Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Vizzini Winery

Vizzini Winery
Originally uploaded by lildebbie_77.
Here are some pictures from the weekend with my in-laws - which I am happy to say went almost completely painlessly. This one was taken outside of our local winery, which I wrote about earlier in the month. Looking at the pictures it looks like all we did was eat and drink. And that's pretty much close to the truth.
Half the pictures are pretty blurry - I was using a non-flash feature on the camera, and it makes things blurry if you're not careful enough to stand still. One day I'll get this picture taking thing down.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Google China

Google has created China's very own Google service. www.google.cn So what's the problem? Google is filtering what sites are returned in a search, based on what the Chinese government says is kosher for the Chinese people to look at. There are two sides to this argument, and both make good cases. First off, Google explains their actions as being necessary. In order to provide any kind of information to the Chinese people, they have to only provide what the government says it can. So Google is taking information that is now hard to find and making it easier to get to. Whether or not Google operates in China, their citizens have access to the same information. Google isn't telling the Chinese that they can't look at this-and-that information; they're just organizing what's already there. So, in this way, Google is doing exactly what it does everywhere else - getting available information together in an organized way and making it easier for people to find what they want. Their basic theory is that limited, easy-to-get-to information (in this case, censored information) is better than limited, hard-to-get-to information. On the other hand, there are plenty of people that are upset that Google is willing to play China's censorship game - because Google is, in effect, censoring what the Chinese people get when they do a search. In fact, the government doesn't give them a list of sites that aren't 'approved,' they give them a list of guidelines. Then Google picks and chooses which websites the searcher will be pointed towards on their quest for information. So Google is censoring what people see online through their search engine. And since part of Google's idealogy includes phrases like "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful" then it's easy to see how limiting the information that one gets is counter to the grand scope of "world's information" and "universally accessible." Censoring what a searcher finds is exactly the opposite of universally accessible. Other search engines have done the same thing in China, but none have Google's motto of "Don't be evil.." Google has a point, though, in that their mission statement is to take available information and make it easily accessible. If they want to be able to have a piece of the Chinese market if/when the market ever becomes free-er over there, then they do need to get their toe in the door now. If they wanted to stick to their moral high ground, then they probably shouldn't have caved into China's demands. Of course, some people have already found a way to do what is being called "Hacking Google China." Let's see how long it takes for a patch to be worked up for it. So what do you think - are they doing evil, or not? I tend to not think they're doing anything wrong. They're simply organizing the information that is already available and making it easier to use. And maybe someday soon, everything else will be available too.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Veal a lá Barone

Yes, the name is completely my invention. I looked around a few veal recipes on Thursday night, trying to decide how I wanted to cook my veal. Of course, I found 20 that I liked (the main criteria for me to approve was for it to require A.) Veal and B.) some type of wine). In the end, when it was time to cook, I just cooked on my own. I briefly thought about looking up one of them, but then forgot about it by the time I was finished chopping the onions. Let’s see if I can remember what I did, cause it was yummy. It very well might be extremely similar to something that has a real name. But don’t tell me. Let me believe I’m original. (If you want specific amounts, you’re out of luck, but you can look through the recipe and see what I put down.) You’ll need:
  • veal cutlets (we had 7)
  • bread crumbs
  • olive oil
  • a couple of egg whites
  • pearl onions
  • shallots
  • fresh garlic
  • fresh sliced mushrooms (I got a package of the gourmet mix from Publix with Baby Bella, Shiitake and Oyster mushrooms)
  • your choice of wine (I had also intended on making a Marsala sauce, but couldn’t find any Marsala. Or Madeira for a Madeira sauce. So I used the open bottle of Sangiovese from our local winery).
  • chicken broth
  • cornstarch
  • salt and pepper to taste. And whatever other seasonings you like.
Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in large skillet. Dip veal cutlets in beaten egg white, then bread crumbs. When oil is sizzling, put the veal in the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes on the 1st side, and 2 or 3 minutes on the second side (you may have to add another tablespoon of oil). While the veal is cooking, finely chop 5 or 6 pearl onions and 2 or 3 shallots. When veal is finished, remove it from pan (leave the oil) and place on paper towels to absorb excess oil. Put veal on cookie sheet and put in 300 degree oven while you cook the sauce. It’ll get nice and crispy. Put chopped onions and shallots in remaining oil in pan, and press fresh garlic into pan as well. Crack fresh pepper to taste into skillet. Sauté-until well cooked (about 5 or 6 minutes, longer if you added fresh oil after veal). Dissolve 2 tablespoons corn starch in ¼ cup of wine, and set aside. Pour ½ to 1 cup of wine and 2 cups of chicken broth into skillet. Add the mushrooms. When mushrooms are cooked as much as you like (about 5 minutes if you’ve got thick slices), add the cornstarch and wine mixture, stirring constantly. Cook until the gravy is the consistency you like. Place Veal on serving platter and either pour the gravy over the top or serve on the side. Eat with a really good red wine. We had another bottle of Sangiovese with it, then opened a Valpolicella.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Why do I still sob every time I see the last 15 minutes of Forest Gump? Now that I know the end, I start tearing up before he ever says "You died on a Saturday morning." It just gets worse from there.

Today's Special

Things my father-in-law and I have cooked today:
  • 9 AM: gnocci (which is neither spelled or pronounced as I thought)
  • 10 AM: Pepper Biscuits
  • 11 AM: Minestrone
  • 1 PM started the biscotti
  • (after this we went to a winery)
  • 4 PM: started meatballs and red sauce for them
  • started vodka sauce for the gnocci
  • started next step of biscotti
  • started dessert, which does not have a name but does involve uncooked bourbon poured with honey over crushed vanilla cookies
Next we'll let the biscotti cool, then dip it in chocolate. Then we'll cook the gnocci after my sister (and hopefully her hubby) get here. And make a salad. And before we do anything else, I'm going to get the cheese (from the winery) and crackers ready, start prepping the garlic bread. And God willing, drink some wine. Update If you ever have the chance to get a Gorgonzola Cheese Torta with Roasted HAzelnuts and Cranberries - TAKE IT! And eat it on sliced apples. Trust me, it's worth it.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Forgive Me Father, For I Have Sinned

I had breakfast with one of Alabama's two Republican Senators. Senator Shelby, to be exact. (Is it bad that not only did I go to this breakfast this morning, but also that he's been one of the state senators for the entire time I've lived in Alabama (about 20 years) and I don't know his first name?). Well, when I say breakfast, I mean they had a huge bowl of mixed fruit and a few trays of pastry-and-mini-muffin-type-items. Except for the fruit, it's the exact same pastry- and mini-muffin-type-items that they serve at any briefing, training or early morning event on base. We only had fruit because a few generals, Dear senator and the Montgomery city council were there. But I'm on to them now. I know that out of the three trays of pastry type items, there will only be two cheese-pastry-type-items per tray. And the cheese-pastry-type-items are definitely the best of the lot. The poppy-seed-mini-muffin-type-item is also ok. We also had our choice of two juices or coffee. By now, you should know what I chose to drink. It was 7 AM. We had been instructed to be at "The Montgomery County Town Hall Meeting with Senator Shelby" and in our seats by 0720. (That means 7:20 AM to the rest of the world). Which means I needed to be on base by 0650 (6:50 AM). Which means I had to leave home at 0545 (5:45 AM) and get my lazy butt out of bed by 0515 (5:15 AM). Which means that by 0720, I'd had two cups of coffee before I left home, a cup of coffee and a mountain dew on the road, then two cups of coffee before our "Town Hall Meeting" got started. The thing about lots of caffeine and little sleep, is that I find things hilariously funny. When I'm in this state of mind, things like "we're going to go to war with Iran, Palestine and North Korea tomorrow" (which Dear Senator did NOT, I repeat NOT, say) would be the equivalent of Chris Rock's infamous "Bring the Pain" video. I felt that it would be a good idea for me to find all of Dear Senator's comments funny, rather than insulting. So we (I and a co-worker, and about 200 military personnel) went. The most exciting part is always when the Generals walk in: somebody yells some unintelligible word that the military somehow understands to mean "stand up and salute, you lowly officer, there's a general in the room". Over time, the civilians have also learned that this sound means that this is the point where we stand and try to look just as important as the military (salutes make you look much more official, but I'm not joining the air force just so I can join their saluting club) (and is anyone else reminded of Pavlov's dogs?). Then it was your typical political shin-dig. "Blah blah, we're honored to have the senator." "Glad to be here, blah-blah, before I get started, blah-blingy-blah, Now I'll explain my thoughts, bore-me-to-tears-now, blah,bippity boppity blah, I'll open it up to questions." 40 minutes of Q&A later, we were free. Well, my bladder wasn't very free, it was actually quite full. As was my co-worker's. I used that as an excuse to leave, even though Dear Senator was making his way down our row of tables shaking hands. Or maybe he was checking to make sure that he hadn't forgotten to use one of his props (he brought charts and graphs - not for his opening speech, but in case they came in handy with one of the questions). I briefly lamented that I hadn't brought my camera so that I could have my picture taken with him. It would have been a great gag gift for my Hubby on his birthday. Or at least, it would have been great to watch his face as he yelled "what the hell am I going to do with a picture of a Republican senator?" Especially if Dear Senator had signed it "To You, With Love"

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Weekend

Did I mention the in-laws are coming in town this weekend? They arrive Friday afternoon, and are planning on leaving Tuesday to go to Florida for a couple of months. Part of me is very excited about the trip - My father-in-law (Rocco) is bringing a supply of wine (as in an entire case) to us, not to mention the added bonus of his new home-brewed liquor (more on that after I get to taste the stuff. Well, more on that if I survive). He's also a great story teller, and has some doozies from the 5 years he lived in Italy. I love to cook for people, and now I have two more people to show off for this weekend. And as for my Mother-in-law Marie.... I still have hope that one day in the future, she will realize what a wonderful person that I am, that her son really does love me, and that (amazingly) even her first-born most precious grandchild (my step-son) can tolerate me as well as any 14 year old tolerates any kind of adult sharing his living space. One day soon, she'll wake up and just know that I am not evil, that I have sterling silver qualities and a heart of gold and she was foolish to ever doubt that. Ahem. Now that the vanity trip is over.... This weekend also has the potential to be horrible, long and an exercise of holding my tongue. Marie's usually very polite, but every once in a while lets something slip that would be hilarious if I were living a sit-com. They want to take over my kitchen and cook. Well, Rocco wants to teach me how to cook this pasta that their family makes, and the correct sauce to go with it. I'm sure that will be fun, cause I love to cook new stuff and I'm sure that his version of cooking involves lots of wine. Both in our glasses and in the food. Marie wants to make bean soup. Which would be really yummy if anyone in our family liked bean soup. But, alas, we don't. And she wants to do it in my kitchen. Monday night, I'll be at work - but Hubby told me not to worry, his mom could take care of dinner. I know I have problems when it comes to the kitchen area. So I'm a little territorial. That's probably my favorite room in the house - especially since I now have a laptop that comes in there with me. But I should probably loosen up. It's not like I have expensive pots and pans, or lots of and silver tea sets. Our dishes came in box from Wal-mart, complete with silverware, glasses and napkin rings, and cost about $30. So I'm being melodramatic here and now, with the hopes that I'll prove myself wrong and end up having such a wonderful time that I'll beg them to stay for a couple of extra days. I'm sure you'll hear all about it next week.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Blog Heaven

For some reason, my blog decided to go haywire on me. I made a post on Sunday, it looked great, go me.

Then Monday, I went to look at it and fiddle with the template some more (I did promise that I wasn't finished)....and there was nothing there. Just the name of my blog and my new pretty background. With the messed up text field.

I go to fix it tonight - or to try and figure out what's wrong, at least - and Blogger's down for maintenance. From 4 - 4:30 PST. It is now 5:24 PST and they're still not up and running. By the time they are, I probably will have consumed too much wine to be able to wade my way through the CSS and figure out what the hell happened in the first place.
So I decided to try Performancing for Firefox. I had sent some info on it to my sis a couple of weeks ago when I first heard about it - hoping she would try it out with her vast amounts of spare time (and it worked, she did - not that she really has vast amounts of spare time). She loved it, but I never got around to downloading it.
Well now I have. If this post comes through, it's only because Performancing got it there.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Banana Spice Bread

I had some left over bananas that were not very tempting to me anymore (I like mine to be almost completely green), so I just had to make banana bread today. I got out my Betty Crocker cookbook - for my standby banana bread recipe - but it did not inspire me today. For one thing, I didn't have all the ingredients, and I had too many bananas. But I did have bananas that were just screaming out to be made into bread. So I improvised a bit. I think next time I might add a little more cinnamon and cloves, but not much. And I think I may have discovered the perfect banana bread. Banana Spice Bread 1/2 cup butter 1 1/4 cup Splenda 2 1/2 cups mashed bananas (I had 3 smallish ones and 3 medium-large-ish ones) 1/2 cup fat-free plain yogurt 1 1/2 tsp vanilla 2 1/2 cups flour 1 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp baking powder 1 tsp cinnamon 1/2 tsp cloves aprox 1/2 tsp freshly ground allspice (I ground up about 4 or 5 with my mortor and pestle) Cinnamon-sugar (I make my own with Splenda) Preheat oven to 375 Cream together butter and splenda. Add bananas, yogurt and vanilla and mix until throuroghly blended. In a separate bowl, sift together the rest of the ingredients. Add slowly to banana mixture, until they are blended thoroughly. Pour batter evenly into two greased loaf pans. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, and place in oven on lowest rack. Bake for approximately 45 minutes, or until done as much as you like. I like mine a little underdone, and 43 minutes was perfect for me.

Oh Yeah...

I finally put all of my Christmas pictures up on Flickr. /sheepish look Karen's been at me for almost a month, but I'm just too lazy sometimes. :) http://www.flickr.com/photos/lildebbie77/sets/72057594051776396/

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Trying to Make it Look Pretty....

...but I'm only making a mess of things. Yes, the blog is supposed to be prettier now. Lie to me, and tell me it is. I'm not done - just frustrated. Trying to sort through code, with two males - both of whom assume I'm starving for their attention - are in the same small house....it's an exercise in frustration. I mean - is lunch REALLY necessary? Haven't they eaten 3 or 4 times in the past 24 hours? So they were happy, cause I got the hot dogs out of the freezer and let them load it up. While I went back to my computer - and made the blog look even worse. Grrr...

Lulu Titlescorer

How to waste at least 30 minutes: I Found a fun little tool through Amy at Reading, Writing and Absolutely No Arithmetic yesterday. Go play with it, and see how marketable your titles are. Out of the 4 that were dancing around in my head at the time, only 1 was more than 45%. And all four of them were books that I've bought. One of them was a best-seller that scored very low. The thing about titles: 99% of them sound stupid when you just say them out loud. Especially, for some reason, romance titles. A book like "The Secret Life of Bees" - you hear that title and can almost immediately see the levels to it. A title like you'll find on quite a few Silhouette Desires' - well, half the time I hear these titles and mentally role my eyes. Sometimes, I literally role my eyes. So, how can a title-scorer possibly work? It's all based on what parts of speech you use. Try putting in the information without actually typing in the title - you'll get the exact same results. But one action verb isn't just as good as another, and one concrete noun isn't equal to another. But you know what? I still spent time playing with it.

Friday, January 20, 2006


Snopes.com is good for all kinds of things. Checking out internet hoaxes, usually. A laugh, occasionally. And today, it was good for re-inforcing the idiocy of the man who is our prez. These are actual words he spoke last year, taken from a White House transcript. It's supposed to be about Social Security/Medicare coverage.
Because the - all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those - changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be - or closer delivered to what has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the - like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate - the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those - if that growth is affected, it will help on the red.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

100 Books

Saw this on a couple of blogs a couple of days ago, and thought: Cool! I bet I read 100 books a year. In fact, I've already read about 6 or 7 this year, and I feel like I'm not reading very much right now (mostly because I'm trying to write more). So, eHarlequin wants me to keep a blog detailing what I'm reading. No way do I have time to keep two blogs...but wait...what's this in the middle of the page?
"send you an exclusive monthly coupon code worth an additional 10% savings to fuel your reading habit"
ahh...maybe I could take a few minutes here and there to say what I'm reading. If I like it, and why. In fact, about 4 of the books that I've read this year have been Silhouette's. Do I really have time over the year to read 100 books? Absolutely. Do I have time to document them? Probably not, but if they want to give me incentives...well, it's certainly worth a try, hmm? Maybe - if I get really ambitious this weekend - I'll even update my blog template. Stick in a spot on the sidebar for books that I'm reading. Take off the NaNoWriMo meter, and update it with one for my current project (a re-incarnation of the NaNo project). So, here's a recap of what I've read so far, and what I'm reading now:
  • A Lady's Guide to Rakes by Kathryn Caskie
  • The Man Means Business by Annette Broadrick
  • All I Want by Isabel Sharpe
  • The Sins of His Past by Roxanne St. Claire
  • Tycoon Takes Revenge by Anna DePalo
  • A Sorcerer's Treason: A Novel of Isavalta by Sarah Zettel (Just started it)
  • Black Rose by Nora Roberts
  • (Still reading - and yes, I know I'm late getting to this one! :) )
  • Do Fish Drink Water? Puzzling and Improbable Questions and Answers by Bill McLain
So maybe I'll get around to saying what I liked. And as soon as I get the blog set up for that, I'll post the link.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Look what showed up on my online transcript today!

Name : Deborah L. Barone Awarded: Master Library Infor Studies Degree Date: Dec 17, 2005 Major: Library & Information Studies The only way this will be more official is when I get the degree in the mail.
A couple of months ago, I noticed a billboard on the interstate for Vizzini Winery - a winery at my exit. This particular exit has a few gas stations, a bank and a car dealership. The restaurant closed, and has been empty. There's also a small airport, but that's it. For two months, I've looked for signs at the exit itself, telling me which way to go. I've driven down a couple of roads trying to find the place. After all, if there's a winery only 2 miles from my house, I want to know where it is! Finally, on Monday, I found it. They've just put up a sign on their driveway, and you can't see the building very well from the road. Hubby and I went with a couple of friends, and I am in love with the place. Now, I know what you're thinking. An Alabama Winery? I can hear the laughter already. Before we went, I assumed they were talking about Muscadine Wine, that beverage that is so sweet it makes cough syrup seem good. Boy, was I wrong. At the moment, the Vizzini Winery makes about 6 or 7 wines, from white zinfandel to Cabernet Sauvignon. They did a tasting for the four of us, and we sampled all of them - along with a couple of cheeses that they brought for us. After the tasting, we went into the back and spent about 45 minutes on a tour of the facilities (which sounds fancy, but it's all in one room). Mr. Vizzini is a wonderful guide, and obviously passionate about making wine. After the tour, we went out to look through the foods they have for sale. I had to hold myself back - they had an entire display of cheeses, along with a small display of jars of goodies. The dessert case included tiramisu (had to hold myself back again) and a few other heavenly looking things. Since we had just eaten, I refrained from ordering anything. There was also a display of breads - home baked goodies that made my mouth water. We didn't eat anything from the [very small] menu, but we're planning on going back soon. We got a bottle or two of wine, of course. My hubby really likes their Cabernet - but I'm holding out for their first Pinot Noir, which should be ready at the end of the month.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Privacy and Pizza

I'm a little late finding this movie on the ACLU's website - but better late than never. Very interesting - and VERY Scary. (Make sure you have your sound turned on)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

What's happened to Romance?

There's a great post on Romancing the Blog today about the crazy multiplication of romance lines. Brenda Coulter is right in her article - subgenres are getting out of control. I know that when I go to look over newly published books in different lines, I get excited when I see a new line - "Yay!" I'll think. "I love books about women CEO's" or whatever the new criteria are. But after I've read a book or three in these lines, I rarely pick them up again. They become formulaic, too predictable to really enjoy. I have a friend who will still read these - but she doesn't usually buy them. She'll pick them up off of my shelf when she comes in town for a visit and read three in an hour. Why? Because she knows the plot; she's just looking for a good line or two, hoping to find something outside of the norm. All of this results in the fact that there are more books in more lines being produced than ever - but I'm not interested in reading most of them....because I feel like I already have. Three or four times. And whatever happened to good medieval romances anyway? Julie Garwood, come back.

Note on the coffee maker this morning:

"It has come to our attention that there are varying degrees of taste regarding coffee strength. To eliminate confusion, we have come up with a formula for brewing coffee" Basically, a whole pot (12 cup pot) gets 3 scoops, which is 6 tablespoons. For one pot. At home, I make it wayyyyy stonger than that - which may be a reason I have to buy coffee so often, but it's worth it. I think I'm the 'varying degrees of taste' they talked about. For the past few weeks, I've been getting to work about 15 minutes early - and I've been brewing the first pot. There have been some comments about how strong the coffee is (um, negative comments), and I always just smile, say it's yummy to me, and that they can certainly water it down if they want. Apparently, no one but myself thinks that is a good solution. {break to talk to co-worker} Well, now I've been told that I need to go pour out the pot of coffee that I made this morning, because when she opened this morning there were bugs in the coffee pot and the filter. So I have to go pour it out and wash it. I am soooo buying one of these and bringing my own: It may only hold 6 cups of coffee, but I'll just have to learn to live on a half pot at work. I can always drink more Diet Mt. Dew or just go across the street to the coffee shop if I get desperate for more.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A Day in the Life

I got to work at 8:00 on the dot this morning (which is late for me - I like to be early so I can make the coffee. Yesterday, I got roped at the last minute into helping with a presentation on EndNote - which I had never used before. We had 35 students show up, along with about 5 or 6 staff members. Since I do all the statistics reporting on our instruction sessions, I started today with adding up how many people circled "agree" vs. "somewhat agree" vs. ... well you get the point... on the eval forms. Type up the comments sections, and then write up a nice report-type email to my boss, her boss, his boss and his boss. Time-wise, this took 3 cups of coffee (known in the rest of the world as about 1 hour), which meant I had to drink 3 cups of water...at some point Ick. I decided it was time for my morning break, and took twenty minutes to go outside and walk the circle a couple of times (about a mile) while chatting on my phone, then come in and gulp down two glasses before I could think about it. Back to work. We're currently editing our periodicals list - the "Master List." Somewhere in the two years since it was last published, our Microsoft Office package was upgraded to the 2003 version. When that happened, it apparently wreaked havoc with the formatting of the the Master List. It's entirely in Word, each title in its own table. Each table looks great by itself - but the tabs don't match up anymore, and each one has to be changed manually. So what does that mean? I spend hours at my computer, moving around hundreds of lines. Did I mention that there are 399 pages of this? I'm on the E's; started with page 149 today. I'm determined to get to 180 today. There's another project that I'm supposed to be working on right now; our annual Reference Inventory started last week. We have until January 26th to complete it. Basically, I get the cards (yes, our reference collection still has a shelf list on cards) for my section, take them to the books, and go through the books one by one to make sure everything is there. I won't even go into what we have to do if its not. I've got the 900's (I chose it because I thought it would be the most interesting). I haven't started this yet. I was hoping to finish Project #1 before moving on to this one....but since I'm still not working full-time, I'm gonna have to really rush through the inventory. Thought I'd have a couple of hours to stare at hundreds of I marks, but it was not to be. But about 45 minutes later he shipment of periodicals that we sent out last month to be bound returned ....which means I get the list, and check each volume to make sure that what's on the spine is what's supposed to be on the spine. There were about 95 of those. After that, I got to shelve them. It's amazing how hot I get, moving those suckers around. Back to the computer. After about 20 minutes, a student I've been working with comes to me for some help on a new database. Spent about 20 minutes with him, then checked my email before deciding it was time for lunch. Just as I was standing up, a young officer came over to talk about starting in the Library program at UA (we had spoken once before). By the time I answered all his questions and printed some stuff for him, 30 minutes had gone by. Definitely time for a lunch break. So that's the first 4 hours. I never feel like I'm getting a lot done, but somehow I do. This afternoon, I'm sure I'll get interrupted a few more times at my computer. I'm on the desk for an hour, too, which means I get to help all the random people that come in. I love working the desk - you never know what they're going to ask for next. In between answering questions, I get to index the newest issue of Air Force Magazine (another of my favorite things to do) - this issue has an article about satellites (the artificial ones) and space, and a historical piece about the first jet aircraft flight, plus about 8 other things I get paid to read. And on my way to lunch, one of the bosses stopped me and told me that the replacement CD-Rom changer came in to replace the one that broke 5 months ago (I was voting for not having one at all, but....) - could I make some time this afternoon to install it and test it out? Ugh. I hate doing computer work like that. So how was your morning?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


I love blogs. I had a short but intense addiction, which has now settled into a mild obsession. I refuse to allow myself to add anymore to my Bloglines account - I don't really have time to keep up with my subscriptions now - but every once in a while I'll cave and add a new one. So why do I like to read blogs so much? My dad does not get the fascination with keeping or reading them. Some of his comments include: "Why would I want to read about someone I've never met before?" or "If I know them, can't they just email me to tell me what's going on in their life?" I tried to get him into the whole concept - he's a techie, for goodness sake! - cause I knew there are tons of things out there he'd like to read, but he wanted to know why they couldn't just put the information that he's interested in on their website. I like to find the stories that people write about their everyday life, as well as stories on specialized topics. One of my favorite blogs is written by a guy in Denver who's looking for a good man while working some kind of 9-5 job. May not sound fascinating, but peeking into his life a few times a week on his blog is fun for me. Tons of people - including myself - read WaiterRant , Opinionistas, Miss Snark , Shakespeare's Sister, etc. They're awesome examples of how far-reaching one person's writings can be on blogs, how ideas can be sent so far around the world in such a short amount of time. Some people even get paranoid about that kind of thing. Reading comments on these large, well-known blogs is either hilarious - because there are some truly funny people out there - or tedious, as everyone tries to out-do the previous comments. Reading comments on smaller blogs is more fun, because it's often more personal. Maybe it's the voyeur in me. I recently joined Romance Divas, and became addicted to blogs all over again. Some of these writers keep a blog for their writing, a personal blog, ...one is keeping a dieting blog. My Blogroll doubled when I started adding their blogs to my list. The fact that they can keep more than one blog astonishes me. I have a hard time updating this one a few times a week so that people don't log into their Bloglines account and go "Musings? Who the hell was musing, and what was it about?" (and yes, I know that I technically have another blog, that "Things I read" Thing. But that was something I did as an easy way to keep track of books to add to my to-be-read list, since I was always coming across them at work or at school. It's not an actual blog, although if you want to check it out, have fun. It really is just a list of books, though.) But if you want a good food blog that can explore the unusual one minute (avocado cake anyone?) and the humdrum the next, with a side order of humor and some scrumdiddlyumptious recipes thrown in for free, try The Accidental Hedonist . Besides the fact that I love the name, this is one blog I'll be addicted to for a long time.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Google, at it again

We all know that if one could be in love with a company, I would be in love with Google. Well, here they go again. They've been busy putting together a package of software - all freeware - that can be used as a one stop shopping place to get all the essential programs for your computer. FireFox, Adobe, a spyware program. Google Pack lets you choose which ones you want, then download them all at once. Ok, so just when I'm thinking this won't really this won't really help me, because I already have all that on my laptop and my PC.... I find out that along with it, they came up with Google Updater . From the Google Blog :
We worked with a number of technology companies to identify products that are the best of their type to create this suite. (We didn't pay them, and they aren't paying us.) For PC users running Windows XP, it downloads in minutes and installs in just a few clicks. There's only one license agreement - and no wizards. And there's a new tool called the Google Updater that keeps all the software in the Google Pack current. Even if you already have some of the software in the Pack, you can use the Google Updater to update and manage it.
How great is this? And why do I always find the fun stuff while I'm at work and can't play with it? /sigh Oh, and as if all this fun wasn't enough for me, they threw a bonus - the Google Pack Screensaver , which is an easy way to use your photos as your screensaver. I think I'm in falling in love all over again.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

French Toast and Bacon

Last night I asked StepSon if he wanted to join us for breakfast in the morning, cause I was planning on cooking French Toast and Bacon. I was really surprised when he seemed to get excited. He hates whole grain bread - and that's the only kind I buy - so I didn't think he'd be excited about french toast. Although maybe if he can put maple syrup on something, he'll eat it. While I contemplated telling him that it would be whole grain bread, with blackberries on top instead of syrup, and turkey bacon instead of the real thing (not to mention I only use egg whites with 1 yolk in french toast...)....he ran to the freezer, still unexplainably excited. "I don't know how you hid it from me..." he muttered under his breath, pushing various packages of frozen vegetables, frozen berries, and other nutritious things out of his way. "I look in the freezer every time I come over, just in case you've slipped up..." I looked at Hubby, raising an eyebrow. (Well, if I were capable of raising only one, I would have. I can't, but I always think of it that way in my head - it just sounds better). Hubby had no clue what StepSon was searching for either. Finally, he gave up in the freezer and came back over. "Where's the French Toast?" Now I was really confused. "I haven't made it yet, cause it's for breakfast in the morning." Now he was looking very suspiciously at me. "you're going to make it?" He raised an eyebrow (and darn it, he can only raise one at a time) And then I realized what he was looking for - French Toast Sticks. Like those sugar coated deep-fried things they serve at Shoney's on the breakfast bar. I saw myself losing cool points. Again. I lost even more when I explained that no, I was making real french toast (or the American equivalent, because I don't have any French bread, so I was only making semi-real French Toast as opposed to authentic French Toast). With blackberries, but if he wanted he could put some syrup on them. He listened, looking disappointed. I hate it when he's disappointed, but not enough to feed him concentrated doses of sugar. I lost any points I had left with his final question "But you're gonna have real bacon, right?"

Friday, January 06, 2006

Seven Things

Seven things to do before I die : Only seven? Hmmm… 1.) Well, I’ll shorten all the travel stuff up and say: Travel to all the places that I want to see. At this point, the list is long enough that this is only do-able if I win the lottery and quit work to devote myself to travel. 2.) Convince StepSon that even though I may seemingly make his life hell for the next few years as he loses his mind to Teenage Insanity, it is all because I love him. He probably won’t realize this until Teenage Insanity passes, but I can wait. 3.) Get as much fun out of StepSon’s Teenage Insanity as possible – ideas I’ve had include: a.) hugging him in public when I know people are looking our way (I think the movies would be a great place for this); b.) Picking him up from school with Broadway show tunes blaring from both the car and my mouth; c.) Coming up with cute nicknames for use only when he is around his best friends. I’ll happily take suggestions from anyone who has experience or imagination. 4.) Discover my natural hair color. Maybe. And hopefully before said natural color is gray. 5.) Go on my honeymoon again. (ok, I said I did all the traveling in #1. So I changed my mind. Get your own list and you can make the rules) 6.) Publish something. 7.) Learn how to tell my husband I love him in at least 10 languages. Seven Things I Cannot Do: 1.) Play the piano 2.) Decorate the house for Christmas before Thanksgiving 3.) Eat peanut butter 4.) Whistle 5.) Play any type of sport. I am one of the least coordinated people on the planet. 6.) Speak a foreign language (Knowing how to ask “Where’s the bathroom” is essential, but does not make one fluent). 7.) Like any of my best friend’s boyfriends. I’ve tried, and so far I’m batting 0 on this one. Seven Things that Attract Me to My Spouse : 1.) His Mind – he has a PhD, and remembers more facts than I ever will (well, most of the facts are pretty old facts. He’s clueless as to when we’re supposed to pick up my StepSon this afternoon, even though I’ve told him 3 times) 2.) His sense of humor 3.) His patience (especially with me. In the mornings. Before Caffeine) 4.) He loves me. Who doesn’t like to be loved? 5.) He thinks it’s cute that every movie I see makes me cry, instead of rolling his eyes as most of my ex-boyfriends did (and he always remembers to grab tissues for me, because even though I’ve cried in 95% of the movies I’ve seen, I never remember to bring anything to mop my face up with). 6.) His muscles – he’s a strong ‘un. 7.) His smile – he has an extremely great smile. Seven Things I Say (or write!) Most Often: 1.) Ya think? 2.) Lovely (with much sarcasm) 3.) Ho-ly Cow! 4.) “It’s 6 AM – why are you speaking? (to my hubby, who is a morning person), followed closely by….. 5.) More coffee….more coffee… 6.) Seriously 7.) That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard (ALWAYS said to either my husband or stepson). Seven Books (or series) I Love: 1.) Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy 2.) The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon 3.) The Malory series by Johanna Lindsey 4.) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott 5.) The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder 6.) The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A. N. Roquelaure (Ann Rice) 7.) A Woman of Passion by Virginia Henley Seven Movies I Would Watch Over and Over Again: 1.) The American President 2.) The King and I 3.) Star Wars (the original 3 movies, not these new-fangled “I-have-no-acting-ability-and-I’m-going-to-speak-in-a-monotone” actors) 4.) Gone With the Wind 5.) An Affair to Remember 6.) The Odyssey – the made for TV version with Bernadette Peters as Circe 7.) Fiddler on the Roof I'll figure out who to tag later. This took enough mental energy for a couple of posts.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

As I walked in my grandparents side door, my grandfather was waiting with a hug and a “Don’t kiss me, I’ve got a cold sore.” Grandma was right behind him, waiting her turn. We had been on the road for hours (it felt like days); I could smell the soup on the stove, bubbling until it was time to eat lunch. After lunch – if we didn’t have to go visit someone – and after dinner, my grandmother played cards with us. Shanghai, Canasta, Uno – it didn’t matter. We played cards for hours. And my grandmother played for keeps – she didn’t go easy on us, just cause we were her grandkids. She taught us to play, then she won until we learned how to win. The best times were when my brother would go watch TV with my grandfather, and I’d get to play with her by myself. Even better if we could talk my mom into joining in. But this time, it was all of us. We knew we had to start getting ready to go to dinner, but we kept squeezing in one more hand. Some afternoons we’d take a break, and I’d go to beg Grandpa to play the “There’s a Hippo in my Tub” song again, or maybe the soundtrack to “The Wizard of Oz.” After dinner, we came back to the kitchen table for more. Only now, the fun really got going with snacks, sodas (and highballs for those that were old enough) as everyone sat around talking and laughing. The game would go for as long as the players could stay awake. The older I got, the more I talked to them both. But it was always around that huge kitchen table, eating snacks out of plastic bowls and watching Grandma measure out her bourbon in her shot glass for each drink, while Grandpa and Dad argued had discussions at the other end. I never know what triggers dreams like this one. I dream a lot. Most mornings, I remember bits and pieces of dreams (who knows if it’s one long crazy one, or many short ones); some mornings I remember quite a bit. Every once in a while I have a dream that is so real I still believe it when I wake up. On these mornings, I’m already wide awake when my eyes open (instead of taking an hour to get fully conscious, as is my usual habit). And I remember everything about my dream. Sights, sounds, feelings. Like the way Grandpa could give you a hug so big, you felt like you were the most important person in the world to him at that moment. Like the way Grandma laughed every time I beat her at cards, because she knew she had taught me to play for keeps, but to lose gracefully “as a lady should.” Like the way I’ll never stop missing them.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

"We are the music makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams" I was on the RD Forum tonight, and read a post that had the above quote in it. I know it's in the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but some long-ago English class popped into my head trying to remind me that it came from a poem first. And I thought it was one that I liked. So I had to search it out. I was right. It is a poem that I like. Ode - Arthur O'Shaughnessy We are the music-makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams, Wandering by lone sea-breakers, And sitting by desolate streams; World-losers and world-forsakers, On whom the pale moon gleams: Yet we are the movers and shakers Of the world for ever, it seems. With wonderful deathless ditties We build up the world's great cities, And out of a fabulous story We fashion an empire's glory: One man with a dream, at pleasure, Shall go forth and conquer a crown; And three with a new song's measure Can trample an empire down. We, in the ages lying In the buried past of the earth, Built Nineveh with our sighing, And Babel itself with our mirth; And o'erthrew them with prophesying To the old of the new world's worth; For each age is a dream that is dying, Or one that is coming to birth.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Holidays have said goodbye

Took the tree down today. It must be a family thing, cause both of my sisters did too. I used to be a fanatic about leaving the tree up til January 6th - the twelve days of Christmas, and all - but the tree was definitely dead and ready for me to say goodbye. Looking at a half dead tree for a couple of weeks is ok, when Christmas hasn't gotten here yet. Looking at a half dead tree a week after Christmas is just sad. Not even Charlie-Brown-Christmas-Tree sad. Just...ick. Tomorrow it's back to work, and life is back to its normal state...whatever that may be. So yesterday I started a whole 'be-healthy, eat-healthy, damn-it-I'm-a-healthy-person' routine. This morning I weighed three pounds more than I did yesterday morning. This is NOT going to be easy. I'm refusing to get back on the scale til I fit in a size smaller jeans.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year

It's a new year. Hello, 2006. 2005 was a good year for me, so I hope I'm starting a trend. :) I got a fabulous job, spent my first full year as a married lady, took a great honeymoon to Europe, managed to (finally!) get my Master's Degree, and started learning how to be a mom - it seemed like a good thing to do, since I have a teenage stepson. So what's ahead this year? As always, I'm full of plans. In the next couple of months, I'll get promoted at work. Hubby and I are going back to Europe to visit a friend in Paris. We're crossing our fingers and hoping real hard that we're able to get a new house this year. In the summer, we're planning a trip to New England to visit my in-laws (which will have the added bonus of seeing some of my family on the way), and we're really hoping to squeeze in a trip to Grand Cayman for New Year's Eve. My stepson will turn 15, so who knows what things he'll throw our way. My parents-in-law are coming for a weekend trip in a few weeks, and Hubby's best friend from high school may be coming up for a visit in the next week. And my brother and his wife are going to expand our family with another beautiful baby (ok, I won't really have anything to do with that, but it's still exciting). Happy New Year everyone. I hope you all have a year that makes a few dreams come true.