February 21st, 2011
Are they made with real Girl Scouts? @ 12:29 am
February 19th, 2011
February 18th, 2011
Helping with the kitchen linens @ 07:31 pm
February 17th, 2011
Beautiful sunset this evening @ 06:02 pm
*bird*bird*bird*bird*bird*bird*bird*bird* @ 02:20 pm
February 1st, 2011
…I’m not a total idiot.
Yes, I have shifted a bit left in my outlook over the last 20 some odd years, but I also really had nowhere to go on the right side of things given where I started. I’d actually put myself pretty smack in middle of the center, but there seems to not be much in the way of the middle ground right now. My ownership of tie-dyes and Tevas seems to have thrown me over the edge. (And resulted in some incorrect assumptions of lesbianism, but that’s another post.)
That all being said and out of the way…
I realize that Mubarak continuing to be in power in Egypt is a good thing for the United States – not just because he is an ally, but for no other reason that “the devil you know”… I really do understand that.
Yes, there is probably a decent percentage of Egyptians that are totally OK with him continuing to be in power. I understand that as well. (I say probably because I don’t have any polling figures, and I have to assume that not everyone hates him.) That being said, I don’t think there is a bogeyman behind every door should he either step down or be voted out of office. Yes, there *could* be, but just because something could happen doesn’t mean it *will* happen.
However, given that there are people of all ages* out there risking everything to make their voices heard – I’d say there are some real grievances that need to be addressed, and quickly. Yes, a lot of the issues are economic in nature, and those can’t be fixed by any one person, but part of the price of being the guy in charge is that you get the blame along with the accolades. (Had the US economy been going great guns in 2008, I think the Republicans would have had a better chance at staying in the White House.)
I know my life is nothing like that in other countries. But being a big sentimental pile of mush – I’d like for people to be able to wake up wherever they are and even if they don’t *like* their government, they feel they can say so, do so safely, be heard, and see change as a result.
But what the hell do I know.
*For all I’ve heard of the protests being “youth oriented”, I’ve seen a LOT of people over 30 out there.
January 31st, 2011
January 30th, 2011
Egypt @ 06:25 pm
I’ll admit, I’m having some trouble wrapping my head around what’s going on in Egypt. Intellectually, I get it – the very short version is that people are sick and tired of being sick and tired – and they’re doing something about it.
Given that we have an opportunity to throw some bum out on a national level every 2 years, it’s hard to conceive of being stuck with the same guy at the top for 30 years, and have no opportunity to say, “No, this isn’t working for us, we need someone different.” Being under Emergency Law for 30 years because “the bad guys might get a foothold” has to lose it’s shine after a very short period of time. It has to become obvious after a while that there isn’t much of an emergency other than the guy in charge might lose his job.
Finally having the guts to lean out the window and say “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” – I get that. People can only take so much. A very, very large chunk of the country taking to the streets – something they’re not even allowed to do in the first place. Putting themselves up against the police force. Putting themselves up against the army. (Which seems to have taken the position of protecting the demonstrators from the police from a few things I’ve seen on Twitter.) Having most of your channels of communication to the outside world completely cut off.
I think where I keep getting stuck is that these aren’t just little isolated incidents. These people are telling their leader to get out all across the country.
I know the beginnings of our own country weren’t that far off – but I also wasn’t there, so I have trouble visualizing it.
My day has been, “Make some breakfast, do some dishes, take care of some bills, watch the All Star game, tend to some of my Avon order.” Pretty mundane about the house things. Things that probably happen in households all over the world.
I’d say in Egypt right now, the similarities end right after breakfast. See who is taking the next shift on neighborhood patrol to keep any opportunistic asshat looters out of the neighborhood. Make sure they’re armed, maybe send some tea & sandwiches along. Grab the kids and head out to the demonstrations so Dads, Brothers & Uncles can come home and get some rest. Pick jaw up off floor when Mubarak says, “I fired the government, and got a Vice President for ya!” and mutter, “You have GOT to be shitting me.”
I know I am so insanely lucky to live in a country where if I think the guys in charge are doing a bad job, all I have to do is march myself to the Elementary school up the street and vote for someone I think can do better, and I don’t have to risk life, limb or imprisonment to do it.
So – to the Egyptians risking everything out there to see Mubarak leave power: Good luck, and I hope in the end Egypt is a better place for ALL of your citizens.
Wikipedia article on Egyptian protests @ 11:44 am
If you’re looking for a pretty decent timeline of what’s been going on in Egypt, look no further than Wikipedia.
Haven’t seen anything else as comprehensive so far. (I shouldn’t have been surprised when I found it, it makes sense that a collaborative site like Wikipedia would have a continuously updated page on an international event like this.)
What boggles my mind a bit is that if your citizenry has taken to the streets to demand your removal, why would you think that firing the rest of the government and appointing a Vice President would make everything OK and all would go home? I’m also guessing that it’s a touch unnerving to have the people of your country stop being afraid of you.
Little Lily just ain’t right in the head… @ 03:04 am
Lily has been a bit touched in the head the past few days. It could be that the snow days have thrown off our late afternoon I’m-home-from-work snuggle sessions on the couch. It could be that Spot’s unannounced visit is causing her a bit of the emotional agita. Perhaps she’s mad that the box o’ crickets aren’t for her. Or she could just be off her little tortie kitty rocker thanks to the snow – or her just being her.
Our kitchen is of a very generous size, but horrid design. It’s basically a wide galley, but all the working parts are on one side. (Seriously, the kitchen at the house we rent at the beach is better designed, and if has less than half the square footage.) There is a counter on the non-working side, and while the kits aren’t technically allowed on *any* kitchen counter, they seem to know it’s slightly less bad to jump up on the “non-working” side – which also has the dog food & various animal treats on it.
I swear, for the past four days, every time I walk into the kitchen, Lily is on the counter on the non-working side. It goes something like this:
“LILY! Get down!”
Seriously, I’d swear she was part Siamese for how mouthy she is.
If it’s not me walking in on her in the kitchen, it’s something like this:
*Cindy watches TV or reads a book*
Seriously, she gets tons of food, water, treats and attention. She’s hardly neglected. And yet, if you asked her, NO ONE LOVES HER!
January 29th, 2011
This one is for Kelly B. @ 09:38 pm
I think Dominion Power did OK. @ 04:16 pm
This storm was MUCH worse than anyone anticipated – no one realized it was going to be nasty, wet, heavy snow that would bring down tree limbs at every other house in Northern Virginia and cause transformers to blow all over the place.
Saw an short article today saying that Dominion says they could have done better with communication.
Our power went out at 8:45 Wednesday evening. I immediately reported the outage online and the initial reply was that they were still in assessment mode and couldn’t give a restoration estimate. Perfectly understandable, given that they had 200,000 customers without power. I opted for a callback at anytime with an update. At about 4AM I got an automated call saying the restoration window would be Noon to 6PM on Thursday. When I got up on Thursday, I checked online and saw that it had been updated to 7AM to 1PM. (I missed the second update call.)
At 12:20, our power came back on.
I felt that they did fine with communication in my situation. When they restoration window was established, they called me. When it changed, they called me. (Even though I missed it.) I was able to look online and see those estimates as well.
I’m really not sure they could have done anything else to communicate better with me.
January 28th, 2011
January 27th, 2011
More snow thoughts… @ 07:18 pm
– I like light, fluffy, easy to shovel snow. I do not like this heavy, wet, nasty crap.
– I STILL wish that my Mom had gotten a gas range instead of the smooth cooktop when she remodeled the kitchen.
– This neighborhood doesn’t lose power very often. I have really gotten spoiled.
– Being without power for 15 1/2 hours sucks. For anyone whose power has been out longer, that has to REALLY suck. You have my condolences.
– If I have to sleep with no heat again, I need to remember to throw my jeans and shirt under the covers, because very cold jeans aren’t particularly comfortable to put on in the morning.
– Next August, I am getting a damn snowblower. Unlike last August, when I said to myself, “No, it’s silly and excessive and an overreaction to one bad winter.” I do not need a giant industrial version, just something to make storm cleanup a touch easier.
– I will also remember to get the water balloon slingshot when they are on sale so I can knock the snow from the tops of the cypresses in the backyard from the office window.
– A generator might be nice, but that may be going over the top.
– Since the power has returned, Carmen & Lily have been taking turns sleeping in front of the heat register.
– Many, MANY thanks to the custodian that let me in to retrieve Spot the Gecko. I suppoose she decided it best to not get in the way of a crazy woman on a mission to rescue a small animal. It helps that “I’m a sub this week and next and need to get the classroom gecko!” would be a very odd thing to just make up.
– I have a leopard gecko for the next 5 days. I’ve read the care sheets online, but if anyone has any fun or interesting information that might be helpful, I’d like that.
Proof of Life! @ 02:59 pm
January 26th, 2011
Oh, we’re having some fun now… @ 09:14 pm
The snow started at about 3:30 and it’s been going like gangbusters and it’s heavy, heavy, wet snow.
School was cancelled for tomorrow at 7:30 PM.
It has taken one of my friends a good 5 hours to get home.
The power just went out a few minutes ago – there are now 107K people without power in the county. I doubt we’ll have it back anytime soon given that the transformers over the hill have been exploding.
We have a tree down in the backyard – of course, it went into our neighbor’s yard. Fortunately, thanks to it being a rather light and bendy tree (despite it’s overall size) it is resting gently on the fence. I do not own a chainsaw. There is another tree leaning a bit – we knocked off as much snow as we could, but I’m guessing it’s going to go over as well. That one is at least facing the yard. And the house…
I can’t say I remember a snowstorm that did this much damage this quickly. Thunderstorms, yes, but not snowstorms. And it’s supposed to keep snowing until midnight. Yay.
Here comes the snow! @ 05:32 pm
We have a snow day! @ 03:49 pm
And a great example of why kids think adults are idiots. I’ve got 5th graders this week and next week, and yesterday before dismissal I gave them the big speech about “don’t count on a snow day, it’s going to be rain and then change to snow much later in the day, so do your homework.” Fast forward 14 hours, we have an impressive amount of sleet and a day off. I’m sure their parents also said, “She may be a substitute, but your teacher is right, now do your homework.”
Now, while I’m sure some of the kids are happy they have the day totally free to do whatever they want because they did their homework last night, I’m quite certain there is a large segment of the student population thinking, “WHY did I bother with my homework last night??? The adults didn’t know ANYTHING.”
This is why Jack Weinberg said, “Don’t trust anyone over 30.”
During the break in the weather this afternoon, I headed up to the market. We need milk. Not because it is snowing, but because we are out of milk as of today – I would have been hitting the store no matter what. However, it would seem that a LOT of people in the neighborhood had the exact same idea of taking advantage of the weather pause.
Now, when I am at the store and I know we’ve got snow coming, I find I can’t just get the one or two things that are on my list. All semblance of good nutrition and meal planning go completely out the window. I suddenly want things absolutely crammed with fat, calories, carbohydrates and any other thing that is particularly unhealthy. It’s like I’m bit possessed as I roam the aisles. Fixings for cheese dip! More stock for cheese grits! Mexican cheese for tacos for dinner! Decent tortillas!! (Why I bought Piñata tortillas the last time I was out is beyond me.) Kielbasa! Potatoes! Cinnamon bread for French toast! Taquitos! Mini chocolate frosted donuts! (Those just appeared in my cart. I don’t know how they got there. Some 3 year old must have tossed them in and run away.)
Knowing that this nutritional debacle was looming ahead for the next 24 hours, I did at least have a salad for lunch.
In other snow related thoughts, I have found that in my role as substitute teacher, I am happy to defend snow days. Yes, I do like the bonus day off – I am human after all. Yes, I know it totally screws up things for parents, especially with so many families with both parents working. However, I am fairly certain that on days like this, the Superintendent doesn’t get up at 4AM and dial VDOT for road conditions thinking, “Let’s see how many people I can completely and utterly inconvenience today!”
There are employees that are already en route to work by 5AM, so they’ve got to make the call by 4:30. If the roads are crap, they can push it back 2 hours if they really think things will improve, but if it’s still crap at 6:30 – the day is done. Lots of teens drive themselves to work. Do you enjoy being on the road with 17 years olds on a GOOD day, much less in sleet? I didn’t think so. :)
I was up at 6:30 this morning – still too much sleet to be safe at that point, and I’m sure it was much worse out in the western part of the county. We had some rain in the middle of the day today, but it’s just now turned to a snow/sleet mix again – right when the buses would be back on the roads trying to get the elementary school kids home. I think the closing was a good call today.
The interior cover of “Earth (The Book)” @ 01:21 am
I love it. (Read on, there is some old lady commentary after the photo.)
For you young’uns that may be looking at this photo and thinking, “Huh?” – waaaay back in the dark ages, we got hardback textbooks for just about every class we had, and we had to take these books home to read and do our homework. Since these books had to be re-used from year to year, a stamp very similar to this was used on the inside cover, detailing the state, school district or county, and school that the book was issued to – and then each year, the student who had the book added their name to the list, with a notation of whether or not the student received the book in good condition or not. It was always super cool if you got the book of an older student that you knew. (Even better in high school when it was an older student that you might have had a crush on. Then it was FATE declaring that you should be together forever.)
At the end of the school year, the teachers would collect up these books and compare the condition of the book in June as compared to when you got it in September. If the worsening condition of the book exceeded “normal wear and tear”* then your parents would get dinged for the cost of a new book. (Mind you, if a book wasn’t utterly destroyed, it would still be used again, but the county would collect some sum anyway.)
Nowadays, you have tons of worksheets & lightweight papers & notebooks and such to take home, and they’re actually tailored for the exact math, language arts, or spelling level you are in. These are nothing like hardback textbooks, so this may be incredibly foreign to you. (As well as much easier on your still-developing musculoskeletal-system.) Really, we took all these books home all the time. We even had to make our own book covers for them out of paper grocery bags. (Another product you may not at all be familiar with.)
We also walked uphill both ways in a blizzard to get to school.
I shit you not.
*We never figured out what really constituted “normal wear and tear”.
January 24th, 2011
Meet Spot @ 04:35 pm
January 23rd, 2011
Weekend Wrap-Up @ 09:02 pm
January 22nd, 2011
For God’s Sake, Drop A French Fry! @ 02:34 am
January 20th, 2011
January 19th, 2011
January 18th, 2011
January 17th, 2011
I realize it seems odd @ 06:44 pm
January 16th, 2011
January 15th, 2011
What Moxley *didn’t* eat today. :) @ 08:58 pm
This wasn’t the original plan… @ 01:35 am
Today just wasn’t a photogenic day, compounded by the fact that I only had my cell phone. My camera is somewhere within 5 feet of me – of that I am positive, but I can’t seem to be able to put my eyes on it.
But I got home after a not-exactly-grueling day with some seriously adorable preschoolers, took a nap, and decided I was ready for a snack. I poured myself a little bowl of cracktastic Pepperidge Farms Toasted Sesame Sticks. These things are seriously dusted with crack powder as the last stage in preparation, I am sure of it. I have been known to sit down and eat a half a box of these things without even realizing it. As I poured them, I thought to myself, “I should take a quick snap of these. Sure, it’s silly, but I would like to share the awesomeness of these ridiculous little cracker sticks with the rest of the world.”
But, we had last minute guests, and chatting ensued and us girls went out for a beer. My snack sat in it’s little chipped ramekin on the side table of the couch. When I returned, I thought to myself, “Ooh, I still have my sesame sticks!”
Moxley is a very good dog, but some temptations simply prove to be too much even for the best of dogs. Like a bowl of crunchy snack goodness left conveniently next to a couch that he is allowed to sit on whenever he wants. This was all that remained:
January 14th, 2011
January 13th, 2011
Moxley’s #1 Fan @ 01:17 am
Is Carmen. Sure, both the cats think he is the bees knees, but Carmen has decided that the dog belongs to her – not us, but her. (Mind you, I can’t convince either one that the dog did not magically appear the day they arrived for their comfort and entertainment as it is.)
For quite some time, if the dog is around either Donald or myself, Carmen will come flying out of the woodwork and firmly plant herself in the lap of whomever is entertaining the dog. Once the dog wandered off, she left as well. For the longest time, I’ve just figured that Carmen was a jealous little git and wanted to make sure the dog wasn’t getting attention she should be getting. Then I watched her a little more closely this evening.
The dog was in the basement and I was in the kitchen sitting on the floor with Lily & Carmen. No sooner did she hear the jingle of his tags coming up to the stairs that Carmen raced to the basement door to wait for him. Well, he blew by her. (He has an unfortunate tendency to pretend they aren’t there – I assume it is some sort of self-preservation action on his part.) Well, she *chased* him and then jumped up in my lap as he approached me. As I watched, I realized she didn’t give a whit about keeping the dog away from me so I could give her more attention, it was all about her being closer to the dog so he didn’t give *me* more attention.
“Mox! Mox! Mox!!! I’m RIGHT HERE! Ignore the silly humans, I’m RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU!!”
Sure, Lily loves nothing more than to dash up upon Moxley and hip-check him into the wall for laughs, but as far as Carmen is concerned, Moxley is most definitely HER dog. (He might be more amenable to the idea if she could open the fridge and get out the packages of cheese.)
Perhaps that is why she sleeps in his crate so much – she just keeps hoping he’ll come in and they can snuggle. I’m quite certain that’s why she ends up under the bed with him every night.
I wonder how many cats have decided that they have a dog of their very own? I’m sure she can’t be the only one.
January 12th, 2011
January 11th, 2011
January 10th, 2011
Dignity, thy name is Lily @ 02:40 pm
January 9th, 2011
January 8th, 2011
Elementary School Substitute E-Kit @ 08:34 pm
January 7th, 2011
January 6th, 2011
January 5th, 2011
Lily and her Christmas Mouse @ 09:37 pm
January 4th, 2011
$355 Million @ 09:27 pm
As of my typing this, that is what the Mega Millions lottery has gotten up to for tonight’s drawing. Yes, I threw $5 at it. (I know, I know, the lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math.) But $5 is a fine amount to pay to play the “What if I won?” game.
Figure you get half in the lump sum, another half goes to taxes, and half of that goes to my brother after he gives me $2.50 for his half of the tickets. That’s still 44 million dollars. That’s a nice chunk of change. Throw that into a 12 month CD at my credit union at 1.26% and that’s over $46,000 a month in interest. (Unless something is very wrong with my math.)
Now, let’s say the utterly absurd were to happen and the winning numbers are on the piece of paper I bought today. I’m honestly having a hard time figuring out how I would spend that kind of money.
There is some remodeling I’d like to do around the house. I’d like a little cottage at the beach. Might finally go get the Jeep Wrangler X I’ve coveted for a while. Hell, let’s just say I took 2 mil right off the top and blew it. Still looking at about 44K a month in interest income.
I can’t imagine my lifestyle exceeding $10K a month, even with two households and the ability to spend like a drunken sailor.
I think that is where it gets fun. 34K a month to go and spend on people and organizations that need it? How much fun would that be???
First thing, every school in Fairfax County would get a very large crate of white plastic Pentel erasers delivered to their front door with instructions to destroy every Pink Pearl eraser* they have.
Oh the fun I could have.
*They do *not* work well with the newsprint paper in lower elementary schools, unless you count “destroying the paper” as being an effective way of erasing a mistake.
Carmen enjoying her favorite activity @ 06:17 pm
New Year’s Resolutions @ 02:03 am
Yup, it’s that time of year – everyone is making resolutions, and I am no different. Mine tend to be the same every year – either restart or keep up with my workouts (this year: restart), do a better job of keeping up with the house, etc, etc. I added a fun and (hopefully) easy one this year – a 365 photo project.
And this time of year, there are always countless articles on how making New Year’s Resolutions is mainly just a recipe for failure. I will grant them this – people tend to set out goals that are too broad and too easy to result in early failure and cause folks to just give up on them before January is even in the rear-view mirror.
But, this is what I love about our society – we still have the optimism each year to say, “Dammit, this year is going to be different! It’s going to be better! I am going to really try harder!!” Sure, we should likely scale it down to “new month resolutions” and put more concrete, achievable markers on what we want to accomplish – but I love the fact that every year, we at least give “doing it all better” a whirl for a few days at least.
So, here’s do being better at everything at least until January 5th. Maybe this year we can all extend it to the 7th.
January 3rd, 2011
Books! @ 09:43 pm
Over the years, shopping for me has just gotten easier and easier. Go to Amazon.com and go nuts in the book section. This Christmas I am once again happily surrounded by a stack of books.
I realize that I would probably be a great candidate for a Kindle or Nook or iPad for reading, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. I just love real books too much. I love the weight of a hardcover in my hand, the feel of the paper and the satisfying “thump” when you close a book when you finish it. You just can’t do that with an electronic reader. Also, I never have to worry about the battery going dead on a book. You also can’t make cute bookmarks for electronic readers.
As long as I am alive, the print publishing industry will still have one customer.
Santa had a little sleigh accident this year @ 08:18 pm
Tomorrow is Christmas!!!!!! @ 03:03 am
For those looking at your calendars, let me just reiterate what my mother used to say: “We don’t march to a different drummer, we have our our own whole brass band.”
The first year we went to PHX for Christmas was 2007, and we didn’t really make any other holiday plans – BAD idea, but we had no idea WTF we were doing, either. After that, I decided the house would get decorated to some extent, and we would have our own little Christmas with brunch and presents and mimosas – because Christmas in PHX tends to just be another day in the desert.
So, we picked a day to be Christmas upon our return, and it is TOMORROW!!! There are presents under the tree. I am still extorting good behaviour out of the pets with the phrase, “Santa Claus is watching!!” And I cannot wait to see how my little brother likes what Santa brought him. (As well as the gifts procured by the pets. I have no idea how they got hold of my credit card and Amazon.com password.)
But at the moment, I am looking over at the Christmas tree and it would certainly seem that Santa has had a small sleigh accident here. :-D
TOMORROW IS CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!
January 2nd, 2011
Can we keep it that way?? PLEASE?! The past 36 hours have gone exceptionally well – and I am counting NYE in there, cause it might as well be the New Year. Got all gussied up and had a chance to wear my grandmother’s absolutely outrageous yet awesome ring that I’d not found a reason to wear so far*.
Saw some kickass bluegrass by Over Under Down Yonder, with not one, but TWO spectacular gentlemen, followed by many, many New Year’s smooches at the pub. Had an excellent sleep-in this morning, followed by an afternoon of catching up on my TiVo. (Dr. Who Christmas Special FTW. I want a flying shark.) To top it all off, the Caps won the Winter Classic this evening. Suck it, Penguins.
Really, it’s already going SO much better than this time last year where I was fielding calls from my grandmother yelling at me because we had “just up and left in the middle of the night.” (Mind you, we stayed at a hotel, but no, she was fine and didn’t need any help with anything and no one could possibly think that anything was amiss. *I* was the one with the problem.)
To top it all off, you and Mother Nature are throwing us a bone – it’s a good 60 degrees out there. I appreciate your giving us a tiny break to reassure us that spring will eventually show up again. We’ve got our somewhat-delayed Christmas day after tomorrow, and that is going to be excellent as well.
Really – so far, so good and I absolutely ADORE it! Let’s keep it up, shall we?!!
The icing on the cake has been watching Carmen get high on a catnip birthday cake this evening and having Lily in my lap purring like an Evinrude outboard.
It’s gonna be a good year.
*When grandma went into the care center, Sharyn said, “Go get your grandmother’s jewelry from her house.”
January 1st, 2011
Bring on 2011 @ 06:52 pm
Sent out 2010 with a bang – bluegrass in Old Town!
Glad to have the year behind me. Tons I want to accomplish in 2011, and with grandma in the care center, I feel like I have a shot in hell in actually doing that. Getting her a full professional staff sure has made my life a hell of a lot easier.
I’m giving a 365 photos a shot this year. Kicks off with a somewhat blurry shot of Moxley and his uber-fluffy haircut.
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