and she was spot on. I went from "Doggone these west-facing windows, I can't turn the ceiling fan up any higher" to "Where's my hoodie and where did I put the electric blanket" literally overnight. Pretty soon I'll be standing sitting on the vent in the bathroom while I get dressed in the morning.

Something tells me we're going to have a cold, hard winter, same as we had a hot, hard summer. I don't have any evidence to back that up; it's just a feeling. Plus the change is weird for me because I barely set foot outside between August 20 and September 20 -- when I got laid up, it was hot and humid and, well, Indiana in August. When I rejoined the land of the living, I went straight from the throes of summer to sensing that little bit of a nip without any transition. It's like the waiter took my plate when I was only halfway through. I feel cheated.

At least I enjoy sweater weather.

I can feel the carpal tunnel already.

My kingdom for a whiteboard.

This week I began my "gear up for NaNoWriMo" work, which mostly consists of taking the start of a couple-years-old project, going over it and finishing the outline. Right now, there's about 37,000 words done; I'd say the plot's about 1/3 worked out, so that leaves plenty of room for November's 50,000. I know where I want the story to go and what I want to happen, so it's mostly just sorting out the various characters' timelines and figuring out what's going to happen where and when. But given that the three main characters are split from each other by the end of the first chapter, it's a little complicated (like this). There will be lots of color-coding, and possibly index cards, by the time I'm ready to write. The staff at the library computer lab is going to love me.

If I had to guess, this year's actual word count will probably be closer to 60,000 than the minimum 50,000, but it'll be done in smaller chunks than last year; so far scenes have maxed out at around 1,500 words, so I'll be getting more done faster. Meantime, it's separate outlines and index cards.

I really really really wish I could work out the whole thing on a whiteboard.

Lunchtime Teh Funnay

Songs From Rise Up Screaming, The Post-Zombie Apocalypse Group Singing Songbook.

Literary Theory Arts & Crafts

Comments on My Short Story I've Received From My Creative-Writing Classmates

"Single" doesn't have to mean "there's something missing"

Brigid has a cute post up today about the romance "points" system, specifically as regards the man's treatment of the woman. (You know: +2 for remembering to buy her nail polish, -5 for forgetting, -500 for forgetting and coming home with a boobie magazine instead.) It's funny, but it made me consider what I want in a relationship: Not a "man", but a reasonable human being who happens to be male.
I've never been comfortable with men who insist all women should be treated as "ladies". For one thing, not all women deserve such treatment, but more importantly, such treatment places gender over basic identity. My status as a lady can fluctuate depending on my choices and behavior; my status as an individual is independent of outside variables. I would no more want a guy to think of me in terms of "she's a girl, therefore she likes X" than I would want him to think in terms of "she's a girl, therefore she wears X shoe size".
I know this all sounds similar to feminism, and there's a reason for that -- feminists had a good point, there in the beginning. Where they got off track was when they demanded men recognize them as strong women, with the implication that it didn't count if the men refused. This, of course, misses the whole point; a secure personal identity doesn't rely on outside validation for its care and maintenance, nor does it insist on being recognized as a prerequisite for its health and well-being. (There's a HUGE amount I could say here about the modern victim culture, but I'm sure you can see where I'm going so I'll let you figure it out for yourselves.)
I guess what it all comes down to is that healthy relationships depend on both parties knowing themselves and not depending on the other person to fill too many gaps for them. Get a man because you need a man to be complete, and you're going to have problems -- no human being can do that for another. (Again, massive tangent potential on religious grounds; again, I'm sure you can figure out where I would have gone.) Human beings have to build themselves from the inside out, not the outside in. We don't do well if we define ourselves with negative space. The flip side: Objectification, even in positive terms, is still objectification. That's why I don't keep a "checklist" of what I want in a man; I have a few red-flag issues that I won't budge on, but they're mostly restricted to things like "must not kill kittens for giggles".* Outside of that, I just want someone I can relate to on sufficiently deep levels, someone to walk with me -- not in front, not behind, with.

I can honestly say that I don't think I'm anywhere near ready for a relationship right now, and I'm not interested at ALL in dating as society currently understands it. I know that "falling in love", while doubtless lots of fun, is a temporary state and not the sole basis for a lifetime commitment. And I know that, once that commitment has been made, it's pointless (heh) to keep points. If I think in terms of points, then I've reduced him to a subordinate position where I hold power over him -- and at the same time, I've made myself dependent on him in a profoundly unhealthy way. I don't want that in my life.

I'm a stickler for living in reality; give it to me straight, or not at all. Any relationship I build in my life has to have that at the bottom, or it won't last. I'm still doing the hard work of figuring out who I really am, and the harder work of being true to that once I find it. Should there someday be someone to buy me nail polish, I hope that I will know myself well enough that my half of things won't depend on whether he remembers or not.

That turned out to be way more than I expected to write.




*This is the main reason I got the HPV vaccine; while I fully intend on remaining abstinent until marriage, I recognize that my potential husband may not have made the same choice. Hence, the shot.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Couldn't be worse than the current bunch ...

"His destructive programming is taking over. He will be irresistably attracted to the nearest large city, where he will back up sewers, reverse street signs and steal everyone's left shoe." -- Lilo & Stitch

Snacky Time

Someone, somewhere, had the idea to put extra-cheesy goldfish crackers and pretzel goldfish crackers in the same package, and then to put that package in the vending machine where I work and sell it for a dollar

and that person is A GENIUS.

Thatisall.

Question for the Dear Readerate

Does anyone know where I could price-shop for a cane? Right now I'm using one crutch, which is awkward and clunky and makes me feel like Tiny Tim. Depending on what the doc says on Friday, I may need some help getting around for a few more weeks/months. Caveat: It has to be a cool cane, like one made from a gnarly branch or with flames up the side or something. (No skull handles; I'm not a supervillain. Yet.) Thoughts/advice/suggestions?

Update: DagNABit why don't these come in flats?

Quiz time: Major religions

I scored 15 of 15. What will you get?

A short lesson in the value of a dollar

One of my birthday presents to myself was a new mp3 player; the old one takes AAAs, which I'm tired of buying, and only holds 1gb worth of music, which is about 1/5th of my music collection. (I also wanted an FM tuner; my portable stereo is too large for my workspace.) So I poked around and found a 4gb player with a video screen and FM reception for about $30, and ordered it. I knew better than to expect iPod-level quality, but I told myself I wasn't willing to spend the money for something a little better.

Wrong choice. It was an Unqualifed Piece Of Crap(tm): The controls were nearly non-responsive, the FM presets wouldn't save and it took nearly 3 hours to load with music. I soldiered on, determined to at least test its performance the next day at work, but the battery died after only about six hours. (My old AAA-driven model got 15-18 hours out of each new cell, and they weren't even brand-name batteries.) So I went online and found myself a Sony (Walkman) version of the same player (4gb, FM tuner, video screen) for twice the price and 50 hours of battery life. I bought it immediately, set it for store pick-up and had it in hand by the end of the day. The difference was night and day; I had all my music loaded and my radio presets selected within half an hour of opening the package. Also the controls actually, you know, control the darn thing. Even the headphones are better. (The UPoC(tm) is going back to the store ASAP.)

Lesson learned: A relatively small increase in price can mean a huge difference in terms of product quality. More to the point: I am, in fact, allowed to buy nice things for myself instead of waiting for someone else to tell me I've earned them. I have tasted the sweet freedom of personal determination, and it tastes gooooooooood.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I Am Not A Fast Cook: Sausage Cheese Pockets

I put these together on a hunch that it would be tasty. And I was right!

Start off with a quick French bread recipe: Four cups of white flour (sifted, not scooped); 4 c. white flour; 1 t. kosher salt; 1 T. white sugar; 1 T. yeast; 1 T. melted butter and 1 1/2 c. water, heated to 120 degrees. Mix, then follow the following: Rest the dough 15 minutes;knead 15 minutes; rise 1 hour; punch down; knead 5 minutes; rest 10 minutes; divide in half.

At some point during the previous process, rough chop and combine in a large bowl: five or six hot dogs, one medium onion (set aside 1/4 c. for later); 1 green pepper; 1 c. mushrooms; and 1 c. grated cheddar cheese (again, set aside 1/4 c. for later). When the dough is rested and ready, take half of the dough and work it into a rectangle, about 12 inches by eight inches. Spread half of the filling on the dough and roll/wrap the dough around it, being sure to pinch all openings shut and tuck in the ends. Place on a greased sheet pan and sprinkle the top with half of the remaining cheese and onion. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Let rise (again) for one hour, then place in a preheated 400-degree oven for about 40 minutes. For a thicker crust, place a pan of boiling water on the bottom rack of the over during baking. Cool on wire racks for at least 30 minutes before cutting, or it'll all fall apart. Cut into 1-inch strips for finger food, or into larger pieces to be eaten like sandwiches. I recommend eating with mustard. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

An open letter to the jackwagon who stole my debit card number

Dear scumbag,

I hope you enjoy consuming the fruits of other people's labor. I hope you enjoy knowing that the money you took was going to pay for my doctor's bills. I hope you realize that lack of funds and vacation time is the only thing keeping me from hopping on a plane, buying a baseball bat and tracking you down like the dog you are. You see, that $400 you stole is actually $406 dollars, which means there were ATM fees. And guess what? When I (or, in this case, you) use my card at an ATM, my bank statement includes the location of the ATM. I know you visited the Citibank location at 315 E. Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena, CA. And because you pushed your luck and made a second withdrawal, I know you used at ATM in the Hastings Ranch neighborhood (also in Pasadena). So that's two points of data, and I'm willing to bet they both had "smile you're on camera" equipment.

I closed the card within a couple hours of finding out you were using it, so you won't be getting any more of my money. (Did I mention I discovered your theft on my birthday? Because I did.) I also went to the bank first thing this morning. Visa will send me a new card and refund the money you stole, but it's going to take about a week. I will, in terms of property, be made whole. But I'm still cheesed off. I hope whatever you spent the money on gives you a persistent and exceptionally itchy rash. I hope you get arrested and sent to prison for theft. With any luck, the only thing you'll end up costing me is a good night's sleep. But I hope it costs you much, much more than that.

Get bent,
Joanna

UPDATE 9/28: The money's back. Still waiting on the actual card, though.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Woohoo!

It's my birthday! (The first of two.) *runs around in a circle hobbles around like a sedan with a blown front tire* I got a balloon and a York Peppermint Patty at work, and I get to wear a hat as part of a fundraiser, and it's a kickin' hat so I feel pretty good about things right now. Plus my incision has healed up enough that I can forgo the ginormous bandaids I've been using, plus I'm down to one crutch, which makes me feel like a pirate and makes it much, much easier to carry things (like my lunch). And when I get home from work tonight I'm totally going to bake a cake and eat it, and I have mint chocolate chip ice cream in the fridge so even if I'm too tired to bake I have a back-up plan. (And it's the nice white kind, not the icky green kind.) So despite having a really exhausting week, today is pretty awesome. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go window-shop online for shoes. Mmmm, shoes.

UPDATE: Someone brought in doughnuts! Woohoo!

UPDATE II: I won the raffle at work!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I wonder who discovered it first ...

I just found out that:

pi x 1337% = 42
I feel like I just discovered one of the great secrets of the universe, and all I can think is "I want that on a t-shirt."

I guess today is the Day of the Nerd.

Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy

Only ten more hours until the season three premiere of Fringe.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Don't be that guy.

Yesterday's Sheldon made me think of Tam, who's always pulling out "this date in history"-type stuff about Rome. (Today's strip is in the same vein.)

On that note: The U.S. gets compared to the Roman Empire on a fairly regular basis, and there's a lot of truth to it. But the most striking similarity -- for me, at least -- is that, for all the power and wars and intrigues and et cetera, the R.E. was mostly average people living average lives -- they didn't really care who stabbed who in the palace so long as it didn't take the bread off their table. History books are full of Important People and Important Events, but behind that are a bunch of farmers and fishermen and shopkeepers who never did anything bigger than raise their kids and try to get along with the neighbors.

There's a lot more I could say on the subject, but I'm saving that for my Friday YMMV post. Plus I started off funny, so I don't want to end on something too serious. Go read Sheldon. I guarantee it'll make your day.

Sad news from Roseholme

Spare a thought for Bobbi and Tam, if you could -- last night they lost Tommy, the second of the geriatricats. (Slinky was the first, a scant two weeks ago.) They were both closing on two decades of love and affection, so it's a sad day.

That they passed so close to each other is telling, I think. Anyone who thinks animals don't grieve either has no experience with pets, or needs to be locked in a room with a copy of "Where The Red Fern Grows" and not let out until they've learned their lesson. I'm going to scritch my kitty extra hard tonight.

=^o.o^=

Oh boy

There's a problem with my short-term disability paperwork here in the cube farm. Apparently they can only approve the time I was out after my surgery, which only accounts for two weeks and two days of the four weeks I was out. I wrote a letter explaining the situation when I first sent everything in, but since I didn't see the doctor when I sprained my other ankle (which is what sent me home early) I (heh) may not have a leg to stand on there. Luckily I have plenty of vacation days, so I'm going to see if I can use those instead of futzing around with HR and faxing things back and forth and bothering the nurse at the doctor's office. Fingers crossed.

At least today was September Birthday Cake Day. Yummers.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

If Dr. Suess wrote for cephalopods ...

... I imagine it would have looked something like this.

It's the look on the big octopus' face that makes it.

Grrrrr.

Sunday night I went online and bought a new mp3 player, and I got a cheap one because it was all I could afford. Monday morning, I went on Woot and saw a much, much better player for a few dollars more, and I had a coupon that would have paid for the shipping. I am very, very, VERY annoyed at this because I had a hunch I should wait before ordering. Serves me right for ignoring my gut, I suppose.

Grrrrr.

Synthetic Ruby Tuesdays just don't hold up to the real thing for color and clarity.

My phone's broken and Twitter's got some sort of pr0n problem, so all my random afternoon thoughts are going here, instead.

-- I think next spring I'm going to trade in my bike for a commuter model with a decent cargo rack. I'm counting on there being one at the Salvation Army. Rusty the Trusty is getting just a little too bent out of shape to keep going.

-- This morning, I spent three hours deactivating 230 old items from the system. As I finished, my boss told me to leave them all active because some other department got their knickers in a twist over it. I'm spending my afternoon undoing all that work.

-- My birthday-birthday is this weekend (Friday and Sunday, respectively), and I have no idea how to celebrate short of baking a cake and getting myself a new mp3 player. (It's already in the mail, so it'll get here on time.) If I was up and around I'd take my bike downtown and do something fun, but a reopened incision isn't really on my wishlist so that's out.*

-- Fringe starts up again this week, and I'm hella excited. Downside: It's in the same time slot as Burn Notice, and they're going to overlap in a couple months. Upside: If I'm comfortable enough in life that my main worries include TV programming, I really shouldn't be worrying at all. Maslow himself would appear like Elijah before Saul and slap me silly if I insisted otherwise.

-- The following is an actual conversation from my latest doctor's appointment. Me: "I'm taking a picture of my incision for my blog!" Doc: "Oh, you're one of those people ... " (Don't be too hard on him. He's cool.)

-- I should do a shirt that says "Yes, I'm one of those people."

-- Storytime might not happen this month because of the previous weeks' shennanigans, but I'll be sure to have something to post on Friday, regardless. It'll probably just be a reg'lar ol' column. Storytime might be next week, instead. It all depends on how I feel this weekend.

-- I just divided a plum in half using nothing but my thumbs and a little twisting. I feel slightly badass. I am ... The Fruit Ninja!

And ... scene.




*Brigid: I'm totally up for lunch on Saturday. I'll shoot you an e-mail in a bit.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Deputy Director Wither, you're needed in the lobby.

For today's dose of sputtering disbelief, I give you this from Britain:

The UK's tax collection agency is putting forth a proposal that all employers send employee paychecks to the government, after which the government would deduct what it deems as the appropriate tax and pay the employees by bank transfer.
The proposal by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) stresses the need for employers to provide real-time information to the government so that it can monitor all payments and make a better assessment of whether the correct tax is being paid.
Nanny State says what? It reminds me of nothing so much as a parent going through their kid's Halloween haul, ostensibly to check for danger, but actually so they can identify and hoark the good stuff. Dad gets the full-size Hershey's with almonds, and Junior's left with a pack of broken Sweet Tarts and two boxes of raisins. Pleas to Mom go unanswered, as she's busy with other things.

On a more serious note, such a scheme would, structurally speaking, put every last wage-earner on the dole. And -- human nature being what it is -- why bother working if you get paid either way? It's yet another move toward keeping the populace complacent and docile by making the fight too hard for all but the truest believers. On the flip side: Should this plan go through, I predict an upsurge in under-the-table employment and cash-only transactions. I know that's what would happen if they tried it on this side of the pond.

I admit to feeling a bit of a thrill when I read about this sort of thing. The more obvious the line becomes, the more convinced I am about which side I joined.

I Am Not A Fast Cook: Parmesan Portabello Pasta

Saw this in a commercial for Olive Garden and decided to try it for myself. All measurements and times are approximate because I had no recipe for anything. (Do not attempt unless your your Wingin' It Commander certification is up-to-date.)

Start by browning 1 T. butter and 2 T. white flour to make a roux, then adding 1.5 c. 2% milk and 3/4 c. grated parmesan cheese (do NOT use the powdered kind that comes in a shaker can), then whisking everything together on medium heat until the roux incorporates and the cheese melts. Add grated black pepper and kosher salt to taste and simmer on low. Next, cut beef and mushrooms into bite-sized pieces and toss in olive oil and a little kosher salt. Sear the beef in a hot pan, then add the mushrooms and saute until cooked. Add the mushrooms to the sauce, stir and pour over angel hair pasta. (You were cooking the pasta while all this was happening, weren't you?) Top with the meat and serve hot. Is delicious. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ironically, posted while listening to Jack Johnson

Keep drinking coffee, stare me down across the table
While I look outside
So many things I’d say if only I were able
But I just keep quiet and count the cars that pass by

You’ve got opinions, man
We’re all entitled to ‘em, but I never asked
So let me thank you for your time, and try not to waste anymore of mine
And get out of here fast

I hate to break it to you babe, but I’m not drowning
There’s no one here to save

Who cares if you disagree?
You are not me
Who made you king of anything?
So you dare tell me who to be?
Who died and made you king of anything?

You sound so innocent, all full of good intent
Swear you know best
But you expect me to jump up on board with you
And ride off into your delusional sunset

I’m not the one who’s lost with no direction
But you’ll never see
You’re so busy making maps with my name on them in all caps
You got the talking down, just not the listening

And who cares if you disagree?
You are not me
Who made you king of anything?
So you dare tell me who to be?
Who died and made you king of anything?

All my life I’ve tried to make everybody happy
While I just hurt and hide
Waiting for someone to tell me it’s my turn to decide


Who cares if you disagree?
You are not me
Who made you king of anything?
So you dare tell me who to be?
Who died and made you king of anything?

Who cares if you disagree?
You are not me
Who made you king of anything?
So you dare tell me who to be?
Who died and made you king of anything?

Let me hold your crown, babe.

-- Sara Bareilles, "King Of Anything"

And that's why I'm doing my own thing for the holidays this year.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Mrf, part IV

Saw the doc today and got the bandage off ("Free at last!" squealed my poor, suffocated toes), so I finally got to see the damage. Final count was eleven stitches on a 2-3" incision, which is two to three times longer than I was expecting. (Pic below the fold for those so inclined, 'cause I'm weird like that.) I have been instructed to use two crutches for another week, then scale down to one crutch the week after that, then gradually get myself back into a regular shoe. I won't be properly ambulatory until Thanksgiving or Christmas, but Doc says he only wants to do this surgery ONCE, so I'm following his directions like direct edicts from on high. In his words, if I go without the fracture boot and I turn my ankle, I'll "hear a snap, and that won't be happy."

Geesh. *shudder*

Anyway, click the link if you want the picture. It's not that pretty, but like I said, I'm weird like that. (I have to watch the needle go in when I give blood.) (Please disregard the cankle; it's just all swollen. My feet are actually quite gracefully proportioned.)

I love to travel

and I've gone by car, bus and airplane to various destinations. Airplane travel was, by far, the least hassle, but that's because I a) took extreme precautions to that effect (carry-ons only, online check-in, that sort of thing) and b) have been extraordinarily lucky. That said, this comic made me guffaw to the point where I worried about the neighbors hearing me. The last bit, in particular, reminds me of someone I know.

*cough*Og*cough*

If I have any say in things, however, I will do my future traveling by car, bus or train. Air travel is quick, sure, but I want the option to pull off at Exit Whatevs to see that World's Biggest Ball of Twine they've been advertising for the past 25 miles. For me, travel isn't just a destination - it's a whole process.

I would also like to pack my car, drive until I run out of money for gas, and make a life wherever I end up. But that will have to wait until I pay off my credit card. (Don't get into debt, kids. It's nothing but an anchor.)

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Mrf, part III

In my doctor's words, "there was pretty much nothing left" of the ligaments on the outside of my ankle. Plus there was a piece of bone (I'm not sure which one) that "wasn't attached to anything, so I took that out, cleaned it off and put it back". (Also his words.) I'm off the prescription painkillers for the most part, but I'm still stuck at home with my foot up and still much more tired than you'd think to look at me. Also my toes feel really grody under the bandage and it doesn't come off for another eight days. Blech.

Anyway, that's the update. After today I can be up and around for more than 20 minutes per hour, which is an improvement, but I still won't be back to my usual routine for another week. I know I'm going stir-crazy when I miss my cubicle.

And thanks to Grandma and Grandpa for the get well card. It was much appreciated.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Mrf, part II

I should take this moment to point out that for the next, I dunno, week, I'm going to be stoned out of my mind on painkillers, so blogging will be fairly non-existent. So sorry. I should be back to normal speed soon.

Mrf.

Today I'm doing my best to keep myself busy, because tomorrow at 9:45 a.m. I show up at a local hospital so a man with a knife can cut pieces out of my foot.

I should be asleep for most of it.

I'm trying to keep myself busy because, for one thing, I have a crap-ton of stuff to do now (like cooking and cleaning) that I won't be able to do for the next five to seven days. So that helps. But I'm also keeping myself busy because, even though it's a fairly minor outpatient procedure, it's going to cause big changes in my life. I'm pretty much done with high-heeled shoes, for instance, and those are pretty much all I used to wear. I'm going to have to have my good jeans taken up. It sounds like such a little thing, and I suppose it is. But sometimes little changes can have a big psychological impact, especially if they're likely to be life-long in duration.

Also I won't be able to ride my bike for most, if not all, of this autumn, which makes me sad because it's my favorite season for riding.

Basically, the closer the procedure gets, the more quietly freaked out I become. I'll be fine after a few days, but for now -- jitters.

Blerg.