Thursday, March 29, 2007

I have too much free time when my boss doesn't come to work

I don't have an iPod. And my MP3 player has so little memory, that I usually just put about 3 or 4 podcasts on it and keep it in my car for times like this week when I get tired of listening to NPR's pledge drive (since I've already paid, I don't want to listen to them begging for more money). I've been wanting an iPod for a long time...and driving around with my uncle last summer as he called up some of the 123,956,128,372+ songs that I'm sure he has stored (and I think that number is probably too low, knowing my uncle) gave me a bad case of... well I'd use the word lust, but that's just wrong in a sentence with the phrase "my uncle" in it. (which I just did anyway, but at least it was broken by an ellipsis.) So I'd like to announce to my entire family, that since I'm the baby girl, the next iPod my mother wins comes to me. I think she's already won two, and it's been over a year since the last one, so she's due for another one any day. ANYWAY Apple announced today that if you've bought a single from an album, and then later you decide you want the entire album, you'll get credit towards the whole price of the album from the single you bought. I could probably make that more confusing if I thought hard enough. I don't want to think that hard though, so here's something in the USA Today about it. Completely unrelated: Dodge is having one of the coolest contests ever. Write a 250 word essay about why your commute is horrible, and how a 2008 Dodge Avenger could make it better. The winner not only gets - surprise! - a 2008 Dodge Avenger, but ALSO a trip to LA (with a guest) for two days where you'll watch a replication of your current car get demolished. What's all this fun for? National Stress Awareness Day. I love it. Even more not related: I've given in and signed up for a two week free trial of Netflix. I don't know why, since I get ALL of the HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, and Stars (or maybe it's Encore) channels. PLUS their "OnDemand" counterparts. I hate to sound like a whining 15 year old , but there's NEVER a movie that I want to see that's on any of it! (Actually, the 15 year old's complaint is that he's seen everything already). So I went and looked around and got sucked in. I'm going to do the $10/month-only-get-one-movie-at-a-time deal, since I don't think I'll ever need to have 3 movies in my hands at one time, and I've heard the turn around times are incredibly quick. So we'll see. And my boss told me that if I want to cancel, I should do it right before my free trial ends, because they'll extend your free trial for two weeks to try and get you to stay. That seems too sneaky for me...but we'll see how much I get addicted.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

It's like I'm a hard-core criminal. Almost.

If you've gone through customs to get back in the country, you know what a pain it can be. If you've gone through Customs in Atlanta, you know that there are moments when you think that the illegal aliens have it right - going through the desert and facing possible death might actually be faster than standing in one more line. Security is tight. Sometimes, there are so many one-way mirrors and people with official scary-looking badges walking around that I'm afraid that sneezing might look suspicious. And let's face it - after 8 hours on a plane with a couple of hundred other people - one being your 15 year old step-son and another being your attention-span-deprived husband - it's quite easy to look like a maniac bent on destruction. I feel like interrogating myself when I look in the mirror and I KNOW I haven't' done anything.

The basic routine is this: get off the plane, follow the designated (and only available) path down some stairs or an escalator, pass a few scary security people, go through a hall and into the "holding pen" to wait in line to get your passport checked while answering a few questions about why a good upstanding citizen might want to leave the country in the first place. Get a piece of paper stamped, move on to the next area to collect your checked bags while being circled by more badge-wearers who now have dogs with them. Take checked bags through another check point where you turn in the your stamped piece of paper and answer some more questions about what you might or might not have done while out from under the protective eye of our government. Get in another line and recheck your bags, before going through a security scanner that looks at you and and your carry-on bags. Get released to go forth and fly. (I think it might be faster to just get a pilot's license and fly myself across the Atlantic, but then I wouldn't be able to sleep for the entire flight).

As we were walking off the plane in Detroit, I realized that both of my shoes were untied. Since long trailing shoelaces aren't all that safe on escalators - and I had to get on one within 15 steps of the plane - I stepped to the side, against a wall, to tie them. Of course, this immediately made me look questionable, as I'm the only person doing something besides walking docilely behind the person in front of me towards the holding pen. My hubby took the opportunity to stand next to me, against the wall, facing the corner to take out his wallet and start re-arranging his different currencies so that the American money was easily reached. So I'm kneeling, and he's buried in the corner. Yes, security noticed. They came over and stood directly in front of me and looked over his shoulder watching as he methodically - and boy, was it methodical - counted out how much cash he had. He never noticed the guard, who gave me an "I've got a highly trained eye on you" glare and then followed us down the escalator at a discrete distance.

So we stood in line and got stamped and questioned and proceeded to pick up our checked luggage. I dropped my carry-on on the floor and told my stepson to watch it while I went up and waited for our suitcases to come around the conveyor belt. About this time, another security guy - this time with one of those killer drug sniffing dogs - headed our way. Killer went directly to my carry-on bag and started sniffing. And circling. And sniffing. And circling. He started to sit (Which, I believe, is the point where they put you and your bag in a tiny room to be searched), but then he apparently got indecisive and circled again. Then he repeated the entire procedure - complete with the almost sitting routine. Knowing that I had nothing in my bag that Killer would be interested in - I'm not a drug runner, and I don't carry raw meat across oceans - I left him to his sniffing and went to collect the baggage. He was taking so long with my bag I was beginning to wonder if a cute little "Miss Killer" had snuck in the side pocket and they were planning a rendezvous. By the time I got back with a suitcase, Killer and his scary looking escort were gone.

Fast-forward to the point where we're re-checking our luggage. The lady casually says "You don't have any liquids in your carry-on bags do you?" And I said "why, yes ma'am, as a matter of fact we have the equivalent of a small duty-free store between our two backpacks." And she proceeds to tell us that we're not allowed to take those on the plane. But we're welcome to open our suitcases and repack everything with the liquid safely stored and out of our carry on bags. So we grab our suitcases, open them up and take out our bags of dirty laundry and proceed to repack right there in the middle of all the TSA agents. Thank God the flashy red silk thongs with black tassels had not gotten bounced to the top of my suitcase, but several people did get a great look at my favorite blue Victoria's Secret bra.

Fast-forward to Saturday - we're home, recovered and unpacked. Best Friend is over for drinks and a recap of the trip, and I give her all the goodies I bought her. One of them - and the best thing I got for her - is a little blue and white flowered tin that opens up to reveal four miniature glass bottles that I got at an open-air antique market for about $5. And I mean these bottles are SMALL - maybe an inch and a half tall. But they're tiny and cute, which are the only things that are required for her to go crazy over something. Add the fact that they hide inside of something that's blue ... well, I really should keep smelling salts on hand.

She pulled out one of the glass bottles - making all the appropriate noises for a gift this cute - and stopped cold.

"Did you look at these bottles?"
"Yeah, they're cute, huh?"
"No! I mean yes, but look - they're all coated on the inside with white powder!"

Silence for a half a second as the alcohol fumes explain to me what this means.
"Oh my god! I bought you someone's old cocaine bottles!

And suddenly, the drug-sniffing dog trying desperately to get enough of a scent to incriminate me made all too much sense.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Did I mention that I have no attention span today?

Anyone read Microserfs by Douglas Coupland? I'd never heard of it, til I ran across it on a blog today. And after reading this, I think I'm going to have to find me a copy.

Susan is 26 and works in Mac Applications. If Susan were a Jeopardy! contestant, her dream board would be:

* 680X0 assembly language
* Cats
* Early ’80s haircut bands
* “My secret affair with Rob in the Excel Group”
* License plate slogans of America
* Plot lines from The Monkees
* The death of IBM

Susan’s an IBM brat and hates that company with a passion. She credits it with ruining her youth by transferring her family eight times before she graduated from high school - and the punch line is that the company gave her father the boot last year during a wave of restructuring. So nothing too evil can happen to IBM in her eyes.

Susan’s a real coding machine. But her abilities are totally wasted reworking old code for something like the Norwegian Macintosh version of Word 5.8.

DayQuil has a NEW FORMULA!; or, why I've forgotten how to form a coherent thought.

So apparently, thanks to the heartless meth-makers who buy wonderdrugs and turnthem into illegals, DayQuil had to change its formula. I didn't realize this until I had downed half a bottle, waiting for that miraculous feeling of being able to breathe again. Instead, I'm in a curious state of disconnect. And then I looked at the bottle, to the large yellow print on a black background that says "NEW FORUMLA! with phenylephrine." The fact that the makers of this phenylephrine product went from all caps to extremely small print so quickly clued me in to the fact that "NEW FORUMLA!" is the exciting part. The new ingredient? Not so much. Because the new ingredient DOESN'T HELP ME BREATHE. I kind of like the wavy outlines around everything that I look at, but that could be caused from lack of oxygen as much as to the NEW FORUMLA! that I'm using. At least the night time version still knocks me out for a few hours.

Oh - and I'm saying DayQuil, but to be honest, it's the CVS "Non-Drowsy Day-Time Multi-Sympton Cold/Flu Relief". DayQuil is easier to say when you can only feel half of your tongue, though. I wonder if that's due to the phenylephrine?

And if you're wondering if I'm happy about this NEW FORMULA! - that I wasn't even consulted about - the answer is NO!

Sunday, March 25, 2007


We got home from London around midnight Friday. I've been incredibly lazy in not posting anything about the trip - but that's because once I write this, my vacation will really be over. I've been working on getting all the pictures up on Flickr - but I took over 250 of them. And my batteries died on our trip to Greenwich, so there would have been even more! I'm going through and naming them and doing all the fun stuff one does with pictures on Flickr. In the meantime, here's one of my favorites: We had an incredibly good time, but it's good to be home. And some horribly invasive mucous-y nastiness seems to have invaded my sinuses and set up temporary residence. Luckily, I have my DayQuil and NyQuil. Unfortunately, they kill the taste of the wine- but that means that I can drink cheaper stuff and not notice the taste. My meds also kill the effects of drinking cheap wine. So it's almost a win-win situation. If I can get past the inability to breathe, that is.

Friday, March 16, 2007

On my way out the door....

I'm heading out the door - London, here I come! That is, if planes are still leaving the country by the time I get on mine in Detroit this evening. I'm so glad that I flew out of Philadelphia LAST year, because this year, I don't think I'd make it. There will be more stories and pictures than you want to look at next week. THat's a promise.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

IM Chat with my sister

karen: having kids totally got me over fear of needles
Deborah: I'll keep the fear, thank you karen: i'm like oh, a needle. wow. scary. ha ha ha. Deborah: I'm like..oh, giving birth, no thank you

In Which I Have a Mind-Boggling Thought

I'm sitting in a MS Access class, dutifully following instructions while my mind thinks about the fact that I'm leaving in TWO days. I'm compiling lists of important information (which shirts make me look the thinnest) and working through some pretty weighty questions (Can I live without two different types of boots for a week?) and trying to think about what I'll have to leave out of my Carry-on bag (which will be most of my make-up, so London BE WARNED that when I get off the plane I will not be the nasty, homicidal crazed female out for blood and human sacrifice that I may look like). When all of a sudden my mind goes back to the ban on liquids for carry-on bags, and a entirely new implication sets in....


Those terrorists have a lot to answer for. They have now infringed on my right as an American to go to foreign countries and buy cheap alcohol.

But then I think - surely, this country is so great and wonderful that they've taken into account the fact that there are millions of us who have needs. Needs that include buying large bottles of cheap liquor half-way around the world and then bringing them home to share with anyone who stops by close friends and family.

So I go to the TSA website - which was on my list of things to study tonight - and now I know. The TSA loves me. Or maybe my husband bribed them to allow liquor temporarily so that he didn't have to deal with 12 hours of traveling with a woman who had been denied her half-price vodka and Bailey's. Or maybe the TSA didn't want to deal with the rest of the country when they came back from travelling empty-handed. It doesn't really matter, because I can do all the duty-free shopping I want.

London, here I come.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Geek Rantings and Ravings

I'll admit it - Bloglines was my first feed reader. and I fell deeply in love. I learned how to use three or four others for a project at work, but Bloglines has always been my first love. But then, a few months ago, the powers that be cut off my access to Bloglines from my work PC. And since - believe it or not - I actually use RSS to keep up with quite a bit of my professional reading, that really hurt. Suddenly, I had to use Blogliens for home and something else for work. I really didn't want TWO aggregators though, so I tried to find something to *gasp* replace Bloglines all together. That something else was Google Reader. I know that GR is a lot better than it was when it was first released. I know that it's still in "the lab" (that's pre-beta, right?). But still.... I hate the fact that when I put a new feed in, it says that EVERY entry was just posted. I know full well that it wasn't, because I know that something heralding the beginning of National Novel Writing Month was probably written back around the end of October/beginning of Novermber. But no item ever gets an accurate timestamp - it just gives me the timestamp of when GR found it for me. I want to know when it was posted, not when the spider deigned to check the feed again. It drives me crazy that it can take HOURS for most feeds to be updated. Especially Blogger feeds - which is just crazy, since that's a Google product too. Of course, I notice this on my own blog (go ahead and call me narcissistic) when I post something and it takes forever to update (I put up a post around 8:30 this morning. It's 12:10 and it's till not showing up) Not that I'm keeping track of any word-saving information...but I'm part of the Y Generation, and I want things IMMEDIATELY. There's no way to set the default for all new feeds to display with the oldest entry first. Yes, I know how to change it when I add it. I don't think I should have to go through those two clicks on this EVERY time I add something. (see Generation Y comment, and file under "I also want things EASY") I've tried three times to load my OPML file from Bloglines. It has never picked up even half of the feeds. Granted, there were 180+ the first time I tried - but I still don't want to sit down and manually enter 90+ feeds. Updates to previous entries don't always come through as a new item. I'm still trying to figure out why that's not 100% yes/100% no thing. I love the fact that in Bloglines you can tell it to display all items for any feed from the last 24 hours. Or 48 hours. Or 72 hours. or a week. Or a month. Or you can tell it "show me everything". Why would I want to see anything but the new stuff? Because sometimes, I'll see something (this happens a lot for my work feeds) and I go past it, because I don't think it's relevant to me. And then lo and behold, two days later, someone's talking about that VERY thing. So I want to go back and find it. Google Reader has one way to do this: by choosing "view all items". And since I've told it to always show the oldest item first, what I'm looking for is at the bottom. And if there are more than 20 items loading, it has to find them in groups of 20. So I tell it to display the newest first (two more clicks), find what I want, and hopefully remember to change it back to displaying the oldest first (two more clicks).And I don't always remember which blog/feed I found the info on in the first place, so I'm doing this with multiple feeds. (I would just go to the blogs sites to look for the info, since that would be MUCH quicker - but 99% of blogs are blocked by the filters at work, so an aggregator is the only way to read the info from my desk PC). (please, please, please let me know if you have a solution for any of these!!!!) Ok, there are a few things I REALLY like. Because I'm a *cough* nerd, I love the "trends" that tell you how much and when about everything. Percentages are right after sex, chocolate and wine on my list of things that make me happy. And, since I'm still using Blogger - and I upgraded to their new "thing" - I love the "share items" widget that I can (and did) put on my blog. I'm wondering if I might need to find something else, because the things that drive me crazy REALLY drive me crazy. The problem is, as much as I miss some things about Bloglines, it's a pain to learn the ins and outs of a new aggregator, set up all your preferences, (hopefully) import your subscriptions etc. And I know that day is coming, because sooner or later, the powers that be will block Google Reader, too. I guess I want the impossible - I want my Bloglines back. {Wow - this turned into a very long rant!}

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day (because she said it way better than I ever could):
And maybe General Pace can shut his bigoted piehole and the Army can put his sorry old ass out to pasture where it belongs. And while he's chewing on his cud, perhaps he can chew on this, too: The gays and lesbians who are willing to die for this country, in spite of its stubborn insistence on treating them as second-class citizens, are patriots of such profound resolve that denying them their chance to serve honestly and openly is a rather more spectacular moral failing than two boys kissing could ever hope to be.

Morning Reading

This morning, I have the November 2005 issue of Soldiers magazine sitting in front of me. This is not nearly as bad as it sounds. In fact, compared to some of the other things I "get" to slog through in my daily readings, this is a cause for celebration. Still, I took a nice long pull on my coffee thermos before I opened the cover. And then ... the first story had me captivated. It's not long - four pages, with quite a few pictures. It's about a man that that the US Army freed from a prison camp in Germany in 1945 who came to the US, joined the Army, went to Korea - and then got captured by the Chinese and put in another camp. But more importantly - it's about how he survived and how he helped the people around him survive. This story really touched me. It's full of the best parts of ANY story - courage, hope and endurance. This one man made a difference in the lives so many people. It's...humbling. Link to text only of the story : Link to the pdf of the entire magazine - the story is on the sixth page (which is really page 4, but let's not get too technical):

Monday, March 12, 2007

How big are their driver's licenses?

It's a city in Thailand. It holds the Guiness Record for the world's longest place name. We call it Bangkok. They call it:Krungthep Mahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathani Burirom-udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amonphiman Awatansathit Sakkathattiya Witsanu Kamprasit. Once you get past the fact that you have to take a long weekend to get the whole thing out of your mouth, you realize that it does have a lovely translation: "The city of angels, the great city, the eternal jewel city, the impregnable city of God Indr , the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukam". I've wanted to visit Bangkok for a while. Now that I know that its 'long' name mentions not only nine precious gems and happines but also uses the word "abounding", it's moved up a few spots.

I'd need some Lysol, too

From the "Headline of the Day" Department: Maya to "cleanse" sacred site after Bush visit

Thursday, March 08, 2007

I'm not as unique as my mom - or how to waste time at work

Karen at Verbatim linked to this total time-sucker of a site: How Many of Me. And because the two issues "Naval Forces" that are staring at me screaming "I'm next! I'm next!" convinced me that I hadn't had enough coffee to be that bored yet, I clicked on it. Then I spent 15 minutes looking up the names of just about everyone I know. Did you know that {According the website}: Only 25 people in the US have my name? That's pretty good odds that I won't be running into someone with my name anytime soon. And no, the character from that sitcom does not count. She spelled her first name wrong anyway. My maiden name is much more common - I'd be sharing my name with 363 people if I still went by it. My husband is considerably more common and shares his name with 158 people, while Stepson will be glad to know that he is NOT unique because 124 people answer to his name. Sisters: oldest is one of 1,114 and this one is one of 350. Brothers: my oldest younger brother (I used to just call him the brat, but I'm trying to mend my ways) is one of 1,741 and the baby bro is the most common of all of us: 1,941. My dad surprised me - if you use his full first name he's in a crowd of 184 (I didn't expect that many); put in the nickname that he goes by and he's one of 4. My mom trumps us all. She is (apparently) THE ONLY PERSON IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY WITH HER NAME. Mom, there's so many jokes to be told about how special that makes you. I'll just say that we've always known you were one-of-a-kind.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I'm a Proud Nerd

My Personalized Google Homepage has three words from's Word Of The Day. And because I'm a nerd, I actually look at them every day. I'm particularly excited when I find a new word, although I don't do the whole "Use it three times and it will be part of your permanent vocabulary" thing. Most days. And if I get extra bonus nerd points, I'll admit that sometimes I still remember learning the words in those vocab books we did every week in high school. Well, today, there were three words so good that I cannot keep them to myself. I just have to share. I think the third one is one of my all time favorite words. Although the first one just kind of rolls off the tongue, too. What? You don't have favorite words? How boring of you. You have nothing to get excited about when they show up in a "word of the day".
indefatigable: untiring.
galumph: to move in a clumsy manner or with a heavy tread.
sagacious: of keen penetration and judgment; wise.

Monday, March 05, 2007

I Drink My Memories; Please Add More Caffeine

Today is one of those days when it seems that no amount of caffeine will ever be enough; that my body is expending more energy just sitting in my chair in an intelligent and insightful (yet carefully thoughtful) manner than can be taken internally through my coffee cup; that if I forget myself and blink one time too many, my body will collapse in a pile of lifeless non-energy on the floor, gasping for the last drop of liquid in my travel mug. With my carafe empty, I turned to my Diet Mt Dew a little earlier in the day then usual, and when that was gone, I went for broke and bought a can of Diet Dr. Pepper. It would mean that I’d only have water after lunch, but if I got lucky the 10,268,121,894 milligrams of caffeine I had put in my body would start working at the same time, giving me the buzz and attention span that usually only comes from drugs that aren’t legally sold. Or so I was hoping. Because if OD’ing on caffeine can’t be done, then my life is totally not worth it anymore.

Due to my love affair with Diet Mt Dew that replaced my love of Coke Zero, which came shortly after my long-term relationship with Coke Classic, I’ve never really made room for Dr Pepper in my Caffeine Catalog. And when I did occasionally make room in my program and schedule the Dr, I was buying the cheapo, Wal-Mart, brewed-in-China-so-I’m-going-to-Hell-for-drinking-it brand. Not the REAL thing. (Or was Coke the real thing? I think I’m too young to have to know the answer to that question.)

So today I cracked open my Diet Dr Pepper while I was reading some article about some Field Artillery Battalion (I also have a catalog of articles that could put you to sleep; let me know if you ever have insomnia). I’ll admit, at that moment the thinking part of my brain was screaming for something, anything, please god find me something else to focus on instead of the basics of combat training. And as soon as I took the first sip of Diet Dr Pepper, I was fishing.

When I was about … um… 7? 8? (In other words, too young to have gained any sanity), I thought it was just groovy to get up BEFORE dawn to go fishing with my dad. I’m pretty sure that the only reason this ever seemed like fun was that I knew if I went, then my brother had to stay home. Lord knows I never caught a fish. While I could sit and read for hours on end, fishing required more dedication to one thing than any 8 year old has naturally. I was worse at fishing then I was at computer programming. Which is saying a lot, because I got through at least the first 10 pages of chapter one int that BASIC workbook, but fishing took skill. Skill that I did not have an ounce of. Somehow, my dad managed to not strangle the babbling little girl that threw her line over every tree limb hanging over Lay Lake. I’m sure he burned off a few years of Purgatory keeping his thoughts to himself, and for all I know, that’s the entire reason he took me fishing. It sure wasn’t because I was catching any fish.

We ate lunch on the lake. Sandwiches – exactly the same as the ones I took to school every day – were magically transformed into an entirely new food experience. Because when I went fishing with my dad, we had Dr Pepper for lunch. In our house, soda was not an every-day-of-the-week drink. Soda was for special occasions and the nights my mom fixed pizza (she actually told us that soda went better with pizza then milk – and I have never in my life had milk with pizza to this day).

Luckily, I have gained a little wisdom. I now know that dawn marks the time one should start thinking about getting a little sleep, rather than the time one’s alarm should be going off. I now know that fishing is not, and never will be, something I can do to provide food for my family, and I’ve made my peace with that. And I think the reason that I so rarely drink Dr. Pepper is because I want it to be something that brings back the memories of fishing with my dad every once in a while. Because that is something I don’t think I’ll ever put either one of us through again.

Unless he brings the beer.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

I *Heart* Weather

We've got some nasty storms coming through today. And I have to stay at work; I don't want to use any of my precious leave time to go home and glue myself in front of my TV and watch my favorite meteoroligist save Alabama, one tornado at a time. I have to stay at work. WORKING. The weather blog I watch has gone down twice this morning, which cuts me off from my favorite source of wind reports. Dang it, I need to know when the windspeed over a county 200 miles away increases! This could mean something! What? I'm supposed to rely on the weather people on BASE to give me fast and accurate information? I'm not allowed to go dance in the wind? I have to stay INSIDE? I need to see the little flashing circles on my TV screen telling me what's going on and where! What is this, Prison? What if my husband doesn't take all the right stuff into the laundry room with him? What if he leaves my laptop on the dining room table and it gets sucked out of a window and winds up in Bermuda and someone finds those incriminating pictures of me buried in there? WHAT THEN? Oh, and to my co-workers: Fascination does not equal fear. It equals fanaticism. Go pop another one of your pills that you refuse to share, let me watch the sky, and we'll all be happy.