22 February 2009

Oscar Party, post-party blues

Sigh. The Oscars have come and gone for another year and here I be, cleaning up the leftovers. No cool after-paries for me. Sigh.

Just kidding. I had a small Oscar-viewing party for a few friends and one long-distance one (IM worked great until something started to interfere with the wireless signal). Pasta, wine, pie, banana bread ,and Jackie's shopping spree of snacks (she brought trail mix, mmmm). We all had a good time. I really liked the new format (I'm a sucker for musical numbers, particularly with Hugh Jackman) especially the previous acting award winners coming out to honor each of the nominees prior to the announcement of the winner. It was fun.

KATE WON! KATE WON!! KATE WON!!!! eeee!!!!! yay!!!!!!!

I haven't had the opportunity to see Slumdog Millionaire yet but I'm going to try and find it. Somewhere. I might have to remain uncool and wait until it comes out on DVD.

Edit: I could do with fewer showings of Know1ing; I have no desire to see that movie. Additionally, remaking Fame is movie sacreliege; it is going to look like High School Musical Harlem-style.

21 February 2009

Oh, what a long day

I was awake far too early for a Saturday - 7:30am. Yuck. Still this did not help the general craziness of the morning because we went to the vetrinarian for our yearly check-ups.

This was not fun. Chaucer and Dante howled all the way to the vet, from the minute they got put in the carriers. I had to make a side trip to pick up some breakfast and make a deposit at the bank; the howling was so awful the bank teller asked if my child was OK (yes, the fur-baby is fine, just mad). When we arrived at the vet, I realized that someone furry had peed in the car; luckily I have a thing for extra napkins so that soaked up most of what leaked out of the carrier. Still, ewwww. The kitty-boys have gained weight this year (again) - one pound each - bringing Chaucer to 14 pounds and Dante to 18 pounds. My kitties are spoiled. The vet and I talked about trying a different diet formulation next time I need to buy cat food.

Back in the car the cats didn't utter one peep (smelled a little, since Dante not only peed on the carrier but also himself). They didn't even start crying when the interior of the car got cold - my driver-side window went down when I stopped at the mailbox to send something, made a clunking noise, and then refused to go back up (#@yqe*rt&w$eti&t aka black cloud). Did I mention that it was snowing and blowing today? Fun. Thankfully, I was able to get the car into my go-to mechanics at Boubin Muffler and they got the window back up (changed the oil, too, but I'm going to need to replace the window motor in the door).

I knitted a lot on my scarf today. I'm almost ready to start the last skein (finally); that scarf is really taking me a long time and I don't know why. It's just plain knitting (it is a lot of yardage, though).

I finished John Adams last night; it really is a remarkably well-put together mini-series. I've been having a chuckle at the number of actors playing "Americans" who hail from the British Isles (Tom Wilkinson as Ben Franklin, Rufus Sewell as Alexander Hamilton, and Stephen Dillane as Thomas Jefferson, to name a few); it does make sense since at the time all our "Americans" were British subjects and more likely to sound like the mother country than the current accents we all have. The acting is quite well done; Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney especially give very moving performances as the two lead actors (Linney also reminds us how tough Abigail Adams was for her time, holding her household and family together sometimes through sheer will and faith). Sarah Polley gave a beautiful performance as Nabby, particularly the scene where Nabby tells her father she is dying (Abigail "Nabby" Adams Smith died of breast cancer at age 48, having previously survived a primitive mastectomy to attempt a cure). Tom Hollander also appears, for less than ten minutes, as King George III and does a marvelous job of looking both unbalanced and regal at the same time; I think it was the eyes. I've not read the biography John Adams by David McCullough but I understand from a few sites that the mini-series' creators shifted some scenes and dates. The production worked well from a purely entertainment point of view, so for that I give it five stars, but I think the producers should have tried for more historical accuracy as to correct persons, places, and dates.

I've now got Guns, Germs, and Steel in the player. I quite liked the book by Jared Diamond, so I think I'll like this National Geographic presentation.

Current book-in-progress: Death Comes for the Archbishop, an ARC for First Look, and I just got Drood
Current knitted item: I will finish that scarf!
Current movie obsession: I recently received DVDs of two Royal Ballet productions - The Sleeping Beauty with Viviana Durante and Zoltan Solymozi and Mayerling with Irek Mukhamedov and Viviana Durante; I've had these on VHS since high school and haven't been able to watch them due to the age of the tape - eeeeee, ballet, fun!
Current iTunes loop: old "All Songs Considered" podcasts (last week iTunes just downloaded like 80 old podcasts, sweet)

20 February 2009

Which is cheaper?

Cost to borrow library book from Jesup Public Library and return the book before it's due date: $0, because it's the public library.

Cost of failing to return library book after numerous attempts by the library to recover the book: $50 court costs, $13.95 library fine, a night in jail, and internet notoriety. In short, priceless.

I hope they revoke the library card.

19 February 2009

Gee, I always wanted a pet that could kill me.

Thank you, Mike Wazowski. You know, pets are nice. I have two kitties. Dogs are nice (if they don't jump on you). (small) Snakes are nice, birds are nice, fish are nice, etc. etc.

Chimps are not pets.

A chimpanzee is a wild animal and one of the closest ape relatives to homo sapiens. A chimpanzee has intelligence and can learn many things, but it still responds to instinct. An Elmo doll freaks out humans so it's not a stretch to think that it would freak out a chimpanzee. I find it really strange that there were no regulations in place in that part of Connecticut that prevented the importation and purchase of an exotic wild animal (who was then forced to wear diapers and do human things - poor thing should have been in an ape sanctuary with other chimps). An unprovoked dog attack that resulted in injury would probably have better follow-up.

In other news:
Woman arrested over breast cancer "charade" - She says she doesn't know why she made up the story in the first place....right. She kept up the lie for five years and accepted leave donations, money, and support for survivor groups. Selfish, much?
Black pastors ask Burris to resign - These were the same pastors who supported his appointment in the first place. I want to know what went through Burris's head; did he think that no one would ever double-check and make sure he didn't buy the appointment? Blagojevich is getting investigated, so the federal prosecutors are going to go through every shred of paper/Internet ephemera/wiretaps so any links to donations, etc. are going to be found. Do politicians require a paycheck at all? If graft is involved they already make enough money.
Shooting pigs from helicopters? - Is the chopper really neccessary? I understand there's a population boom on the pigs side and they're causing havoc among the ranchers and farmers but can't they be hunted like everything else? (Side note: I've never been hunting in my life, so I don't know much about it beyond killing animals, and I've no wish to ever go hunting)
9-year-old pleads guilty in AZ - I understand that something needed to be done but does that child really understand what happened? I hope he gets help. Lots and lots of help.
Local yokel found with steroids and cancer drugs - Iowa has lots of meth and pot. However, this dude was found to be in possession of not only pot but also Clomiphene (treats female infertility, but can also be used as an anabolic steroids), methylphenidate (aka Ritalin), oxandrolone (steroid), stanzolol (steroid), five vials of testosterone, and, get this, tamoxifen which is used to treat breast cancer. I wonder if he even knows what he had because, of course, he didn't have prescriptions for any of it.
Des Moines County jail will not charge for TP - that was the best money-saving idea they could come up with? Wow.
Men view women in bikinis as "objects" - Someone wasted research money on this? I hope it wasn't a lot since the answer is duh. I want to know why they only used 21 heterosexual, male undergraduates as subjects; if the study was being conducted at Princeton they have a much larger population to draw from.

(This news thing is kind of fun)

17 February 2009

Graphical representation

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words but I can't draw to save my skin. Seriously. What's in my head is never, ever what comes out on the page. Not even stick figures.

I wish I could update my status(es) via graphical representation. Wouldn't that be fun? Self-portraiture to the max. For everyone except the poor person who has to write the program code, I bet.

JA for Noobs

haha! Anyone seen this? It's priceless!

I am at work too early and too tired.

16 February 2009

Resolution Wrap-Up, Week 7

Slightly better on the work-out front - one trip to the gym, a ballet class, and a brisk walk in the snowstorm on Friday evening due to the city bus getting stuck on a hill (one of the fellows and I decided to hoof it the half-mile to the mall rather than sit and stew). I meant to hit the gym again on Saturday but got caught up in my closet cleaning frenzy followed by a stint on Ravelry. I've also tried to keep the snacking at night down to a minimum or at least try and have a snack for dinner and then have a salad when I get home at night; I'm really trying to keep the overall calorie count down.

I think I've lost a whole pound. It's not much but it's a start.

14 February 2009


While searching Ravelry's pattern, project, and yarn databases for ways to get rid of all that fugly Bernat Boa Fur yarn I acquired from the boss, it hit me.....CAT BED! I noticed a number of Ravelers had made Kitty Pi beds using a pattern from WendyKnits. Turns out the pattern is free online - wow. While Wendy's pattern calls for Noro Big Kureyon and felting it, the yarn I'm going to use won't felt (I'll just follow the directions for increases, using the needles called for by my yarn, and quit when the bed reaches as appropriate size). I will instead attempt to dump not only the Bernat but also other large amounts of fugly yarn that I have acquired.

Like four big balls of Lion Brand cotton craft yarn in bright red, gifted to me by my mom who bought it all for Raggedy Ann and Andy doll hair and then decided she needed a different kind. And couldn't find the receipt. And realised she'd already wound up one of the skeins into a ball and lost the ball band...so she gave it all to me.

I don't think the cats would mind a bright red bed with brown fur on the edges as long as it padded their perch. I think I might put this one on the rocking chair when I'm done with it (the cats first bed, my second knitting project, is on top of the bureau so they don't scratch the finish with their kitty claws).

Yarny Saturday

I made a trip to the LYS to return a left-over skein of Cashmerino from the beret project and came home with two more skeins of sock yarn (another each of Kureyon and Bearfoot) and a yarn swift/reeling machine, depending on how you classify that. It was a little more expensive than I thought it would be ($58) but Edyie swears by that brand and I've been promising I would buy myself one after the last yarn-winding debacle. So, yay.

The purchase of more yarn also prompted an afternoon of cleaning out my office/spare-room closet. Talk about scary, over-stuffed, and disorganized. Eeek. I decided to take the remainder of my binders to work (they're full of class notes which might see more action in my work office than at home in the closet), decided I really don't need the extra sewing machine that Mom thought I should keep "just in case your grandmother's breaks" (ha!, maybe Mom can ask if there's a charity through the church that could use one), and pitched about three garbage bags full of old boxes, packaging, obsolete computer stuff, and a manual for my twelve-year-old graphing calculator (which, if I could find it, I'm pretty sure it doesn't work anymore). I also made a side-project of cleaning out the bottom of the linen/hall closet (packed with about 800 disposable razors from some idiot company who thought the AXS house in town was a sorority - oops - and left us about 4,000 promotional razors; the girls in the Fraternity divvied up the boxes); the room I gained in there allowed me to relocate the Spot-Bot from the front closet along with all the steam cleaning products from the office closet (and the pet stain-fighting spray bottle which was buried under the pile of razors). As a result of the de-packratting process I actually have empty space on the shelf in my closet and I was able to re-arrange the storage containers to actually make better use of them.

I then sat down to attempt an update to my Ravelry account. Now, Flickr and I still have an ongoing disagreement about whether or not it will upload my photos, but I was able to get most of my open projects into my Ravelry queue, updated my stash of yarn with all my sock yarn (at least the yarn I'll admit to - I gained back a storage box while cleaning and promptly filled it with the cheap yarn I'm too ashamed to admit I own and can't find a use for), linked up my projects with my stashed yarn, linked my projects with my blog posts, and updated my knitting book library.

That took a whole pot of Earl Grey. What shall I do with the remainder of the afternoon before I go to work at 6pm (it's now 4pm)? With a headache....guess I'll pop a Tylenol, make a salad for dinner, put my reading glasses on and knit. I have several projects I should finish.

Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day everyone. I'll be wallowing in my date with my knitting.

Current book-in-progress: I bought a new book last night - Sex with Queens (hey, the same author wrote Sex with Kings and that was very interesting)
Current knitted item: Hmmmm, what shall I pick - I have red socks, that dratted scarf that I managed to finally make some headway on, a linen evening clutch, and a lacy top....
Current movie obsession: I need to finish John Adams (which is awesome, btw) but I've been watching the ITV Sense and Sensibility again
Current iTunes loop: My Chill Tracks Playlist on Shuffle (lots of John Mayer, Amy Winehouse, and Sara Bareilles)

12 February 2009

A few thoughts on the current news stories

Vaccines and autism - The special court ruled that the evidence overwhelmingly does not support a link between autism and vaccination. Finally. I'm an epidemiologist, if none of you already knew, so I read the original paper for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and the original "study" that "proved" a link between MMR and autism had a sample size of 12; that is laughable for a population-based study. You can't just dig up 12 patients with autism and incidentally find that they all had the MMR vaccine thus concluding the MMR vaccine caused the autism; that's bad science - poorly designed and biased. But...in a world where people need causality and want a place to lay blame for the origin of a child's disease that study that "finding" was the "proof" many parents needed. So began that fight. Someone from NVIC did point out that the court's ruling will not dissuade many parents who earnestly believe their children are in danger because of the MMR vaccine (and other vaccines as well) and therefore will fight to avoid vaccinating their children. You know what that does? Endangers everyone else's children. Herd immunity should not be used as an excuse and anyway, you know that thimerosal preservative everyone freaked out about? Well, I'm 30 and had my first measles shot in 1980 and my MMR in 1992 - if thimerosal was going to cause autism it would have caused an explosion of cases in my generation, not the children born in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The "Octuplet mom" - NEEDS MENTAL HELP. She has a narcissistic personality if I ever saw one. She had all those children by IVF, put them in mortal danger through a high-order multiples pregnancy (which is frowned upon by the medical establishment), and now wants us to help care for (i.e. pay for) these children all because she was lonely as a child? She doesn't love those children, she loves herself and the attention she's getting because of it. A reality show? A website to collect donations? She already collects SSDI for several of her older children to the tune of several thousand dollars a month and she was receiving workers compensation for a back injury sustained while working at a mental institution. Now, she doesn't deserve threats but she really needs a reality check. She might not consider food stamps and SSDI "welfare" but that is provided by the tax payers, specifically those of California, and they're going to wind up footing the bill for her children - about 1.5 to 2.5 million dollars. That's a lot of money going to one person just because she wanted a big family. I call that selfish. Oh, and she's going to back to school (she already has $50,000 in school loans) and she's going to rely on *cough*take advantage of*cough* the school's daycare provider and volunteers to care for the children while she attends school. As I said above, I'm 30 - this woman is 33 (her oldest child is 7, I believe); why IVF was required? Higher-order multiples are extremely rare in pregnancies concieved naturally.

Social Hosting laws - Should a parent who provides alcohol to teens for a party/gathering/etc. be held liable for what happens? Yes, it is illegal to provide minors with alcohol; the only exception is allowing your own child to have a small drink in the privacy of your own home for say dinner or a celebration. Should a parent be held liable because their stupid kid threw a kegger while the parents were out of town, either obtaining the alcohol through another source or raiding the existing liquor cabinet (in my experience, the alcohol usually comes from an outside source)? Nope, at that point the child decided to do something illegal but the parents will probably have to foot the bill for their child's stupidity. You can substitute "social host" for parent, here. I'm also a big one for personal responsibility. I'm also a big one for not making alcohol such a taboo; as a younger teen I was allowed to have a small (maybe two fingers worth in a tumbler) glass of wine at dinner if my parents were having wine with dinner or I was allowed to have a sip of beer if Dad was having one. I was taught that having a drink was a social thing and that having a lot of alcohol in one sitting was a really stupid idea. I tested that theory out while in college; yeah, having a lot of alcohol in one go is not the smartest thing ever and I've really not ever done it again.

The stimulus package - First off, if the banks are using the previously-allocated bailout money improperly the government should ask for the money back because it was a loan and I think loans can be recalled (I could be wrong). Second, absolutely NONE of those CEOs should even be drawing a salary, nor should any of the other top executives, that exceeds the salary of the lowliest intern; didja hear me? NO bonuses, NO raises, nada, zip. You got us into this mess, so you better start trying to get us out. Third, why don't we use some of the stimulus money to help people keep their homes? In my opinion, if someone has honestly been trying to keep up with the mortgage payments, then they're probably not trying to play the system, so the stimulus money should be used to help re-negotiate the mortgage so that it is manageable. Fourth, who gives a crap about doorbells in Mississippi? Get real (gotta love StimulusWatch - I hope someone in Washingon sees it). It gets even better - this is the state where I live and there are only two cities listed who have requested federal stimulus funding. I don't live in those areas and I pretty much only see the need for the sewer work, flood mitigation, and ADA compliance projects. Library and wireless LAN projects, parks improvements, etc. are not something the federal government should pay for; if the locals want those things then they better pony up the cash.

That idiot Blagojevich (reposted from a Chicago trib blog) - So he's going to write a tell-all book? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Sorry, still snickering. How does someone that juvenile get elected to public office? Wait, don't answer that.

UI Graduate Students Split from UISG (hopefully that will open without having to register for the DI - Just a bit of local-yokel news and all I can say is about damn time. I did both undergrad and graduate work at the University of Iowa and I can easily say that the UI Student Government is run by undergrads; said undergrads do not want to listen to the Executive Council for Graduate and Professional Students. I can also attest to being pissed that my graduate student fees were going to support activities attended primarily by undergraduates. So, in the next fiscal year GSS will allocate grad student funds and UISG will allocate undergrad student funds.

10 February 2009


I have Taylor Swift's stupid song that goes "It's a love story" or some such crap stuck in my head. Why???? She's a terrible singer (who cares what the teenagers and their parents' money say?), she doesn't have any breath control - evidenced by the fact that she breathes in the middle of both phrases and words, and the words to that song make absolutely NO SENSE. "You were Romeo, I was the scarlet letter" - how does that make any sense? You want to be a social outcast? Did the lyricisit even think about what he/she was writing? Get out of my head!!!!

08 February 2009

But my brain isn't old!!

Uggghhhh...I forced myself to go to the gym after close at the bookstore (we close at 7pm on Sundays, so I was out of there about 7:30 or so - not as much to pick up because a few of the managers had to do an overnight and rearrange the layout of one zone). Now, I don't have the lung capacity, at least not yet, to really go nuts at the gym so my plan is to at least put in the time at the gym and gradually build the intensity. So I did the treadmill for 60 minutes (mostly walking, on an incline).

Ow. My knee hates me. Both of them actually hate me, but the right one - the one I had surgery on in high school - hates me more. Oy. When will I accept that parts of me think they're older than what they actually are? I need to find some ice, some Advil, and have me a yummy salmon salad (the cats vote ditto on the salad, nay on the ice and Advil).

Then maybe a hot bath and a book.

PS: Someone finally fulfilled my wish and produced a plain, black diet and exercise journal that actually looks discreet. Excellent!

Tricky, very tricky

This morning I was forced to concede that I still cannot make an omelette, no matter how hard I try. I just can't get the eggs to set before the bottom burns and then I can't get it flipped to cook the other side (I can't stand even remotely "wet" looking eggs). I must need either different/specialized utensils or a better set of cooking genes. So my omelette just looked like a cross between a fried egg and scrambled eggs mixed with whatever I meant to put on the inside. At least it still tasted OK.

I was having a lazy Sunday so after the omelette mess (which I cleaned up right away for once in my life so my kitchen is still clean) the cats and I crawled back into bed - the boys to have a nap and be petted, me to finish Three Bags Full. I'll post more thoughts later (I have a few friends who are also reading it who might not be done, yet) but suffice to say I think the sheep were brilliant, I love all their names (does anyone know where the word "Mopple" drives from?), and the novel was deliciously funny. A great scene - the flock debates whether or not humans have souls.

On tap for the rest of the day:
- Dusting/organizing/arranging the Hydra that is my office/library
- going to work at 3pm
- taking my gym things so I can go to the gym after work (this is why I've joined a gym that is open 24hrs even though I've never taken advantage of that)

07 February 2009

Such a pretty day!

Nice, bright sunny (and full of melting snow!) - I was able to open up the house today to the delight of the cats. I came back from the co-op to see Chaucer basking in the sun from the porch and laying directly in front of the open door.

If anyone would like to see what it's like to live in a building with a pack of slobs you are welcome to view the backyard for my building. The melting snow has revealed a disgusting amount of dog poop; the yard looks like a cow pasture.

I got almost everything I needed at the co-op today except sugar - I'm very attached to the bag of white sugar, unchanged since childhood, and it's not carried at the co-op. I'd meant to hit up Hy-vee today, too, for the items that I don't buy in organic form but I got called to come in to work at 2pm (full shift for once) instead of 5pm so I had to get what I needed at the co-op.

06 February 2009

A slight course adjustment

HP did not consume the evening; instead HP1 played on the TV while I read all the plot synposes for Gilmore Girls on TV.com. My friend Jackie is going to blog about reading/watching/listening all the cultural references made on the seven seasons of GG and, since I'd never watched the show except for part of a re-run where Rory gets into a car accident, I thought I'd do a little cribbing of season one. I read through all the seasons. I foresee a Netflix run in the future.

I think I'll go read a book now.

Resolution Wrap-up, Week 5.5

Combination of Resolution Confessions for weeks five and six - both sucky due to some sort of cracked-out intestinal complaint. Wish I could say it worked as well as a diet but I only lost water weight and was only interested in eating water, yoghurt (plain), cranberries, dt Coke, and ... (wait for it) ... peanut butter. Yup. In the midst of a massive peanut butter recall that was one of the only things I could eat and it wouldn't run straight through me. Ah, good old Skippy. I still have no idea what I had; at some point last week I wished I actually had contracted Salmonella so I could put a name to it and perhaps find some treatment.

Said stomach complaint put the kibosh on both gym time and ballet (with the exception of one class) due to frequent mad dashes to the bathroom. Trust me - trying to hurriedly wriggle out of a sweater, skirt, leotard, and tights when I'm already sweaty is an exercise I particularly try to avoid.

Dad was actually very (very) nice and came down for the second straight weekend, this time to install my new tub doors. Yay! No more sticking to the icky shower curtain liner. The installation went smoothly and the only inhabitants of my house who are disappointed are the cats; they are no longer able to play in the (dry) bathtub but I'm sure it won't be long before they figure out the way the doors work.

The cats were also doubly disappointed when I replaced the old kitty-cat sucker-upper (a.k.a. vacuum cleaner) with a brand-new one; the old one had the poor taste to spit bits of the insides all over the carpet while trying to vacuum up the metal shavings from the tub door fitting. The new vacuum is a Bissell Lift-Off Pet and it does exactly what it promises - vacuums up all the pet hair. I could make another cat or two with all the fur the vaccum has pulled out of the carpet and upholstery.

I'm now pretty sure Harry Potter is going to consume my evening; I've had a hankering to watch/read HP since I finished Melissa Anelli's Harry, A History this week. It's a really fun book that looks at the Harry Potter phenomenon from the inside - Anelli is the Webmistress of The Leaky Cauldron fansite and used her journalism and English major skills to lend some legitimacy to the fan base (hey, she got to interview JKR a few times, so it pays off!).

Current book-in-progress: Silas, Three Bags Full (the sheep all have really great names), Mistress of the Monarchy, and (poor me) Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human
Current knitted item: Pretty red socks (I'm still pissed at that scarf)
Current movie obsession: Harry Potter
Current iTunes loop: My Classical Playlist on Shuffle

02 February 2009

Jane and Zombies?

Quirk Books - Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

What in the absolute hell possessed someone to do that???

Why can't everyone just leave my Jane alone - quit trying to capitalize on someone else's good name!!!!!