Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wiki Wednesday

Sometimes I really wonder what people would think if they saw what I did online searches for while at work.

I'm not talking about the random things that I find online via my email or whatever, but the things which are truly job-related.

In the past few months, I've worked on manuscripts involving heaven, Nazi Germany, and "creative sexuality." I've also done work on a book about 1960s tennis and one on growing up in Brentwood (CA) in the late 50s.

Where I work, none of this is really looked at as all that strange. It's expected that I'll be searching Wikipedia or Google or anywhere I can find to verify the info in these books. The only thing that would really bother anyone is if my searches were crashing our internet connection - which is not going to happen. I mean... heck... a woman who used to work here would spend most of her day with one monitor on "work" while the other was taken up by streaming videos. So you know that the fairly small bandwith of information I'm downloading is not even noticeable in the grand scheme of things.

On the other hand, you hear the stories about how most search engines are tracking where its users go (and - for once - openly doing so). They say this is for the sake of research, so they can send the "right" ads to their users.

And, sure, sometimes when I'm searching on Google the answer I'm looking for pops up before everything else. Which is cool.

At the same time, though, I'm not sure I really want ads based on my supposed fascination with German military ranks, 1960s women's tennis undergarments, sexuality, and St. Peter.

Hmm... On second thought, it might be kind of interesting for the internet folks to try.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Movie Monday - Anonymous

No. I'm not anonymously posting. I'm posting about the movie "Anonymous."

It's this relatively convoluted movie based on the idea that Shakespeare may not have written any of the plays attributed to him. It's set in a gritty, grungy, Shakespearean London, with gritty, grungy players, as well as non-grungy (but still gritty) royals.

The story could have been kind of interesting. In fact, it was kind of interesting. It just wasn't what I would call well done.

You see, while we're still trying to figure out who everyone is in the movie (and there are a lot of characters called both by first names and last names and lordly names and nicknames), they started jumping back and forth in time. (Remember my recent, coincidental, complaint about "Thrashbacks"?) So just when you think you know which one is Stratford and which one is Oxford, they go and make them both teenagers, and you have to start over again.

On the plus side, it was quite easy to figure out which one was Elizabeth I, whether she was Joely Richardson or Vanessa Redgrave (a nifty bit of casting, if you ask me), because they kind of had the same look of "I'm the queen" throughout. And Shakespeare, Jonson, Marlowe, and many of their crew mostly stayed in one timeline.

But, by the time I had that all figured out I was so confused by the other players that I basically just had to sit and let the rest of it wash over me and not try to figure it out. And gritty and grungy frequently don't make for the most pleasant of "over-washing."

I think there were bastard children, some political posturing, and at least one dwarf, but honestly I'm not entirely sure. Sadly, I feel the same way about the plot and storyline.

Overall rating: C-. I think it made it worse that a story told in a straight line would probably have been pretty interesting.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Could This Be My Soundtrack?

I found this little video online while doing Florida research.

The video itself is kind of unremarkable (especially since it promises amazing scenery and doesn't really deliver), but the music in the background totally makes up for that in my opinion.

Click HERE to see/hear what I'm talking about.

Who wouldn't want to take a drive down to the Keys with that music playing in the background?

Of course, as Christopher can attest, the music that goes in and out my head is frequently more inspired by whatever I'm seeing or doing at any given time. Which means that, as we drive, I'll probably be hearing this song in my head, instead. (I apologize if it gets stuck in yours.)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thotful Thursday - Mile Markers

While I've been researching driving from Miami to Key West, I've noticed that a lot of the the establishments along the way list their locations by "Mile Marker." In other words, they use their mileage from the very end of Highway 1 (in Key West) to designate where they are.

The closer you get to the end of the road in Key West, the smaller the numbers get. Until, of course, you end up with Mile Marker 0 in Key West, itself.

(Photo from, since I haven't been there.)

There's something to be said for Mile Markers.

When I first moved to Minnesota, the first time I drove home to South Dakota to see my parents, I was driving west along I-90 and found myself getting really excited as I got closer and closer to Mile Marker 1 - the last stretch of I-90 in Minnesota before crossing in to my home state. Sure, I still had about 2 hours of driving ahead of me, but just knowing I was almost to my home state made me feel like I was almost home.

Of course, the countdown only works in one direction per highway. Going the other way, you only know that the numbers are going up. Unless you've travelled the road a lot before, or checked a map, or can just guess *really* well, you don't know what the top number is going to be.

Milestone birthdays are kind of that way, too. As you look down the road you can see the markers coming.

And although you always know how far you've come from Zero, you usually don't know how far you have to go until you get to your next destination.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Travel Tuesday - The Strange Things You Agree To

Yes, we're almost to vacation.

Yes, we've been making lists, checking them thrice, and trying to decide which things we really want to do versus the things we only think might be interesting if we have extra time.

Yes, we're honestly trying to watch our budget, but when you're going on a vacation to somewhere you may never go again - and it's your only vacation of the year because you don't get enough time off to take more than one - you do some silly things.

Like when we were in Las Vegas earlier this year and rented a convertible to drive to Hoover Dam. On a day when the temps were cool enough that we had to have the heat on.

Sometimes you just do strange things when vacation is involved.

For me, I fully admit that I have agreed to do something very strange while we're gone. I'm committing - with no coercion - to getting a massage. And not just my usual 30-minute jobber, but a full hour-long massage.

In part, this stems from the surprise chair massage that we got in the office a week or two ago. The woman who did mine said, as I was leaving "You need to get a full-body massage sometime soon. You're really tight."

It also stems in part from the fact that Christopher loves massages, and there's a spa place just down the block from where we'll be staying. And I didn't want to deprive him. Yep. It's all about the altruism - even on vacation.

So I'll be attempting an hour-long hot stone massage (I totally admit that I've wanted to try the hot stone thing for a while).

I'm sure there will be stories to tell. Hopefully they won't start with "I have a burn mark, and my arm won't move the right way anymore..."

Sunday, May 20, 2012


You know how, sometimes, the small things get in the way of your ability to see the bigger picture? I think that we need to call those things "ecliptical."

And, yeah, that's really all I've got to say for tonight.

Well, that and I hope that none of you burned out your retinas trying to look at tonight's solar eclipse.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thrashback Thursday

I don't really have a problem with the occasional spoilers before I watch a TV show or a movie - or even when I read a book. I always figure that even if I know a single detail, the rest of the journey from the beginning to the end could still be a lot of fun.

That's why I don't usually worry about being the first person to see a movie. Or about hearing people talk about TV shows I haven't seen. I mean, it's not like I go out and hunt for those people, but I also don't run screaming with my fingers in my ears if they say something.

But here's the thing: Lately, a *lot* of TV shows have been starting episodes with some overly dramatic event, then doing something like "36 Hours Earlier" and backing up.

It's as if they don't think the journey is interesting on its own, and that we need to have enough of a teaser to get us to stay through the first 50 minutes of the show. It used to be that this would happen about once every season. I'd have a few shows I watched regularly and one of those shows would use the technique.

In the past two weeks, I've had at least 3 shows do it, though. And I gotta admit that I think it's getting really old.

Kinda makes me wish every network would flash back to 10 (or 20) years earlier before they start next season.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

TV Tuesday - The Finales

I'm not going to surprise anyone by admitting that I am a "TV cryer." I get wrapped up in things on TV and the emotions get to me, and I get teary. Once in a while I get a little more than teary. And, since this is - typically - in the privacy of my home, my defenses are usually low enough that the tears manifest.

Sure, in the movies this happens, too. But in a movie theater you're with strangers and so it's not as likely that emotions will truly completely manifest. The same thing can be said for those times when I either see something online or (in very rare occasions) am moved by something I'm reading at work. The emotions will bubble to the surface, but not come out because of the public space.

But then there's being at home, magnified by also watching things typically late in the evening when I'm tired.

This week, it's only Tuesday and I've already dealt with one Series finale ("Desperate Housewives" - which I hadn't even watched much, recently), one Season finale ("Smash"), and one not-even-the-finale-yet ("Glee").

Sunday night "Desperate Housewives" did a great job of wrapping everything up in a bow. And although I haven't been a constant watcher in the past year or so (because I kept having to fight to find it around "Amazing Race"), I was admittedly moved by what they did.

On Monday, the final song from this season of "Smash" gave me goosebumps. Literally. Or it may have been the fact that I was sitting down in the basement and it was chilly. But I think it was the song, because I watched it again this morning and felt the same way.

Tonight... Oy... Two hours of "Glee" back-to-back. They've been hit-or-miss, lately, but both episodes did really well. And the final 20 minutes of the night were great. And, as stupid as it sounds, I'm feeling that angst of not wanting to watch some of the characters graduate in the season finale. Which I fully admit is what they're hoping for, and... you know... I'm okay with that.

So now I'm going to watch an episode of "Doctor Who" from a couple of years ago in which I know that none of the main characters dies. Sure, there's mayhem and an almost-end of the world, but on the scale of things that will bug me when I go to bed, this is definitely going to get me a better night's sleep.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day Baking

I've been trying hard to think of something to write for Mother's Day since I put up yesterday's blog post.

This morning, while I was standing in the kitchen putting together some scones (pronounced /skahns/, because they're a Canadian recipe), I was reminded once again of how much of what I do in the kitchen comes from my mom.

I remember being a kid and having the hardest time figuring out the whole "grease and flour the pan" thing. I simply couldn't get a feel for whether or not there was enough grease on the pan. I'd toss the flour in and shake it around and I'd either end up with greasy floury mounds, or patches where absolutely nothing stuck.

So I got into the habit of greasing a pan (using "margarine papers"), then walking over to my mother and saying "Is this enough?" She's drag a finger across the pan and either say "yes" or "no" - usually, in those days, "no." So I'd go back and re-grease and then flour and go on. And, eventually, I figured out what I was doing.

Today, as I was doing some baking, I greased a couple of pans and tossed flour on them and shook it all around and then pounded out the excess onto the board I was using to roll things out. They both looked nicely evenly covered. And I only got a little flour on the counter.

Christopher doesn't use margarine papers to grease pans. In his mom's kitchen, he grew up using sprays (like "Pam"), and so he looked at me kind of oddly when I did it the first time around him. He's gotten used to it (mostly), although I know that he'd prefer I didn't get flour everywhere during the "removing the excess" step.

So, in the column of "things I learned from my mother" I'm going to add "tactile cooking skills."

Although, the contact burn I got on my arm today from bonking myself with a pan? That's totally me.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

*Not* My Mother's Day Post

Nope. This is definitely not a Mother's Day posting by me. You can tell because:

a) It's not actually Mother's Day, and

b) I'm about to re-direct you to a blog posting by one of the most amazing people I know.

So click the link, below, and go check out what she has to say, today. And I'll consider saying something Mother's Day-ish of my own, tomorrow.

(Oh. And don't let the title of her blog posting scare you. She says more about Mother's Day than Hallmark, Godiva, and Kay Jewelers combined.)

Thursday, May 10, 2012


When faced with the kind of news that has been circling around this week, it makes it hard for me to come up with a decent blog posting.

The juxtaposition of the North Carolina vote to ban gay marriage (which, at the base, will also affect the lives of unmarried straight couples who will also now be given second class status), along with President Obama stepping forward to say that he is in favor of the equal right for all people to marry - that's kind of a lot to swallow.

Here in Minnesota, at the same time that Obama will be trying for a second term in office (most likely against Mitt Romney - who was apparently for gay rights until he found out that the party he was in didn't like that idea), we'll also be voting on an actual state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Apparently it's not enough that gay marriage is already illegal in the state - now it also needs to be in the state constitution. . .? (Nope. I don't understand that, either.)

I find myself almost as depressed by the news as I do excited by it. I'm thrilled that the Commander in Chief had the guts to actually take a stand. But I'm also still worried about the thousands of people who voted against that same stand in North Carolina.

It's strange to walk through my own friendly, nurturing neighborhood feeling like there is not a single person around here who wouldn't help me out if something happened to me or Christopher or the pooch, and yet wonder how many of these same people will vote against my personal, private rights.

Hopefully, someday, this will all just be a blip in the historical timeline of equality. Until then, well, I guess the support of one man for the equal rights of millions is probably most positive if it stays newsworthy.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Third Time's a Charm

You know how I mentioned, the other day, that it has been really rainy?

Well, after a little more than a day of okay weather, it decided to rain again this afternoon. Specifically, it decided to rain as I was on my way to my car after work - which means that I drove home pretty much soaked. But it let up as I got closer to home, and I figured that the pooch and I would have a quite nice walk in the post-rain damp.

Then the rain switched directions. Or it simply kept moving, and just seemed to go a different direction. Or maybe I just hadn't been paying attention to where it was going - like when you're a little kid and you're wearing a blanket as a cape and you don't realize that the back end of it is really wide and is pulling all of your toys along with it as you walk through the dining room.

At any rate, I got home just as it started to rain again. And, as we may have discussed, the pooch doesn't so much like to have wet stuff falling on her. Puddles are fine. Raindrops are not. And she doesn't even break that rule when she's been in the kennel all day and needs to take her constitutional.

Attempt one, right after she got out and started to run around, we made it all the way to the sidewalk on the edge of the yard. She looked at me, and turned around. We got back to the door, and I offered her the dry respite of the planting bed under the eaves. She had nothing of that, so we kept heading inside.

Attempt two, about 20 minutes after attempt one, was after the rain had lessened, but hadn't stopped. She walked outside, headed straight for the closest piece of grass (between the driveway and the gate into the backyard), and did a very quick - but productive - squat. I didn't press my luck, and we came in after that. She had dinner, and... finally... the rain actually stopped.

Attempt three, then, was after the rain had stopped. We actually made it out and did a normal-length walk. And, yes, she finished her business. Twice.

Now, about 3 hours after that final trip, she's finally almost completely dry. The jeans I was wearing are hanging downstairs and still quite damp. Thank God it's supposed to be sunny, tomorrow.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Well, I *Meant* To...

What a weekend of yardwork I had planned.

I was going to swap some peony cages around so that the taller ones in the front yard (which weren't so tall last year) would have them, instead of the ones in the back yard which don't seem to want to be as tall this year.

I was going to put some new water-hose-sprayed fertilizer into the planting beds before the plants got too far along.

I planned to go to the hardware store for some "Milky Spore" which is supposed to kill the grubs which a) kill grass by eating the roots; and b) strip leaves of pretty much everything once they become beetles.

I was even going to try to do a little weeding while checking to see if any more of our early irises are still around.

And then it started to rain.

Yesterday, it started to rain in the early afternoon when I was out to brunch and a movie. By the time I got home, it was already too wet to putter in the yard. Then last night happened.

Sure, they had said that today would be the nicer day of the weekend. They just didn't tell us what we'd have to get through to get to it. We were all awakened at about 2:15 by a thunderstorm that included hail, rain, lightning, thunder, and plenty of wind. Believe me - for all three of us to get up and wander around the house and look outside it had to have been bad.

Thankfully, we seem to have made out okay. No obvious hail damage (except for the loss of any remaining petals from anything still in bloom), and only a few twigs in the backyard from the neighbor's maple tree. We have a friend who apparently got a flooded basement from the storm, and it certainly could have been a lot worse.

But even though it did eventually almost get sunny late in the day the yard is way too wet to work in. So no weeding, feeding, or grub killing today. It's a weird feeling, you know - feeling bad about not doing a ton of work on a day off. I'm really not sure I like it.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Friday Food - Pizza and Pizza

I got to pick up Christopher after work, today (yes - that's a good thing - it means we get to talk on the way home which I really love), and we were talking about our days. As I was talking about my day, I mentioned that we had gotten a semi-surprise pizza lunch at work. It was from Black Sheep Pizza, which I've talked about on here, before.

Over time, I've come to not just like, but *really* like Black Sheep. I kind of crave it from time to time. It's thin and crispy and just oh-so-good. And, at lunch today, we even had my favorite kind of theirs - chicken with pickled peppers. I was very happy.

At the same time, though, while we were driving home, we were discussing whether or not we would go out tonight. You see, we had plans which were made a while ago. Neither one of us is a huge fan of Friday night plans, though, because we both feel pooped on Friday nights.

When I asked Christopher whether he wanted to go out, he said "Well, you've already ruled out my other suggestion, though." It seems his fallback suggestion was for us to stay home and order pizza. But since I had had pizza for lunch, he figured I wouldn't want it again.

Here's the thing, though. There's pizza, and then there's pizza. Black Sheep, with its coal-fired oven and fancy toppings and very little cheese, is incredible, but it's also kind of fancy and best for lunch. Our favorite local good bad pizza is from Lake Harriet Pizza. And it is bad and good in all the right ways. It's a thin-crust pizza, but it's smothered in sauce and cheese. So much cheese, in fact, that the square slices tend to "re-attach" during delivery and you have to cut it apart with a knife.

We almost always get straight-up pepperoni from them. No fancy toppings. Just good old pizza. And I would never want to have it for lunch, because it would put me into a food coma for the rest of the day.

After we got home, it started to rain. And we decided that since we hadn't done any monetary outlay for our original plans - and since no one was involved but us - we were going to be in for the evening. So we ordered from Lake Harriet Pizza, and watched some recorded TV.

You know, there's pizza and then there's pizza. And, today, I'm very happy to have had both.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Follow-up x3

Although the comments are few and far between, I do actually get some comments on here. And, since I'm sure that most of you don't go back and check after reading this, I thought I'd try to point some of the recent ones out.

1) In response to "Before the Travel..." - It seems that the topic of travel planning is important to at least two people. One who says that she needs to do more planning (I'm guessing for the joy of the planning), and one who says she seldom takes trips (possibly because the planning is the joy - not the travel). Either way, Christopher and I are continuing to plan our upcoming vacation. We've got flights and hotels nailed down, and have started a to-do list. We still have to confirm a dog-sitter, though. Hopefully there won't be any "cart-before-the-horse" dilemmas.

2) In response to "Watching the Past Catch Up" - I had two people offer to be recipients of the proposed purple pansies. Of course, since my brain barely makes it from week to week these days, I'll admit up front that I may not remember that in 20 years.

3) Perhaps one of my favorite responses of late was in response to "If It's Not Schadenfreude, What Is It?" That posting got a lot of response - just not very much of it actually on I had a lot of people basically offer to go out and kick the kneecaps of the person I'm frustrated by. Which was a nice show of support, but not exactly an answer to my question. Luckily, I had one friend who did some research and found that a back-formed antonym has been created. Instead of "Schadenfreude" meaning "happiness at the misfortune of others," the new word is "Freudenschade" with a meaning of "unhappiness at the good fortune of others." I'm not sure what made me happier - the idea that someone else came up with a word for what I was feeling, or the fact that a friend of mine went to the work of finding out what that word might be. It almost mitigates the feeling of schadenfreude all by itself. Almost.

Perhaps I should buy some purple pansies and work on more vacation planning. That might make me a little less Schaden, and a little more Freuden.

Or something like that.