Friday, December 30

Idiot travels to Iraq

Is this kid really that stupid? I thought that parents who gave birth to children this ridiculous were supposed to drown them when their level of idiocy reached its height. Perhaps the drowning is in the near future though, as Farris Hassan of Ft. Lauderdale is on his way home.
Hassan, in an ill-advised attempt to practice "immersion" journalism, decided that the best way to report on anything from Iraq was to, in fact, go to Iraq. Oh yeah, and the punchline: he's 16; left the country without his parents' knowledge; took a taxi from Kuwait City to the Iraqi border where he was turned away; and actually broke out an Arabic phrase book to ask for a menu from a street vendor.
If you haven't read about it yet, he e-mailed his mom after his departure; spent some time with family friends in Beirut; and flew into Baghdad to interview the people living there and the journalists covering the events. After his second night, he came across some AP reporters who were rightfully a bit concerned about why a so-obviously American kid was in a war zone by himself, and escorted him to the U.S. Embassy. Hassan left Baghdad this morning, and is on his way back to Florida.
Tell me, tell me, tell me that this kid is the idiot's exception to the rule, and that there are a lot smarter kids who can come up with much better ways to get extra credit in a journalism class.
Dude! You're in Florida! If you're looking for good news stories, check out Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama! I hear they've had a rough year there, too! And you don't have to bring an English-Arabic dictionary!

Thursday, December 29

Move not, tire not

By the time I got home last night, I had no energy or motivation to walk or take the T over to the theater, so we didn't go to the movies. I get out of work early tomorrow, so I'm hoping to feel better about going in the afternoon, but we'll see. Really, I've gotten super comfortable with being super lazy lately, and I don't think that's an entirely good, or bad, thing. So I've been sedentary, like a statue, or perhaps more like a moving display, and I'm not guilty over it. I'm not!
I heard on the news last night that there was a Christmas tree fire in the lobby of the Grand Californian hotel at Disneyland yesterday early morning. They showed some video of the huge tree, more kindling then, in the hotel's lobby. Mom and I like to stay at that hotel when we visit the Happiest Place on Earth, so I was saddened to see the beautiful lobby in such a state. (The lobby is pictured to the left ... without a charred tree.) Of course, after our last visit there and our disappointment with the entire Disney experience over those two days, I told Mom that it almost seems as though this incident should have happened when we were there. It would have been the perfect cherry on top.
Also, because I've become iTunes anally retentive, I spent a good portion of the last day downloading album art off the internet for my iPod. Come to find out that if you don't download the songs or album off iTunes, there is no way to get the album art onto the Pod, unless you've got it saved to your computer and you can attach it to the file from there. This huge project has already been started, and I'm dysfunctionally excited about downloading all the art off my e-mail and into my iTunes. Those who know me so well can appreciate how much fun I'll have doing this!

Wednesday, December 28

I am your father...

In a nifty twist of fate, Darth Vader goes from the universally feared "more machine now than man" to a plastic being on my desk spitting out strawberry candies to get me through the afternoon. It's really pretty cute, when you think about it: the way his little head bends back at the neck, kinda like a decapitation, but instead of leaking out a lot of icky blood, it's Pez that ventures forth from his plastic throat.
What an amazing contraption this is! Who invented Pez? Seriously! Will there ever be another treat that can so capture the innocence of a growing pop culture world than this simple candy in a freakishly cool delivery receptacle powered by little more than a finger? I think not!
There should be Pez heads for celebrities too though. But not just characters, like Luke Skywalker or Han Solo (in keeping with the Star Wars angle), but for the people themselves, like a Harrison Ford Pez head. To have candy spew forth from Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie; Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie; Britney and Kevin; our ridiculous president and his v.p.; Hal Fishman; George Clooney; or BONO would be so fun! This is a market in desperate need of being tapped by the Pez people! Such an idea!

Movie tonight

Brian has agreed, in principle, to go to the movies with me tonight! I am excited mainly because Brokeback Mountain has finally made the marquee at one of our local theaters, and I've been wanting to see it. I've heard such positive stuff about it, and I'm looking forward to seeing a good movie.
You know, as I was reading through my Entertainment Weekly last night, I realized that most of the movies they named on their "Best" list were mysteries to me. Not because I didn't know about them; on the contrary, I just hadn't made it to the theater to see them. That depresses me. I love going to the movies. Sometimes we get into a phase and don't go for a while -- but during that time when we go every weekend, I am the happiest person!
Yay: tonight at the movies!

Tuesday, December 27

Random Tuesday-ness

It's the first day back to work after the long holiday weekend, and I have to tell you, I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around doing anything productive. So here's a couple things floating around me, and the world, that seem fit to comment on:
* Dunkin Donuts makes a better hot chocolate than Starbucks.
* I always hated that my mom made me write thank-you notes to people. "Kimberly, have you done your thank-yous yet?" was a popular question in my house after birthdays and graduations. Of course, even complaining about the task, I always did them. Now, as a grown-up, I appreciate why the thank-you note was/is important. Seriously, I can name to you every person in the last five years to whom I have sent a wedding/baby/graduation/etc. gift, and not received a thank-you note. Is it because writing the thank-you was so important to my mom that receiving one has become so important to me? Perhaps, but I think a lot of it is just common courtesy. The task has become so ingrained that I spent last night writing out my thank-yous for the Christmas presents Brian and I received, so as to be sure that everyone gets them in a short amount of time.
* Biggest news of the day: Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has gone on record as saying that she'll start writing the final H.P. book next month! Wahoo! She says that she is both excited about, and dreading, writing the book, which I understand, as I am excited about, but also dreading, reading it. If you think about it, once this book is done, and at the printer, and finally on my bookshelf, it's kind of the end of an era. No more H.P. books to anticipate? It'll be nice to know how it ends, but yikes, waiting for the next Harry Potter has been such a part of my life over the last six or seven years!
* Brian bought me one of those iPod speaker systems for my desk at work, and I have to say, it's awesome. It's all set up and I've been rocking the "shuffle" setting all day so far. Besides the new Pod (Thanks, Mom!!), this is the best gift of the year!

Sunday, December 25

Heavy sigh

As Austin Powers would say, "And I'm spent!"
We were up at 8:30 this morning, which was ideal, since we stayed up until 12:30 last night drinking hot chocolate and watching television. All our presents were opened and trash was taken care of by 11, which also was perfect, although there is a ton of garbage hanging out in my pitifully small (and seemingly smaller tonight) entry way waiting for Tuesday. Our Christmas Day feast of BLTs and other assorted snack foods were delectably wonderful for lunch and for getting us through the afternoon. We kinda flaked out on a proper dinner, as I was wanting to finish a book (PopCo; I don't recommend it too highly, as there was a whole lot of math), and Brian was cussing and moaning his way through the last bits of a video game. But right now, it's after 9, and Christmas is about over. And I'm done. Exhausted; bleary-eyed; sorta claustrophobic since we spent all day indoors; and struggling with a bit of a "been sitting all day, have you?" headache. I'm hoping to take a nice walk tomorrow, and maybe drag Brian over to the Burberry sale or something. We must spend at least a few minutes outside!
As for my feeling of odd Christmas melancholy, I think Brian described it best as saying that it's just because, for us, today was like any other day. Even if it was Christmas, we spent a majority of the day doing what we normally do: reading and playing video games. No gatherings to attend, no big dinners, no family insanity. So between the two of us, we've decided that next year, no matter where we are, we'll be Christmas-ing with the family. Just saying it, and deciding that together, makes me feel better for next year. I'll be looking forward to it!
I hope you all had a good holiday, too!

Saturday, December 24

The Eve

So, here it is, Christmas Eve. Kids are starting to go a little crazy; parents are getting no sleep tonight; NORAD has begun to ready its Santa tracking. (Check it out at As for Brian, Oliver and I, we've done our errands for the day, and are all ready for our night of waiting for Santa to visit. I think I'll crack open the window for him to get in, since our fireplaces are both closed up by the building's management.
We stopped at the pet shop and picked up some goodies for Ollie to unwrap tomorrow, too, so he'll also have some fun. I wrapped the Christmas treats to eat in tissue paper and put them at the bottom of his gift bag of new toys, so we're hoping for some fun entertainment in watching him dig through to get to them.
Brian's mixed some more chocolate chip cookie dough to bake later; I've got my fudge in the fridge cooling; our house smells like a deliciously festive mix of chocolate and Christmas tree; and all is happy for our little holiday! Yay!

Since I knew we were heading over to the pet shop today, and that part of our holiday preparation would focus on Ollie, I dedicated today's Christmas sock to the all-mighty puppy. See? He's wearing a Santa hat, and even has a present sitting next to him! (Of course, my Christmas puppy is currently sleeping on the floor next to me, all tired and napping because he got to go with us in the car today.)

Friday, December 23

Fine. Here it is.

I don't want you all to whine, so here's a picture of today's sock: black background; Santa in his red suit; silver sparkly snowflakes; and red "ho, ho, ho" on the sole. And because I made you wait until the end of the day, you even get to see the whole foot. Don't ever say I don't treat you all with the love you deserve. ~ mwah ~

Four-day weekend begins!

Here's a picture of a guinea pig dressed up in a Santa suit.
I've taken today off from work, so, as I've not even put on my shoes for the day's adventures, there is no Santa sock yet. Our activities though, will be lunch and the grocery store, so as to fill up the fridge for the weekend. Beyond that, we've got no real agenda, so who knows what kind of trouble we may get into?
All our presents are underneath the tree, and I'm looking forward to digging in to them in a couple days. Brian's even wrapped his gifts for me, and he did a good job of them, too!
But for goodness sake! Would the big dickhead who stole the penguin from the zoo in England just return the animal already? Seriously! What kind of monster are you? Make that my Christmas wish, okay? -- (Update: I've read that the afore-mentioned monster/shit called the zoo and said that he'd dropped the penguin into the harbor. Sailors, scientists and zoo officials are looking for it now.)

Thursday, December 22

Why for Christmas?

I was listening to one of those all-Christmas, all-the-time radio stations this morning on my way in to work, and I had a thought about a couple songs I heard. What makes a song such as "My Favorite Things," "Let it Snow," or "Baby, it's Cold Outside," a Christmas song? There's no mention of the holiday in any of them, yet they're all played regularly during this time of year. There's no love of jingling bells, silent nights or reindeers put to music, and no fuzzy religious connotations: just raindrops and puppies, snow, and some guy trying to get some action from his prudish girlfriend. Is it just because someone, some mythical someone, decided that these songs sound Christmas-y? Couldn't they just be considered "winter" carols and featured anytime from the first snowfall to last snowfall, or just anytime, as for "Things"?
(And bonus points for those who will also make note that "My Favorite Things" is from The Sound of Music, a movie involving not only an almost-nun who turns away from the convent, but Nazis; an unnerving use of string puppets; horrificly green playclothes; and a German baroness who's just mean. Nothing at all in the spirit of the holiday.)

Now, the beauty of today's sock is that it features Olive, the Other Reindeer. For those who don't know the story, Olive is a dog, who didn't know she was a dog, and who figured that she must be a reindeer, based on the evidence of the line from the Rudolph song, "...all of the other reindeer...." (Trust me; if you sing it, it sounds right.) Anyway, in the story, Olive makes her way to the North Pole, meets Mr. Martini the penguin along the way, and saves Christmas from a nefarious postman. It's a totally cute story, and the little movie is adorable, so the socks were a must-buy when I saw them at the store.

Wednesday, December 21

Wed.'s Santa socks

Today's sock is a wild, busy and fantastical tableau of Santa and his "ho, ho, ho." He's waving at everyone who glimpses my ankles; he boasts a beard a bit grayer than other Santas, making him a rebel Santa; and he also has a silver, sparkly belt buckle. Good stuff!

Tuesday, December 20

Buffalo turd

I made a chocolate cake last night for our Christmas party today. I added some chocolate chips into the mix, and it's got a good amount of chocolate frosting on it. I strategically placed some candy canes on the top of it, too, to make it a bit more festive. Since after I made the cake, I actually took it out of the pan and frosted it around the sides and on top, I was pretty proud of myself. It's a good looking cake, I think.
My husband however, in his most nurturing, sweet and loving way, said it looks like a buffalo turd. Great. I mean, I love the chocolate cake, and anything that's big and brown like this does tend to resemble something you'd more likely see in a pasture than on a dessert table, but really, to just throw it out there, when I'm all proud of it? You know what that means, right? He gets none. No leftovers brought home to Brian tonight! Hah!!

Also, here's today's Christmas sock. It's one of an older pair, but much loved for about four years or so. Notice the lights and the silver strings between them. The strings, I'll have you know, sparkle. A work of art.

Monday, December 19

Six days and counting

I've got to tell you, I'm getting super excited about Christmas this year. The holiday is a bit of a drag since we're so far from the family, and we don't get to be caught up in the togetherness of the celebrations, but still, I'm getting pretty geeked up about it.
Could it be that just the build-up of the festivities this week, including the work party tomorrow and my four-day weekend, are enough to make my heart skip a beat when I hear a carol? Or is it the snow still on the ground, nip in the air, and general merriment in the steps of people passing by? Whatever it is and for whatever reason ... this year, I'm hooked on the enthusiasm.
And in the spirit of the five days this week leading up to the Christmas weekend, I'm wearing a different pair of Christmas socks to work every day. Today's are a new pair that I got from Mom on Friday, and feature a creepy video-game Santa on a red background.

Going to the chapel

I read this morning that Elton John and his partner, David Furnish, are going to form a civil partnership in England on Wednesday. John expressed joy that he was able to make this kind of commitment to Furnish, and vice versa, and was quoted as saying that he wished other gays could also take this step, and that he felt sorry for the many others in countries that prohibit such unions (cough-cough, U.S.). I'll tell you something: I feel bad for the people not allowed to marry, or make a commitment on that level with the people they love because their countries prohibit it, too.
I remember several years ago, talking with a friend who had been in a long-standing homosexual relationship, and us discussing the fact that these two people, no matter how much they loved each other, could not marry. It's a shame really, that such rampant prejudice, on a governmental level, still exists (of course, all kinds of prejudice still exists, but let's focus on this for now). Nothing makes a gay person any different in the eyes of the law: they pay taxes, they hold jobs and own property, they are members of their community, they serve in the military, they vote. Because of that, they should be able to marry whoever they want.
Opponents say that a gay marriage cheapens the sanctity of marriage. I say it strengthens it. If you look at a majority of the monogamous gay relationships, so many have lasted longer than any heterosexual relationship. Look around, and you'll see several man/woman marriages that cheapen the relationship more than any gay couple could.
There are only one or two things in this world that really make me want to live in another society, and in another time. The acceptance of a gay partnership in England makes me want to be there, and pay my taxes there, rather than here, where the government treats a portion of its population differently by not allowing them the right to spend their lives with someone, and make a legal commitment to each other, as it does others.
I do have confidence in the people of the United States on this though. I believe that the anti-gay marriage movement will eventually cease to exist. It will take years, a shift in the country's overall demographic, and new and open-minded politicians. These changes are already happening, too. Massachusetts and Vermont have begun the slow turnaround by allowing civil unions, and granting marriage certificates. Someday, everyone who wants to get married will be able to. I just hope that I am alive to see it.

Saturday, December 17

Christmas shopping

I finished my Christmas shopping this afternoon! Yay!
Mom's done; Brian's done; and Howie's done. And yes, I'm done, too. I usually avoid spending any part of the last weekend before Christmas in the mall, but as Christmas lands on a Sunday next week, my timeline was completely messed, and it could not be helped. I'm really excited about the selection of gifts I've got going on this year, and am anxious for the day of the opening. I think Brian will be pretty surprised by a couple of my choices for him, though I know that he'll like them.
The mall itself though, was not the zoo I had thought it might be. The shops opened at 8 this morning, and when I arrived about 9:30, the shops were still pretty empty. Actually, even at noon when Brian met me for lunch, the place wasn't as insane as I've known malls to be right before the holiday. A refreshing change! (As a veteran shopper, I get very frustrated and annoyed with being jostled too much in a store, and do not hesitate to drop my stuff and leave if it gets too uncomfortable and crowded.)
Cut to this afternoon, and I still had another idea or two to act on, so I also walked up to the other mall this afternoon, to finish up the last of the shopping. Thankfully, the one thing I was looking for was at the store, and some other pleasant surprises were found, so all in all, it was a very successful day!
(Hey! Wave at Santa! He's saying "Hi" to you!!)

Friday, December 16


There's really no better way to get through a rainy, crappy day outside than to be inside rocking out to Madonna. What I'm listening to now is GHV2: Greatest Hits, Volume 2, which includes songs such as Deeper and Deeper; Beautiful Stranger (one of my faves, and current ring tone); Frozen; Ray of Light; and Don't Tell Me. Her new album, Confessions on a Dance Floor, is awesome, but it's in the car, which is outside, so I won't be going out to get it. But I recommend it highly; it's a kicky CD with a ton of dance tracks.
I tell you, one of these days, my kids will say, "Mom, you listened to Madonna? Cool!"
Yeah, I know.

Monkey movies

So King Kong opens this weekend, and it seems as though it will take the movie-going populace by storm. The premieres have been huge; I read that the New York event actually shut down Times Square traffic, or something like that.
I don't know .... I'm really kind of lukewarm about the entire experience. This kind of reaction to an "event" movie is out of character for me, as I'm usually in line for Saturday morning's first showing when an epic hits the streets.
Really, I think it might have more to do with my general aversion to monkey movies. Now don't get all excited, yes, there is a difference between a "monkey" and the mammoth-ness that is Kong, but I've got to tell you, I don't enjoy the monkey movie. Every Which Way But Loose; Ed (which also stars Matt LeBlanc -- a double minus); Dunston Checks In; Planet of the Apes; Monkeybone; and George of the Jungle should all be used as torture devices. (I actually just Googled "monkey movies," and that's a portion of the listing that I got.)
But back to Kong, and a point of full disclosure: I've never seen the first King Kong, so maybe that's why I'm not all that anxious for this one. Truthfully, my complete apathy for this film is a bit fascinating to me. I think Brian may be interested in seeing it, and if he mentions it, I'll probably go because it's gotten some good reviews, but you know, I won't be going ape over it. (BAH!!)

Thursday, December 15

Expensive chew toy

It's not very often that Ollie does anything bad, or anything that could even be considered wrong. So when a misstep does come along, and he's at fault for being less-than perfect, B and I really just take it with a shrug of the shoulders, and don't sweat it all that much. Rarely does he even get any discipline for it, as most times it's because...well, he's still a dog, and it's probably somewhat our fault anyway.
I dumped out my gym bag last night on the bed, ended up getting sidetracked for a few hours by dinner, a movie and some Internet Christmas shopping, but then finally made my way back to the chore I had started, and resumed sorting through the bag and getting it ready for the next trip to the gym. That's when I saw it, one of my iPod earpieces broken in two. Characteristically, the first thing I thought was that Brian must have landed on it while playing around with Ollie, and that it was crushed into death. But upon mine and Brian's further examination, yes, we found teeth marks on both earpieces.
"Hmmm," we thought, "teeth marks can mean only one thing: the Beast had enjoyed a very expensive chew toy." We really could only look at him and laugh about it, as it was such a random thing for him to dig in to. But this morning, having stopped at the Apple web site and learned that replacement pieces will cost me $40, the tale is still funny, but a bit pricier than it was last night!

Wednesday, December 14

Bad gift idea

On the radio this morning, because it's getting to be that time of year, I heard an ad for a Christmas gift that the announcer swore, "the woman in your life will love you for." The product was a gift certificate to a laser hair removal boutique. *huh?*
As much as I believe that lingerie is a gift a man gives himself, I also believe that if a woman knows she has a moustache and/or crazy out-of-control pubic or leg hair, and she wants to take care of it, she will. Really, it's not so much up to the man in her life to give her the gift of laser hair removal, and that goes especially for any situation in which she hasn't said anything about it.
If she says, specifically, "Darling, my pubic hair is too wild and bushy, and I hate shaving and grooming it, so I must have a gift certificate to have it removed by a laser for Christmas," then, by all means, the man should go ahead and buy it. But unless she spells it out in such a way, a physical improvement (if it is indeed something that she thinks needs to be improved on) gift such as that will do little more than throw her into a self-esteem spiral about what else her man may think is wrong with her.
Really, I was just thinking about the girls who might be on the receiving end of this gift, after their well-meaning men believed the obvious lie on the radio, and felt kind of bad for them. So if I can help in any small way, I will do it. Sisters looking out for each other.

Tuesday, December 13

Cool rider

In Grease 2, Michelle Pfeiffer sings an incredibly bad song, titled, "Cool Rider." The song refers to her need, desire and yearning for a good motorcycle rider to come into her life, essentially sweep her off her feet, and then they would ride away together. Today, I experienced a completely different kind of cool ride.
Here, in Massachusetts during the winter, as a common occurrence, the mechanical aspects of a car tend to freeze. A popular peeve is windows that freeze shut, and the several minutes and most of the drive to work it takes for them to thaw enough to open and shut, and to do it without making a horrible clunking, cracking ice-type of sound.
This morning, when I went to crack open the rear passenger window, and it didn't go down at all, I checked it off to the extreme cold, waited a few minutes, and then held down the button again. The window went down about three inches, which was a bit more than what I wanted, but then wouldn't go back up. Umm, yeah, it's cold. "Window, roll up."
I tried to make it go down more, assuming that in doing so, the window may go up all the way. You know, the zipper solution. Window goes down another three inches, and again refuses to go up. So now I'm driving to work, window in the car open six or seven inches, on a highway, freezing my butt, and no way to fix it unless I pull off the road. I arrived at work, and was able to shake, rattle and pull the window up those first three inches, but then it was stuck for good, and it had to stay as it was all day.
Trip home: window still wouldn't go up; hat, gloves and visible breath the whole trip home. Brr. My knight in shining armor was able to pull and finagle the window closed when I got home, but I still am not trusting it enough to test it on an open-and-shut experiment.
I've written up a little tag/sticker for that window's button to ensure that I don't open it again, and we'll just add that little malfunction to the list of random things broken on the car. You know, in the sunny states, one never has to worry about the car breaking from the cold.

Monday, December 12

Snowball fight

This time of year, my Inbox begins to overflow with fun Christmas games and e-mails. The first and best so far this year is this snowball fight on the Elf web site: Have fun, and be careful not to hit Santa three times, or you'll be out of the game!

Sunday, December 11

Most of mission accomplished

Do you hear that? That is the sound of a productive day. And the relieved sigh of an anal-retentive Christmas freak who just couldn't live with getting less than a full 14 hours' worth of activities done and crossed off the list.
There, to the left, is the finished Christmas tree. Note that it sits in front of the window, a common practice here, so people on the street can look up at the beautiful trees! Lovely!
Here's what we took care of today:
Target -- more tree lights, check; paper goods, check; Christmas card ordering and pick up, check; Seven for $9, and The Cannonball Run for only $5.50, check.
Providence Place -- actually beginning Christmas shopping, and other gift ideas for the family, check.
Tree decorating -- all the lights are up, and all the ornaments are strategically placed, check.
Christmas cards -- addressed, stuffed, stamped and ready to go out tomorrow, check.
Laundry, dishwasher and other housewifery stuff -- ugh, but check.
A shorter list of things to do have I, so a much happier camper am I. A perfect Sunday!!

Saturday, December 10

Tree day

Frustration, thy name is "not realizing that there aren't enough lights for the whole Christmas tree until two-thirds of it is done and it's too late to give up the parking spot to venture out to Target." So, duh. Not enough lights to finish the tree, so all the ornaments and everything will have to wait until tomorrow, too. Damn. I hate that the tree is sitting out there, only half dressed, and that I have to deal with finishing it tomorrow. I mean, the tree decorating was supposed to be today's activity! Now what? I had an unproductive day (sort of), and I had hoped to do so much more!
Anyway, we have a cute, six-foot tree that looks comfy, cozy in our living room corner. It's a bit thicker and more robust than Charlie Brown's tree, and we're able to put more decorations on it than he and Linus can on theirs, but it's still smaller than the last couple years' trees. (Smaller also because we were lacking our tree-helping elves, Jon and Emily, who didn't fly in from their new home in Houston to help us. *sigh*)
So this gives me a hell of a list for Sunday, including: Target to order Christmas cards, buy paper goods because we're suddenly all out of the stuff, and more tree lights; Providence for some lunch and Christmas shopping; and then back home to finish the tree decorating, address my card envelopes, do laundry and other housewifery duties. My docket is full, Brian has to go along for the ride, and ideally, tomorrow night I'll feel so much more accomplished than I do tonight!

Friday, December 9

Hot Irish guy

I've been trolling my usual Web sites this morning, and on, there is a slideshow of the exiting music critic's 10 favorite U2 shows. This is a picture of Bono, circa 1984, that they had on the site. All young, sweaty, passionate and energized, he's too hot. I thought I'd share.

Time to build a snowman

So the first big, huge snowstorm is upon us, and it's got everyone in a tizzy. There was about an inch of the powdery white on the ground when Ollie and I went out this morning, and the snowfall has not stopped. The drive to work was slow, though not too perilous. A good number of people chose to not drive in at all, and I envy them. There was about two inches of snow in the office parking lot, which as of 9 hadn't been plowed yet, and I'll have to wipe another four inches or so off the car when I'm ready to leave today. "They" say that we may get as much as 12 inches out of this storm.
Things to do to prepare for the official snow:
1. Move shovel from balcony to backseat of car.
2. Move window scraper from backseat to under driver's seat in the front.
3. Double-check windshield cleaning fluid.
4. Spread out towels at each door into the apartment: from balcony into bedroom for Oliver's snow drops, and at front door for our wet and dripping shoes.
Some of these things, you may say, should have been done before the first snowflake fell, but I simply do not work that way. I prefer to not do those things until I'm absolutely sure that it will snow this winter, and for that kind of assurance, I had to wait until it actually did start to snow.

Thursday, December 8

Dentist appointment

It's a hard life sometimes, being the wife of a dental student. It means that, at least a couple times, said wife is asked to come in for a procedure to be graded on by the instructors. I know, I know. You all think, "I would never let my spouse freedom in my mouth with a moving instrument." Only a couple years ago, I would have been standing in front of the group saying that exact thing.
This evening, I had my second appointment with my dentist/hubby for a routine cleaning. This trip was more comfortable than the first, and I've got to tell you that, as a dentist, my husband has a gentle touch, and seems to be good at what he's doing. My frame of reference is a bit skewed though, as I've never had a cavity or any work done in my mouth. (My regular dentist in California told me that I would be the worst kind of dental student wife, because my teeth had nothing wrong with them.)
So B did the cleaning, polishing and a bit of scraping; I got a lecture on the importance of flossing more often; we got through the grading process with only one quizzing question and flying colors; and it's official: I make him more nervous than any other patient simply because he has to go home with me if he accidentally jabs me in the gums or something.

Celebrities who bug

(We had a spirited meeting this morning, so forgive me if I'm a bit spikey today.)
I admit to being an entertainment addict. I love the television, movies, music, books and theater -- and keeping up with all those pursuits is a full-time hobby. Today's news is from the world of music.
The Grammy nominations were announced this morning, and Mariah Carey came away with eight nods. For the record: Mariah Carey bugs me. She always has. Is it the hair, tan and teeth? The penchant for wearing the same dress style, and striking the same pose, for most every photo op? The absolute driving necessity to bare as much skin as possible, whether the occasion and weather calls for it or not? Hmm. Really, her clothing choices are tacky; she's as full of herself as Jennifer Lopez (and that's saying something); she tries to be hardcore, but after dueting with Boyz II Men that's really not possible; and she fancies herself some kind of butterfly/Bond hotty who floats above other mere mortals. And her music is bad. Ask me when this opinion developed, and I'll tell you that I don't remember exactly, just that I've harbored it for years, and that it's not likely to abate. I just know that when I see her picture, or hear her voice, I physically cringe, and move as fast as possible to remove the offending image or noise from my vicinity. (I only post her photo for your reference, not at all because I want to.)
But most everyone has a celebrity or two that bugs them, and for no real reason ... just because. Mom is bugged by Nicole Kidman and Jim Carrey. Pamela is bugged by Paris Hilton. Alison revealed once that she's bugged by Renee Zellwegger. Amy doesn't like Brad Pitt.
Other Grammy nominations went to the best band in the world, U2 (who racked up five); Gwen Stefani for her album Love. Angel. Music. Baby.; Paul McCartney; and Green Day. Of course, if U2 is going to play the award show (Feb. 8), I'll be watching for them. But if they're not on the bill, I'll sit this one out. Must stay away from Mariah... must stay away from Mariah...

Wednesday, December 7

Odd twins: part 1

A smiling Saddam Hussein, or Mel Gibson?
You decide.

Captured by J.Lo.

While I'm not a card-carrying member of PETA (and I believe that the group does go to extremes some times), I do agree that fake fur is the way to go when it comes to clothing and such. The group has recently been attacking Jennifer Lopez, as her clothing line uses a generous amount of fur in its designs. I'm all for attacking J.Lo., if not simply because she seems to be getting way too full of herself, and this new game is an excellent way to spend an afternoon when one should be working. I'm serious, check it out. The idea is to free all the animals and educate all the workers in J.Lo.'s factory before she captures you. I've gotten so far as a couple animals yet to be saved, but Pamela is the superior player so far with getting to only one animal left. Also part of the fun is changing who you are, and what you look like, before setting out on your quest.

Tuesday, December 6

Snowflakes and new cats and icebergs, oh my!

It's officially winter in New England. There was a good-size snow storm Saturday into Sunday this past weekend, dropping a couple inches, and it's snowing again this morning. The weather reported that we'd have a huge blizzard today, but we didn't... or at least, we haven't yet. (This is a picture of a house and small park I pass on my way to work.) Yesterday morning, Dec. 5, was the first morning in which I had to scrape ice off my windshield this season. Yay. I guess it's time to break out the winter coats, hats, gloves and scarves.

I'm having a hard time coming up with gift ideas for Mom for Christmas. As she said yesterday, she's usually got a nice list and a few catalogs with corners folded over: a veritable cascade of gift ideas for myself and Brian. This year, so far: nothing. I spent some time thinking last night though and came up with a couple good ideas. (Not for nothing is my desire for a new iPod: one with color and video capabilities. I must be able to watch LOST on my iPod! Awesome!!) (This paragraph could be some kind of record for most properly used instances of the colon, too!)

They've discovered a new animal in the forests of East Kalimantan, in and around Borneo, called the red Bornean carnivore. Here's a picture of it. The eyes are reflecting the flash from the camera, and that's its long tail going up to the right. They say it's about the size of, or a bit bigger than, a cat. I love that scientists and explorers are finding new species of mammals and animals! I love that there are things in this world that we still know nothing about! I fear for their lives though, now that humans know they exist. I mean really, we pretty much destroy everything we touch.

Along those lines, some other scientists and explorers are saying that the Titanic broke up into three pieces instead of two, and that the great ship sank much faster than they had believed. My most favorite quote about the whole thing though comes from the guy would discovered the wreck in 1985. Said Robert Ballard, "They found a fragment, big deal. Am I surprised? No. When you go down there, there's stuff all over the place. It hit an iceberg and it sank. Get over it." The History Channel was the first to find and explore the new fragment.

They're legally hunting black bears in New Jersey. That sucks. Apparently, the bear population, after rebounding from numbers nearing extinction, is encroaching on the humans living nearby. I suppose that because they rebounded so well, it's time to start killing them again?

Monday, December 5

Holiday floral

My mom enjoys her floral class, and every week she comes home with something cool, pretty and interesting. Here is last week's arrangement, complete with some nifty-looking white birch.

Sick jumps

I tried snowboarding once, a few years ago, and discovered that, as a life-long skier, I just couldn't get it. The edge is different, and the body movement is different, and I just had a hard time grasping it. Brian's always been quite good at it, and of that, I'm jealous.
So yesterday, in my continuing bid for wife of the year, I accompanied my snowboarder to the movies to watch First Descent, a documentary following five snowboarders free riding in the Alaskan mountains, and the history and evolution of snowboarding in general. I was the only girl in the theater, and there were about 12 other guys there, including two guys about our age; a group of three or four teenagers; and two younger boys who had dragged along their dad.
The movie itself was better than I had thought it would be (though I was painfully aware of the two-hour length), and the mountains they glided through were beautiful. You really can't go wrong, when it comes to scenery, with a topic like snowboarding in Alaska.
What the movie did do was re-acquaint me with my own failure to learn this sport. I'm thinking that another lesson could do me well, as I'd love to be able to rip up the mountains the way these riders do. And what would be cuter than Brian and I boarding down a mountain with our own little riders following? That actually, is one of the reasons why I'd like to try it again.
This picture is one from the movie, of one of the boarders performing a sick jump.

Saturday, December 3

It's beginning to look a lot like...

Christmas! I decorated our home for the holiday today! Wahoo!! (My anal-retentive rule is that the decorating must be done on the first Saturday of December--not a day before.)
This is a pain-staking and time-consuming activity that I thoroughly enjoy, simply because of the moment when everything is done and set out all pretty, and I can finally sit back and just look at it.
This year though, was a departure for me, in that Brian was home during the whole process. We usually try to work it so he's out at the library or seeing a patient while I decorate, simply because he (1.) gets in my way, and (2.) likes to be surprised by the Christmas explosion when he gets home. For him, the house just goes from normal to "Santa-terrific" while he's gone, and that preserves some of the magic to the holiday for both of us. But instead, he set up camp on the sofa all day, because really it was super cold out too, and watched the whole thing come to be. It made it less fun for him, and it kinda fried my nerves, simply because this process makes a huge mess, and takes a good four hours, and....well...I'd rather listen to Christmas carols and holiday CDs then college football.
So here are a couple of my favorite decorations for the holiday. The angel is actually a tree-topper that Mom bought me at the Price Club, back when it was the Price Club, which is at least 15 years ago. She plugs in, and has the most beautiful lights that glow from under her dress, and also moves her arms and wings in a most quiet, subtle and serene way. (Brian gets kinda creeped out by her, but I love her.) The stocking holders in the next picture are new, and the lights are there all year long, but I'm just really happy with how festive my mantle looks this year. Those are both mine and Brian's stockings.
Anyway, the whole place is very Christmas-y now, as is the pooch!
(Ack! A headless, tiny, barking, reindeer!! Flee!! Run for your lives!!!)

Friday, December 2

A funny thing happened...

So I hesitate to start this story like this, but the weirdest thing happened to me in the shower last night. A preface: Oliver doesn't like the bathroom door closed, so if it's the slightest bit ajar, he'll push his way in. If either of us are in the shower, he'll get up on his back legs, rest his chest and front legs along the tub, and peer at us around the shower curtain. Really, it's pretty cute. Yes, we splash him sometimes, but it's failed to discourage this behavior.
Last night, as I'm in there soaping, Ollie comes in the bathroom and hops up along the tub. In my conversing with him (you know, "What ya doing, you little pervert?" kind of stuff), I drop the soap. My first thought whenever this happens is to think of the sage advice given to every movie character going into prison, "Don't drop the soap." Anyway, it slips out my hands and the corner of this fresh bar of Lever 2000 bounces on the top of my foot and skitters along the tub floor. Um, ouch. I didn't really think too much of it until a couple minutes go by and my foot's still hurting. I mean, this is pretty random. By the time I'm out of the shower, my foot is starting to swell (no kidding!). I sheepishly tell Brian about the hurting foot, and show him the swelling, and am told in no uncertain terms that I'm a wimp made of glass. But seriously, my foot hurts.
Today, if you can believe it, there's a damn bruise on the top of my foot where ths soap hit it! This could go down as the most random bruise ever! Really! And the shoes that tie along the top of the foot aren't helping me at all either. I don't know how well you'll be able to see in either of the pictures, but there is a bruise there. Amy can verify, as I took my shoe and sock off to show her this afternoon while sharing the story.


Like I don't pay enough money to Comcast already. The company, followed by all the other leech-like cable companies, is raising its rates by 6 percent next year. Grr. Brian and I were just grumbling about our $177 cable/internet bill last night, and now the bastards are going to raise the rates. Here's the link to the article, This is just not cool. (Before you all flip out, I'll tell you why our bill is so expensive. High-speed internet; one DVR cable box and another regular cable box in the bedroom; HBO and Cinemax; extended channels. B and I love the television.)

Here's a picture of the Obelisk of Buenos Aires, taken yesterday in recognition of World AIDS Day. Wrapped around it is the biggest pink condom ever.

Bad traffic

Traffic, I can handle. I mean, I've lived in Southern California, and I can handle traffic. There's no such thing really as bad traffic, because it's all bad, and it's all traffic. No one goes anywhere, and time does nothing but tick away.
This morning, as I cruised up onto Storrow Drive on my way to work, brake lights illuminated everywhere around me, and the cars came to a halt. It's notable because there is rarely traffic along this road in this direction, since I go against traffic to the workplace. But Storrow is one of those roads that once you get on, there are no offramps for a mile or so, and once you're on, you're on. The cars stopping and jockeying for position did not concern me so much -- as the traffic, like I said, I can handle.
It was the gas gauge screaming at me that there was no gas in the car that was worrying me. I knew, on my way home last night, that I would have to get gas this morning. (In a personality quirk exactly like my mother, I hate, absolutely hate, to get gas until the light comes on.) The light wasn't on yet when I hit this wall of traffic, but I knew that it was only a matter of minutes, and that if I ran out of gas in the midst of this traffic, the good people of Boston would kill me. No joke, they would end my life.
But more annoying than that was the fact that, having maneuvered into the traffic and started inching along, we, 20 minutes later, finally got to that point in the traffic where, for no apparent reason, the slow down just ends, and cars are able to speed up and go about their business at a regular clip. This is the aspect of traffic that bugs me more than anything. I mean, if I'm going to be sitting in the damn traffic, I want to see the reason why everyone slowed down in the first place! I want to see the carnage, the flat tire, the person getting the ticket, or even the fender bender! I want to know what made me later to work!! I do not accept that it was something that I couldn't see. I don't accept that!!
(By the way, the gauge light went on just as I was pulling into the gas station, and I was still late, but on a good note, hadn't been killed by an angry mob.)

Thursday, December 1

I pity the fool who gets lost

This, seriously, could be the coolest thing that our new technology could come up with. According to an article on today, and the companies it quotes, you can now buy celebrity voices for the GPS systems in your car. And yes, Mr. T is one of the voices up for sale. That, to me, is too hysterical. "Turn left in 500 feet, fool!" That's just funny. Mom's GPS has this irritating woman, with really no personality whatsoever, droning on and on about where the right turn is, how far it is until you reach your intersection or highway junction, and that we should turn around in a legal U-turn because we are obviously very lost. We've been trying to come up with a name for this lady, but have yet to agree on anything. (I suggested Gypsy, in what I considered a fit of brilliance, what with the "g," "p" and "s" in the name, but Mom kinda poo-pooed it.) Anyway, if we had Mr. T, or Burt Reynolds, who also lent his voice to a company, we'd not have to come up with a name at all. It would just be, "Whatever, Burt! We're going our own way!" or, "Shut up, Mr. T! It's all about us!!" And really, it's just a matter of time until they can manufacture anyone's voice for these programs. If one of these companies manages to figure out how to get Elvis to tell me I need to be ready to merge right, I'm all over it.

Panda cub!

This is giant panda cub Tai Shan, in his indoor enclosure at the National Zoo in Washington on Nov. 29. The four-and-a-half-month-old cub made his media debut today in front of 100 members of the press. Tai Shan will meet the general public on Dec. 8.

Wednesday, November 30

Random Wednesday-ness

A few things:

1. I've thrown myself to the wolves for you all, and I hope you appreciate it. I've been listening to Lindsay Lohan's new CD, A Little More Personal, on this afternoon, and I have to tell you, it's not good. See the sacrifices I make to keep you all from hurting yourselves? It's a mixture of pop-awful and dance tunes on meds, with the exception of two covers: I Want You to Want Me, and Edge of Seventeen. It's no irony that the only two decent tracks are songs that other people have written and performed before.

2. We discussed "TV boyfriends" at lunch today, and I thought I'd let the world in on everyone's favorite crush. Sarah likes Julian McMahan from Nip/Tuck. Pamela is partial to Matthew Fox, far left, from Lost; Jamie Bamber from Battlestar Galactica; and Michael Vartan, formerly of the now-cancelled Alias. Nicole likes Michael Weatherly from NCIS. And me? Jason Bateman, near left, from Arrested Development (don't laugh!); Josh Duhamel from Las Vegas; and Matt Czuchry from Gilmore Girls (not quite as cute as Joshua Jackson, the crush-worthy Pacey from Dawson's Creek, but a close second).

3. Once again, Julia Roberts has been named to highest-paid actress in Hollywood. Really, I just don't get it. I like a couple of her movies, but rarely has one been worth its price in popcorn. (I still react violently to Ocean's Twelve's jumping the shark plotline.) So many others deserve to be making that kind of cash, including Kate Winslet, one of the best of our generation; Reese Witherspoon (when not making "Blonde" flicks); and Renee Zellwegger (who, I'm sure, has some hefty alimony checks to write to Mr. Kenny). Others in the highest-paid list include: Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron, Jodie Foster, Reese and Renee, Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Angelina Jolie, and Jennifer Aniston.

TSA relaxing rules

Does this mean I can carry my tweezers on board a plane again?

Hurricane season ends today

Finally! Hurricane season is officially over today! Has anyone told Mother Nature? Is she aware that she can stop beating the hell out of the Gulf Coast, and finally settle back down again? Jeez! What got her in such a mood this year?
Here's the final tally on this year's season (courtesy of the AP):
* In 154 years of record-keeping, this year had the most named storms (26, including Tropical Storm Epsilon, which formed Tuesday), the most hurricanes (13), the highest number of major hurricanes hitting the U.S. (4), and the most top-scale Category 5 hurricanes (3).
* Katrina was the deadliest U.S. hurricane since 1928 (more than 1,300 dead) and replaced 1992's Andrew as the most expensive one on record ($34.4 billion in insured losses).
* Total insured losses from hurricanes this year were put at $47.2 billion, above the previous record of $22.9 billion set last year when four hurricanes also hit the U.S., according to risk-analysis firm ISO.
* Wilma was briefly the most intense Atlantic hurricane on record in terms of minimum central pressure (882 millibars). It also was the fastest-strengthening storm on record — its top sustained winds increased 105 mph in 24 hours in the Caribbean.
* Forecasters exhausted their list of 21 proper names (Arlene, Bret, Cindy and so on) and had to use the Greek alphabet to name storms for the first time.

Tuesday, November 29

The dog party

My friend, Alison, has a sister that loves her dog, Macy. She treats Macy like a child, and just last night, hosted a party for the her first birthday. (You may not be able to see clearly, but the image on this piece of cake is actually of Macy in a "Happy Birthday" hat.) I asked Alison to write up a report on the party, and to submit it as the very first guest-written entry into the blog:

Little Macy wore a pink Swarovski diamond collar, and the gifts that she received included: a pink purse; a "whoopee" frog; teenie weenie greenies (dog treat); a Green baby doll (makes her sleep well); a family wall plaque, so she has a pic to remember them by; and a paw mug.
Macy's daycare providers--my sister's landlords--live downstairs, and were not so thrilled about these new squeakie toys, even though they ordered them from QVC for her. When we left, there were two more QVC boxes on the front step, so maybe Macy got a new SUV or computer.
My sister is concerned that Macy will pick up a fish allergy, even though her vet says to give her fish oil. I warned her about Macy kissing someone who just ate fish. Since she lives close to the Charles River, I think I may have given her something to worry about. She is going to have her pacemaker checked I bet, as I could see the stress in her face settling in just at the mention of her dog being sick.
We ate lasagna, salad, herb bread, cake, pie and at least five or six different appetizers. We all had to take turns squeaking Macy's new toys and rolling on the ground with her. Most attendees were dog lovers, and they talked about their Bassett hounds (one pushed Macy in the pool this summer); a chihuahua; a newfie; a bulldog; and a Stabyhoun, a Dutch hunting dog that looks like a retriever but is black and white.
One guy is getting two puppies shipped over from Holland to him in April. They will be eight weeks old, and still need a green card (who knew?).

I'll admit that Brian and I bought Oliver one of those Three Dog Bakery cakes for his first birthday, but really, it was a private celebration for the three of us. If I ever guilt you all into coming to a dog birthday party that I've spent all day preparing, commit me.

Monday, November 28

A couple different things

Mom and Howie took off this morning; their flight departed Logan at 7:30. Such a wonderful weekend, and I have my family to thank for it. It was a treat to spend time with Auntie Donna, Jess and Alex, and it's always a good time for me to hang with Mom and Howie. Brian was a dream husband the whole four days, and Oliver, of course, was a rock star. I'm completely and totally exhausted, and am excited to head home for more sleep tonight. Brian and I enjoyed the peace and quiet last night, that's for sure, and our first big night together tonight will be dinner at home (leftovers from last night) and football: good stuff.

While I was up and out of bed on time this morning, I did not stop at my commute-friendly Starbucks. I drank way too much peppermint mocha over the weekend, although my stomach would argue that, as it's feeling a bit neglected right now. And as if to tease me, there's an article about Starbucks in the news today. Well, not really about Starbucks, but about this guy, Winter, who is questing to visit every Starbucks in the world. Here's his Web site, His favorite Boston-area Starbucks is the Tremont St. store in the South End (B's fave, too); and his record is visiting 29 stores in one day. I don't think even Auntie D. could do justice to that much coffee!

Saturday, November 26

The un-adventure

I had a grand plan for our day today.
Mom, Howie, Brian and I were going to spend the day adventuring around Old Sturbridge Village, a working old-time village, complete with craftsmen, farming and the whole smash. The day started off a bit late, and Brian had to be arm-twisted into going, but by 11 or so, we were well on our way out into the western hills of Massachusetts. The drive took only an hour, but as we ventured west, the weather turned increasingly cloudy, and yes, we even spied small patches of snow on the ground. Upon our arrival in Sturbridge, as we exited the car, we were horrified to find out that the temperature had dropped by a good 20 degrees from the nice Boston morning we left behind. I, of course, had bypassed putting on longjohns for the day, as had Brian; Mom had only tights on under her jeans and the "not for snow" coat; and Howie, well, Howie seems to be taking blood-thinning medication, so he gets super cold super fast.
We ran into the Tavern and gift shop building to warm up, did some random shopping and then ate some lunch. Even sitting at the lunch table, we soundly debated whether the weather (which had turned a little snowy) was going to make this little day trip a bad idea.
Now, picture the four of us entering the Visitor Center and finding out that they wanted us to pay $20 each to walk around an old village, watching people blacksmith and farm, freezing our butts off. Mom and I have gone farther for more ridiculous adventures, but in this case, we decided that retreat would be our best option.
Gas out to Sturbridge and back to Boston: $15
Total amount of tolls: $7.30
Lunch in Tavern in Sturbridge: $45
Getting back to town with enough time before dinner for Mom and I to cruise Newbury Street: priceless (not really ... more like two tree ornaments and a scarf)

Plimouth Plantation

For our Turkey Day celebration, the family and I went out to the beautiful town of Plimouth, to enjoy our Thanksgiving feast at the place where the Mayflower landed, and presumably, the location of one of the first Thanksgivings. When I bought the tickets for our dinner on June 1 (they do sell out that quickly), we really had only a vague idea of what the day would entail.
We began our journey at about 11, and after a stop at Starbucks and for a soda, we were off onto the 93...a highway turned parking lot that morning. Traffic is a drag, especially when you've got someone following you, but once we got to the junction to the 3, we were in good shape. (Cause of traffic: three almost-spent flares from a previous accident.)
Upon arriving at Plimouth Plantation, we were told that we could adventure throughout the grounds, and were expected back to our dining room by at 2:15 p.m. Our first stop was a cheesy little orientation movie, that really didn't teach us much, and then we were released onto the grounds. The 1627 Pilgrim Village was pretty trippy. The costumed workers would only speak in the King's English, and knew nothing of anything past 1627. Don't ask them about television, they don't know what it is. Ask about the Mayflower, or about what they're cooking ("the humbles of a hog," I was told). Ask how long it takes to make an apron: "It's done when it's done, I suppose." Homes with thatched roofs and clay walls, a church building with cannons atop it, and the vegetable gardens were highlights.

Family-style table manners were the way of things at the T-giving dinner, which really meant that we had to wait for the people at the other end of the table to practically clear the turkey platter before we even got to touch it. The menu included: (cold) split pea soup that we ate anyway; escalloped oysters (basically just breaded snot); mashed potatoes; butternut squash; (dry) turkey; stuffing; cranberries; some kind of beet that Brian spit out faster than any kind of cooked carrot; and creamed onions that Howie deemed too onion-y. Dessert was a choice of pumpkin pie (Alex's favorite); Indian pudding (which Brian compared to pumpkin Cream of Wheat that looked like cat food with a dollop of whipped cream atop it); and apple pie (my choice, and the far superior dessert on the table). We did, however, get to take home our own complimentary posy.
Costumed characters came by each table for a chat; we met a retired whaler, a Yankee soldier, a woman who writes poetry and prides herself on her independence, and a guy that I only remember for his great purple coat.

Dinner was over by 4, and we were pretty efficiently rushed out so they could prepare for the 5:30 seating. Of course, the way out was via the gift shop, and after a few purchases, we made our way out to the cars to head back to town.
...and a good Thanksgiving was had by all!!

Wednesday, November 23

The insanity descends

The family is on its way here. Seriously, they're all coming to Boston: Mom and Howie are boarding their plane right now. Auntie Donna, Jess and Alex were so excited to come out today that they actually left Virginia last night, and as of 2 a.m. this morning, when they stopped to sleep, were in East Windsor, N.J.
It's been several years since we've been together for Thanksgiving, and though it's not all of us, we should still have a good time.

Here's a picture of the national Thanksgiving Turkey, named Marshmallow, during the Presidential pardoning ceremony, Nov. 22, 2005.
"You, my friend, are saved...until next year."

Actually, what does happen to the turkeys that are pardoned? They certainly don't know that they dodged a bullet (or ax). Do they appreciate it? They aren't aware that they could have been keeping a platter warm, all full of stuffing and gently glazed in melted butter. They have no idea that some ruffian could be pulling off their leg and sinking his teeth into their thigh muscle. (Okay. I'm not liking this train of thought, actually, so let's be done.)
Anyway, Marshmallow has no worries.

Tuesday, November 22

Frickin' illness: Take 2

I've been remiss in my posting today, and I'm sorry to say that it's because my frickin' cold is back (add drum roll here) with a vengeance. My nose is plugged, and all my words end in "d," whether I want them to or not. This sucks something wicked.
I'm hoping to get a decent night's sleep tonight, but we'll see!

Monday, November 21

Megan's wedding

There's something to be said for the beauty of an autumnal wedding and a happy bride. My friend, Megan, got married Saturday night, and it was a breath-taking event. She was glowing, as brides do, and her new husband, Tim, was clearly enamored and floating on air the entire night. As far as I could tell, the whole thing was a success. The venue, a private ladies' club, was perfect, and added an old-world charm to the intimate setting. As for colors, Megs used the deep reds, browns and coppers, making for a stunning color scheme. (Andy did the same for her wedding a few years ago.) And props to the bride for finding a color, deep brown, that would flatter each of her bridesmaids.
Observation #1: Only a few things can really succeed in making me feel old lately. One of those things is the growing up and maturing of my friends' younger siblings. Megan's sister, Allison, who's about two years younger than us, was so grown up, beautiful and sophisticated, and such a charmer, that it was a struggle to reconcile her with the young girl that she used to be. (I bet she'd love to know that!) We all grow up, and I appreciate that, but when I see a younger sibling become such an engaging adult, it's always a swift kick in the psyche.
Observation #2: Weddings are no fun without the person you're married to. Brian had school things and patient commitments, and that's fine, but I would really have liked for him to have been there. I had no one to dance with really, and, well, weddings make you feel all gooey about your own wedding, and my groom was nowhere in sight. They even played our own "first dance" song. (Insert pout here.)
Observation #3: Not all maps are to scale. I thought that since the map in the invitation implied that the PCH was one block over from 3rd Street, that the PCH was, in fact, one block from 3rd Street. So I entered the wrong intersection into the GPS. We got lost; I had to run into a Jack-in-the-Box to find out which way to go; and we were a bit late getting there. My bad. The ceremony was later too, though, so we still got there in time. (PCH and 3rd Street are about a mile apart.)
Observation #4: The best of friends continue to be the best of friends. We figured it out, and Megs and I have been friends for 22 years. We only were in school together for two years (5th and 6th grades), but have managed to stay important to each other throughout several geographic separations, months without communicating, and years of not seeing each other. I love that, even though we'd not been in the same room since my wedding in 2001, we're able to hug, gossip and giggle, and feel as though the years were just an hour. It's always been so with us, though, and I am thankful for that.
Observation #5: I can eat three wedding cake pieces' worth of chocolate frosting.

Thursday, November 17

Stinky seatmates

Things in this world that are worse than most other things, Kimberly's list: not picking up your dog's poop when out on a walk; rudeness to waitstaff; people washing windshields on the highway; shoppers leaving books out of alphabetical order on the Barnes & Noble shelves. Of course, the worst of all these things is the stinky seatmate on an airplane. Why is it that the last couple times I've flown somewhere, I've been stuck in my comfortable window seat with a large, smelly guy next to me, wheezing his bad breath all over me, and leaning into my space so he can see out the window? Here's my thing, Mr. Pitstains; if you want to look out the window, get a window seat. I get my window seat early enough, and so should you. And buy some Altoids for goodness sakes! Don't you know how bad your odor is? Thus went my flight today. Hours in my window seat, being imposed on by the stinky seatmate.

Here's a pretty picture of some Orcas (a mother and new baby born at Sea World-San Diego). I read the other day that the Orcas in Puget Sound were going to be put on the Endangered Species list. Their dwindling numbers are a shame. I've always loved the Orca, even in that movie with Richard Harris and Bo Derek, where the whale kills all those people. They're so beautiful and majestic, and like the penguin, always attired properly for a formal event.

Wednesday, November 16

Planes, software and near misses

Leave it to the Boston Globe to publish an article on Logan airport's outdated computer software, faulty warning systems and three near misses on runways in the last year, the day before I fly out of here for the weekend. Great. And the picture is even better, yes? Those are Aer Lingus and US Airways planes that came within 106 vertical feet, and 379 horizontal feet, of each other this past June. Had the US Airways pilots been taking off, as they were instructed to by ground control, this image would be followed by more horrific ones. Instead, the US Airways pilots noticed the huge plane barreling towards them on an adjacent runway, and stayed on the ground. (They were, rightly so, rewarded for their actions, even though there must have been one or two passengers on the plane that pitched a fit for any delay.) The article goes on to point out that new and better software for ground collision warnings is on the NTSB's agenda for Logan, and a band-aid system has been put in place, but that the permanent upgrade probably is not going to happen for a couple years. Logan and 13 other national airports are on the short-and-immediate list for those upgrades.
(Note to self: don't mention this post to Mom.)

Tuesday, November 15

Pooch pic #1

Here's Oliver, having been awakened yet still laying about on the bed pillows, waiting patiently for me to quit bugging him.

Two cents

Can you hear it? It's a country-wide indrawn breath of indignation, anger and disbelief over the news that first-class postage is increasing in $.02 per letter. Right now, scores of little old ladies are scrambling into their crochetted shawls, hauling out their containers of pennies, and heading down to their local post office so they can buy the required 2-cent stamps that they'll need until they finish with the $.37 stamps they've already got. There, they will swap stories about the "good old days," when sending a letter cost only a nickel (and those Pony Express young men who were so dashing), and how people today don't understand the value of a dollar, and how, well, if they listened to their grandkids, they'd have a computer and the ability to send a letter without a stamp.
The increase goes into effect January 8, 2006.

H.P. 4

It's finally here! The week leading up to the release of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is upon us, and what a splendid week it is! The skies were sunny yesterday, and the breeze (relatively) warm. I'm checking out my crystal ball with Professor Trelawney, and all seems well!
Of course, as I'll be out of town for a friend's wedding, Brian and I won't be able to see it until early next week. (I'm thinking Monday night, actually.) That, in itself, is a complete drag, but I've got this wicked premonition that the movie will still be available for viewing after this weekend.
This particular installment is the first in the series to be rated any higher than PG (it boasts a PG-13), and looks like it's got the action and thrills to need it. For those of you cool kids out there that have read the books, you know what all goes down this year at Hogwarts, and it should be a great ride!

Monday, November 14

Construction sites: bad

Now, thanks to the wonderful CSI: Miami, I can say that I know exactly what it would look like for someone to get shot in the eye with a nail gun. You see? Television is educational!

The ladies strike back

Here's a kinda gross, but definitely girl-friendly, joke that Daddy sent to me today:
A sexy woman went up to the bar in a quiet, rural pub. She gestured alluringly to the bartender, who approached her immediately. She seductively signaled that he should bring his face closer to hers. As he did, she gently caressed his full beard.
"Are you the manager?" she asked, softly stroking his face with both hands.
"Actually, no," he replied.
"Can you get him for me? I need to speak to him," she said, running her hands beyond his beard and into his hair.
"I'm afraid I can't," breathed the bartender. "Is there anything I can do?"
"Yes. I need for you to give him a message," she continued, running her forefinger across the bartender's lips and slyly popping a couple of her fingers into his mouth, allowing him to suck them gently.
"What should I tell him?" the bartender managed to ask.
"Tell him," she whispered, "that there's no toilet paper, hand soap, or paper towels in the ladies room."

So let's go off for a moment on ladies' rooms, the seemingly most-ignored space in most drinking, sports, and concert venues.
Number one, there should be twice as many. No matter how many may be in the building right now, double them. They'll be used. It's a fact of life that the ladies have to wait and the men don't, but we'd be more agreeable to waiting if we at least knew that we had twice as many stalls as the men.
Number two, all hail the ladies' room attendant. Yes, it's a drag to pay the dollar or two at the end of the night, but this woman is sure that all is in working order all the time. She's got the t.p. when you need it, not to mention paper towels, lip gloss and mouthwash. I remember that we were so jazzed when we discovered the t.p. hiding place outside the ladies' room at The Yucatan. Knowing that, we were rock stars.
Number three, keep the signs consistent. The symbol of the lady in her dress is good. Of course, the word "Ladies" or "Women," is good. "Lambs," as it is in a restaurant out here, is not necessarily easy to figure. Nor is the verbiage in another language. Of course, nothing's worse than knowing, absolutely knowing, that the sign said "Women," and finding out, in a bad way, that the room had been a men's room earlier that day. Repeat users don't always notice a changed sign. If you're going to switch them around, make the new signs really big.

Friday, November 11

Rockefeller Square

You know what this is? It's this year's Rockefeller Square Christmas tree being installed into its new, for the next several weeks, home in downtown Manhattan. Seventy-four feet tall and from New Jersey, the tree weighs nine tons, and boasts a 42-foot-wide limb span.
That's gonna take a lot of lights!

"Red... the blood of angry men..."

I've only been keeping up with the rioting in France on a kind of skimming the story-type basis. Someone was quoted as saying, "A little revolution, every now and then, is a good thing." This revolution, from what I can gather, is borne out of the impoverished neighborhoods and the peoples' frustration with discrimination and unemployment. Rioting began when two teens were chased into a power substation by the police, and they were subsequently electrocuted. Arson and clashes between the populace and the police have occurred nightly since then. This violence, according to the AP, is the worst since the student-worker uprising in 1968.
Anyway, so what's with that? I can tell I've seen too much musical theater when I hear about a riot in France, and the first thing I think of is, was Marius there? What about Eponine, Jean Veljean and Javert? "Empty chairs and empty tables." And the ultimate (which tends to get all stuck in Mom's head and drive her crazy), "Red, the blood of angry men. Black, the dark of ages past. Red, the world about to dawn. Black, the night that ends at last!"

Thursday, November 10

Not really king of California

Apparently, just being a movie star, and popular enough to get an initial election into the big house in Sacramento, does not get you every single little measure you want. It seems that, as governor, you might actually have to work together with a Democratic legislature, or, gods forbid, compromise with the "other" side to get things done. Granted, it's not always easy to work together, but if the aims are true, and you're flexible, things might happen. You won't have to "take the measure to the people," in a failed bid to prove that, with your popularity, you can get anything passed, with or without the Legislature.
Rightly so, the people of California said as much to their governor this past Tuesday. "Um, isn't this what we elected you to take care of for us?" is what they seem to be telling him. All four of Schwarzenegger's major initiatives--state spending, political district boundaries, teacher tenures and restricting union labor involvement in politics--were soundly defeated, as well as four other measures, on the state's ballots this week.
(Let the record show that, as a registered voter in California, I "hung my chad" for Larry Flynt during that special election in 2003. I just thought that he would be a fun politician. We'll never know.)
A contrite governor now is saying to the people of that great state that, "Well, okay. I guess I'll work harder with the Democrats up here on the hill ... well, when I get back from China anyway. I didn't mean to waste the state's money with this election. Oh, and please be sure to vote for me next year."
In a USA Today article, the writer states that the Democrats aren't doing any better than Arnold in the polls. Okay, but let him keep up his current streak of failures, and we'll be having an interesting ballot next year. I'll call it: Schwarzenegger versus Warren Beatty. You can guess the direction I'll go. Besides, if we're going to be a state that prefers to elect actors to its highest political office, let's go with someone who played Bugsy Siegel, Clyde Barrow and Dick Tracy.
Here's the USA Today article link:

Fourteen years

Today, if you can believe it, is the 14-year anniversary of Brian and I, being "Brian and I." Time goes by so quickly, and it's really kind of frightening (in a good way). I mean, who would have thought, when we met the summer of '91, that in the fall of '05, we'd still be together, and married, and trying to have a baby. Realize that if I had gotten pregnant when we'd first met, the baby would be as old as my nephew now, 13, and would be going in to high school next summer. Um, yikes! It's pretty crazy when I think about it that way.
What's even better, I think, then us still being together, is that we still genuinely like each other, and enjoy spending time together. Today, as much as 14 years ago, he can still make me laugh, and I am still excited to talk on the phone to him, or hang out and go to a movie, or just sit on the sofa and watch TV. We're still just as we started out: good friends.
As with all relationships, we've gone through the ups and the downs, and I'm proud to say that we've weathered them well. Meeting at 18, going through college, the long-distance years, the living together years, and finally, the married years in Boston, has been a hard-fought campaign, and we, as comrades in-arms, have emerged victorious. I'm proud of our history, and look forward to several more years together.