Thursday, August 31, 2006

I have a question...

There are too many random, disjointed things floating through my mind today. So instead of attempting to write anything coherent, it’s time for another meaningless questionnaire! I found these questions on a website called “The Daily Meme.” There’s actually an entire site dedicated to these silly little surveys. (Actually, there’s probably more than ONE entire website… probably a LOT of websites…) So here we go:

What are you superstitious about?
Um, not much, I don’t think. Except pitching anyone against the Yankees in my fantasy baseball league. (Hey, it’s been PROVEN that it’s a bad decision.)

Who let the dogs out? Who? Who?
It was Eric. He’s so irresponsible.

If you could, would you be a taxi driver for a day? In what city?
Nope. I really don’t even like driving MYSELF anywhere. I’m certainly not gonna drive OTHER people around.

In high school, the kids voted you “most likely” to do what?
I was actually voted “most quiet” for my high school yearbook. What kind of high school has “most quiet” in the yearbook?? I mean, it wasn’t bad enough that I had to put up with the kids and teachers who made fun of me on a daily basis – I also had to make sure it was forever remembered in the yearbook??? Yeah, Lisa, just in case you weren’t scarred enough by all the people who reminded you about what a total loser you were, it’s gonna be emblazoned across the pages of your senior yearbook. So you can have a memory to “treasure” forever. (I may be a teensy bit bitter about my high school experience…:))

Who’s the most famous person you have ever spoken with?
Uh… well, I had a professor at St. Ed’s named Susan Loughran – you can look her up on She was in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, and The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. And that’s about it. So I wouldn’t exactly call her “famous.” And I once shook hands with a guy who was running for office in New York… what was his name?? I can’t even remember. I just remember thinking he was really cute, and if I’d been voting age (I was about 16) I would’ve voted for him. Because he was cute. I knew SO much about politics.

Company’s coming to stay with you. Do you have a guest bedroom to put someone up in, or are they sleeping on your couch?
I DO have a guest bedroom, with two futons. In fact, I THOUGHT Eric was gonna stay with me last week when everyone was in town, so I got everything all cleaned up in there and washed the sheets and stocked the guest bathroom with towels… and then he decided to stay with mom and dad. So if anyone else wants to stay at my house, now is the time, because everything is all clean and ready for guests. Thanks a LOT, Eric… I did laundry for nothing. :)

What is your favorite color of a rose?
I think I like the good ol’ classic red rose.

Do you watch Mythbusters? What myth would you like to bust?
Yes! I LOVE Mythbusters! I think those people have such cool jobs – they get to destroy things and blow stuff up and play with crash test dummies in the name of science. That’d be so much fun. I can’t think of a specific myth I’d like to “bust,” but I think pretty much any of those forwarded “my cousin’s best’s friend’s roommate’s brother’s girlfriend’s mother got cancer because she drank water and ate bread at the same time” emails should be sent to Mythbusters…

Why does Mickey Mouse wear gloves all the time?
He has a horrible case of eczema. And he’s very sensitive about it, so shush…

Where would you hide a safe in your house to assure that it couldn’t easily be found?
Oh, I’d probably put it – hey! I’m not gonna tell YOU.

How many shoe boxes do you have that do NOT have shoes in them?
I only found one – it’s the box for those sneakers I bought at the outlet mall a couple weeks ago. I should probably throw that away…

How surprised would you be if your mother came home sporting a new tattoo? What do you think she would get, and where would it be?
I would be totally shocked. But if she DID get a tattoo, I think she would have “pie” tattooed on one hand, and “queen” on the other – that way, when she was making her famous pies and she was rolling out the dough with a rolling pin, you’d see “pie queen... pie queen… pie queen…”

Suppose you could have the ability to compete in any Olympic event. In what event would you want to compete?
Hmmm… when I was a kid, I liked the ice skating and the gymnastics best. But now, I’d probably want to do something like snowboarding… or maybe biathlon, where you cross-country ski and then shoot stuff. (I’ve never understood the biathlon – do cross-country skiers frequently have an urge to shoot at things? Or is it supposed to be like, “pretend you’re skiing through the wilderness of Montana, and a bear appears. Shoot it! Shoot it!!”)

Do you think it’s okay to bring your own snacks into the movie theater?
Sure. It can be ridiculously expensive to buy snacks at the movies. They're already charging a bazillion dollars just to WATCH the film... so if you can sneak in a Kit Kat and a bottle of water, go for it.

What is the furthest north and the furthest south you’ve ever been?
Um, let’s see… which is further north –Anchorage, Alaska? Or Helsinki, Finland? I think it’s Anchorage… and south I think would be Panama. Which actually isn’t TOO far south… I need to travel more… Australia – THAT would be pretty far south…

Have you ever missed your flight? What caused that to happen?
Yeah, I was flying up to NJ, back before there were direct flights between Austin and Newark, so I had to get a connecting flight in Chicago. But my flight from Austin was seriously delayed, and by the time we were in the air, I knew there was no way I’d make my connecting flight. I was actually quite proud of myself – I was traveling alone, and managed to not panic about anything (unlike the woman in the seat next to me – she was on the airphone the entire flight, yelling about how “you HAVE to get me on another flight! I don’t CARE if there are no more flights out tonight – you’d BETTER get me on a flight! I HAVE to be there today!!”). When we landed in Chicago, I went to the gate where my connecting flight was, and although there were no more flights to Newark, they were able to get me on a flight to La Guardia.

Have you ever thought the lyrics to a song were something other than what they really were?
Okay, when I was a kid, and the movie “Flashdance” was really popular, that “what a feeling” song was playing all over the place. And when it got to the line, “take your passion and make it happen,” I thought the words were, “take your pants off and make it happen.” Which, when you think about it, really makes it a decidedly more risqué song…

What was your very first job?
I was a library page at the Sparta Public Library. And yes, there really is a position called a “page” in a library full of books with pages. A page is just a library assistant – I spent a lot of time shelving returned books, helping people check out books, and pointing people in the direction of whatever subject they were looking for. It was a great job, because it was quiet, it was a good workout (shelving a cart full of books takes a lot of walking and bending and crouching and stretching…) and when things got slow there was plenty of reading material.

When was the last time you did a community service project?
Well, I’m not sure about a “project,” but my friend Cindy and I used to volunteer at a thrift store that her mom managed. All the profits from the store went to charity, so it was sort of a “community service,” right?

What aspect of being a child do you miss the most?
I can remember when I was a kid, there were times when I’d come home from school on a Friday afternoon, and make sure all my homework was done, and know I had no projects due, and realize I had an entire weekend ahead of me, and I’d lay in bed at night thinking, “wow, I have absolutely nothing to worry about right now…” I guess for a kid, homework is about the biggest “worry” you can have. Nowadays, I NEVER go to bed thinking, “wow, I have nothing to worry about.” I can always find something…

What famous person do you look like?
The only person I’ve ever been told I look like (and this was only once – when I was registering for some classes at St. Ed’s and a professor said it) is Kelly Rutherford. And she’s not even all that famous. You’re probably all saying, “who the heck is Kelly Rutherford?” She used to play Dixie on The Adventures of Briscoe County Jr. (which is a show I loved, but it didn’t last very long…). And I think she was on Melrose Place. But I don’t think I really look like her at all…

What is your signature dish, you know, the one you’re always asked to make?
I guess it’s chocolate chip cookies. Because I’m always being asked to make chocolate chip cookies. And sometimes key lime pie. And fajitas, although I really can’t take any credit for my fajitas, because it’s the seasoning that makes them taste so good – and I just buy Fiesta fajita seasoning and shake it on the meat. Not too difficult…

Which do you prefer for cooking, a gas or an electric range?
I definitely prefer a gas range. My older brother the ex-chef was always talking about how gas ranges are better than electric ranges, and I thought he was just making things up. But there really is a difference – a flame just heats differently than an electric coil.

What do you do when you’ve started to read a book that you can’t get in to? Do you keep reading?
Not usually. I tend to give a book about a chapter or two to hold my interest. If I’ve found nothing interesting in the first two chapters, I kinda figure the rest of the book won’t interest me much, either. In fact, when I’m buying books, I often go by the first SENTENCE to decide whether or not to buy something. If the first sentence grabs my attention in some way, it’s more likely that the entire book will do the same.

If you have painting to do in your home, do you do it yourself, or call in the pros?
I’ve always painted my own house – in fact, I’m considering doing the bathrooms some time soon. I actually painted our ENTIRE house back when we lived in Cedar Park. And, of course, I painted my super-cool media room in the basement of the house in New Jersey. I loved my super-cool media room…

Have you ever pretended that you weren’t home while an unannounced guest (or salesman) was on your door step?
Are you kidding? I INVENTED pretending to not be home while an unannounced guest is on the door step. Although when we first moved into this house, I did answer the door now and then – but it seemed like every time I did, it was someone trying to sell me something. If I’m here at my computer, I have a view of the front porch and can see who is standing at my door – if I don’t know who they are, I don’t answer.

How often do you update your blog?
Well, if you would check it once in a while, Mysterious Asker of Questions, you would know, wouldn’t you?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Another random picture day!

Yes, I've gone crazy with the scanner again -- so, in no particular order and with no rhyme or reason:

My parents' old house in New Jersey, covered with something called "snow." (I never see much of that anymore...) It's funny how both the houses my parents owned in NJ had crazy steep driveways that became death traps in the winter. The first house was at the bottom of a hill, so the driveway sloped down toward the house... and their second house was on TOP of a hill, so the driveway sloped up. Both of them were quite difficult to navigate when the weather was like this...

The Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche in Berlin (that means "memorial church"... but I like saying Gedächtniskirche... it's fun... everybody all together now -- Gedächtniskirche! :)) The church was burned during WWII, but it was kept as a memorial. The structure on the right is the new bell tower -- Germans have nicknamed it "the lipstick." I was so excited when I got a chance to visit Berlin and saw this place in person -- I'd heard about it so many times in my high school German classes, and saw pictures in my textbook. So when I finally saw it in person, I was like, "it's the lipstick! It's the lipstick!" Yeah, okay, crazy girl...

Eric in his Chicago police uniform...

One of my favorite pictures of my half-sister Aimee, because she looks happy and totally normal... I may post my Aimee poem one of these days...

Echo and Allegro sharing a water dish when Echo was a puppy. Notice how Echo is barely bigger than Allegro? Allegro set down the law right away, and made sure Echo knew who was boss. So these days, even though Echo is about four times bigger, there's no more "sharing" the water dish. If Allegro is drinking and Echo wants a drink, too, she'll stand off to the side and patiently wait until the cat is done...

A group photo from our last cruise with Eric and Debbie and Rick's parents...

Since I was talking about St. Edward's University the other day -- here's the main building at St. Ed's. There are some pretty cool old buildings on campus -- this is probably the one everyone takes the most pictures of...

This is the downtown Austin skyline as seen from the St. Ed's campus. This was a few years ago, so it's changed a bit (notice the building that looks like an owl isn't around?). Incidentally, the bluish-green building on the left side of the picture is where the lawfirm of Wright and Greenhill is located, on the 17th and 18th floors... and where I, for some inexplicable reason, worked for a couple years. I should take a few more skyline pics from the university -- St. Ed's has some great views of downtown...

Rick was saying the other day that I should post a picture of Crazy Estonian Tour Guide Guy. So here he is... (if you don't know who Crazy Estonian Tour Guide Guy is, go back to the second post I ever published on this blog...)

Sunset on one of our cruises -- I think this was actually the first cruise I ever took, to Bermuda...

Me and Eric, Christmas 2002, I believe. I'm assuming it was 2002, because I still have relatively short hair...

So that's it... until I find some more random pictures to post some day... :)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Are you wearing THOSE jeans with THAT couch?

Our power was out for almost five hours this morning. A couple thunderstorms moved in around six or seven, and I listened to the thunder rumbling and the much-needed rain pelting the windows. And then I heard a different sort of rumble – the sound of a transformer somewhere off in the distance throwing up its hands in surrender to a lightning strike. Fortunately, all the rain had cooled off the temperatures outside, so the fact that the air conditioner wasn’t working didn’t matter much. So I was able to comfortably hang out on the couch reading a book for a couple hours, thinking about how people “way back when” managed to find ways to amuse themselves without electricity. Of course, as soon as the power was back on, the first thing I did was run for my computer to check my email… (well, I didn’t actually “run”… it was more of a fast walk…)

Speaking of bygone eras, I have to ask a question – who is responsible for the recent horrifying revival of 80’s fashion? Most disturbing in this trend is the resurgence of the so-called “skinny jean,” which is popping up in ads for Gap and Old Navy, and plastered on the pages of the Victoria’s Secret catalog. Skinny jeans, for anyone who hasn’t seen them, are a sort of ridiculous half jean/half legging hybrid. And contrary to their name, they do anything BUT make the wearer appear “skinny.” In fact, unless you happen to be six feet tall and barely weigh more than a hundred pounds, they tend to make you look like you’ve been gorging yourself on brownies and ice cream and fettuccini alfredo…

There are very few fashion trends from the 80’s that should be resurrected. I can remember being an awkward junior high/high schooler, gazing in bewilderment at the fads I was supposed to embrace just because everyone else was succumbing to them. Neon socks? Giant shoulder pads? Poofy, lacquered hair? One of the trends I could never understand was the inexplicable practice of wearing those “skinny jeans” with the ankles tucked into a pair of big slouchy neon socks. What?? I can only hope that, at the very least, those neon socks died an absolute, final death and will never again resurface…

It’s funny how some of the fashion trends from certain eras have been able to translate well into decent updates, but others never really look quite right. The bohemian look of the 60’s still works pretty well, with peasant skirts and layers of beads… the bell-bottoms of the 70’s have morphed into the much-more-flattering low-rise bootcut jeans and flare jeans… but the 80’s – well, I think the 80’s should’ve been allowed to slink off into the history books and STAY there.

And it’s not just clothing styles that change throughout the years – I was recently looking at some old pictures at my parents’ house, from when I was a toddler. And I have to ask – why would anyone ever decide that avocado green was a GOOD color choice for kitchen appliances? I mean, really, shouldn’t it be obvious that black or white or stainless steel would be better choices? They’re neutral, they go with everything, and they don’t scream, “hey, did you see that scene in The Exorcist where Linda Blair’s head spins around and she vomits pea soup?”

Furniture upholstery was a little bizarre, too. One of the pictures I found was of me sitting on mom and dad’s couch, which was covered with this extremely busy brown and gold and green pattern. It was hard to tell from the photo what was on the couch upholstery, exactly, but I think there were people, and maybe animals, and perhaps some famous landmarks. It was as if someone just took a couch and covered it with randomness – like an 18th century king in a powdered wig, and the Golden Gate bridge, and a duck, and a girl with an umbrella, and a cow, and the Eiffel Tower. Just a big nonsensical pattern, strewn all over the couch in brown and gold and green.

Fortunately, upholstery seems to have been simplified (good for anyone who wants to nap on the couch – how could you sleep with all that craziness on the cushions?). And I refuse to give in to the revamped “skinny jean” fad this time. After all, I’m no longer constantly surrounded by peers who consider any small superficial difference reason to ridicule. Now, if someone wants to start a trend of eating chocolate with every meal, I’ll be all over that…

Monday, August 28, 2006

It cost HOW much?

I can’t believe no one made any comments about my fungus commercial the other day. I thought it was hilarious. But I suppose I have a weird sense of humor. You guys are a tough audience… :)

Well, everyone left to go back to Chicago on Saturday, so it’s quiet and lonely here in Texas Peopleville. It was nice to hang out with everyone – and it was fun to go to Seattle’s Best with a list of drinks every morning and watch the baristas scramble to fill our order. I tried, as usual, to add enough poison to Eric’s morning coffee to assure he’d no longer be “in the way,” but he seems to have built up an immunity to arsenic. (I’m just kidding, by the way… I don’t REALLY try to poison my brother… I mean, not ALL the time…)

So this weekend Rick and I drove down to St. Edward’s University to buy some books because Rick is going back to school this semester. St. Ed’s has a program called “New College,” which is for old people like Rick (not for people like ME, obviously... I’m WAY younger than Rick…) – actually, it’s for anyone who might not have the time to attend traditional classes during daytime hours, or can’t spend three days a week in class, etc. It’s a more accelerated program, and you can get college credits for experience you’ve already gained in the working world. They also have a campus up north, closer to where we live, so Rick won’t have to drive all the way into South Austin for class.

But we did have to drive into South Austin for the books, to the St. Ed’s bookstore on campus. Now, college textbooks are notoriously overpriced, although you can get a “refund” if you return them at the end of the semester:

Student: Here’s the book I bought for 60 bucks a few months ago.

Evil college bookstore overseer: Hmmm… looks like you really beat this thing up.

Student: What?? I kept it in a hermetically-sealed plastic bag and used salad tongs to turn the pages! I didn’t even carry it in my backpack – I used a silver-plated tray with a UV-blocking dome!!

Evil college bookstore overseer: Yeah… I think I can give you two dollars back. I’d give you three, but it looks like there’s a fingerprint in the corner…

(Evil college bookstore overseer is hit in the head by a pair of salad tongs…)

So we were expecting to spend a lot on Rick’s books, but we were still surprised when one of them turned out to be 143 dollars. $143? For ONE book?? The book is about “managing human resources” – hardly the kind of thing I’d expect to pay that kind of money for. I’ve flipped through the pages – there’s no money hidden inside. And the book itself doesn’t seem to DO anything – I mean, if it could jump up and run over to the sink and do the dishes, then MAYBE I could see paying that kind of money for it. But no – it’s just a book. It just sits there doing nothing, waiting to be read. Waiting to impart its (apparently extremely valuable) human resources wisdom.

But overpriced books aside, our trip to St. Edward’s got me thinking about my OWN college experiences, and how I don’t have a degree yet, either. (Even ERIC has a college degree – and he’s been trying to work the arsenic out of his system for years…) And St. Ed’s has undergone an explosion of sorts – buildings are popping up like weeds on campus. It’s still a small campus – you can probably walk from one end to the other in about fifteen minutes – but new buildings are overtaking parking lots and what used to be empty fields of grass. All the original buildings are still there – but they’re blending in with new buildings, and the entire landscape has been changed. And even the old buildings have undergone some changes and renovations – like the bookstore where we bought the nearly-priceless book. That bookstore used to be a café – and before it was a café, it was the first indoor swimming pool in Texas. (They eventually filled in the pool with concrete and painted it blue – so everyone can remember that it USED to be a pool…)

Visiting the campus got me thinking that I might not mind going back to that school – especially now, when everything seems to be in the midst of change and the old is seamlessly melding with the new. As long as it’s happening with the school, I might as well provide an illustration of the same thing in my own life. Me, the not-quite-as-young-as-most-college-kids student, blending in with all the young college students. Yeah. I could handle that. Maybe.

Well, it’s something to think about. For now, the 143-dollar book and I are going to wash the dishes…

Friday, August 25, 2006

First the bats, now the cave...

I just got back from spending the day out with everyone. We went to Inner Space caverns, which is a cave in a town north of here called Georgetown. I think Eric and Faisal ended up there a couple years ago, when they decided to hop in the car and head for downtown Austin, but went NORTH on the interstate instead of south. Yeah, north of Austin there’s not much except a lot of grass. And some cows. And eventually Dallas. But Georgetown is where we lived for the year when I was in seventh grade – and that, incidentally, was the last time I’d been to Inner Space.

It’s funny how different our perceptions are when we’re kids. The whole cave seemed so much smaller to me this time. Rooms that I’d remembered as stretching out into infinite darkness actually did, in fact, end at a finite point. And the tour was a bit different than I remembered. The cave is located beneath the interstate, and it was discovered when workers were drilling into the earth (for whatever reason workers drill into the earth when they’re building an interstate). And when I was a kid, my favorite part of the tour was when we got to the large cavern where the very first highway worker had been lowered down into the cave with a flashlight to see what, exactly, was down there. He shone his flashlight around in the total darkness, and the beam hit a large rock formation, casting a shadow onto the wall behind it. At this point in the tour, the guide would cut the lights and shine a flashlight onto the rock formation so we could all see the shadow – it looked like a giant devil, complete with horns on its head. And everyone would laugh to think of that poor highway worker, hanging in a cave in complete darkness, looking at a shadow of a giant devil. Did he drop his flashlight? Did he yell for his comrades to pull him back into the daylight? Was he startled for a moment, but then realized it was a great opportunity to scare some of his friends? When I was a kid, all these scenarios would run through my mind, firing up my imagination…

But today they never mentioned the “devil,” although we did see the big hole that was drilled for the one guy with the flashlight. It sort of made me wonder if that whole “this was the first thing he saw!” monologue was made up for the tourists. It’s still an interesting experience, though. And we did get to spend a few seconds in total darkness. Actually, that’s not true – my dad was wearing a glow-in-the-dark watch. But other than that – total darkness. It was funny, because Nate and Megan were the youngest kids on the tour, and the guide wondered if turning off the lights would scare them at all. But after he turned them off and then turned them back on, both of the kids laughed and said, “do it again!!” Not a couple of wimps, those two. (Eric, however, screamed like a little girl. But Nate took his hand and calmed him down, so it was all good…)

To get down into the cave, you have to walk through the gift shop (of course) and then outside to a little tram that carries you about two hundred feet down a slope. Which at first seems sort of cool – oooo, it’s a little train ride down into the scary cave! But after walking all through the cave and then all the way back, it seemed sort of silly to stop and board the tram so we could be CARRIED the last two hundred feet into the daylight. We’d just walked all over that cave – you think we couldn’t have handled the last couple hundred feet? I mean, you could SEE the gift shop from the mouth of the cave – it literally would’ve been faster to simply walk up the slope. Maybe it’s supposed to add to the effect – like everyone can pretend to be a prospector going spelunking. You can’t just walk right in and right back out – you have to travel in and out on your rickety old prospector’s tram.

Last time Eric and Faisal were at Inner Space, Eric brought me back a geode – which I promptly took out to the street and smashed with a hammer. I have the pieces sitting on a bookshelf in my living room, and every time I see it, I think of some guy shining a light on a rock formation that looks like a devil. Well, that and Eric’s fear of the dark…

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

It slices! It dices!

I was flipping through channels last night, and happened upon a couple rather annoying commercials. Actually, the first one wasn’t so much “annoying” as simply an illustration of the nonsensical nature of pharmaceutical advertisements. It was a commercial for some sort of osteoporosis medication, hawked by Sally Field. And as I was watching it, I realized that there's a pattern with these prescription medication ads:

It begins with someone (or a group of someones) going about daily life – drinking coffee, playing golf, hanging out at a party. The drug is casually mentioned in conversation, because, as we all know, prescription drug use is always a fascinating topic of discussion. So it would go something like this:

Two women sit at a table in a sunny kitchen, drinking coffee and indulging in slices of pie (although, since this is a commercial, they neither drink nor eat – the coffee and pie are merely visual props…).

Woman #1: Did I tell you about my embarrassing fungus?

Woman #2 (subtly sliding chair away from woman #1): Yes! What did your doctor say?

Woman #1: He gave me this new dozen-pill-a-day regimen called Fungusbegone.

Woman #2 (with obvious tone of wonderment): Fungusbegone?

Woman #1: Yes! It’s the only dozen-pill-a-day treatment for the possible eventual cure of embarrassing fungus.

Woman #2: But how does it work?

Woman #1: I simply take a dozen pills a day, and within seven or eight months, my fungus is barely a problem anymore. I can even continue to drink coffee and eat pie!

Woman #2 (laughing conspiratorially): Well, sign ME up for Fungusbegone!

Woman #1: It’s ONLY available by prescription, silly!

As the women continue to laugh hysterically at things that aren’t even funny, the voiceover begins to explain the side effects:

Do not take Fungusbegone if you have a history of colds or flu. People taking Fungusbegone should avoid drinking water or swimming. Fungusbegone may cause hives, blemishes, uncontrollable hair growth, temporary blindness, numbness in the hands and feet, difficulty breathing, spontaneous bone fractures, and cancer of the esophagus. Women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should not even be watching this commercial. Consult your doctor if your fungus takes on a life of its own...

And of course, as all those side effects are listed, the people in the commercial continue to laugh and go about their daily lives – there’s a scene at the grocery store. There’s a scene at a little league game. There’s a scene out in a field with horses and mountains in the distance. All of these little slices of life are supposed to prove to us, I suppose, that taking the advertised medication will in no way interfere with all that horseback riding you were planning on doing before you were so cruelly struck down by a fungus. And it seems like most pharmaceutical commercials follow this basic script.

The other commercial I saw that annoyed me was an ad for some sort of “Oxy Clean” laundry detergent. I really hate ALL of those Oxy Clean commercials, mainly because that man who advertises Oxy Clean always yells. Every time one of those ads comes on, I feel like I’m being reprimanded for not using Oxy Clean – “IT MAKES EVERYTHING WHITE!! USE OXY CLEAN!! LOOK AT HOW WHITE THIS OLD T-SHIRT IS NOW!!” Yikes. Sorry. I don’t want to admit that I’ve never tried Oxy Clean, because I’m afraid the scary man will yell at me…

But the thing that was especially irritating about the Oxy Clean laundry detergent commercial was the implication that laundry is so unnecessarily complicated without Oxy Clean laundry detergent. If you believe the commercial, doing the laundry is practically rocket science. You need some kind of advanced degree to figure out how to measure soap. To illustrate this fact, the ad shows people attempting to do their laundry WITHOUT Oxy Clean detergent, and failing miserably. Liquid detergent ends up all over the floor, powdered detergent flies through the air like confetti – measuring laundry soap is so hard! If only there was a simple way to clean my clothes…

This ad reminded me of a commercial I saw numerous times last year right before Christmas. People wrap a lot of packages at Christmastime, and this particular commercial was for a tape dispenser – it was supposed to make wrapping all those packages much, much easier. And once again, to demonstrate how “difficult” wrapping presents is, the ad made it look ridiculously complicated. People were tossing around ribbons and scissors like brain-damaged monkeys, winding up with dented, crushed boxes and mangled paper. I wrapped plenty of packages last Christmas, and I never needed any sort of fancy tape dispenser to help me out. Plain old Scotch tape works just fine, thank you very much…

So I'm never sure what these ads are trying to SAY, exactly. I mean, are they targeted at really, really stupid people? Or are they trying to imply that EVERYONE is really, really stupid? Why don't they just have that Oxy Clean guy yell at us all in a demoralizing fashion, to shame us into buying their products? "YOU CAN'T DO THE LAUNDRY! YOU'RE TOO STUPID! DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ABOUT GIFT WRAPPING! WHAT A BUNCH OF UNCOORDINATED IDIOTS! BUY MY LAUNDRY DETERGENT! BUY MY TAPE DISPENSER! DROP AND GIVE ME TWENTY!!"

I'm looking for my Visa card even as I type... because THIS year, my Christmas gifts will NOT look like they were wrapped by monkeys...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Baseball is life (no, not REALLY...)

In case anyone hasn’t been paying attention to baseball the last few days, I feel compelled to point out this very important fact: The Yankees swept a five-game series with the Boston Red Sox – and IN Boston, none the less – and are now 6 and a half games over Boston for first place in the AL East. The last time the Yankees swept Boston in five games at Fenway was back in 1943. So forgive me for just a second as I perform my “Yankees swept Boston” dance – Yankees swept Boston! Yankees swept Boston! Yankees rule! Yankees rule!! Yaaaankeeeeees!!!

Okay, I’m good now…

Another interesting thing to note is that the Mets are the number one team in the National League. If the Yanks can keep their momentum going, I think we could quite possibly be looking at another Subway Series this year. How cool would that be? I’ll tell you – pretty cool. (I love New York... :))

And in other baseball news – I have continued my slow and steady climb in my fantasy baseball league, and am now sitting in second place. I have adopted the “patience is a virtue” approach, otherwise known as the “tortoise and the hare” approach. The way this game works is, everyone is allowed a certain number of pitching games for the entire year – 162, to be exact. When you have pitchers playing on any given day, you can play them – or let them sit on your bench. But you’re only allowed those 162 pitching games, so if you don’t pace yourself, you’ll end up using all those games before the end of the season. I’ve been making an effort to stay right on track with my pitching games, whereas the guy who is now in first place has apparently been playing any and every available pitcher. He has 19 pitching games left for the season. I have 34. Which means if I can very carefully play my cards right, I can eventually sneak up on this unworthy interloper and regain my rightful place in first. Which, if you’ll recall, is where I was at the beginning of the season…

And the great thing about the Yankees/Boston series is that I STILL managed to average 5 points a game from Ortiz, but Boston lost every game. Those are the best games – where I manage to accrue some decent fantasy points, but Boston loses anyway. (Gee, I hope this crushing loss hasn't demoralized Big Papi to the point where he starts to neglect his batting average...)

I never get tired of watching the Yankees – they always seem to find a way to make things interesting. I hear so much grumpy, bitter complaining from fans of other teams. And actually, a lot of the time, they seem less like fans of their own team and more like fans of hating the Yankees. I try to tell them there’s a simple remedy for their cynicism – just be a Yankee fan. It’s so much more fun. It’s much more fun to be a Yankee Lover than a Yankee Hater. :)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Thirteen years...

Since today is our thirteenth anniversary, I thought I'd post my favorite wedding picture. Although when I look at it now, I really hate my dress -- those sleeves were ridiculously poofy and much too busily sequined. But oh well... since we got married at the end of the summer, and my dress was off-shoulder, I spent that entire summer OUT of the sun. I didn't want to risk any strange tan lines (ha ha! As if THAT would've happened... no, seriously, I DO get tan now and then...). And then two days before the wedding, I was ironing some clothes and I burned my arm -- I don't think you can see it in this picture, but there are several wedding pictures where you can see the big burn mark on the side of my arm. So I succeeded in avoiding tan lines, but wound up with a big blemish anyway...

It's actually funny how much time and energy and money goes into ONE little day, and how, when it's over, you end up thinking, "I can't believe I spent all that time and energy and money on THAT..." It's this giant amount of stress for something that ends up being rather trivial. Of course, this is something you don't realize until AFTER the wedding, so the idea of, say, eloping never seems as amazingly smart as it does five minutes after the wedding is over. (Hey! You know what we should've done? Put all that money in the bank and gone to Vegas!) But, as with many other things in life, the wedding isn't really for the people getting married, anyway -- it's much more for the families. Even if I'd realized BEFORE my wedding that my time could've been better spent in other ways, I'm not sure my MOM would've ever forgiven me... :)

Our friends Nick and Cindy have four kids -- three of whom are girls. And, when they're older, if tradition has held up and the daughter's parents are expected to pay for the wedding, Nick and Cindy could be looking at some serious wedding expenses. Which is why I've suggested telling their daughters NOW about the amazing Elvis Presley. In fact, Elvis is SO amazing, that it would be an honor to have him officiate a wedding. And where can you go, any time of the day or night, to be married by Elvis? Why, Las Vegas, of course! :)

Hey, it's just an idea...

Sunday, August 20, 2006

A tourist in my own town...

A bunch of people are in town this week -- Eric and Kat, and Eric's friends Jason and Jen and their two kids. Jason and Jen are from Chicago, too... so we all decided to be tourists tonight and take a boat ride to see the bats under the Congress Avenue bridge. What's funny is that I've lived in Austin for years, and I've never once seen our famous bats. So I made sure to bring my camera, so I could document it for my blog...

Here's Eric, happy to be on board the boat and ready to see some bats!

Jason and Jen's little girl -- I thought this picture was SO cute...

Some of the buildings downtown...

More downtown...

People gathering on the bridge to watch the bats...

The bats begin to appear...

More bats...

Even MORE bats...

Kat and Eric enjoying the river cruise...

I thought this was a very "Austin" kind of picture... downtown in the background, and a bridge with "no war" graffiti...

The Frost bank building, which is the tallest building in Austin. It was designed by a graduate of Rice University, whose mascot is an owl -- see the owl? Now all us Longhorn fans have to see that owl all the time. (Actually, since this building went up about a year ago, it's been my favorite building in Austin... :))

So every night, all those bats (1.5 million, I believe is what the guide told us...) fly as far away as Corpus Christi on the Gulf of Mexico, devouring tons of bugs along the way. And every morning they fly back to the bridge. And they do tend to keep the city relatively mosquito-free, compared to some of the other places I've lived. So for that, I have to be happy that my city has this massive bat population. And they were definitely cool to watch -- so if anyone ever happens to be visiting Austin and needs a touristy activity to wile away an evening, I would recommend checking out the bats. :)

Friday, August 18, 2006

I have nothing to do...

A new outlet mall just opened not too far from our neighborhood, which is quite nice, actually – before it opened, if we had some sort of outlet mall longing, we’d have to drive down I-35 to San Marcos, about an hour away. And the San Marcos outlets have been there for ages, so they’re older and laid out in an awkward fashion – it’s kind of just like a giant strip mall, with half the stores on one side of the road, and half on the other. So when we saw that the mall up here near us was open and ready for business, we decided we should check it out. Our first attempt to do so was a couple weekends ago, after the mall had only been open a day or two. Here’s a tip – don’t ever attend the grand opening of an outlet mall a week before school starts during the tax-free weekend. We couldn’t get NEAR the place. People were actually parking in empty fields, because the asphalt lots were completely full. Needless to say, we pretty much did a quick drive-by (or, rather, a SLOW drive-by so as not to hit the myriad pedestrians wandering outside) and decided to return at a later date.

So Rick and I went back yesterday afternoon, since school started on Wednesday (yes! Once again the malls of the city shall be mine!) so we knew it would be less crowded. And it turned out to be a really nice mall – it has a much better layout than those San Marcos outlets, and some great stores – Banana Republic, Calvin Klein, Burberry… there’s even a Michael Kors outlet, which I really wanted to visit, but I figured even the “outlet” prices would be more than I could afford. (But I’ll probably have to sneak in there someday… just to look around a little bit…) The one “complaint” I had was the 102-degree heat, which made strolling around outside the stores a bit unpleasant. All the stores are situated around outdoor pedestrian walkways – which, in about two months, will be very nice. But right now, it just makes you want to walk out of one store and immediately enter another to feel the air conditioning (hmmm… nice marketing strategy, I suppose…).

And you can’t visit an outlet mall without buying SOMEthing, so we went to the Nike outlet so I could buy a new pair of sneakers. I’ve had the same pair for a couple years, and they’re dirty, and the tread is wearing down, and they’ve just generally seen better days. So I bought a pair I liked, and we endured the heat on the walk back to the car (where we endured MORE heat until the A/C kicked in). Once we were home, I decided to cool off on the couch for a few minutes before breaking in my new shoes. I picked up my latest issue of “Shape” magazine, and browsed through the articles until I reached the last page. The final little one-page editorial was titled, “If you do one thing this month… switch out your sneakers.” It proceeded to laud the benefits of new sneakers, explaining that after a while, old sneakers lose their shock-absorbing capabilities, making walking and running harder on your feet and knees and joints. And not only were new sneakers an important purchase for anyone who walks or runs on a regular basis, but buying new sneakers was the ONE THING that must be done this month.

Wow, I thought, I’ve already done the only thing I have to do this month! I went back to my room where I’d tossed my new sneakers on the bed, and admired them as they sat in the box, feeling a sense of accomplishment. I hadn’t even KNOWN that buying sneakers was the one thing I had to do this month, and I managed to do it anyway. I didn’t even have to WEAR them – that wasn’t part of the plan. The plan was to simply “switch out your sneakers.” I don’t even know why I’m writing this blog post – it’s not like I HAVE to. I’m done for the month. That’s it. Bought my sneakers. I’m finished.

Now what am I going to do with myself for the REST of the month?

This was all I had to do? That was easy...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Want fries with that shake?

Rick and I went out to eat last night, to the same Fuddrucker’s where I once stole a milkshake. (Fortunately, they’re still not on to me, so the “wanted” posters aren’t up yet.) After we ate, we once again ordered a couple milkshakes (yes, we paid this time – we paid when we ordered our meal, and then picked them up on the way out). As we were standing by the counter waiting for our shakes, Rick was telling me that my arms are looking better lately. All that walking and jogging and weight lifting is having an effect, apparently. (And no, nobody has to tell me about the irony of talking about the benefits of exercise while waiting to drink a milkshake…) Then he mentioned that I should wear more skimpy, strappy tops, emphasizing his point by staring at a couple girls walking by who were wearing skimpy, strappy tops.

Not two minutes later, a guy walked past us, and according to Rick (I never notice this stuff myself) he looked at me as he walked by, then turned around and looked again, this time doing some sort of “top to bottom evaluation” ogle. And when Rick told me this, my first reaction was to be just a bit flattered:

Me: Did he look like he liked what he saw?

Rick: Well he didn’t make a nasty face or anything…

Me: Yes! I’m totally hot!

But my second reaction was one of slight insecurity. Like I said, I never notice guys looking at me, although I’ve been told I do attract an occasional glance. So if this guy made a point to turn around after he’d passed me so he could check out my butt (NOT my best feature… probably my WORST feature…), how many OTHER guys have been doing the same thing?

Rick’s reaction, on the other hand, was a little different:

Rick: I can’t believe he looked at you when I was standing right here. He saw you were with someone. I was standing RIGHT HERE!

Now, I saw this reaction as a bit of a double standard. As I mentioned, not too long before this guy walked past us, Rick had been watching a couple girls walk by, and I, also, was “standing right there.” So, let me make sure I have an understanding of the rules of ogling – it is acceptable to look, as long as the lookee does not appear to be in the company of a significant other. However, if the looker is in the company of a significant other, said significant other must accept the looker’s looks directed toward the lookee. Did I get that right?

I suppose I should mention that I’m really kidding about this… I’m honestly not one of those girls who can’t handle the fact that guys look at other women – even when they’re with their own wives or girlfriends. And I’m also not so self-righteous that I can’t admit that girls do the exact same thing. We’re all human beings, and humans notice certain things about each other. Doesn’t mean we’re going to go running after someone who catches our eye. It just means we appreciate things that look nice. Like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Or a field of wildflowers. Or a great sunset. Or Derek Jeter. Appreciate the beauty, that’s all I’m saying…

But men and women DO seem to have different ogling styles. I, for instance, would never make a point to look at a guy and then turn around once I’d passed him to check him out from another angle. If, however, I happened to be standing in a line at the movies and he was already in front of me, well, he’d already be THERE, you know? In other words, girls are much more subtle about the whole thing. This is why you always hear about girls who hate the fact that their boyfriends and husbands are staring at other women, but you never really hear it the other way around. Guys make it so much more obvious. If they learned to be subtle, like their wives and girlfriends, then everyone could pretend like no one ever looks at anyone else…

Of course, as I said before, I never really notice the “obvious” stares of all those guys out there who are comparing me to the Sistine Chapel and a sunset. But just in case it happens again, I need to go walk on the treadmill for a while… on an incline…

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Psych 101...

So yesterday, after weeks of being firmly stuck in fifth-place limbo, I was catapulted into third place in my fantasy baseball league. This was thanks, in no small part, to many of my pitchers finally waking up after a season of lazy slumber. Last night I got two saves – one from the Yankees’ Rivera, and one from Todd Jones in Detroit. I also got a pretty decent win from Milwaukee’s Doug Davis, and, best of all, got a complete game shut out from my number one draft pick Chris Carpenter. Finally – FINALLY – my number one draft pick is earning me some points. Thank you, Mr. Carpenter. All those wins added up to 105 points for pitching, plus 24 for offense (not my best offensive day, but I more than made up for that with the pitching), so it was a very substantial 129-point day for me. If my pitching can maintain some momentum, I shall be, as Rick said last night, “a force to be reckoned with.” Yes. I shall be.

And I think I know when everything started to turn around. Actually, you have to go back to the beginning of the season, when I was in first place for quite a while. At the time, I was in possession of not only Ortiz the Yankee Killer, but also Tim Wakefield, a Boston pitcher. Early on in the season, I made the mistake of pitching Wakefield against the Yankees. Not that Wakefield lost the game or anything. On the contrary – Boston won that game, and I earned a few pitching points. However, I was left with a very uneasy feeling about my decision to pitch someone against the Yankees. What’s more, I started having a string of what seemed like very bad luck with my entire pitching rotation. Players who were supposedly “ace” pitchers were eking out pathetic point totals… “recommended” pitchers were losing games… pitchers I left on my bench were throwing complete games and taunting me with points I’d never see. What was happening with all those pitchers?

I finally figured it out, as I sat at home watching “My Name is Earl” on television one night. I was face to face with the consequences of karma – or, for those of us who might not believe in karma, you could also call it Isaac Newton’s third law of physics: every action has an equal and opposite reaction. I played a Boston pitcher against the New York Yankees (action), and as a consequence, my pitching began to suffer (opposite reaction). Once I played Wakefield, there was nothing I could do to stop the pitching carnage that followed. It was a law of physics. Or karma. Either way, unstoppable. Fortunately, once I deliberately STOPPED pitching players against the Yankees, my team began to realign itself, very slowly, until things started falling into place again. It took a while, but I’m hoping the opposite reaction to my action has run its course.

Need further proof of this law of physics? Rick was in first place throughout much of my karmic downfall, and a few weeks ago, he decided to pitch Tampa Bay’s Kazmir against the Yankees. I warned him. Don’t do it, I said. It’s bad karma. It’s a law of physics. It’s a place you don’t want to go. He did it anyway. And his team has been steadily declining ever since. Coincidence? I think not. Or, consider, if you will, the fact that I benched Jered Weaver when he pitched against the Yankees last week. Guess what? Weaver won that game and I would’ve had a few dozen points if I’d played him. Guess what else? I got 129 points yesterday…

See how it works? It’s no secret that baseball is a very superstitious game – look at the Boston Red Sox. Instead of just admitting that they sucked for 86 years straight, they were convinced there was a “curse” upon them. Everyone has heard the stories of a pitcher who wears the same hat throughout the season, or a batter who won’t change his socks when he’s on a hitting streak (I’d hate to have a locker next to THAT guy). Or look at the batters at the plate in any game – they all have their quirky pre-bat rituals. Matsui has a subtle little shoulder shrug… Ichiro swings the bat in a wide arc and tugs on his jersey… Jeter re-velcros his gloves and then salutes the stands while adjusting his batting helmet. And this is before every single pitch. Do these rituals actually make these guys hit any better? Of course not. But maybe it’s psychological, like the placebo effect – if they THINK those rituals help them hit better, perhaps they really do. Or, in other words, perhaps they’d hit WORSE if they failed to perform their superstitious pre-hit habits. Not because those things actually have an effect, but because without them, the batters would be less focused on hitting the ball and more focused on the absence of their ritual. They would, in effect, defeat themselves – their own assumption that these habits improve their game would be like a self-fulfilling prophesy. The LACK of action would have an equal and opposite LACK of reaction…

So does it actually help my fantasy baseball team if I bench pitchers when they’re playing against the Yankees? I doubt it. But am I going to take any chances? Absolutely not. Did I mention my 129 points yesterday?

Monday, August 14, 2006

I can stop any time...

Since I was talking about coffee last night, it reminded me of how I first started getting addicted to the stuff in the first place. I never liked coffee when I was younger – my dad always drank it, but any time I tried a sip, I’d wrinkle my nose in distaste and wonder why anyone would willingly drink something like that. But I DID always like the smell of coffee – and I think that’s a prerequisite for subsequent addiction. If you don’t even like the way it smells, then there’s probably no hope that you’ll ever find yourself downing a triple grande vanilla latte in Starbucks. But if you find the smell of fresh roasted coffee beans appealing, then there’s a definite possibility you could eventually enjoy a cup of cappuccino with your morning cereal.

I remember when I got married, someone gave me a coffeemaker as a wedding gift. For a couple years, it sat idle – I’d never brewed a cup of coffee in my life, and didn’t even know coffee-making basics. But around the same time, my friend Cindy and I started getting to know each other better. Cindy was already a coffee addict, and suggested we meet for coffee now and then so we could hang out and talk. We’d go to a little neighborhood coffee shop, or sit in the Starbucks café at a Barnes and Noble. And at first, I’d order whatever I could find on the menu that sounded sweet enough to cover up some of the coffee taste – one of the places we went had a half hot chocolate/half cappuccino drink on their menu, so that was my original drink of choice. It was chocolatey and sweet, with just a suggestion of coffee flavor. It was enough to make me feel like I was drinking coffee just like all the other patrons, but the “coffee” in my cup probably amounted to no more than a few tablespoons.

But I soon found myself graduating from the half hot chocolate/half cappuccino concoction to a regular mocha – still a bit of chocolate, but definitely more of a caffeine kick. Eventually, I started getting braver – I’d try a caramel macchiato, or a hazelnut latte. I started needing less and less sweetener in my coffee, and would venture a cappuccino or plain latte now and then. To my surprise, I enjoyed my unsweetened coffee almost as much as the other drinks I’d gotten used to. I was, at this point, hopelessly addicted.

I’d also been given a new schedule at my job, where I’d started off working from 10:30 to 2:30 – they now wanted me in first thing in the morning, which meant I had to be there by 7:00. This also meant I was getting up at about 5:30 every morning, and suddenly that neglected coffeemaker was looking more tempting. It was time to take my coffee drinking habit out of the coffeehouses and into my own home. I bought some ground coffee and started brewing a pot every morning. Eventually, I had my coffee routine down pat – I’d get everything ready to go the night before, so when I stumbled out of bed before the sun was up, all I had to do was hit the “start” button. Then I’d go get ready for my day, and right before leaving for work, I’d fill an insulted cup with my coffee so it would still be hot by the time I got there. It was the one thing I looked forward to at 7 in the morning, and if I ran out of coffee, my day just wouldn’t start out right…

I think it’s more than just the caffeine that makes coffee such a great drink (although I suppose I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how great caffeine is… caffeine goooood. I’ve only had one cup today, by the way. :)). For me, it started out as a way to get to know a friend – and Cindy and I still make sure coffee is a part of most of our get-togethers. Coffee always seems to be central to family gatherings, or any gatherings, really. When you go to a coffeehouse, there are groups of people lounging around, sharing stories and ideas. Even the people sitting alone seem to have a purpose at a coffeehouse – no one is ever sitting in a chair staring out a window. Everyone is reading, or writing, or talking, or studying, or imagining, or dreaming. Could it be that coffee is some sort of magical elixir that encourages companionship and creativity and imagination? Or is it just full of an addictive substance, so we THINK it’s a magical elixir?

Either way, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I’m usually drinking a cup when I write for my blog. So I’m probably not planning on giving up my magical elixir any time soon…

Coffee and carrots...

We just got back from visiting a new coffee place that recently opened across the street from our neighborhood. It’s been open a couple months, and we’ve probably been there a dozen times or so. And every time we go, it seems to change a little bit. It started out as a regular old coffeehouse – coffee, espresso, cappuccino, tea, pastries – with maybe a sandwich or two on the menu. The coffee is pretty good, the pastries are REALLY good (they have the best carrot cake – I find it rather amusing that I absolutely abhor carrots, but I love a good carrot cake) and they have an excellent espresso milkshake – great for people who love coffee, AND people who love ice cream.

And then one day we went into the shop, and there seemed to be some random bits of construction going on. They’d added a small stage area, and were obviously planning on showcasing live music now and then. Makes sense for a coffeehouse. On our next visit, we noticed they’d added a small riser for the cluster of tables on the wall opposite the stage – even though the entire café area is about the size of my living room and kitchen. A riser seems a bit of an overkill. It’s not as though you’d ever find yourself in an area of the coffeehouse where the stage was obscured by throngs of coffee drinkers.

In addition to the riser, they’d started adding a wall to hide the door to the kitchen. A couple ceiling fans materialized, and a sign on the door announced that a liquor license was in the works. Then one day the pastry case disappeared – and in its place was a big pizza oven. I had a fleeting worry that the carrot cake was gone forever – but then I saw it sitting on a platter on the counter around the corner. Which is good, because the only way I’ll ever eat a carrot is in cake form…

And then tonight, mom and dad and Rick and I went over to the café, and saw even MORE changes. The counter has been replaced with a bar, behind which is a display of several different kinds of beer and wine (I guess the liquor license came through). And the tables were all jumbled around haphazardly, suggesting that we’re still not seeing the finished product. I’m really wondering at this point just how many changes they can make to the restaurant until they’re satisfied that it’s “just right.” I mean, it started out as your run-of-the-mill coffeehouse, and has morphed into some kind of coffeehouse-pizza-parlor-bar-café-live-music-venue. It’s almost like it can’t decide WHAT it wants to be, so it’s just going to be a little bit of everything. I suppose that makes it the perfect place to go when you can’t make up your mind about what to eat or drink…

But I don’t care how much they change, as long as they keep the carrot cake. :)

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Setting goals...

Rick and I have been trying to eat better lately – hence all the flaxseed and walnuts. I’ve also been trying to buy more vegetables (and actually EAT them, as opposed to allowing them to wilt and liquefy in my refrigerator crisper). This has been a rather long, gradual process that I’ve stretched out over several years, in an effort to make “healthy living” a less painful lifestyle. I’ve been working out in some shape or form pretty regularly for about seven or eight years, but when I started, my eating habits weren’t the best. I used too much butter and oil when I cooked, kept too many things with the word “chocolate” in the description lying around the house, and had a really bad habit of binge eating when I was stressed or depressed. Consequently, all that working out didn’t have much of an effect, and I even GAINED weight after a while.

When Rick and I found out we were moving to New Jersey back in 2000, the stress of moving and getting settled in a new place seemed to make me want to eat even more, and I finally got to a point where my clothes were fitting so poorly I’d decided I’d had enough. I kept up with all those workouts, but I started trying to pay more attention to the eating, too. I stopped cooking with butter and oil, and used nonstick cooking spray instead. I started ordering water to drink when I went out to eat, instead of soda. I stopped buying things like ice cream or cookies, knowing I’d probably eat too much of them if they were in the house. And just making a few little changes like that helped me knock off ten pounds right away.

After the first ten pounds, another five s-l-o-w-l-y followed… so by the time we moved back to Texas in 2002, I was fifteen pounds lighter than when I’d left. Which was great, but definitely not where I wanted to be. Over the last few years, I’ve managed to get rid of another ten pounds or so, but I’ve just been sort of hovering here for a while. Not gaining, not losing, just hovering in a weight-loss holding pattern. And while my mom will no doubt say I’m “perfect” just the way I am (because that’s the way moms are…), I know I could get to a better place than where I am now.

Which brings in the “better eating” strategy Rick and I have been trying to work out. One of the interesting things I’ve noticed over the last few years is that the more you make an effort to eat good things and to make exercise a part of your daily routine, the easier it gets. For instance, at this point, if I DON’T get in some kind of work out on a fairly daily basis, it adversely affects my mood. Or, perhaps more accurately, if I DO exercise, it positively affects my mood. So it’s something that I WANT to do, as opposed to something I HAVE to do. And eating better has just become more of a habit – it’s actually possible for me to have ice cream or a box of cookies in my house now, because I’m not compelled to eat everything in one sitting. That’s just not a part of my habitual eating anymore, fortunately.

But, like I said, I’ve been in a holding pattern for quite some time. So I’ve been attempting to make a few more small changes, to hopefully help me break out of it. And where better to keep myself accountable than on my blog? If the entire world knows I’m trying to eat better and work out more (and by “entire world” I mean the handful of people who read my blog on a daily basis… :)) then maybe I’ll be more apt to stick with my new habits. One of the things I’m working on right now is running more – I’ve always been more of a walker than a runner, but I’m trying to slowly add bursts of running to my work outs. Eventually, I’d like to be able to run a few miles without gasping for breath or collapsing on my treadmill. And the other thing I’m working on is eating better – Rick and I are both trying to work on that, but it’s not always easy. Like this morning, I realized I had an entire bunch of bananas on my counter that I’d forgotten about. I bought them last time I was at the grocery store, intending on eating them when I wanted a snack. But apparently I’ve been snacking on other things, because there they are – an entire bunch of bananas, slowly browning and growing mushy even as I type. So I set them on the counter next to my computer, and I already ate one with a bowl of soup for lunch. Now I only have four left…

So it looks like it’s gonna be bananas and jogging on the treadmill next week... just not at the same time – those banana peels make the treadmill really slippery.

Friday, August 11, 2006

More random stuff...

Okay, since things out there in the real world are so crazy right now, I thought I’d do another silly quiz/questionnaire thing that I found on the internet. I know Kat said she liked these things, so I hope everyone else does, too. I mean, what could be more fun than learning a bunch of useless facts about me? Hmmm… don’t anybody answer that…

1. Have you ever been searched by the cops?
No… unless Eric has gone through my things without me knowing. (Hey, didn’t I have 20 bucks in my wallet??)
2. Do you close your eyes on roller coasters?
Nope. But I’m not one of those people who holds their arms up, either. I’m usually holding on to the safety restraint for dear life.
3. When was the last time you went sledding?
Sledding? Wow… must’ve been back when we lived in our house on Lee Hill Road in New Jersey – we had this great, steep driveway that started up at the street and sloped down toward the house and the garage. When it snowed, we had an automatic sled run – we’d use garbage bags or pieces of cardboard, and slide right down the driveway. It was really fun. Of course, that driveway could also be really dangerous – like if it started snowing before school was out… so by the time the bus dropped me off, I’d have to find a way to get down the driveway to the front door in my school clothes without ending up bruised or with a broken bone.
4. Would you rather sleep with someone else, or alone?
Hmmm… that really depends. But in general, I like to have room to move around when I sleep. Which makes a king-size bed a must.
5. Do you believe in ghosts?
6. Do you consider yourself creative?
7. Do you think O.J. killed his wife?

8. Jennifer Aniston or Angelina Jolie?
I think Angelina has gotten a really bad rap over the whole Jennifer/Brad breakup. If Brad left Jennifer for Angelina, then they were already having problems to begin with. I guarantee Angelina didn’t bat her eyelashes at Brad Pitt and suddenly make him say, “hey, I think I’ll leave my wife!” And to be honest, I really admire the things Angelina Jolie does for children, and the fact that she donates so much of her salary to charities.
9. Do you stay friends with your exes?
Ha! I don’t HAVE any exes! I was much too shy to go around doing something silly like “dating” when I was younger. (Wait, am I supposed to be proud of this or not??)
10. Do you know how to play poker?
Not really… I kind of know the basics, but I’d still need help with figuring out whether I had a straight flush or a royal flush or a toilet flush or whatever.
11. Have you ever been awake for 48 hours straight?
48 hours? Probably not. Over 24 hours? Definitely. We used to go skiing in Colorado now and then with a group of friends, and we’d always leave from Austin in the evening, and drive straight through to Colorado. So we’d stay up all night, and then TRY to stay up until evening once we got to Colorado. All in all, it was probably about 39 or 40 hours without sleep.
12. What is your favorite commercial?
Um, the only thing I can think of is the “Be a Traveler” commercial on the travel channel, where they play this cool music and show scenes of places all over the world, and at the end it says “Be a Traveler.” And I’m always like, “Okay!”
13. What are you allergic to?
Mosquitoes, cedar, probably other stuff I’m not aware of. I think I might have some slight cat/dog allergies, because although I’m fine in my house with one cat and one dog, I have problems if I’m at Rick’s parents’ house for too long (they have three dogs and I don’t even know how many cats…).
14. If you are driving in the middle of the night, and no one is around, do you run red lights?
I don’t think I’m ever driving that late, but if I were, yeah, I’d probably run the red lights. Actually, most intersections in Austin change to either flashing yellow or flashing red when it gets to be midnight or so… I guess they figure you’re gonna run them anyway, so they might as well make it legal.
15. Do you have a secret that no one knows, but you?
Strangely, I don’t think so. I think at least one other person knows all of my terrible secrets. And Eric STILL hasn’t come to arrest me…
16. Boston Red Sox or Yankees?
Do I even have to say?
17. Have you ever been ice-skating?
Yes – in fact, when I was a kid in Buffalo, it would get cold enough in the winter that we could make our own backyard ice skating rinks. You just had to keep misting the hose over one area of the yard, until the ice was thick enough to skate on.
18. How often do your remember your dreams?
I can usually remember at least one every morning when I wake up.
19. When was the last time you laughed so hard, you cried?
Hmmm… can’t remember…
20. Can you name five songs by The Beatles?
Let’s see… I Wanna Hold Your Hand; Help; Hard Day’s Night; Twist and Shout; Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds… yes, yes I can.
21. What's the one thing on your mind now?
One thing? ONE thing? I don’t think I ever only have ONE thing on my mind…

22. Do you know who Ghetto Barbie is?
Uh, no… should I be afraid?
23. Do you always wear your seat belt?
Yep. I’m a rather obsessive seat belt wearer.
24. What cell service do you use?
25. Do you like Sushi?
Ughughugh… that would be no. (See "disgusting food" question below...)
26. Have you ever narrowly avoided a fatal accident?
Yikes. Not that I know of, but I don’t think I’d WANT to know about that.
27. What do you wear to bed?
Wouldn’t YOU like to know, oh mysterious asker of questions.
28. Been caught stealing?
When I was about five years old, I was with my mom at a drug store or something, and they had a basket full of Chapstick up by the register. And I thought if it was in a basket by the register, it must’ve meant you could just take them. So I took a Chapstick, and we walked all the way out to the parking lot before my mom noticed I’d taken it. I can’t remember if she made me take it back or not…
29. What shoe size do you have?
30. Do you truly hate anyone?
You know, one of the earliest lessons I can remember my parents teaching me is that you shouldn’t “hate” anyone. We were never allowed to say, “I hate so-and-so, I hate my teacher, I hate the next-door neighbor” etc. You can hate things that people do, or things that they say, but you don’t hate PEOPLE. So no, I don’t truly hate anyone. Hate is a very dangerous thing to hold in your heart…
31. Classic Rock or Rap?
Can I choose both? It would depend on my mood…
32. If you could sleep with one famous person, who would it be?
Oooooo… um… well, famous sports person, Derek Jeter… famous TV person, Naveen Andrews… famous movie person, Clive Owen (who SHOULD’VE been the new James Bond, by the way). Not that I’ve ever thought about any of that, of course…
33. Have you ever sung in front of the mirror?
34. What is your favorite song of all time?
There is no possible way for me to answer that. I like so many different kinds of music and so many different songs, that it would be impossible to narrow it down to ONE favorite song.
35. What food do you find disgusting?
Fish. Fish is just gross. It smells gross, it looks gross, it tastes gross. Lobsters look like giant cockroaches, but people just gobble them right up. Eeeeeeewwwww.
36. Do you sing in the shower?
If I’m not singing in front of the mirror, am I gonna be singing in the shower?
37. Have you ever stood up for someone you hardly knew?
Um, not that I can remember. But I’m not sure I’ve ever been faced with a situation where a stranger needed to call me in for back up…
38. Have you ever been punched in the face?
Sheesh, no – well this survey took a sudden violent turn, didn’t it?

Okay, that’s it. Hope everyone discovered something new and interesting about me. Or something old and boring. Whichever. :)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Could we maybe have 10 percent humidity?

I was watching a show called “Airline” on A&E yesterday, which is sort of a documentary-type program about daily life in different airports around the country. One of the people they focused on was a guy who’d gotten the dreaded “SSSS” on his ticket, which meant he was subject to a secondary security search. So that’s when you take off your shoes (if you haven’t already), let someone pat you down, allow them to go through your bag, put your shoes back on, and go along your merry way. Nobody likes it, but if you fly often enough, it’s bound to happen to you sooner or later. But instead of simply dealing with it and moving along, this man decided to complain to anyone who would listen to him. He was yelling at the gate agents, and the people running the cameras, and the people waiting to board the plane. He felt like he’d been unfairly singled out – and no, he wasn’t of any sort of Middle Eastern origin… he was just a guy who happened to get “SSSS” on his ticket.

The first six or seven times I flew after 9/11, I was chosen for secondary searches an awful lot. But maybe everyone was – we weren’t used to the new “rules” yet, so everyone was in a period of adjustment. I was patted down repeatedly, wondering if it was just another random search, or if I honestly looked threatening in some way. (Did I have shifty eyes? Had everyone finally gotten wise to the “be careful of the quiet ones” admonition?) I was even patted down by a MAN in the San Juan airport in Puerto Rico, an indignity I didn’t give a thought to until I was back at home. (Me five hours later: Hey, that was a GUY!)

And over the last few years, I have perfected my airport security routine, to the point where I can breeze through practically unnoticed. Because that seems to be the key – if you can get through unnoticed, without drawing any attention to yourself, you’re more likely to be on your way to the gate sooner. So I prepare at home – I wear as much metal-free clothing as possible, like t-shirts and yoga pants (although jeans work just fine – the buttons and zippers don’t seem to set off the metal detector)… and definitely nothing with the word “underwire” in the description. Flip flops are good, because they’re easy to take off and put on – but that means walking around on an airport floor barefoot, where who-knows-how-many OTHER people have walked. So I like to wear socks, and shoes I can slip on and off easily. I wear a limited amount of jewelry, if any at all. I put my watch into my carry on bag so I can put it on as soon as I get through security. My carry on is simple and uncluttered, and I only carry ONE bag. All of this makes the routine simple – take the shoes off when waiting in line for the metal detector, place in plastic bin, make sure boarding pass is in hand, put bin and bag on conveyor belt, walk through metal detector with boarding pass – viola. That’s it, I’m on my way. The simplicity of airport security seems to escape so many passengers that I actually got a “good job!” from a TSA agent by a metal detector in O’Hare Airport last time I flew out of Chicago. She was so harried from repeatedly telling people to take their shoes off and to hold their boarding passes, that she was actually impressed by someone who could do those things without being told to do them.

And then this morning I wake up and hear the news about the terror plots they uncovered in Britain – how they were planning on using liquid explosives to blow up planes flying to the U.S. Which means, of course, that in addition to the “no knives, no scissors” rule, we’re now faced with a “no liquids of any kind” rule. NO liquids. No water, no Gatorade, no hair spray, no hand lotion, no contact lens solution. Part of my “simple and uncluttered” carry on is always a little bag full of travel essentials. At least they’re essential to me. These include: lip balm, hand lotion, a travel brush, a bottle of Purell hand sanitizer, earplugs, contact lens rewetting drops and an extra case, a tube of lip gloss, and a bottle of The Body Shop’s Vitamin C Energizing Face Spritz. Yes, this stuff is essential. I mean, I don’t go around spritzing my face normally, but do you know how DRY it gets on airplanes? It’s like 3 percent humidity! Which also makes the hand lotion, contact lens drops, and lip balm completely essential. The hand sanitizer is a MUST, because everyone knows the water on planes is bound to contain E. coli – not to mention the fact that planes themselves are just great big germ incubators. But with these new restrictions, I’m down to lip balm, a brush, earplugs, and a useless contact lens case.

And don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining about the decision to not allow these things on planes. I’m just complaining about how difficult it is to thwart the plans of people determined to kill all of us. I mean, in thwarting THEIR plans, we all have to willingly thwart our own, perfectly innocent plans. Like my plan to kill all the E. coli in the airplane bathroom. But any time you travel and arrive at your destination safely, you have to be grateful. Which is why I never complained about those pat-downs. Even the guy in Puerto Rico (seriously – that was just wrong…). Because most of this stuff is just minor inconvenience, in the grand scheme of things.

There are much worse things than arriving at my destination with dry eyes, parched hands, and a possible case of the flu…

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

What do potatoes and fish and birds have in common? Probably nothing...

Some mornings, I wake up and I know exactly what I’m going to write in my blog for the day. Perhaps a thought has been running through my head all night, or a comment from someone sparks an idea, or I have pictures I feel like posting. And then there are days like today, where I just don’t know WHAT to write, but I have all kinds of strange, jumbled things in my head that I COULD write about.

For instance – did you know it takes longer to bake a sweet potato than to bake a regular potato? I discovered this last night, as I attempted to bake a sweet potato, which I was planning to divide in two and serve as a side-dish with dinner. I’d never bought sweet potatoes before – but the grocery store seemed to be out of the potatoes I normally buy, so I thought I’d try something different. I contemplated calling my mom before popping it in the oven, to see if she had any sweet potato-baking wisdom to share, but then I thought, “c’mon, it’s a potato! How hard can it be? I can figure this out…” I assumed it would need around an hour, maybe an hour and ten minutes – about what it would take to bake a regular old potato. So I carefully choreographed the rest of dinner to be ready at the time I thought the potato would be ready. Soon I had food piled onto plates – one third meat, one third vegetables, and one third reserved for what I was certain would be a perfectly-baked sweet potato.

But when I removed the orangey tuber from the oven and attempted to pierce the skin with a fork, I discovered that the stupid thing was still as hard as a wet block of wood. But the rest of dinner was finished, and we couldn’t wait around for it to get cold – so I told Rick we’d just have to do without the potato until after dinner. I put the sweet potato back in the oven, baked it for another hour or so, and FINALLY it was done. It took two hours. But it worked out okay, because once it was done, I topped it with butter and brown sugar and it ended up tasting more like dessert anyway… Seriously, now that I know how to bake them, I need to buy more sweet potatoes…

And as long as I’m talking about food – did you know that while cold-water fish contains a lot of omega-3 fatty acids (which is one of those “good” fats that lowers “bad” cholesterol) you can also find them in walnuts and flaxseed? This is really good news for me, because I hate fish. I will NOT eat fish. I never, ever, ever, ever… ever, ever… ever… eat fish. Ever. But with all these doctors and nutritionists writing articles and appearing on the news to tout the amazing benefits of omega-3s, I thought I would forever be missing out on some kind of magical superfood. So lately I’ve been eating walnuts and sprinkling flaxseed on my oatmeal in the morning. And I feel so much more virtuous now…

Of course, I could also talk about how Allegro and I watched The Birds on TV yesterday. Actually, I watched, and she lounged on the couch next to me, her ears perking up every time she heard squawking. She was no doubt imagining the lovely, delicious meals she could have, if only I’d let her outside now and then and give her the freedom to express the hidden lioness within her (I’ve seen her gazing longingly at the phoebes on the back porch – she can see them through the window). I think The Birds is the best suspenseful movie about a bunch of usually-innocuous creatures ever. Thinking about the movie does tend to freak me out a bit, however, whenever I happen to be near downtown. We have an overabundance of grackles in this city – these sort of brownish, blackish, crow-like birds that like to congregate in trees and talk to each other. There are streets near downtown that are lined with trees, and as you drive past them, you can see every tree dotted with grackles. If you crack the car window a bit, you can hear their noisy cacophony – and it sounds exactly like the parts of the movie where the birds were attacking innocent village-dwellers. Think about it too much, and it makes you want to drive away from those grackles as fast as you can. Leave it to Alfred Hitchcock to make a drive past a bunch of trees seem creepy…

And something curious I noticed as I was watching the movie, and I’ve noticed it in other older movies as well – why is it that American actors in old movies always seem to have the slightest tinge of a British accent? It was like, “whatever shall we doooo about the biiiiirds?” Did people actually talk like that back in the 50s and 60s? Or was it simply “proper diction” that they adopted for the express purpose of movie acting?

Another thing I could talk about is some of my strange dreams the last few nights. Like the other night, I had a dream I was on a houseboat of some sort, on a lake. And even though it was a lake, and the weather was clear, the boat started getting hit with large waves. The boat was picked up and slammed back down into the water, again and again. And this is actually one of the reasons I hate small boats – because even little waves make the ride extremely bumpy, and capsizing seems like a highly-probable scenario. The fact that lake water is always brownish-green and murky doesn’t help, either. And in my dream, the boat finally got to the point where it was about to sink, and everyone had to get out. I guess it was really more of a nightmare, actually…

So those are some of the random things that were running through my head this morning. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll make more sense. No promises, though. :)

Monday, August 07, 2006

Wanna trade?

Rick and I caused a bit of a hullabaloo this weekend (I don’t think I’ve ever used the word “hullabaloo”… probably for good reason…) when we traded some players in our fantasy baseball league. When you want to trade players with someone, you go to the league website, choose the players you want to trade and the players you want in return, and send the trade offer to your trading partner. As soon as your partner accepts the trade, an email is sent to everyone in the league to inform them of the pending trade, and it also appears as a “trade pending” on the league home page. Everyone then has 24 hours to review the trade, and decide if it’s fair or not. If, for instance, I were to try to trade David Ortiz – the purveyor of many, many points – for some rookie player on the Pittsburg Pirates who’s batting .125, well, that would be pretty unfair. And if anyone thinks a certain trade is unfair, they can veto the trade. Five vetoes, and the trade gets shot down.

And Rick and I had been talking for weeks about how we should think about a trade – his team has been lacking in offense, and I have the best offense in the league. My team has been lacking in pitching, and Rick has one of the best pitching averages in the league (it was THE best, but today it looks like second-best…). It would make perfect sense for me to trade him some offense for some pitching. So we came up with a nice little trade – two of my best outfielders for a decent starting pitcher and Mariano Rivera (the Yankee closer). We threw in a few “filler” players to close in the gaps, sent the trade out into cyberspace, and waited to hear the comments from the guys in the league. But to our surprise, no one said a thing – and after 24 hours, our trade went through, and I promptly accrued a 14-point save from my newly-acquired closer Rivera (Rivera rocks!).

So imagine our surprise when a guy I’ll simply call “The Feline Menace” (that’s his professional wrestling name…) sent out an email to the league yesterday morning, complaining about how “unfair” our trade had been. Not only because he apparently thought the players were mismatched in my favor, but also because we’d conducted the trade on a weekend. And apparently not everyone checks their email on weekends. And I just have to ask – who doesn’t check their email on weekends? This is 2006 – you can get email sent to your cell phone… you can get wireless internet access in McDonald’s… you can probably check your email from a kiosk in a bathroom in a 7-11 somewhere. I would think it’s next to impossible NOT to check your email every day. You’d have to run off to the Appalachian Mountains and live with a group of new-age hippie backpackers to have any chance of getting away from technology.

But even if some member of the fantasy baseball league DOESN’T check email on weekends, it’s usually necessary to log on to the league website every day to make sure your roster is set correctly for that day’s games. And as I said, any pending trade is right there on the home page. Whether you trade on a weekend or not is of no consequence – it’s really the responsibility of each member of the league to pay attention to those kinds of things.

But I think the thing that bothered me the most about the email sent out by The Feline Menace was his implication that since Rick and I are married, we have TWO chances to win money, whereas all those other poor guys only have ONE chance. And this is just not true. If I win any money, I plan on keeping it for myself – I’m sure I’ll be buying shoes and, um, earrings, and probably leather bags, and uh, oh, let’s say perfume. Yeah. And if Rick wins any money, I fully expect him to spend that money on HIMSELF – he can go out and buy some electronic doohickies if he wants. It’d be fine with me. So to say that we have “two” chances to win money is absolutely ridiculous. Unless Rick wants to go shopping at Sephora, or if I want to peruse the aisles of Best Buy. It’s just a little silly fantasy baseball money – it’s not like winning the lottery or anything.

And as I’ve said before – I’m not in this for the money, anyway. I’m in it for the principle. And the shoes. Definitely the shoes…

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Really more of a recap than a review...

Since Kat said she wouldn’t mind more movie reviews, and I don’t have anything particularly interesting to write about today, I thought I’d write about a movie I just watched. It was “Flightplan” with Jodie Foster, which I thought looked interesting back when it was in the theaters, but I never got out to see it. So since it was on HBO yesterday, I figured I’d give it a go. And it wasn’t bad, as far as suspense/mysteries go. But it wasn’t great, either. By the way, if you haven't seen it, and you WANT to, and you want to be surprised, don't read the rest of this. Because I'm pretty much throwing out all the spoilers here...

Jodie Foster plays a propulsion engineer (ooooo… I think I’m supposed to be impressed by that…) named Kyle (isn’t that a guy’s name??) who lives in Berlin and helps design planes for a company like Boeing (except it wasn’t called Boeing, of course… and I can’t remember what it WAS called, because I don’t think it was all that important). At the beginning of the movie, her husband either jumps or falls from the roof of their apartment building, and she immediately decides to head back to New York with her six-year-old daughter, along with her husband’s locked casket – and only she knows the combination to open it.

The plane they’re traveling on is like a double-decker DC-10 – which I think is similar to the new Airbus 380s being developed. So while it LOOKS like a crazy huge imaginary plane, it’s actually not too far off in the future. So the concept of a huge plane was kind of cool – pretty soon, we really will be flying across oceans on giant planes with dozens of bathrooms and galleys and nooks and crannies. And that became the main problem in the movie – halfway through the flight, Kyle (yeah, definitely a guy’s name) wakes up from a nap to discover her daughter is missing. But it’s a plane, so she can’t have gone far, right? A cursory search turns up no sign of the little girl, and soon the ONE air marshal on board (ONE air marshal for a double-decker DC-10??) offers to help with the search.

But as the search continues, and the girl seems to have vanished (her backpack and boarding pass are gone, too) Kyle gets increasingly paranoid. She convinces the pilot to search the baggage area, and various other areas of the plane normally off-limits to passengers. And then Kyle notices – gasp! – Arab men on board, who she’s certain she’s recently seen somewhere. She all but accuses them of taking her daughter… no wait, she DOES accuse them of taking her daughter.

Fortunately, the movie spares us the hackneyed “Arab hijacker” scenario, and instead finally reveals the true bad guy – it’s the air marshal. Oops, if you haven’t seen the movie I may have just ruined it for you. Actually, nah, that was sort of my feeling from the very beginning. Anyway, as Kyle starts freaking out and running through the plane looking for her daughter, she’s confronted by the pilot, who informs her that he’s just heard from a hospital in Berlin, and not only is her husband dead, but her daughter is as well. They BOTH fell from the roof of the apartment.

But Kyle refuses to believe this, and, as someone who had a hand in designing the plane, she manages to get into the baggage area herself, where she skillfully detaches and cuts various wires to cause the oxygen masks to drop from the ceiling, and the lights to go off. She then finds her husband’s casket, and unlocks it to make sure her daughter isn’t trapped in there. At this point, the lonely, single, solitary air marshal finds her and drags her back up to her seat, where she’s forced to talk to a creepy therapist who happens to be on board.

Meanwhile, the air marshal tells the pilot that Kyle is a hijacker, and she’s demanding a huge sum of money be transferred to an account. He then returns to that open casket in the baggage area, and removes a couple bombs he had hidden in there. And finally, he runs up to the nose of the plane, where no one has looked yet, and bingo! – there’s the little girl, sedated and sleeping, surrounded by avionics. And that’s where he plants the bombs, so that when the plane lands and the passengers have disembarked (he’s not trying to kill everyone... he's only partially crazy), he can kill Kyle, set off the bomb, and all traces of the little girl will be erased.

And of course Kyle finally manages to find her little girl, and the air marshal is the one who gets erased, and all the passengers who thought Kyle was crazy finally see that she DOES, in fact, have a real, live daughter. But when it was over, I got to thinking what a crazy premise this was. I mean, the real hijacker was trying to hijack the plane without actually hijacking it but rather making it look like someone else was hijacking it. In order to do this, he had to find someone who knew all about the plane, push her husband off a roof to make it look like an accident/suicide, plant bombs in the coffin, kidnap her kid on a huge plane without anyone seeing, and then ASSUME that she would be nutty enough to run through the plane like a crazy woman, so her credibility and sanity would be questioned. He also had to assume that she’d eventually get down to that casket and unlock it, since she was the only one with the combination. It’s an awfully elaborate and complicated plan to coerce people into wiring money to your account.

So the movie was slightly suspenseful now and then, but I’d say a little too predictable. And not very realistic. I mean, seriously – ONE air marshal?? That's just crazy...