Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The NSA is Driving me Crazy

Last week, we found out that the NSA was spying on people and listening to phone conversations. Luckily, george was there to put the fear of the Republicans into people, with his "shame on the people who let you know I was spying on you" speech. This week, we find out that the NSA has been putting cookies on the computers of people who visit their website. Despite the fact that there are specific legislations and laws to prevent the federal government from doing precisely this. Even more fun - the cookies weren't set to expire until 2035. I'll grant you the fact that people who are concerned about cookies will clean out their files often enough that this won't be a problem. You can increase the security levels on your browser so that cookies can't be set. Some people apparently don't see what the NSA was doing as a problem (and to be really fair - they've fixed the problem). "Some people", however, are overlooking something very important: It is illegal for the government to do this. There is federal legislation to prevent this very thing from happening. And there are very good reasons for this lesgislation to be in existance. My question: how many people think that anything will come of it? I know it's naive, but when people - especially the people whom we expect to uphold our laws - break our laws, I expect punishment. Maybe they should all spend the next three years in time out. And to be even more naive, I don't expect my government to track what I do on my phone or on my computer. I thought that privacy actually meant that what I do is private. That if I wanted to look at cartoons of an airplane being forced to make an emergency landing over Crawford Texas while the president was riding his mule and the plane accidentally landed on said mule with said president caught in the middle like the colby on a grilled cheese sandwich, that I could do so in the comfort of my own home without the fear that the Men in Black might notice. (No, there isn't such a cartoon - don't you think I would have linked to it if there were?). I don't want to become a paranoid crazy woman muttering "they're everywhere, they're looking at me." But george is driving me in that direction.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

I've been reading a lot of the coverage of the fact that our dear george has let the government spy on people with my usual amount of outrage and indignance. It's one thing for me to know that I could potentially be monitored every moment of my work day - I signed a form when I was hired that says all computer and phone activity are subject to monitoring. If I had had enough of a problem with that, I wouldn't have taken the job. But it's a different matter altogether for the government to just jump into my personal space, unannounced and uninvited. In the middle of my indignance, I read an article that makes the comment that Cheney should go back and re-read the constitution, when it hit me: George is so bad at his job not only because he's an idiot, but also because he hasn't read the constitution. Either that, or he did read it but didn't ask for someone to explain it to him. I'm pretty sure that the language would be over his head. Either way, he's an idiot. A very powerful, very dangerous, one.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

What a Week.

Whew. Over the past two days, I've overseen what I have named the Annual Periodicals Migration Drive (or APMD for short). It's not nearly as glamorous as it sounds. At the end of the year, we have to move a year's worth of bound periodicals from one floor to another. That's about 1500 titles that are moved. At an average of about 4.5 volumes per title, that's a lot of freakin' books. And when I say oversee, I don't mean to imply that I had a huge staff doing it, with me waving them in different directions. It just sounds better when I say 'oversee.' I've moved more books in the past tw odays than I ever hope to again. And I know that the week before Christmas next year will bring the same thing. The year after that I hope to have gotten a promotion. OF course, this APMD week, I've burned a lot of calories. Shed a lot of sweat. So I've looked at it as an effort to burn those Christmas dinner calories before I eat them. Maybe that way, I'll be the same size after Christmas as I was a week before. :) Good news: My sis is coming for a holiday visit! Not on Christmas day, but we'll work on that another year. There's a remote chance that all my brothers and sisters will be together with my parents for the 3rd time in a year. That's a new record since someone went and moved to Florida all those years ago. :) Maybe next year, we'll break it.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Just for fun

You scored 43 masculinity and 70 femininity!
You scored high on femininity and low on masculinity. You have a traditionally feminine personality.

My test tracked 2 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 12% on masculinity
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 76% on femininity
Link: The Bem Sex Role Inventory Test written by weirdscience on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Chocolate Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

Per the requests, here's the recipe for one of the best cheesecakes I've ever eaten. Nothing will ever beat mom's homemade cheesecake - but this comes darn close. It's VERY rich, but yummmmy. My sis's pumpkin latte's would be the perfect drink to go with it, too. Crust ingredients: 1⅓ cup Chocolate Graham Cracker Crumbs ¼ cup butter or margarine, melted 1 Tbsp Splenda ½ tsp cinnamon 4 squares of Milk Chocolate Baker’s Chocolate, divided Cheesecake 3 packages cream cheese, softened 1 can of pumpkin 1 cup Sugar (I used Splenda, and it tasted great) ¼ cup Brown sugar 4 eggs ½ cup evaporated milk 2 Tbsp cornstarch. 1 tsp ground Cinnamon ½ tsp Allspice ⅛ tsp Nutmeg Crust: Mix these ingredients together and press evenly around the bottom of a springform pan. Crush 2 oz of chocolate into small pieces and sprinkle over crust. Set aside In a small saucepan, melt milk chocolate, stirring constantly. DO NOT BURN! Set aside. In a bowl, beat cream cheese, pumpkin and both sugars til smooth. Add eggs, milk, cornstarch and spices and beat until well incorporated. Remove ¾ cup of pumpkin mixture and pour into melted chocolate. Stir completely and thoroughly. Pour remaining pumpkin mixture into pan evenly. Spoon the chocolate/pumpkin mixture over the top, and swirl to create a marbled effect. Bake in a 350° oven for 50-60 minutes. The middle should not be completely set when you remove the cheesecake from the oven. Cool completely and refrigerate. Hint: the best topping in the world for this French Vanilla Whipped Topping, with a slight sprinkle of cinnamon. Don’t even ask about calories and fat grams – you don’t want to know. I use fat free cream cheese and splenda. But the fat-free stuff ups the calorie and carb count. Oh well, it’s the holidays.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Liebrary Board Game

To go with my theme of books, I present: The Liebrary Board Game. Be nerdy and creative at the same time.

The Weekend

Things to do on my last 4 day weekend before I go to work full time: Friday: Major Wal-Mart trip. I'm wrapping up Christmas shopping this weekend. Not to mention we are dangerously low on caffeine supplies, 3 of the basic food groups....and we're having friends over to dinner. Major Wal-Mart trip. Publix trip. Yes, they're 6 miles and ten minutes further than Wal-Mart. But I would build a temple and worship at their produce isle if I could. I think I'll just buy some fresh leafy stuff instead, though. And some good wines. And coffee. Clean House. Ick. Maybe I'll open one of my wines to get me through that. For every room, I'll get one glass. Or maybe a half glass - I'll have to cook later. (I have a small house, but still....) Cook dinner. Not sure what yet. Definitely steamed spinach. Sautéed mushrooms. Stuffed Zucchini sounds good, but it's a bit time consuming. (note to self: buy an extra bottle of wine as incentive to stuff zucchini) And maybe I'll get hubby to spring for some lamb at Publix. He loves their meats as much as I love their fruits and veggies. Hmmm. He'd probably like some fried rice too. Drink some wine, and have a good time with Clark. It's the last time we'll see him til we meet up with him in France at the end of March. He's leaving next week to visit family before he leaves the country for four months, so I know we'll be up and talking late. Saturday: Time to REALLY finish the shopping with Stacey. I know I have to get two things at the mall, which will be wonderfully crowded and frenzied. Then Joann's is having a big sale on Christmas stuff. I'm singing Saturday night, then selling the CD's at church, so I'll have to be there by 4:30. Then home to finish leftovers and wine from Friday. Sunday: I'll be at church pretty much all day. I'm selling our Christmas CDs before and after all 4 masses. The choir is having the annual Christmas brunch that day, too, so I'll be running out to that for an hour. I'll have time to go catch the sales at the Wal-greens after the 2nd mass, maybe have time to run to Barnes & Noble in the afternoon after the Hispanic mass. Home by 6:30 after the LifeTeen one. Did I mention that Sunday's our first anniversary? That means a good Italian dinner, guessed it. More wine. Monday: Sleep in with hubby, letting the effects of anniversary celebrations slowly seep from my brain til it's not painful to think about actually getting out of bed. Curse the fact that I have to go hit the on button on the coffee machine to make the damn thing start brewing (note to self: set up coffee maker before going to dinner on Sunday). Force myself to make it to my 11:30 dentist appointment for more fun with needles and sharp implements. Then we get StepSon for 3 days, so I know I'll be doing some cooking. And I need to bake about 6 dozen cookies, because apparently everyone at my new job exchanges stuff like that for Christmas presents. Think I'll do Mexican Wedding Rings and Christmas Trees and Wreaths. Maybe I'll even get StepSon to help decorate them. Ha. He's way too cool for that one.

Me and Books

Well, was tagged by big sis Karen for this, so here are 15 facts about me and books: 1.) The first time I read Gone With The Wind (early teens???) I was really ticked off. I had seen the movie over and over (I probably heard it in the womb and fell in love with it at that point, as it's one of my mom's favorite movies too). I assumed they told the whole story in the movie, and found out that they left out, among other things, some of Scarlet's children. It was my first experience with the big differences between a book and its movie - and it made me mad. 2.) Continuing the GWTW theme, remember the year that The Wind Done Gone came out? My sis and I loved the title of the book - had a good laugh at how clever it was on my summer vacation. That year, totally unplanned, we bought each other the same thing for Christmas - a copy of TWDG. We both agree the title is the best part of the book, too. 3.) My favorite book of all time is Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. I read it in high school for some class or the other, and loved it. I still cry when I get to the end, too. 4.) Yes, I cry when I read good books. The first book that made me sob, though, was Jude Deveraux's A Knight in Shining Armor. I was about 14 or 15 (had to sneak that one - see the next point for how I got it), my grandparents were visiting, and I finished it one night after dinner after sneaking down to my room to read. Then I had to go upstairs and explain why my face was all splotchy. 5.)When I was about 14, my grandmother started sneaking my romance novels. Every time I saw her, she'd have three or four for me. Some were nice big historicals, others were Harlequins. All different types. The first time she gave me a stack of them - and they always came in one of those small brown paper bags, the kind you used to take your lunch in to school - she whispered "we won't tell your mom. And nothing's like the books say it is." I was in shock. But I read the books, and took her some on our next visit. 6.)A few years ago, one of my siblings expressed the opinion that "if books have been banned, it's probably for a good reason." Two months later, all of her children got banned books for Christmas presents. 7.) I have a really hard time using library books. Yes, I'm a librarian. Books that I use for research are one thing. And I do not work in a library that has a lot of fiction, so I don't read much of our collection in my spare time. Using the Public Library is really hard for me, because once I've read a book I think it's mine. I don't want to give it up - I want it to be there, on my shelf, so that I can go and pick it up and revisit the characters whenever I want. 8.) As a result of #7, I once paid the Hoover Public Library over $200 in fines - after only having a library card there for three months (this was about 6 or 7 years ago). I decided it would just be cheaper to buy the books myself. Yes, it makes me a bad librarian. I don't care. I'll just buy my books. 9.) I don't remember learning to read. I've been doing it as long as I remember, and I used to get really frustrated in the reading circles in 1st and 2nd grade with the kids who had to sound out every word. I wanted to know what happened, and I couldn't turn the page until everyone was ready to. 10.) I got in trouble more times in the 4th grade for reading during class than any other year. I got in trouble every year, but in the 4th grade I set my record (and no I don't remember how many times - I finally threw away the journals I had in grade school, and that's where the numbers were). 11.) The Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House books are some of the best books ever written. I don't remember how old I was when I read them the first time, but I can still picture the shelf that held them in the children's section of the library my mom took me to (back when she made sure I would return things so she didn't have to pay the fines). In fact, when I graduated from college I went on eBay and bought the entire set, complete with the original cardboard holder. Then I spent a Saturday re-reading them all. My best friend thought I was nuts - I got a degree in English and read children's books. 12.) I have a really hard time loaning out books. I'm afraid that I'll never get them back. If I let you borrow a book, it's a compliment. With some of my friends, I'll just buy them a cheap copy (Not that I have expensive 1st editions or anything - but they're mine!) Yes, it's psychotic. 13.) One of my favorite books is The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien. I read it in college, and I still re-read it every couple of years. I even did a paper on meta-fiction as a result of it. 14.) The first romance novel I ever read was Wild Southern Rose by Caroline Bourne. I got it and The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss at the same time, but I don't remember how or where. I have a feeling I might have snagged them from my older sister's room (sorry, Karen - I still have TFATF, if you want it back - but it's falling apart). 15.) I read the entire Flowers in the Attic series by VC Andrews on the sly. I don't know how old I was, but I was sneaking it off my sister Kathy's shelf (we shared a room at the time) at night while she worked. Mom caught me with one of the books when I fell asleep with it one night and she found me in the morning. It was too late, though, because it was the last book in the series. So I finished it by the time I was 13 and Kathy moved out. I think that's where I got the idea to snag the romances in # 14 from Karen.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Death Penalty Thoughts

I've never agreed with the death penalty. The thought that by killing someone you are somehow writing a wrong seems extremely medieval to me. Two wrongs never make a right, and killing someone should be avoided at all costs. The recent media binge on Stanley "Tookie" Williams seems even worse, though. It makes me question the entire reason we have a prison system. I did a paper last year on prison libraries, and learned a bit about the history of prison systems as a result. Prisons were originally meant to places of rehabilitation and reform. Yes, the inmate is being punished for whatever wrong he did (in Williams' case it was murder). But at the same time he is denied the right to most of his freedoms, he is also supposed to be learning a lesson. Learning that crime is wrong, to put it in very simplistic terms. Hopefully, when he is released back into society, he will be able to live a crime free life - because he learned his lesson in prison. The death penalty says that a certain individual has no possible hope of reform. He is judged to be beyond hope of being a decent human being ever again, then locked away for years to await death. Death is his punishment, and it is much easier than trying to rehabilitate someone. (In Williams' case it took them 11 minutes to find the vein - but we are a civilized people. It would have been quicker and more humane to just use the guillotine.) Killing someone does not make the world a better place. In fact, it puts you on the same level as the person you are killing. Sometimes, it puts you at a lower level. But is the death penalty effective? In his book, The Death Penalty: A World Wide Perspective, Roger Hood writes: It is not prudent to accept the hypothesis that capital punishment deters murder to a marginally greater extent than does the threat and application of the supposedly lesser punishment of life imprisonment. Hood's book is a good place to learn about the death penalty. He has gathered all kinds of statistics on the countries of the world that do and do not use capital punishment. In fact, the countries with the lowest crime rates in the world have outlawed the death penalty. The so called 'civilized' world has rejected capital punishment as an effective means to prevent future crimes. Take a look at these lists - I'll put a shortened version here: Countries that have outlawed the death penalty: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Cambodia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Mexico, Monaco, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Venezuela. Countries that still use the death penalty: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Botswana, Burundi, Chad, People's Republic of China, Congo, Cuba, Ethiopia, Ghana,Iran, Iraq, Japan, North Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Liberia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestinian Authority, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United States, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen, Zimbabwe. There's a proverb I learned in my Spanish classes that seems appropriate here: Dime con quien andes, y te dire con quien eres. Tell me who your friends are, and I'll tell you who are.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Writing, and more importantly: THE CD!!!

Oh how easy it has been not to write for the last week! Yesterday on my lunch break I started getting the itch, though, so I ate fast and found one of the public computers in a corner. I won't get much chance to put anything on paper for the next few days. Tonight is DH's department Christmas party (you should see the oh-so-yummy-and-incredibly-unhealthy Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake I made...), and half of tomorrow morning will probably be spent sleeping off the effects of that, as I'm sure a couple of people will come back to our house with us for more party fun. Tomorrow there's the shopping, then a best bud from grade school is coming in that'll take up the weekend. Maybe I can push DH out the door to the gym in early afternoon and get a couple of hours in. But on to bigger and better news: THE CD IS HERE!! I AM HOLDING IT IN MY HAND !!! {deep breath} Ok, the CD that my choir made - "Love Came Down" - is a Christmas CD. All proceeds are going to St. Thomas on the Gulf in Long Beach, Mississippi. And may I say that it is one awesome CD? They cost $15 for one, or $12.50 apiece for two or more. Don't blame me for the weird pricing scheme. So what's on it you want to know? O Come All Ye Faithful Silent Night/Night of Silence (gorgeous duet w/ two of our teen choir members) Do You Hear What I Hear O Holy Night (solo!) Child of Mary (choral piece, but it starts with a duet that is!) Lo, How a Rose (has a solo descant part that!) Away in a Manger (unbelievable guitar piece by our choir director) Mary Did You Know (gorgeous solo by our Alto Diva) Joy to the World Let There Be Peace on Earth And a couple of others that I've forgotten. Ok, I'm done showing off now. But I had to get that off my chest, and hubby is getting very tired of hearing about the CD. ("The CD will be here next week!" ...."I may be late Wednesday, cause the CD will be at practice!"... "I'm on my way home, listening to the CD!" ...."I'm home, do you want to hear the CD?!!"....etc.)...

Monday, December 05, 2005

Christmas Tree Fun

We put up the tree this weekend, and it is a tree of depth and brilliance if I do say so myself. I say "we" put up the tree. It was only a joint operation in that my husband held the tree steady while I turned the screws in the stand. My step-son also grunted occassionaly when I asked if he would like to hand any ornaments. They both complained that they could not watch TV while I decorated - I MUST listen to Christmas music while I decorate, and I don't want to have to strain my ears to find Nat King Cole's voice among the shouts over whatever sports show is currently reporting things all wrong. But my house is now officially ready for Christmas. And do you know who is getting the most enjoyment out of the whole thing? The cats, of course. They think of the tree as one giant fun-stand that I must have put there for their entertainment. Their favorite game today is to play hide and seek around the trunk. So I'm starting the official count: instead of days to Christmas, I'm counting how many days my cats do not A.) kill themselves by chewing on electrical cords, B.) knock down the tree altogether or C.) give me a heart attack yelling at them. Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Lazy, lazy, lazy me....

I have done absolutely nothing productive today. Nothing. Not one word written on a story. Not one fact researched for a paper. Not one email opened that had absolutely anything to do with something resembling work or school. For the past two hours I have been on my couch. Cup of coffee beside me. Still in my robe. Favorite throw over my legs, with a cat curled up on my feet. Watching re-runs of Little House on the Prairie (or whichever follow-up series it is that Hallmark is currently showing - Laura's got a baby now, but it doesn't matter - almost every episode makes me cry) and now the Waltons are on (they just found out that John Boy is still alive after being MIA in WWII - I can tell this is going to be a tear jerker too). (Damn it, I stopped to watch for 45 seconds, and I'm crying. Wake up John Boy!!! It's your Mama! {sob, sob}). Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, lazy, lazy me. (I do not like the second john boy. he's missing the mole on his face for one thing.) but I have to go shopping soon. Tonight, I'm having Aunt Debbie's Fun Sleepover and Evening of Child Mania, Episode One. What that actually means is that six of my nieces and nephews are spending the night (Wake UP JOHN BOY!!!) and that I'll be busy stuffing them full of the most un-healthy food I have on hand and letting them watch movies that their mother would disapprove of. Opps, forgot my sister may occassionally stop by here and read. Oh well, by that time I'll have her children and there's nothing she'll be able to do about it. Anyway, I anticipate that the evening will end with at least one child not liking the fact that I have two cats that like to prowl around at night. Followed by at least one child not liking the fact that I'm sleeping on the only available couch while they sleep on the floor. After that, I'll probably threaten them with barley for breakfast if they don't go to sleep, at which point they will all giggle uncontrollably for at least 20 minutes before falling into oblivion. I'm planning on them being up til who nows when, when in reality they'll probably be asleep by 11. Ok, this post is getting long enough to be work - and that's against the rules this morning. I need more coffee anyway, and... DAMN IT JOHN BOY WE ARE ALL CRYING, SOBBING IN OUR HANKIES WAITING FOR YOU TO MOVE YOUR EYES! ARE YOU HAPPY NOW? WILL YOU EVER WAKE UP??? ********************************************************** Update, because I know you are as concerned about John Boy as I am: He has finally spoken. He's been asleep with his eyes open, and Olivia's been waiting for him to act alive. Now he does, and it cuts to commercial. And it looks like Olivia's found someone else to take home to the mountain to take care of and add to the crowd, but I have no idea what his name is. Oh yeah, he said "mama" - more tears, of course. I really need to get away from the TV

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Have you ever thought about the word "send"? Me either. Until about 2 minutes ago. That's when this four letter word became the most beautiful word in the world to me. In fact, it's now my word of the day. The point of all of this is that I just used that word in my email account to send one of the most beautiful emails of my life. I just sent my final project (it took 6 attachments, including one powerpoint and a link to a website that i created) to the instructors for my final class in my graduate program. My last act as a graduate student was to hit that one little button to email my papers. Hopefully, they won't ask for any clarifications, and I'm finished. Which means in about a month I'll be receiving a piece of paper in the mail that will be almost as valuable as my marriage certificate. My diploma. So today, the word "send" is the most beautiful word in the world to me.