Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I Be Illin' + Weird Dream of the Week

Today is about the worst I have felt since I have gotten sick. My appetite is definitely lower, and I had to take a nap this afternoon. I haven't taken a nap in a long time because I usually can't sleep during the day. I guess the Cold Eeze and echinacea really didn't cut it this time. Hopefully this thing will run its course soon.

On another note, I'm a lot less worried about the GRE test than I was. I looked at the minimum scores required for the library science degree program - and they are pretty damn low. 421 verbal, 400 math, and 3 on the writing portion. Erm, I think I could get scores higher than these if I took the test right this very minute! So I got that goin' for me...

I haven't been remembering too many dreams from the last week, but there was a small portion of one that I do. In the dream I am waiting in line at Wal Mart. The lady in front of me is talking to the cashier and really dragging out the transaction. I'm starting to get impatient. Suddenly Johnny Depp appears wearing a pilgrim hat and playing Irish music on the clarinette. To express my disgust at the lady taking forever to buy her stuff, I do an Irish jig to the music being supplied by Mr. Depp. The dream ended before I found out whether this technique was effective or not. And I had this dream before I started taking medication...

Monday, November 28, 2005

Return to Lemur Island (or Lookout Again Lemurs!)

Now that I have pictures, I want to talk a little bit about my second trip to see the lemurs in North Carolina. I got to help my sister feed some of them. The ‘Zooboomafoo’ lemurs eat sumac leaves, there is another type that eats bamboo, the lorises (similar to lemurs but a different animal) ate fruit and crickets, and the aye ayes got corn on the cob. All of the different species of lemurs are named in different ways – one species has Roman names, another has Greek names, and the aye ayes have ‘spooky’ names like Poe, Kali, Morticia, and Nosferatu. The bamboo eating lemurs all have names that start with ‘Be’, like Beamish, Bejeebers, and Beavis. We gave out some more raisins as an afternoon snack to some of the lemurs that had already been fed their main meal. Some of the lemurs were making grunting sounds that kind of sounded like pigs as they were trying to get us to give them raisins.

Right now the lemurs are in indoor cages because it so cold outside. During the summer, many of them get to ‘free range’ inside large outdoor enclosures of several acres. Electric fences surround the enclosure to keep the lemurs inside, and there is a ‘buffer zone’ right next to the fence where the trees have been cut back so they can’t jump over the fence. There are many trees on the property, and when the lemurs are free ranging they can climb the trees (some of which are 60-70 feet tall).

The aye aye picture is not one that I took, due to the ‘film incident’. The aye ayes live in rooms that are completely dark and have concrete walls, because they like to chew on things to keep their front teeth worn down. Their two front teeth grow continuously like the teeth of rodents. They are nocturnal and sleep in big nests during the day. I read today that there are estimated to only be 50 aye ayes left in the wild. Unfortunately in Madagascar the local people consider them to be omens of bad luck and will often kill them if they see one.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention this, but I thought some of you might appreciate the fact that most lemur species are female dominant. In fact, Beavis the bamboo eater was chased away from the bamboo several times by the 2 females in the same cage. Also, if you want to learn more about the center and the types of lemurs there, check out this web page.

This is a sifaka, the 'Zooboomafoo' type of lemur

My mom feeding a raisin to a sifaka

This is another species of sifaka. Note the reddish eyes.

A gaggle of lemurs? Actually I'm not sure what the name for a group of lemurs is...

A ringtail

This was a baby ringtail. He was very curious and was constantly jumping around.

An aye aye, they are very strange looking!

I took this picture for Holli - this is my brother-in-law's egg collection

And for Acumamakiki, here's a lemming


Obvious Man

I came to a stunning realization today. Okay, actually not stunning at all: I'm still sick and I have no business trying to run until I feel better. I tried to get outside and start on aerating my lawn, and I got pretty worn out. So, I think I need to rest a bit and drink plenty of fluids. About those winds last night, I saw on the news this morning that the maximum winds gusts here were about 55 miles an hour last night! The Christmas tree in downtown Fort Worth actually blew over from the high winds. On my way to the store last night I saw these power lines arcing. When the middle one would blow over and touch one of the other lines, there was a huge blue spark of electricity. It was really freaky.

I did finally get the scanner working. For some reason my computer wouldn't recognize any hardware plugged in to my USB 2.0 inputs. I had to switch the card over to a different PCI slot to get it to work. So, vacation pictures will be coming soon.

Can't Win 'Em All

Today started out pretty well, but it has kind of gone off the rails since then. My flight back was good, everything was on-time with no major hassles. I did find out why it's not a good idea to fly when you have nasal congestion. As the plane descended one of my ears popped, but the other one didn't. It got pretty uncomfortable there for awhile. I think it has finally cleared, but not until the last hour or so.

I wanted to go for a run tonight. I got dressed and headed out. I noticed that it was a little windy, but I decided to try it anyway. Oops. The wind was blowing directly from the west at a steady 24 miles per hour. To get to the track I run south, so it didn't seem too bad. When I rounded the bend on the track and headed west, the wind was blowing so hard I couldn't even breathe. There was lots of dust in the air too, everything looked kind of hazy. There was no way I could run in that wind so I had to bag it.

I got my pictures back from vacation and I was ready to start scanning them, but now my scanner won't work. Hrm. I guess it's probably time to sleep on that one. Back tomorrow with (hopefully) better news!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

HB Day 5 (or Half-Assed Post)

I have run out of time to do a proper post about today's activities. I am going home tomorrow, and I have been trying to get everything squared away for the journey. More lemur fun was had today, although I got to see that it's not all fun since I got to help clean up the kitchen. I had a good chance to throw a hissy fit because I had planned to take some pictures of the aye-ayes, I finished my roll of film on some ring-tailed lemurs, reached in my camera bag for another roll of film - which wasn't there. It was in my bag in my x-ray shielded pouch back at the house. In my younger days that would have been rage city but I think I handled it very well. I mean, what can you do, you know? And yes, I know that's just another argument for getting a digital camera. But hey, tell me your batteries haven't run down at a crucial time or you ran out of room on your memory card or your memory card flaked out? Anyway, I will try to do a little bit better recap after I get home tomorrow. And at least I can't get sick on the plane this time - I'm already sick!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Holiday Blowout Day 4 (or Road Trip!)

Today we went to Winston-Salem, which is about an hour and half from Durham. My mom wanted to go to a museum because they had a Georgia O'Keefe painting, and my sister wanted to take us to Old Salem, which is an area of restored colonial buildings dating from 1766. I wouldn't have minded doing both, but when forced to choose one since the group was splitting up I chose Old Salem. It worked out because my mom discovered that the O'Keefe painting was not currently on display.

The old buildings were really nice. There were several homes dating from around 1770 that I particularly liked. The weird thing is that a lot of them actually are private residences and have people living in them. I don't think I would like living there with all the lookie-loos tramping by every day. There is a bakery in Old Salem that we wanted to go to. When we first passed it there was this line out the door and we thought 'we'll come back later'. At first this looked like a good choice since the line looked shorter when we came back. What we didn't know is that the line snaked around through the bakery and was still quite long. Apparently at one point the cash register broke down, further delaying the proceedings. So, we ended up waiting around 50 minutes to make it through with our purchases. The piece of cake that I bought was good, but I'm not sure it was 50 minutes good! The hot apple cider was nice though since it was pretty cold today - the high was about 43 degrees (which is cold to me!).

I felt like a kid again riding in the car with my sister and parents (my brother-in-law was there too). Especially since my dad had the ol' cruise control locked in at 65. People were passing us like we were standing still! C'mon dad, at least go 70!

I have been downing echinacea capsules and sucking on Cold Eeze lozenges for the last 2 days. My throat isn't sore anymore, but today the coughing started in earnest. My voice sounds worse than Rita Cosby, and it is not very comfortable for me to talk. I looked up the Zicam that Karen recommended, and I saw that it has the same active ingredient as Cold Eeze, so I won't get that for now. I may look into that Airborne stuff that Kiki mentioned. I think I could definitely feel a lot worse at this point, though. I may have to start wearing surgical masks on airplanes!

Tomorrow my parents are heading home. My sister has to work, and the invitation has been extended for a return engagement of feeding the lemurs. I'm all for it since it's not something I get the chance to do every day. I may have to wear a mask to protect the lemurs from my diseased exhalations though! I can't have a sick lemur on my conscience!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Holiday Blowout Day 3 (or The G-8 Summit)

Today we had a large number of guests eat Thanksgiving dinner with us. We had a couple from Russia, a woman from Panama, a woman from Kyrgyzstan, and my sister's neighbors from across the street - a couple from El Salvador. I was incorrect in saying that these were co-workers of my sister's. The Russians were found through the local student newsletter, and the others were part of an organization called the International Visitors Council. This organization hosts people from different countries and lets them interact with people here to do all kinds of stuff - like have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

While I think it's cool to meet people from other countries and show them at least some of what it means to be an American, I have to say that I did feel a little awkward with all of these strangers around. What with being antisocial and all, I guess it made me uncomfortable. My mom and my sister on the other hand are all about this kind of thing. In fact, it's been several years since we had a Thanksgiving dinner that was just our family. My mom is always inviting friends and people from church to dinner. I think my brother-in-law felt the same way I did - he left to go watch football in the living room after finishing his food.

I felt kind of sorry for the Russians, the husband was a student at Tulane and they were in New Orleans when Katrina hit. They rode out the storm on campus and eventually got evacuated to Huntsville, Texas. They got on a bus to evacuate with no idea where the bus was going. Their parents feared that they were dead because the news coverage made things look horrible in every part of New Orleans (even though some areas didn't flood) and there was no way to contact them to tell them they were alright. They are hoping to go back to New Orleans next semester to continue school there.

I guess it was interesting, but it seems like Thanksgiving should be for family. On the other hand, I'll have plenty of years to spend Thanksgiving as a crusty old hermit in the future, so I guess I shouldn't complain. Tomorrow we're going to Winston-Salem to see something or other. I hope all the rest of you had a good Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Holiday Blowout Day 2 (or Lookout Lemurs!)

Today we got to visit my sister's workplace - the Duke Primate Research Center. It was pretty neat, they have quite a few different types of lemurs. One of the more unusual types is an Aye-Aye. They are nocturnal and look kind of like bats with big ears, rodent-like teeth, and big bushy tails. They have very skinny, bony fingers that they use to eat larvae found in old tree trunks. Since they are nocturnal, the enclosures that they are in are dark, and you have to turn on some dim overhead lighting to see them.

We also saw the lemur that looks like Zooboomafoo, I can't remember the species, I'll have to look it up. They really can leap around like that! We got to feed raisins to some of the lemurs, they were all very anxious to get them. I took lots of pictures, but I'm not sure if some of them will turn out. It was pretty dark in most of the cages. The lemurs have to be kept inside right now because it so cold. I will post pictures after I get home.

On another note I feel like I am getting sick. Sore throat and whatnot. It almost never fails with me after I've been on a plane. Or maybe Mama Dip sneezed on my banana pudding last night. I am starting a vigorous regimen of echinacea and Cold Eeze to try and get better quick!


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Holiday Blowout Day 1

I made it to North Carolina in one piece and at least no more crazy than I was before I left. There was a moment of panic at the airport when I realized that I packed a crappy, broken pair of headphones instead of my good ones. I could barely hear the cassette tape I was listening to while waiting to board the plane, so I had to buy a pair of headphones in the gift shop. And yes, I said cassette tape. Holli has loaned me a book on tape. Even I, the most technologically backward human on the planet, felt archaic listening to an actual cassette tape! I really do like it so far though!

For dinner we went to a really good restaurant in Chapel Hill called Mama Dip's, which is pretty much soul food. I'd put a link, but the site is under construction and there really isn't much to see except a picture of Mama Dip. Oh what the hell - here it is. My brother-in-law is a picky eater, and it was pretty obvious he didn't want to go to this restaurant. Apparently he wasn't too thrilled with the last time he went. Thankfully my sister stuck to her guns and we went anyway. My sister is somewhat picky due to the fact that she is vegetarian and must have vegetarian options, but as far as the rest of us we will eat anything that doesn't attempt to run away. Which in my case was a couple of fried pork chops. Mmm-mmm.

It does appear that the battle for computer time will be hard-fought, but it looks as though I may have the upper hand because I'm actually sleeping in the computer room. As long as I don't get bitched out for typing into the wee hours. It looks as though we will be having a mini-U.N. convention on Thanksgiving because my sister has invited several of her international co-workers for dinner. That ought to be interesting. Tomorrow we are going to where my sister works to see the lemurs. I think that will be really fun. Oh, and it's really cold here. My thin Texas blood can't handle it!

Monday, November 21, 2005

What You Ate On The Road

First things first - Porno people, go away. There's nothing for you to see here. Perverts.

I'm taking this act on the road for Thanksgiving, starting tomorrow. I'm going to North Carolina to spend the holidays with my sister, brother-in-law, and my parents. And one crazy min-pin. I'm not sure how much I will get to update the blog since I will have to share the computer with everyone mentioned above. And my mom does like to use the computer. I'm not quite sure what to expect about North Carolina, my sister just moved there in February. I've been to Charlotte and the far western part of the state, but not Raleigh-Durham (which is where I am going this time). My sister and her husband live in a pretty small house, so I hope the somewhat cramped quarters won't freak me out. I expect to revert to an even more childlike state than usual (just temporarily) since I will have little or no control over where I am going or what I am doing. Usually at Thanksgiving I see it as an opportunity to laze about and recuperate from work, but since that's pretty much what I've been doing the last couple of months, maybe I will want to get out and do more things this year. So, if anything interesting happens I'll try to post about it!

On another note, when I went for my run today at the junior high, I saw a group of ravens fighting over a not-quite-empty bag of Munchos. It was pretty surreal to see one of them carrying around the Munchos bag in his beak. I didn't even know they still made Munchos. And I didn't think anyone actually ate them either. I think they're just above Funyuns on my most-hated chip list. I guess when you're a bird you have to take what you can get.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Weird Dream of the Week

I'm hoping that maybe this can be a semi-regular feature here. Sometimes I remember my dreams very vividly. And I do dream in color. If I have any interesting ones I'll try to post about them if I can remember enough. In any event, I had a strange dream last night that stuck with me.

In the dream I was at an Aimee Mann concert in Austin. It was being held in this weird high school gymnasium/cafeteria area. There weren't many people there. Aimee was being really political in her comments and talking about how much George Bush sucks, Iraq is a mistake, etc. The crowd really hated the comments and started booing. This seemed like it really pissed Aimee off so she started playing all these really obscure songs and seemed really angry about it. Then later she sang 'Guys Like Me' rather sarcastically while strolling around the crowd and getting in guys' faces cheesy-lounge singer style.

Damn, I have no idea what that means. Ironically Austin is probably the most liberal place in Texas, the crowd probably would have cheered. And Aimee doesn't make comments like that. I did really want her to sing that song when I saw her.

There's a good chance it doesn't mean anything. From what I understand no one really knows why people dream, but I saw one article that said that researchers think that maybe dreams are a way for your brain to clear out the 'junk' that is cluttering your neural pathways and help your brain function more efficiently during the day. Sounds like as good a theory as any. In any case, even if it doesn't mean anything doesn't mean a dream can't be interesting!

Buh Bye Mabel

I need closure on the Mabel situation, and as it looks like I won't be getting that from her, maybe I can get it by posting about it here. Basically I have talked to her once since we went to IKEA, oh only about seven weeks ago. I called her one Sunday afternoon about 2 weeks after the IKEA trip. I never did call her much because she was always talking about how she didn't really like to talk on the phone. She was studying for a midterm at her Mom's house. We talked for about 10 minutes, until she decided that a trip to the grocery store with her Mom sounded like more fun than talking to me. Yeah, I know I always love to go to the f'in grocery store - where else can I get my Wang Chung fix? I sent her a couple of e-mails after that that she never replied to. So, she either:

(A) Is too busy to do anything but study and go to the grocery store with Mom.
(B) Went fucking crazy from all the stress and killed herself, her mother, and her dogs.
(C) Just flat out didn't dig me.

I thought about trying to call her again, but I figured why waste my time. If she wanted to talk she could drop me an e-mail. If she was interested she was making me work way too hard! C'mon, I'm lazy. I would be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed, but life goes on.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

But I Don't Wanna Learn Math!

One of the careers that I am seriously considering is librarian. I like books and reading, and several of the books I have read have suggested that that career would fit well with my personality type. In order to do this, I will have to take the GRE to get into grad school because you have to have a masters in library science to be a librarian.

I was a little concerned about this since it's been so long since I've taken any standardized test. My initial reaction was that I thought I could do well on the verbal part and struggle on the math part. After reading 2 test prep books and taking some practice tests - my initial reaction was spot on. I'm going to be able to kick verbal's ass six ways to Sunday. Math - not so much.

I was a pretty good student through most of my school years, but I did struggle with math. Especially starting with algebra. I scored about the same on verbal and math on the SAT, but I had to take a prep course and get some tutoring to do well on the math section. I think this explains a lot about why I was unhappy with my job - I have a bachelor's degree in engineering and that was the field I was working in! I've been trying to fit a square peg into a round hole all these years. I can do math, but it isn't intuitive to me like words are. I think I have known this for a long time, but I didn't realize how much it would affect me.

I used to think that my verbal skills were mostly due to reading so much, but now I think that's only part of it. I've read a lot about Myers-Briggs personality types, and my personality type is just more of an 'artistic', right brained type. Reading a lot can definitely improve your vocabulary though. It looks like I'll be up to my eyeballs in math problems until I take the test!

What a Drag It Is Getting Old

I'm starting to notice that my body is beginning to rebel against me. I've started getting arthritis in one of my thumbs. I'm starting to realize I use my thumbs A LOT! Every time I visit my parents, my Mom usually has me open jars for her because she can't do it. I always wondered "How come she can't open jars?". Well, now I can't open jars either. At least not without discomfort.

Starting yesterday, I've also noticed that I'm getting neck pain from using the computer. My monitor sits fairly high up on the desk, which I always knew was not good ergonomically, but it never really affected me so I didn't pay much attention to it. Well, I've now removed the top shelf of the computer desk so I can get my monitor lower.

I'm sure some of you are thinking "Boo hoo, you ain't seen nothing yet." Trust me, I realize that. Pass the Geritol!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Can't Get Arrested

Fox has pulled Arrested Development off the schedule for the November sweeps. This is not a good sign. The networks are trying to get the best ratings possible in November so they can set advertising rates for next season, so when they pull a show during a sweeps month that is a sign that the show is getting poor ratings. Apparently AD is only averaging 4 million viewers this year, down from 6 million last year which was already low. It's getting beat by 7th Heaven fer cryin' out loud. Here is an article from the San Francisco Chronicle with some background. Fox has also declined to pick up the 'back 9' shows for this season, so there will only be 13 episodes this season. In all likelihood, the rest of the shows will be shown until all 13 have aired, and then that's it. I suppose we should be grateful for getting seasons 2 and 3 at all, and at least we'll have our DVD sets to watch over, and over, and over...Damn.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Shave the Whales (or the Lemurs)

My sister replied about the lemur's tail (seen in the zoo post), and it's good news. She worked at the Dallas Zoo in the summer of 1997 and currently works in a primate research center:

The ringtailed lemur, which looks like the same one that was there in '97, has a shaved tail probably for identification. Ringtails tend to look alike from a distance, we have several that look like that so researchers can tell them apart.

So, the lemur doesn't have scurvy, ricketts, or SARS. He (or she) is perfectly fine!


For Those Too Lazy to Cook

I knew that Jones Soda made some interesting soda flavors, but I had no idea they made salmon soda. Apparently they make many holiday flavors. I'm not sure I'm man enough to drink the salmon soda, but for some reason I want to try turkey and gravy. Unfortunately it looks like you have to get Brussels Sprout with Prosciutto to get the turkey soda. There's no way I'm drinking that. I do want to try the pumpkin and pecan pie ones though!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Bye Chicken!

Thanks to a post on Kristen's blog, and a comment by Holli, I got the chance to go to the Dallas Zoo yesterday with Holli and Faith. I thought it was very nice to be included on Faith's first trip to the zoo. I got to be the navigator since I actually know how to get to the zoo without a map. It was kind of nice to be a passenger for a change. I usually find myself driving most of the time. So on the way to the zoo I could savor the scenery (even though there really isn't much to savor) and bark out driving orders (and therefore get to act like I know what I'm doing for once). I have to say that like many of you I am somewhat ambivalent about zoos because I like animals so much. I think it's good that some of the more endangered animals are being bred and kept in zoos, but I don't like to see animals in small cages or enclosures.

We survived the parking lot (barely) :), got Faith situated in the stroller, and then headed for the entrance. The first stop was the "Lemur Lookout". Faith was hoisted up so she could see the lemurs, and she uttered the first of many "Mama look" s and "See? See?" One of the poor ringtail lemurs was missing a chunk of fur from the middle of his tail for some reason. After checking out the lemurs for a little bit, Faith was put back into her stroller so we could move along. She didn't seem too happy about leaving the animals and started to cry a little bit but she soon got over it. The next stop was to pose for pictures in front of the flamingo pond. It was somewhat rough going in that the other people around us seemed totally oblivious to the fact that I was trying to take a picture, and so they just kind of strolled into frame without a care in the world. Maybe Holli can post the uncropped photo with 'Pedro' in it as proof.

While we were looking at the Cotton Headed Tamarins (really cute, tiny little monkeys), there was a father holding his young daughter up to see the monkeys better right behind us. Dad hoisted up daughter, whereupon she remarked, "Daddy, you're hurting my tee-tee!" And yes, I laughed. Luckily Dad had a sense of humor too. Holli is convinced that she scared away the spider monkey since he left not long after she and Faith started staring at it, and the other one would turn his head to avoid eye contact. Maybe it was the anti-spider vibes.

I held Faith for awhile as we walked along some of the larger enclosures that had monkeys in them. Holli is not lying when she says that Faith can get a little heavy after awhile, although I think our definitions of 'awhile' may be slightly different. I don't think 30 seconds is what Holli means by 'awhile'. We posed in front of a large monkey enclosure with some monkeys that would swing across the top of the cage. Holli tried to get a shot of Faith and me with a monkey in the background, but the monkey didn't want to cooperate! By this point Faith had gotten over crying after leaving each animal, I guess she knew now that there were plenty of other animals to see. She started saying "Bye ____" to whatever animal we were leaving. My favorites were "Bye element" (elephant) and "Bye chicken" (a bald eagle). I think the elephants and giraffes were big hits. She also identified the attack squirrel that seemed to be following us through the zoo waiting to pounce as soon as we turned our backs. Holli chose not to teach Faith how to say "Dik-Dik" for some reason. Holli tried to communicate with the lion by staring into his eyes. I'm not sure if she was successful, perhaps she can reveal the answer on her blog.

We tried to go see the gorillas, only to discover that they are not currently on display. A gorilla escaped from the Dallas Zoo about a year and a half ago, and I don't think they've been on display since then since they are trying to revamp the enclosure. We didn't really have time to see everything that was there, but that probably worked out for the best. I think we were there about 2 and a half hours, and as we headed for the exit I realized that I was extremely tired. Something about being outside in warm temperatures and crazy winds really takes it out of me. Carrying Faith around some also probably helped add to my fatigue. Faith definitely likes being caried more than riding in the stroller - she did NOT want to get back into it at the end of the day! She did the leg lock trick to try and avoid being strapped in to the stroller. Overall I thought Faith did pretty well considering that she had no nap. I thought it was a very fun outing, and I think everyone else did too. Holli can correct me if I am wrong!

The post-zoo entertainment consisted of watching "I Have Tourette's But Tourette's Doesn't Have Me" and an interesting movie called Last Night which is about a group of people that only have 6 hours to live. It was very impressive that Holli found a movie that I hadn't heard of before! We also watched some MSNBC Reports shows that featured the dulcet tones of Rita Cosby and the comedy stylings of 'Special Guy 29'. I'm a little worried about Rita, I think she may be ill.

Not sure what's going on with this lemur's tail!

The tiger was pretty far away

This little guy is a klipspringer, and he stayed frozen in this pose for a very long time!

Chimps Up, Ho's Down

We all need our alone time

A couple of monkeys and an elephant

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I Knew I Should Have Bought Some Kevlar Underwear

I have some film left over in my camera from going to the zoo yesterday and so I thought I would take a walk near my house to use up the rest of my film so I can post the zoo pictures. As I sit here typing this, however, the silence outside is being broken by what sounds to me like gunshots every couple of minutes. The county jail is less than a half mile behind my house, but it's probably the owner of the piece of land behind my house shooting a gun for some reason. However, going for a walk near there doesn't sound like all that great an idea anymore! :/

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Flying Leaves

Yesterday I was due for a run. I planned to go in the morning because it was supposed to get pretty hot. Good ol' neighbor dog put the kibosh on that since I put in earplugs to drown out the barking around 7AM. My alarm went off at 9, but due to the earplugs I didn't hear it. I woke up at 10:08. It was already 74 degrees by that time. I heard that the high at DFW actually ended up being 88!

I had watched the weather forecast and they were predicting a cold front to blow in in the late afternoon, so I decided to wait for that. I went outside every now and then to see if the wind had changed direction. I was reading a book by my window when I heard lots of leaves blowing around outside. I opened my back door and stepped outside. There was no mistaking whether the cold front had arrived - the wind was blowing so strong. Anyway, the main reason that I wanted to post about this was because I looked at the trees behind my house and my neighbor's house, and I was struck by the sight of leaves just flying off the trees like a flock of birds after a shotgun blast. It was one of those nature moments I seem to have from time to time where I am taken by surprise and just stare in amazement. Cool.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Congratulations Texans, you are now officially hate-mongering homophobes! The amendment against gay marriage passed 76% to 24%. I need to begin work on the amendment to ban marriage of inbred, redneck hicks. Yeah, right, but a man's gotta have a dream. My hope is that as many people as possible who voted for this thing will have gay children from their 'sanctified' marriages.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Seven Things

I got tagged for this by Anne. Thanks Anne! :P

7 Things To Do Before I Die
1. Visit every continent
2. Be on Jeopardy
3. Go skydiving
4. Create a painting
5. Run a marathon
6. Write a book
7. Be a dad

7 Things I Can’t Do
1. Fake enthusiasm
2. Dance and look good at it
3. Sing in public
4. Ski
5. Appreciate my tremendous nose (sorry I stole this one Anne!)
6. Juggle
7. Speak another language

7 Things That Attract Me To The Opposite Sex
This is an embarrassing mix of the shallow and the not-so-shallow!
1. Intelligence
2. Ability to make me laugh
3. Pretty eyes
4. Integrity
5. Soft skin
6. Legs
7. A nice butt

7 Things I Say Most Often
1. Jackass
2. Your Mom
3. Shit
4. Um
5. OK
6. What?
7. Dude

7 Celebrity Crushes
1. Charlize Theron
2. Evangeline Lilly (Kate on Lost)
3. Zooey Deschanel
4. Rachel Weisz
5. Cate Blanchett
6. Kate Winslet
7. Julian Coryell – just kidding! Um, Ziyi Zhang

I think everyone who reads my blog has already been tagged for this, except Karen! So, Karen, you're it!

Speaking of Marriage

Rant mode: 'On'

Tomorrow is election day, and here in Texas there are 9 amendments to the state constitution on the ballot. One of these is an amendment defining marriage as only being 'between one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage'. You can't really call it a ban against gay marriage because gay marriage is already illegal in Texas. The part after the second 'and' is the real problem. This would seem to indicate that things like same-sex health benefits can be discontinued, and the language of the amendment leaves private contracts between gay partners as potentially being up for legal challenge. I'm sure in this enlightened corner of the planet it will probably pass too. I was actually surprised to read this editorial in the Dallas Morning News recommending a 'No' vote.

What the fuck is wrong with people? Do we really need to institutionalize this type of hate (more than it already is)? Do people think if something like this passes that someone who is gay will think, "Wow, it's really tough being gay now, I better become straight"? What a crock of shit. Being gay is not a choice that people make. Do you really think that someone would choose to live a life with so much difficulty and hatred thrown at them every single day? What are people so afraid of? "Ooo- the gays are coming to get me!" And you hear all this crap about how shit like this promotes 'family values' (whatever the fuck that is) and protects 'the sanctity of marriage'. If marriage is so god damn sacred why do half of all marriages end in divorce? Being married doesn't seem to keep some people from sleeping around on their spouse or in general being lousy human beings either. "Well, the purpose of marriage is to have children and raise a family". It is? OK, then let's ban all marriages where the woman is past the age of 45. I don't hear anyone advocating that. WHAT THE FUCK?!

Whew. I've got to settle down there. On a side note, I have received 3 phone messages from people telling me to vote in favor of this amendment. There's money well spent.

Why Don't You Just Marry a Pumpkin?

My love affair with all things pumpkin continues. I now have half a gallon of pumpkin ice cream. There is a regional ice cream chain here called Braum's that makes pumpkin ice cream available this time of year. I have loved this stuff since I was a kid. I now cringe a little at some of the chemicals listed in the ingredients, but I guess a half gallon of ice cream won't kill me immediately. I wish they sold a smaller size though, I'm not super big on ice cream and I usually have trouble finishing the whole half gallon. Last year there was a little bit left in the bottom of the container that got all icy and gross. That was after about three months though! Hey, maybe I can make an ice cream float out of pumpkin ice cream and pumpkin beer!

I had to go to an orientation class today at the local workforce commission office to continue to receive unemployment benefits. I did pick up the useful fact that they have a fax machine that is free to use, so all (well, some) of my worrying last Friday was for naught (it usually is). They also have copiers that are free to use, which is good.


Talk About McGross

This probably goes without saying, but I need someone to share my pain:

Pubic hairs in library books are NOT OK!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The Big Finale

Michelle's finish time was 4:50:51. The net time was 4:47:28. Way to go Michelle! I can't wait to hear the first-hand account! And here I am still in my underwear.

Marathon Update - 20 Mile Split

Michelle's 20 mile split time is 3:36:43. Pace per mile is 10:50 with a projected finish time of 4:43:53. Almost there!


Sorry to interrupt the marathon updates, but the McRib ad that has been at the top of my Yahoo mail page for the last couple of days is really starting to gross me out. The sauce actually drips off the sandwich in the ad. Yuck! Make it go away!

At The Halfway Point

Here is Michelle's time at the halfway point: 2:12:23. This is a 10:06 per mile pace, and based on this pace the finish time would be 4:24:46. Her pace has stayed pretty consistent so far. It's amazing to me that someone has run 13.1 miles during the same time frame in which I have done not much more than sit around in my underwear!

Marathon Update - 10K Split

Michelle's 10K split time is 1:02:21, which is a pace of 10:03 per mile. The estimated finish time based on this pace would be 4:23:28.

Michelle and The Giant Marathon

Today Michelle is running the New York City marathon, and I will be keeping track of her progress here on my blog. I am supposed to get email updates of her progress. I did not get an email notifying me of the start, which was supposed to be 17 minutes ago, so we'll see if this works. There is a tracking tool here. The weather at start time was 55 degrees and foggy, and the high is supposed to be 69 degrees. Good luck Michelle!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Blast From The Past

A few weeks ago I had a strange experience at the local pharmacy. I stopped by to get a prescription refill and I saw this woman who looked very familiar. As it turns out, this woman was someone that I had had a crush on when I was in the 7th grade - 21 years ago! The town where I went to junior high is about 25 miles from here, so it's not like seeing someone from Outer Mongolia, but it still doesn't happen every day. We didn't go to the same high school, so it's probably been 18 years since the last time I saw her. I didn't speak to her - I never acted on my crush, I just admired her from afar (big surprise there) - so I doubt that she would even know who I am. I got this really weird feeling of connection between the me of 2005 and the me of 1984. For just a second or two, I was 12 years old again. I think everyone sometimes wonders what the future would be like, and in some way I got to see the future. Not that the fact that this woman is now a housefrau in McKinney, Texas with 2 kids and a giant SUV is exactly earth shattering, but still. She probably just wondered why I was staring at her.

People Still Have Fax Machines?

When you don't have a job, on some days you feel like you will never work again, and on others you feel like something good is just around the corner. I'd say yesterday qualifies as the former. As a requirement of receiving unemployment benefits in Texas you must make 3 work search contacts a week. Yesterday I tried to get in my 3 contacts (as opposed to last week when I waited until the last minute - Saturday). It turned out to be somewhat stressful because the 3 job matches I had on the job search site all wanted contact via fax. What the hell? Who still uses faxes? Hasn't email pretty much replaced the fax? I guess it's kind of ironic that someone as technologically backward as myself would complain about someone else being technologically backward, but there you have it. So I had to track down a way to fax my resume to these people. I did finally find a web site that charges a reasonable rate to send faxes. I also realize that there is a way to send them for free via email, but after reading the instructions I think I may need some help from some of my more computer savvy friends to pull that one off.

The other snag is that this fax site wanted the files to be Word files or text files. I have Wordperfect on my computer. When I opened the text files in Wordperfect the resume needed 2 pages, so I wasn't sure if these faxes were going to look right. I have always preferred using Word over Wordperfect, so the fact that I didn't have it was causing more stress. I never bothered to get it before because I could just always use my work computer for Word documents. Today I got that straightened out with a trip to Half Price Books. For the low, low price of $6.47 I now have my very own copy of Word 2002. Not too shabby. I am so happy that we have our own Half Price Books right here in McKinney! And when I opened my text file resume in Word it only took up one page, so I guess my faxes turned out OK. I guess the act of having to jump through all these hoops is what got me bummed out. At least now I feel a little more prepared to handle some of the job search eventualities that may come my way.

Seed Bashing and Belly Toasting

I know that I'm not too timely on this post at this point, but I wanted to weigh in with a few observations about the pumpkin seed toasting. It is true that I am not the biggest fan of extremely buttery and/or greasy foods, but I really did enjoy these pumpkin seeds. In fact, I think they may be the best ones I have ever tasted. The addition of seasoning salt in place of some of the missing regular salt kicked these up a notch, and the olive oil added a nice touch as well. My expressions may be difficult to read at first, but once you get to know me I am extremely easy to read. Almost no flicker of anger, disappointment, or tension travels through me without showing up on my face. I think that's how I got in trouble at work. I could never work undercover - my cover would be blown within seconds! So, the 'Yum' may not have sounded convincing, but it was the truth!

The belly ramming by Faith was extremely cute. I haven't been around small children too much, but Faith's happiness and enthusiasm was amazing to me. To take such delight in the simplest thing was really nice to see. It was a great reminder to me that happiness can be found just about anywhere if you know how to look. Even in the letter "T", I guess.

I also got to hear the Noggin song "I Don't Like Candy Corn". What kind of propaganda is this? Shouldn't the kids be getting positive messages? Bah.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

In Memoriam

Some of you may remember this picture that I took a few weeks ago. Today on my way home from an outing, I saw that this tree has been bulldozed because they are widening the road it was next to. It makes me sad, but I guess I need to get used to it with the rate this town is growing. I'm really glad I took this picture when I did.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

No, Not Scooter!

I thought this was pretty damn funny:

Special Prosecutor Indicts Scooter

On a Candy Corn High

I am now the proud owner of a bag of candy corn. OK, half a bag of candy corn. I struck out on the Smarties. I guess I'll have to spring for the whole $2.50 if I want Smarties. Geez.

Yesterday I went to see the Wallace & Gromit movie - 'The Curse of the Were-Rabbit'. This was a really enjoyable film. The voice work is excellent, there's tons of dry, British humor, and the characters are just so darn lovable. I love how they call the vegetables 'Veg'. It's amazing to think of the work that went into creating this film. If you do see it, marvel at the performance of Gromit. Of course, he never says a word throughout the whole film (dogs can't talk, silly!), but he sells every gesture and feeling with nothing more than facial expressions and body language. There are a couple of 'adult' jokes thrown in that will fly right over kids' heads, but gave me a chuckle. Highly recommended.