Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Anarchists have a group? They assemble?

Now this is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Ever have one of those days ...

... where one short phone call with one obnoxious person is enough to make you cry your mascara off in the restroom?

(To elaborate: The call was from a sales rep who thinks it's my job to do his job, flat-out won't answer queries until I start sending e-mails in all caps (and cc'd to his manager), and blames me because he did something wrong and it got rejected (and not by me, but the person before me). He's also in the habit of calling anyone and everyone but the person he actually needs to speak to. Something about the way he talked down to me just pushed me right over the edge. If he gives me any more trouble, I'm sending him straight to my manager.)

At least I can look forward to cake tonight. Mmmm cake.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Overheard over the weekend

Me (getting ready to go out for dinner): "Ready to go Thai one on? Ah ha!"

The_Jack (rolling eyes and muttering to himself): "She bakes, she bakes, she bakes very well ... "

(The Thai place, a restaurant on 36 in Avon and so new it's not on Google Maps yet, turned out to be excellent. Highly recommended.)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thursday morning cute, and what I wish I was doing

Squee!

Squee!

Tee hee hee.

Annnnnnnd I've gone a week without posting. Also, culture?

Work's been "fun" and so has the news, so you'd think I'd have plenty of blog fodder. I guess I just wasn't feeling it.

Sunday I went out driving around with Jack (he's looking for new lodgings) and we discovered a delightfully twee little place called The Flying Cupcake (5617 North Illinois Street). It's just what it says on the tin; cupcakes seem to be all they sell. But they're good cupcakes! The cake is light and fluffy and moist, and the frosting is real buttercream. Not a drop of corn syrup could I detect.

On the way out, we passed two teenage girls in long t-shirts, leggings, ballet flats and those big black lensless hipster glasses frames. I swear, I thought they were just a myth up until that moment. Jack took me to the art museum after caketime (he's sweet like that) and there was a girl in her early twenties sporting the same frames in yellow. I do not understand hipsters. At all.

Also: Modern art is, for the most part, bunk. I'll stick to the classical galleries, thankyouverymuch.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Now I've made myself sad.

Shamelessly lifted wholesale* from Instapundit:

HEADLINE OF THE DAY: Sunshine Award Event Postponed for Unspecified Reasons. "President Obama was due to accept an award from a coalition of good government groups recognizing 'his deep commitment to an open and transparent government' in conjunction with Sunshine Week, the UPI reports. However, reporters were told the event was postponed 'due to changes to the President's schedule.' No other reason was given."
Somehow, just writing "Hahahahahaha!" doesn't adequately convey the bitterness and passive anger present in the outburst.

At least there's free ice cream at work today.



*Seriously, how do you excerpt that guy? It'd be like two words, and one of them would just say "Heh".

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hoo boy.

Victor Davis Hanson on how it could all go smash:

Are we becoming like Dark Age Greeks (1100-800 BC) who wandered amid the ruins of the Mycenaean palaces, curious how such “hemi-gods” and “Olympians” were able to build things like the Lion Gate and the tholoi tombs, so far beyond their own competence that they deemed them the work of all-powerful mythological gods? Or maybe we will become 8th-century AD Greeks and Romans who looted the marble from their predecessors’ temples and majestic gravestones to scavenge the lead seals and the iron clamps or to melt down the stones for lime — or simply to seek shelter in abandoned shrines and temples.

The apocalyptic movies have it wrong: we do not need a nuclear holocaust, earthquake, or asteroid to put us back to The Road. We can get there easily with rising ignorance and illiteracy as we drift among an infrastructure we demand, but do not understand or appreciate: Not with a bang, but with a whimper.
This after several paragraphs lamenting drivers who do not understand or appreciate the genius of their inherited roadway system, experiences with unexplained technological lack-of-service events (and those who didn't seem to care if/when/how it got fixed) and the difference between dependent, centralized urban systems of Europe and Asia and the independent, decentralized suburbs and rural communities seen in the U.S.

Basically, if/when it all goes down, it won't be because the Morlocks took over. It'll be because the Eloi didn't care enough to keep it going.

Something is better than nothing

I should point out that part of why I haven't said much about things in Japan is partly because a) I don't believe in rehashing boilerplate "oh that's horrible" statements when everyone else is already saying them. The destruction is beyond comprehension. All you have to do is look at the pictures to know that trite words don't do it justice. But it was mostly because b) I didn't want to think about just how bad things were/are/will be, and I told myself I couldn't do anything (which wasn't true) to avoid having to do something (which was very wrong). The most noticeable thing was that I avoided praying about/for Japan and their leaders (and our leaders, and on and on). Not only was that callous and uncaring, it ground everything else in that area of my life to a screeching halt.

So, this morning, I fixed that. I did the little something I could have done from the beginning, and did it with gusto. I've already spent a few minutes this morning talking to The Boss on the subject; I'm going to spend a lot more time in the same activity over the coming days. I suggest y'all do the same. Pray your little fannies off, if that's your thing. Lord knows they need it. And if you can send help -- money, supplies, whatever -- do it. (There's a bunch of "text to donate" information in this article. I sent mine to the Salvation Army.) Put bluntly, the only stake I have in these events is how I react to them and what I do, so that's where I'm spending my energy.

Oh, and for the record: All those folks talking about God visiting judgment on Japan? *pointing, talking loudly and taking several steps away* I AM NOT WITH THEM!

UPDATE: Victor Davis Hanson puts into words something that's been bothering me for the past few days:

I confess I do not quite fathom the constant American news blitzes about all sorts of China Syndrome scenarios. Radiation pollution is a serious worry, but right now no one has died from exposure and perhaps 10,000 have perished from the tsunami and earthquake. It seems to me the greater worry right now is not yet a meltdown, but the vast dangers resulting from disruptions in food, water, power, and sewage.

Odder still, it was almost crass to watch American TV heads lead in with shrill, hyped-up mini-dramas about possible radiation clouds descending here on the West Coast, even as their backdrop screens showed biblical disasters of earthquake, flood and human wreckage. Whether we are exposed to a chest-X-ray dose of radiation seems insignificant in comparison to the horrific conditions that millions of Japanese are now enduring.
Seriously: If there wasn't a nuclear power plant involved, just how interested would the talking heads be? It's like there was a car crash with multiple fatalities in front of their house, and all they can think about is the leaked gasoline that might set their geraniums on fire.

(The rest of the column is just as good, but it focuses on a slightly different topic so it gets its own post.)

Monday, March 14, 2011

I Am Not A Fast Cook: Awesome Math Edition

Since today is Pi Day (3/14), I thought I would revisit my recipe for deelishus apple pie, as handed down through the family all heirloom-like. (There's a good chance it was stolen wholesale from Betty Crocker, but that's just how we roll.

For the crust, cut 1/3 cup shortening into two cups flour and a pinch of salt until you get a fine, crumbly consistency. Cut in another 1/3 cup shortening to a pea-sized crumb, then work in just enough milk to pull it together. Form the dough into two equal balls, wrap them in plastic wrap and put them in the fridge to chill for half an hour.

While they chill, core, peel and slice a good dozen or so apples, enough to fill a 9" pie dish to a height of 5". Toss with a mixture of 1/2-2/3 cup sugar, 1/4 cup flour and 1/2-3/4 teaspoon each cinnamon and nutmeg.

Pull that dough back out and go to town with a rolling pin, making two rounds 1/8" thick and large enough to surround the pie plate. Fold each into quarters for easy handling. Set one aside; unfold the other into the pie plate, letting it lap well over the rim. Dump in the apple mixture and dot liberally with chunks of butter. Unfold the second crust over the top, cut vents in the top in pleasing shapes and pinch the edges of the crusts together to seal.

You preheated the oven to 450F, right?

Bake for 10 minutes at 450F, then, WITHOUT OPENING THE OVEN DOOR, drop the temp to 350F and bake for 30. The crust should be nicely browned, with juice bubbling up around the edges. Let cool for at least an hour before serving, and enjoy! (Why so long? Three words: "Professor! Lava! HOT!")

And don't forget to join us in October for Mol Day, when we'll enjoy homemade chips and a tub of Trader Joe's Avocado's Number guacamole. Ta!

Friday, March 11, 2011

About the earthquake in Japan, and why I'm not going to say much about it.

A couple quick links, for those interested:

Last count has 88,000 people missing.

Slideshow of the aftermath

The weird part is, I'm not sad about it. It's a sad situation, sure, but I, personally, don't feel sad, or even that upset. Just a little unsettled. (That reaction is partially because my coworker (and new cube neighbor) is one of those who thinks the appropriate response is to be personally embittered by anything bad that happens, anywhere, and to automatically assume the worst, even if that means making up details to keep the "lurid interest" meter pegged. You know, the kind who keeps Snopes in business.)

(And yes, I'm frustrated that I have to listen to her.)

At last, the world recognizes my GENIUS!

Tam sums up the situation in Wisconsin with her usual wit: "New Civility" obviously means "You shut up!" I commented thusly:

You know those kids who throw themselves on the floor in the cereal aisle, kicking and pounding the tiles and screaming "It's not fair! I hate you!"

This is what happens when those kids don't get a spanking.
That right there was enough to get me a Quote Of The Day! Woo!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Overheard at work

Girl next to me: Hey, do you have scissors?

Me: I have a pocketknife; would that work?

[Come to figure out she has a loose thread on her sleeve. I cut it off for her.]

GNTM: Wow, you're really handy.

Guy next to her: You know you're on security now, right?

Me (thinking): Why does having a pocketknife automatically make me the floor warden? That's it; you're all getting knives for Christmas.

Their eyes got really big when I told them I had a baton in my purse.

We will call it ... This Land.

Woo, it's moving day at work. Lots of people have moved cube, even in my own department, but I've been in the same cubicle since we came to this building, and I was a little bit set in my ways. I had everything arranged, and I was conveniently close to the restrooms. I was a little unsure about switching to a new spot.

Luckily, I've been settling in to my new cube for about half an hour and so far, it seems like an overall improvement. Yes, it's all switched left-to-right from my old arrangement, but the important stuff is still in the center so that's not a problem. Plus I can keep my lunch by my right hand now, instead of my left. That's handy. I'm farther from the restroom, yes, but that also means I'm farther from the occasional restroom smells. I'm also a lot closer to the exit. Heh heh.

Mainly, though, I'm by a window now. I opened the blind and I can already tell it'll make a world of difference in my general sense of well-being. Yay, views of the outside world!

I also wrote "I believe you have my stapler" in tiny letters at the bottom of my whiteboard. It's the little touches that make a cube a home, you know?

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

I just have some dust in my eye, that's all ...

If this doesn't put a least a little pressure on the ol' heartstrings, then I don't know what will: Operation Hug-a-Hero makes dolls with the likeness of parents who are overseas on active duty, complete with a recorded message in their voice. From the article:

Staff Sgt. Brian Dorr is in Afghanistan, but his 2-year-old daughter Paisley sees him every day.

She hugs him. Kisses him. She bites his head.

On a pillowlike doll no bigger than Paisley's baby sister is a picture of their father in his Army uniform.

"My daddy!" Paisley says, doll in arms.

Until she wore out the battery by pressing the voice box 20 to 30 times a day, he used to answer back: "Daddy loves you and misses you, Paisley."
*sniff*

There's a donation information page on the parent company's website here; I couldn't get the actual Operation Hug-a-Hero site to load. They also have Deployment Buddies, where you get stuffed animals and little service uniforms for them to wear.

*SNIFFLE*

I only posted this because I couldn't pass up the joke.

A bunch of anchovies swam into a California marina, got stuck, depleted the oxygen in the water and died overnight, leaving a foot-thick layer of delicious corpses all over the place.

In other news, one Dr. Zoidberg was seen this morning rushing from his home in New New York, eager to catch the next plane to LAX.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Monday, March 07, 2011

How I Spent My Summer Vacation Weekend, and why I wish it wasn't over. (Plus IANAFC!)

So ... The Jack is a really, really, really fun guy to be around.

Friday he came by with delicious, unusually seasoned mashed potatoes (lime juice and things like that), to go with my roast beef and bread and green beans with red onions. We had brownies and ice cream for desert, and watched Phineas & Ferb* because Fringe wasn't on this week. And it was awesome.

Saturday I went to his place and made waffles for breakfast, and then we went to the range and I found out that I really, really, really like shooting his 1911. I mean, I really like shooting it. I would have been there all day except that my ankle and the ammo ran out at about the same time. So then we went out for sushi and watched MST3K on YouTube. And it was awesome.

Sunday he came to my place again, and we watched more Phineas & Ferb and made pretzles and took an epic afternoon nap. And it was awesome.

Of course, I get to work today and my boss is freaking out because OMG this new report is huge and we'll never get it done without massive overtime from everybody! Except we will, because it's split between six people, but good luck telling her that. You can give her a full A/V PowerPoint presentation, complete with laser pointer and expert testimony, of why your position is correct, and she'll listen politely, shake her head and say "I disagree with you." (Unless you outrank her. Then you're right whatever happens. It's like working for Bill O'Reilly.) So I get another week of waking up two hours early so I can keep up appearances.

Also they're moving my department, which means we'll all be in different cubes. I might end up by a window, and I'll certainly be farther away from the bathrooms, so that's an up note.

And here's my pretzel recipe, in case you're interested. I prefer one-inch nugget shapes; they're easier in the long run to deal with. Enjoy!



*He's an engineer, so his brain catches on fire at least once an episode. It's almost as fun to watch as the show itself.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Aw, yeah.

Per my last post, a note about shoes: I am saddened by the loss of Teh Sexy that comes with high heels (I feel dumpy and wide across the hips in flat shoes, despite all evidence to the contrary). So I was sad about that. But I've had good luck with Converse tennies, because they are comfortable and stable and come in fun colors. (I'm currently wearing a sparkly purple pair.) And now I found that they have a "Choose Your Own Adventure" section on their website. And, although I cannot for the life of me find a way to link to the page (it's all Flashy and stuff), hand to God they have a shoe with a cupcake pattern. Chocolate cupcakes with pink icing and cherry on top, all over the shoe.

You better believe I squeed.

Adjustments

This morning I said "Screw it" and went off the crutches a day earlier than I planned, because I hadn't noticed much change, the part that hurts isn't the part that got operated on, and I was getting SUPER depressed over a number of things and didn't see the point in making it worse. I always feel out of control when I'm on the sticks. Putting them down and sucking it up and walking around like normal did wonders for my mood.

I am, however, driving left-footed whenever possible from now on. Driving puts an incredible amount of strain on the ankle. But I can walk to and from my car without using my arms in a locomotive capacity, so it's worth it. The rest of the time, I'm going to pop some anti-inflammatory meds and deal with the strain instead of hobbling around getting teased by my coworkers (some of whom sound accusing when they mean to be joking -- "You're on crutches again?" Unspoken: "What is wrong with you? Ha ha ha!"). "Careful, mindful behavior" doesn't have to equal "restricted movement", but if I don't learn to deal with things now, I'll wind up in a Hoveround by the time I'm 40.

Yes, I'm grouchy about it. But I'm not going to let it define me if I can at all help it.

I've also decided that I will no longer walk around my house barefooted, which was contributing to the initial strain. I will wear my braces at all times. This sucks. It does not make me unhappy, however, because it is proactive and forward-moving, and that's very important to my sense of well-being. Hence, forward.

My mascot.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Huh.

I hadn't googled myself in a while, so I looked up my name and city on Google, Bing and (as an afterthought) Yahoo. Got lots of results, only one of which was actually about me. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I ... guess I'm happy? Yay, privacy? Granted, you could probably track down my information through Blogger or Twitter without much effort, but since I deleted my FB account that's about all there is to go on. Plus, that's different -- I put that information out there on purpose. If you didn't know my blog or my @Alias, I'd be hard to find. I'd like to take credit for good OPSEC, but I think it just means I don't get out much. Le sigh.

Yayyyyyyyyyyyy

There's a new Simon's Cat!

(Almost makes up for the lack of new Fringe this week.)

(Almost.)

"Nope! It's not a dream! We're stuck with it!"

Once upon a time, there was a little boy who wished he could be president. One day, he found a magical acorn, and when he planted and watered it, his wish started to come true! Some magical fairies helped him along the way, and a special pixie told the whole forest what a good president he would be. All he had to do was believe in himself!

Unfortunately for the little boy, he soon found out that being president is a hard, hard job. He went to the acorn for help, but some mean boys and girls had smashed it. He went to the fairies, but they told him he had to solve his own problems now. Even the pixie wasn't quite as helpful as before. Everyone wanted him to work hard! So he curled up under his desk and wished with all his might that it was easier to be president. But the fairies just laughed. "Silly little boy," they said. "No one said that being president was an easy job."

"But look what's happening!" the little boy wailed. "Firewood is expensive and the animals in the other forests are fighting with each other, even after I told them not to, and half of the animals in this forest won't listen to me! I did everything you told me to do! Why don't they like me?"

The fairies smiled their wide, sharp-toothed smiles. "Silly little boy," they said again. "That's why we made you president instead of doing it ourselves." And they smiled and smiled and smiled, and left the little boy all alone. And he didn't know what to do.

Stupid fairy tales.