Sunday, July 30, 2006

Summit to Surf

Okay, so thirty-four miles with a bike seat stuffed up your sizeable ass is still thirty-four miles, even if much of it is downhill.

Start: Mt. Hood Meadows, end: Hood River. Scenery: fabulous. Top speed: 37.4 mph. Approx. time spent on the bike: 3 hours. Time spent coasting: about one hour, near as I can figure. Coolest things: the mountain, all craggy and with glaciers here and there; pear orchards so heavily laden with fruit that the branches are propped up with 2x4's; cattails nearly as tall as I am; fancy-lycra-pants bicyclists changing their skinny, expensive flat tires while I zoomed on by on my crappy twelve-dollar commuter tires; lip-balm-cozy freebie from the Subaru tent: my Chapstick and I need never part!

Busy week, busy night, must run.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Stolen Meme

I got this off yellojkt. I may be sorry for it too someday, but what the hell.

What is your salad dressing of choice?
Safeway Organic something or another. It's like an Asian thingy. It's fat free too.

What is your favorite fast food restaurant?
Hm. Taco Bell is where I go for the least guilt. Burgerville for the milkshakes...

What is your favorite sit down restaurant?
We go to this local Vietnamese/Thai place for salad rolls, pot stickers, pho (beef noodle soup), and other stuff. But the meal I come back to a lot is this one time we met up with a friend and went to a restaurant called Geno's, had like a shrimp scampi thing, good conversation, etc. It was the perfect night, kinda late, kinda cold out, felt cosy and intimate and warm in the restaurant.

On average, what size tip do you leave at a restaurant?
About 20 percent. We round up a bit generally; way, way up if the baby is along.

What food could you eat every day for two weeks and not get sick of?
The aforementioned salad rolls, with peanut sauce. I had some tonight.

Name three foods you detest above all others.
Cream cheese, sour cream, anything hot-pepper hot.

What is your favorite dish to order in a Chinese restaurant?
Garlic chicken, or garlic and black bean chicken if it's available.

What are your pizza toppings of choice?
We get pine & swine a lot, but given my druthers, I like sausage, mushrooms, and onions.

What do you like to put on your toast?
Butter and peanut butter, or butter and cinnamon sugar.

What is your favorite type of gum?
I like Bubblemint flavor, I don't remember which brand that is, I want to say Orbit.

Number of contacts in your cell phone?

Probably around 20.

Number of contacts in your email address book?

What is your wallpaper on your computer?
This is a new machine so it's some pinky orangey sunset thing that was in the sample photo folder. I like to change it a lot so once I have time to get photos onto this thing, it will vary alot. Frequently the baby figures pretty heavily.

What is your screensaver on your computer?
Five photos of the baby which I include one of now:

Are there naked pictures saved on your computer?
Probably one of the baby, on the other machine, but I doubt much of her personal regions are showing.

How many land line phones do you have in your house?
One VOIP, two cell phones.

How many televisions are in your house?
Two, one in the family room and one in the bedroom.

What kitchen appliance do you use the least?
The pasta maker. I guess it's more of a gadget.

What is the format of the radio station you listen to the most?
Kind of a pop-rock thingy, not too alternative, not too bubblegummy. That and NPR.

How many sex toys do you own that require batteries?
Yikes. I'm so not answering any sex questions.

What do you consider to be your best physical attribute?

My forearms. They are reasonably shapely. My wrists are quite nice also.

Are you right handed or left handed?
Right handed, like all normal people. Ha ha!

Do you like your smile?
Better since I got my funky front tooth fixed (crown was too white and too big and stuck out when I smiled). But way too many chins.

Have you ever had anything removed from your body?
Hm. I guess a chunk of my leg bone, I had a bone tumor. And my wisdom teeth.

Would you like to?

Do you prefer to read when you go to the bathroom?
Well, now that all depends. Sometimes it is the first opportunity I've had all day for some unattended peace and quiet.

Which of your five senses do you think is keenest?
Eyesight, if corrected. I don't miss much.

When was the last time you had a cavity?
It's been a few years. I don't recall offhand.

What is the heaviest item you lift regularly?
The baby, age 26 months, around 28 pounds.

Have you ever been knocked unconscious?

If it were possible, would you want to know the day you were going to die?
Tough one. Maybe, just so I could prepare the baby for it, or prepare a videotape if she was too young to understand yet.

If you could change your first name, what would you change it to?
I've always been partial to Frodo. Ha ha, just kidding. The names that come to mind are all weird Celtic ones like Fiona.

How do you express your artistic side?
Calligraphy, beading, scrapbooking, blogging.

What color do you think you look best in?
Blue, or green. Depends on the shade.

How long do you think you could last in a medium security prison?
However long I had to. Hopefully never.

Have you ever swallowed a non-food item by mistake?
Not that I recall, but once I did find myself chewing on something as I rode my bike when I was a kid. It turned out to be an earwig. Also, some of the meals served to us in youth/tourist hotels in Soviet Russia were sort of borderline non-food.

If we weren’t bound by society’s conventions, do you have a relative you would make a pass at?
No. Which is not to say that I have unattractive relatives, but eeeuw.

How often do you go to church?
Most Sundays.

Have you ever saved someone’s life?
Not that I know of.

Has someone ever saved yours?
Don’t think so. But now I have that Elton John song running through my head.

Would you walk naked for a half mile down a public street for $100,000?
I once ran through a crowd in my swimsuit at a triathlon, then had to walk back to the transition area when it turned out I was too late for the swim. So naked a half mile would be okay, if I could see the cash beforehand. And I got to wear sunblock.

Would you kiss a member of the same sex for $100?
Hell yeah. Where do I sign up?

Would you have sex with a member of the same sex for $10,000?
If in this theoretical situation I was single, and they were attractive, then I might do it for free. But not for money. I am nobody's whore. Generally. And if I were, 10 grand would not be enough.

Would you allow one of your little fingers to be cut off for $200,000?
With anaesthesia? Maybe the left one.

Would you never blog again for $50,000?

Would you pose naked in a magazine for $250,000?
Tastefully a la Vanity Fair, yes. Hustler, no.

Would you drink an entire bottle of hot sauce for $1000?
I'd need a lot of Tums, but maybe.

Would you, without fear of punishment, take a human life for $1,000,000?
Never. Only in self defense or defense of others. Let's hope in that case there would be a hefty reward.

Would you shave your head and get your entire body waxed for $5,000?
Show me the money. But I'd opt for laser hair removal in certain key areas, not to avoid pain but because then I would never have to shave again.

Would you give up watching television for a year for $25,000?
Hell yes. I kind of wish someone would pay me 25k so I could be broken of this bad habit.

Remote blogging

Have purchased laptop, named it Retail Therapy, and it is happily interfacing with free wifi provided by Our Fair City. I am deeply, deeply happy about this. At last, I can realize my dream of sitting in Starbucks with my overpriced coffee drink, declining to interact with my fellow humans, wasting bandwith on frivolous blogging and surfing. So this is what it's all about...

What's really making me happy is that my Better Half is starting to feel better after a brief illness. That's all I can say about it here. But it is cause for jubilation.

The other cause for jubilation: short version, I took an exam today that I thought would be horrible, very difficult, etc., and I got 84 out of 90. Longer version: See, the quizzes were open book and fiendishly hard, and I was up super late frantically cramming, and I thought the exam would be similar to the quizzes and I bombed a quiz in my other class this week, and it was just all rolling into a Big Hairy Ball of Anxiety and Hopelessness. I found myself murmuring, "I am so fucked," as I studied and crammed and wandered the house tensely fingering random objects between bouts of wearing out my second highlighter on my textbook. True story. Then, I finally went to bed, spent a few minutes reading fluffy chick fiction, went to sleep, and woke up a bajillion times with my head spinning before finally getting up at 5:30am to review a bit more. I was actually shaking when I sat down to take the test. Of course, I drank two sodas after 8pm and didn't have any brekky, but I think most of it was nerves. I should probably have known that a closed book exam would be less horrific than an open book quiz, but I have this way of catastrophizing... The test was quite reasonable and at least one of the questions I knew the answer to but just didn't think it all the way through so I got it wrong.

In other news: Am participating in bike ride this weekend. Will post the least hideous photo, which means there is a good chance there will be no photo. Anyway it's that 34 mile downhill one, after which my butt will still be sore but I shouldn't be too bad off otherwise.

Life is a little bit less horrible today. Hallelujah.

When I was a kid I had this terrible stepfather and I generally take every opportunity to vilify him as completely as possible, but just now I remembered something he used to say that was funny: "Life is just a shit sandwich, and every day you take another bite." Part of what made this funny was that it was something we said when something non-catastrophic went bad, like if you dropped your ice cream into the dog water dish, not for things that were super bad (because then it would just be depressing), and the other thing was the cadence of it, said properly: Life is just a shit sandwich, and every day you take a-nother bite. It's hard to express in print but it had its own certain vitality.

No bite for me today.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Lurk, lurk, lurk

Zucchinis lurk. They lie in wait beneath their huge, ideal-for-concealment leaves. The leaves are scratchy which deters all but the most intrepid gardener. It's all part of the plan for Worldwide Zucchini Domination, in which we are all reduced to fertilizer components except the few they keep enslaved to run the hose and shovel the components around on their vast fields thick with zucchini plants. They will achieve this by growing so large that they smother us unexpectedly when we go to harvest them and they fall on us as we try to lever them into the wheelbarrow, after which they will lure our impressionable children outside by mimicking the ice-cream truck song. They will then wrap their tentacles around them and the enslavement begins. I am sure of this. It will take time but if they can just reach saturation density in the suburban garden vector, the plan will go forward and we can all stop worrying about the prime interest rate and prayer in the schools and all that crap that doesn't matter anyway. In a way, it will be a blissful relief to most of us.

Last night I found four more monsters hiding under a heretofore unexplored region of the zucchini sector of our garden. I managed to wrestle them into a bag and hand them off to a trained expert before they started recruiting vegetables growing in the adjacent rows (tomatoes and beets) to join them in their nefarious plans. They will be reduced to zucchini bread and other tasty delights before the end of today, so I am told.

End zucchini imperialism! Saute' a few in garlic butter today!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Zucchini Freakout!

I got five responses to my "Free Zucchini" craigslist ad within about five minutes of posting it! I quickly deleted the ad or there would have been more! Who knew?!


It was 104 degrees here yesterday. Tarzan couldn't take this heat... It's cooling off little by little over the next few days. Which is good because despite the air conditioning, it's just annoyingly hot and humid out there.

I craigslisted some monster zucchinis from our garden this evening. Here is the photo, featuring car keys for scale. Not to worry, there are still plenty left for anyone who might like one; talk nice to me and I might even overnight them to you, I am that desperate to find homes for them. I went out there and prowled around this evening, after a few days of inattention to the garden other than watering, and lo and behold, lurking in the shadows beneath the giant, prickly leaves: two proud squash, fairly pulsating with vegetabley goodness. So I listed them in the hopes that some cheapskate out there is just dying to make zucchini bread or something. I tried feeding some to our new bunny the other day but he's smarter than you'd think and wouldn't touch it.

Speaking of whom, he's out of his cage and dorking around the room as we speak. At last, I post a photo: meet Exidor.

Wonder if I'll be able to catch him when it's time to put him back in his cage...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Human Garbage

Now normally I have a certain reverence for Life, and a fair amount of respect for the rights of others to have views that may differ vastly from my own, even if they are completely wrong, as they so often are.

Normally, I do.

This evening I was sitting quietly under a shady tree outside my classroom doing a little last minute studying... okay, I was talking on my cellphone. Nonetheless, I was minding my own business, just sitting there. Then some bonehead pulls up and parks in the lot adjacent to where I was sitting and sits in his car with the stereo blasting and all the windows down. I could hear the "music" blaring but was preoccupied with my phone call and so the lyrics didn't register until sadly it was too late. I finished my call and had packed up and was heading into the building when I realized that the current song lyric was repeating something derogatory about persons of the Jewish persuasion. Really, really derogatory.

So I consulted a posting about How to Contact Security and informed the helpfully earnest young woman on the phone what had just happened. She told me that I had to report it while it was in progress next time, but took the license plate and make/model of the guy's car from me anyway. Then she asked me, out of curiosity, what kind of things the songs were about since she had never heard any racist songs of that nature before, and when I told her "we'll wash ourselves with (n-word) blood" or something like that, she audibly gasped.

I saw the piece of human garbage departing from his car and later he walked past me, whistling, while I was outside my lab making yet another phone call. He fit the stereotype: short, muscular, cocky, almost-shaven head, though he was not dressed as a skinhead or anything like that. I wanted to bash his moronic, ignorant, bigoted face in, but of course being a peaceable sort and a bit wimpy, plus unversed in the finer points of pugilism, I refrained from doing so and merely hoped inwardly that one day he would get what he richly deserved by way of prosecution. Or persecution. I'm not picky. And if he gains understanding by getting his ass kicked, well, who am I to argue with the natural order of things.

That being said, guess I'll toddle off to bed. Righteous indignation is very tiring.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


Baby woke up at 2am whining thusly: "My Smacky... my Smacky... my Smacky... " Good mama that I am, I sprang into action and toured the house searching for Smacky, her beloved doll and charter member of the Complete Naked Baby Doll Collection(TM). Turns out that Smacky was still in the crib with her, she'd only thought that she had tossed her out with the other critters that she was lobbing over the side of the crib, you know, for fun, at two o'clock in the morning.

Then she woke for good at about 6:40am and thus commences the whining. She refused to nap yesterday and went to bed a little bit late so now she is sleep deprived just enough to be Whiny VonUbercomplainer. So I did what any red-blooded American parent would do, I fired up the Disney channel and left her to it. I'm a little sleep-deprived myself and it's this or turn into Ragey McThrowsthings.

Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, we go to a movie. Not just any movie and not just at any theater. We are headed to the new Pirates extravaganza, which yes is mainstreamy and blockbustery but hey! It's full of pirates! Work with me here! And we are seeing it at the local Luxury Theater Experience, which I trust is worth the twenty bucks it will cost us to see this thing (tax included). We have engaged two highly trustworthy pals to stand watch over our precious possessions... oh, and the baby also.

This almost makes up for the scads of time I'm having to spend reading about microbiology and nutrition. I'm finding my internet class to be a real time-saver and love not having to slog around to campus, although I can see how a person might be tempted to put things off. I have anxiety dreams about missing deadlines, exams, etc at school so I'm trying to keep on top of things. I did already have a close call what with thinking the last microbiology quiz was on Thursday instead of Tuesday, but managed to pull a 23.5/25 score right outta my ass (so to speak), and that, ladies and germs, has made all the difference.

Okay, better run before my child's brain turns yet mushier.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

More Microbial Fun Fun Fun!

Took my first science quiz last Thursday. I am proud to say I got 23.5 out of a possible 25. I would have gotten 24.5 but I forgot to go back and finish one question. Urgh!

Of course, there was another quiz today that I was completely unaware of until about 90 minutes beforehand, but even that one seemed okay. I mean, I don't think I blazed any new trails in microbiology or anything, but I'm pretty sure I passed. We get to dump one quiz score so that might well be the one.

Today we looked at our petri dishes from last week. We were ostensibly "streaking for isolation." Mine were so very isolated that they didn't actually exist... so I'll need a bit of practicing. We also prepared slides for Gram staining, which should be fun with all the cute little squirty bottles of exciting colored dyes etc. Sadly, we skipped a step resulting in the ruination of three of our four slides, but we can re-do them on Thursday.

I would like to note that today was our first inaugural successful lighting of the Bunsen burner with no help from the instructor. This is an important milestone in any lab class participant's career and should be celebrated. We pondered the method of celebration: speechifying, presentation of certificates, ribbons, etc., on through fanfares and brass bands, and settled on a modest yet exuberant parade. Volunteers are encouraged to gather near the lab entrance this Thursday just before 7pm.

In other news: cute baby anecdote alert! This evening before leaving for school I was folding a quick load of laundry. The baby spotted a pajama shirt that she hasn't worn yet (a new hand-me-down from her cousin) and decided it was her coat. "My coat! My coat!" she demanded, until I handed it to her. As she held it out, eyeballing it appreciatively, I asked her if that was her coat. "I fink so!" was her very excited reply.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

We All Make Sacrifices for Freedom

In my case, it's my sweater.

We bought us up a pile of fireworks and went to light 'em this evening, with J's sister who lives across the street. Now, I'm from Oregon and as I said in last year's 4th of July post, Oregon fireworks just suck. I just can't even believe what is legal in Washington. It's unreal.

So for 28 bucks we got a pile of little odds and ends, your Ground Bloom Flowers, your Roman Candles, some Busy Bees, a few Strobes, a couple of those ones that shoot a zillion little rounds in the air -- plus a mortar with 6 rounds. J's sister spent a similar amount and got two of the mortars, with seven rounds apiece. You place the mortar in the supplied cardboard tube, light the long, long fuse, and wait. Ostensibly, a flaming ball shoots some 50+ feet in the air (by my admittedly crappy estimate) and then explodes into a shower of colored sparks, with or without crackles, whistling, what have you. These things only cost about six bucks a set, so each flaming ball sets you back only a dollar! This is why I love America. And China.

Okay, so it turns out that there's a right way to place the round in the mortar. And thus a wrong way. And J's sister S. and her husband had a little miscommunication about that, and a round was placed in the mortar upside down, and kaboom! The thing just blew all apart. The explosion happened as it would have in the air, but on the ground instead, and one of the long, flaming fingers of doom shot right at me and landed on my sweater. I could not get out of that lawn chair fast enough, but I managed to get it off me before it did more than leave a smallish mark on my favorite sweater. Hopefully most of the damage will wash out, but it's a casual sweater so I don't care all that much that it's got a bit of a blemish. It'll make for an interesting story anyway, i.e. "Did you know there's a little hole in your sweater?" "Funny you should mention that, it's an amusing story..." We all laughed about it for some time after, in that "Oh my God it could have been so much worse, but since nobody was hurt, wasn't that funny?!" way.

Later when our own pile was spent I tagged along with S. and son T. to the neighbor's. We live on a loop and there are a couple of families who really go all out with the pyrotechnics. This one set of neighbors pooled their funds to the tune of about 400 dollars and got many, many flaming shooting exploding crackling things. I only stayed 15 or 20 minutes but they set off probably a dozen rounds much larger than ours in that time.

This is one of those things where I'm kind of amazed at what we are allowed to do, along with pumping our own gas. Seriously, the potential for great bodily harm is so huge. My own step-nephew was injured with fireworks a number of years ago; of course, he was emptying a bunch of Whistling Petes of their gunpowder so as to make something highly illegal and destructive, so maybe he's not such a good example. (He was just engaging in some good old fashioned "let's blow shit up" teen behavior and not plotting anyone any harm, in case you're thinking he needs treatment or something. He suffers from a slightly underdeveloped Common Sense gland, maybe, but he's pretty normal otherwise.)

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Office Beautification

I said I'd post photos for my own personal gratification, and here they are. Bear in mind that it's just a bit of paint and some organization, I'm not claiming to be some fancy-schmancy interior decorator or anything. I just get a real sense of satisfaction having this pleasant, functional space. In fact I find myself stepping in and gazing upon it in wonderment from time to time. Sadly, I have no "before" pictures, but imagine a) white walls, b) junk everywhere, c) poorly arranged furniture, and d) no real floor space to speak of.

That being said, here we go:

The desk and shelves area. The computer under the desk is the one we're junking.

The computer we actually use, on an antique round oak table. I want to find a different configuration, the printer is crammed behind one of the massive, elderly speakers and is awkward to get to. But for now it will do.

My better half installed a clever hook for my portfolios to hang from, in some dead space along the side of the desk. She's very handy and smart.

Everything is aggressively organized and labelled. I hate having to rummage around any more than absolutely necessary. These little chests were purchased unfinished from I-Inexpensive-K-European-E-Megalo-A-Mart. I finished 'em up and I ruv them very much. The glass knobs on the blue one are antique, from some built-ins in my Mom's old house. She put new knobs on them for some reason and I ended up with the old ones.

Anyway thanks for looking. :)