Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sickeningly cute favor idea

Oh look, a broken promise.

Since the modern strawberry is a cross between Fragaria virginiana (the mountain strawberry, found in Northern California) and F. chilensis (Chilean! You would never guess!) we should have lots of strawberries at the wedding.

This is the result of the stupid poster- I had trouble believing there was a Virginian plant growing in my meadow (there is!) and I was reading about its range. And then I needed to type about something other than data entry for a while.

Oh also my grandmother was named Virginia. Oooooo.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

When I was three, I helped fold laundry by stacking all of the washcloths. When I was five, I was allowed to fold napkins, handkerchiefs, and dishtowels. Now I am 27, and my repertoire has not expanded at all.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Pa-rum-pa-rum-pum

I forgot to mention my visit to the Conquistadors. It went well, in that there were no fights and got to study at the feet of the ceviche master. It went poorly in that they play Christmas music ALL THE TIME. I saw the basement- heck, after eight years, a girl gets to see all sorts of exciting things. After beholding the neatly wrapped, labeled, and arranged chaos, I hope they live forever. It's the size of my college apartments, and it is full of things. Said things include at least 100 neatly collapsed and stacked boxes.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

There can always be a secret raffle

I've been posting and talking a lot on weddings recently. It has been occupying prime brain real estate and fret cycles- when I cast around for topics it is close to the surface. This was a little awkward while I was hanging out with old friends, partly because I used to date half of them, but mostly because weddings are very boring.

Now as of tomorrow I will be shifting focus to throwing together a poster on meadow restoration. I expect it to go very badly so you all can expect frequent updates here. Also I will probably go to the gym every day- anything to resist career building. However, my main point: last wedding planning post for a while. Even I'm bored of this stuff.

I've been complaining freely about my mother- her wedding can be summed up as city hall, park, potluck, jeans, special brownies, best volleyball game ever. It is thus not fair that her dreams for my wedding are, in the words of Amy, "grand". I proposed some stupid things as decoys- leaving the reception in a hot air balloon and a handmade silk dress- and she agreed. I suggested a barbecue at the rehearsal dinner, or lawn games at the reception- and that is ridiculous.

Certain parties have suggested that I should cut her out of the wedding planning. Said parties indicate that their fledgeling event planning business would be only too glad to pick up the slack- for a reasonable price.* I've been using possible recrimination as my reason why this is a bad idea- this is a lie. My mother has planned more events than you can shake a stick at. Some of them have been unmitigated disasters, but most of them have been very nice. I think one result of all those blasted fundraisers is a nice sense of perspective. We might be a little confused about hosting an event without a raffle, but I think we can come to an accord on the detals. That is to say, I hope I can wear her down.

The other reason my mother is so very involved because she has some kind of crazy intuition- an uncanny sense of how future events will unfold. For example; last night there was a power outage. She had emergency candles ready, of course- but she'd also planned an elaborate dinner that just happened to need only one working burner- and she'd pulled the camp stove out of the attic when she decorated for Christmas. I want that on my team.

*Sadly, these people are also on Team Grand. Or Team Grand and Tacky. My notes from our first meeting have a lot of asides saying "consider compromising your principles". Of course, there are also a lot of notes saying "This is stupid. Ignore." Lawn games, people. Really good cake. Dancing. If we get that right, no one will care about table favors and seating arrangements.

Yes I know I built a castle out of table favors at the last wedding.

I have a wedding with plans and notes. And I just wrote a post without a single reference to the groom. It can only decay from here.

Friday, December 18, 2009

I'm visiting SeNor C...

and these are all things he's said to me in the last few hours.

"Sure, you've lost weight, but it's probably all muscle mass."

"Holy balls, are you wearing an actual bra?"

"You may think triggering my neuroses is amusing, but I assure you that this is not so."

We missed each other sooooo much! It's actually kind of disgusting.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

My Dad used to tell bedtime stories with the Prodonata- which is technically in the Carboniferous period.

I went to a dinner party last night with a few people I can't help but think of as "the cool kids"- they were 6-10 years older than me when I was a child, and always seemed the epitome of the glamour of early adulthood.

I worked very hard to suppress the bouncy ebullience of a child who gets to hang out with all the older cousins. I got the invitation by being exceptionally pathetic, so that's on theme. However, I've just discovered that I was going off on the Devonian to a geologist, and that I was wrong about something. I've written him a note- nothing makes friends better than apologies for misrepresenting vertebrate evolution.

Friday, December 11, 2009

All of this is because I don't have enough to do

I'm a full contact Facebook user. I have stupid Zynga flash games out the wazoo, I stare blankly at the photo albums of people I will never meet, and I keep track of all the causes my friends join.

So I guess sending someone who lived in the same building freshman year a bouquet of fake flowers or some imaginary cell phones is encouraged. (Hi, Mafia Wars friends! I need the Ace of Clubs!) Many people do the uneasy half laugh when they recall the long afternoon where they clicked through the photo album of their high school boyfriend's roommate's church group's river rafting trip. I like to think of it as research on the good social groups.

The problem is if someone- not even a close someone- joins a interesting cause, I will read that cause's Facebook page. And then any relevant Wikipedia articles. And then any recent news stories. Then I'll check the whole thing out on snopes. Two hours later, I'm immersed in old textbooks on water law and wading through the text on the congressional website. Also, I know where the honorable gentlewoman from Connecticut got her master's.

I take it back. That's a problem. That's my problem. But crossing the invisible social boundary by surprise rebuttals is not encouraged on Facebook. (Much like real life!) The poor people who are on record as opposing HR875 really just clicked "support" to get it out of their inbox. It's like my support for ShastaBoyz Productions- based entirely on peer pressure. They don't really want to debate their decisions with me. :(

This is the other side of my boundaries post. Heaven forbid you reach out to your social network in a time of trial, but I would love to argue with you about... well... Food safety. Labeling GMO. Grammar. Global Warming. Proper respect for humans. Sturgeon's Law as it applies to the Singularity.

So hey, I joined the gym. I think that will help with the spare time. A little.

Would anyone want to discuss the Food Safety and Modernization Act of 2009? I am chock full of information on the topic, and I want to justify my support for the bill. I'd also like to chat about my gut feeling that Monsanto is not quite evil enough to outlaw vegetable gardens. Oh, and that a woman with a master's in sociology from New England is probably not going to support outlawing farmer's markets. Just the merest inkling. A supposition.

Do y'all have anything for me to research? Anything productive?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Old West

Living with my parents is nice and all- there's a reason I did it for 18 years- but sometimes it gets a little bit draining. Under stress, they suffer from paranoia and obsession (complementary!) and I am cross and flaky. Also, they persist in being inside the house. What's with that?

So I went to visit friends. I expect they'll be a lot of this in the coming months, because my unemployment check is ridiculous. I could probably pay rent with this baby.

Cuervito and Cuervita have a very nice home in the middle of the arctic tundra. It was so cold that the deer came and huddled under the dryer vent at night. It was so cold the gasoline wouldn't vaporize in my car and I couldn't leave if I wanted to. It was so cold that I stopped pretending to be tough and admitted I was cold. I was going to help them move but there were circumstances, so we sat in front of the fire and read about population dynamics.

We also went to three craft fairs! I was looking at some rocks (I like rocks) and a man with only one visible tooth was enchanted. Apparently, more young ladies should like rocks. More young ladies should ask about where certain rocks come from. After the better part of an hour, I escaped with two fistfuls of free pretty rocks from all over California (and a sedimentary rock supposedly from the Sierras, but probably from some Devonian deposit in the Midwest) and a set of tips- a la Hints from Heloise- on how to polish and display said rocks to advantage. There's a fatal flaw in my consort specific sign language- no one else knows the sign for "extricate me from this situation" no matter how decisively I curl my pinky finger at them. On the plus side: I got rocks this time, instead of pamphlets on becoming a Seventh Day Adventist.

We went out for breakfast with the only other South Texans in the tundra- they are delightful people although I suspect we agree on practically nothing. The husband and Cuervito usually circle around each other like Scotsmen on a battlefield, listing relatives and hometowns, hoping to find a common link. I think there's a very small chance of anyone getting bisected by a claymore here- but I hesitate to say that it's a cultural thing, this search for a shared relation. However, I do know that C's cousins have instructed me to invite handsome single uncles and cousins to my wedding, but they are uninterested in handsome single friends.

PS, I expect to have many temporary cousins for about a week.

Editor of DOOM

My favorite columnist says marriage is many things, but at its core it's someone who will drive you to the mechanic's and the airport whenever necessary. Otherwise, what's the point?

I was raised to think pretty much the same core belief applied to editing. Your spouse should be your fiercest editor, your polar opposite in writing style, the spice to your dry litany of facts, the tether that keeps you from exaggerating too much. Then I went to college and met the rest of the world.

As my brother the journalism major will tell you, I am not a nice editor. My notes on his articles read "Bad hook, crap, filler, dumb, wrong, nice sentence here, filler, crap, stupid quote, crap." My mother's notes say "I love it! You're such an excellent writer!" (This is the woman who made me return assignments to teachers when she thought my grade was too high.) He has me do all his editing because after I break his spirit, there's nothing his editors can do to him. If they object to something, he'll pull out a rejected theme and rework it in minutes. He never fights them, because he's already lost hope. (Best sister ever)

C gets something similar. Most of the rest of the world gets less yelling, because they aren't obligated to like me. But I just found a circumstance where I should think before yelling "Trite, stupid word choice, passive voice!". Is the circumstance heartbreaking? Are you helping someone write a Christmas letter about moving her husband to an assisted care facility because he's suffering from Alzheimer's? Then you should be quiet, Jane. You twit.

Ryan has a Phenotype Friend!

Right, of the subset of people who read my blog, about three know Ryan. One of them can't watch youtube videos and one of them sent me this link. I should have just passed this along to Amy.

But hey, someone playing the shamisen for a viral video about the news? That's so nerdy I look normal.


PS The old west is cold. More to follow when my parents finish their online shopping and the losing of documents.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fickle Internet Identity.

So I'm reading the blog of one of my Facebook friends. We went to high school together, and right now we're both living with our parents and chewing pensively on the insides of our cheeks. Her blog is less with the blithe and more with the searching emotional truths, though. While she often posts links on her profile, I'm pretty sure I'm not the target audience. Some of that stuff is pretty personal.

I saw her in person yesterday, and I totally talked like my mom. (My mother is not exactly famous for monopolizing the conversation, but she will return from dinner parties full of people's reactions to my exploits and with no idea if the host's children are, you know, alive.) Partly, I was afraid of yelling "I READ YOUR BLOG AND I AM SORRY YOU ARE SAD." and part of me figured I already knew what was going on in her life. Why should I ask?

I have a similar problem every time I see Daniel's parents. He's doing a sneak visit home for Christmas (he lives in Germany) to surprise them. "Hello guys, I live with my parents now. Nothing remotely interesting is happening in my life, so I'm going to talk about cats for five minutes. Oh, I have to go now." They must think I'm very self absorbed (and dull) but as least I didn't blurt out "It's weird that Daniel's coming home for Christmas when you're Jewish."

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Google Zeitgeist

Hey look, Google Zeitgeist 2009 is out. For those of us (like me) feeling unimaginably old, let me clarify a few things.

tuenti is sorta like Spanish Facebook
sanalika is sorta like Turkish Second Life
I have no idea what dantri.com.vn is- some sort of Vietnamese news site?
torpedo gratis is a Skype like site in Portuguese. They send people torpedos.

Wherein I demonstrate my ignorance.

So C is a programmer, though he's not super enthusiastic about the progzoring. However, we have adopted a few programming terms for common use. I thought I'd share them because programming and computers are really interesting. Yes.

I tend to get anxious about very trivial things, things like buying the right paper towels. There are 20 kinds, there are widely ranging prices and qualities and percents of post consumer recycled paper, we live in such a absurd consumerist culture where people think that all these products are necessary, my parents do just fine with dishtowels and rags, my fiance insists on paper towels with adequate quilting, and paper towels are a stupid thing to get anxious about. I tried to explain this to C. Instead of commiserating, agreeing to switch to rags, or taking over buying paper towels, he taught me about bubble sort. Bubble sort is an awesome way of selecting items when you must compare multiple variables. First, one forms baseline requirements for selection; say your paper towels must have 250 sheets per roll, be at least slightly quilted, less than $2.00 a roll, and contain at least 20% post consumer recycled paper. Next, one methodically scans the available products. If there are no products that meet the minimum requirements, change the minimum requirements. When a product that meets the minimum requirements is found, grab it. Compare all future products that meet the minimum requirements to the product you are holding. If the new product is superior, grab that product instead. Eventually, you will be left holding the best damn paper towels in the store, you lucky person. Buy ten rolls so you won't have to do this again anytime soon.

Now let's talk about priority inversion. Both C and I are INTPs- the delightful hors d'oeuvres of Myers/Briggs personality types. (flaky and crabby and sweet) We are bad at setting priorities. Priority inversion refers to situations like this: One's top priority is to go and see one's boyfriend this weekend. One's second priority is to finish the absurd amounts of work at the job. One's third priority is to figure out why one's car is leaking brake fluid. (in this example, one lives less than 100 feet from one's office.) One must have a car to visit the boyfriend, but work supersedes going to the mechanic. All sane people know that one must temporarily give fixing the car the same priority as visiting the boyfriend- hey, it's an example I don't have to explain.

I hold that I am more important that C's work, and C's work is more important than video games. He reluctantly agrees. However, after a difficult day of work, he holds that he must play video games before he is able to be an attentive partner. I concur, but largely because my own third priority after a long day is sitting on the floor, staring into middle space.

Also, when we are packing or planning a trip, we often yell "Priority Inversion! Go Do Laundry!" or such things at each other. It's better for the ego that explaining the "Hole in the Bucket" logic involved.

Our last programming term is very common- debugging. When your significant other tells you about their fear that the closed shower curtain hides a dead body, do you propose using a transparent shower curtain? Then you are debugging. Another example; look at C's response to my paper towel freakout.

Mostly this one is used when I hit him in the solar plexus and say "Stop debugging, asshole."


Monday, November 30, 2009

So your marriage is falling apart and you're worried your child is autistic? Be sure to let that weird girl from grade school know.

So I hated the new Facebook, blah blah blah. I am coming to appreciate one feature that piqued me at first.

Look on the far right, below all the unaccepted gifts for Zynga games you aren't playing. It's the suggestion box! It suggests people for you to friend, and friends you haven't interacted with in a while. I thought this was further obsessive mapping of my social networks so I can be tracked if I ever go rogue*, what with the constant encouragement to form connections! interact! talk to old friends!

Anyways, chances are you didn't listen. You're such an iconoclast.

I've found it very useful for something else. If I start to type a status update that's maudlin or a bit on the oversharing side, I glance over to the right. There's the face of my first boyfriend, right above the face of a very pleasant coworker who I knew for over a year before I realized he was dating another coworker. Those dudes are going to be reading my update.

I type something about kitties instead.

Oh good Lord, I wish to heaven that the people who have me in their "reconnect with Jane!" box had the same habit. Good golly, it would be nice.

*We all know I'm swimming to Maui when I go rogue**, since Ryan and Amy are too grown up to use Facebook.

**Did I spell that right? I've been reading the Rouge Angles of Satin article on tvtropes, and it really messed with my homonym spelling. I used the wrong "there" and "its" this morning, and must now find some way to restore my honor***.

***I also read about the 47 Ronin. All I can do is shake my head and say "Oh, Japan."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Maui Swap Meet

Screw dating Ryan and Amy, if things don't work out with C, I'm gonna marry the Maui swap meet. Do C and Ryan have banana lumpia? Do they have cherimoyas? (C sometimes does have cherimoyas, actually. But he tends to hoard them.) Does they have a wide assortment of tropical fruit that smell like feet? Are they the only place on the goddamned island where we can find a hat that fits my improbable melon? (Once again; C, his large dome, and fragile beak is occasionally a good source for protective headwear. More frequently he is a sink.) Sure, the Maui Swap Meet has a lot of reeeaally bad artwork, burned CDs, and kitschy tee-shirts...

Huh.

I think I see a pattern in significant other flaws.

But very few of the Maui Swap Meet's tee shirts involve anime from the '90s.


Oh, Unemployment...

I thought the directionless lethargy had already set in; I found myself incapable of getting up before 9:30.

Yeah, I just forgot to reset my bedside clock. (Used to be called an alarm clock, but not right now!)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Plan

I'm back at the parental abode, where my life is very dull. Thus, I'll be posting things that happened in Maui. I'm not there, I'm just pretending.

So one of the books I got at Maui friends of the library is the 1970's classic "I'm OK, You're OK". It's the granddaddy of all books on relationship games- and as the world's reigning champion of "Yes, But" I am interested.

Amy said animal training is based on a game: the friendly game. I believe that it involves convincing a horse that you are friendly and have the best judgement. You expose it to all sorts of disconcerting stimuli, and prove that nothing bad will happen as a result. The horse slowly grows to trust your assessment of the situation more than its instincts.

When I think about this game, I have a particular mental image. I see myself cooking some inedible glop in the kitchen of the Glacier apartments, and Amy holding up a plastic grocery bag. She waves it back and forth so it rustles, and then she says something pleasant. Rustle rustle rustle, compliment on my cooking. Rustle rustle, offer to do dishes.

As far as I can recall, this didn't actually happen.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Gelato!

We made it to the free gelato with the help of a befuddled and inebriated hitchhiker. We picked her up, drove 20 minutes out of our way to drop her off, and insisted that she have some ice cream. She snuck off into the night before our drugged gelato kicked in and we sold her to slavers. Or before we hit on her hard core, and the delicious dessert made refusing awkward.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I make good on the promises of my first post.

Say a djinn appeared and allowed me to make one bit of feminist theory reality. Would I choose the end of rape culture? Equal pay for equal work? Government subsidized child care for all? Rejection of unrealistic body images?

Nope, In the heat of the moment I'd probably blurt out "End bikini area grooming requirements".

On a quasi-related note: Amy and I were discussing our responses to inappropriate questions during interviews. Both of us had been asked if we were married, she was asked if she was planning to procreate in the immediate future. Interview experts suggest turning the subject to how you won't have any problems doing the work- that your child care issues are resolved, that your husband doesn't mind you being gone for months at a time.

Amy's response: "Shyeah, that's none of your business."
My response: "You know that question is illegal, right?"

We both got the job.

Poki.

The seafood section of the grocery store is 2/3 raw fish salads. I love it; it's the inverse of going to Wisconsin and finding the HUGE jello salad section.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

We'll make it.

Amy has a punch card- where you buy ten of something and get one free- for a local gelato shop. Our goal for my visit is to get that free gelato. The rest of this post will be listing flavors.

Lilikoi
Lilikoi and goat cheese
Mango
Pineapple
Mint Strachitella
Sea mist: lime, green tea, lemon grass
Coconut
Raspberry
Strawberry
Coffee
Macademia nut
Pumpkin
Sour Cream. (Hah)

Also, there is banana lumpia.

And goat cheese.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Maui

is full of industrial areas overgrown with plants. For some reason, this combination has always pleased me. An abandoned lot full of invasive species makes me depressed, but if the blackberries and hops are crawling over rusted pipes or aluminum siding, I feel deep satisfaction.

It might not be that full of plants and abandoned (or active) factories- but Amy's avoiding the highways and barreling down cane roads instead.

Amy took me out to the best bookstore ever- a shack stuffed full of slightly moldy books with a live chicken in the philosophy section. All books are ten cents. Amy bought some books on 1950s agriculture, and some books on how the environmental movement is crazy. (this way other people can't buy them) I bought a whole bunch of classic science fiction because such books should cost a dime. Upon return, she stole a couple of my books.

I've tried stealing "Soil, the 1957 Yearbook of Agriculture" but it's a tough read.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I'm wrong!

http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2009/02/26/some-thoughts-on-building-a-successful-marriage/

It's a post on marriage management. Amy thinks he's brown nosing, but I think that if your wife is okay with you quitting your job to blog you should brown nose. Always.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Conundrum

C has two friends- married friends- who are starting a wedding planning company for alternative ceremonies. I have all sorts of opinions about this, but I know from experience that getting bombarded with relevant websites is no fun when you start a new venture.*

My current problem is an etiquette issue. From previous experience, I know that the friends with businesses rules vary. If your friend is a brand new contractor and you need a new house, you do not have to hire your friend. However, if your friend just started a HVAC repair company and your AC goes out, you have to hire your friend. Moderate and smaller expenses get punted to friends. If there's any chance you might need to hate the person you hired as a form of catharsis, you don't hire a friend.

Where does wedding planning fall? Does it count if we aren't going to have an alternative ceremony? Since we plan on spending very little, does it hit the friend button? Since there's a good chance exposure to all my family will involve a couple of epic snit fits on my part, does it fall in the cathartic range?**

*Cuervito take note. If you feel a pressing need to read about 8000 words on buying a house, I'll stop biting the inside of my cheek in order to keep from forwarding every article I like. I'm certain that your father in law the former contractor and your mother the financial expert have that wrapped up. Also other people might have opinions.

**Yes, Cuervito. I know. Elope.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

First post typed on netbook!

I read all these blogs about managing your finances, (a strange and uncharted territory in my family) managing your career and managing your household. I link to all of them from the Gawker site lifehacker, because I am a tool of the machine.

Anyways, it tends to be a bit male oriented. (As an example, they have about fifteen posts on shaving; making razors last longer, using hot soap as a lather, using a straight razor- but no mention on shaving anything other than your face. Ever.) I started wondering about the spouses of all these money-saving gurus. Do they do a lot of eye batting and sighing when their husband decides that they'll be brewing the laundry detergent from here on out?

So I searched for tips on marriage. Or I searched "spouse" "husband" "wife" and "marriage". There's a lot of dross: my wife talked me into eating more greens, how to time the dissolution of your marriage, adding emergency information to your phone. There's the same goddamn article on training your spouse using positive reinforcement- like Shamu! There's one on conversation hacks. By and large, there aren't any tips on say, broaching the topic of your newfound efficiency and keeping your beloved from giving you the look. The look says, "You won't help me clean the bathtub and you want me to do what with your razors whenever you shower?"

PS: A second friend of mine appeared on a Gawker website: while Brenny's Lego TF2 is much cooler, TMW's technique for pumpkin carving a.) counts and b.) is something I will actually use.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Household Tips from My Brother

If you live in a single room of an aging Victorian house, you often notice a bit of a funk pervading your living space. Some people might tell you this is from unwashed dishes or moldering laundry, but it never really goes away. If you're going to have a girl over- or your mom's about to stop by- you should drink at least three cups of mint tea and leave the used bags in the trash can, sitting on a plate, etc. The pleasant minty aroma will defeat other unpleasant smells.

He's actually a much better housekeeper than I am.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I pull my weight.

I tried to convince C that doing housework was important to me- using economic theory, studies that link it to more sex, and yelling. Yelling and crying. I also tried schedules, baby steps, positive reinforcement, and tips from large animal training. Anyways, I think made some progress, and I'd like to share my technique with y'all.

I quoted Avatar the Last Airbender.

Try that on your seemingly insolvable domestic issues, and let me know how that works.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Drank some milk without sniffing it first. Came to regret said action immensely. Stupid cat.

Wood.

C can't tell what species the firewood is. This is strange to me- I can remember not being able to tell the difference, but I also remember not being able to read. The oakness of oak is obvious, due to its weight and grain and the moss that grows on it. The pineness of lodgepole pine is also obvious, with the cornflake bark and the lichen (very different from moss to the untrained eye, I'm sure) and the abundance- they wanted to burn thirty years ago, and have died ignoble deaths instead.

Of course, my first word was "wood". I'd point at woodpiles on long walks with immense gravity and declaim: "Wood."

Which according to the mad science of children book I'm reading, probably means my father and mother did a lot of gesturing at woodpiles while saying "wood" in many different sentences.

Betcha C's first word was "phone". Or "wash". Sadly, it has been lost to science. The closest I can get is this excellent quote, "I called soap the word for butterfly. Or was that pants?'

According to one of those identity stealing Facebook apps, my most commonly used words in posts are "German", "poison", and "rain". I will have very strange children.
There are all sorts of country songs about hometowns with the general message "every reason I left is every reason I returned". I wish to posit the inverse. Every reason I wanted to stay is now a reason that I wish I were somewhere else.

Except for the lower bar for physical attractiveness. That's nice.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

C visited for a couple of days- he just left for home. My parents are off camping. I am alone in the house for the next three-four days- I don't know whether to be excited or sad.

What Zaphod and I were interpreting as some very aggressive circular dancing by Jim turned out to be caused by a wayward fly. We are chastened. Also, Jim's perfectly willing to sleep covering my feet with his warm self, but Zaphod insists on lap space that is already being used by laptops.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Double Posting with Facebook

Look.

He says his proudest moment is swimming across a certain "alpine" lake. In August. Round these parts, we call that Tuesday.

"I'm sorry... I don't remember that. For you, the day Bison graced your village was the most important day of your life. But for me... it was Tuesday."
M. Bison, Street Fighter: The Movie.



Sunday, October 11, 2009

Pizazz!

It started with bacon. It usually does.

Bacon seems like a perfectly reasonable- even decadent- pizza topping. With a little cheese, it's practically ambrosial. But the brain, it figures that if bacon is a reasonable topping, things eaten with bacon are reasonable toppings too- and then my brain recalled the Full English Breakfast.

We put mushrooms and tomatoes on pizza already, right? Early experimentation revealed that frying them first proved worthwhile in terms of flavor.

So I tried grated potatoes. They were pretty good.

I tried raw eggs. I'd recommend against it.

I tried chopped hard boiled eggs. C did not approve, but I thought it was pretty tasty.

I tried fried eggs- heavenly. My lord.

Tonight, I smeared the crust with some marmite Thrasher left behind. (Enthusiastic consumer of vegan umami products, that one. Not vegetarian.) It was... salty. Very very salty.

I can't figure out how to incorporate toast. Or coffee and tea, for that matter. But beans and blood sausage is only a matter of time. (It's funny- I'm sure C is wincing right now and doesn't know why.)

I've done a bit of extra reading for this post- turns out that there are more things in the Full English Breakfast than are dealt with in my philosophy. I'm now dreaming of a bubble and squeak pizza....

And again, C feels a twinge of fear.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The elves will take care of that

I live with my parents now, because I am lame.

C lives with his parents because he's gotta get experience that might someday lead to a job in his field.

I live with my parents because someone needs to take care of the cat. As I said, I'm lame.

The sad part is that they're pretty good as roommates. (Do you know the balls required to refer to your parents as roommates when you're living in their house?) The saddest part is that I'm beginning to figure out that living with them fostered all those quirks roommates have trouble coping with. For example: rocks. No one leaves rocks on the floor, in the washing machine, on the bathroom counter- except my family. Eventually, all flat surfaces will be tiny cairns. It's why we had to move out of our last house.

If I hadn't already used my superlative, I'd say that the most sad of all the sads was that I'm probably picking up new quirks as we speak.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have eight half finished cooking projects to finish- the point isn't the kimchi/apple butter/spaghetti sauce/tart/salsa/chili/muffins, it's leaving behind a kitchen filled with flotsam and at least eleven filthy pots and pans.

(I counted boiling the pasta as a project.)

(And I made two kinds of kimchi.)

(And some chicken.)

But the cat is very happy.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Shameless Plugging.

I just deleted four jpegs of a stylized woman's mouth- dark lipstick, beauty mark. The files were of varying sizes and image qualities- I have no idea where they came from. Suggestions?

There's a crumb under the question mark key on the keyboard- each time I press it, there is a most disconcerting noise.

If you- or someone near you- is interested in reading long winded discussions of video game strategy, I urge you to check out C's blog. Every tilde is in place- and it's the most interesting discussion of Secret of Mana I've ever encountered.

That's a compliment, by the by.

the5thstage.blogspot.com


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Things I have now that didn't exist ten years ago.

So I read this article 10 months ago. I am on top of the game!

Of course, when I read it, I looked at my desk. Ancient Mac, lots of rocks, folded laundry, tiny plastic pony... nothing new and strange.

Later, I thought about it in my thinking room- the kitchen. Sure, some of the foods I eat weren't widely available ten years ago- I don't think anyone was excited about fermenting things on their counter then, and no one gave a flying fox about where a tomato came from as long as it was tasty. Also, every bit of kitchen ware I have is ancient- I swear it's permanently 1979 in there. Laurel's influence is still palpable, most of my appliances are from that unfortunate era, and I have relics from the outlaws' first American kitchen. And there's nothing older than filth, right?

I thought about it while driving... I thought about a lot of things while driving. I had a GPS- but my dad had one when I was a tot. My iPod and CDs were stolen, so I was listening to a lot of radio. I wondered if country music was as subtly racist ten years ago. I wondered what was around instead of the hip hop stations. I drank a lot of Starbucks- that was new, right? Were the maps I was using more accurate? Would I be able to do this job without a cell phone?

Anyways. I was at the outlaws, bored out of my skull, when I found the treasure trove of new fancy stuff: my purse. I'm going to list my favorite things that didn't exist when I was in high school.
1.) Cell phone. Most of you have gotten both the "I'm lost, help me find this address" call and the "Walking through a dark parking lot, chatting with you like I'm about to bump into you." call. Amy called me the other day so that someone would know if she fell into the deep pit she was working next to. It makes me show up for more appointments on time, and it makes me feel safe.
2.) Maxalt. In High School, I'd have to stay home or go home with a migraine about once a month. (Exactly. Exactly once a month.) It's not really acceptable at a job- particularly if you're in the middle of nowhere when one strikes. But I have my $25 a dose beta blocking super medication now- I take one, the headache's gone in ten minutes, and I get all giddy and silly because my brain chemistry's been radically altered. Yay pharmaceuticals!
3.) Zyrtec. My major migraine trigger? Pollen. (and stress, and loud noise, and perfume and...) Benedryl? Yeah, I can't really function on Benedryl. Last time I took it was after my stinging- I don't know how much of the weakness, shaking, and body aches was due to eight wasp stings, and how much was due to a potent antihistamine. Which is why I love my impotent antihistamine.
4.) Chicobag reusable shopping bag.
5.) Thumb Drive. It has a current resume, a decent headshot, and the hulking relics of whatever project I haven't deleted yet. Oh, and a complete key to the flora of the Northwest. With pictures.
6.) Tamarind flavored candy.
7.) Burt's Bees chapstick. All my wussy chemical sensitivities confined me to Carmex ten years ago. Or, you know, butter. Or horrifically chapped lips.

You'll also find Ibuprophen, a ball of string: so I can find my way out of a maze, a prism: in case I get transported back in time and need to barter my way to power, and smooth rocks.

I'm not sure how much I've matured in the last ten years versus how much the world has decided to support people as scattered, disorganized, and physiologically incompetent as I am. We'll find out after the crash, eh? Eh?

Found it.

Craft Singles are actually cheese, but this...


This is a travesty of food, yes yes, but I also get to prove myself wrong! Awesome!

PS: Guess who figured out how to use links?

Monday, September 28, 2009

As a personal lesson: Avoid going barefoot in the snow.

The cat (Jim) now looks both ways before crossing the street. I think if a cat's worked out bits of common sense from first principles, it's a good idea to follow said concepts. Next up, sniffing everything before eating it -milk in particular- and cuddling in the winter.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Burn, Bridges, Burn!

... Every time I move away from a city, I get a "salt the earth and sow thistles" kinda feeling. I think this may be bad.

So I went back to Christmas Island for a couple of days, for to discover how woefully inadequate I am about self promotion and data entry. Also, I got to spend time with a coworker who I've always felt moderate dislike for. It's strange- I'm accustomed to my disfavor turning to grudging respect or virulent hatred- but I feel the same unpleasant grinding irritation instead.

Also, BJ lives five miles from campus. He eats a dinner plate completely covered with hash browns and hamsteak every morning. Also, a soup bowl full of yogurt and berries. I always wondered how he kept that frame going while eating roughly the same amount of dinner as me. He, on the other hand, assumed that I ate as much breakfast as he did- something I tried valiantly to do. Then, a brisk five mile bike ride, then eight hours of data entry.

I got a ride back to my car- and BJ's house- from a co-worker; I am a baby and also I had a file box full of papers which I did not want to balance on a bike. When we drove up to the house- which has a few cars being repaired in the driveway, a dead lawn, and a couple of gentlemen in grimy tanks smoking in the garage- he gave me a look.
"You parked HERE?" he asked? One of the gentlemen started to saunter towards us. "How about I drive down the block?"

The suggested spelling for "hamsteak" is "hamster".

Monday, September 14, 2009

The lady Conquistador- C's mother- is something of a determinator. She was born in rural Chile during the 40's- the eldest daughter of 6 children- and managed to go to college, get an engineering degree, get an advanced engineering degree, move to the US, and find a job that took thirty minutes of explanation before I understood the cocktail party gist. At the same time, she kept herself fit, perfectly groomed, and very well dressed; mastered every domestic art; sustained a marriage to a schockingly difficult man; maintained a mild and friendly mein; and raised my favorite person in the entire universe. She did all this in a new country, using a langauge she didn't start learning until she was in her mid 20s. I am extremely intimidated by her.

However, I'm begining to realize that the drive to do such things might make you a wee bit insensitive. The day before we moved, she drove up and took us out for lunch. (FOR THREE HOURS.) There was a twenty minute enthusiastic screed on the son of one of her friends- he'd found his path in life, and it was installing solar panels in Gautemalan villiages. She leaned forward, and pointed out that we should not be so selfish in our chosen life paths- that we should try to find careers that would help the environment.

Also, she'll drive to the gym- which is six blocks away- in fine weather.

I wonder what she thinks I do for a living?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ah, Home

So I've recently moved back to my hometown- back in with my parents, actually. I'm trying to figure out how to say that without sounding either bitter or ashamed- specifically to the people I went to high school with, and so now we're friends. I am, of course, bitter and ashamed- but there's no reason to spread that around.

Anyway, there have been a couple of pleasant surprises- apparently, eight years of C and family have made me positively blithe in the face of parental hurt silences, and other social skills learned elsewhere are transferable to home. However, it seems that my sense of humor is getting stranger and drier and more circular by the year- so even fewer people understand my jokes than they did in the past. I've gained a quiet instinct to egg people on when they're saying silly things- I think that might be another C's family skill...

I'm dancing around saying something- since some of these people might someday read this- that goes pretty much like this. A lot of people here are stupid. Not dull stupid, which is healthy- crazy stupid.

Green glass is infinitely superior to brown glass.
Naso-labial wrinkles make people look like monkeys.
No one should have to pay for yoga lessons.
Every bite of pig should receive its own special grace. (Presumably "I hate North Carolina. nom.")
Islam was created by the Catholic church so that it would always have an enemy.
If you don't speak for nine days, the energy from your throat chakra will give you incredible focus.
A solid Eskimo roll is a sign of a healthy psyche.
There was a guy whose boners could predict bombing raids.
It's all right to hate your parents for giving you a Social Security Number.
No one should mock the cat that's been stuck up a tree for SEVEN DAYS. Also, Plan Hose, Plan Rock, and Plan Dart Gun are cruel.
Einstein was a Buddhist. (Oh, so that's why he left Nazi Germany.)
Brushing your teeth with your left hand will bring you closer to enlightenment.

It's good to be home.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Facebook isn't so good about maintaining social boundaries. For instance, that guy- I used to work with his girlfriend, and his two best friends worked with my boyfriend, we ate lunch at the same place a couple of times, and I know many details of his medical and familial problems- apparently has boundaries. When he says something really stunningly stupid, I shouldn't appear out of left field and tell him so.

He said that he'd heard American cheese was three molecules away from plastic from a reputable source. Three commenters agreed. I scrolled past, told him 850 characters was not enough space to say how wrong he was, and then moved on to commenting about my cousin's spirit Pokemon. I've been chastised- some of the aforementioned people have pointed out that I should have a conversation with someone before dropping my acerbic internet self into their internets.

As I see it, there are three options.
1.) Polite apology. Avoid this man in the future.
2.) "Dude. Dude. Plastic is a polymer of high molecular weight lipids. A plastic will typically consist of a single monomer connected and repeated thousands of times. While both cheese and plastic are amorphous, the bulk of cheese is milk proteins- which make up thousands of different molecules. In addition, this amalgamation holds milkfat globules, water, and salt in net like matrix. Plastic is pretty pure by comparison. Here's the ingredients in Kraft singles- http://www.kraftfoods.com/kf/Products/ProductInfoDisplay.aspx?SiteId=1&Product=2100061526&: note the distinct lack of huge hydrocarbons. Since plastics have less than three molecules while American cheese has thousands of molecules, you are wrong. Doodoohead.
3.) Figure out some kind of cheese where this man is right. Could we make a polymer out of milkfat? Could we digest a milkfat polymer? What about the amino acid polymer thing? Plastic means bendy, right? Is it enough that the cheese bends?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Cats.

Since I knew our house would be chaos while we were packing, I sent Jim back to the paternal nest about a week in advance. C and I then spent the next eight days mistaking every black sweater and rustle for the damn cat, and feeling sad when we remembered: no Jim.

Back on the home front, Jim was not his annoying self. He didn't complain, he was nice to Zaphod, (old and decrepit cat) he didn't seem too interested in the world outside... When I showed up today, my mom told me how good he'd been while he sniffed me, hopped on my lap so I could crush his ears, and wandered off toward the living room. He used to be pretty effusive when we showed up after an absence- I figured he was growing to trust that we'd come back.

There he hunched in the shadow of the stairs overlooking Zaphod's preferred path through the house. Fifteen minutes later, Zaphod sauntered in to receive his chin rubbing- and Jim lept onto the ground just in front of him. Presumably he was yelling, "I'm not alone now, so EAT IT OLD MAN!"

Since then there have been three further ambushes, he's found tasty grass, several great hiding places, and four kittens in the backyard (GLEE), and he's managed to get stuck on the neighbor's roof. Twice.

Right now he's sitting on my hands.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I'll be filing for unemployment soon- which requires 18 months of pay stubs. I've been casting around for some way to prove I've worked for the last year while packing. Oh god, the packing. Anyways, I found my pay stubs from my last job neatly filed, in order by date, next to the pay stubs from the job before, neatly filed by date. In the next folder, W2s from like six years. Whereas I have all the datasheets from a year of work crammed in a shoebox, half finished.

Sometimes I think I was an entirely different person up north.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I did not nut the photographer. It was a near thing. Thank goodness for C and the father of the bride.

I like to watch couples dance, more precisely. There's only so much professional dipping and twirling one can stand. The longer people dance together, the more fun it is to watch. Take my outlaws.

He dances, spine erect, a firm weather eye on observers. He tries to indicate when it's time to move accross the floor or spin. She's counting the steps in her head- remembering how she's supposed to move her feet and hips but not move her head. Her lips move a little. He tries to lead her to better parts of the floor, but she is stubborn and getting pretty good at this one part of the dance. He dances with her because she's a better dancer than anyone else he knows- and he tries dancing with everyone else- and she dances with him because she loves to dance.

I went to Cuervito's wedding this weekend, and there was dancing. There was long established couple dancing. It was awesome- it came at the point where most of my social functions shut straight down so I was primed to sit quietly and watch. (First I get snippy about having my picture taken, then I start scamming table favors, then I sit quietly in the corner and watch people dance. I will be doing this for all weddings from here on out.)

One couple danced a simple step and scanned the rest of the room. They'd speak to each other in soft voices and direct the other's attention to points of interest.

Another danced a complicated and syncopated two step with allocations for aches and joints that no longer bend like they should. I like to think- they moved like they'd worked very hard all their lives, and this other person was more reliable, more trusted, than their own bodies. The height difference meant that both of them looked into middle distance.

Another danced like they believed they were always the stars of their lives. I can't explain why- but they acted like everyone was always watching them, and they must please their public. They were gracious, but they'd stop to gaze obviously into one another's eyes.

My favorite was a couple who danced and danced. They knew steps for half the songs that were played and would circle the dance floor, sometimes in eachother's arms, sometimes side by side, dancing. They grinned at each other when one of them missed a step (it took some looking to see that's what they had done) and grinned when they managed something particularily difficult. The delight they took in one another was palpable. It brought tears to my tired and slightly inebriated eyes. I can only hope that someday C and I dance like that.

I really should learn how to dance.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Quotes from C

 "I watered your Zen Garden. (in Plants vs. Zombies) But not your actual plants.  I think some of them are dead now."

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Neil Gaiman does not enjoy Hollywood.  His short stories reveal a deep deep dislike- obvious author avatars end up abandoning their morals and treasures in order to escape that hellish landscape.  However, he's had three movies out in the last three years- after languishing in development hell for nigh on two decades.  

I read his blog and am shamelessly dramatizing the interaction.  

He was in talks for a film version of Anansi Boys.  The producer asked if the main characters had to be black- venture capital likes to get behind at least one white actor.  Gaiman nodded, and asked if the producer had read the book.
"Of course!  Will you consider it?"
"Because it's about the children of an Arfrican trickster god..."
"I know, I know.  And if it were up to me..."
"Right.  You aren't going to make this movie."
"So you feel very strongly about the all black cast.  I see.  Well, we can work with that..."
"No.  You aren't going to make this movie because you asked that question.  Good day."
And that was the end of that.  

Or a mustache.

One of my old friends recently swung through on a visit.  He's been living in Germany, teaching the English.  We threw together the tattered remnants of our high school crowd (those who aren't too far away or too unpleasant) and went out playing board games and smoking hookah.  Woooo!  It was delightful to see all of them again- gawky adolescence has matured into capable and charming adulthood.  Or it has in them- I remain as acerbic and awkward as ever.  I doubt any of them would list their old compatriots as too irritating to spend time with, regardless of cause.  

Regardless, the whole event has put me in a high school reunion state of mind.  Contemporary culture dictates that someone's appearance at their 10th reunion is the best that they could do- it's the only reunion where one is still childish enough to deceive.  There's a silent assumption that whatever guise one brings to the meet and greet will be fixed in the minds of the old clique, the half-forgotten crush, the nemesis.  One hopes to be svelte, immaculately attired, and glowingly happy.  

I was (and am) about as socially adept as a Stellar's Jay.  B and I have discussed trickery that is likely to make him appear comfortably rich and me look like a functioning adult.  These are the small deceptions; the smashing dress, the rented car, the inflated job description...  but one worries about small errors that will stick in the mind.  If I should speak in sharp tones to my dear one, we are clearly on the brink of dissolution.  If the dress does not fit right, I am clearly as inept with clothing as ever.  And Lord forbid I get a giant zit just before the big dance.  

The last comment is gentle chiding from my internal adult.  Will I really think of the woman who is six months pregnant as six months pregnant for the next fifteen years?  

Yes.  Yes I will.  

So there is only one safe plan: confusion.  I will wear an eyepatch and claim to have scratched my cornea.  I will bring a box of infant wolverines who need to be bottle fed every hour.  I will have an elaborate magic marker tattoo of fighting kitchen appliances peaking out of my backless dress.  I will drink only club soda, and if someone presumes to congratulate me on potential parturition, I'll dig out an AA chip and warmly insist that it saved my life.  Anything to draw attention away from essentials.  

In short, I think the thing will be High School writ large- and I plan on falling back on my old coping technique- impenetrable oddity and making others uncomfortable.  

Friday, May 15, 2009

In keeping with the theme of the last post, I thought I'd share a couple of my car games.  Please continue to treat me like a functioning adult after reading this- I do spend way too much time alone in the crummy.  

1.) Yelling "Yelling in the car!" over and over again.  Not used when there are passengers.
2.) Playing "Does someone live in that shack?".  Extraordinarily depressing.  The answer is yes.
3.) Thinking of dishes that involve plant products from a single botanical family.
4.) Brainstorming longterm post zombie apocalypse plans.
5.) Gender swapping all the songs on country stations.  

The last one is confusing.  I started because many of the songs are basically "Ho, I reinforce stereotypes about my gender!  Ho ho, ladies like shoes and worry about gaining weight!  Guys like cold beers and trucks and do not groom too much!  Oh ho, I contain so many gender typical traits that I am very lucky to have found a person of the opposite gender who will tolerate said traits.  God must have brought us together.  Yes, we will have childrens now."  I figured that changing "guy" to "girl" and "mama" to "daddy" might be entertaining, but the typecasting is so strong that it's hard to think of your singer as anything other than a horrific parody of a homosexual.  I guess that reveals something anyways.  

However, a significant portion of the songs are either sad or disturbing.  Disturbing songs are cute little turns of phrase in the original, but post swap several centuries of gender politics rear their misshapen heads.  (All songs are swapped)
"All the boys say 'Save a horse, ride a cowgirl'"- disturbing.  
"Dug my key into the side of her pretty little souped up four wheel drive... took a Louisville slugger to both headlights... Maybe next time she'll think before she cheats"- creepy.  
"She slapped my face and shook me like a rag doll- don't that sound like a real woman?  I'm gonna show her what little boys are made of; gunpowder and lead."- Oh dear God, call the police.  
But the sad ones prove that feminism is for everyone.  
"Phone rang early one morning
Her daddy's voice, he'd been crying.
said "It's your momma, you need to come home,
this is it, I think she's dying."
He laid the phone down by her head
The last words that she said 
"Cowboy don't cry.
Ride baby ride.
Lessons in life show us all in time
too soon God will let you know why
It's going to hurt every now and then
if you fall get right back on up again
but cowboy don't cry.  

Ahahahaa...  we totally do that to all boys, don't we?  And it's only sad when it's done to a girl.  Then there are the ones about dying in a war, worrying about providing for your family, watching your hometown die...  Really shows a maturity and depth of emotion lacking in the "Must be more to life than this job/ waiting for Prince Charming" songs women sing.  And what's this about no record company wanting to release Dolly Parton's latest album?

Can't sleep, bed's on fire.

My most severe period of depression occured midway through my junior year of high school.  For three weeks, I felt increasingly disconnected from everyone and despaired about my lack of ability to communicate.  Then I realized that listening to Pink Floyd's The Wall every night probably had something to do with it.  I stopped, and eventually I felt much better.

This left me with the belief that if I feel like crap, I might be overlooking a relatively simple fix.  

It's got me wondering whether listening to Stop Making Sense on repeat (between extended bouts of pop country) is responsible for my desire to edge towards drivers in the next lane, hit every single tag in the center divider, and bite nearby cars.  It could just be lots of driving and stress... but the lyrics are making a lot of sense.  

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

No, he doesn't have a job yet. Why do you ask?

So we got a roommate- she's very pleasant and has inspired me to throw things away.  She has so few things!  Her code name: Thrasher.  She picked it.  

Jim's a pretty fussy cat about treats.  He doesn't like people food, though I have tried to corrupt him.  He's a solid fan of liver flavored canned cat food, the gravy from the catfood pouches (not the nuggets) the algae wafers one feeds to fish, and squid entrails.  He's also crazy angry picky about dry catfood- if I want him to lose weight, all I have to do is buy a different brand of catfood and then endure six weeks of caterwauling and refusing to be petted.  I've tried buying a different brand and then going to work for two weeks, but C caves after two days.  This is why my cat is fat.

People are going to wonder about some of the items on that list.  Suffice to say, our cat is spoiled. 

Case in point- he started trying to crawl inside one of Thrasher's kitchen boxes around 2 am a couple of nights ago.  C figured that there was nori or fish sauce or something inside, so he put it up on a very high shelf and forgot about it.  I was helping her get it down the next day, and mentioned that the cat loved something inside it.  She nodded;
"Oh, that's probably the dried squid"
"Dried squid?  Really?"
"Yes, for snacking.  Lots of MSG.  Sooo tasty."
"Dried squid?"
"Um, yeah."
"That's probably it- the cat loves squid entrails...."

I have a list of reasons for this little exchange.  Either I'm being gaslit, she has a strange and dry sense of humor, or she eats weird things.  The best bit is that I've had roommates with mad skills for each possibility.  (In order: Amy, Rebecca, Tan)  

Monday, May 11, 2009

 As an avid zombie hater and plant lover, I feel compelled to share the following video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0N1_0SUGlDQ

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The house is full of tasty things.  Clearly I must not be working hard enough.  

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Ground indicator

Cuervito has a small token hanging in his vehicle that serves only to indicate which way the ground is.  The fact that the token is inscribed with an image of Saint Christopher is pure coincidence, as he is not prey to such superstitions.  

Since I have a teensy operating budget at work, and since a compass with a arrow that unfailingly points at the ground is $35 more than a compass which tells you which way north is, I've janked together my own damn protractor/plumbline so I can work out slope.  However, small non-breakable weights with string attachable parts are less common than you might think.  Fortunately, I also have a Saint Christopher medal hanging around.  It works pretty well if you need to know where the ground is.  

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ah, bonding like primates.

So I was sitting on C when he noticed a tick crawling around in my hair.  Sucker was hard to catch- harder since I can't see the top of my head, and C refused to touch the tick without protective/obscuring Kleenex.  I'm pretty sure that the following is unrelated.  

One of our friends uses shampoo around once a month and has beautiful beautiful hair.  C and I decided to give this shampoo free lifestyle a try (we never see anyone anyways)  Four days in, I can say that it's probably not meant to work on fine long hair.  I can also say that I've inadvertently joined a scary hardcore movement: try googling "no poo".  

I just keep thinking about the E.B. White essay (Once More to the Lake) where he says that the only change in waitresses since his childhood was, "their hair had been washed, that was the only difference--they had been to the movies and seen the pretty girls with the clean hair."  All this blather about natural oils can't beat my gut instinct that if my hardscrabble Lutheran ancestors brought themselves to buy shampoo, maybe I should stop putting food products onto my head.  


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hello sir, your bathroom deodorizer has made me hallucinate.

All sorts of common chemicals are migraine triggers. I used to get visual auras as all white things getting a mean glow or dancing dots- but apparently I now get weird interpretations of visual cues. Thus, I saw a bug on my windshield turn into a live bird, a person riding a dog, and a car that alternated between being a police car and not being a police car. I'm sure I was a safe driver.

I want to believe it was unplanned.

While I was driving up to my adventure in The Hills Above Pacheco (song name) I drove a narrow curving single lane road full of bicyclists. I thought it might be an spontaneous biking confluence, but then I passed a middle aged woman biking in a cocktail dress. I tried to convince myself that it was not a Bay to Breakers type bike race, but then I passed a man in a purple cape.

Wherein I find that the land and people Kate Wolf sung about suck.

My crummy smells like old man. It's a combination of compulsive bay leaf collecting, the water jug leaking onto the tarp and molding, and linen scented Lysol as a boot disinfectant. I am not a Sudden Oak Death vector.

So I always figured that a young lady traveling alone is exempt from the social rule about picking up hitchhikers. I still feel guilty as I drive by them- I cannot yet package "You understand, dude." into a fleeting glance- but I drive by them. Like a wise woman.

There I was in the hills above Pacheco, playing the most depressing game I know* when I saw a man walking alongside the road. I figured he was just headed towards a friend's house, but he stuck out his thumb as I drove by. In my rearview mirror, I registered that he was wearing dress shoes and a nice shirt. He was maybe 20 miles from town. It was 2 PM.

*I call the game "Does someone live in that shack?" The answer is yes, but they don't speak English.

I couldn't find a place with an out-of-repair fence (best indicator of public ownership), resident landlords, lack of no trespassing signs, or appropriate site qualities. I looked down a couple of other roads, but they led to gated communities. I was not deemed worthy of entry. I turned back down the road, hoping to see something I'd missed. I did not.

I did see my hitchhiker, 14 miles from town, still walking. It was 90* and 5:30pm. No one had picked him up. I entertained fleeting thought about people heading home from work offering him a ride- even though it was the wrong direction. I drove past.

I stopped at a park on serpentine, hiked around looking for non serpentine a little, ate some soup, and gave myself a pep talk about not trespassing. The other moral conundrum in my life is The Work Must Get Done vs. But That Land Belongs To A Person And They Did Not Say You Could. Like the hitchhiking one, I feel bad every time the Work Does Not Get Done, even though I know I'm acting correctly. I read a couple of signs about the local river water; apparently it has both giardia and toxic levels of magnesium. Then I turned around and drove back towards town.

Twelve miles out, I saw him again. It was less than an hour to dark, and he was slowing down. Like a fool, I slowed down too. I thought about how clever a rapist would have to be to walk eight miles in order to get a ride. I thought about how being tired and hot might push someone into behavior they wouldn't normally consider. I wrestled my bear spray into the gap between me and the door, checked my cell phone reception (nothing) and pulled over.

So he'd had a car fight with his wife, and decided to walk to town instead of riding back with her. She's not his real wife, he explained, he's divorced from his real wife. He doesn't like arguments- but he didn't realize how far from town he was. He didn't need any water- he'd been drinking out of the river. (Same river) He was very grateful for the ride- he was very tired. However, his doctor has been pressuring him to get more exercise since he was diagnosed with diabetes, so this might be for the best. He'd been walking since noon. He talked a lot so that neither of us would think about how stupid I'd been to pick up a strange man in the middle of nowhere. I dropped him off at the gas station and we shook hands. I now feel guilty for not picking him up the first time I saw him.

When I got to the motel, I opened the door. The forgotten bear spray fell on the pavement, but fortunately did not go off.

ATTENTION PEOPLE OF PACHECO: YOU HAVE FAILED THE SOCIAL CONTRACT.

Jane is upset that she has reached the age where contemporaries lose their parents to natural causes.

That is all.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What makes something taste gamey anyhow?

I was working in Montclaire today- in a city park nature area of all things. The other people in the park disappointed me in two ways. One: I was clearly not staying on the main trail and was playing with science related toys yet no one bothered to ask what sort of shenanigans I was pulling. Two: I hunched rustling and swearing in the chaparral over two separate bike trails and no one so much as glanced at me. Where is the survival instinct? What if I had been a cougar? (A cougar who could drive to Montclaire) I would have been a very fat and happy cougar, that's for sure. Also, I wouldn't be waiting for the poison oak I brushed against to make itself known.

In retrospect, this explains why city people are always surprised about the animals we see in nature areas. They are also bad at following pointing fingers.

PS: Have you ever gotten the feeling that a large predator is stalking you? There you are, alone in the woods, gut certain that your neck is about to broken- have you ever felt that?
I usually start singing and holding my arms in the air to appear taller. Then whoever (it's usually a who, not a what) was making the noise pops out of a bush, and I have to decide whether I want to appear cowardly or quirky. Quirky usually wins.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Too long, didn't read

My mom got Facebook, and then half my lab friended me. Pretty much all I can say there is "Jane saw a really pretty flower today."

On bad days, when my job seems bent on giving me an ulcer (or predicating an immune response that weakens my stomach flora enough for Helicobacter pylori to establish itself) or making me drive off the road while looking for a place to camp after another 14 hour day, I figure that if nothing else, I'll leave this job with a fat stack of botany contacts. All I have to do is exert myself and be sociable- not normally my strong point, but after six days of seeking human interaction from gas station attendants, it's not too hard. Except... Except...

Hold on, let me consult with SeƱor C about googleability here.

Right. Pretty much my entire post is a bad idea in terms of google. Also, the first part of this post. Stupid internet. Editing.... editing...

So there's this older botanist I've been working with. He's... very lonely. He never stops talking. Ever. Climbing a 60% slope in the pouring rain? Great time to talk about your heart surgery. Surgeries. Sun going down, temperature dropping below the critical hypothermia point, everyone soaking wet? This is a great opportunity to discuss the validity of our sampling process! Driving out in the gathering dusk on roads that were perfectly safe eight hours ago- oh god, I'm going to give these roads their own paragraph.

So one characteristic of Southern California that creeps me out is all the creek fords. Northern California USFS will spend thirty-forty k turning a ford into a culvert- water across a road is a good sign that you should stop driving on that road. I guess when your creeks (sorry, arroyos) have a binary trickle-flood setting, culverts are either a serious impediment or damn useless. Still, I feel like a sediment spraying, soil compacting, Phytopthera vectoring evildoer every time I drive through shallow water. Of course, it's nothing to how I feel about driving through eight- EIGHT- creekbeds on the way to a site, watching storm clouds move in overhead- checking the other passengers and realizing that they are a man in his 70s with a heart condition and a woman who's been in the US for less than two weeks and used to do all her fieldwork from trains. (Oh my God, isn't that cool? Also, indicative of an insane infrastructure. It's like the kid from Finland who revealed that instead of studying what to plant after logging an area, they'd just consult the chart. Everything you needed to know about how to grow trees on every site had been reduced to a poster sized chart. Pffft, one thousand extra years of civilization.) I was trying to remember everything I could about flash flooding- but it seems my brain had cooked everything down to "Happens. Avoid."

Pause for breath.

Anyways, the arroyos were not any problem at all on the way out. All right, they were significantly deeper, and there was a brief moment when I thought I'd cracked my oilpan- but that sort of paled in comparison to the roads themselves. The roads that look out over beautiful vistas- vistas that seem to involve long steel slopes without any of those comforting trees we get up north. Those "couldn't crash through more than fifty feet of forest anyways" trees. If you're going 15 miles an hour when you crash, someone should be uninjured enough to hike to cell phone reception. The roads themselves are made from ancient slippery adobe clay- just waiting for a little bit of rain so that the top quarter inch soak up enough water to be as slick as ice- a layer that sits on top of the dry powdery soil below and... it's slippery. Ball bearings slippery. Dress shoes on icy pavement slippery. And droning on and on is a discussion of botanical filk musics. I don't think I went faster than seven miles an hour the whole time.

A couple of times we fishtailed badly, my life flashed in front of my eyes, I'd swear miserably under my breath, and then tell my passengers that I'd been distracted for a moment. Please, do go on telling me about that funny parody of the M.A.S.H. song as it pertains to botany.

C and I have an arrangement- I'll call him before eight or he gets to call the National Guard. As we crawled out of this site, I was both slow motion racing against the clock and thanking my lucky stars that someone would look for us. C- being awesome when everything else is not.

Oh, what's that? You want me to concentrate on the South and let the other guy concentrate on the North? Not just no. Not just hell no. I don't really know how to express how much of a no I mean.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Possibly diagnostic

The dining room table has been turned over to plant keying. Normally, Jim thinks of my fragments as green shit that interferes with pettings, but Ribes sanguinium aroused a great deal of interest. Is it diagnostic for cat's piss gooseberry if the cat is obsessed with it?

Typing with Jim on my hands. C says that he thinks that another cat is trying to tell him something- possibly in Yiddish. Other than that- back from the South Coast- really really tired. Fire's got nothing on University salaried work.

Ooo, I went to Catalina Island and hung out with Sarah!. There are many examples of the well known phenomena of island cuteness. I think after a couple of generations, Sarah!'s children will be HUGE and supernaturally cute. Oh, the girlcrush.

Peace, yo.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sooo... Sleepy....

Back in Davis for one day to drop off C, buy groceries, and retrieve the plants in the bottom of our fridge. Then it's off to tour the RV parks of the South Coast. I'm going to bed.

The cat apparently missed us.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Baby Roach Update

We've stopped kidding ourselves- there are definitely MHC loose in the lab. I totally failed to kill one in the half inch range today. Suckers are hard to crush.

SeNor C's found a pirate language filter for Facebook.

I told my boss that I'd definitely get out in the field today, I told myself that I'd totally finish my plant keying, and here I am updating. It's also how I got my taxes done. And read up of the romance of the three kingdoms. The kitchen's still a mess though.

Back from driving Highway 99- all of it, suckers. It's the first time I've done that to any highway longer than 45 miles. The billboards exhort readers to put their almonds in rubber boots "just in case" and to "insure the manure" out of their farm equipment. The other half are in Spanish- they inform the reader that social workers are on your side, that cigarettes will kill your children, that the pediatric wing of the local hospital accepts cash, that "Dulce et decorum est" for the parent to have the remote control, and that joining the military speeds the path to citizenship. Every other car has some sort of agricultural function. The whole thing is like the backstage of California proper- and I find that I'm more comfortable living in ignorance of how the play is done. Also, I couldn't find a grocery store.

I always thought of myself as the kind of girl who would go camping in new and strange places at the drop of a hat- a modern and independant woman held back by every single significant emotional commitment she has ever made. Anyways- that was a lie. I like hotels. I like security. I like sleeping with my legs stretched out. And I hate long drives by myself. The more you know.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Hiatus? What Hiatus?

So yeah, I've been not at all busy. It's putting off doing things that gets these posts written. However, the field season's gearing up- I'm going to be sleeping in my car somewhere in Bakersfield for the next week- and I'm putting off preparing. Wooo!

I thought I'd share some important things I've learned from Facebook.
1.) I should never ever have a conversation with my cousin Matt.
2.) If I have a concersation with my cousin Matt, I should avoid talking about my job, my career, my fiance, my home state, my hobbies, and my favorite foods.
3.) People did marry their high school boyfriends. My mistake.
4.) Apparently lots of reasonable contemporaries have already had children. I need a new excuse for why I'm putting it off.
5.) Those 25 things about me lists? Trouble.
6.) No matter how much you like one of those mini games, someone else will be waaaay more into it than you.
7.) Correlation is not causation.
8.) Suggesting a precariously married person friend their high school boyfriend is not necessarily a good idea.
9.) Some of those guys one would bump into hiding in the bushes in the middle of nowhere, flustered and confused? Not taking drugs. Awkward....
10.) When it turns out that the friend of a friend who endured a great deal of homophobia and abuse in his provincial school system went to your school, you should not tell his friend that no one knew he was gay, and everyone was mean to him because he was a douche.

Feel free to add your own.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Wombat Den

It seems like half my posts now concern the damn Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. What else can I say? I've developed a worrying addiction to Freecell? It's still not raining because the world is ending? I'm limping along in work with a slowly dying computer- breaking down like a man who worked hard all his life or an old car- system after system going down, nearly impossible to fix anything, and more and more elaborate workarounds seeming rational. The latest to go was the CD drive- I took it into the IT guys and they took it for 36 hours, deleted all the malware that they dismissed in the past, and handed it back with admonitions to not download anything iffy. I knew the Microsoft Online Office stuff was dodgy. Immediately thereafter, I hauled it back to them again so they could fish the files they'd hidden back into view and reestablish my user account. But guess what isn't fixed? Guess who still needs a CD drive? I don't have a firewire port, and the only CD drive around requires one, but maybe... Really dull. Let me tell you about vermin.

The cockroaches are doing fine. I usually post the sensational side of the story, so I should note that we are unsure of the source of all the baby roaches in the lab- possibly it is just a local infestation. However, we do have confirmed MHC young present in the enclosure, happy and growing swiftly.

There's a weekly seminar on Ecology; today's lecture did not include the large fuzzy things that get funding and everyone was chatting about supporting non-charismatic microfauna. Of course the roaches were brought up as an example, and of course I said that they were very charismatic when they were not stealing my food. The man I was chatting with winced and said that the idea of them crawling under his skin would forever make them not charismatic. I nodded, and then asked if he took a lot of meth.

That's a conversational Claymore mine if there ever was one. It makes sense! Roaches under the skin is a common delusion of meth users! I was just concerned! But really, what was I thinking? What if he'd said yes? Oh man, what if he is a meth user? His teeth are pretty good... What if he saw me checking his teeth and complexion? What's it like when you mention a harmless quirk, and then your conversational partner starts examining you for signs of drug abuse?

So yeah, critical banter failure. Sad.

In further notes, Pandora.com has forever ruined a song that was a great favorite of mine: Wombat Den. It's about a wombat defending its den against an interloper- or possibly a sexual partner. The ambiguity of this relationship and the creepy wombat mating behavior really made it stand out from the other generic pop/rock songs. Yeah, that song? Won't Back Down, Tom Petty. Thanks, internet.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Learning from the mistakes at Valejo.

We all know BJ, right? Seven feet tall, good at hitting things with sticks and designing unselfconcious steampunk-style armaments, and the kind of soft spoken that makes everyone pretty careful about irritating him. Anyways, he's taking eskrima, because he needed to find a way to become even more intimidating to other dudes.

(Eskrima is the art of hitting people with two tiny sticks. Like all martial arts that sound stupid and have survived, it's brutal. It's how the Pilipinos took down Magellan. He had guns, they had sticks. It was not a fair fight. Here's a video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-Oz1aPolTA&feature=related. It looks like high spped slap fighting to me too)

It's a small class at the Recreation Center- usually there are only three people, and two of them were otherwise occupied that day. BJ and his instructor were sparring, his instructor lost a stick, BJ pressed the advantage, and the instructor grabbed his arm and threw him to the ground. Then he pinned both of BJ's shoulders and started hitting him in the face- lightly, because it was practice. BJ was trying shoulder rolls and knee kicks to get free- and the instructor started advising him on other options- options that did not work because the instructor is so very good at eskrima.

Anyways, this is when a girl walked past a supposedly empty classroom and saw one guy pinning another man to the floor, mocking his attempts to get free and beating his face with sticks. She screamed, and then offered to call the police. That ended the sparring pretty quickly.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Killer Dreams

Did I mention that I went home last weekend, and baked cookies and cupcakes for Obama? My mom had a migraine, it was awesome.

There's a story about my grandmother- how she had blood clots in her legs and was instructed not to move, lest they travel to her heart and kill her. She crawled down to the basement on her hands and knees to make sure my mother was doing laundry correctly. My mother was 17. Aha, we laugh at my grandmother, her need for control so strong she'd face deep discomfort and death before a pink undershirt.

Apparently that sort of psychosis requires more than one generation to work itself out of your family, because my mother would not let her mid-twenties daughter bake things from mixes. When this infirmity strikes me, I hope I display my lack of faith in underlings, not children.

Okay, so two weeks ago I led a group of people in pretending to be elves while wearing my evil daystar sunglasses and letting beta blockers dissolve under my tongue. Migraines do not really lead to rational thought. I can cut her some slack.

Also, my brother had a plastic baggie full of grayish herbs on his desk. I picked it up, turned it over, and said
"What is this, mugwort?" He nodded (It totally was just mugwort. It's not a code for anything else. It's in the Asteraceae- nothing fun ever came out of that family.)
"You've done the thing where you smoke it and get crazy dreams then?" he asked.
"I have never heard of such a thing. That sounds very unpleasant."
"Well then, how'd you know what it was?" There was a beat... "Oh yeah... Botanist..."

Monday, January 19, 2009

Jane loves harassing salesmen.

So I've been shopping for a work truck. I need a little thing to rattle down the back roads of California, hopefully racking up the mileage monies. I coerced my father to go to a dealership with me- I know nothing about cars, and I've heard salesmen can be a wee bit sexist.

We bumped against a low priced SUV in insanely good shape, and were poking around it when a salesperson pounced. He expertly steered us away from the trade-in we were looking at, and chatted my dad over to the more expensive part of the lot. There was a lot of talking and a lot of ignoring me. He said that if I wanted an attractive car with good clearance, I should think about a Jeep. He mentioned that this one here was a particularly good deal.

"Oh my God!" I breathed, "Does the top come down? How's the sound system? Do you see how the headlights are round like the eyes on a horse?" The salesman beamed;
"Well, if Dad agrees, I think this might be just the car for you." The father figure's brow furrowed. He does not like Jeeps. I nodded enthusiastically.
"I have a couple of questions, actually. Just in general. Is this France?"
"Umm... No?"
"Is it currently 1945?"
"Noo..."
"Then why (gratuitous Chinese) would I want to buy a Jeep?"

Now, ideally, he would have been flummoxed, and I would have gotten a great deal on the crummy of my dreams. But instead he went back to ignoring me, and kept diverting us away from test driving things in our price range. Next time I'm bringing a bat.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

One of my coworkers was a voluble man- fueled by caffeine and white hot curiosity. We were driving through a tiny town and saw a sign outside a realtor's office: Free Coffee and Maps. This set off a long riff about the obvious trap to catch him, how his enemies had perfected their lure, and how he could be dangling upside down from the ceiling, swaying gently, still inquiring about his promised beverage and topo quads.

I feel sort of like that about the map room in the library. It's quiet (so blessedly quiet) and full of wonderful wonderful maps. Lovely quiet people greet me pleasantly, ask if I need help, and then say nothing for hours at a time. Sometimes they stop near me to show off a particularly interesting map. Also there are nooks and crannies and the internet does not work. It's like heaven.

Until today.

Some professor thought it would be nice if students could use library resources, so he gave his class a scavenger hunt. Twenty odd people breezed through the room, asking loudly about call numbers. I had to wait for a librarian! They kept making apologetic eye contact while whisking off to intercept another teenager intent on defiling a rare map.

Eventually, I formed an impromptu class on the basics of latitude and longitude, namely: they exist, they occur in degrees, and they are a way of finding a unique point on the globe. Eventually, I did their worksheet to make them go away. It was the only way to get someone to pull out the 1:100,000 geology maps.

Monday, January 5, 2009

I pray they haven't made it to my house.

I found one of the baby roaches in my coffee cup today, peaceably eating my old teabag.

At some point in the last year, I decided that I really should stop wearing shirts that display my belly. Unfortunately, I also became more squeemish; I find I can no longer navigate the American Apparal website without feeling nauseated. The easy solution is to buy from the men's side of the catalog, but I want my fitted tees.

I was washing out my cup with boiling water. The coworked next to the sink mentioned they were living in the office supplies drawer too.