Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Do I Look Like Mapquest?

Last night something very bizarre happened. It was 12:54 AM, I was listening to a Massive Attack CD (thanks Holli!) and trying to wrap up a couple of job applications on my computer. Lately the time between 11PM and 1AM has kind of turned into job application time for some reason. As I'm sitting there, suddenly my doorbell rings! WTF?! My normal reaction to this would be to ignore it and pretend I was asleep, but then I got to thinking: what if my roof is on fire, what if one of my neighbors needs help, what if it's the police, what if the sky is falling? It's kind of like the phone ringing at 3AM, there's no way you're not going to answer it or at least see what in the hell is going on. I was pretty freaked out.

Despite my liberal tendencies, I will admit that I own a gun. And if I'm going to have to unexpectedly answer the door at 1AM, there's a pretty good chance I'm going to have that gun with me. And I did. I turned on my porch light and didn't see anything, so I thought maybe it was kids messing around or something. Then I heard someone say "Hello?". I mustered up my scariest "Who is it?" through the door, and then I heard to my astonishment "You don't have to open the door, but can you tell me how to get to the jail? I'm from Dallas and I don't know where it is." WHAT THE FUCK?! Am I Mapquest? Do I have a sign in my yard that says 'Need Directions? Inquire Within!'? Who in the name of Jehosaphat knocks on someone's door at 1 in the morning and asks for directions?! I didn't even have my porch light on, in fact I had all the lights in the front portion of my house turned off, it would have appeared to any normal person that whoever was inside was asleep. IN WHAT ALTERNATE UNIVERSE IS IT ACCEPTABLE TO KNOCK ON A COMPLETE STRANGER'S DOOR AT 1AM FOR DIRECTIONS?!!!!! She probably thinks it's normal now, because instead of wigging out, I actually did tell her how to get there. I guess I was so dumbfounded I couldn't even get mad. Sheesh!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Lazy Weekend

The weekend got off to a pretty lazy start as it was raining on Saturday morning. I know that those of you with dogs or children (or both!) can't agree with me, but once again I love waking up to a good rain. It was a perfect day to stay in and laze about. And it rained a lot. 2.65 inches in my backyard according to the rain gage. We sure needed it!

Later on Saturday after the rain stopped I went for a walk around my neighborhood and did experience a couple of odd things. One was the guy playing his drumset in his garage with the door open. It was very loud. All I could think was thank God I don't live next to that, it would totally drive me batshit. I'm sure his neighbors could hear that inside their houses.

The other weird thing was that I heard this squawking sound as I passed another house. I looked up to the second story window to see 2 macaws looking out the window and raising a ruckus as someone pulled out of the driveway. All I could think of this time was thank God I don't live in that house! Maybe they only squawk like that when someone leaves, but you know it was loud if I could hear it out on the sidewalk! I do feel sorry for those beautiful birds being cooped up in cages like that.

I did squeeze in the last few hours of the Olympics this weekend, I'm sad to see them go but somewhat happy to get some of my evening time back! I'll do one last post on the Olympics tomorrow (or maybe later today?) It is supposed to get up to 80 degrees again here later this week. Blah. I guess I'll have to go back to running at night so I don't keel over from heat exhaustion.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Hey Little Champion

It's been kind of a slow news day around the ranch, but one exciting thing did happen today. I got the Olympic medal I won on ebay in the mail today. It is only a silver, but the gold was little out of my price range, so silver was the best I could do. I'm not sure who won this medal, the seller's username was sdavisinchicago, I'm not sure who that is! Anyway, here's a picture of me with my new medal. I rule!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

More Cooking With JC

Last week I bought some bananas, and I must be burned out on bananas because I just couldn't find it in myself to eat them all. I think I'm done with bananas for a while. But, I hated to see them go to waste. So what do you do with bananas that are rapidly turning brown (if you don't have a toddler that will only eat brown bananas)? You make banana nut bread, that's what! I haven't been able to taste it yet because it says that you should store it overnight before slicing and eating 'to allow the flavors to mellow and make the loaf easier to cut'. Got to have mellow flavors! I have made this before so I know it should be decent. Damn, I need to find something healthy to cook...

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Olympics 2: Electric Boogaloo

In case anyone was wondering, we did get a small taste of winter here in the Dallas area this past weekend. Saturday was dry, but on Sunday there was drizzle all day and the temperature never got above freezing. So the bridges and overpasses were a bit dangerous and there were tons of wrecks around the area. I decided not to venture out at all on Sunday, and ironically enough even though I am a major homebody I was climbing the walls. Maybe because I didn't have control over the decision to stay in? Hmm.

On to the Olympics. The overload continues, I just can't stop watching! Some thoughts:

* How about the snowboard showoff who lost her chance at gold? That would be something that could really haunt her for the rest of her life, but I guess she's pretty young and could be back at the Olympics next time. Although you never know how things will pan out in the future. She claims she wasn't hot-dogging, but I don't believe her.
* I still can't believe that in the pairs figure skating that someone could wipe out so hard and still win the silver medal. It's crazy! I do think that was gutty to get up and finish the program, but I can't see winning a medal after that!
* I'm not a big fan of the medals with holes in the middle. They look like CDs!
* Ice dancing? Not a big fan. Any sport that has something called a 'twizzle' in it cannot be legit. All of the crashes on Sunday night did bring some excitement, though.
* Did Shani Davis the speedskater have to be such a sourpuss after he won the gold? Geez. I can understand him not participating in the team event. If he had gotten hurt he would have cost himself the chance at the gold in the 1000. It's easy for the other guy who already won his gold to participate because he had nothing to lose. But at least act a little happy after you won the gold freakin' medal! On the other hand, I suspect that there may be something else going on that we have not heard about. On the news Sunday, they were saying that Davis had gotten some hateful, racist emails complaining about him not being in the team event, which is sad and would probably make me a pissed off sourpuss too if I was him.
* I used to be a big 'Northern Exposure' fan. One of the commentators on the skiing events sounds just like John Corbett, aka Chris in the Morning. I keep expecting him to start talking about Nietzsche or Walt Whitman or something. It's fweaking me out!
* Commercials: The My Fast thing is seriously pissing me off. Bad Volkswagen, bad!
I'm still kind of laughing at the drill instructor commercial when he says "what did they send me, a dadgone Houdini?", but I fear I will not be laughing after a few more viewings.

Help me, too much Olympics!

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

Cowboy Junkies

This will be hard to believe, but it's true: Last night I did actually leave the house. I got off my ass to go see the Cowboy Junkies in concert. I would classify myself as a casual fan. My first exposure to Cowboy Junkies was their cover of 'Sweet Jane' on the soundtrack to 'Natural Born Killers'. I've enjoyed that song since I first heard it, but I didn't have any of their other CDs until about 3 years ago. At that time I picked up a Best of Cowboy Junkies CD, the obtaining of which was a bit interesting (at least to me), I've got some details about that below*. And, I have to say that I have probably only listened to that CD about 4 times even though I like most of it. In any case, I'm always up for a good concert, it was cheap, and I've kicked myself for passing up some other concerts over the last few years, so I decided to go. Luckily the bad weather held off until today.

I thought it was a really good show. Margo Timmins' voice sounds every bit as amazing in person, if not more so. The band was very solid too. Their latest album is a collection of (mostly) covers, and they did quite a few of them. They did 2 Springsteen songs, a Bob Dylan song, and a version of U2's 'One' which was pretty amazing. I'm now interested in tracking down some of their albums. I think I would have enjoyed the show more if I knew more of the songs, but overall Cowboy Junkies get the JC seal of approval.

* I found this CD at a place called the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama. Unclaimed Baggage is about an hour from where my grandmother lives, and I had heard about it for years. I finally went there with my parents when we were in Alabama for Christmas one year. Supposedly they get all the lost luggage when airlines are unable to track down the owners. They don't know what they're going to get until they open the luggage. There's an awful lot of junk there. Their CDs were not alphabetized or sorted in any way, so I had to sort through 700 pounds of crap to find anything good. All of the CDs were $3.50, so I picked up some stuff I might usually pass over. Anyway, I saw that CJ CD and I figured for $3.50 it was worth a shot. I sometimes wonder who owned that CD before it was lost. Did they miss it? Did they get another copy? Were they glad it was gone? I guess I'll never know!


Friday, February 17, 2006

Winter Blast!!!

That's the headline in the news reports around here today. There is the threat of ice this weekend, so the news folks are all in a tizzy to get everyone worked up about it. They live for this kind of thing. Although, I guess you have to admit that a little ice pretty much does shut everything down around here, so maybe they aren't so crazy after all. And if you're from somewhere up north and you think you know all about driving on ice - I don't believe you. Snow is one thing, driving on snow is a talent that can be developed with practice. Driving on ice is pretty much impossible! Anyway, it looks like it may not be as bad as they thought it would be yesterday. Hey, at least if it ices it will give me an excuse to spend some quality time at home in front of the television. Oh wait, I do that everyday already. Nevermind!

I wanted to go for a walk late this afternoon to see just how cold it was. I bundled up in my coat, gloves, hat, and scarf for a walk around the neighborhood, and it was pretty cold but not unbearable. I could have used some long johns as my legs were a little cold wearing just jeans. It did take me a while to truly warm up when I got home. Yesterday at the airport the high was 85 degrees! Today it was about 40 in the morning and it got colder all day. Tomorrow the high is supposed to be 33.

As I was walking today I got to thinking about something. I live near a jail, and I see people walking home from the jail sometimes. I wonder if anyone got arrested yesterday afternoon wearing shorts and a T-shirt, spent the night in jail, and then got released today and had to walk home in the 25 degree wind chill? Boy would that suck.

Drowning in the Olympic Stew

I'm drowning in Olympic coverage. I feel compelled to watch just about everything that they are showing on NBC. If something else is on that I want to watch, I will tape the Olympics to watch later.

I have always thought that going to the Olympics and winning a medal would be an amazing accomplishment - not too many people can say that they have won an Olympic medal. It makes me wonder, though, how much the people who don't win a medal are disappointed. A lot of those people train for years. And the majority of people that even make it to the Olympics don't win medals. Does the non-winning figure skater who has trained for 10 years hate the speed skater who didn't even take up the sport until 4 years ago?

Here are a few things that have struck me so far:

* I liked that there was a figure skating pair that used a Led Zeppelin song.
* Did anyone see the crazy French figure skating coach that looked a little like Catherine Deneuve on the first night of the men's figure skating? The skater wasn't doing so great, and they showed her going ballistic on the sidelines. After the program, the skater was kind of kicked back a little bit drinking a bottle of water, and you could hear the coach say "body language!", and the guy immediately sat up straight!
* How about the Chinese pairs coach when the girl had that bad fall? He didn't seem to show any emotion at all. He must be fun to work with.
* The other night a Chinese speed skater won the women's 500 meter event. I thought it was really funny that she kept falling down when she was trying to celebrate afterward by holding up the Chinese flag!
* At the men's figure skating short program, did you see the skater from Belgium who had the awful, kind of 'Tron'-looking outfit?
* Wow, that snowboard cross looks like fun!
* Did you see the first skater last night on the men's figure skating long program? I thought it was kind of weird that he was skating to music from 'The Matrix' and kind of had a 'Matrix' costume. It was weird, but at least he was trying something different.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Lips Together, Teeth Apart

I posted about a month and half ago about the fact that I was grinding my teeth at night. Last Wednesday my jaw was killing me most of the day, and I decided enough was enough. I tried to find a mouthguard that would not cause TMJ, but I couldn't. I did however come across some interesting advice. On one mouthguard site they were talking about how the mouthguard should be seen as a temporary solution, and that the long-term answer was behavior modification. I had never considered this possibility before. They used the phrase "Lips together, teeth apart". Seeing as how this was also something that Holli told me as a way to control teeth grinding, I thought there must be something to it. So, it is my new mantra. And I have to say that it has been a little bit of a struggle for me so far. I have always thought that it was better on your jaw to have your teeth closed together most of the time. I think I may be making some progress, though, because I really do notice when my teeth touch now. Oddly enough, Holli discovered that "Lips Together, Teeth Apart" is also the name of a play by Terrence McNally, which I had never heard of before. It's a sign I tell you!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Fun Weekend

The trip to the new Holliworld compound to see Holli and Faith (and Nate!) was a lot of fun. Some of the highlights:

* On Friday night Faith was sleeping on Holli's stomach when the time to take Nate out arrived. Since I didn't know where to take Nate Nate at the new place, we transferred Faith to my stomach with success. Usually she would wake up at this point, but this time she stayed asleep. It was so sweet.
* Sunday night I read 'The Hungry Little Caterpillar' to Faith while Holli walked Nate. That was one of my favorite books when I was a kid. I guess Faith liked it too, because when we would finish the book she would say 'More' and we would read it again. This happened about 10 times. She got pretty good at identifying the egg on the first page, and saying 'shaw-shedge' when I would point to the sausage, and pointing to the caterpillar and saying 'sick' (after the caterpillar has eaten all the food), and 'better' on the next page after he eats the leaf. I still love that book.
* On Saturday night we watched the Olympics with Nana, Poppy, and Ali. Poppy got us barbecue for dinner, which is one of my favorite foods, and there was even fried okra, which is on my top 5 foods list. I enjoy being around Nana and Poppy, they're very nice people. I thought it was funny when Ali asked me why I was wearing the same clothes that I wore the day before. I guess I thought it was funny because I wasn't wearing the same clothes as the day before, except for my shoes. I told her I was like a cartoon character who always wore the same clothes all the time. Not sure if she bought that.
* I picked up a potentially new and helpful personal habit. When it was revealed that in general I don't make a habit of washing my face with soap, Holli and Nana reacted as though I had just revealed that I was an axe murderer. After hearing the explanation that washing my face regularly will help keep my skin from aging prematurely, I decided to get on board and become a member of the face washing and moisturizing masses. How metrosexual! It probably helped bolster their case that both Holli and Nana are good examples of this theory in action.
* I got to watch my first episode of Dora the Explorer. Holli's not a big Dora fan, but Faith would not be denied. It's a good show to sing along and shake yer booty to. Backpack, backpack!
* It was fun getting to see Faith get her pictures made. She is a total natural around the camera. As soon as the photographer got over to the camera, Faith was busting out poses. She didn't want to smile at first, but she responded well to the toe-snatching shenanigans of the photographer. And she even handled an outfit change with no problem, it was like being backstage at a fashion show or something.
* I got to help hang a bed canopy and some decorative butterflies from the ceiling in Faith's room. Even though this was a pretty minor undertaking, it felt good to feel at least marginally useful. I don't get to feel useful very much these days.
* It was great to finally get caught up on Project Runway (at least until this Wednesday!) since I can't watch it at home. As a bonus I also got to catch an episode of 'Flavor of Love'!
* The Great Shower Caper of '06. Last night I was supposed to watch Faith while Holli took a shower. We were out on the couch looking at the caterpillar book, but as soon as Faith heard the shower start she wanted to be in there. She succeeded in getting the door to the bathroom open, whereupon she would run back and forth from the bathroom to the living room, identifying the person in each location: 'Mommy!' (bathroom, shower in progress), 'J_____!' (living room, powerless to stop the madness). I'm sure it made for a very relaxing shower!

A good time was had by all!


Friday, February 10, 2006

Mostly Positive

Here is the update to the article that I talked about in my last post. They peg the chances of Arrested Development returning on another network at 20%. It says that the executive producer has until June 15th to make his decision, so we may not know for sure until then.

Now, at Karen's request I must post something positive. Well, my eye got better this week. Starting around Tuesday I had no more pain in my eye, so that's good! And I am excited about the Olympics starting - I can't believe it's been 4 years already since the last winter Olympics. And there's something else - I'm going to visit Holli and Faith this weekend! That sounds pretty positive to me!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Swan Song? C'MON!

The (possibly) last 4 episodes of Arrested Development will be shown this Friday at 7 Central on Fox. As far as I can tell, there hasn't been any word on this show getting picked up by another network. About the only thing I could find about the future of the show was the second and third items on this page, and it doesn't sound positive. Supposedly all will be revealed in her column on Friday, so we'll see.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


This is going to be a rant, so if you're easily offended, come back later when I'm being (relatively) nice!

I think most of the time, I'm pretty much a live-and-let-live kind of guy. I'm fairly tolerant of a lot of things, and if I don't agree with someone I'll usually just keep my mouth shut rather than be an asshole. But I have to say, this whole Muslim reaction to those cartoons from Denmark is fucking bullshit. Is it within their rights to be offended by these cartoons? Absolutely. Is it within their rights to protest? Sure, knock yourself out. But burning down a fucking consulate? What the fuck is wrong with these people? Stop taking yourselves so fucking seriously.

Be Careful What You Wish For

I watched an interesting documentary over the weekend - Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room. This film has received pretty good reviews, and I think it will be interesting to a general audience, but I have a more personal reason to take an interest in this story. I worked at Enron when I was in college. A lot of engineering students take co-op jobs, which basically means that you work a total of 3 semesters at a job in your field and get paid for it. I worked there in '92, '93, and '94. Back then there was no inkling among the regular employees of anything being amiss, at least in the department I worked in. I worked in the engineering group, which was totally separate from the trading side of things which really got the company in trouble. In fact, while I had a couple of people tell me that they would take me to see the trading floor (which features prominently in the film), I never did get to see it.

This movie got me thinking about how I dodged a bullet. Enron seemed like a pretty good place to work, and I was hoping to maybe work there after I finished school. When I graduated, I did not receive a job offer from Enron (I couldn't even get an interview), which disappointed me. After I got my job I didn't think too much about that anymore. Then, about 4 years after that I started reading and hearing about how Enron was so successful, the stock was through the roof, etc. I was really wishing at that point that I had gotten a job at Enron. So when the implosion began about 2 years after that, I could only feel a sense of relief that I hadn't ended up there. I guess that's a great illustration of 'be careful what you wish for - you might get it'.

Another cooking update - tonight I made green curry with pretty much the same ingredients as the red curry from last week. I don't like green as much as red, but I'm trying to use up the stuff I have in my pantry. I now have a fresh new bottle of fish sauce. I have to wonder, though, why is the bottle of fish sauce so big? I only use a few drops in a curry. It would take me 20 years to empty that thing.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Eye Eye, Doctor

Last week I noticed a little bit of pain in my left eyelid. I thought that maybe it was a low-grade infection of some sort, and it didn't hurt much, so I thought I would take the hands-off approach and see if it would go away on its own. When I woke up Friday and looked in the mirror, I was pretty freaked out. The inside corner of my eye was swollen enough that it made me look mongoloid. Despite the earlier nonchalance, I don't feel like eyes are anything to mess around with, so I decided to see if I could get an appointment to see the eye doctor. I did get in to see the doctor, and it turns out I have something called blepharitis. The name make it sound a lot worse than it is! I have been applying warm compresses to my eye, and I think this has helped. At this point only my lower eyelid hurts, and there hasn't been any major swelling since Friday.

The doctor prescribed an ointment to put on my eyelid, but due to my stupidity about the nature of COBRA health insurance coverage, I haven't purchased the ointment yet. I finally got it through my head that even though my insurance payment wasn't due until March 3rd, that payment is for the period of February 1st through the 28th. So, I am waiting for the check I sent on Friday to be credited before I pick up the ointment (which will make it about $65 cheaper!). I have to make sure to send in my next payment so it gets credited before March 1st so I won't have any interruption in coverage. It sure would be nice to have automatic health insurance coverage.

On Friday afternoon I called the company back that had left a message on my answering machine about a potential job opening. This time I didn't get voice mail. As it turns out, they wanted to do a pre-screening phone call before they decide who to bring in for interviews. I have to say this caught me a little off guard, so I'm not sure I gave the best answers to some of their questions. They asked a couple of tough ones like "What salary range are you looking for?" and "Why did you leave your last job?". I don't know what to make of the fact that the woman I talked to was very encouraging about my answers even when I didn't give the 'right' ones. For example, when she asked if I had any experience with Solidworks software, and I truthfully said "No", she said "Oh, that's OK." I also threw out a salary range figure (which you should try to avoid unless absolutely backed into a corner), and she said that the range I gave was right in the range they were looking for. It could just be that it's her job to be encouraging so that you feel like you can 'open up' and answer their questions. So, I will have to wait and see if I get an interview. I have to be a little more prepared in the future with a 'script' in case I get any more phone calls like this one.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Programming Note

If you’re interested in seeing Grizzly Man, which I talked about in a previous post, it’s going to be on the Discovery Channel tomorrow, February 3rd, at 7 and 10 PM central, and then again on Saturday at the same times. Even I get the Discovery Channel with my brokedown basic, Neanderthal cable.

Cooking With JC

With apologies to Anne, I'm actually going to talk about cooking. Over the past week I've actually endeavored to do a little bit of real cooking. Nothing near as elaborate as what Anne throws down, but you have to start somewhere.

For some reason, I've had a major jones for fudge for about 2 months now. I think it's because my grandmother always makes fudge at Christmas. She did again this year, but apparently it wasn't enough. I really wanted to make some fudge of my own. I did make a batch when I was visiting Holli and Faith in OKC after Christmas. It turned out OK, but not spectacular. However, it somehow still didn't quench my desire to make some kick-ass fudge.

My mainstay cookbook is the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, which contains 2 fudge recipes - Old-Time Fudge and Remarkable Fudge. Initially I wanted to make the Old-Time Fudge, because the 'Remarkable' fudge recipe makes 'about 4 pounds'! However, when I saw that the Old-Time fudge required 25 minutes of stirring and 55 minutes of cooling, I decided to go for the easier of the two. I have to say that I think this fudge turned out to be pretty damn good. Now you may be thinking: "4 pounds!? Holy shit JC, you fucking lardass." Well, I didn't have a pan that would allow me to make a half batch. I've given it my best shot, but after eating about 2/3 of this stuff, I'm ready to cry uncle. So I guess the rest of it shall go in the freezer. The fudge itch has most definitely been scratched.

One last note on the fudge. I have always been fascinated by something my grandmother told me about making fudge: "You have to make it on a clear day, or the fudge won't 'fudge'." And then I saw it right there in the cookbook, that humidity above 60 percent has a negative effect on candies. Luckily for the fudge, low humidity days have been plentiful around here.

Not content with 4 pounds of fudge, Monday night I decided to make some Thai red curry. I used to make this stuff quite often, but it's very easy for me to get burned out on it because every time I make it I'm eating it for 3 days. It's been a long time since I had it, though, so it really hit the spot. It's very easy to make too. I've tried to be authentic and use stuff like Thai eggplant, but I just don't like that stuff. Too many seeds. I've found it's best to just put things you like in there. I added chicken, broccoli, baby corn, bamboo slices, and green beans. There was a small snafu when I discovered that my fish sauce expired in March of last year. I honestly don't know how you would know that stuff is expired since it smells like shit even when it's fresh, so I said what the hell and used it anyway (I did throw the rest out). Luckily the expired fish sauce didn't cause me to die.