Monday, December 29

Large Obnoxious Bureaucratic Entities, Part 2

The fact that the travel experience from San Antonio to Salt Lake City last Wednesday was the most seamless and enjoyable ever—owing to a pre-downloaded episode of Pushing Daisies to pass the airport time, being upgraded to First Class at the last minute as a reward for my charitable nature, and getting paid to work while I flew from the Lone Star to the Beehive state—all this should have tipped me off that the return trip would offer some grief.

I have yet to have a frightening miss- or almost-miss-your-flight event, which, I admit, leads me to be a little cavalier about how much time I allow myself between airport-drop-off and departure time, especially when it comes to morning flights. So when I got to the SLC airport this morning to find the Delta check-in area teeming with passengers overburdened with their Christmas windfall, like something off the “6 o’clock News’ Travel Holiday Horrors Special,” the alarm sounded in my head and I unconsciously switched to Marge in Charge mode. Fortunately, along with my trusty sidekick/chauffeur/bag-boy Mark, I successfully navigated check-in and bag drop-off, avoiding the extra baggage charge with some fast talking, and I made my way up to security with a little under an hour before takeoff.

Like the seasoned traveler I am, I swiftly prepared my carry-ons for the seamless x-ray that airport experts like myself are accustomed to. I removed my slip-on shoes and two of the three jackets I had donned this morning—worn not for warmth, but worn because luggage, unlike bellies, does not miraculously expand over the Christmas break, and as I had failed to leave enough space to accommodate the newly-acquired material evidence of familial love and post-Christmas sales in addition all the items I had originally packed, there was no room in my bags for the sweater, hoodie, and faux-fur–lined coat which now insulated me from the harsh temperatures of a crowded airport security line.

With 45 minutes until takeoff, I passed noiselessly through the metal detector and watched for my shoes and bags to come leisurely down the conveyor belt. First came my shoes, then the hoodie, coat, laptop, and quart-sized Ziploc. Then the personal item, slowly. Then the conveyor belt came to its telltale abrupt stop. Reverse. Forward. Stop. Forward. I watched all this with the knowledge that the bag being scrutinized was mine, but I had no fear because there was nothing questionable in there. But then the flashing light came on and the operator looked around for backup. A finger pointed at the screen as another head nodded. Oh dear.

The nice TSA lady asked me if I happen to have a snow globe in my carry on. Why, yes, in fact, I do! It was a lovely gift from my husband’s dear grandmother, and it plays “Silent Night” when you wind it up—and it’s a pleasant, even endearing rendition of the song, which is an uncommon trait in wind-up decorative items these days.

Unfortunately for me and the little Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus in my snow globe, this potentially volatile item contained The Unknown Liquid and must either be checked, deserted, or otherwise disposed of before my carry on was going to leave the hands of the Nice TSA Lady.

Flight departure is T minus 40 minutes. I ran through my options with my friendly neighborhood TSA agent. All of the options that involved keeping possession of my snow globe required going downstairs and coming back through security.

I could go check the bag, which would not only certainly cost valuable time but would also surely incur a cost higher than the value of the snow globe. Or I could find out if the nice, idle people downstairs—who aren’t overworked at all right now—could retrieve one of my checked bags for me so I could rearrange my items, recheck my bag, and come back up through security. Or I could call my personal chauffeur to come back to retrieve this dangerous item. This last option was looking less likely as said chauffeur was not answering his phone.

Nice TSA Lady gestured for Stern West Point TSA Man to come offer his advice. After West Point explained to me that I might be able to leave the snow globe in Lost and Found and have someone (Mark) come pick it up later, and after West Point took the time to detail the TSA Lost and Found Schedule, I indicated that I’d like to take care of it this way. West Point then proceeded to tell me that this was actually not an option, since Unknown Liquids Are Not Even Allowed In This Area. And were I to just casually leave my item lying around the area, no one would take it to Lost and Found—instead, they would throw it away. West Point, who had obviously rendered great service in offering a viable compromise and then negating it mere seconds later, left us rather worse than he found us, and went off to do Liquid Patrol elsewhere.

I invite you for a brief overview of my cranium at this moment, to understand the various emotions at play. This tour involves the following exhibits: (a) my strong feelings about a particular airplane leaving without me on board; (b) my deep-seated aversion to discarding anything remotely in working order, let alone new; (c) my aggravating sentimental attachment to things given to me, especially things given by people over age 75; (d) my frustration at being unable to reach my chauffeur spouse on his cell phone; and (e), the dominating sentiment, which is that I am a problem-solver, and this is a problem I am going to solve.

Enter two superheroes, the first of which was Mark, who finally answered his phone and agreed to turn around and come back to the airport, even though I was not yet sure how I was going to transfer the snow globe in question to his possession and still make my flight. I told Nice TSA Lady that I was going to take it downstairs and figure it out there. I went to retrieve my bag from her, at which point her eyes and body language informed me in no uncertain terms that I was NOT going to touch the Bag Containing The Unknown Liquid until we were safely out of the Unknown Liquid Restriction Zone. She then escorted me and the Bag to the other side of the very secure 10-foot, chain link, barbed-wire fence wide-open security hall and left me there like a rowdy drunkard who just picked a fight inside her bar.

Downstairs I looked around and thought, Where can I stash this so Mark will find it when he shows up in 20 minutes? Whether actually over the PA system or in my head I don’t know, but I heard that sultry recording reminding me again, “Do not transport any item for someone you do not know. Do not leave any baggage unattended. According to the Department of Homeland Security, the current threat level is orange.” And as everyone knows, snow globes are shaped like oranges.

I approached the man at the information desk. Surely he had a lost-and-found box under his desk, and I could leave my item there. No no. Not only was he not allowed to hold items, but dropping something off at Lost and Found involved going to the other terminal, up the stairs and around the corner, getting a background check, taking a 100-question multiple choice test, two-years of security raining, and finally reaching the administrative offices. All in T minus 30 minutes. Right.

Since leaving the snow globe encased in Styrofoam underneath the Coke machine just might work but must just as likely arouse time-consuming suspicion, I went with plan C, which was this: Approach benign-looking older man settled in the alcove by the elevator with his laptop. Ask him how long he’s planning to be there. Desperately explain my situation (making sure to emphasize the elderly nature of the giver of the snow globe). Ask if he will allow me to place the Styrofoam cube on the chair next to him until my husband, 6 feet tall and wearing a blue jacket, comes to pick it up. Hope for a positive response. As the man glanced up at me above his glasses with a look that made me wonder if “crotchety” wouldn’t have been a better adjective than “benign,” his face softened and he said, “Sure.” Thank you, Super Hero #2, for having a healthy disrespect for airport PA system warnings.

With the likelihood now greatly increased that Grandma’s Silent Night Snow Globe would be passed on from generation to generation as a treasured heirloom, I made a mad dash back upstairs to go through security again. At this point my extra warm wardrobe combined with an adrenaline-charged situation and my rapid movement around two levels of the airport had given me pause to wonder about my deodorant choices. At T minus 20 minutes I was kindly ushered through the “clear line,” which usually involves the air-puffer machine, but I was spared that. Unburdened of The Unknown Liquid, I was deemed Safe For Air Travel, stamped for approval, and sped right along to Gate C11, with just enough time to spare to wait in line to use the ladies’ room, a true delight of womanhood. A phone call from Mark confirmed that the eagle had landed, the snow globe was in his hands, and this item would stay in the family for years to come.

This experience underscores my belief that airport security is a farce. If you are under the impression that, well, it’s better safe than sorry and it’s probably better this way, please disabuse yourself of that notion by reading this Atlantic article—which I guarantee will not only entertain but will also raise one if not both of your eyebrows right up to your hairline. So while that gutsy (ha ha) author was smuggling 2+ liters of Unknown Liquid in a fake “Beerbelly” strapped to his torso, highly trained airport security officers were protecting air passengers everywhere from snow globe toting travelers like me. That's security!

Wednesday, December 10

The Doghouse

I don't like jewelry, but I'd love a dual-bag or an abcerciser (we've even discussed the hair waxer...and Mark was only half joking). So while this didn't exactly resonate, it suuure entertained.
(Give it a minute to load; it's about 5 minutes long)

Wednesday, November 26

Vigilante parking enforcement

Three days, four voicemails and over 20 unanswered phone calls later, at 7:30 this morning I finally got through to the man who held my parking fate in his hands.

He generously gave me the benefit of the doubt and waived the fee without any ado, for which I am very grateful. He reduced the citation to a "warning" for Mark. (?!)

How did this happen in the first place, you may ask? Apparently someone reported to the parking office that Mark had wantonly deposited the car in visitor parking. And this anonymous tip was given more consideration than my paragraph-long appeal, submitted immediately after receiving the citation (evidence enough that I was the one there, no?)

How to prevent this in the future? Mmm...can't really guarantee that it won't happen again.

Seriously? Seriously. Apparently there are ambitious parking vigilantes watching the visitor lot like hawks just waiting for some imprudent student or employee to park there. And apparently they know each student and employee by sight. And they know which car belongs to which individual. And even if the student/employee isn't actually to be seen anywhere near the car, they just know. And they care so much that they call it in, for justice must be served.


I don't buy this load of you-know-what, but whatever.

And though the generous captain with whom I spoke this morning was most gracious--for which I am very grateful--and he gave me exactly what I wanted without even arguing, I still think the parking office is ridiculous. Love the individual, despise the entity.

UTHSCSA parkers beware!

Friday, November 21

This ain't over

It's one thing for a campus parking office to make up rules--asinine as they may be--and then punish you when you don't follow them. After all, that's their job. You can whine about that until the cows come home, but you can't say you weren't warned.

It is totally different to ticket a visitor parked legitimately in visitor parking and give no more reason than "4006 - PARKED WHERE PROHIBITED" and then a month later reject the citation appeal with no more explanation than "DENIED. Pay by Dec 1."

Maybe the parking office should consider a new slogan for 2009:

Thursday, November 13

Soul Music

People, I like a good deal. And boy oh boy did I score one this week. Get this: Mat Kearney's Nothing Left to Lose album was only $8.00 on iTunes for 15 songs. Fifteen AWESOME songs. Every. Single. Song. Rocks. When was the last time you loved an ENTIRE album? Without even skipping one song? And there were 15 songs?! That's like, almost 50 cents a song. And if you were to do the math on

$8.00 ÷ innumerable number of hours of exhilarating music enjoyment = pennies per hour

And that price is shrinking by the day, as I've listened to almost nothing else since Monday and don't foresee my audio entertainment selection changing any time soon.

This guy...this guy is like Coldplay meets Counting Crows meets John Mayer meets Jason Mraz meets nice rap...or something. He's got depth. He's got rhythm. He's got lyrics. He's got guitar. He's got piano. He's got soul-stirring swells. He's got crank-up-the-volume-roll-down-the-windows-I-feel-like-I'm-17-again. And he's got FIFTEEN of these! For cheap! It doesn't get any better than this.

Monday, November 10

Travelblogue: The Best Part

I invariably get asked what my favorite part was about visiting Italy. (At least I used to get asked that, like 4 months ago, when this topic was still timely.)

And this is invariably my answer:

I liked hanging out with this guy, too:
(Mostly to look at his beard, and see his sweet frisbee moves.)

But Alaina takes the Dani's-favorite-part-of-Italy-ever prize. Some days I just couldn't wait for her to come home from school so we could play. I love this girl so much my heart might explode.

And I'll just top it all off with my two favorite pictures of the trip, in descending order:

Wednesday, November 5

Travelblogue: The Italian Experience

I took about 20 pictures of this guy (who was talking animatedly to someone just to the left of the picture) by pretending to shoot St. Peter's Basilica in the background. Hoping to get a picturesque shot, I was going crazy on my cheap little camera as if someone were calling on the side, "Work it, nonno, I love it!" When he finally got up to leave I looked over and there were about 10 tourists waiting to pass by, politely not wanting to impose on my picture. Sheepishly I told them to go right ahead.

This guy redefined "street performer." I guess you had to be there, but if they gave Grammys/Emmys/Tonys/Oscars/Whatevers to Street Performers, he'd sweep in all categories: best costume, best posture, best jawline, best robot (statue?)-like movements, best staying in character, best keeping still between payments, best kiss on the cheek, and best overall entertainment value for a few cents.

Seemingly effortless beauty is EVERYWHERE (naturally I'm referring to me here, not this bench's breathtaking flowering canopy in the middle of nowhereville at a horse boarding stable/riding school)

My fondest Italian wish was to ride a cruiser bike around an Italian town; nothing could be more authentic. This was no secret to the family traveling party, and only time constraints, tired siblings, and financial considerations prevented us from renting bikes in Verona. I knew that our beach trip to touristy Rimini was probably my last chance at finding a rental shop, so I had mapped out a few places where I hoped to be able to rent a picturesque two-wheeled conveyance. Imagine my elation when upon check-in our hostel host indicated there were bikes out back to be borrowed first-come-first-ser­ve by hip, youthful Europhiles like ourselves FOR FREE. It was early to bed and early to rise that night, and despite unrestful sleep (we left the balcony door open on account of lodging on the third floor with no AC, so the train down the block might as well have been rumbling right past our feet all night, and 1:00 a.m. screeching from our backpacking hostelmates had a sleep-piercing effect)—so despite unrestful sleep we were the first (and only) in line to select our vehicles for the next day. The only functioning cruiser bike provided me a more genuine Italian ride than any rental shop could have offered: a wire basket, no gears, both tires slightly flat, one working brake, and every inch of it rusted completely through. So Mark and I went for an early morning cruise around Rimini, dodging cars and bipeds alike, stopping only for the open market, a downtown corner flautist, and the beach. With my family’s (air conditioned) hotel a good 20-minute walk from our hostel, and my dad gone with the car for most of the day, the cycling gods could not have selected a better day to bestow upon us such delightful and affordable transportation.

Speaking of sweet rides, the hour Mark, Alaina, and I spent on this beauty is a top contender for THE Italy Highlight Experience. Mark was in his element as our Rimini quadracycle chauffeur, racing down the streets and sidewalks of the town, careening past innocent beach goers with reckless abandon, and developing an exact science for how to ring the “here we come” bicycle bell (long ring from far away to announce our presence, two short rings from a moderate distance to say “excuse us,” and incessant ringing for “stay put at your own risk!”). A gaggle of Italian nonnas (grannies) walking four abreast along the boardwalk were the recipients of this latter bell call, and one had some choice words for us when they finally noticed us and stepped aside to let us pass. What those choice words were, I don’t know; whether they were a sanction or censure was beyond my limited Italian, so we just smiled and said “Grazie” as we sped away.

Thursday, October 9

Understand your world!

Unless you've been totally isolated from the news for the past months, you have undoubtedly heard of the sub-prime mortgage meltdown, the credit crisis, and more recently, the Wall Street bailout. And even though I average 4 to 5 hours of NPR a day, 5 to 6 days a week (I think I need rehab), I have yet to feel like I really understood what was going on. But today I listened to two This American Life shows that finally made it all click. So if you, like I was, are wondering what the heck this is all about and are aggravated by the fact that you just can't quite seem to wrap your brain around it, I highly recommend these two 1-hour shows. They describe the problem in terms anyone can understand and they're entertaining to boot.

Check out the first one (about the mortgage & credit crisis) here, and the second one (about the bailout) here.

Thursday, September 25

Travelblogue: For Heidi


Travelblogue: First Impressions & If Only I Had a Sweet Camera

Am I still allowed to post this grossly outdated stuff?

Saw Andrea Bocelli perform live here (for free)--the Piazza del Duomo in Milan:

Where Dr. Seuss got his ideas:

Sunday, August 10

Travelblogue: Preface

August 10, 2008.

Dear Diary,

For exactly two months I have rationed our overseas journey's precious provisions with utmost care. They would have lasted longer if not for a ravenous beast in my midst who consumed a small portion. The beast's subsequent comment that it "preferred the Hershey bar they gave us in Sacrament meeting on Father's Day" disgusted me, and I threw it a Symphony of equal weight in order to appease its inferior appetite.

Today marks a grievous day: only one piece of Swiss chocolate remains. My survival is precarious.

Thursday, July 24

The grind explained

For anyone who's wondering, the small (15 employees) company I work for publishes and distributes newsletters for homeowners' associations, small cities, neighborhoods, etc. I design ads, lay out newsletters, update the website (sort of), offer pranking suggestions, and keep the profanity to a minimum in my general vicinity. I got this job by Google-mapping "publishing" and showing up completely unsolicited with my resume, which is pretty nerve-racking; you should try it. (I did this at several places, and you would think it would get easier each time. Nope: each time I sat in the car thinking, "What am I doing!?") The job they happened to have open in September wasn't for me, but they surprised me by following up in February with an offer I couldn't refuse. So I quit my previous job after being there only three months and I haven't looked back. It was Divine intervention with a capital D.

PS - Scotty, do you note the green garb in the first picture below? That's right--I'm still sporting my Green Gladiators shirt. Green team for life!

Sunday, July 20

The grind part II

My new* job is about as good as 40 hours a week can possibly be.

  • I’ve managed to be pretty dang organized. (It helps when you get to start from scratch, and you don’t inherit someone else’s disorganization.)
  • Multitasking rocks.
  • We can have a heated work discussion involving raised voices and cussing** and then we’re all still friends two minutes later.
  • I found out that you can listen to too much NPR.
  • Try and love it.
  • I went to Italy for a month and still had a job when I got back.
  • It takes 10 minutes to drive to work, including dropping Mark off.
  • All-expenses paid trip for a conference in L.A. ...what?!
  • I can wear jeans.
  • Or shorts.
  • And T-shirts.
  • Chacos every. single. day.
  • I pretty much come and go when I please as long as I total 40 hours a week.
  • Did I mention I went to Italy for a month? Is that crazy or what!?
  • Office politics? The politics around here involve who can talk loudest in the staff meeting.
  • Projects, projects, projects. I do projects all day long.
  • Can you say Adobe CS3? I’m in love.
  • I have zero formal training in what I do, but it’s what I love to do, and I get paid to do it, and every day I learn something new. It's a beautiful cycle.
  • Humans are not meant for little windowless offices with buzzing fluorescent lights, but when I’ve got my own music, the ability to shut the door, and no one cares that I never turn on the light anyway, I’ll take it.
  • They decided to add fish to my fishbowl:
  • Office pranks abound (like the toilet papering, stuffing a couch into the little office, messing with shortcuts on the computer, and an asbestos warning waiting for me when I got back from vacation):

I’m pretty happy here.

*new being newER. Um, 5 months new.
**Though tempting, I never cuss.

Wednesday, July 16

Dear...Someone Connected with This Address

This was waiting for us in our stack of mail when we got back from Italy. I enjoyed it so much that I really wanted to keep it, but I'll document it here instead.

It came in this envelope:

Here's the meat of it:
[click to enlarge]

Here's the "rug" in question (really a 10x16 piece of paper):

I was supposed to send it back (the next morning) in this:

Also included were some product offers:

...and testimonials:

I think that anything that helps someone to sincerely draw nearer to the Lord is a good thing on some level. But questionable grammar, alarming punctuation, and creative underlining deserve a good ribbing.

Sunday, July 6

Long Sunday Walks

I told Mark I was getting a ride home from church so he could keep the car for his presidency meeting. But he forgot about that and got a ride instead. And he was home for almost 10 minutes before he realized it. "Um, guess where the car is right now..."

Long pause. Cue laughter.

"You're a moron."

By the way, it takes about 40 minutes to walk from our apartment to the church at a moderate pace, which is a lot longer than I had anticipated. But it was a lovely walk!

Tuesday, May 6

Read this book

Some things are SO FUNNY that you absolutely must share them with people. And even though you have no idea what else is going on in Uncle Fred in the Springtime by P.G. Wodehouse, you can appreciate the humor in this paragraph on page 57:

'We come to the conclusion,' [said Ickenham], 'that the whole situation pivots on the pig. Eliminate the pig, and we see daylight. "What, no pig?" says the Duke, and after a little natural disappointment turns his thoughts to other things -- I don't know what, but whatever things Dukes do turn their thoughts to. There must be dozens. This leaves us with the simple problem -- How is the existing state of what I might call "plus pig" to be converted into a state of "minus pig"? There can only be one answer, my dear Emsworth. The pig must be smuggled away to a place of safety and kept under cover till the Duke has blown over.'

Thanks again, Salvation Army.

Sunday, April 27

The tri-wing screw

So with a little help from Wikipedia I figured out the screw that was giving us trouble on the iron yesterday:

"Tri-Wing, as the name suggests, is a screw with three "wings" and a small triangular hole in the center. A variation is a kind in which the three "wings" are joined in the center (with no triangular hole). A somewhat similar-looking design in which three short radial slots are not joined in the center is called a Tri-groove screw head.

"The Tri-Wing is a tamper-resistant screw due to the difficulty in finding Tri-Wing screwdrivers in hardware stores, although they can be legally bought online. As is often the theory with tamper-resistant hardware, there is no expectation that it will be impossible for a tamperer to obtain the driver. Rather, the main idea is simply that most tamperers will not bother to seek out and obtain a driver. In the case of end-users, this reduces the incidence of do-it-yourself repair or modifications (and any resulting injury or product damage). In the cases of vandalism prevention and theft prevention, since most vandalism and theft incidents are simply crimes of easy opportunity, the idea is to "raise the bar" and make the opportunity less easy."
(; my italics)

Take that, tri wing tamperproof do-it-yourselfer protection! I'll pry my iron open if I want it open! And now I want one of those drivers, just so I can tamper when I want to tamper.

A few firsts

It's been an eventful past few days:

Tuesday & Wednesday: First ever "business" trip. Xerox sent my supervisor and me to L.A., all expenses paid, to be wined and dined into either buying a large digital printer or partnering with them to help grow the business. It was awesome. Now, let's be clear: I did not deserve to be there, but I sure tried to pretend like I did.

Tuesday: First ever trip to In-N-Out. I bought only fries since it was 6:00, supposedly only an hour before dinner (I regretted not getting a burger when we didn't actually sit down to eat until almost 8:30 and I hadn't had lunch). I must say I wasn't wowed by In-N-Out.

Tuesday: First ever conversation entirely in Italian. Well, at least the couple I met in the Hilton lobby spoke (only) Italian, and I communicated well enough through some sort of Spanitaluguese. They generously bought me a hot chocolate while they got espressos (um, I had no idea that espressos were the size of shot glasses...? Like 2 ounces of beverage for $3? ...stay tuned for more evidence of my Bubble upbringing.) We conversed for TWO HOURS! Turns out they're from Milan, and I gave her my parents' phone number and she gave me her business card...maybe Mark and I will drop in to say hello while we're there next month.

Wednesday: First ever conversation about religion on an airplane. Also, first ever Book of Mormon giveaway.

Saturday: First ever successful take-it-apart-and-put-it-back-together electronic fix-it project. I needed the iron to hem some curtains, but to my dismay it didn't heat up when I plugged it in. (This probably had something to do with it falling a number of times from a rather unwise perch in our closet.) So we pried it apart---I say 'pried' because it had the weirdest screw that I couldn't get a grip on with any of our screwdrivers or had only three grooves coming out from a center point; anyone have any insight on such a screw?---so anyway, I pried it apart and found the guilty broken piece that was disrupting the circuit. To make a long story short, we reconnected the broken piece with some twist-tie wire and then refastened the iron to the plastic handle using hanging wire (turns out that prying it open busted many plastic pieces necessary for holding the iron together). Yeah, we're pretty much MacGuyvers now. We kept a full pitcher of water on hand for the test-run of the newly repaired iron lest it spontaneously burst into flame. Fortunately, it seems to work just fine. I was tickled with our success!

Saturday: First ever civil wedding. It was surprisingly a lot like the movies, except that instead of a string quartet they had a rock band ("Here Comes the Bride" never sounded so angsty). There was a gazebo, a wooded clearing, a gregarious preacher, scantily-clad bridesmaids, scantily-clad female guests, a buffet, a cake, nothing to drink but tea, a horse-drawn carriage, a champaigne toast, and an open bar (which means, I learned, that the all the alcohol is FREE!). Talk about one expensive party! This was also my first ever party where things progressively got less fun as everyone else got more drinks. First ever time watching someone I know and mostly respect go back for beer after beer after beer. First ever time being one of the few totally sober people around. Last time ever going to a wedding or party without my own car.

[Note: It was not drunken revelry, at least not when my ride and I finally left at 10:30. I wasn't ever really uncomfortable, either. I just thought, "Wow, I have yet to see that guy without a full beer in his hand" and "You guys are going clubbing after this? Who's driving?" and "Um, I really don't think what everyone is laughing at is that funny." Aside from feeling over-dressed and under-drunk I had a lovely time.]

My real-life education continues. What a week!

Friday, April 18

Today I bought 19 pretty much brand-new books and 4 used books--for a total of 25 books--for EIGHT (8) DOLLARS ($).

The used books are:
Twelfth Night
As You Like It
Uncle Fred in the Springtime
and 25,000+ Baby Names. (Speculate all you like; this is no harbinger. I'm giving it away.)

The practically new books (all Dover thrifts) are:
The Tempest
King Lear
A Midsummer Night's Dream
The Merchant of Venice
Much Ado About Nothing
Great Expectations
Pride & Prejudice
Wuthering Heights
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
The Raven and Other Favorite Poems
Self-Reliance and Other Essays (can I get a "woot woot" from Pinto)
A Tale of Two Cities
The Importance of Being Earnest
Leaves of Grass
The Scarlet Letter
100 Best-Loved Poems
and Frankenstein.

I'm not going to pretend that I read Shakespeare for leisure, but they were so cheap that I couldn't pass them up.

My gratitude for this bargain goes to the downtown Salvation Army store, the manager of the Salvation Army store who suggested I browse through his three boxes of recent arrivals in the "employee-only" section, the other Salvation Army employee who finally gave up trying to kick me out of said "employee-only" section, and, lastly, the other Salvation Army employee who rung me up, who quickly became overwhelmed at the prospect of calculating the posted "80% off the cover price" of each of these books and instead charged a flat rate of a few quarters or so each based on a book's size (that's how they used to do it; and don't tell Gary). I was so thrilled that I took the wrong freeway junction on the way home.

In other news, I'm in the market for another bookshelf.

Saturday, March 29

Quote of the month

Mark: These magnifying mirrors make my head look huge!
Me: Um, that's not a magnifying mirror.

Friday, February 29

Men Making the Most of 'Twilight'

To all those who joined me in reading that shameless teenage romance, enjoy this for a belly laugh:

(For the record: I am not and was not ever in love with Edward. In fact, the relationships in this book disturb me.)

Sunday, February 24

A simile is like a metaphor

Supposedly these rhetorical gems were gleaned from actual high school essays.

1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room temperature Canadian beef.

5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

7. He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree.

8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife's infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM.

9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.

10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p. m. at a speed of 35 mph.

15. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan's teeth.

16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

17. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant and she was the East River.

18. Even in his last years, Grandpappy had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long it had rusted shut.

19. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

20. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

21. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.

22. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a landmine or something.

23. The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.
24. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

25. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.
26. She walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing legs.

27. It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall.

Sunday, February 3

Gluttony = nirvana

Isn't ironic that you fast all day and then gorge yourself on dinner, after which you can barely move for at least an hour? (Maybe you don't do that. Maybe it's just me.)

Anyway, I was feeling pretty ambitious this afternoon and I went all out for dinner. Pot roast (first ever), dinner rolls from scratch (first ever, and despite my fears, they turned out perfect--I even put them in one of those bread baskets with a little cloth), salad with to-die-for homemade croutons (I'll never go back to store-bought; ask me for the recipe, it's easy), and, AND, I - made - a - dessert. From scratch. Which is completely unprecedented. In my entire life.

Hello, domesticity, I have arrived.

Friday, January 25

The grind

Observations from the last two months of work:

  • Unfortunately, I'm learning that I'm not quite as organized as I thought I was.
  • Being the middleman enforcer is rough. (And the mean-fun of it wears off quick.) I'd much rather be the one to exercise mercy than enforce justice. However, I recently discovered that it's much more tolerable to enforce justice if you can muster up some compassion.
  • Except when people are mean. Then I don't mind the justice part.
  • A brisk 15-minute bicycle commute is a great way to start the day, even when the wind chill puts it in the 30s somewhere. That's how you know you're alive (or were).
  • Seriously though, you simply cannot beat living that close to work, especially in this town.
  • The fact that I am biking to work in January with only a windbreaker and some earwarmers for warmth is awesome.
  • It's been painfully apparent lately that important places are mostly only open 8 to 5. This makes it a challenge to get to those places when you have to be in another one of those places all day. And your time off doesn't kick in for 6 months. And you rode your bike to work.
  • Humans are not meant for cubicles. Each day my soul cries out in affirmation that I do not belong in a cubicle.
  • I'm a project person. I feel most productive when I'm working toward a finishable goal and when I'm done I have something to show for it. Cyclical work doesn't hold much satisfaction.
  • That said, I can't complain about coming home at 5 and completely forgetting about work until I show up the next day.
  • Apparently changing the thermostat at a public institution requires the approval of the state legislature. (They must not be in session.)
  • Having two people doing the exact same job with a lot of gray area and no clear leader can be a problem.
  • I am clueless about office politics. It's like being transplanted from the American frontier into 19th-century British high society.
  • In the interest of looking professional we'll have no casual Friday, but please feel free to show ample cleavage any day of the week.
  • Working at a school is almost as good as being in school. Not really, but at least I'm in the building.
  • I'm really excited to have kids.

Thursday, January 10


So it turns out that cherry flavored Kool-Aid tastes like watered down cough syrup. A piece of toast and 8 ounces of orange juice hasn't purged the aftertaste. Sick sick sick.